PHIL 101 Introduction to Philosophy

Basic problems of philosophy and methods of philosophical thinking. Problems raised by science, morality, religion, politics and art. Readings from classical and contemporary philosophers. Normally given in multiple sections with different instructors and possibly with different texts. All sections share core materials in theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and ethics despite differences that may exist in emphasis. Phil 101, 204, 205, 302, 304, 334, 345, or 370 may be used to satisfy the sequence requirement in History, Philosophy and Religion.

PHIL 102 Moral Character

What qualities do we depend on in society so that people are trustworthy?  One way to think about that question is through the study of moral character.  In this class, we learn about how philosophers have thought about moral character from ancient times to the present and within different cultural traditions.  Students also get the chance to reflect on the moral character they want to have themselves.  Topics include accountability, prudence, compassion, and moral luck. Fulfills Moral and Ethical Reasoning perspective in the GER.

PHIL 111 What is Science? Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science

We look at historical and philosophical aspects of modern science. The objective of the course is to develop a sense of (1) what forms scientific research has taken historically, and (2) what it is about scientific research that makes it distinctive as a form of human knowledge. 

PHIL 201 Introduction to Logic

This course will investigate the nature of deductive reasoning in general. The specific aim is to analyze and to evaluate English language arguments and informal mathematical proof by representing them in a formal symbolic system. Attention will also be paid to the scopes and limits of logic. The course covers propositional and predicate logic. Three in-class exams plus the regularly scheduled final. Text: Bergmann, Moor, and Nelson,The Logic Book

PHIL 202 Becoming Oneself

People talk about “the self” often, for instance, when criticizing selfishness or rationalizing self-interest, when discussing self-care or asking whether people love themselves enough or too much.  But what is “the self”?  In this class, we examine what philosophy has to say on this question.  Students learn about the history of thought about the self and have a chance to develop their own sense of self.

PHIL 203  Revolutions in Science 

Historical and philosophical interpretation of some epochal events in development of science. Copernican revolution, Newtonian mechanics, Einstein’s relativity physics, quantum mechanics, and evolutionary theory; patterns of scientific growth; structure of scientific “revolutions”; science and “pseudo-science”.

PHIL 204 Philosophy of Science 

Conceptual, methodological, and epistemological issues about science: concept formation, explanation, prediction, confirmation, and theory construction; the status of unobservable; metaphysical presuppositions and implications of science; semantics of scientific language; illustrations from special sciences.

PHIL 205 Contemporary Moral Problems

Examination of selected contemporary moral problems and contemporary faces of perennial moral problems such as: when, if ever, lying is justified; the value of honesty and of confidentiality; under what circumstances, if any, various types of killing (suicide, execution, in war, euthanasia, killing of lower animals or ecosystems) is justified. Additional moral problems raised by new knowledge (such as genetic information) of new technology (such as rights to digital information, or the ability to), and responsible uses of these and other sources of power. Clarification of the concepts of value, ethical evaluation and justification, ethical argument, moral relevance, and the notion of a moral problem itself.

PHIL 206 Contemporary Moral Issues: Experiential

What is good and how is it different from evil? How do you know when you have done the right thing? Is there an absolute grounding to morality? What is the role of reason in our lives? What is human nature? Are human beings essentially creatures of emotion? What bearing do these questions have on our basic moral determinations of good and evil? How are all these questions related to concerns about personal identity? Using sources from different eras and schools of philosophic thought, students will become more informed about the intricacies involved in thinking clearly about these issues.

PHIL 207 Good Relationships

What is a good relationship? What is the difference between everyday work relationships, friendships, and romance? What is love? What is the role of desire in relationships? What is the role of respect and of moral judgment? What can a bad relationship teach us? In this class, we explore the logic of personal relationships by focusing on the central experience of being in love. However, our approach is indirect. We begin with what we can learn from a bad relationship. In addition to philosophical and psychological reading, students design exercises that might improve a personal relationship as found in fiction or history. By thus imaginatively studying relationships in narration, they are asked to develop their own concept of a good relationship. Fulfills Moral and Ethical Reasoning perspective in the GER.

PHIL 221 Indian Philosophy

[Cross-listed as RLGN 221] We will survey the origins of Indian philosophical thought, with an emphasis on early Buddhist, Hindu and Jain literature. Our concern will be the methods, presuppositions, arguments, and goals of these schools and trajectories of thought. What were their theories on the nature of the person, the nature of reality, and the nature and process of knowing? What were the debates between the schools and the major points of controversy? And, most importantly, are the positions/ arguments internally incoherent?

PHIL 222 The Science of Happiness

What actually makes us happy? Scientific research shows most of us get this badly wrong. For instance, money is far less important, and embracing negative emotions far more important, than most people realize. When philosophy first got started, it focused on the single most practically important question anyone can ask: How can I live a good life? A recent boom in scientific research is now validating insights from traditions that take this approach of philosophy as a way of life, including ancient greek, eastern & continental schools of philosophy. Open to all students (no pre-requisites), this course combines intellectual inquiry with experiential approaches, blending philosophical insight, evidence-based interventions and cutting-edge science. For instance, students will learn about approaches to emotion regulation and stress resilience all the way from the ancient Stoics to recently published work in psychological science. This course won’t make you happy. It will sometimes make you sad. It will expose you to tools that you can use to improve your physical and psychological well-being, and – most important of all – your sense of purpose in life.

PHIL 225 Evolution

[Cross-listed as ANTH/BIOl/GEOL/HSTY] Multidisciplinary study of the course and processes of organic evolution provides a broad understanding of the evolution of structural and functional diversity, the relationships among organisms and their environments, and the phylogenetic relationships among major groups of organisms. Topics include the genetic basis of micro- and macro-evolutionary change, the concept of adaptation, natural selection, population dynamics, theories of species formation, principles of phylogenetic inference, biogeography, evolutionary rates, evolutionary convergence, homology, Darwinian medicine, and conceptual and philosophic issues in evolutionary theory.

PHIL 253 Religion and Philosophy in China

This course critically examines the three principal religious and philosophical traditions of China: the Confucian, Daoist, and Chinese Buddhist traditions. Through a combination of assigned print and online readings, video clips and documentaries, class discussions, and written assignments, students explore the origins and historical developments, principal thinkers, central religious and doctrinal themes, ethics, spirituality, popular devotions, social movements, and contemporary developments of these three major religious and philosophical traditions of China. Students will consider the wider social, cultural, ethical, economic, and political dimensions of Chinese religions and philosophies generally, and themes of community and society, identity constructions, personal experiences, movements, as well as their socio-cultural reproductions in contemporary China, and where appropriate, the Chinese Diaspora in North America. 

PHIL 270 Introduction to Gender Studies

[Cross-listed as ENGL/HSTY/PHIL/RLGN/207 & WGST 201] This course introduces women and men students to the methods and concepts of gender studies, women’s studies, and feminist theory. An interdisciplinary course, it covers approaches used in literacy criticism, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, film studies, cultural studies, art history, and religion. It is the required introductory course for students taking the women’s studies major. Recommended preparation: ENGL 150 or USFS 100. Global & Cultural Diversity.

PHIL 271 Bioethics: Dilemmas

We have the genetic technology to change nature and human nature, but should we? We have the medical technology to extend almost any human life, but is this always good? Should we clone humans? Should we allow doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill? This course invites students from all academic disciplines and fields to examine current and future issues in bioethics–e.g., theory and methods in bioethics; death and dying; organ transplantation; genetics; aging and dementia; fertility and reproduction; distributive justice in health care access. The course will include guest lecturers from nationally known Bioethics faculty.

PHIL 301 Ancient Philosophy

[Cross-listed as CLSC 301] Western philosophy from the early Greeks to the Skeptics. Emphasis on the pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. Recommended preparation: PHIL 101 and consent of department. Prerequisite: 101 or consent of instructor.

PHIL 302 Modern Philosophy

After the Renaissance, Western philosophy gradually liberated itself from theology controlled by the Church, and its liberation became fairly complete in the 17th and 18th centuries. With its newly achieved autonomy from external authority, philosophy appealed to the authority of reason or sense experience, giving rise to opposed theories of thought, Rationalism and Empiricism. This course will examine the epistemological dispute between the two schools and the metaphysical constructions that incorporated the different epistemological views. The course will conclude with an examination of the way Immanuel Kant attempted to bring rationalism and empiricism to a synthesis. In appropriate contexts the continuity of today’s philosophy to 17th and 18th century philosophy will be explained. Works of Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant will be read. There will be two examinations, mid term and final, and one substantial paper. Prerequisite: Phil 101 or consent of instructor.

PHIL 303 Topics in Philosophy of Science

In-depth study of selected topics in general philosophy of science or philosophy of physical, biological, or social science. Topics may include: theories of explanation, prediction, and confirmation; semantics of scientific language; reductionism; space, time and relativity; philosophical issues about quantum mechanics; philosophical issues about life sciences (e.g., evolution, teleology, and functional explanation); explanation and understanding in social sciences; value in social science. Recommended preparation: PHIL 101 or PHIL 201 or PHIL 203. Offered as PHIL 303 and PHIL 403.

PHIL 305/405 Ethics

Ethical theory can be understood as dividing up into three general categories: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Metaethics, generally construed, is understood as the area of ethical investigation which concerns the meaning and nature of ethical concepts, and whether we can have any secure knowledge about ethical concerns. Normative Ethics is the area of ethics which is concerned to spell out principles by which human beings can conduct their actions and lives. Applied Ethics relates to specific issues of concern to human beings, such as abortion, the environment. Prerequisite: Phil 101 or 205.

PHIL 306/406 Mathematical Logic and Model Theory

Propositional calculus and quantification theory; consistency and completeness theorems; goedal incompleteness results and their philosophical significance; introduction to basic concepts of model theory; problems of formulation of arguments in philosophy and the sciences. Prerequisite: Phil 201.

PHIL 309 Climate Justice

Coming to terms with global warming means coming to terms with justice.  Students read established and emerging texts in this growing field seeking to understand what the conditions of justice are, what theories of justice are useful, and how to engage with both historical social inertia and complex, emerging politics around matters of climate justice.  Fulfills Moral and Ethical Reasoning perspective in the GER.

PHIL 311/411 Neuroethics

Ethics is traditionally a branch of Philosophy. However, research in neuroscience, psychology and behavioral economics is shedding new light on the underlying bases of ethical behavior and ethical thinking. The class will examine how this work informs and enriches traditional philosophical ethics. Topical focus of the class will depend on student interest, but potentially include: What determines how ethically we behave: our character or our situation? What role do and should emotions play in ethical thinking? Can science tell us whether utilitarian or deontological ethics is better? The dark tetrad – narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy and sadism. What is empathy and what roles does it play in generating both ethical and unethical behavior. Varieties of moral disengagement, including dehumanizing. Cognitive dissonance and the slide into unethical behavior. Radicalization into violent extremism. Promoting ethical behavior.

PHIL 313/413 Philosophy of Mathematics

Logical paradoxes and their effects on foundations of mathematics. Status of mathematical entities and nature of mathematical truths. Formalist, logicist, and intuitionist positions. Prerequisite: Phil 101 or 201.

PHIL 315 /415 Special Topics in Philosophy

Explanation of views of a major philosopher or philosophical school, a significant philosophical topic, or a topic that relates to philosophy and another discipline. Prerequisite: Phil 101 or consent of instructor. Prereq: Phil 101 or 201

PHIL 316/416 African Political Thought

[Cross-listed as ETHS 316/416] Introduction to select themes in the work of contemporary African philosophers, with special emphasis on political thought. In this course, students will learn something about factors affecting the creation and flow of knowledge and ideas about Africa and discuss the relative importance of the “nation-state” as an idea in Europe, pre-colonial Africa, and postcolonial Africa. Prereq: PHIL 101.

PHIL 317/417 War and Morality

The aim of this course is to explore a wide range of ethical issues relating to the decision to take a nation to war, how wars are conducted, and efforts to establish order in the wake of a conflict. Topics include the Just War tradition, pacifism, humanitarian intervention, moral repair and the establishment of a just peace, conduct of war, warrior codes, warrior transitions, and civil-military relations. We will be examining the ethics of war from the perspectives of both states and individuals. War is a crucible that strips those caught up in its horrors down to their fundamental selves inspiring acts of both inhuman depravity and seemingly superhuman nobility. This course is presented in a seminar format with lively discussions centering on contemporary readings in military ethics from texts and journals. Offered as PHIL 317, PHIL 417, and LAWS 5135.

PHIL 318 People and Planet

In this course, we study the way in which the environment is a matter of politics. Our approach is philosophical, examining the concept of politics in light of how societies shape their environment on Earth. This elucidation’s aim is practical. We want to know not only what environmental politics is, but what we should do about it. Students from any major are welcome, without prerequisite. Fulfills Moral and Ethical Reasoning perspective in the GER.

PHIL 319/419 Philosophy of State Violence War, Colonization, Punishment, and Immigration 

The modern state inflicts forms of violence against its own citizens through the criminal justice system and wields violence against foreign citizens and states through immigration enforcement, war, and colonization. But what is the moral and ethical basis of the state’s authority to wield such forms of violence? What justifies a state in imprisoning and even killing its own citizens (as the US does via the death penalty), and inflicting the violence of war on other states? This course will examine historical and contemporary perspectives on the ethical basis of the state’s right to use force and explore arguments defending and critiquing the use of state violence in the areas of punishment, war, colonization, and immigration enforcement, from a diverse range of perspectives. Offered as PHIL 319 and PHIL 419. Counts as a UGER Communication Intensive course. Prereq: Passing letter grade in Academic Inquiry Seminar (AIQS).

PHIL 320/420 The Phenomenological Tradition

Husserl redefines philosophy as phenomenology, a science that seeks knowledge of the essential forms of consciousness and those of objects as intended through them. His idea of phenomenology appropriates diverse elements in the philosophical tradition including Descartes’ view that the human mind has evident cognition of its own existence, its own acts, its own states, and its own contents, Kant’s view that the subject of experience must construct an object to experience it, and Brentano’s view that a mental phenomenon contains an object within itself. We will examine the philosophical rationale of phenomenology, its epistemological and ontological assumptions and implications, its theses about human consciousness. We will then study Heidegger’s reinterpretation of phenomenology as interpretive ontology of human existence, some resonance with, and reactions to his ontology.

PHIL 321 Advanced Indian Philosophy

We will closely examine a limited number of texts in Jain, Hindu, and/or Buddhist philosophy. Our concern will be the methods, presuppositions, arguments, and goals of these schools and trajectories of thought. What were their theories on the nature of the person, the nature of reality, and the nature and process of knowing? What were the debates between the schools and the major points of controversy? We will spend the majority of time analyzing the arguments or positions as they are found in primary texts (in translation). We will rely on the primary sources found in Sarma Introduction to Classical Indian Philosophy as well as PDFs provided by the instructor. Students will read texts out loud in class and will be expected to comment on the passage or passages. Students are expected to use outside sources in their preparations. The goal of the class is to continue to learn how to make and write arguments against (or in support of) the various positions using the prasangika (reductlo ad absurdum) method. The papers are rigorous ones and require the student to present the position and then to posit arguments against it, finding internal incoherences. This is a writing-intensive class. Students will continue to learn how to write as per the genre of Indian philosophy. Offered as RLGN 321 and PHIL 321. Prereq: RLGN 221 or PHIL 221.

PHIL 322 Decolonization

Decolonization is the process of returning sovereignty to societies that have been colonized. Students learn about the history of decolonization, examples of current struggles against settler colonization, and the discourse of decoloniality, engaging in what is called “decolonial thought.” They achieve a grasp of the history of decolonization struggles, awareness of the complexities of decolonization past and present, and comfort with the complex discourse of decoloniality. Students develop their philosophical outlook on decolonization today.  Fulfills Understanding Global Perspectives in the GER.

PHIL 325/425 Philosophy of Feminism

[Cross-listed as WGST 325] What is feminism? What is gender? Are sex and gender different? Is gender a social construction? How might the answers to these questions affect traditional philosophic approaches and solutions to problems of personal identity, knowledge, morality, politics, and the emphasis of the role of logical reasoning in our lives? In our exploration of these issues we will be looking at source material from the whole spectrum of feminist thought, from significant works in the history of the feminist movement, liberal feminist writings, radical separatist writings, to lesbian non-separatist writings. Prerequisite: Phil 101 or consent of instructor.


PHIL 328/428 Moral & Social Responsibility

Contemporary theories of moral responsibility often focus on when and under what conditions individuals can be held morally responsible and blameworthy for their behavior or attitudes. However, feminist and critical race scholars have explored how oppressive social structures and practices can shape and distort when, and for what reasons, individuals and groups are held responsible and blamed for their actions. This course will introduce students to contemporary work on moral responsibility and the social bases of responsibility from diverse range of authors and explore the implications of these accounts for practices such as legal punishment and responsibility for social injustices. Offered as LAWS 4328 and PHIL 328 and PHIL 428.

PHIL 330/430 Topics in Ethics

Examination of views in ethics of a major philosopher or philosophical school, a significant philosophical topic in ethics, or a topic that relates ethics to philosophy and another discipline. Prerequisite: Phil 101 or 205 or consent of instructor.

PHIL 332/432. Classical Jewish Religious Thought

[Cross=listed as JDST/ RLGN 330] The thought of some major biblical and Rabbinic writings and of the classic age of medieval Jewish philosophy.

PHIL 333/433 Philosophy of Religion

We shall first address the question as to what characterizes the philosophical approach to religion, what differentiates it from a non-philosophical approach, and what sort of understanding of religion is expected to generate. Second, we shall discuss selected topics in the Judeo-Christian tradition: arguments for God’s existence; divine foreknowledge and freedom; problem of evil and theodicy, among others. Third, we shall broaden the scope of inquiry and address such topics as: varieties of religious metaphysics such as those of Hinduism, Buddhism, and monism, and their relative strengths. In so doing, we shall inquire how some of the problems germane to the Judeo-Christian philosophy of religion either disappear, get re-interpreted, or get replaced by other problems, in other traditions. Finally, we shall address selected critical questions about religion in general, such as: the nature and significance of religious experience; mysticism; knowledge, belief, and faith; ethics and religion; and the nature of religious language and discourse. The authors of works to be read include: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietsche, Otto, Bultmann, Tillich, Ricoeur., as well as selected contemporary philosophers and philosophical theologians. The course will stress class discussions. At least two papers and an examination will be required. Prerequisite: Phil 101 or consent of instructor.

PHIL 334/434 Political and Social Philosophy

[Cross-listed as POSC 354] Justification of social institutions, primarily political ones. Such distinctions as that between de facto and legitimate authority; analysis of criteria for evaluation, such as social justice and equality; inquiry into theories of justification of the state; theory of democratic government and its alternatives. Readings from classical and contemporary sources. Prerequisite: Phil 101.

PHIL 335/435 Philosophy of Law

[Cross-listed as LAWS 353] This course is designed to introduce a student to the general nature of law, the broad concerns of jurisprudence, the study of comparative law and many of the issues raised in the literature of legal philosophy. Students will examine the principles of legal positivism, mitigated natural law, and rights theory. To illustrate these theories, students are assigned selected readings and cases. In addition, the legal theories studied are examined in the context of rule selection by a new government in new or revolutionary societies. The course also looks at the general nature of legal systems, particularly how politics, morality, and individual views of justice and right affect the and development of law generally and particular court cases. Specific topics covered include: abortion; obscenity and sin; civil disobedience; affirmative action; surrogatehood; and the death penalty. This course is open to and attended by both law students and students of the colleges. Students of the colleges are graded on a separate system than the law students. Recommended preparation: Phil 101.

PHIL336/436 Military Ethics, the Military Profession, and International Law

The aim of this course is to disclose how the current contents of international humanitarian law of war and the “just war tradition” can be grounded in canons of probity, rectitude, aspirations and “best practices” applicable to members of a “profession of arms.” In international law, theoretical tenents of military ethics are systematized and applied. As such, understanding international law is an essential component of a working understanding of modern military conflicts and the theoretical and formal frameworks that govern them. In this course, however, we will consider the international legal framework pertaining to use of force itself through the prism of a professional code of conduct that, like those in other professions such as law and medicine, have been forged over centuries of practice and reflection by members of the specific community of common practice. We will contrast the ambiguous and culturally determined aspects of several historical “warrior codes” [which, in analogy with other historical professions, we can identify and analyze as a form of “soft” law] with what finally emerges in the stipulative, “black-letter” cosmopolitan foundations of the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law. We will examine challenges to both arising from the evolution of new forms of conflict and warfare (e.g., irregular war, cyber war, and other forms of “soft” war or “unarmed” conflict), as well as to major cultural transformations underway within military organizations themselves.This course also has a specific unifying objective for students enrolled in the CWRU Master’s degree program in military ethics. They will participate in the annual meeting of ISME, and examine handbooks of armed conflict, working on final M.A. thesis or practicum during the semester, formulating and beginning the projects that are to be completed prior to graduation.

PHIL 337/437 Philosophy of Evil: Defining, Understanding, and Responding to Evil

The concept of evil plays a significant role in our moral thinking but is rarely clearly defined. When we call a person, institution, or action “evil,” what do we mean? How do individuals or institutions come to commit or perpetuate evil acts? And how should societies and individuals respond to evil? This course will explore these questions through the lens of historical and contemporary philosophical and interdisciplinary accounts of the nature of evil, the causes of evil, and social and interpersonal responses to evil, including debates about forgiveness, reconciliation, reparations, and punishment. Offered as PHIL 337 and PHIL 437. Counts as a UGER Communication Intensive course. Prereq: Passing letter grade in Academic Inquiry Seminar (AIQS) 

PHIL 345/445 Epistemology and Metaphysics

Traditional problems of epistemology, such as definition of knowledge, justification of belief, nature of evidence and foundationalism, skepticism, the a priori, and the role of sense perception in knowledge. Metaphysical presuppositions and implications of epistemological views. Forms of realism and anti-realism. Prerequisite: Phil 101.

PHIL 355/455 19th/Early 20th Century Philosophy

19th century philosophy is full of drama. Before the turn of the century, Kant had pronounced transcendent metaphysics impossible yet various attempts were made in the new century to revive speculation around or against Kant’s critical considerations. Schopenhauer built a metaphysical system incorporating Kant’s view that space and time are the forms of phenomena and interpreting Kant’s thing-in-itself as the Will that manifests itself through them. Hegel built the most comprehensive and complex metaphysical system that human history had seen or would see. He constructed his system of Absolute Idealism with a critique of Kant’s critique of reason. But a number of philosophers made special efforts to dismantle Hegel’s system. Kierkegaard attacked it from an existential and religious perspective. Rudolph Feuerbach reinterpreted Hegel on a materialist basis. Marx appropriated Hegel’s idea of dialectic and combined it with materialism to produce a theory of society and history that he made serve a revolutionary cause. Nietzsche’s significance consists not so much in his critique of his predecessors as in his forecast of the shape of future thought. His thought has only recently begun to be understood in depth and appreciated. Radical ideas he expressed ahead of their time, such as civilization as defense of self-deception, perspectival relativity of human belief and value, eternal recurrence as postulate required for human authenticity, and the need for human transcendence of belief in the transcendent and acceptance of the immanence of the ground of being, are live topics in today’s philosophical discourse. Prerequisite: 101 or consent of instructor for 355, consent of instructor for 455.

PHIL 356/456 Comparative Philosophy

This course is a rubric for comparative studies of selected Western and non-Western philosophical texts. The comparative studies to be conducted at this offering of the course includes: Confucian Analects, Doctrine of the Mean, and Great Learning, with excerpts from Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics, and Kant’s works; Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, compared with Fragments of Heraclitus, excerpts from Spinoza’s Ethics, excerpts from Schopenhauer, and excerpts from Bergson. Excerpts from Zen Literature compared with excerpts from Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre. We Shall attempt to discover and interpret East-West affinities and differences-doctrinal, methodological, and stylistic. We shall reflect on our comparative inquiry itself, addressing such questions as: What presuppositions do we bring to our interpretations of these texts, especially the Eastern ones? How do the presuppositions make our interpretations possible and limit it at the same time? Can we interpret the Western Texts from an Eastern point of view? Are there transcultural criterions of truth and a transculturally valid method of inquiry? The course requirements consist of two substantial papers and a final examination. Prerequisite: Phil 101 or consent of instructor.

PHIL 360/460 Science and Society

This course examines the complex ethical and other value relationships that exist between science and society. Students will be encouraged to question the simplistic view that science proceeds independently of societal values and contentious ethical commitments. A range of other social factors, such as ethical belief systems, political forces, and large-scale financial interests all influence new scientific and technological developments. In order to illuminate each of these larger themes, this course focuses on three exciting areas of scientific inquiry: stem cell research; synthetic biology; and nanotechnology. Each of these contentious scientific fields provides an excellent view into the challenging ethical, cultural, social, political, and economic issues that will face students, both as scholars and as citizens. No prior technical knowledge is necessary for any of these scientific areas. All relevant scientific information will be provided during the course by the professor. Offered as BETH 360, BETH 460 and PHIL 360.

PHIL 365/465 Philosophy of Mind

Traditional problems such as the relation of mind and body, knowledge of other minds, free will, and determination and nature of psychological examination. Analysis of chief theories of mind. Analysis of mental concepts such as intention, action, decision, emotion, and will. Prerequisite: Phil 101 or consent of instructor.

PHIL 366/466 Brain, Mind and Consciousness

The course introduces students to key topics in philosophy of mind from the perspective of our increasingly advanced scientific understanding of mind and brain (e.g. derived from neuroscience, psychology and cognitive science). Key philosophical topics covered include dualism, physicalism, idealism, consciousness and free will. Key scientific issues covered include methods and assumptions underlying research in psychology and neuroscience, introspection, essentialism, dehumanizing, and work on free will and consciousness. No pre-requisites other than curiosity are required, however students will benefit from having previously taken courses in philosophy, neuroscience, psychology and/or computer science. Students are expected to complete the assigned readings with care and attention, and to participate in discussion. The goal is for students to leave with an understanding of the rich ways in which different approaches can shed light on the human mind, including an appreciation of the limits of scientific inquiry into the mind.

PHIL 367/467 Topics in Evolutionary Biology

[Cross-listed as ANTH/BIOL/GEOL] The focus for this course on a special topic of interest in evolutionary biology will vary from one offering to the next. Examples of possible topics include theories of speciation, the evolution of language, the evolution of sex, evolution and biodiversity, molecular evolution. ANAT/ANTH/GEOL/PHIL 467/BIOL 468 will require a longer, more sophisticated term paper, and additional class presentation.

PHIL 371/471 Advanced Bioethics

This course offers upper-level instruction on many key bioethical issues introduced in BETH/PHIL 271. The class follows a discussion-intensive seminar format. Students begin with an in-depth analysis of ethical issues surrounding the conduct of clinical trials, both within the U.S. and through U.S.-sponsored research abroad. Next students examine the philosophical and practical challenges involved in medical decision making for adults and pediatric patients. This course concludes by addressing the broader ethical problem of what duties we owe to future generations in terms of our reproductive choices and the allocation of health-related public expenditures. Each of these general topic areas – clinical trials, medical decision making, and future generations – is of crucial importance for all students whether one plans to enter a career in biomedical research, the healthcare professions, or some other career path. Everyone is a potential patient or the family member of a potential patient. The topics covered in Advanced Bioethics will help prepare students to become responsible participants in an increasingly complex biomedical world. Offered as BETH 371 and PHIL 371. Prereq: BETH 271 or PHIL 271.

PHIL 384/484 Ethics and Public Policy

Evaluation of ethical arguments in contemporary public policymaking discourse. That is, approaches to evaluating not only the efficiency of policy (Will this policy achieve its end for the least cost?) but also the ethics of policy (Are a policy’s intended ends ethically justified or “good,” and are our means to achieve those ends moral or “just”?). Overview of political ideologies that supply U.S. political actors with their ethical or moral arguments when proposing and implementing public policy, followed by an application of these differing perspectives to selected policy areas such as welfare, euthanasia, school choice, drug laws, censorship, or others. Offered as PHIL 384, PHIL 484,POSC 384 and POSC 484.

PHIL 390 Senior Research Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science

Directed independent research seminar for seniors who are majors in the History and Philosophy of Science program. The goal of the course is to develop and demonstrate command of B.A.-level factual content, methodologies, research strategies, historiography, and theory relevant to the field of history of science and/or philosophy of science. The course includes both written and oral components. Offered as HSTY 380 and PHIL 390.

PHIL 392 Empathic Leadership 

There was a time when it was thought that great leaders were born, not made. The ancient philosophers knew better, and modern science shows they were right. Becoming a strong leader is not merely a matter of understanding what it takes in principle, but also of practicing the skills. This course will be of value to those who wish to improve their skills in helping professions and roles, such as: coach, therapist, teacher, nurse, doctor, manager, and parent. Students enrolled in this course will simultaneously develop their leadership skills and help other CWRU students by acting as a trainee facilitator and coach who guides and supports others as they engage in a variety of personal development exercises. Students will also collaborate on the design and leadership of a module for PHIL 222. Students will also reflect on their leadership experience and integrate it with academic scholarship relating to empathy, coaching, and emotionally intelligent leadership. Previous students of this class have found the experience to be novel and very fulfilling. Students should previously have taken PHIL 222. By registering for this class students are committing to participate in a second offering of PHIL222 as a student facilitator rather than a student. Check you are available for PHIL222 class times but only enroll in this class. Enrollment by permission of instructor. 

PHIL 393/493 Ethics and Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies

This course explores ethical issues concerning the development and use of Artificial Intelligence and related emerging technologies. These issues range from deferring to automation as an authority to the effects of bias embedded in algorithms and data sets to vital questions of autonomy and accountability, all the way to an examination of possible rights for advanced AI systems in the future. Systems that are described as powered by AI or machine learning are currently used in many settings, from businesses to healthcare to the military, all of which have an impact on human lives. There are risks and opportunities associated with this, including the intriguing possibility that we could use such systems as augmentation to make humans more ethical, not less. This course will give students the opportunity to consider and debate how technology can be designed and deployed in ways that promote the common good and avoid causing harm, especially to the most vulnerable among us.

PHIL 394/494 Seminar in Evolutionary Biology

(Cross-listed as ANTH 394) Prerequisite: Phil 101, or 201 or 203.

PHIL 369/496 Research in Evolutionary Biology

(Cross-listed as ANTH 396) Prerequisite: Phil 101, or 201 or 203.

PHIL 397 Directed Study

Under faculty supervision, students will undertake a project that demonstrates critical thinking, has clear goals, features periodic reporting of progress, and will result in a final report. 

PHIL 398 Capstone

Under faculty supervision, students will undertake a project that demonstrates critical thinking, has clear goals, features periodic reporting of progress, and will result in a final report and public presentation.  

PHIL 399 Honors Thesis

Under faculty supervision, students will complete a substantial thesis that demonstrates critical thinking, has clear goals, features periodic reporting of progress, and will be the subject of an oral examination as well as a public presentation. 

Phil 499 Independent Study at the MA Level  This course enables graduate students in departments or interdisciplinary programs with an MA to pursue intensive directed study with a faculty member in Philosophy.  Students should consult with the Instructor and with their MA director or graduate program director before enrolling.

PHIL 501 Military Ethics MA Capstone  3 – 6 Units.

This Military Ethics MA capstone course will feature a summative project designed to integrate the students’ common studies for the MA program, while being tailored to their individual future interests in teaching, further graduate study, or employment in public policy or foreign affairs. The capstone project, culminating in a paper, may involve both academic research and fieldwork, integrated with the degree-candidate’s professional experience or interest. If the student opts to write a more traditional thesis, then the paper should be approximately 10,000-20,000 words. The write up for a more project-based capstone should be approximately 5,000 words. An example of such a non-thesis project would be to design and defend a military ethics curriculum to use for PME (professional military education), domestically or internationally, including justifications of which readings, case studies, examples, theories, and principles to include, and which to exclude, and why, based on work in the field of Military Ethics. In either case, the outline of the capstone project must be presented to and accepted by a professor or instructor in the MA program who is willing to serve as the student’s capstone advisor. The Master’s capstone should build on the relevant elective courses by each candidate (in consultation with program faculty) around an appropriate area of concentration (e.g., military medicine and ethics; military law and ethics; psychology, history, or literature). Distribution of the 6 credits over one or two semesters will be decided through consultation with the student’s MA advisor. This course will also fulfill the SAGES capstone requirement for undergraduate students enrolled in the Military Ethics MA through the IGS program. For these students, the capstone must be presented publicly either at Intersections or at an annual Philosophy Department event for other capstones and honors theses. Counts as SAGES Senior Capstone. 

PHIL 699 Advanced Tutorial and Dissertation for Candidates in fields related to Philosophy  1 – 3 Units.

This course enables students in departments offering the Ph.D. to pursue intensive directed study with a faculty member in Philosophy, on philosophical aspects of their dissertation topic. Students should consult with the instructor and with their dissertation director before enrolling.