First Philosophy Courses

Phil. 010: Introduction to Ethics

Philosophy 010 is a general introduction to philosophical ethics. Questions addressed include: What is the nature of morality? How do we know what is right and what is wrong? What sorts of moral obligations do we stand under? What are our duties to others and to ourselves? What is the nature of virtue and vice? How do we assess moral character? Readings are generally drawn from both traditional and contemporary philosophical authors. Reading lists and specific topics addressed vary from semester to semester and from instructor to instructor, as do required work and expectations. Please consult the syllabi posted online by individual instructors for more detail.

During the Fall and Spring semesters there are typically between 11 and 14 sections offered. Sections 01–10 or –11 are all part of a lecture-and-discussion section format. Lectures enroll between 180 and 250 students, and the lectures are given by a member of the faculty; discussion sections are typically led by a teaaching assistant who is a doctoral student in the Philosophy Department's PhD program. Several sections in any given semester enroll approx. 65 students and have no discussion sections. A doctoral student serves a teaching assistant. 

After taking Phil. 10, students may complete their Main Campus Core Requirements in Philosophy by taking Phil. 020, 098, 099 (SFS only), or any Philosophy course numbered 150–199. 

Phil. 10 is offered every semester, incl. during most Summer sessions. Instructors vary. 

Phil. 020: Introduction to Philosophy

An introduction to some of the central questions of philosophy through the writings of both traditional and contemporary authors. Questions addressed may include the relationship between mind and matter; between causation and free will; meaning, truth, and reality; knowledge, perception, belief, and thought. Topics and readings vary from semester to semester and instructor to instructor, as do the course requirements and expectations. Please consult the syllabi of the individual instructors for more detail.

During the Fall and Spring semesters there are typically between 11 and 14 sections offered. Sections 01–10 or –11 are all part of a lecture-and-discussion section format. Lectures enroll between 180 and 250 students, and the lectures are given by a member of the faculty; discussion sections are typically led by a teaaching assistant who is a doctoral student in the Philosophy Department's PhD program. Several sections in any given semester enroll approx. 65 students and have no discussion sections. A doctoral student serves a teaching assistant. 

After taking Phil. 20, students may complete their Main Campus Core Requirements in Philosophy by taking Phil. 010, 098, 099 (SFS only), or any Philosophy course numbered 100–149. 

Phil. 20 is offered every semester, incl. during most Summer sessions. Instructors vary. 

Phil. 098: Philosophy of Sport

Phil. 98 is an introduction to the discipline of philosophy by way of questions that arise in the context of sports. That is, we will work our way towards philosophical issues by working through more practical debates that arise in the context of sports. E.g., What is a sport? What is the relationship between a sport and its rules? What is cheating, and what (if anything!) is wrong with it anyhow?  Is gaming the rules ("gamesmanship") wrong? Is it unsporting? What is sporting conduct ("sporstmanship") anyhow? Should varsity athletics at the collegiate level be segregated by sex? If so, how do we implement sex testing? Is it even possible to sort human beings into two classes, male and female? What (if anything!) is wrong with performance-enhacing drugs and technologies? What (if anything!) is the difference between using steroids and using high-tech training and nutritional techniques? Are big-time college athletes exploited? If so, by whom?

Phil. 98 enrolls between 50 and 65 students. It is not intended exclusively for student-athletes, but it is hoped that it will be of special interest to athletes. The scheduling of the course is designed to accommodate athletes as best as is possible. Apart from the scheduling and the topical focus, Phil. 98 is in every other respect a regular introduction to the discipline of Philosophy. Phil. 98 has a teaching assistant who is a doctoral student in the Philosophy Department's PhD program. 

After taking Phil. 98, students may complete their Main Campus Core Requirements in Philosophy by taking Phil. 010, 020, 099 (SFS only), or any Philosophy course numbered 100–199. In other words, Phil. 98 counts as either Ethics or General Philosophy ("Non-Ethics") for the purposes of the Core Requirements. 

Prof. Blattner

Phil. 98 will not be offered during 2015–16. 

Phil. 099: Political and Social Thought

This course is designed as an undergraduate introduction to political and social philosophy. It is a required course in the undergraduate program of the School of Foreign Service, and enrollment in the course is limited to SFS students. What is the nature of political authority? Of political freedom? What are our obligations to our nation and our fellow citizens? Is democracy the best form of political organization? Phil. 99 will address questions such as these. Readings are drawn from the classics of Western Philosophy. Topics vary from semester to semester and instructor to instructor. Please consult the syllabi of individual instructors for more detail. 

Phil. 99 is offered in a lecture-and-discussion section format. Typically, sections 01–06 belong to a single lecture of around 100 students; sections 07–12 belong to a second lecture of around 100 students. One set of lectures is given by a member of the Philosophy Dept., the other by a member of the Government Dept. Each discussion section enrolls about 18 students and is led by a doctoral student in the PhD program of either the Government or Philosophy Department. 

After taking Phil. 99, students may complete their Main Campus Core Requirements in Philosophy by taking Phil. 010, 020, 098, or any Philosophy course numbered 100–199. In other words, Phil. 99 counts as either Ethics or General Philosophy ("Non-Ethics") for the purposes of the Core Requirements. 

Phil. 99 is offered every Fall and Spring semester, but not during the Summer. Instructors vary.