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The Department of Philosophy

Courses & Schedules


Office of the Registrar for Class Schedules

Philosophy Course Descriptions

RA 101 Reasoning and Argumentation

PHIL 111 Introduction to Philosophy                                    

PHIL 300 Ancient Greek & Roman Philosophy

PHIL 320  Ethics

PHIL 321 Ethics in the Medical Community

PHIL 322 Environmental Ethics

PHIL 323 Engineering, Ethics, and Professionalism                                   

PHIL 334 World Religion

PHIL 335 Islamic Thought

PHIL 345 Women, Knowledge & Reality

PHIL 350 Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 440  Classical Political Theory 

PHIL 347 Philosophy Of Race

PHIL 415 Philosophy of Language

PHIL481  Media Ethics

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RA 101 (Reasoning and Argumentation) - Dr. Reiheld - Dr. Pearson - Dr. Fatima - Ed Schallert - Raymond Darr - Dr. Littman

RA 101 with Dr. Reiheld

Too often, we allow ourselves to be bamboozled by smooth operators who misuse logic and reasoning, exploiting our weaknesses and the psychological mechanisms common to humans. Sometimes, we even fool ourselves. This course aims to teach students the techniques of reasoning and argumentation necessary to function in the modern world. We will learn to understand, assess, and construct arguments.
In the process, we will consider how politicians and advertisements manipulate us, when we can trust what people are saying, how to think critically about media and science and politics, and how to come to our own carefully-reasoned conclusions.

RA 101 with Dr. Pearson

This class focuses on the practice of argument.  ‘Argument’ is a commonly misunderstood term; an argument is simply the reason(s) or justification that a person provides for his or her beliefs.  Despite argument coming quite naturally to humans, relatively few persons in fact understand the intricacies of good argumentation.  Few persons can reliably recognize, evaluate, and construct arguments for all the various types of beliefs arguments are provided.  This course seeks to improve students’ ability to engage in and with arguments of various sorts.  The beginning part of the course will focus on the fundamental task of argument recognition.  We will then turn our attention to looking at different types of argument, and, in particular, the principles for evaluating arguments of various types.  Finally, we will direct ourselves to the practice of constructing arguments, specifically the practice of writing argumentative essays.

RA 101 with Dr. Fatima

This course will focus on our ability to analyze, evaluate and construct arguments. It will enable us to assess assumptions, concepts, empirical grounding and objections from alternative viewpoints. The main goal in this course then, is to provide the intellectual tools such that you can discern the components of an argument and assess their strength. We will spend the semester mastering the recognition of premises, conclusions, fallacies, analogies, methods of analysis and moral arguments. Ultimately, we will be in a position where we can recognize and engage with the world around us with sound arguments of our own.

RA 101 with Ed Schallert

This course focuses on the study and practice of critical thinking and correct problem solving methods, with emphasis on organizing information, analyzing meaning, producing arguments, detecting fallacies, and using rational methods of investigation. This course is designed to assist students in the development of 1) argument analysis, including identifying basic elements and using critical reflection, 2) argument evaluation, including recognizing and distinguishing logical support from other often influential claims of support, and validity and soundness of deductive arguments, and 3) argument construction, including the abilities to both formulate and defend a thesis in argumentative essay. Students will develop skills concerning clarifying, representing, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, contrasting, and explaining good and bad argumentation. They will practice analyzing, evaluating, and even creating arguments in short and essay form. Students will be presented an opportunity to reflect and understand themselves better as reasoners

RA101 with Raymond Darr

This course is designed as an introduction to reasoning and argumentation. In this class we will examine both formal and informal aspects of argumentation as well as the nature of disputes. This course will establish a set rules by which any individual can evaluate the validity or strength of an argument. Analysis, evaluation, and construction of arguments will be central themes in this course with an emphasis placed on unbiased, objective presentations. This course will use the scientific method (as extrapolated from the works of John Dewey) as its pattern for effective thinking. Students successfully completing this course will be able to identify the basic elements of an argument and evaluate how successfully an argument accomplishes its intended purpose. Students will also be able to develop their own arguments in a clear, unbiased and concise manner. The use of metaphor and analogy in the inductive argument will be explored. This class will establish basic elements of sound reasoning. The student will develop skills in logical analysis, logical demonstration, and the avoidance of common patterns of fallacy. The course covers basic symbolic logic, including categorical logic and truth functional logic, and analyzes in detail basic logical concepts such as argument, inference, validity, implication, categorical relations, deductive vs. inductive reasoning, and informal fallacies. By the end of the course students will not only be capable of developing and defending his or her thesis but will also be capable of creating plausible alternatives, rival hypotheses, to his or her respective hypothesis.
Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic. - Edward de Bono
The goals of this course are: 1) Improving analytical skills required for successful development and understanding of arguments 2) Increasing the student’s sensitivity to subjective factors that influence decision making strategies 3) Integrating these skills and techniques into the individual’s reasoning process.

RA101 With Dr. Littman

The purpose of this class is to aid you in distinguishing good reasoning from bad reasoning.  This will help you both when you are examining the reasoning of others, and also when you are constructing reasoned arguments of your own.  The critical thinking skills that you learn in this course will help you in other courses that you take at SIUE.  Moreover, they will also help you in your life outside the university.  Whenever you are deciding what to believe or what not to believe, critical thinking is the most useful tool that you can use. The emphasis in class will be on practical applications and real-world examples.

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PHIL 111 (Introduction to Philosophy) - Dr. Cashen

PHIL 111 with Dr. Cashen

This course is a historical introduction to the study of philosophy.  We’ll read some of the greatest philosophers in the Western tradition as we discuss some of philosophy’s most pressing and enduring questions.  Questions considered may include: what is the nature of moral goodness?  Does God exist?  What, if anything, can we know for sure?  And, what happens after we die?  Philosophers we read may include Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, Thomas Aquinas, Renee Descartes, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Elizabeth Anscombe, and others.
(Sections PHIL111-FR1 and PHIL111-FR2) This course also is a Freshman Seminar.  As such, this course is designed to introduce students to key study skills, strategies, and resources one needs to succeed as a student at SIUE.

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PHIL 300 (Ancient Greek & Roman Philosophy) - Dr. Cashen

PHIL 300 with Dr. Cashen

This course is a survey of the greatest philosophers and philosophical schools from the classical and Hellenistic world, including Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, the Epicureans, and the Pyrrhonian skeptics.  Each term this course is organized around a different topic.  Recent topics include the nature of pleasure and emotion, political rhetoric, epistemology (the study of knowledge), friendship and love, and justice.

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PHIL 320 (Ethics) - Dr. Reiheld 
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PHIL 320 with Dr. Reiheld
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This course will introduce students to classic secular theoretical systems for discerning right from wrong. These include Kantian deontology, Mill's utilitarianism, and Aristotle's virtue ethics. These are not without flaw, thus we will also think critically about those systems using both classic and recent critiques thereof, and our own skills. Wherever possible, abstract ideas will be applied to concrete real-world cases as well as to ethical issues such as moral responsibility, when and whether people should be blamed or praised, and the role of luck in acting rightly or wrongly.  We will also spend a unit focusing on a controversial ethical issue, encountering multiple different well-argued positions on that topic, and working through our own positions.
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PHIL 321 (Ethics in the Medical Community) - Dr. Reiheld - Dr. Cashen - Dr. Krag

PHIL 321 with Dr. Reiheld

This course does not assume that students are unethical in their personal lives or that those who choose medicine, nursing, or pharmacy are in any way morally inept.  Rather, it assumes that health care presents distinct ethical challenges and distinct contexts for ethical reasoning which necessitate advance preparation on the part of practitioners.  Our task is to develop a better understanding of the contexts of ethical reasoning which are unique to health care, to think through likely ethical challenges in advance, and to develop a sort of ethical “toolkit” which will better prepare future physicians, nurses, pharmacists and medical researchers to handle ethical issues when they arise.
In addition, we will keep in mind that everyone in the room is, at a minimum, a patient at some point in their lives.  Topics we will consider include patient-provider relationships (truth-telling, medical error, paternalism, conscientious objection), informed consent and refusal, death and dying, justice and access to health care, and reproductive health (contraception, abortion, assisted reproduction).

PHIL 321 with Dr. Cashen

(Summer 2014) In this online course we investigate a variety of questions and controversies related to the practice of medicine and medical research, including the nature of health, disease, and death, models of the caregiver-patient relationship, controversies in research ethics, reproductive choices, and end-of-life care.
The format for this online course is asynchronous.  That is, the work for this course will not require you to “log in” at the same time as other students.  Instead, each week students will be given a set of assignments that they are free to complete at any time before the week ends.  It is each student’s responsibility to do the work and manage her or his time effectively.

PHIL 321 with Dr. Krag

This is an introductory course in bioethics which will cover several issues at the intersection of ethics and medicine.  Since ethics can be roughly defined as the study of how we, as moral agents, ought to act, “bioethics” is the study of how we should act in medical matters.  Topics covered include medical futility, patient competency, informed consent, patient confidentiality, multiculturalism within the medical setting, euthanasia, abortion, and the allocation of scarce medical resources. Course goals include the development and fostering of the abilities to understand moral theories and apply them to real-world bioethical situations, to recognize the strengths of views other than one’s own, and to work through difficult ethical cases which arise in the clinical setting.

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PHIL 322 (Environmental Ethics) - Dr. Pearson

PHIL 322 with Dr. Pearson

There is little question that many aspects of the natural world are now threatened in some form or other.  Numerous species, natural resources like water and forests, as well as the planet itself are at risk of being severely altered, if not entirely destroyed due largely to human activity.  Increasingly, many people think that it is wrong for humans to threaten elements of the natural world—that, in fact, we ought to stop certain actions (i.e. those that are damaging) and implement others (i.e. those that are “environmentally friendly”).  From a philosophical perspective, however, we can ask why it is wrong to harm the environment?  What types of things are worthy of moral respect?  And, in turn, what are our moral obligations to the environment and the objects that constitute it.  This course investigates various answers to these questions (among others), with a special eye to a variety of contemporary environmental issues (e.g. over-fishing, deforestation, factory farming, global climate change).    

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PHIL 323 (Engineering, Ethics, and Professionalism) - Dr. Pearson 
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PHIL 323 with Dr. Pearson
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Ethics is the study of right and wrong, virtue and vice, morality and immorality; indeed, quite generally it is the field interested in understanding the normative dimension of human action and persons.  Derivatively, engineering ethics is the study of right and wrong, virtue and vice, morality and immorality as it concerns matters salient to the profession of engineering.  This course offers a survey of ethical issues that can arise in engineering.  The course begins with a broad discussion of ethics and the sorts of ethical problems that can arise for any specialist within engineering.   Subsequently, we will consider a series of ethical problems that are more specific to various specializations, including mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computing, and civil and environmental engineering.      
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PHIL 334 (World Religion) - Dr. Schunke

PHIL 334 with Dr. Schunke

This course will provide an introduction to several of the world’s major religious traditions through an exploration of the basic tenets and history of each tradition. The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the formative ideas, histories, experiences, and resulting practices of each religious tradition. Traditions to be examined include Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

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PHIL 335 (Islamic Thought) - Dr. Fatima

PHIL 335 with Dr. Fatima

The course will introduce Shi`a Islamic doctrine, specifically the Ithna-'Ashari (Twelver) denomination, as it is the most developed and influential Shi’ite legal school (madhhab). There will be particular attention to relations between Sunnis and Shias, and we will delve into the historical reasons for the division. The course will also familiarize students with basic tenants of Shia theology and their implications for present day.

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PHIL 345 / WMST 345 (Women, Knowledge & Reality) - Dr. Cataldi

PHIL 345 / WMST 345 with Dr. Cataldi

This course examines whether and how gender impacts our ways of understanding and investigating the world and ourselves.  Special attention will be paid to gender’s influence on our claims to knowledge, our worldviews and our understanding of human selves as conscious and embodied beings. 

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PHIL 347 (Philosophy Of Race) - Dr. Fatima

PHIL 347 with Dr. Fatima

In this course we will look at issues such as the conceptual analysis of race & racism, the nature of “whiteness,” black existentialism, centrality of race to subjectivity, critical theory, and the moral and political implications of a racialized social world.  Our readings will mainly be centered within framework of United States and its race history. By the end of the course, students will be expected to have gained an understanding of some of the important philosophical issues in race theory.

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PHIL 350 (Philosophy of Mind) - Dr. Littmann

PHIL 350 with Dr. Littmann

It is traditional to believe that we know our own minds better than we know anything else in the universe, yet the nature of mind remains the subject of intense disagreement. Is the mind nothing more than the brain? Is the mind a program, for which the brain is hardware? Is the mind a non-material substance of some kind? In this course, we will be examining the issue of what mind is and how the mind interacts with the world.

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PHIL 415 (Philosophy of Language) - Dr. Crane

PHIL 415 with Dr. Crane

An apparently obvious observation about language is that words mean things. But what do words mean? Perhaps they stand for objects in the world. But then how are we able to say things like "Pegasus never existed"? There is nothing for the name "Pegasus" to refer to. Is that sentence just nonsense? Apparently not, since we understand what it is saying.
Much of the philosophy of language in the 20th century has been driven by puzzles like this one about meaning and reference. Philosophy of language attempts to answer questions about how language works and how bits of language can mean things. We will study theories of meaning and reference and the perplexing puzzles that motivate those theories. We will also study speech act theory, which examines how we are able to communicate and perform a variety of actions–including non-linguistic actions–using language.
The philosophy of language has been extremely influential not only in many areas of philosophy–including philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of science, and philosophical logic, but also helped establish research agendas and methodologies in linguistics. This course will deepen your understanding of these other areas of philosophy and linguistics. A background in formal logic is not required, and the logic necessary for the understanding of some of the issues will be presented. For those who already have some background in formal logic, this course will deepen your understanding of the philosophical motivations behind 20th century developments in logic.

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PHIL 440  (Classical Political Theory) - Dr. Cashen

PHIL 440  with Dr. Cashen

This course is an exploration of classical political thought, beginning in ancient Athens and extending as far as the European Renaissance. Topics may include justice, authority and legitimacy, democracy, education, natural law, just war, and the individual versus the state. Likely authors include Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, Grotius, Aquinas, and Machiavelli.

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PHIL 481 (Media Ethics) - Dr. Krag

PHIL 481 with Dr. Krag

This course, which is team taught with a member of the Mass Communications faculty, covers issues at the intersection of ethics and media. Learning Objectives: students will increase their knowledge of ethical terminology, principles, theories, models and structures concerning arguments in a variety of media oriented issues and contexts.  Self-knowledge, especially concerning how one might deal with ethical problems potentially experienced in media fields, will be our highest ultimate objective.  Students will develop skills concerning clarifying, representing, classifying, summarizing, inferring, comparing, contrasting, and explaining good and bad argumentation.  They will practice analyzing, evaluating, and eventually creating arguments in substantial essay form.

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