Courses Taught

 


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Courses taught


* = courses currently in my regular teaching rotation (i.e. typically taught at least once every two years)

Introduction to Philosophy* (DePauw, 100-level course)
The content of this course varies from one semester to the next, but it typically deals with some three of the following four topics in philosophy: The mind/body problem (What is a person? What is the relationship between a person's mind and brain?), free will (What is a free action? Do people ever act freely?), the state and the individual (What are the limits of the power the state can legitimately exercise over its citizens?) and the nature and existence of God (What is God's nature? What are the arguments for and against His existence?) The emphasis is on careful formulation and critical examination of important views and arguments on the selected topics. The texts typically include some of the following: Plato's Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty, and David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Shorter readings are drawn from a variety of historical and contemporary authors, including Simon Blackburn, Roderick Chisholm, Paul Churchland, Daniel Dennett, Peter van Inwagen, Stephen Hawking, John Mackie, William Paley, Richard Dawkins, C.S. Lewis, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

First-Year Seminar: Introduction to Philosophy Through the Works of C.S. Lewis (DePauw, 100-level course)
Christianity is, at least in part, a philosophical position that offers a distinctive view about the nature of human beings and their place in the universe. This course introduces students to philosophy through a critical examination of some of the central tenets of that philosophical position. We take C.S. Lewis as our expositor and defender of the philosophical aspects of Christianity. We read a number of works by Lewis, including Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, The Screwtape Letters, Miracles, and A Grief Observed. Other texts for the course include Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian, A.C. Grayling's Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age, and Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

Introduction to Logic (UMass-Amherst, 100-level course)
This course covers two systems of first-order logic: sentential logic and predicate logic. Students learn how to translate English sentences into formulas of each system as well as how to construct derivations using each system. The text is Gary Hardegree's Symbolic Logic: A First Course.

Ethical Theory* (DePauw, 200-level course)
This course is centered around four questions in ethical theory: What is the nature of moral virtue? What makes morally right actions right? What is the nature of a good life? What is the relationship between morality and self-interest? The central texts are Plato's Laches, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, Robert Frank's Passions within Reason, and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism. We also read a variety of shorter contemporary works by such writers as Colin McGinn, Peter Singer, Elizabeth Spelman, John Doris, Jonathan Haidt, Robert Nozick, W.D. Ross, and Phil Quinn. The philosophical works are supplemented with relevant works of fiction, including Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Ethics and Business (UMass-Amherst and DePauw, 200-level course)
In this course we examine a number of ethical issues relating to business. Topics covered include: the ethical obligations of businesses (if any), employment-at-will, whistleblowing, affirmative action, liability, truth in advertising, and bluffing in business. The examination of relevant case studies and films is an important component of the course. The primary text is Beauchamp and Bowie's Ethical Theory and Business. We also read selections from Robert Solomon's Ethics and Excellence, in which Solomon defends what he describes as an Aristotelian approach to business ethics. The students are required to write several short papers and give an in-class presentation on a case study.

Philosophy of Religion* (DePauw, 300-level course)
This course covers a variety of topics in the philosophy of religion, including arguments for the existence of God, puzzles concerning the traditional divine attributes (e.g. the problem of freedom and foreknowledge), various versions of the problem of evil (logical and evidential), and skeptical theism. We also examine Alvin Plantinga's infamous evolutionary argument against naturalism and replies to that argument. The readings for the course range from classic philosophical works by Boethius, Anselm, Saint Thomas, and Hume to recent work in contemporary analytic philosophical theology, including pieces by Robert Adams, Thomas Flint, Tom Hick, Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and William Rowe.

Godless Universe* (DePauw, 300-level course)
This course examines the implications of the non-existence of God, particularly for ethics. A good portion of the course is devoted to arguments aimed at showing that if God does not exist, then no human life has meaning and human beings have no moral obligations or, if they do have moral obligations, have no reason to care what those obligations are. We also delve into evolutionary psychology at some length, paying particular attention to the moral implications of the view that human beings are products of unguided evolutionary processes. Readings include God? A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist, by William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Robert Adams's Finite and Infinite Goods, Wielenberg's Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe, Robert Wright's The Moral Animal, Camus'sThe Stranger, and assorted contemporary articles.

Philosophy of Mind* (DePauw, 400-level course)
This course examines three issues in contemporary philosophy of mind.  We assume a materialist framework, the main components of which are (i) there are no non-physical souls and (ii) every physical event that has a cause at all has a physical cause.  Such a framework raises questions about various alleged mental phenomena.  How does conscious experience fit into a materialist universe?  How is it that mental states can represent or be about other things in such a universe?  And finally, how can mental states cause behavior in such a universe?  These are the three main topics of the course - conscious experience, intentionality or "aboutness," and mental causation.  The texts for the course are John Searle's Mind: A Brief Introduction, Colin McGinn's The Mysterious Flame, David Chalmers's The Conscious Mind, Daniel Dennett's Kinds of Minds, and Jaegwon Kim's Mind in a Physical World.

Moral Epistemology* (DePauw, 400-level course)
This course is an investigation into the following question: Can human beings have ethical knowledge, and, if so, how? To investigate this question properly, it is necessary to examine both the nature of ethical facts and the nature of knowledge. This course thus straddles the fields of meta-ethics and epistemology. It
is also essential to draw on empirical investigations of human moral beliefs and attitudes and the processes that produce them. Accordingly, the course includes an examination of relevant material from psychology
(particularly evolutionary psychology), anthropology, and neuroscience. The central texts for the course are Robert Adams's Finite and Infinite Goods, David Brink's Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics, Frans de Waal's Primates and Philosophers, Richard Feldman's Epistemology, Marc Hauser's Moral Minds, and Michael Huemer's Ethical Intuitionism. These are supplemented by a variety of shorter readings, including readings containing influential challenges to the idea of moral knowledge posed by John Mackie in Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong and Gilbert Harman in The Nature of Morality.

Moral Character and the Good Life (DePauw, 300-level course)
The course is centered around three questions: (i) What is the nature of moral virtue? (ii) What makes for a good human life? (iii) What connections are there, if any, between being morally virtuous and living a good life? We focus on three positions that strive to answer these questions: the Aristotelian view, the Humean View, and the Kantian view. In addition to readings from the three philosophers in question, we read selections from Nancy Sherman's Making a Necessity of Virtue, and Colin McGinn's Ethics, Evil, and Fiction. We also read some works of fiction that bear on our three questions, including Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the Marquis de Sade's Justine, and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

Metaphysics (DePauw, 300-level course)
This course focuses on two related and notoriously puzzling subjects: the human mind and human agency. In connection with the first subject the primary concern is with addressing certain challenges to a physicalist or materialist view of the universe. Among the questions to be considered are these: If the physical realm is "causally closed" (every physical event that has a cause has a physical cause), then how can mental events/states cause anything? How do qualia (things like the sensation of coldness, burning stabbing pains, warm fuzzy feelings and the like) fit into the physical universe? What is the place, if any, of conscious experience in a physical universe? In connection with the second subject the primary concern is with making sense of the ordinary common sense view of ourselves as beings with free will who can act freely. Among the questions to be considered are these: What is free will? What is a free action? Is the existence of free will compatible with the contemporary scientific view of the universe? The texts for the course are David Chalmers's The Conscious Mind, Jaegwon Kim's Mind in a Physical World, and selected articles on free will and related topics.

Independent Studies
Contemporary Problems in Philosophy of Religion (readings
included Naturalism Defeated? Essays on Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Freedom, and Jonathan Kvanvig's The Problem of Hell).

The Philosophy of John Milton (readings included Paradise Lost and related materials).

Contemporary Arguments from Design (readings included Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box and related articles as well as John Leslie's Universes).