Undergraduate Courses

Below is a list of upcoming undergraduate courses with full descriptions (when available) and other specific information.  For a full listing of undergraduate-level courses offered by the Department, please see the OSU Course Catalog.  For a complete listing of courses offered in the current and upcoming semester see the schedule of classes.

Upcoming Undergraduate Courses


Spring Semester 2015

1100H Honors Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: D. Goldman
HN 201 MWF 10:20-11:15

Philosophy tackles some of the most exciting and foundational of human questions. In this course we will explore several of those questions, including: what is the nature of the mind? What are the limits of our knowledge of the world? Does God exist? Is morality objective, or is it in some sense subjective or relative? We will also select a few more specific moral topics to examine in depth; possibilities here might include the justifiability of criminal punishment, or the ethics of biomedical research.

This broad range of topics will provide an introduction to the subject matter of philosophy, while also introducing you to the way that philosophers discuss, think, and write about these topics.

1300 Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: P. Turner
HC 250 TR 9:10-10:05

This course introduces students to major moral theories by focusing on difficult ethical problems including animal rights, abortion, aid to developing countries, legal paternalism, and euthanasia.

1850 Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
Instructor: J. Jorati
MP 2015 TR 12:45-2:05

Is there a God and if so, what is this God like?  Is the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly good creator compatible with the kinds of evils we observe in the world?  Are there good arguments for or against the existence of a God, and is there anything wrong with believing in a God in the absence of good evidence?  What is the relation between morality and religion?

If you are curious about these kinds of questions, this course is a great place to explore them, whether you are a believer, an atheist, or an agnostic.

2342 Environmental Ethics
Instructor: P. Turner
CL 183 TR 11:10-12:30

Do individuals and communities have a moral obligation to care for the natural environment? What are our duties to future generations? What is the moral status of non-human animals, plants, and ecosystems? And how should we understand the challenge of sustainable development?

2400 Political and Social Philosophy
Instructor:  D. Goldman
UH 43 MWF 12:40-1:35

This course will explore foundational philosophical questions about politics. It will also make a special effort to combine abstract philosophical theorizing about these questions with attention to the actual circumstances of life in contemporary American society. Some of the questions we will explore include: How is the state’s authority justified? Is authority ever legitimate? When and why is civil disobedience permissible? Can criminal punishment be justified? How does the massive racial inequality in the imposition of criminal punishment in our society affect our view of the practice? Is the state obligated to promote equality? Is there a tension between this pursuit of equality and individual freedom?

2500 Symbolic Logic
Instructor: N. Tennant
LZ 0002 TR 9:35-10:55

We aim to give the student a thorough grounding in the techniques of formal logic: translating sentences of English into formal logical notation, analyzing arguments for validity, providing formal proofs for valid arguments, and constructing counterexamples to invalid ones. We shall concentrate on the connectives of propositional logic, but shall also explain the workings of the quantifiers of first-order logic. This is not just a technical exercise, but involves philosophical consideration of issues such as reference, predication, quantification, identity, descriptions, truth and meaning. We shall explain the basic concepts of metalogic, which is the study of logical systems themselves. The most important properties to be studied are the soundness and completeness of systems of proof with respect to a chosen semantics. Our systems of proof will be those of natural deduction, with their characteristic introduction and elimination rules for the connectives and the quantifiers. This affords a unified approach to the study of classical logic and its most important subsystems.

2860 Science and Religion
Instructor: N. Jesser
ML 174 TR 9:35-10:55

Do religion and science answer different questions?  Does one rely on faith and the other evidence?  Are they competing frameworks or do they have more in common than is acknowledged by either? In this course we will examine the historical connections and disconnections between science and religion through controversies, explicit philosophies, and historical accounts of the development of scientific institutions and values from secular and religious sources. We will then examine practices (from various cultures) that claim to be or are seen as both "religious" and "scientific."  Lastly, we look at contemporary attempts to reconcile science and religion, re-enchant nature, and bring non-western religious and cultural perspectives to bear on the global practices of science.

2900 H Freshman-Sophomore Proseminar: Meaning in Life and Death
Instructor: A. Silverman
HN 201 TR 2:20-3:40

We will try to make sense of the notion of meaning in life, why we think there is such a thing, what differences it would make to us humans whether there is or is not any meaning in life, and whether how we think about meaning in life affects how we think about death. We will carefully read four, short, wonderful books:

1)   Natural Goodness, by Philippa Foot

2)   Meaning in Life and Why it Matters, by Susan Wolf

3)   Radical Hope, by Jonathan Lear

4)   Death and the Afterlife, by Samuel Scheffler

This class requires no background in philosophy. Course requirements are participation in class discussions and approximately 10 to 15 written pages over the course of the semester.

3000 Gateway Seminar
Instructor:  W. Taschek
UH 353 WF 12:45-2:05

The principal aim of this course is to provide newly declared majors in philosophy the sort of training in reading, researching, and writing about philosophy that will best prepare them to flourish in the higher-level courses that they will need to take as part of their major.  In general, topics covered in Philosophy 3000 will vary each time the course is taught.  This Spring Semester, the course will focus on a selection of important papers on a variety of subjects, including metaphysics, philosophy of language, epistemology, and value theory—all by contemporary philosophers.  Students will be expected to come to the seminar meetings prepared to discuss the readings in detail—both with an eye to acquiring an analytical understanding of the positions and arguments of the authors and with the eventual aim of critically assessing them.  Learning to write clear and incisive philosophy papers will be a particular focus of the course.  There will be a number of short writing assignments, on which students will receive extensive feedback—both written and in the form of paper conferences.  There will also be a final seminar paper.  Students will be expected to submit a complete first draft of this paper, and will rewrite it based on feedback. 

3210 History of Ancient Philosophy
Instructor: T. Rudavsky
ML 115 WF 11:10-12:30

Is Western philosophy nothing but a footnote to Plato? In what ways have ancient thinkers influenced the content of subsequent philosophy? In this course we shall examine the works of the major Greek philosophers in an attempt to understand both their own theories as well as their contributions to modern philosophy.

Readings will be drawn from the writings of the Presocratics, Plato, and Aristotle. REQUIREMENTS: one midterm exam, one final exam, and several short written exercises.

3240 History of 18th Century Philosophy
Instructor: J Jorati
TO 247 TR 9:35-10:55

In eighteenth century European philosophy, there is no shortage of radically new ideas.  This course explores some of the most influential philosophical innovations of that period, both in metaphysics and in ethics.  For instance, we will cover Kant’s famous categorical imperative, Hume’s criticism of arguments for the existence of God, Wollstonecraft’s powerful case for women’s rights, and Leibniz’s views on human free will.

3250 History of 19th Century Philosophy
Instructor: C. Pincock
TO 247 WF 9:35-10:55

This course focuses on three of the most significant figures of nineteenth century philosophy: Hegel (1770-1831), Mill (1806-1873) and Nietzsche (1844-1900). We begin with an overview of Kant’s way of drawing the distinction between appearance and reality. Then we will consider how Hegel, Mill and Nietzsche responded, in quite different ways, to this distinction. Roughly speaking, Hegel argues that reflecting on the self gives us special access to the nature of reality, while Mill recasts reality so that it must fit with what we can immediately experience. Nietzsche offers a third option through his genealogical method, which aims to uncover the hidden ways in which individuals have made their reality. While aspects of ethics and political philosophy will be included (especially with Nietzsche), our emphasis will be on metaphysics and epistemology.
Prerequisites: Phil. 3230 or Phil. 3240 recommended. (Not open to students with credit for 305.)
Note: This course fulfills the GE requirement for Lit and Diversity Global Studies.

3300 Moral Philosophy
Instructor: J. D’Arms
SO E0105 TR 11:10-12:30

What things are good? Is whatever we happen to want good? Or are there some standards of goodness that are independent of our actual desires? What is it right to do? Is this determined by consequences, or by considerations of some other kind? Should we expect that there are general answers to these sorts of questions, and general principles from which what is worth caring about and what is right to do can be derived? What is the relationship between being a rational person, on one hand, and wanting what’s good and doing what is right on the other? This course will look at some philosophically influential answers to these questions, and to other related ones.

This is a required course for philosophy majors. It will emphasize the development of certain important philosophical skills: reading texts carefully for philosophical comprehension, writing and rewriting papers in order to improve ideas and sharpen their exposition, discussing philosophical issues intelligently in a group setting.

3341 Ethical Conflicts in Health Care Research
Instructor: M. Nakano
HN 201 TR 11:10-12:30

An interdisciplinary approach to an analysis of central moral dilemmas in health care research, policy, and practice.

Students will:

  • discuss contemporary issues in healthcare research and practice with sufficient
    knowledge of their historical, scientific and regulatory background
  • understand the basic tenets of traditional ethical theories and apply their
    understanding to constructively critique real life healthcare conflicts
  • consider how to strike a balance between public ethical debates and personal
  • articulate their criteria of permissible and impermissible practice in health care, so
    that they can critically examine existing policies and regulations while being based
    on evidence and solid ethical reasoning.

3420 Philosophical Perspectives on Issues of Gender
Instructor: D. Howard
JR 353 TR 2:20-3:40

What does it mean to be a woman? What is the relationship between sex, gender, sexuality, and femininity? What role should considerations of gender play in our conception of justice? Is there a distinctly womanly or manly method of moral or theoretical reasoning? This course surveys these core philosophical issues surrounding gender, mostly from a feminist perspective. It explores the ways in which philosophers contributed to the development of feminism, and the ways in which feminist theory is expanding and challenging mainstream philosophy in turn. The course is thus intended to develop critical skills that are broadly applicable in a myriad of major current philosophical topics in epistemology, philosophy of science, ontology, ethics and political philosophy.

3430 Philosophy of Sex and Love
Instructor: A. Kerr
EC 218 TR 3:55-5:15

What is sex?  When we want to have sex, what is it that we actually want?  Why do we want sex?  What are the moral, social, and physical issues concerning sex?  Is adultery immoral?  What are sexual perversions?  Ought sex be related to love? 

What is love?  To answer this question properly requires that we think hard about definitions, historical discussions, and implications of love.  Is love essential to a flourishing human life?  How do parental love, sibling love, friendship love, erotic love, and romantic love differ?  And, what do they have in common?  

This course will explore both historical and contemporary philosophical perspectives on both sex and love.  Most people spend surprisingly little time actually thinking through issues concerning sex and love despite the fact that they play such a fundamental role in our lives.  A central aim of this course is to provide students with the theoretical tools to explore the longstanding philosophical concept of love that is so central to human life.  This course will strengthen students’ critical thinking skills as well as their ability to read and write about moral and social/political philosophy.

3750 Introduction to Theory of Knowledge
Instructor: N. Sharadin
HH 251 WF 11:10-12:30

This course is an introduction to the theory of knowledge. The course is divided up into roughly two parts: in the first part, we'll be interested in philosophical issues having to do with knowledge. In particular, we'll be interested in different philosophical treatments of the problem of skepticism. In the second part of the course, we'll look at contemporary accounts of justification and examine problems with each of these accounts.

3810 Philosophy of Action
Instructor: A. Roth
CH 232 WF 9:30-10:55

This totally amazing course is concerned with the nature of human action: What is it to act intentionally? Is the explanation of action in terms of reasons a form of causal explanation? Do we have free will? What is the nature of self-knowledge that

one has in acting? How is the practical reasoning leading to action related to intention? We will also be concerned with understanding shared agency or collective intentionality, as well as the status of some fundamental principles of practical reason. At the end of the course, we’ll be scratching our heads in amazement at how awesome this course was.

5212 Ancient Philosophy- Aristotle
Instructor: A. Silverman
UH 353 TR 11:10-12:30

If you sign up for this exclusive offer, there will be no payment due for 3 months. After  completion of the training participants will turn in a 10 to 15 page paper.

5230 17th Century Philosophy-Locke in the Context of Cartesianism
Instructor: L. Downing
Uh 353 TR 9:30-10:55

In this course we will examine the philosophy of John Locke in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding as a response to the theorizing of René Descartes and some of his followers.  Particular points of comparison/contrast will include innate ideas, the primary/secondary quality distinction, substance, conceptions of space and matter, materialism vs. dualism, accounts of knowledge.  Some familiarity with Descartes’ Meditations will be presupposed.

5261 Topics in Existentialism
Instructor: T. Rudavsky
RA 166 WF 12:45-2:05

This course will focus on the classical existentialist tradition.  We will spend the first few weeks studying HUSSERL and HEIDEGGER, and then move on to J.P. SARTRE. Attention will be paid to the nature of the self, being, time and nothingness, moral theory, and language.

Selections will be drawn from Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations, Heidegger’s Being and Time, as well as Sartre’s Transcendence of the Ego and Being and Nothingness.  Students will be expected to write a term paper, as well as a final exam. Depending upon the size of the class, there may be the opportunity for oral presentations as well.

Prereq: Phil 3261 or consent of the instructor

5400 Advanced Political & Social Philosophy
Instructor: P. Turner
UH 353 MW 9:35-10:55

Public political debates rarely involve careful reflection on the value of our basic liberal democratic institutions. In recent years, political philosophers have made significant contributions to our understanding of key issues underlying those public debates. This course will examine some of the most important contemporary work in political philosophy, including work addressing the nature and value of equality, democracy, and political legitimacy.

5500 Advance Symbolic Logic
Instructor: S. Shapiro
UH 353 MW 11:10-12:30

An introduction to the meta-theory of first-order languages.  The proof theory and model-theoretic semantics for a standard formal language will be developed.  The course will include proofs of the completeness, compactness, and Löwenheim-Skolem theorems.  The purpose of the course is to provide an introduction to mathematical logic, and to provide some of the logical background presupposed by many contemporary philosophical authors.  Occasionally, issues in the philosophy of logic will be raised.  There will be a midterm exam, a final exam, and several quizzes over homework exercises.  Prerequisite:  Philosophy 250(0) or equivalent.

5510 Non-classical Logic
Instructor: N. Tennant
HH 259 TR 2:20-3:40

Study of selected systems of non-classical logic, chosen from among those that address important philosophical issues and that involve technical innovations in either proof theory or formal semantics. We shall focus on systems of entailment, relevance, and modality;  intuitionistic logic; many-valued logics; epistemic logic; deontic logic; and free logic.

Prereq: 5500. Repeatable to a maximum of 10 cr hrs.

5650 Advance Philosophy of Science: Scientific Realism
Instructor: L. Downing
EC 202 TR 12:45-2:05

An examination of one of the broadest and most debated questions within philosophy of science:  Should scientific theories be understood as providing true (or approximately true) descriptions of the world?  If not, how should we understand the goals of science, and how should we explain its successes?  We will focus on the contemporary debate among realists, empiricists, and social constructivists, while also considering historical background to this debate and neighboring issues in the philosophy of science.