Department Chair

  • Jennifer McErlean
    Professor of Philosophy
    Siena Hall 414
    (518) 783-4129
    mcerlean@siena.edu



Philosophy Courses Fall 2013

Philosophy and the Human Being, PHIL 101                 Multiple Sections

Reason and Argument, PHIL 103                                    Multiple Sections

One of these courses is required of all Siena students in fulfillment of the Core Disciplinary Requirement

One of these courses is required as a pre-requisite for all of the following courses.

Symbolic Logic, PHIL 155 (TR 11:10-12:35, Alexander)

Why study logic? There must be some reason why otherwise sane people study things like (p -> (q -> p)) and (Vx)(Fx v -Fx). The standard answer is that studying logic helps people to better understand what makes certain arguments acceptable and others unacceptable. The pragmatic answer is that studying symbolic logic is extremely useful for people planning on taking standardized exams like the GRE, LSAT, and GMAT. The academic answer is that studying symbolic logic provides us with insight into one of the most significant accomplishments of our shared intellectual history- the development of symbolic logic provided the tools for sea changes in both mathematics and science, and made computers possible. But if you are still not persuaded, just think about how cool it will be to be able to understand (and trust me you will) what (p -> (q -> p)) and (Vx)(Fx v -Fx) mean! (ARTS, PLG)

Philosophy and Reality, PHIL 202 (MW 3:35-4:55, Burkey)

Who cares??? Why is there something rather than nothing? Whether there is a God or not? Whether reality is ultimately one or whether there are kinds or layers of reality? Whether natural science is the final word on thinking about reality? Whether it's all relative? Whether there is progress in understanding beauty, or evil, or human freedom? If you care, take this courseExpect to read and discuss texts from Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary philosophers that challenge your common sense and stretch your intellectual imagination. (ARTSCAP, CFH)

Ethics, PHIL 210 (MWF 1:30-2:30, McErlean)

A philosophical study of how to live well, what is 'good' and 'just,' and what kind of person we should be. Students will examine major theories and thinkers (virtue ethics, utilitarianism, and Kantianism) as well as explore applications of these theories to current issues such as · euthanasia and affirmative action. As is appropriate to moral reasoning, the course will be dialogically intensive. (ARTS, CAP, CFJ)

HONORS Ethics, PHIL 210 (TR 1 :00-2:25, Blanchard)

Do we want the Nanny State? Our encounters with ethics (whatever they are) occur all the time in the guise of personal choices about freedom and what we deem to be good-in such issues as privacy, guns, violence, or health decisions (from smoking, safe sex, seat belts, and 32 oz. sodas to abortion, affordable care, and euthanasia). We also discover our moral complicity in the use of drones, torture, and war itself, and environmental hydro-tracking, our rapacious appetite for fossil fuels, and climate change challenge us to be aware of what we accept in the name of efficiencyCan traditional ethical theories about human virtue, utilitarian consequences, or binding rules of action help us understand these ethical encounters and respond well to them? Honors Ethics will first aim to investigate the scope and detail of these ethical theories, and then students will initiate projects of their own design to develop themes addressed in class discussion. Permission is required and may be granted by Dr. Lois Daly. (ARTS, CAP,.CFJ, HNRS)

Philosophy of Law, PHIL270 (MWF 11 :30-12:30, Santilli)

In order to understand what's at stake in legal battles over gay marriage, gun control, abortionthe death penalty, health care, and affirmative action, one needs to study the basic philosophies and moral principles underlying Supreme Court opinions. This course offers students a chance to learn the basics of natural law and positivist theories, as well as of constitutional interpretationand study how they are applied in landmark appeals court decisions. Students are encouraged to form and express educated opinions about criminal and social justice in America today. (ARTSCAP, JMN)

Late Modern Philosophy, PHIL 346 (MWF 10:20-11:20, Ng)

European philosophy of the 19th century. Main figures are Hegel, Marx, Mill, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Typical questions pertain to the role of history in shaping our self-understanding in science, religion, and politics, and the emergence of radical critiques of modern culture. Prerequisite: PHIL 101 or PHIL 103. (ATTR: ARTS, PHY)

lntro to Cognitive Science, PHIL 333/COGS 200 (TR 4:10-5:35, Alexander)

Cognitive science is a fascinating new field that explores the nature of cognitive processes drawing on research methods from philosophy, psychology, and computer science. This course will introduce students to the basic concepts and methods associated with the interdisciplinary study of cognition. We will focus on representation and computation, learning and problem solving, and the nature of perception, emotion, and imagination. Students will come away from the course with a better understanding of the nature of mind, human cognition , and artificial intelligence. (ARTS, COGS)

Medieval Philosophy, PHIL342 (TR 9:35-11, Davies)

Medieval philosophy isn't quaint. It is an exploration of the big ideas of thinkers like AugustineThomas Aquinas, Bonaventure and Duns Scotus. It treats of the common questions about Godman, and the world that Christians, Islamic, and Jewish philosophers discussed as they confronted the philosophical works of Aristotle. Readings from original texts and class discussion are an important part of this course, as is a final research paper. (ARTS, PHY, CFH)

Symposium on Living Philosophers: Judith Butler, PHIL 491 (F 2:40-4:40, Soderback & Ng)

This 6 credit year-long course offers a unique opportunity to study the work of Judith Butlerone of the most famous philosophers of our times- in great detail and depth. Perhaps most famous for her work on gender and sexuality, Judith Butler has published almost twenty bookson topics ranging from war, torture, human vulnerability and disability to issues of power, desirelanguage, identity, and the conflict in the Middle East. The course will be run as a seminar, and students will be respected as intellectuals who are enthusiastic about reading, writing independent thinking , and research. You will work under the guidance of the two co-directorsFanny Soderback and Karen Ng, and an external scholar, Stuart Murray from Carleton University, selected for his special expertise. Judith Butler will be visiting our campus in October and again in April. She will read and comment on student research papers, and participate in a panel where students present their work. Permission of instructors required to register. (ARTSHNRS, WTSU)