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New Mexico State University
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Philosophy



Course Schedule Fall 2008

Schedule and Descriptions

34473 PHIL 101G M01 THE ART OF WONDERING TR 1145-1300 Scoccia

34478 PHIL 101G M02 THE ART OF WONDERING MWF 0930-1020 Noonan

34480 PHIL 101G M03 THE ART OF WONDERING MWF 1130-1220 Noonan

34481 PHIL 101G M04 THE ART OF WONDERING MWF 1230-1320 Keleher

34482 PHIL 101G M05 THE ART OF WONDERING TR 1020-1135 Walker

34483 PHIL 201G M01 INTRN TO PHILOSOPHY MWF 1030-1120 Vessel

34493 PHIL 211G M01 INFORMAL LOGIC MWF 1230-1320 Noonan

34485 PHIL 223G M01 ETHICS MWF 1330-1420 Walker

34496 PHIL 302 M01 BUSINESS ETHICS TR 1145-1300 Keleher

34498 PHIL 328 M01 APPLIED ETHICS MWF 1130-1220 Walker

34500 PHIL 344 M01 MODERN PHILOSOPHY TR 1310-1425 Noonan

34487 PHIL 350 M01 EPISTEMOLOGY MW 1530-1645 Cleveland



34501 PHIL 376 M01 PHILOSOPHY OF LAW TR 1435-1550 Scoccia

34507 PHIL 381 M01 HUMAN NATURE/GOOD LIFE MWF 1430-1520 Keleher


34509 PHIL 540 M01 SCIENCE AND ETHICS Tues  1700-1930 Cleveland


34511 HON 228G M01 RELIGION & THE STATE TR 0855-1010 Scoccia




Philosophy 101G                                                                       

The Art of Wondering

Prof. Danny Scoccia   (Section M01)

      The textbook that we will be using is Eliot Sober, Core Questions in Philosophy, 5th ed.   The readings cover several perennial problems in metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory, including:

  • Are there any good arguments, any grounds or evidence which make belief in God more reasonable than either agnosticism or atheism?
  • What is “free will" and do we have it?  According to determinism, every event has a cause.  Is determinism true?  If determinism is true, does it follow that free will is an illusion?
  • Is morality just a matter of opinion or subjective attitude?   Why should  anyone bother about being moral?

      The course requirements are 3 in-class exams.  Since the exams will test comprehension of material presented in lecture, as well as comprehension of the assigned readings, regular attendance of lectures will be necessary to earn a high grade.

Philosophy 101G                                                                       

The Art of Wondering

Prof. Jennifer Noonan  (Section  MO2, MO3)

      An introduction to the aims, methods, and problems of philosophy.  The course will cover a broad range of questions of enduring philosophical interest including the following:  What do we really know?  Are minds just brains?  Does God exist?  Are moral judgments purely subjective?  Grades will be based on performance on five exams, the lowest of which will be dropped.

Philosophy 101G                                                                         

The Art of Wondering

 Prof. Lori Keleher   (Section M04)

      This course offers an introduction to philosophy through the critical engagement of some of the most central questions in philosophy including:  What – if anything – can we know?  Are we simply material beings, or do we have immaterial souls?  Does God exist?  What does it mean to behave morally?  Grades will be based on exams and quizzes designed to reflect an understanding of course methods and materials.


Philosophy 101G                                                                       

The Art of Wondering

Prof. Mark Walker   (Section MO5)

This course is a “sampler platter” of philosophy: a rapid survey of some of the great philosophical questions. The following are some of the questions we may consider:

  • Does life have meaning?
  • What happens to us when we die?
  • How do we know that we are not living in “The Matrix”?
  •  How should I live my life?
  •  Do we have a duty to help those starving in the two-thirds world?
  •  Does God exist?
  •  Is it wrong to eat animals?
  •  What can science tell us about our world and our place in it?

We will read Thomas Nagel’s, What Does It All Mean?: A Very Short Introduction toPhilosophy, as well as several texts available online. The course requirements are 3 in-class exams. 


Philosophy 201G                                                                       

Introduction to Philosophy

Prof. Jean-Paul Vessel   (Section MO1)

            This course provides an introduction to philosophy by way of a discussion of three central philosophical problems—the problem of free will and determinism, the "mind-body" problem (including puzzles about personal identity), and the problem of the existence and nature of God.  In each case, the focus is on careful formulation of doctrines and arguments.  The goals are (i) to understand the doctrines and arguments; (ii) to develop the ability to evaluate the doctrines and arguments; and (iii) to begin to develop the ability to extract well-formulated, interesting arguments from philosophical texts.  Readings from Plato, Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Hume, and contemporary philosophers.  Requirements: exams, quizzes, and mini-quizzes.


Philosophy 211G                                                                       

Informal Logic

Prof. Jennifer Noonan   (Section M01)

               The purpose of this course is to increase the student’s ability to evaluate reasoning.  This skill has wide application.  It should help students in their other course work as well as in practically any profession they may choose.  Creative construction of arguments is a skill needed to construct one’s own.  The approach is not mathematical.  Little symbolism is used.  Examples used for practice are presented in ordinary language from sources likely to turn up in everyday life.

                The major topics discussed are:  How to identify arguments, how to determine the structures of an argument, how to evaluate an argument, how to recognize typical mistakes in reasoning.

                The course has proven particularly useful to those interested in a career in law and journalism.

Philosophy 223G                                                                       


Prof.  Mark Walker  (Section MO1)

               In this course we will examine some of the major ethical theories, including utilitarianism, perfectionism, Kantianism, feminism and virtue ethics. Our primary text will be Wilfrid Waluchow’s, Dimensions of Ethics, as well as several selections available online from major historical figures. We will “test” some of these theories in relation to the biomedical topics of abortion and euthanasia as well as global issues of famine and overpopulation.


Philosophy 302                                                                       

Business Ethics

Prof.  Lori Keleher    (Section MO1)

               This course is concerned with some of the basic ethical issues corporations and individuals are faced with as they participate in the market.  We will consider questions about the moral landscape of business, for example: Should we approach business as democratic socialists or as capitalists?  What are the consequences of globalization? How should environmental concerns factor into business decisions? Course requirements include exams and a term paper.


Philosophy 328                                                                       

Applied Ethics

Prof.  Mark Walker  (Section MO1)

            Most of us think that if pharmacological agents succeed in boosting the mood of the clinically depressed then this is a very good result. But what should we think about the prospect of using pharmacological agents to boost the moods of those who exhibit no signs of depression? In other words, should society permit ‘designer’ or ‘cosmetic’ pharmacology to boost the moods of those who are ‘normally’ happy? Our course will consist of an examination of this question. I will argue in the affirmative. Of course you will be free—indeed encouraged—to disagree in class discussion and in your writing.

Our understanding of this question will be guided by reading Francis Fukuyama’s, Our Posthuman Future, as well as writings by Thomas Hurka, Leon Kass, Wayne Sumner, and others. 


Philosophy 344                                                                       

Modern Philosophy                                                                       

Prof. Jennifer Noonan   (Section MO1)

         The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were a particularly fertile and exciting time in the history of philosophy.  A    dominant concern was the source and nature of human knowledge.  In this course we will explore the views of the Rationalists, who held that certainty could only be attained through reason, the Empiricists, who considered experience the source of knowledge, and Kant, who defended the authority of reason against the Empiricists’ challenge.  We will also look at some of the modern philosopher’s contributions to ethics and metaphysics.  Texts for the course with be The Rationalists: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz; The Empircists: Locke, Berkeley, Hume; and Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysic.


Philosophy 350


 Prof. Timothy Cleveland   (Section MO1)

            This course will concern the nature of knowledge. We will discuss the kinds of knowledge, the origins of knowledge, and the possibility of knowledge.  Questions raised concerning the kinds of knowledge will include: Is there one privileged or basic kind of knowledge?  Is there a legitimate distinction between knowledge based on sense experience and knowledge which is not based on sense experience?  What is the basis for abstract knowledge such as mathematics?  What is the relationship between knowledge based on scientific theories and common sense knowledge?

              These issues will lead us to discuss something about the origins of knowledge.  How is knowledge acquired? Is the origin of knowledge related to justification, or are claims about the origin of knowledge to be distinguished from claims concerning justification?  This will lead to a discussion of human psychology. Can psychological issues concerning knowledge be sharply distinguished from epistemological issues concerning justification?

                 From here we will then discuss the possibility of skepticism.  Is knowledge possible at all? If talk of justification is not distinguishable from psychology, is there anything interesting left to discuss concerning epistemology? In the end we will question the significance of the very problems from which we began by asking the question:  Is epistemology dead?


Philosophy 373                                                                       

Ethical Theory

Prof. Jean-Paul Vessel   (Section MO1)

            In the first half of this course we will study some of the most important theories in the normative ethics of behavior. Among these will be some theological conceptions of moral rightness, various forms of consequentialism, Kantianism, some social-contract theory, and perhaps a brief investigation of the virtue-vice theorist’s account of moral rightness. In each case, one focus will be on clear and accurate formulation of the theory.  Another focus will be on understanding and evaluating classical objections to the theories.  The second half of the course will be devoted to some of the most important theories in axiology (and, if time permits, we might even get to some theories in metaethics).  We will study hedonism, eudaimonism, and various forms of axiological pluralism. If time permits, we will study some combination of the following: naturalism, non-naturalism, the open question argument, emotivism, prescriptivism, the Frege-Geach problem, the error theory, expressivism, projectivism, and “new wave” naturalism.  Readings from Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Hobbes, Bentham, Mill, Kant, Ross, Moore, Ayer, Hare, Mackie, Gibbard, Blackburn, and others.  Requirements: in-class essay exams, a term paper, a short presentation, and a series of quizzes.


Philosophy 376                                                                       

Philosophy of Law

Prof. Danny Scoccia   (Section MO1)

            This course will examine a number of philosophical issues that are raised by legal systems in general, and our legal and constitutional system in particular, including:

            What is a law?  Is it, as legal positivists contend, merely a general command issued by a “sovereign” and backed by the threat of punishment for noncompliance, or does it necessarily have a moral component or function, as natural law theorists have held?

            What is the justification for punishing criminals?  Deterrence?  Retribution?  Should the death penalty be abolished, and if so, why?  Does it violate the Eighth Amendment ban on “cruel and unusual” punishment?

            Is it possible sharply to distinguish what judges do from what legislators do, or does judging often necessarily include some element of legislating?

            How should the Supreme Court interpret vague and open ended language in the Constitution (such as its prohibition of “unreasonable search and seizure”)?  In accordance with the intentions of its framers?  In light of moral principles that they see as implicit in the Constitution?

            Is there a constitutional right to “privacy”?  Does the right extend to abortion and homosexuality?

            Does the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment forbid “affirmative action”?

            The course requirements will include at least one take-home midterm, a six page essay, and an in-class final exam.  If the class is small enough, students may be required to give an oral class presentation.


Philosophy 381                                                                       

Human Nature and the Good Life

Prof. Lori Keleher       (Section MO1)

            What is the good life for human beings?  In this course we will consider some of the most historically influential attempts to answer this question from ancient Greece to contemporary thought.  Course requirements include exams, a presentation, and a term paper.


Philosophy 540                                                     

Ethical Issues in the Biological Sciences

Prof. Timothy Cleveland   (Section M01)

            This course addresses complex ethical issues facing researchers in the basic and applied biological sciences.  The topics discussed will include research integrity and scientific misconduct, intellectual property, conflicts of interest and efforts, ethical implications of genetic research and environmental research, and the use of animals and humans in experiments.

            Objectives of the course are to provide an introduction to Bioethics for graduate students in biology.  The students will be presented with ethical questions, conflicts, and dilemmas that they can be expected to face someday as working scientists.  The goal is that the students will gain a ‘literacy’ in the ethical aspects of science, especially biology.  Ethical literacy is the ability to recognize ethical problems, articulate reasoned responses to such problems, and so develop an ethical view of one’s own.  The goal is not to teach particular ethical ‘truths’ to students but to cultivate critical thinking about ethics in the students.  The students will also become familiar with various theoretical views on ethics and how these theories may help formulate and address practical issues in science.

            Course text will be Scientific Integrity by Francis L. Macrina, 3rd edition (American Society for Microbiology Press, 2005). 



Honors 228G                                                                       

Religion and the State

Prof. Danny Scoccia  (Section MO1)

       This course examines some important moral and political questions that arise in connection with church-state relations, including the foundations and proper scope of religious toleration, the idea that there should be a “wall of separation” between church and state in any democracy, the idea that the state should remain “neutral” on the question of which religion, if any, is true, and the idea that individuals have a moral duty to ignore their private religious convictions when they perform any of the functions of democratic citizenship.  Though this is a course in political philosophy rather than American history and government, it will also give some consideration to the extent to which these ideas our embodied in our nation’s moral, political, and constitutional traditions.