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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 321 Ethics in the Medical Community

PHIL 322 Environmental Ethics                                  

PHIL 334 World Religion

PHIL 345 Women, Knowledge & Reality

PHIL 347 Philosophy Of Race

PHIL481  Media Ethics


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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).    

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.

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. 

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.

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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