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


Autumn Semester 2014

1100 Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: N. Tennant
MQ 264 MW 10:20-11:15

This is an introduction to rigorous thought about a variety of concepts and problems of fundamental significance. You will be introduced to methods of philosophical analysis, the clarification of important concepts, the careful appraisal of arguments and theories, and the sheer breadth and variety of philosophical concerns. The course aims to enable you to write more clearly, think more deeply, and pursue your intellectual interests both with more attention to detail and with an eye to the 'bigger picture'. We shall be covering topics drawn from the following list: Existence of God; Naturalism; Skepticism and the External World; the Mind-Body Problem; Free Will v. Determinism; the Problem of Induction; the Paradoxes. We shall be studying some profoundly influential writings by various famous thinkers.

1100H Honors Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: J. Jorati
DH 48 MWF 9:10-10:05

This course introduces students to philosophy and philosophical methods by exploring a few intriguing puzzles from each of the three major areas of philosophy, that is, from ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics.  We will discuss questions such as the following:  Is time travel possible?  Is capital punishment morally permissible?  Would I still be the same person if I lost all my memories?  Does the existence of senseless suffering prove that there is no god?  Is it ever permissible to kill an innocent person in order to save the lives of several others?  What, if anything, might make our lives meaningful?

1100H Honors Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: A. Roth
HA 25 TR 2:20-3:40

This course introduces students to the concerns and methods of philosophy through reading and discussion of ancient, modern, and contemporary texts.  A broad range of issues in metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of mind, and ethics will be considered.  Historical figures to be covered may include a number of Pre-Socratics, Socrates/Plato, Descartes, and Hume.

1300-Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: D. Goldman
MP 2015 TR 9:10-10:05

What is the right thing to do? What makes an action right or wrong? And why think there really is any right or wrong, anyway? This course examines some of the most important and exciting philosophical answers to these questions. You might notice that there’s substantial variation among these three questions. The first is a question about what moral principles we should follow; the other two are questions about the status or grounding of those moral principles. The first can seem more immediately, practically relevant: you might walk out the door and apply one of the moral principles that we study in class. I hope to convince you that the second question is of equal practical importance: it matters whether morality has a good foundation or not, and it matters what that foundation is.

1300H Honors Introductions to Ethics
Instructor: N. Sharadin
ML 185 TR 3:55-5:15

This course is an introduction to first-order (normative) moral philosophy. Our main interest will be in competing answers to common real-world ethical questions, such as: Is abortion morally acceptable? What duties do we owe to future generations? What's the fair way to distribute the benefits of societal cooperation? We'll also be interested in some less common, but still compelling, questions, such as: Is morally problematic (e.g., racist or sexist) humor ever funny? What percentage of one's income should one give to charity?

Throughout the course, our focus will be on the philosophical issues raised by these questions. So, rather than simply canvassing common answers to these (and other) questions, we'll be interested in what justifies different answers, and which answers (if any) are defensible. Along the way, we'll also touch on issues to do with relativism (the view that what is right or wrong is relative to, say, one's culture) and egoism (the view that what matters morally is only what promotes one's own subjective well-being).

The aim of the course is not to settle on answers to these questions. Instead, the aim is to teach you how to think philosophically about difficult, controversial topics. Although we're focused on ethical questions, the methods and techniques you'll learn in this course are ones that transfer to a wide range of topics.

1337 Ethics in the Professions: Introductions to Computing Ethics
Instructor: S. Brown
HH 25, WF 11:30-12:30

This course is an introduction to ethical theory with a special focus on ethical issues that arise in the computing profession.

Prereq: Not open to students with credit for 1300 (130) or 1332 (131.01). GE cultures and ideas course.

1500 Introduction to Logic
Instructor: A Kerr
JE 60 MWF 11:30-12:25

Deduction and induction; principles of clear statement and valid reasoning; fallacies; and the methods by which theories and laws are established.

Prereq: Math 1075 or equiv, or an ACT Math subscore of 22 or higher, or Math Placement Level R or better. Not open to students with credit for 1501 (151) or 150. GE quant reason math and logical anly course.

1501 Introduction to Logic and Legal Reasoning
Instructor: E. Wedin
RA 110 MWF 12:40-1:35

An informal introduction to elementary deductive and inductive logic, concentrating on application to reasoning in legal contexts (e.g., courtroom argumentation and jury deliberation).

Prereq: Math 1075 or equiv, or an ACT Math subscore of 22 or higher, or Math Placement Level R or better. Not open to students with credit for 1500 (150) or 151. GE quant reason math and logical anly course.

1520 Probability and Decision Making
Instructor: C. Pincock
HI 35 TR 11:10-12:30

Throughout our lives we are confronted with choices about how to act. In this course we will discuss some central questions about these decisions. What makes a decision rational? How should decisions be made with limited information? At the heart of these questions about “decision theory” are issues about probabilities and values. How should probabilities be determined, and what features of the outcomes of our actions determine their value? We will focus on the skills necessary to assemble and analyze the data that are critical for making rational decisions.

Text: M. Peterson, An Introduction to Decision Theory, Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Prerequisites: Math 1075 or equivalent, or an ACT Math Subscore of 22 or higher, or Math Placement Level R or better. (Not open to students with credit for 153.)
Note: This course fulfills the GE requirement for Data Analysis.

1850 Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
Instructor: D. Blanks
RA 115 MWF 9:10-10:05

A philosophical analysis of the nature of religion and the foundations of religious belief.

Prereq: Not open to students with credit for 270. GE cultures and ideas course.

2120 Asian Philosophies
Instructor:  M. McCall
HH 180 MWF 11:30-12:25

A survey including at least three of the following philosophical systems of Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

Prereq: Not open to students with credit for 215. GE lit and diversity global studies course.

2367 Contemporary Social and Moral Problems in the U.S.
Instructor: Martin Turner
DU 20 MWF 9:10-10:05

An intensive writing course concentrating on the analysis and evaluation of philosophical argumentation concerning contemporary social and moral problems about race, gender, class, and ethnicity. Does not count on a philosophy major or minor program.

Prereq: English 1110 or 1110.02 or equiv; and soph standing or above. Not open to students with credit for 367. GE writing and comm course: level 2 and diversity soc div in the US course.

2400 Political and Social Philosophy
Instructor: D. Howard
CL 137 TR 11:10-12:30

In this course we investigate three central political concepts: authority, justice, and freedom. We will consider the following sorts of fundamental questions of political philosophy. Unit 1, Authority: What, if anything, gives the state the right to tell you what to do (and to throw you in prison—or worse—if you disobey)? What is a state good for anyway? What would life be like without it? Unit 2. Justice: How ought we live together in society? If we do not live that way, what are our responsibilities to each other given our actual socialconditions? Unit 3. Freedom: What is freedom, and how much of it should we have?  Should people be free to do things that harm themselves and burden society? What, if any, aspects of our lives should be beyond political regulation? This course will be taught thematically rather than chronologically. We’ll read philosophical greats, important historical speeches and letters, contemporary philosophical arguments, Supreme Court cases, and pieces drawn from popular sources.

2450 Philosophical Problems in the Arts
Instructor:  J. Hurst
TO 255 TR 12:45-2:05

Introduction to major philosophical issues in the arts; examination of artistic intention, representation v. abstraction, the grounds and objectives of art criticism, the import of cultural differences and their application to specific works of art.

Prereq: Not open to students with credit for 240 or 240H. GE VPA course.

2500 Symbolic Logic
Instructor: W. Taschek
SC 048 MW 12:40-1:35

This course introduces the basic concepts and techniques of symbolic logic.  These concepts and techniques  are indispensable for a proper understanding of thought and language.  Logic has always been an essential part of philosophy,but now also plays an important role in linguistics and computer science. In this course will concentrate on developing and understanding the rules of syntax and semantics for both sentential logic (sometime also called truth-functional logic) and first-order predicate logic (sometimes called first-order quantificational logic).  Students will learn to paraphrase ordinary English statements into formal languages explicitly designed to render their logical properties perspicuous.  Students will also learn formal techniques (specifically natural deduction techniques) for determining whether or not various logical properties or relations actually hold between those sentences—for example, whether an argument is deductively valid, whether a set of sentences is inconsistent, whether two sentences are logically equivalent, etc.  The student who works hard in this course will emerge with a more sensitive grasp of the structure of deductive arguments and, so will be better equipped to evaluate them.  There will be graded homework, two mid-term exams, and a final exam.  The text is The Logic Book (5th Edition) by Bergmann, Moor, and Nelson.  This course satisfies the Math or Logical Analysis subcategory of the Arts and Humanities Quantitative Reasoning GE requirement.

2860 Science and Religion
Instructor: I. Weiner
CL 133 WF 11:10-12:30

Is there a war between science and religion? Do the truth claims of these two forms of knowledge compete in ways that force us to choose one or the other as our primary allegiance? Are there other options for understanding the relationship between faith and rationality that allow us to integrate different forms of knowledge and different types of truth?

In this course, we will explore a range of historical and contemporary perspectives on the relation between science and religion. We will also assess the value of these competing frameworks by applying them to concrete controversies and cases, including the Galileo affair, debates about evolution and human origins, and contemporary “biocognitive” explanations of religion. Readings for this course will include primary historical and legal documents, as well as academic writings by religion scholars, philosophers, historians, anthropologists, and others. There will also be a few scheduled film screenings. The class is open to all students; no prior knowledge is assumed. It fulfills the GE requirement in Cultures and Ideas.

3000 Gateway Seminar-Philosophy and Science Fiction
Instructor: D. Hubin
UH 353 MW 2:20-3:40

One of the most interesting and engaging ways of exploring philosophical topics is through the genre of science fiction. At least since Plato examined the nature of virtue using the myth of the ring of Gyges, philosophers have probed philosophical conundrums with the tool of fanciful imagination. In the modern era, many science fiction writers have quite self-consciously explored philosophical issues and, even when the exploration is not self-conscious, their work often provides grist for philosophers’ theorizing.

In this course, we’ll explore a variety of philosophical issues—including the mind/body problem, our knowledge of the external world, freewill and moral responsibility, time travel, and several moral issues. We will do this through a close reading of both traditional philosophical essays and the works of science fiction writers.

Because this is a “gateway seminar,” there will be significant writing and rewriting required. There will be weekly, very short (1-2 page) writings, two more substantive, but still short (5-7 page) papers, and one term paper submitted first in draft form and then revised as a final paper. There will be no examinations.

3210 History of Ancient Philosophy
Instructor: A. Silverman
HC 250 TR 12:45-2:05

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Roughly, the semester will be divided in half: the first 7 weeks will be devoted to Plato; the second 7 to Aristotle. We will discuss the metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics of these seminal thinkers. Readings will include the Republic, Phaedo, and Timaeus, the De Anima, and Nichomachean Ethics. Course requirements are attendance, class participation and at least one paper.

3230 History of 17th Century Philosophy
Instructor: L. Downing
ML 191 MW 11:30-12:25

In this course, we will examine the transformation of western philosophy in the seventeenth century.  Descartes attempted to develop a novel physics, metaphysics, and epistemology.  In doing so, he fundamentally affected the history of western philosophy by framing problems that his successors continued (and continue) to grapple with.  This course will examine the varying solutions posed by Descartes, Malebranche, Locke, and others to a range of connected problems including the nature of matter/body, self-knowledge, the relation between the human mind and the human body, causation and the laws of nature, the existence of God and God’s role in the world.

Prereq: 3 cr hrs in Philos other than 1500. Not open to students with credit for 303. GE lit and diversity global studies course.

3261 Concepts of Existentialism
Instructor: T. Rudavsky
JR 239 WF 9:35-10:55

This course will cover basic 19th and 20th century existentialist writings, selected from among the following authors: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Sartre, and Camus. We will read both literary and philosophical works, with an eye to understanding the underlying themes (nihilism; despair; angst) of classical existentialist writers.   Requirements: midterm exam, final exam and several short written assignments.

3300 Moral Philosophy
Instructor: N. Sharadin
SM 1076 TR 12:45-2:05

This course is focused on first-order (normative) moral philosophy.

We'll be mainly interested in competing answers to two questions: What, if anything, is valuable? And: Which actions are right, wrong, obligatory, permissible, good, bad, virtuous, or vicious? Obviously, these two questions are related, and the answer we give to the first question can help determine the correct answer to the second. For example, if you think that pleasure is the only thing that's valuable, then it's tempting to think that the right actions are (roughly) those actions that increase pleasure.

In the course, we'll look at three of the most influential approaches to answering these two questions: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. We'll also be interested in potential problems with each of these approaches; so, for example, we'll not only be trying to get clear on what consequentialists think is valuable, we'll also be evaluating how plausible that view is.

Toward the end of the course, we'll look briefly at answers to some questions that cut across these issues, including questions about whether morality is somehow relative, and whether people are ever morally responsible for what they do.

3410 Philosophical Problems in the Law
Instructor: P. Turner
KN 190 TR 9:35-10:55

In this course we will examine the relationship between justice and law. The course will be focused on philosophical fundamentals rather than the statutes of any current legal system. We will begin with general questions about the “rule of law” and whether law’s authority depends essentially on its relationship to justice. Then we will examine a series of important questions about legal paternalism, freedom of speech, and the justification of criminal punishment. At the end, we will briefly consider some issues in constitutional interpretation.

3530 Philosophy of Logic
Instructor: N. Tennant
FL 142 TR 9:35-10:55

The course serves students who would like to know more about various philosophical issues surrounding Logic, and about issues in other areas of Philosophy (such as metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of language) for whose analysis Logic can provide some useful tools.

3600 Introduction to Philosophy of Language
Instructor: S. Shapiro
UH 353 MW 9:35-10:55

The aim of this course is to introduce students who have already had some philosophy (and symbolic logic equivalent to Philosophy 2500) to a selection of core topics in the philosophy of language.  We will approach these topics by reading original works, starting with seminal papers by Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and P. F. Strawson, and ending with some influential work by Saul Kripke.  The topics on which we will focus, while hardly exhaustive of those of concern to contemporary philosophers of language, are nevertheless foundational.  A critical acquaintance with the chosen issues is typically presupposed elsewhere in the philosophy of language, but it will also serve you well in other areas of philosophy—for example, in epistemology, metaphysics, and meta-ethics.

The final grade will be based on class participation, a series of short essays, a substantial term paper, and an all essay take-home final examination.

3700 Introduction to Metaphysics
Instructor: R. Kraut
CL 133 TR 2:20-3:40

The world is complex and mysterious.  We will examine various metaphysical assumptions: that reality contains spiritual as well as physical entities; that the mind is distinct from the body; that there exist necessities in nature; that there are abstract objects knowable through reason alone; that moral and aesthetic properties, like physical properties, are real; that finite beings can have knowledge of the world as it is in itself. (Prerequisites: Symbolic Logic, and at least three other courses in Philosophy)

5211 Ancient Philosophy-Plato
Instructor: A. Silverman
UH 353 TR 9:35-10:55

We shall study the Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics of Plato.  The main texts will be the Phaedo, Republic, Theaetetus.  Course Requirements:  1 ten page paper

5240 Studies in 18th Century Philosophy
Instructor: A. Roth
UH 353 TR 11:10-12:30

At the heart of Hume’s philosophy is a profound tension.  The skeptical attitude Hume takes toward metaphysical claims (about God, the self, substance, and necessary connection) seems to extend to empirical reasoning and the claims of science.  But Hume sees himself as developing a naturalistic or scientific psychology – what he calls a “science of man”.  How could someone who is a skeptic about science see himself as doing science?  This course will examine Hume’s psychology with the aim of reconciling this tension.  In the course of doing so, we will consider in some detail Hume’s theory of ideas, and his views on causation, induction, the identity of objects and of persons over time.  Time permitting, we will take a look at his views about practical reason and knowledge through testimony

5300 Advanced Moral Philosophy
Instructor: D. Goldman
JR 291 TR 12:45-2:05

This course surveys the major currents in moral philosophy through the 20th and early 21st century, with a focus on metaethical issues. Metaethics focuses on the nature and status of morality, addressing questions like: What makes our moral claims—which seem to be claims about what is good, right, wrong, and so on—true or false? Are qualities like goodness, rightness, wrongness, and so on real features of the world? If so, what do those qualities amount to? If not, how do we make sense of the moral claims and arguments that we make in ordinary life? Later in the course, we will consider some closely related questions about the nature of practical reasoning: the way that we deliberate about what to do. Authors we read will include, among others, G. E. Moore, A. J. Ayer, Philippa Foot, Elizabeth Anscombe, and Bernard Williams.

5550 & 8510 - Advanced Logical Theory
Instructor: S. Shapiro
UH 353 MW 12:45-2:05

This course will cover the concept of computability, and its relation to formal deduction.  We will define and prove some basic results concerning Turing machines, such as the undecidability of the halting problem, and we will discuss the philosophical aspects of Church’s thesis, the statement that a function is computable, in the intuitive sense, just in case it is computable by a Turing machine.  After a review of basic logic, we will prove Church’s theorem, that the set of valid (or provable) first-order logical truths is undecidable.  The course will culminate with proofs of Kurt Gödel’s celebrated incompleteness theorems.  If time permits, we will explore some of the alleged ramifications of those theorems concerning epistemology and the mind.

Evaluation will consist of homework, including a take home final examination and some short essays on the philosophical material.  Students enrolled for 8510 will also write a substantial term paper.

Prerequisite:  Philosophy 5500, or equivalent.

5700 Advanced Metaphysics
Instructor: B. Caplan
UH 353 MW 11:10-12:30

This course will be on the metaphysics of race, gender, and disability. Readings will include selections from Joshua Glasgow's A Theory of Race, Sally Haslanger's Resisting Reality, and Elizabeth Barnes's The Minority Body.