Philosophy Courses

100.        Introduction to Philosophy.

A launch-course into the wide world of philosophical inquiry that approaches the field through consideration of such perennial problems as ultimate reality, free will, knowledge, morality, political obligation and the existence of God. Depending on instructor, this course may also explore some aspects of social identity, such as race and gender, from a philosophical perspective. No prerequisites.

103.        Philosophy East and West: An Introduction.

A thematic introduction to philosophy, taking a comparative approach, looking at philosophy not only of the Western tradition, but also of the Eastern tradition. Themes include the idea of a “good life,” ethics, knowledge, reality, the self, and aspects of social identity such as race and gender. We critically explore both the commonalities and differences across the traditions. Students learn how to analyze difficult philosophical texts and arguments critically, develop writing skills and ask and answer questions in a philosophical manner. Also offered as ASIA 213. No prerequisites.

120.        Introduction to Peace Studies.

The purpose of peace studies is to explore the potential for nonviolent methods of building social, political and economic justice. This course intentionally searches for alternative ways of understanding conflict. We ask questions such as, Can we define “peace” in more positive terms than the unrealistic “absence of conflict”? Can conflict be positive or even transformative? Are “peacemakers” different from the rest of us? Can we all learn to live harmoniously with others who are very different from us? What are ways to cultivate the inner peace that gives people the strength and insight to deal with conflict creatively and positively? Also offered as PEAC 100. No prerequisites.

201.        Ancient Philosophy.

A historical study of Western philosophy from its beginnings in ancient Greece through the end of the classical period, with primary emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Representative original works are read dealing with such problems as reality, the self, knowledge and value. Prerequisite: any 100-level philosophy course or permission of the instructor. Also offered through European Studies.

202.        Reasoning.

Critical reasoning is the ability and tendency to be moved by good reasons and not by poor ones. This course examines arguments—how to identify them, how to evaluate them, and how to produce them—so that students will be better prepared to reason critically about issues of importance to themselves and to society. Topics may include both the formal and informal evaluation of arguments, scientific reasoning, and fallacious reasoning. No prerequisites.

203.        Ethical Theory.

An introduction to ethical theory, drawing on texts from the Greeks to the present. What is the nature of moral obligation? What character traits are human virtues and vices? How do we discern goodness and evil? How do we justify ethical judgments of any kind? This is an appropriate selection for students with some previous experience in philosophy and provides an important background for further study in philosophy or other disciplines. Prerequisite: any 100-level philosophy course. Also offered through Peace Studies.

206.        Introduction to Political Theory.

A study of the answers that philosophers from Plato to Nietzsche have given to the question, “How should political life be organized?” This question leads us to consider the related problems of justice, power, equality, freedom and human nature. The course includes discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of liberal democracy. Also offered as GOVT 206 and through European Studies and Peace Studies.

208.        Modern Philosophy.

This course examines the history of European philosophy through the “modern” period: the 17 th and 18 th centuries. This was an important period in that it gave birth to the phenomenon of “modern science” and was also the period of time in which science and religion became disciplines that separated out from philosophy. Fueling these changes were philosophical debates on the nature of knowledge and reality. The course explores both the systematic thinking of key philosophers of this era, and the historical development of the different viewpoints on these topics. Prerequisite: any 100-level philosophy course or permission of instructor. Also offered through European Studies.

216.        Philosophical Perspectives on Sport.

The study of ethics and moral reasoning is introduced through the lens of sport. Topics such as moral skepticism, ethical relativism, utilitarianism vs. Kantianism, competing concepts of impartiality, the care vs. justice perspective, positive vs. negative duties and the doctrine of double effect are explored. Students will be asked to evaluate their own opinions, beliefs and attitudes that govern their judgment and/or actions within the realm of sport. Also offered through Sports Studies and Exercise Science.

223.        Asian Philosophy.

The aim of this survey course is to provide students with a broad introduction to some of the key thinkers and concepts of some of the major traditions in Asian philosophy: Indian Philosophy, Chinese Philosophy and Japanese Philosophy. The course uses Buddhist philosophy as a fil conducteur or guiding thread to narrow the focus, but also covers some non-Buddhist Asian Philosophies. We pay particular attention to the themes of reality, knowledge, self, and ethics, and students have an opportunity for experiential learning. Also offered through Asian Studies. Prerequisite: any 100-level philosophy course, or permission of the instructor.

232.        Africana Philosophy.

This course engages a set of questions that emerge out of three interrelated bodies of philosophic literature—African philosophy, Caribbean philosophy, and African-American philosophy—which comprise an inclusive category of African diasporic thought (or Africana philosophy). We read texts on the metaphilosophical question, “What is Africana philosophy?” We also engage several philosophers on the political philosophical concerns and legacies of colonization and American slavery, and on the epistemological and ethical questions of Race and racism. Prerequisite: any 100-level philosophy course or permission of the instructor. Also offered through African Studies and African-American Studies.

290.        Gender and Feminist Theory.

This course examines theoretical explanations of gender, gender difference and gender inequality in society. It includes introductions to some of the questions that shape contemporary feminist theory, feminist writings in multiple disciplines and feminist movements inside and outside the academy. The focus is on how an awareness of intersections of race, class, sexuality, gender and ethnicity is vital for disciplinary and interdisciplinary study in feminist theory. Theoretical works are drawn from the humanities, arts and literature and the social sciences. Prerequisite: GNDR 103. Also offered as GNDR 290.

301.        Philosophy of Science.

Why does science produce such reliable knowledge? Is there really a “scientific method”? Does science get at truth, or is scientific knowledge socially constructed? In addition to these questions, we consider whether science advances according to a steady and rational process, or whether it advances according to radical “scientific revolutions.” We also try to identify what (if anything) distinguishes scientific knowledge from other kinds of knowledge, and reflect on whether scientific knowledge is comprehensive enough to constitute a complete world-view. Prerequisite: any 100-level philosophy course, PHIL 202, or permission of the instructor. Also offered through European Studies.

302.        Symbolic Logic.

A study of elementary symbolic logic. Topics include sentential and predicate logic, some philosophy of logic, and Gödel’s Theorem. Prerequisite: Philosophy 202 or permission of instructor. Also offered through Computer Science and Mathematics.

303.        Philosophy of Science and Religion.

In this course, we examine the nature of scientific knowledge by studying the formulation of the “scientific method” during the logical positivist movement in the early 20th century. Logical positivism failed, and both its rise and fall left us in an epistemological crisis. One effect of this crisis is the common view that science and religion are incompatible. But are they really incompatible? In this course, we will examine the nature of scientific knowledge and religious knowledge, and you can draw your own conclusions! Prerequisites: any 100-level philosophy course, PHIL 202, or REL 102.

310.        Environmental Philosophy.

What obligations, if any, do we have towards the environment? What changes should we make in our own lives in light of those obligations? How does material consumption relate to our happiness? If we can be happy consuming less, why do so many of us continue to consume so much? How do our attitudes towards the environment reflect our social position? What is the difference between the natural and the artificial? This course examines such questions in order to come to grips with our relationship with the environment, and what these ideas mean for the way we lead our lives. Students will explore these questions in relation to the global community, to our local community, and in relation to their own lives and choices. Prerequisite: any 100-level philosophy course, or Environmental Studies 101, or permission of the instructor. Also offered as ENVS (Philosophy of the Environment) 310, ODST 310, and through Peace Studies.

327.        Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy.

Phenomenology is the study of human experience and of the ways things present themselves to us in and through such experience. The core principle of phenomenology is the doctrine of “intentionality.” Every experience, every act of consciousness (seeing, hearing, smelling, remembering, etc.) is intentional: it is always an “experience of” or “consciousness of” something. Existentialism combines the phenomenological tradition of Husserl and Heidegger with the earlier forms of existential philosophy found in such thinkers as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Freedom, responsibility, the nature of being, the individual, community and communication are all themes of existential philosophy. The modern existentialism of Sartre, Camus, Merleau-Ponty, and Beauvoir take up the themes of the creation, destruction and revaluation of meaning in life when there is no absolute standard by which to judge or measure our actions. Prerequisite: PHIL 201, 203, 208, 223, 232 or permission of the instructor. Also offered through European Studies.

333.        Ethics of Global Citizenship.

This research seminar is designed to address, from a philosophical perspective, some of the difficult ethical questions arising from the global organization of the world. Readings include classical, non-Western and alternative theories of justice and peace. The course interrogates the discourses surrounding patriotism and cosmopolitanism, peace and violence, terrorism and war, justice and retribution, and the debates surrounding relativism versus universalism, especially with regard to the claims for human rights. Students undertake research projects dealing with the ways these issues are being negotiated in countries where they studied abroad, and develop ethical positions on their own responsibilities toward global citizenship. Also offered as GS 333 and through Peace Studies.

334.        Feminist Philosophy.

In this upper this division inquiry based seminar we explore the relationship between ways of knowing and ways of being-in-the-world through textual analysis of feminist philosophical texts on epistemology and ethics. After an introduction to feminist ways of knowing, and readings addressing specific topics of concern for feminist philosophers in the first part of the course, we then engage in readings around a particular theme in feminist philosophy. Themes have included, but are not limited to: the body, the self, intersections of race, class, sexuality, gender and ethnicity, Asian feminist philosophy, contemporary issues. Prerequisite: PHIL 201, 203, 208, 223, 232, GNDR 290 or permission of the instructor. Also offered as GNDR 334.

343.        Political Theories of Violence and Nonviolence.

Carl von Clausewitz famously remarked that “war is a continuation of politics by other means,” which suggests that politics is intimately connected with violence even as it seeks to avoid it.  In this discussion-based seminar we will examine how key figures throughout the history of political thought have conceptualized the relationship between politics, violence, and non-violence. Topics covered in the course include just war theory, the role of violence in the state, non-violent civil disobedience, and revolutionary violence associated with working class and anti-colonial struggles. Also offered as GOVT 345 and through European Studies and Peace Studies.

350.        Philosophy of Mind.

This course examines the nature of the mind.  Is your mind the same thing as your brain?  What is consciousness?  Could a computer think and feel like we do?  How is that we are able to think about the world outside of our own heads at all?  Drawing on work in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence, this class investigates questions about the conceptual foundations of the various ways in which we try to understand the mind and brain.  Students will not only develop a better understanding of these central questions, but also explore the interplay between philosophical and empirical approaches to a shared problem.

354.        Biomedical Ethics with CBL

This course gives students the theoretical and conceptual tools necessary for sophisticated reflection on contemporary ethical issues affecting medicine at large, and better prepares those pursuing a career in medicine for its ethical demands. Students are introduced to a wide array of philosophical approaches to medical ethics, as well as to a varied selection of concrete ethical issues in the medical field. Through a community-based learning component, this course also gives students insight into some of the specific health needs and challenges in the North Country. The Community-Based Learning component further enhances reflection on the difference between ethical thinking in theory and in practice, and promotes understanding of the role that contextual, situated, and experiential knowledge plays in making astute ethical judgments.

359.        Philosophy of Language

Language is ubiquitous in our lives. We use it in class, we use it to talk to friends, to read great works of literature, to harm others, to tell jokes, and perhaps, even to think. Our use of it is so common, that it almost begins to seem transparent. We forget we are using language, and we forget what a simply astonishing fact it is that we can understand each other at all. When we think about language, we usually have in mind learning this or that language. But how does language work in the first place? How do words get their meaning? How do the meanings of sentences arise out of the meanings of words? How do words relate to things in the world? How does language relate to thought? How can we use language to communicate rich, context-sensitive meaning? What is a language? In this course, we will investigate the complex and fascinating issues that arise when we turn our attention onto the very ability we use when doing everything from philosophy to texting friends.

367.        Feminist Post-colonial Theory.

Post-colonial theory addresses issues of identity, culture, literature and history arising from the social context of colonization, resistance to colonization, liberation from colonization and the formation of new nations. It crosses the boundaries of the social sciences and humanities in its approach to theory and analysis of the discourses used to constitute colonial and post-colonial subjects. Also offered as ENG 367, GNDR 367 and GS 367.

380.        Philosophy of Peace.

In this course we explore the meanings of terms such as peace, justice, conflict, violence, pacifism, conscientious objection, and civil disobedience, and we will consider the relationships among these terms. We will also consider questions such as: Is it possible to create a truly just world? Is it possible to respond to serious conflict or oppression nonviolently? Is the use of violent force ever justified? Is a “just war” possible? We will read classic works by philosophers and others on these topics. We will also reflect on our own identities, how power is constructed in our world, and will conclude the course by envisioning a better world and considering how to work towards creating it. Pre-requisite: any 100-level Philosophy course, or PEAC 100. Also offered as PEAC 380.

400.        SYE Seminar: Metaphilosophy.

This course provides an opportunity for critical reflection on the nature and value of philosophy itself. What is philosophy? What are the methods of philosophical inquiry? Does philosophy have value in today’s world? We read what other philosophers, past and present, and in both Western and non-Western traditions, have had to say about these questions. Other members of the philosophy department will visit the class to share their own perspectives and methods. Students practice and reflect on a variety of philosophical methodologies and will be encouraged to clarify their own philosophical identities. Prerequisite: PHIL 201, 203, or 208, or permission of instructor. Limited to senior philosophy majors and minors.

402.        Philosophy Tutorial.

Under faculty supervision, the student assists in the teaching of an elementary course in philosophy. Limited to majors.

468.        SYE: Independent Study.

A one-semester SYE independent study option for students who are unable to complete an SYE in any other way. Students must complete an independent study project worthy of SYE designation under supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisite: permission of department chair.

469.        SYE: Independent Study: Metaphilosophy.

Occasionally a student who wishes to take Metaphilosophy as an SYE is unable to take the seminar version of this course (which is only offered in the spring), either because of graduating at the end of fall semester, or because of scheduling conflicts in the spring with another course required for graduation. In those cases, the student can take the Metaphilosophy course as an independent study under supervision of a faculty member. Prerequisite: permission of department chair.

489-490. SYE: Research and Thesis.

Intended for students who are not eligible for honors but wish to fulfill their SYE requirement by completing a philosophy thesis during the senior year. In the fall, the student registers for 489 and conducts research under the supervision of a faculty member. In the spring, the student registers for 490 and develops a philosophical thesis and defends it in a departmental seminar. Students interested in this SYE option must submit a research proposal in the spring of their junior year; these proposals will be considered after honors proposals are evaluated. Limited to majors.

498-499. SYE: Honors Research and Thesis.

Intended for students who are eligible for honors and wish to fulfill their SYE requirement by completing a philosophy thesis during the senior year. In the fall, the student registers for 498 and conducts research under the supervision of a faculty member. In the spring, the student registers for 499 and develops a philosophical thesis and defends it in a departmental seminar. Students interested in this SYE option must submit a research proposal in the spring of their junior year. Limited to majors.