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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Philosophy

Fall 2017 Course Descriptions

Looking for a great course for the fall? Seeking to fulfill one of your Carolina Core or College of Arts and Sciences requirements? Look no further!

PHIL 101 Special Topics "Facts, fakes, and their theories" *fulfills College Humanities requirement*

Michael Stoeltzner


We are constantly presented with lots of facts and theories explaining them. Some of them seem to conflict with our basic intuitions and beliefs, some are abstract and difficult to understand, some are inconvenient for our practical goals. The aim of this class is to help students better navigate this body of knowledge claims and practices.

Topics include the relationship between practical knowledge and scientific knowledge, the ways to justify or criticize our initial beliefs, the distinction between science and pseudoscience, the formation of scientific consensus, the role of statistical evidence, how to prevent bias in knowledge formation and becoming an easy victim of deceit and fraud. 

A reader will be available on blackboard

PHIL 102: Introduction to Philosophy *fulfills College Humanities requirement*

Christopher Tollefsen


This course is to serve as an introduction into a type of questioning and thinking known as philosophy -- questioning and thinking done, as the name indicates, out of a love of wisdom, for the sake of knowledge about ourselves, and our world, which goes beyond the knowledge afforded to us by other disciplines such as the sciences. We'll proceed by looking at several essays in philosophy by contemporary philosopher Thomas Nagel, and then continue with an extended examination of Plato's classic The Republic.

PHIL 103: Philosophy of the Emotions *fulfills VSR requirement*

Matt Kisner


Living a good life--a happy, meaningful or virtuous life--may require having certain sorts of emotions: loving people in certain ways, desiring (or not desiring) certain things, perhaps even guilt and hate. This course considers what emotions are important to living well. Except for one inexpensive book, all readings will come from a course reader, available for purchase.

PHIL 103 – Philosophical Ideas of Slavery *fulfills VSR requirement*

Tiffany Beaver


Slavery existed in antiquity and still exists today. This course will examine ideas of slavery throughout history, including arguments used to justify slavery, and arguments used to oppose slavery. We will consider issues surrounding modern slavery, and we will examine individual responsibility to act on behalf of today’s 27-45 million slaves.

Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine (ISBN: 0-521-57433-1)

Garnsey, Peter. Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Understanding Global Slavery: A Reader (ISBN: 0-520-24507-5)

Bales, Kevin. Understanding Global Slavery a Reader. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

Modern Slavery: A Beginner’s Guide (ISBN: 978-1-85168-815-9)

Bales, Kevin, Zoe Trodd, and Alex Kent Williamson. Modern Slavery: A Beginner's Guide. Oxford: Oneworld, 2011.

PHIL 103: The Art of Living *fulfills VSR requirement*

Anne Pollok


Human life is an arduous task: whatever we do, these actions and decisions form our life and give it its very own direction. Even if we don’t realize it because the occasion seems so ordinary, we are always making fundamental choices. By living consciously, we become aware of the fundamental nature of our decisions that create our life. We choose what we value – but where does this ‘value’ come from? Some opt for a life of reason and knowledge – others choose faith. Some care more about freedom – others prefer the community and acknowledge the weight of our history. Some choose to live their life as a work of art.

But whatever we choose, there is a lot more work to it than mere deciding. Each decision needs to be followed through. To live well means to practice the art of living.

This course deals with the fundamental ideas and requirements behind such a practice. We will investigate into various sources of such fundamental ideas, to be found in literature and philosophy. How can we live by an ideal so chosen? What happens if such ideals come into conflict, both within me or between me and others?

Readings include: Plato: Symposium; Shakespeare: Hamlet; Nietzsche: The Gay Science; *Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling; Morrison: Song of Solomon; *Sartre: Existentialism as Humanism (* copies provided)

PHIL 114, Honors *fulfills ARP requirement*

Michael Dickson


In this class we will learn about formal logical languages -- 'invented' languages that are used to facilitate rigorous reasoning in a variety of useful contexts.  We will learn about the general idea of a 'formal logical language' and we will study one particular and important example of such a language in detail, learning how to use it, how to apply it to some specific types of real-world examples, and what some of its general properties are.  The book for this class is provided (in electronic form) free of charge.


PHIL 115: Introduction to Formal Logic II *fulfills ARP requirement*

Anne Bezuidenhout


This course builds on the formal deductive logic you were taught in PHIL 114, which was confined to a study of propositional logic. In this course, you will continue to explore foundational logical concepts and methods of proof. However, you will now be introduced to first-order predicate logic and first-order quantifiers. You will also explore intermediate topics in quantifier logic, as well as topics in the meta-theory of first order logic, including the concepts of soundness, completeness, and incompleteness. The text for this course is Barwise & Etchemendy (2002). Language, Proof and Logic (LPL). 2nd edition. CSLI Publications. ISBN 978-1-57586-632-1. LPL is available as a paperless package, which may be purchased and downloaded directly from;jsessionid=CF9F356F7BAEE21B0CED23D63EE55188

You will also be required to purchase an i>clicker or, if you have a smart phone, you can download the REEF Polling app and purchase a subscription for the time period of the course.

PHIL 211: Contemporary Moral Issues *fulfills VSR requirement*

various, TBA


This course is an exploration of questions of ethics and morality, with an emphasis on questions that are particularly pressing in contemporary society.  Students will learn what various thinkers have had to say about these issues, and how to think carefully and clearly about the issues.  Students will have an opportunity to discuss and explore some of the most important moral and ethical issues of our time.


 PHIL 213:  Communicating Moral Issues "fulfills VSR and CMS requirements*

various TBA


Clear, careful, and thoughtful communication about moral issues requires two related skills: the ability to analyze complex moral issues and the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively a position on these issues. In this course we develop both sets of skills through lectures, discussions, and written and oral assignments.


 PHIL 304 – 17th/18th Century Philosophy

Konstantin Pollok


The course covers major positions held by philosophers from the 17th and the 18th centuries. It will proceed chronologically; topics addressed by early modern thinkers include, among other things, ontology, metaphysics, and epistemology; readings related to these fields of theoretical philosophy will come from Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and Fichte. Readings on practical philosophy will focus on ethical as well as political theories brought forward by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Fichte.

This course will be conducted in a seminar format. Therefore, attendance and participation are important dimensions of the course and your grade. I expect you to come to class prepared and ready to participate, i.e., having read the assigned texts carefully, and ready to raise and answer questions. Keep in mind that participation is supposed to help you understand the texts, rather than simply demonstrate how well you understood them. Therefore, you should raise questions and try to answer them even if, and especially when, you are not sure about the text and do not feel confident that you have understood it.

Required Reading:  Baird, Forrest E. (ed.): Philosophic Classics, Volume III: Modern Philosophy, 6th edition, (Philosophic Classics, Pearson),Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2011 (Paperback)

PHIL 350 – Knowledge and Reality

Tom Burke


In this course we will explore some fundamental philosophical enigmas in the fields of metaphysics and epistemology. Topics in metaphysics include personal identity (what exactly is a "person"?), mind and free will, and the nature of space, time, and causation. Topics in epistemology include diff erent conceptions of truth, the nature of evidential support for beliefs, diff erent conceptions of knowledge (in particular, empiricist versus rationalist conceptions of knowledge), and various forms of skepticism.

Texts: METAPHYSICS: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION By MUMFORD, OXFORD U, 9780199657124 ($8.95 - $11.95) KNOWLEDGE: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION By NAGEL, OXFORD U, 9780199661268 ($8.95 - $11.95)

PHIL 325 – Engineering Ethics *fullfills VSR and CMS requirements*

Nick Danne


Develop the aptitude for speaking and writing on moral problems in the engineering discipline. Learn to distinguish causal facts from moral inferences, and learn to provide reasoned argument for a moral claim according to a number of metaethical paradigms.

Readings: Martin and Schinzinger, Introduction to Engineering Ethics, 2nd Ed.


PHIL 390: The Junior Seminar: Become who you are – Theories of Self-Formation 

Anne Pollok


The Junior Seminar in Philosophy is a three-credit course that serves as a preparation for the Senior Seminar (PHIL 490). It is a requirement for Philosophy Majors, preferably before their last 30 hours of study. Students are trained to offer a close and careful interpretation and analysis of a philosophical text to be i) presented and discussed in class and ii) captured in a written assignment. For this, one segment in this course also focuses on proper use of resources (i.e. the university library, databases). Participation and in class discussion of topics is a major part of this seminar style class.

In this course, we will discuss the different approaches to the concept of self-formation throughout (Western) history. Since there are very few texts that deal with the issue directly, we will consider a selection of writings that reflect on the role of individual and society in the process of education, learning, and the creating of character, individuality, and citizenship.

Texts will be made available on blackboard.

PHIL 490 Senior Seminar: Reading Plato’s Republic

Heike Sefrin-Weis


Close reading and critical analysis of Plato’s famous dialogue on justice, education, and the search for the best possible constitution of a political community. Plato’s text is rich, thought-provoking and no doubt relevant today. The core of the course is a direct engagement with the primary text. We will consider receptions, interpretations, and discussions in secondary literature as a second step in our analysis (with an emphasis on 20th and 21st century criticism). The course is intended for Philosophy majors in their senior year.

Required textbook: Plato, Republic. Penguin edition Secondary readings will either be made available on Blackboard or put on reserve in TCLibrary.

PHIL 511 - Advanced Symbolic Logic

Michael Dickson

In this class we will begin by covering the basics of first order predicate logic, with functions and identity. We will quickly cover both syntax (primarily derivations) and semantics (models). The remainder of the course will be devoted to three different sorts of topic: (1) alternatives to classical logic (primarily intuitionism, but we might cover some other topics here as well, depending on student interest); (2) additional logical languages (such as modal logic); (3) meta-logical topics from model theory, to include a careful discussion and proof of Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem(s). All students will be required to take two exams, one of which will cover first-order predicate logic, the other of which will be a 'final', covering the other material from the course. Graduate students will also be asked to write a short (5-10 page) paper.

PHIL 509 – Kant

Konstantin Pollok


Kant’s three Critiques are considered milestones in the history of philosophy, setting new standards in metaphysics, epistemology, practical philosophy, and aesthetics. In this course we will follow the development of Kant’s ‘critical philosophy’, including the Critique of Pure Reason (1781/87), the Prolegomena to any future metaphysics that will be able to come forward as science (1783), the Critique of Practical Reason (1788), the Critique of the Power of Judgment (1790), Toward Perpetual Peace (1795), and the Metaphysics of Morals (1797). We will closely study and critically reflect the most important sections of these works which include Kant’s major theses and his arguments supporting them. At the end of this course we should be in a position to better understand why philosophers even today refer to Kant’s works as a source of puzzling claims that are still worthwhile examining in order to find solutions to their own problems.

Required Reading:

Kant, Immanuel, Critique of Pure Reason (1781/87), trans. and ed. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998.

––, Theoretical Philosophy after 1781 (including Prolegomena), ed. by Henry Allison and Peter Heath, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002.

––, Practical Philosophy (including Critique of Practical Reason, Metaphysics of Morals, Toward Perpetual Peace), trans. and ed. Mary J. Gregor, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.

––, Critique of the Power of Judgment, ed. by Paul Guyer, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.


Anne Bezuidenhout


Could Humpty Dumpty be right when he tells Alice that, when he uses words, they mean just what he chooses them to mean?

You will find out in this course, where we will examine how words get meanings, what the relation is between words and things, the role of speaker intentions in accounting for meaning and reference, and the role that conversational context plays in the comprehension and production of utterances (both written and spoken). We will read and discuss recent arguments presented by philosophers and linguists addressing these and related issues.

Prescribed text: Kemp, G. (2013). What is this Thing Called Philosophy of Language? Routledge. ISBN-13: 9780415517843