Language, Deafness, and Mind

PHL 150 FYS Language, Deafness, and Mind (3 credits) Human children have an amazing ability to learn language. They are able to acquire the correct grammar for the language of their community while being exposed to many errors and having their own mistakes go largely uncorrected. Even more, with barely any environmental input at all, Deaf children born to hearing parents who are not competent with sign language somehow manage to create their own sign languages. Learning about how Deaf children accomplish this impressive feat can teach us about the nature of communication and what it takes for a form of communication to count as a language. It can also give us insight into the nature of the human mind. This class will begin by examining a historical, philosophical debate about the nature of human thought and learning: is the mind a blank slate at birth that is completely shaped by experience? Or is our experience structured by ideas we are born with? This question was hotly debated by philosophers for centuries, but without empirical evidence. In this class, we will consider such questions from an interdisciplinary perspective, by bringing research from psychology and linguistics to bear on this ancient philosophical puzzle. Attention will also be paid to some of the moral questions that arise in the context of Deaf education.
Attributes: First Year Seminar

Logic and the Law

PHL 210 Logic and the Law (3 credits) The course is designed to develop reasoning skills that are useful for law school preparation, law school itself, and the legal profession. It will begin by introducing fundamental concepts in informal logic—included will be a review of validity and soundness and a variety of deductive forms. We will then discuss strategies for evidential reasoning and fundamental concepts in formal propositional and predicate logic. After establishing this background, we will apply it to the sorts of reasoning questions that appear on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). At the end of the course, we will examine Supreme Court or other prominent legal cases and issues in the philosophy of law, analyzing the arguments involved using the skills that have been honed throughout the semester.

 Prerequisites: PHL 154. Attributes: Justice Ethics and the Law , Undergraduate

Philosophy of Karl Marx

PHL 252 Philosophy of Karl Marx (3 credits)  **New Preparation**    This course focuses on the thought and philosophical legacy of the influential but easily misunderstood nineteenth-century German philosopher, economist, and political theorist Karl Marx. Essential themes and ideas include: alienation, species-being, dialectic, historical materialism, class struggle, exploitation, ideology critique, and capitalism and its alternatives. Students will read and critically engage Marx’s own writings, but attention may also be paid to philosophers working in the Marxist tradition (e.g., analytic Marxism and Frankfurt School critical theory) as well as to critics of Marx and Marxism.

Prerequisites: PHL 154.   Attributes: Diversity Course (New GEP), Faith Justice Course, Philosoph Anthropol (New GEP), Undergraduate

Reproducing Persons

PHL 294 Reproducing Persons (3 credits)     This course examines how race, class, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, queer and trans identity, nationality affects how we, as human persons, reproduce ourselves. It begins with a criticism of the ways in which white supremacy has established the dominant ideology of ‘reproductive choice’ (which centers the experiences of white middle-class women and reinforces social and political institutions that harm marginalized peoples) and contrasts this with the inclusive but revolutionary theoretical framework of Reproductive Justice, as developed by African American feminists. Drawing on the work of leading philosophers and women’s studies scholars, the course seeks to not only address ethical and legal questions as they relate to women’s reproductive lives but also to examine the material circumstances in which the reproduction of persons is realized.

Prerequisites: PHL 154.   Attributes: Diversity Course (New GEP), Gender Studies Course, Philosoph Anthropol (New GEP), Undergraduate

Faith in a Secular Age

PHL 368 Faith in a Secular Age (3 credits)  In this course we shall explore a view of the relation between faith and reason articulated by Charles Taylor, a contemporary Canadian philosopher, who in his major work A Secular Age tried to explain the nature of secularity as a modern form of faith- reason relationship. We shall begin with an examination of different types of secularity: on the one hand, the subtraction theory based upon the idea that faith is replaced by science and rationality, on the other hand, the concept of anthropological comprehension based upon the idea that the conditions of experience of faith changed and belief became one option among many. In order to explain this positions we will be focused on some influential thinkers: William of Ockham, René Descartes, John Locke, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and Max Weber.

Prerequisites: PHL 154 and (THE 154 or THE 221Attributes: Faith-Reason Course (New GEP), Undergraduate

Philosophy of St. Augustine


PHL 409 Philosophy of St. Augustine (3 credits)This course examines the philosophical thought of Augustine of Hippo through three of his most important works. The course will engage with a number of themes that are central to Augustine’s thought—for example, sin and free choice, evil, the human condition, human flourishing, desire, cognition, memory, time, as well as creation and its relationship to God, and the nature of God Itself.

Prerequisites: PHL 154  Attributes: Medieval, Ren & Reform Studies, Philosoph Anthropol (New GEP), Undergraduate