PHIL 3009: Topics in European Philosophy

Instructor: Kyla Bruff
[0.5 Credit] Fall 2022

In this course on existentialism, we will explore what it means for an individual to freely self-determine, without guidance from any sort of supreme authority—including the authority of reason itself. How can one live life on one’s own terms, without any stable, traditional framework to structure one’s existence? Answering this question requires an investigation into the exercise free will and how we make authentic choices. Existentialism begins with the freedom of the unique individual, who often feels alienated or homeless in the world. This is where we will start. We will also examine the related topic of responsibility—what does it mean for a person to be completely responsible for themselves and their actions? Why is it impossible to hide from responsibility, even when we see ourselves as passive in conflicts or absent from live interaction? Finally, we will examine the effects of the problem of existence on what we accept to be real and significant in the world. We will do this by reading texts from Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus.

PHIL 3010: Global Philosophical Traditions

Instructor: Mohammed Rustom
[0.5 Credit] Winter 2023

This course will begin with an inquiry into what “philosophy” means in various civilizations and to large sectors of humanity beyond the Anglo-American and European worlds. We will then seek to highlight the depth, diversity, and creativity of one major non-Western philosophical tradition, namely Islamic philosophy. Areas covered include the nature of being and consciousness, cosmology, self-knowledge, philosophy of language, the cultivation of virtue, selfhood, death, and freedom.

PHIL 3300: Topics in History of Social and Political Philosophy: “Paternalism”

Instructor: Gabriele Contessa
[0.5 Credit] Fall 2022

Should political authorities restrict the freedom of their subjects to promote their subjects’ supposed interests? Paternalists tend to answer this question positively while anti-paternalists tend to answer it negatively. In this course, we will follow the evolution of these two strands of Western political thought from their origin in the early modern period to contemporary debates.

PHIL 3340: Topics in Contemporary Social and Political Philosophy: “Political Legitimacy”

Instructor: Matthew Scarfone
[0.5 Credit] Fall 2022

When does a government or political authority have the right or justification to exercise power? When are the laws and policies it issues legitimate? Does political legitimacy depend on procedural features like voting? Does it depend on normative matters like the substantive values it realizes? Many philosophers think that political legitimacy is derived from either the implicit or explicit consent of those who are governed, others think that no government has ever been legitimate. Our course will explore the issue of political legitimacy largely through contemporary works of political philosophy.

PHIL 3450: Topics in Aesthetics

Instructor: Nick Treanor
[0.5 Credit] Fall 2022

In this course, students will engage with cutting edge research in aesthetics. This course will be focused around C. Thi Nguyen’s Games: Agency as Art, which won the 2021 Book Prize of the American Philosophical Association. The book articulates and defends the idea that games are the art form of agency. The course will explore this idea and its connection to how social structures and technologies shape our values, agency and rationality.