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Philosophy Spring 2024 Course Offerings

Group shot of Philosophy faculty members

SO courses are online courses that meet Synchronously Online.

AO courses are online courses that meet Asynchronously Online.

If nothing is listed, then this is an in-seat course.

There could be some adjustments in delivery mode options, like an additional SO section associated with an in-seat class. These changes will be found at classes.isu.edu.


PHIL 1101 (Objective 4A): Introduction to Philosophy

Multiple sections offered, see BengalWeb class schedule.

An introduction to major thinkers and major problems in philosophy. Topics may include the existence of God, the nature of knowledge, and the meaning of life.

For more information about this course, watch this video.


PHIL 1103 (Objective 4A): Introduction to Ethics

Multiple sections offered, see BengalWeb class schedule.

How should we live? This is the fundamental question of ethics, and it is in this sense that ethics, as a branch of philosophy, is practical rather than theoretical: it is concerned not primarily with what to believe or with what exists but with what to do, how to act. This course will introduce you to some of the most important questions that arise in ethics: What would constitute a good human life? What is the highest good? What is the foundation of morality? Can moral claims be objectively true or false? What could make them true or false? What is the content of morality? What (kinds of) actions are morally right or wrong, and why? Why should I be moral? What is the relationship between morality and self-interest? Is it always in my interest to behave morally? If so, how?

For more information about this course, watch this video.


PHIL 2210 (Objective 9): Introduction to Asian Philosophies

01: TR 2:30-3:45 with Joshua Fox (CRN: 21778)

In this course, we will discuss classics of Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist thought. A particular focus will be on the nature of the self, its relationship to the rest of the universe, and what this relationship means for how we should live our lives. 


PHIL 2230: Medical Ethics

01: AO with Ralph Baergen (CRN: 20832)
02: AO with Nobel Ang (CRN: 20833)
03: AO with Nobel Ang (CRN: 20834)

The practice of medicine raises ethical issues unlike those encountered in other spheres of life. The purpose of this course is to explore a number of these issues, drawing out the ethical considerations involved and examining how ethical decisions are made. The course will begin with a brief overview of ethical theories and their application. The issues to be examined include refusing life-sustaining treatment, medical futility, making medical decisions for others, assisted suicide, managed care, abortion, etc.

For more information about this course as taught by Professor Ang, watch this video.

For more information about this course as taught by Professor Baergen, watch this video.


PHIL 2250 (Objective 7): Contemporary Moral Problems

01: AO with Jim Skidmore (CRN: 23453)

In this course we’ll investigate some of the most interesting and urgent moral questions in contemporary life: Is the death penalty a just form of punishment? When is abortion morally permissible? What forms of human genetic engineering could be morally justified? Could torture ever be permissible in grave emergencies? Do non-human animals have rights? Is it morally wrong to eat meat? Do we have any obligation to preserve natural environments? Do we have any obligation to help people in the world who are desperately poor?


PHIL 2255: Political and Social Philosophy

01: TR 9:30-10:45 with Jim Skidmore (CRN: 25303)
02: TR 9:30-10:45 SO with Jim Skidmore (CRN: 25305)

Human beings live in societies, rather than simply on our own.  This raises important philosophical questions:  What is the proper relationship between the individual and society (or the state)?  Why should I obey the laws of the society in which I live?  What justifies the coercive power the state? What is the source of its authority? What does it mean to say that individuals have rights (like the right to life or liberty), and what rights must the state respect?  How should wealth and other social goods be distributed in societies?


PHIL 3353: Philosophy of Law

01: TR 1-2:15 with Jim Skidmore (CRN: 24690)
02: TR 1-2:15 SO with Jim Skidmore (CRN: 24694)

What exactly is a law? What distinguishes laws from mere rules or commands? How should we interpret general constitutional phrases such as “cruel and unusual punishment” or “equal protection of the laws?”  When is it permissible—or obligatory—for a citizen to break the law?” Is there a constitutional right to privacy?


PHIL 4454/5554: Topics in Biomedical Ethics

01: AO with Ralph Baergen (CRN: 22655/22654)

This course examines a selection of current issues in biomedical ethics. Theoretical frameworks for analyzing ethical issues will be explored. The nature of the issues will be clarified, and the application to them of ethical theories and principles will be considered. Issues to be considered will vary and will be guided by current debates in biomedical ethics, such as gene editing technology, assisted dying, or the ethical limits of screening and vaccination programs.


PHIL 4460/5560: Theory of Knowledge

01: MW 1-2:15 with Mike Roche (CRN: 24691/24695)
02: MW 1-2:15 SO with Mike Roche (CRN: 24696/24697)

Epistemology is the philosophical investigation of knowledge and related issues. We will begin by examining the nature of knowledge and justification. We will then examine skepticism, the nature of truth, and applied epistemology. Questions we will consider include: What is knowledge? What is justification? What is truth and how do we find it? Can skepticism be defeated? Are knowledge attributions contextual? Does knowing require knowing that you know? How should you react when your epistemic peers disagree with you? Do we live in a "post-truth" world? What are the epistemic implications of social media and the internet?


PHIL 4470/5570: Symbolic Logic and Foundations of Mathematics

01: MW 11-12:15 with Mike Roche (CRN: 24692/24698)

This is a second course in formal logic. We will begin by (i) reviewing propositional logic and predicate logic with quantification. In the remainder of the course, we will (ii) examine various extensions of these logics (especially, modal logic, i.e., the logic of possibility/necessity), (iii) consider various meta-logical concepts and results (especially soundness and (in)completeness), and (iv) explore philosophical issues concerning logic (especially the nature of conditionals and logical paradoxes). Truth trees will be introduced in part (i) and used in parts (ii) and (iii).