University of Maine at Farmington 2020-2021 Catalog

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  PHI 100H - Critical Thinking

The “fake news” problem is not an entirely new issue: It has always been difficult to figure out what it is reasonable to believe. Fortunately, there’s Critical Thinking. This course will look to logical techniques for distinguishing reasonable arguments from fallacious ones, and to increased media literacy to help distinguish more likely beliefs from less likely ones. It is an extremely practical course applicable to all areas of inquiry and human life. Every year.

Credit: 4

  PHI 101H - Contemporary Moral Problems

Critical examination of a number of current problems in applied ethics. Includes both classical and contemporary writings on problems such as abortion, suicide, civil disobedience, euthanasia, pornography, and economic justice. Every year.

Credit: 4

  PHI 102H - The Age of Science

This course traces the influence of science and scientific method on philosophy, religion, and the Western world view. Through the perspectives of thinkers from Descartes to Einstein, we will explore some of the issues of greatest concern for human life, such as the roles and limits of science and religion, the origin and nature of human knowledge, the existence of God and the soul, and our place in the universe. Every year.

Credit: 4

  PHI 110H - Philosophy of Education

An investigation of several core issues in Philosophy in Education (including the goals of education and the nature of teaching) by means of several classic authors in Philosophy of Education, focusing especially on the political and moral character, ramifications, and significance of education. Every two years.

Credit: 4

  PHI 111H - Environmental Philosophy

Is it morally wrong to drive a Hummer, or fill in a wetland to build a shopping mall, or kill an animal which belongs to an endangered species? If so, why? Do nonhuman animals or species or ecosystems have some kind of moral claim on us? Isn't nature pretty much free of morals, so that anything goes? In this course we will raise such questions and study theories of nature and morality in order to develop a deeper understanding of our own and others' views of the best way to live in nature, and in relation to nature. Every two years.

Credit: 4

  PHI 120H - What is the Good Life?

What's the best way to live? For pleasure or for virtue? For oneself or for others? By the conventions of one's time or by some timeless truths? The fascination the ancient Greeks had with this question launched Western philosophy on the trajectory it still travels today. In their minds the question was inextricably linked with others: What is the nature of the universe in which we live? What is the status of our knowledge of this universe? How can we understand the processes of change we see everywhere, including in ourselves? And what is the nature of philosophy itself? This course will explore the emergence of Western thought out of and in contrast with earlier mythological worldviews. We will focus most on the person who most famously asked this question, Socrates, and on the writings in which he is most vividly portrayed, namely the dialogues of his student Plato. We will continue to pursue these questions through the writings of Plato's student, Aristotle, as well as the famous schools of ancient philosophy, the Stoics, the Epicureans, and the Skeptics. This is the first course in our History of Philosophy sequence (the others are PHI 140, 220 and 240). No prior familiarity with philosophy is assumed; indeed, because these thinkers came first, this is a perfect place to begin one's study of philosophy. Every two years.

Credit: 4

  PHI 140H - Self, Knowledge, and Society

What can I know for sure? What is the basis of the political society of which I am a citizen? And what do my answers to these questions say about my nature as a human being? This course presents the leading philosophers of the early modern period – Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, and Kant – as engaged in an ongoing historical dialogue to work out the dual problems of knowledge and politics. Living in a world unsettled by the Copernican Revolution and the religious and civil wars of the 17th C, these thinkers sought firm ground concerning what can be known and the legitimacy of political authority; along the way they changed our ideas about what it means to be a human being. As we will see, their work is just as relevant today as then. Every two years in spring.

Credit: 4

  PHI 170H - Art and Ideas

What is art?  Why is art so powerful?  How does art create meaning?  In this course you will actively engage in the dialogue between philosophy and art by taking both sides on these and other questions. This course is team-taught by an art historian and a philosopher, and is intensive in reading, writing and participation. Every other year.

Credit: 4

  PHI 180H - Music and Philosophy

What is music? What is music's relation to the soul, the universe, mathematics, and other art forms? By what standards can music be judged good or bad? In this course, we will explore these questions by reading some of the leading philosophers of music over the centuries – Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Langer, Adorno – and by listening to a wide variety of musical examples. No previous philosophical or musical training required. Every other year.

Credit: 4

  PHI 200H - Logic and its Limits

An introduction to the concepts and methods of modern symbolic logic, presented in the context of the historical rise and fall of logicism – the idea that all of philosophy’s problems can be solved by careful application of logic. Though ultimately this program proved to be naïve, the system of logic developed in its name by Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein and others is nevertheless powerful enough to analyze most arguments. Students will come away from this course not only with greatly sharpened logical faculties, applicable in all areas of life, but also with a strong sense of what logic can and cannot do. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing, one course in Philosophy or permission of instructor. Every two years.

Credit: 4

  PHI 201H - Ethics

A historical introduction to the philosophical treatment of ethics. Issues to be explored include how to determine what the right thing to do is, why one should do it, why one should ever prefer another's good over one's own, and whether the basis of ethics is individual, cultural, objective, or perspectival. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing, one course in Philosophy, or permission of instructor. Every two years.

Credit: 4

  PHI 204H - Biomedical Ethics

Critical study of major ethical problems that arise in the context of modern medicine and medical/biological research. We'll consider philosophical issues connected with the practices of abortion and euthanasia, and we'll consider which ethical rules or values should guide health-care providers in their interactions with patients. We'll examine the debate over health care reform, with an eye to the question of whether health care is best regarded as a public or private good. And we'll consider the issue of medicalization, and the definitions of "illness" and "health." Prerequisite: Sophomore standing, one course in Philosophy, or permission of instructor. Every two years. 

Credit: 4

  PHI 205H - Philosophy of Science and Technology

Why is astrology no longer considered to be a science in our culture? Do all sciences engage in a particular kind of process (the "scientific method"), and if so, what is it, and what does it achieve? Do the sciences accumulate knowledge of the way things really are? If so, how do we know that, and if not, what do the sciences achieve? Do (or should) scientists have, as a supreme goal, the achievement of ethical good? What is the difference between ethically good science, and ethically bad science? What are the ethical implications of modern technology, and what connections are there between modern technology and science? This course investigates these and other questions primarily through reading and discussion of the historical record of both science itself, and people's ideas about science and technology, using original source material. We will do some experiments and demonstrations, in order to understand the readings better, but this is not a laboratory course. Also, there are no mathematical prerequisites. Readings include selections from Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Bacon, Einstein, Kuhn, Popper, Lakatos, Heidegger, and others.  Prerequisite: Sophomore standing, one course in Philosophy, or permission of instructor. Every two years.

Credit: 4

  PHI 210H - Philosophy of Language

In this course we will try to answer a number of questions which arise when we think about language, expression, and understanding, including the following: What is meaning? How is linguistic meaning related to other kinds of meaning, such as perceptual meaning, or the meaning of music, or gestures? What is truth, and how is it achieved? Does a given text have a definite meaning, or is meaning inescapably indeterminate? What does understanding a text amount to? Readings will include selections from a broad range of thinkers, such as (for example) Locke, Searle, Quine, Wittgenstein, Husserl, Saussure, Merleau-Ponty, and Derrida. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing, one course in Philosophy, or permission of instructor. Every two years. 

Credit: 4

  PHI 220H - Constructing Our World and Ourselves

At the end of the 18th Century, Kant addressed the problem of skepticism by re-conceiving knowledge as a matter of human beings projecting our categories of understanding onto the world. In this course we will follow out the implications of this idea through the works of such Nineteenth-century European philosophers as Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. In particular, we will explore the ways in which several of these thinkers came to believe that we might well construct ourselves in the same way that we construct our world, thus paving the way for the Existentialist movement of the 20th Century. Note: This is the third course in our four-semester History of Philosophy sequence (the others are 120, 140, and 240.) Courses in this sequence may be taken in any order. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing, one course in Philosophy, or permission of instructor. Every two years in fall.

Credit: 4

  PHI 240H - Consciousness and Reality

Twentieth-century European philosophy began, with Edmund Husserl, by exploring human consciousness as the key to understanding the world. The phenomenological school, as it was known, then gave rise to the existentialist movement, as figures such as Heidegger and Sartre took the category of human existence as the fundamental principle of philosophy. Later thinkers such as Merleau-Ponty deepened the analysis of the way consciousness derives from human experience and thus paved the way for movements such as post-modernism. This course will also explore, in addition to those already named, thinkers such as Buber, Arendt, Habermas, Derrida, Foucault, Levinas, and Lyotard. Connections between philosophy and psychology, literature, and the arts will be emphasized. Note: This is the final course in our four-semester History of Philosophy sequence; the others are 120, 140, and 220. However, these courses may be taken in any order, and no background is assumed. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing, one course in Philosophy, or permission of instructor. Every two years in the spring.


Credit: 4

  PHI 277 - Topics in Philosophy

The study of a specialized topic not offered in the usual curriculum. Varies. 

Credit: 2-4

  PHI 377 - Selected Topics in Philosophy

Intensive study of a single philosophical author of topic. Prerequisite(s): Determined each term as appropriate. Offered every year, usually in the Spring.

Credit: 4

  PHI 397 - Independent Study in Philosophy

An opportunity for superior students to explore topics of particular interest not offered in the curriculum or to pursue offered topics in greater depth. Prerequisite(s): Completed Independent Study form. Varies.

Credit: 1-4

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