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Philosophy (PHI)

Paul Gray, Genevieve Migely (chair), Jim White

Essential to a liberal education is the ability to think, to detect bad arguments and evidence, to
see more than one side of a matter and to decide which is best, to construct a coherent case, and
to make words perform their tasks with clarity and precision. These principles, along with a
concern for representing the principal areas of philosophical inquiry, and an emphasis on the
careful, creative, and critical reading of important philosophical texts, guide the Department in
planning its curriculum.

Major: A minimum of nine course credits, which include PHI 111 and 202; either 203 or 204;
two courses selected from 302, 304, 305, 306, and 308; PHI 485; and three additional courses
in Philosophy, at least two of which must be at the 300 level.

Minor: A minimum of six course credits in Philosophy which include PHI 111 and 202; either
203 or 204; either 302 or 304 or 305 or 306; and two additional 300-level courses in
Philosophy.

105. Topics in Philosophy

109. Ethics and Climate Change (FYS)
The threat of climate change raises urgent questions about what we ought to do—i.e., questions
about morality. We will spend some time considering climate science and questions raised by
controversy about that science. What should we believe about the claim that human activity is
threatening the climatic stability of our planet given apparent disagreement about the truth of
that hypothesis. We will also spend time considering the moral challenges the risk of climate
change generates: what is the nature of our obligations to prevent harm to people distant in
space and in time; what responsibilities do nations of the industrialized world have to respond
to threats generated by climate change; what does it make sense for such nations to do given the
uncertainty of some outcomes of climate change; what should we, as individual citizens of such
nations, be doing? We will read material of all sorts about these questions—we’ll look at
scientific reports, economic analyses, and philosophical/ethical arguments, for example—and
talk and write about what we make of the issues. Seminar for first year students only. (First Year
Seminar)

111. Introduction to Philosophy
Problems of philosophy as they are discussed in the writings of major philosophers, including
such topics as the nature of reality, problems with knowledge, morality, and the rationality of
religious belief. Designed for first year students and sophomores. (Humanities)

202. Ethics
The nature of moral experience, moral judgments, and moral principles, and the relation of each
to the other. Course may consider applications to contemporary moral problems. Readings from
some major ancient, modern, and contemporary moral philosophers. (Humanities)

203. Logic and Critical Thinking
Principles and techniques useful for evaluating arguments and avoiding fallacious reasoning in
ordinary life.

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