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 recent, current, and upcoming quarters, see the OSU Master Schedule.
To view a list of all courses that will be taught throughout the academic school year please see the course planner. Please note with the new semester system the course planner is subject to modification.
Upcoming Undergraduate Courses
Spring Semester 2014
1100 Introduction to Philoophy
Examination of major problems, such as the nature of reality, knowledge, truth, morality, and the relation of philosophy to science and religion.
Prereq: Not open to students with credit for 101 or 101H. GE cultures and ideas course.
1300 Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: Piers Turner
This course will introduce students to the field of ethics. It will encourage critical engagement with arguments affecting difficult moral issues such as aid to developing nations, animal rights, euthanasia, and abortion. Above all, it will emphasize the practical value to students and society of engaging in sustained ethical reflection.
1332 Introduction to Engineering Ethics
An examination of contemporary issues in engineering ethics in the context of major ethical theories.
Prereq: Not open to students with credit for 1300 or 131. GE cultures and ideas course.
1500 Introduction to Logic
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 Intrduction to Logic and Legal Reasoning
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, Data, and Desician Making
How to make rational decisions when confronted by uncertainty; foundational issues and techniques pertaining to probability, selection of utilities and analysis of data relevant to decision making.
Prereq: Math 1075 or equiv, or an ACT Mathematics Subscore of 22 or higher, or Math Placement Level R or better. Not open to students with credit for 153. GE data anly course.
1850 Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
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
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.
2342 Environmental Ethics
Instructor: Piers Turner
Why do individuals and communities have a moral obligation to care for the natural environment? How should the environment figure into our obligations to each other? This course is intended to be an introductory survey of environmental ethics, including (but not limited to) such topics as: the tragedy of the commons, the challenge of sustainable development, and the moral status of non-human animals, plants, and whole ecosystems.
2367 Contemporary Social and Moral Problems n the U.S.
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.
2450 Philosophical Problems in the Arts
Instructor: Robert Kraut
Our goal is to understand (and evaluate) several theories about the nature and function of art. We will consider such questions as: What is the difference between creative innovation and fraudulence? Is there a "correct interpretation" of a literary text or painting? Is objective criticism possible, or is art criticism merely the expression of subjective preferences? Can artworks be understood in isolation from social-historical forces? Do artworks express emotions? Is it worth theorizing about art? Why?
We will consider these theoretical questions in the context ofmusic, painting, film, architecture, literature, and other artforms.
2500 Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Stewart Shapiro
What is it to reason? What is it to reason correctly? What role do symbols play in reasoning? We will try to answer these questions. In this course we will present a symbolic deductive system to model correct reasoning. It will be shown how many arguments in ordinary language can be translated into this system, where they can be checked for validity. Important logical concepts, like consistency, consequence, validity are presented via the system, and the techniques of mathematical logic are illustrated with it. There will be exercises for homework (checked with occasional short quizzes) and a midterm and final examination.
2860 Science and Religion
Instructor: Richard Samuels
Many fundamental questions about the Universe and our place within it occur at the interface between science and religion. Did an intelligent designer create us or are we the products of evolution? Do we have immaterial souls, or are we just physical systems? Was the Universe created by a benevolent Deity or by brute natural forces? This course provides an introduction to a range of issues regarding the relationship between science and religion; and to the fundamental issues –such as those mentioned above—that have historically been the source of tension between these two institutions.
2900H Freshman-Sophomore Proseminar on Objectivity
Instructor: Sigrún Svavarsdóttir
Is the scientific method as objective as it is claimed to be? Is there an objective reality? Are colors objective features of the world? Are there any objective moral facts? Is there any objectivity in ethics? Is it possible for a judge to be perfectly objective? Can a journalist ever be objective? Are all our views completely subjective?
What are we even asking when we raise such questions? What is it for a method to be objective rather than subjective? What is it for a fact to be objective rather than subjective? What are we looking for when we are looking for objectivity in ethics? What is it for judges or journalists to lose their objectivity? What is it for a view to be objective or subjective?
These are the questions that we will be wrestling with in the Philosophy Freshman-Sophomore Honors Proseminar this spring. Welcome on board!
3000 Gateway Seminar
Instructor: Tim Schroeder
This Gateway Seminar will be on the topic of free will. Aristotle was perhaps the first philosopher to have considered the topic, but he was hardly the last! On the one hand, it seems that we must have free will, because we are praiseworthy for some of the things we do and blameworthy for others, and that could hardly be true if we never acted voluntarily. On the other hand, discoveries in physics and neuroscience make it appear that we must not have free will, because there are no gaps in the scientifically observable world where free will might exist. In this course, we will do our best to struggle with this puzzle. We will read a variety of papers, and students will write shorter and longer papers themselves in order to fully develop their skills as philosophers.
3210 History of Ancient Philosophy
Instructor: Tamar Rudavsky
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.
3220 History of Medieval Philosophy
Instructor: Sydney Penner
Despite sometimes being characterized as the “Dark Ages,” the medieval period saw lively debate (often in the universities that had their origin in this period) about a wide range of philosophical issues. What is the relationship between faith and reason, between Jerusalem and Athens? Can rational proof of God’s existence be given? What is the good life? In what is happiness to be found? How do our languages replete with common names, e.g., ‘white’, map onto a world of particulars? Does a universal whiteness exist in the world independently of the human mind or is whiteness just a concept produced by the mind? Medieval thinkers articulated sophisticated answers to these and many other questions. In this course we will make our acquaintance with some answers to such questions by reading texts from some of the greatest philosophers of the period, including Augustine, Anselm, al-Ghazālī, Aquinas, and Duns Scotus. Course requirements will include short analytic papers and a longer final paper.
3240 History of 18th Century Philosophy
Instructor: Lisa Shabel
This course will focus on the ideas of three major philosophers of the Eighteenth Century: Leibniz, Hume, and Kant. Topics to be discussed include causation, substance, the nature of mind, and the possibility of knowledge, as well as the historical connections among the ideas of the three thinkers. Course requirements will include two exams and a paper.
3300 Moral Philosophy
Instructor: Justin D’Arms
This course is a rigorous survey of some of the most influential approaches to Moral Philosophy, intended for philosophy majors and others with some background in philosophy. We will focus primarily on efforts to give a systematic account of such central moral questions as these: what makes acts right or wrong? what makes objects or states of affairs good or bad? how should one decide what to do, morally speaking, in hard cases? what is the relationship between morality and rationality--is moral action always more rational than immoral action? Two influential types of theory that attempt to answer these questions are consequentialism (Utilitarianism) and deontology (Kantian theory). We will explore these theories and their variants in some detail. We will also look at a different approach to moral philosophy, that focuses on questions about what kind of person to be and what sort of life to aim at. Reading will be drawn from a variety of historical and contemporary sources. Students will be expected to do a significant amount of reading and writing.
3341H Ethical Conflicts in Health Care
Instructor: Mariko Nakano
An interdisciplinary approach to an analysis of central moral dilemmas in health care research,policy, and practice.
1) discuss contemporary issues in healthcare research and practice with sufficient knowledge of their historical, scientific and regulatory background,
2) understand the basic tenets of traditional ethical theories and apply their understanding to constructively critique real life healthcare conflicts,
3) consider how to strike a balance between public ethical debates and personal beliefs,
4) 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: Dana Howard
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: Alison Kerr
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.
3600 Introduction to Philosophy of Language
Instructor: Neil Tennant
Survey of philosophical issues regarding the nature of linguistic representation and its role in thought and communication.
Prereq: 2500 and 6 cr hrs of Philos course work exclusive of 1500, or permission of instructor. Not open to students with credit for 473.
3680 Philosophy of Biology
Instructor: Richard Samuels
In recent decades philosophers have become increasingly interested in the theoretical foundations and philosophical implications of research in biology. This course examines a variety of issues to have emerged from this area of philosophical enquiry, including issues about the nature of genes, the so-called units of selection problem, and the bearing of evolutionary theory on questions about the human mind.
3700 Introduction to Metaphysics
Instructor: Ben Caplan
The plan is to divide the course into three clusters of topics: (i) holes, spacetime regions, and iron spheres; (ii) colors, shadows, sounds, and echoes; and (iii) groups, species, race, and gender. Along the way we’ll talk about things like objects, properties, relations, and events; quantification and plurals; and time, modality, and identity.
5241 Studies in 18th Century Philosophy-Kant
Instructor: Lisa Shabel
Immanuel Kant, an 18th Century German philosopher, is regarded as one of the most influential modern thinkers. His seminal work on the limits of human knowledge, Critique of Pure Reason (1787), represents both a culmination of the Early Modern period and a gateway to 19th and 20th century thought. We will study Kant's epistemology, metaphysics and theory of science by examining as much of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason as we can. We will discuss the problem of synthetic a priori knowledge; Kant's theory of pure sensibility; Transcendental Idealism; the Metaphysical and Transcendental Deductions of the categories; the System of Principles; and more. Our study will be illuminated by Sebastian Gardner's commentary, entitled Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason, or some similar secondary source.
5260 Studies in 20th Century Philosophy
Instructor: Kevin Scharp
We'll read Bertrand Russell's classic, The History of Western Philosophy and discover how one of the founders of analytic philosophy saw the development of Western Philosophy and Western Civilization from the beginning of Greek culture in antiquity to the rise of logical analysis in the early Twentieth Century. Russell is second to none in his appreciation of big picture developments in western thought over the past three thousand years. In 1950, he won the Nobel Prize in literature, in part for The History of Western Philosophy. A goal of the class is to instill in students a sense of how individual philosophers and schools of thought influenced the course of world events, and, conversely, how the historical context of a particular place and time affected its philosophy.
5400 Advanced Political and Social Philosophy: Property
Instructor: Don Hubin
This course will focus on the nature and justification of private property. We will begin by examining the nature of ownership and private property. What does it mean to say that a person owns some object? The bulk of the course will be devoted to exploring and critically evaluating various theories purporting to justify (private) ownership (property rights). Some theories of property rights rely on a claim (usually an undefended assumption) of self-ownership. And this is where we will begin our exploration of normative theories of ownership. Is it true, as it is often assumed, that each person owns himself or herself? If so, can this assertion be grounded in some more fundamental moral claim, or is it morally basic? We will then turn to various arguments for private ownership in “external” objects, including natural resources and artifacts. We will also explore the concept and justification of intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, and patents)
5460 Philosophy in Literature
Instructor: Tim Schroeder
David Foster Wallace's 1996 novel, Infinite Jest, is brilliant, funny, long, difficult, realistic, absurdist, long, full of characters you will love, full of characters you will hate, deeply heartfelt, long, and really, really, epically long. Its themes include the nature of love, the nature of addiction, and how the two are closely related to one another. It is perhaps no coincidence that the philosophical literatures on love and on addiction contain views that make love and addiction more or less the same thing, and other views that make them relatives of a sort. Wallace was on to something.
In this course, we will read Infinite Jest, read the philosophical literature on love, and read philosophical and scientific papers on addiction, and try to make sense of it all.
5500 Advance Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Neil Tennant
Introduction to the metatheory of first-order logics and languages; axiomatic development of propositional and predicate logic; model theory; soundness, completeness, and Lowenheim-Skolem theorems.
Prereq: 2500. Not open to students with credit for 650.
5750 Advanced Theory of Knowledge
Instructor: Brian Kim
Traditionally, philosophical theories of mind, action, and knowledge have focused on the concept of outright belief. Are beliefs individuated by their functional role? Do beliefs and desires cause actions? Is knowledge justified true belief? Each of these questions have focused on an all-or-nothing concept of belief where one either believes that P or does not believe that P. In the 20thcentury, degrees of belief began to play a more central role in many areas of philosophy. But to this day, there is vigorous debate about how to articulate the relationship between all-or-nothing belief and degrees of belief. For example, we might ask, what is the relationship between being very confident that Reno is west of Los Angeles and outright believing that Reno is west of Los Angeles? The course will cover a variety of issues surrounding this question. We will begin with the Simple Lockean thesis which states that an outright belief is simply a degree of belief that is over some threshold of confidence. Unfortunately, there seem to be some insuperable puzzles and problems with the Lockean thesis. In response, we will survey a variety of alternative proposals and these proposals will raise additional questions about the norms governing these types of beliefs as well as questions about the aims and nature of belief.
5850 Philosophy of Religion
Instructor: Sydney Penner
This course will survey several issues in philosophy of religion centred around the topic of God and morality. We will focus on contemporary responses, e.g., Robert Merrihew Adams’ Finite and Infinite Goods, to questions such as the following: Does morality depend on God? Would everything be permissible without God? Is God required for human life to be meaningful? Is there moral value to be found in distinctively religious practices? Does morality give us reason to think that God exists? One sometimes gets the impression that there is one way to answer these questions if you are a theist and another way if you are an atheist. In fact, matters are more complicated; there is much disagreement among theists and among atheists. In this course we will begin to think through the various ways in which one might answer such questions. Course requirements will include short reading responses, a presentation to the class, and a final paper in at least two drafts