Vita & Courses Taught
Anglo-American Philosopher 1900-1950: This course covers an important and productive era in the history of philosophy, the analytic philosophy movement. In the course we discuss philosophers such as A. J. Ayer, Gottlieb Frege, G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. We discuss broad movements in this tradition, including logical positivism and ordinary-language philosophy. [Syllabus]
Business Ethics: This course if an introduction to a rapidly growing field of applied ethics, business ethics. We first discuss some of the basics of business in a free market system, along with some basics of the American legal system. We then look at five basic moral perspectives that we use to examine aspects of business practice: egoism; utilitarianism; natural rights ethics; Kantian ethics; and virtue ethics. We then take up a number of the main questions in business ethics. What are the social responsibilities of a business? What is the meaning and value of work? What rights does an employee have? What responsibilities? What are the ethical issues surrounding product liability, pricing and marketing? And what ethical issues surround global trade? [Syllabus]
Classics in Western Philosophy: This is a course intended for seniors not majoring in Philosophy to give them an exposure to some of the classics of the field. The texts we cover are: The Republic by Plato; The Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle; Grounding of the Metaphysics of Morals by Kant; Utilitarianism by Mill; “Existentialism as a Humanism” and “Self-Deception” by Sartre; and The Myth of Sisyphus by Camus. These works give us a view of some of the major views on ethics by some of the greatest thinkers who have ever lived. [Syllabus]
Contemporary Moral Issues: This course uses ethical theory to help elucidate a number of important moral issues. We start by surveying a number of moral theories, namely: ethical egoism; utilitarianism; Kantianism; Natural Law/Rights Ethics; Virtue Ethics; and Care Ethics. We also discuss moral relativism and (briefly) theories of happiness. We then turn to some specific moral issues. These issues include: suicide and euthanasia (“mercy-killing”); abortion; varieties of sexual behavior; affirmative action; poverty and inequality; rival political systems; capital punishment; just war theory; globalization; the ethics of free trade; and the ethics of immigration. [Syllabus]
Critical Thinking: Critical thinking involves developing an increasingly accurate set of beliefs about the world, and using that belief set in your decision-making. In this course, we begin by learning some basic logical concepts, and then (using a variety of tools from philosophy, psychology, economics, legal studies, communication arts, and logic) we will improve our critical thinking skills. We will examine how to achieve clarity, consistency, justification and explanatory/predictive power in our thoughts. We end the course by applying what we’ve learned to analyze sales trickery, deceitful political rhetoric, and distinguish science from pseudo-science. [Syllabus]
Introduction to Ethics: This course is survey of major concepts, issues and positions in ethics, that branch of philosophy that deals with the good and the right. Ethical theory aims at determining which actions are morally right, which motives and character traits are morally praiseworthy, and which things are ultimately desirable. We also discuss what ethical terms mean and how they are justified–an area of study called “meta-ethics.” As we survey the major positions, we will read selections from major philosophers that discuss them. [Syllabus]
Introduction to Logic: Logic is the normative study of arguments. In this class we learn how to identify people’s arguments, and distinguish inductive from deductive arguments. We then learn to judge those arguments in an informal way by looking for common, recurring mistakes in reasoning called fallacies. We then learn some formal logic, including truth tables, Venn diagrams, and natural deduction proofs. [Syllabus]
Introduction to Meta-logic: This a course about first-order logic (FOL), not in it. It presupposes that the student has successfully completed a FOL course (usually called “symbolic logic”). The topics covered as follows. In propositional calculus, we discuss: alternative systems; functional completeness (absolute and relative); mechanical methods besides truth tables; circuit design; intelim and truth-tree methods; the completeness theorem (relative and absolute). In predicate calculus, we discuss: mechanical methods; the decision problem; completeness; and models and invalidity.
Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy is one of the oldest academic studies, dating back in the Western tradition to ancient Greece over 2,500 years ago. In this course we will survey broadly issues in two of the three main branches of philosophy, metaphysics and the theory of knowledge. Specifically, we will look at arguments about the existence of God, and whether argumentation at all is a necessary part of religious belief. We will then look at various views about the relation between the mind and the brain, and also discuss the question of freedom of the will. [Syllabus]
Philosophy of Religion: In this course, we examine in considerable detail the major arguments for the existence of God, including the Teleological Argument, the Ontological Argument, the Cosmological Argument, and the argument from miracles. We will also examine the main argument against the existence of God, namely, the problem of evil. We will also discuss whether argumentation is at the heart of religion, or is tangential to it.
Philosophy of Science: In this course we will examine philosophical work aimed at elucidating concepts crucial to science, such as: observation and the concept of a “fact”; scientific method; induction, confirmation, and the acceptance of hypotheses; explanation; the nature of scientific theories; definition and concept formation; scientific progress and the unity of science; and scientific revolutions. We will also discuss logical positivism and its over-throw (post-positivist philosophy of science) as presented by Thomas Kuhn. [Syllabus]
Symbolic Logic: In this class, we will get a solid grounding in first-order logic. This includes: identify and symbolizing statements; truth-tables and other mechanical methods of propositional calculus; natural deduction proofs in sentential logic; proofs in quantifier (monadic predicate) logic; properties of relations; proofs in relational (polyadic predicate) logic; identity and definite descriptions; and proofs of identity arguments. [Syllabus]