PHIL 103
PHIL 103 - Self & World: Intro Metaphy & Epist

This course introduces basic philosophical methods and concepts by exploring a variety of approaches to some central philosophical problems. Topics covered may include the existence of God, the relation between reason and faith, skepticism and certainty, personal identity and the nature of time, and the compatibility of free will and causal determinism. Readings are drawn from historical and contemporary texts. Discussions and assignments encourage the development of the student's own critical perspective on the problems discussed.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: McGowan (Fall); Wearing (Spring);

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall; Spring

Notes:

PHIL 106
PHIL 106 - Intro to Moral Philosophy

A study of central issues in moral philosophy, with readings drawn from historical and contemporary texts. Topics include the nature of morality, conceptions of justice, views of human nature and their bearing on questions of value, competing accounts of the bases of moral judgment, and questions in contemporary applied ethics.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Gartner

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 106Y
PHIL 106Y - FYS: Intro to Moral Philosophy

This course is an introduction to moral philosophy. Our discussion will be split between normative ethics, applied ethics, and metaethics. When we talk about normative ethics we talk about moral values and ideals in an effort to guide human behavior. When we talk about applied ethics, we want to identify the particular values, rights, duties, and assumptions that are in play in a specific kind of situation, like: “Should we eat animals?” or “Is watching football immoral?” When we talk about metaethics, we engage with the question of whether “right” and “wrong” exist and whether “right” and “wrong” are the same for everyone, at all times, everywhere. This course will engage these topics across three themes: (1) Autonomy, Personhood, and Freedom; (2) Values and Relativism; (3) Justice and Oppression.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: None. Open to First-Years only.

Instructor: Walsh

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Other Categories: FYS - First Year Seminar

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 107
PHIL 107 - Intro to Social Philosophy

In this course we will explore the philosophical underpinnings and ramifications of the social structures which shape our lives. Among the topics we will consider are racism, gender, disability, and incarceration and prisons. For each topic, we will investigate different accounts of what the phenomenon at issue is. Among the thinkers we will engage are Sally Haslanger, Charles Mills, and Robin Dembroff. Questions for discussion include: What are the implications of endorsing one account of an oppressive structure over another? How are oppressive social structures, e.g. ableism, transphobia, etc., mutually reinforcing? Does oppression manifest differently in different contexts? If so, how? When are the oppressed unduly burdened with explaining or combatting their oppression?

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Watkins

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall; Spring

Notes:

PHIL 108Y
PHIL 108Y - FYS: Friendship

This seminar undertakes a philosophical examination of the nature and value of friendship. Two questions will animate the course: What is a friend? And, why are friends valuable? Drawing examples from literature and films, we will examine different types of friendships and the features that characterize and sustain them. Many philosophers have argued that the best kind of friendship is one in which the friend is loved for her own sake; we will consider whether this is truly possible or whether all friendships are ultimately instrumental. We'll also examine how the partiality inherent in friendship conflicts with the demands of standard moral theories. Finally, we will compare the love that characterizes friendship with the feelings that sustain relationships with parents, children, and lovers.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: None. Open to First-Years only.

Instructor: Gartner

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Other Categories: FYS - First Year Seminar

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: Registration in this section is restricted to students selected for the Wellesley Plus Program. Mandatory Credit/Non Credit.

PHIL 200
PHIL 200 - Philosophy and Witchcraft

A study of the philosophical, social, cultural, and political beliefs that led to the belief in witchcraft in early modern Western Europe and North America, and how these beliefs led to the violent persecution of over 100,000 people between 1400 and 1700. The analysis of this historical event engages several different areas of philosophy: metaphysics, morals, epistemology, standards of evidence, and gender theory. Topics include: magic and religion, the nature of evil, sexual politics, the politics of torture, skepticism, and contemporary witches.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Walsh

Distribution Requirements: EC or REP - Epistemology and Cognition or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 201
PHIL 201 - Ancient Greek Philosophy

An introduction to the work of Plato, Aristotle, and select Hellenistic philosophers that aims to develop students' skills in analyzing and constructing philosophical arguments with attention to historical context. Focusing on the ways in which various ancient philosophical views formed internally consistent systems, we will address a range of central topics in ancient thought, including issues in ethics, political philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology. The course will deal primarily with Plato and Aristotle and end with a briefer treatment of the Epicureans, Stoics, and Skeptics.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Gartner

Distribution Requirements: EC or REP - Epistemology and Cognition or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 203
PHIL 203 - Philosophy of Art

In this course, we will examine a broad set of philosophical questions about art. What is art? Why does it matter? Are there objective standards of taste, or is beauty in the eye of the beholder? What is the relationship between aesthetics and ethics? In addition to these general questions, we will consider specific philosophical puzzles posed by other issues in the arts, which may include forgery, authenticity, restoration, testimony, and the paradox of horror. Cases will range from public sculpture to popular music to film and television.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Open to First-Years who have taken one course in philosophy and to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors without prerequisite.

Instructor: E. Matthes

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition; ARS - Visual Arts, Music, Theater, Film and Video

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 203S
PHIL 203S - Philosophy of Art

The focus of this course will be the art of comedy and humor. We will approach them from a variety of angles: philosophical attempts to define humor, scientific investigations of the origin and meaning of laughter, moral examinations of the limits of comedy and its political power, and the theological question of the place of humor in a meaningful life. 

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites:

Instructor: Deen

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition; ARS - Visual Arts, Music, Theater, Film and Video

Typical Periods Offered: Summer

Notes:

PHIL 207
PHIL 207 - Philosophy of Language

This course will explore a variety of philosophical issues concerning language: the different ways in which spoken language functions and conveys information, the alleged difference between speech and action and how it relates to freedom of speech issues (e.g., pornography and hate speech), the general problem of how words get attached to their referents, and criticisms of traditional conceptions of meaning and reference.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Open to First-Years who have taken one course in philosophy and to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors without prerequisite.

Instructor: McGowan

Distribution Requirements: EC or REP - Epistemology and Cognition or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 213
PHIL 213 - Justice

What's the purpose of government? Are there limits to what the state may demand of us? Does social justice require equality? Is taxation - or wage labor - theft? This course addresses these and other questions of political morality, through the lens of the major theories of Western philosophy. We'll also consider critiques of those theories, including the claim that they are sexist and racist. Topics will include Mill on the general welfare and the importance of liberty, Nozick on individual rights, Rawls and Dworkin on distributive justice and Marx and Cohen on equality. We'll aim to understand the principles and values underlying these accounts and apply them to contemporary debates over issues such as hate speech, sex work, public health insurance and poverty relief.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Open to First-Years who have taken one course in philosophy and to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors without prerequisite.

Instructor: de Bres

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; SBA - Social and Behavioral Analysis

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 215
PHIL 215 - Philosophy of Mind

What is a mind? How is it related to a person's brain and body? These two questions have driven centuries of work in the philosophy of mind, and we will take them as our starting point. After considering a variety of answers, we will pursue several topics that challenge our best accounts of the mind: consciousness, mental representation, the emotions, free will, and the possibility of thinking machines. Our goal will be to connect central philosophical perspectives on these issues with contributions from psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: One course in philosophy, psychology, or cognitive science, or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Wearing

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

PHIL 216
PHIL 216 - Logic

Logic studies the principles of valid, or correct, reasoning. It does this by looking for ways to regiment the relationship between a conclusion and the claims that support it. In this course, we will learn how to translate sentences of English into a symbolic language that brings out their logically relevant properties, and we will study formal methods - methods sensitive only to the form of the arguments, as opposed to their content - that allow us to determine whether the conclusions of arguments follow from their premises. Some consideration is given to the limits of the system itself as well as to the relationship between logic and ordinary language.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: Wearing (Fall); McGowan (Spring)

Distribution Requirements: MM - Mathematical Modeling and Problem Solving; EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring; Fall

Notes:

PHIL 218
PHIL 218 - Value, Truth and Enquiry

 The world is a strange place, and understanding what is going on around us is no easy matter. Nowadays, awash in charges of 'fake news' and attacks on the credibility of scientists and other experts, it's getting ever harder to figure out what is true. But what is truth, anyway? Is anything objectively true? Who counts as an expert? How do we resist propaganda, misinformation, and outright lies as we negotiate competing world views? How can we proceed when faced with deep disagreements? What roles should values play in our enquiries? What constitutes genuine progress in our understanding of the world? In this course, we will examine these challenges to our attempts to understand and explain reality.  

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Prerequisites: Open to First-Years who have taken one course in philosophy and to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors without prerequisite.

Instructor: Wearing

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 220
PHIL 220 - Philosophy of Literature

This class will consider philosophical questions concerning the nature, appreciation and value of literary works, including: What is literature? What distinguishes fiction from creative nonfiction? Do fictional characters exist? Do emotional responses to fiction make sense? Are an author’s intentions relevant to interpreting their work? Can there be more than one correct interpretation of a literary work? Are some works of literature objectively better than others? What, if anything, can we learn from literature? Does reading literature make us morally better people? Is it wrong for non-minority writers to write from the perspective of members of minority groups? The course will cover these and other topics in metaphysics, value theory, philosophy of language and mind and include work by philosophers, literary theorists and creative writers.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Open to First-Years who have taken one course in philosophy and to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors without prerequisite.

Instructor: de Bres

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 221
PHIL 221 - History of Modern Philosophy

A study of central themes in seventeenth and eighteenth-century philosophy. We will engage with questions of metaphysics, epistemology, and morals. Authors include Amo, Astell, Cavendish, Conway, Descartes, Princess Elisabeth, Heywat, Hume, Locke, Kant, and Wang Yangming. Among the topics: the nature of substance, the relationship between mind and body, the limits of reason, determinism and freedom, and the good life.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Walsh

Distribution Requirements: EC or HS - Epistemology and Cognition or Historical Studies

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

PHIL 222
CS 299/ PHIL 222 - Research Methods for Ethics of Tech

How do we educate the next generation of data scientists, software engineers, and user experience designers to think of their work as not just technical but also ethical? What moral responsibilities come with the design, adoption, use, and consumption of digital technology? The way that these questions are interrogated, discussed, and the sort of answers we might propose will be informed by a thoroughgoing interdisciplinary lens. Students will learn theoretical frameworks from both Philosophy and Computational and Data Sciences and work together to see how knowledge of frameworks from both disciplines serves to enrich our understanding of the ethical issues that face the development and employment of digital technologies, as well as empower us to find creative solutions. This course includes a sustained, semester-long research project, hence the additional meeting time.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: CS 299

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Walsh (Philosophy), Mustafaraj (Computer Science)

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Degree Requirements: DL - Data Literacy (Formerly QRF); DL - Data Literacy (Formerly QRDL)

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 226
PHIL 226 - Philosophy of Law

This course provides a systematic consideration of fundamental issues in the conception and practice of law. We will first consider the nature of law. Is law derived from moral principles or created by legislative fiat? Is international “law” law? We will then discuss moral limits on the law. Which principles should guide the state’s restriction of citizens’ liberties? Is refusal to obey the law ever justified? Next we will consider the ethics of criminal punishment. What, if anything, justifies punishment by the state? In what ways are policing and incarceration in the contemporary United States racially discriminatory? We will finish by considering questions of constitutional law and legal reasoning. Why have a constitution? When judges interpret the law, do they discover it or, in effect, make it up as they go along? Readings will include selections from philosophy, legal theory and court decisions. 

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Open to First-Years who have taken one course in philosophy and to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors without prerequisite.

Instructor: de Bres

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes: Not open to students who have taken PHIL 326.

PHIL 227
PHIL 227 - Philosophy and Free Speech

This course will explore free speech issues using the tools of analytic philosophy. Questions to be considered include: what makes speech so valuable that we protect it against regulation? Is any regulation of speech compatible with a commitment to free speech? Can expressing a sincere political opinion ever be a crime? How and why does hate speech regulation vary across countries, even ones committed to free speech? Does respect for the value of free speech require a speaker's community to provide a platform? a civil audience? comprehension?

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites:

Instructor: McGowan

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition; REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 230
PHIL 230 - Epistemic Harms

Christine Blasey Ford, Anita Hill, Rachel Jeantel, and Amber Heard each testified to having witnessed or experienced violence or harassment at the hands of a man. Despite their informed testimony, each was met with skepticism and disbelief by the public. What might explain the mismatch between the expertise of Ford, Hill, Jeantel, and Heard and the skeptical reception of their reports? We might think that their identities, particularly their gender and race, play some role. In this course, we will investigate how aspects of identity affect how we share and receive knowledge. Particularly, we will explore epistemic harms which uniquely or disproportionately affect marginalized knowers. These topics include epistemic injustice, epistemic exploitation, gaslighting, epistemic oppression, and microaggressions. Questions we will consider include: what is it for a person to be harmed in her capacity as a knower? Can institutions gaslight; can groups be gaslighted? What avenues of epistemic resistance are available to targets of microaggressions, epistemic exploitation, etc.? Are certain epistemic privileges available to marginalized knowers? We will read authors such as Kristie Dotson, José Medina, and Miranda Fricker.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites:

Instructor: Watkins

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 232
BISC 232/ PHIL 232 - Agency, Ethics, and Biology

This is a team-taught Babson-Olin-Wellesley course. This course investigates the ethics of biological science, technology, and innovation. Topics include: the costs and benefits of scientific progress, recombinant DNA and DNA sequencing, the ethics of clinical trials, trust relationships between scientists and their communities, and the intersections between science and non-human animals/the environment. We will examine these topics through both biological and philosophical lenses, develop an understanding of core principles of biology in context, and use the concepts of agency, trust, and progress to shape our discussions. Our guiding questions include: What is the relationship between a scientific innovation being technically feasible and morally permissible? What if anything do scientists owe the public? Is a person’s tissue still theirs even if it has been removed from their body? How much modification of our genetic code is morally permissible? Is the suffering and death of non-human animals an acceptable cost of doing scientific research? What are the moral responsibilities of the scientists and engineers who develop and build new technologies?

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: BISC 232

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Walsh, Jean Huang (Olin, Biology)

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; NPS - Natural and Physical Sciences

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: This course can fulfill the elective course requirement for the BISC major, but does not fulfill the core 200 level course requirement for the major.

PHIL 233
ES 233/ PHIL 233 - Environmental Ethics

This course will train students to use philosophical methods to engage in rigorous investigation of ethical issues concerning the environment. Topics may include animal rights, climate justice, the rights of ecological refugees, obligations to future generations, and the ethics of environmental activism.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: ES 233

Prerequisites: Open to First-Years who have taken one course in philosophy and to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors without prerequisite.

Instructor: E. Matthes (Philosophy)

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 234
ES 234/ PHIL 234 - From Wilderness to Ruins

This course concerns a range of ethical and aesthetic questions about places, whether of natural or cultural significance. How should we understand the value of nature? Is it relative to human interests, or independent of them? What is nature in the first place, and how is it distinguished from culture? Is scientific or cultural knowledge relevant to the aesthetic experience of nature? Does “natural beauty” have a role to play in guiding environmental preservation? When we seek to preserve an ecosystem or a building, what exactly should we be aiming to preserve? Should the history of a place guide our interactions with it? How should we navigate conflicts between environmental and cultural preservation, especially as they intersect with issues of race and class? How should a changing climate affect our environmental values? We will investigate these questions, among others, in contexts from wilderness to parks, cities to ruins.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: ES 234

Prerequisites: Open to First-Years who have taken one course in philosophy and to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors without prerequisite.

Instructor: E. Matthes

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes: Wendy Judge Paulson '69 Ecology of Place Living Laboratory course. This course does not satisfy the Natural and Physical Sciences Laboratory requirement.

PHIL 235
ES 235/ PHIL 235 - Environmental Aesthetics

The world around us is rich with aesthetic qualities. It is beautiful, awesome, enchanting, and sublime. Places have moods, vibes, atmospheres, and ambiances. How can we think rigorously and systematically about the aesthetics of the natural and built environment? What role, if any, should aesthetics play in environmentalism, environmental policy, and our relationship with the world we live in? This course will focus on contemporary philosophical work that seeks to answer these questions. Themes may include the place of science, imagination, history, and culture in aesthetic judgment, the role of aesthetics in conservation, and the relationship between aesthetics and climate change.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Crosslisted Courses: ES 235

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Matthes

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

PHIL 236
PHIL 236 - Global Justice

An introduction to recent work in political philosophy on the ethics of international relations. The course will discuss some of the main theoretical approaches to the topic: realism, cosmopolitan egalitarianism, political liberalism, utilitarianism, and nationalism. We will also consider how these different approaches might be applied to some central moral controversies in international politics, including those relating to global poverty, human rights and humanitarian intervention, immigration, climate change, and fair trade.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Open to First-Years who have taken one course in philosophy or political science, and to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors without prerequisite.

Instructor: de Bres

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

PHIL 237
PHIL 237 - Philosophy, Love, and Marriage

This course engages with writings, both historical and contemporary, on the topic of the value of marriage. We begin in the medieval period, with the correspondence between Héloïse and Abelard and progress chronologically, discussing Saint Teresa of Avila (16th century), Mademoiselle de Montpensier, Mary Astell, and Mary Wollstonecraft, (17th century), Anna Julia Cooper and early Wellesley women (19th century), and contemporary 20th and 21st century thinkers like Elizabeth Brake, Claudia Card, and Chesire Calhoun. The questions that will motivate our discussion include: What is marriage? Who gets to decide the definition of marriage? How did women throughout history view the institution of marriage? Is marriage as an institution fundamentally flawed? Should feminists reject the institution of marriage? Can marriage be reformed? Should marriage fall under the purview of church or state? Should marriage be for everyone or no one?

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 20

Prerequisites: None.

Instructor: Walsh

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 244
PHIL 244 - Moral Powers

This course concerns our commonplace but sometimes puzzling ability to alter our moral relationship with other people through our will, what some philosophers have called “moral powers.” For instance, we can make a promise and create a moral obligation, give our consent and create a moral permission, offer forgiveness and repair a moral rupture. How should we understand these powers? How do they work and how do they shape our moral lives? We will pay particular attention to the moral powers involved in promising, consent, trust, and forgiveness.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Instructor: Matthes

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 245
PHIL 245 - Rationality and Action

When we strive to act rationally and to avoid irrationality in our thoughts and actions, what exactly are we trying to do? And how successful can we be? We will begin by analyzing self-deception and weakness of will, phenomena widely regarded as irrational, in order to explore different conceptions of practical rationality. Then we will consider whether pursuing self-interest is always rational; whether it is irrational to make promises, like marriage vows, that one might not be able to keep; and whether it can be irrational to seek the optimal option when we could "satisfice" instead. We will end by considering the implications of research that identifies implicit biases and evaluative tendencies that persist even when we disavow their content.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 30

Prerequisites: Open to First-Years who have taken one course in philosophy and to Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors without prerequisite.

Instructor: McIntyre

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 249
PHIL 249 - Medical Ethics

This applied ethics course will examine some central problems at the interface of medicine and ethics and explore some of the social and ethical implications of current advances in biomedical research and technology. Topics discussed will include: drawing the distinction between genetic therapy and genetic enhancement; the permissibility of the practice of genetic screening and selective abortion; the status and interests of individuals at the margins of agency, such as infants, children and dementia patients; decisions about prolonging life and hastening death; and controversies about the use of memory-dampening drugs. Throughout, several key ethical themes will unify the course, including: the conditions for personhood and what we owe to persons; the value of autonomy and the right to make decisions about one's own body; and the importance of well-being and the purpose of medicine.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Open to all students without prerequisite.

Instructor: Gartner

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

PHIL 250
PHIL 250 - Research or Individual Study

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 10

Prerequisites: At least one course in philosophy and permission of the instructor.

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall; Spring

PHIL 250H
PHIL 250H - Research or Individual Study

Units: 0.5

Max Enrollment: 10

Prerequisites: At least one course in philosophy and permission of the instructor.

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring; Fall

PHIL 300
PHIL 300 - Sem: Philosopher Misfits & Queens

What counts as philosophy? Who counts as a philosopher? The traditional answers to these questions exclude many texts and many thinkers from the category of "the philosophical." In this course, we will challenge the traditional answers and seek to expand our understanding of the vehicles for philosophical expression, and the kinds of people who count as philosophers. The central philosophical question that will be our focus is: what is human nature? Treating this question will involve discussions of gender, class, education, and freedom. We will engage with the writings of women and non-Western thinkers, and study non-traditional philosophical texts like personal essays, poetry, and novels. Authors include Murasaki Shikibu, Christine de Pisan, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mulla Sadra, Michel de Montaigne, and Margaret Cavendish.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: One previous course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Walsh

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 301
PHIL 301 - Sem: Mortality and Immortality

This course will examine some fundamental philosophical questions that arise about death. After comparing differing conceptions of death and differing views about whether we continue to exist after we die, we will consider whether death is bad for the person who dies. We intuitively think that our deaths are bad for us, but, as Lucretius famously points out, most of us do not lament that we were not born sooner. Is it problematic that we tend to hold inconsistent attitudes towards prenatal versus postmortem nonexistence? Is immortality desirable or valuable? How might our thinking about these issues surrounding mortality and immortality inform our thinking about the value of human existence and what makes a life worth living?

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: PHIL 201 or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Watkins

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

PHIL 304
PHIL 304 - Sem: Terrible Beauties

In this seminar, we will closely examine the relationship between immorality and aesthetics, especially as it arises in the arts. Are morally objectionable artworks made aesthetically worse by their moral defects? Is it morally permissible to enjoy the work of artists who have done terrible things? How should we respond to the perceived immorality we might encounter in the arts, whether we are fans or critics? Cases may include museum art, documentary work, film and television, video games, etc.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: One prior course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: E. Matthes

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 305
PHIL 305 - Sem: Plato's Republic

What is justice? Is it better to be just than unjust? Plato tackled these perennial questions in his masterpiece, the Republic. This seminar will undertake an in-depth examination of Plato's classic, with a focus on understanding how the metaphysical and epistemological arguments of the dialogue’s middle books relate to the ethical and political questions that frame the treatise. We will also investigate and evaluate Plato's views about the nature and constitution of the soul, human motivation and action (especially the relationship between reason and non-rational desires), the purpose and importance of education, and the role of women in the ideal society.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: One previous course in Philosophy.

Instructor: Gartner

Distribution Requirements: EC or REP - Epistemology and Cognition or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Every three years

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 306
PHIL 306 - Sem: Philosophy of Friendship

We all have friends and we tend to regard friendship as an important good. This seminar undertakes a philosophical examination of the nature and value of friendship. Two main questions will animate the course: What is a friend? And, why are friends valuable? We will examine different types of friendships and the features that characterize and sustain them. Many philosophers have argued that the best kind of friendship is one in which the friend is loved for her own sake; we will investigate whether this is truly possible or whether all friendships are ultimately instrumental. We'll also examine how the partiality inherent in friendship conflicts with the demands of standard moral theories. Finally, drawing on examples from literature and film, we will consider whether one has to be a good person in order to be a good friend.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: One prior course in Philosophy.

Instructor: Gartner

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

PHIL 308
ES 308/ PHIL 308 - Sem: Environmental Aesthetics

The world around us is rich with aesthetic qualities. It is beautiful, awesome, enchanting, and sublime. Places have moods, vibes, atmospheres, and ambiances. How can we think rigorously and systematically about the aesthetics of the natural and built environment? What role, if any, should aesthetics play in environmentalism, environmental policy, and our relationship with the world we live in? This course will focus on contemporary philosophical work that seeks to answer these questions. Themes may include the place of science, imagination, history, and culture in aesthetic judgment, the role of aesthetics in conservation, and the relationship between aesthetics and climate change.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Crosslisted Courses: ES 30 8

Prerequisites: Open to Majors and Minors in Philosophy and Environmental Studies, or by permission of the instructor.

Instructor: E. Matthes

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 311
PHIL 311 - Sem: Powers of Imagination

The human imagination is a powerful creative tool. In this course, we will examine the imagination's nature, uses, and limits. Questions to be discussed include: What role do mental images play in imagining? What is the imagination's role in creativity? If fictional entities aren't real, why do we often have such powerful emotional responses to them? Are some things too bizarre or repellent to be imaginable?

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: One prior course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Wearing

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 318
PHIL 318 - Silencing

Our ability to communicate is a fundamentally important human capacity but this capacity can be impaired. Might womens' orders or refusals be systematically undermined in some contexts? Might some speakers unjustly count as less credible simply due to their social identity? Might some people decide against speaking because they realize that their audience believes negative stereotypes about them? These are just some of the ways that a person's ability to communicate can be interfered with. With an emphasis on the pragmatics of language use, this course will explore many others.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: Open to Juniors and Seniors without prerequisite and to Sophomores who have taken one course in philosophy.

Instructor: McGowan

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 322
CS 334/ PHIL 322 - Sem: Methods for Ethics of Tech

How do we educate the next generation of data scientists and software engineers to think of their work as not just technical but also ethical? How do we get them to see that the social impact of their work requires that it be driven by sound ethical principles? The way that these questions are interrogated, discussed, and the sort of answers we might propose will be informed by a thoroughgoing interdisciplinary lens. Students will learn theoretical frameworks from both Philosophy and Computational and Data Sciences and work together to see how knowledge of frameworks from both disciplines serves to enrich our understanding of the ethical issues that face digital technologies, as well as empower us to find creative solutions.

Central questions include: What kinds of ethical considerations are part of the everyday jobs of graduates working in digital technology, either in non-profit or for-profit organizations? What parts of the current liberal arts curriculum, if any, are preparing our graduates for the kinds of ethical decision-making they need to engage in? How to expand the reach of ethical reasoning within the liberal arts curriculum, in order to strengthen the ethical decision-making preparation? A key component in our collective efforts to engage with these questions will involve a sustained semester-long research project with Wellesley alums working in the field of digital tech.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 18

Crosslisted Courses: CS 334

Prerequisites: One course in Philosophy, Computer Science, MAS, or Statistics, and permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Walsh (Philosophy), Mustafaraj (Computer Science)

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Degree Requirements: DL - Data Literacy (Formerly QRF); DL - Data Literacy (Formerly QRDL)

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 323
PHIL 323 - Social Philosophy of Language

This course will explore a variety of philosophical issues about language use in the social world. What makes an utterance a lie? Is lying morally worse than other forms of verbal deception? Most of what we believe we learn from others, but how do we decide when to believe what other people say? Might a person's social identity affect how credible they are judged to be? Should it? Can we really consent to medical procedures if we do not have the relevant medical expertise to understand our options? What makes an utterance a threat? If speaking indirectly is more polite, might members of marginalized groups be expected to speak indirectly, and as a result, might that further disadvantage them socially, legally, or communicatively? These are just some of the questions we will explore.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 15

Prerequisites: At least two courses in Philosophy.

Instructor: McGowan

Distribution Requirements: EC or REP - Epistemology and Cognition or Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 324
ARTH 324/ PHIL 324 - Sem: Meat: Visuals, Politics, Ethics

The scale of the meat industry and its adverse environmental and climate impacts alongside burgeoning scientific understandings of non-human intelligence require urgent reevaluation of our relationship to animals as food: How has visual culture (historical and contemporary), both in advertising and in popular culture, separated meat as a food from the process of animal slaughter that produces it? How do we negotiate between our food traditions and ethical obligation to move away from practices rooted in violence? Why do we value some animals as companions while commodifying others as food? What is speciesism and in what ways can it shape our understanding of animal oppression? We engage these questions and more using visual culture and ethical frameworks to critique the prevailing political and cultural norms that desensitize us to the implications of meat consumption.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 18

Crosslisted Courses: PHIL 324

Prerequisites: One course in either Philosophy or Art History.

Instructor: Oliver and Walsh

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy; ARS - Visual Arts, Music, Theater, Film and Video

Typical Periods Offered: Fall; Every three years

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 325
PHIL 325 - Sem: The Free Will Problem

Do we ever act with freedom of the will? To address this question, philosophers typically start by analyzing the concept of free will. Some conclude that a choice that is caused by antecedent states or is causally determined could not be an instance of free will. This approach can lead to skepticism about whether free will actually exists. Others start with the assumption that free will must exist because it is the trait that explains and justifies our practice of holding people responsible for what they do. This approach leaves open what free will might turn out to be. We will study variations on these two strategies in the work of historical and contemporary philosophers. We will also consider what feminist philosophers say about socio-political contexts that may impede or obstruct the exercise of free will.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: At least one course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Walsh

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 331
PHIL 331 - CSPW: Philosophy in First Person

Philosophical writing is often thought to be impersonal and abstract, focused on rigorous argument and high theory to the exclusion of personal narrative, voice, humor, and literary style. But not all philosophy takes that form. This seminar explores the alternative mode of more personal philosophical writing, as it appears in contemporary personal essays on philosophical themes and pieces of public philosophy with a personal slant philosophy (in, e.g., The New York Times, The Point, Aeon, and The New Yorker.) The course is structured as a writing workshop, and centrally aims to develop students’ confidence and skill in writing their own pieces of autobiographical philosophy. Students will create a portfolio of writing and workshop it closely with their peers and professor throughout the semester.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 12

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor required. Intended for Philosophy majors and minors, but students with at least two courses in Philosophy will be considered.

Instructor: de Bres

Distribution Requirements: LL - Language and Literature; REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Other Categories: CSPW - Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing

Typical Periods Offered: Every other year

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 333
PHIL 333 - Sem: Language and Law

Language issues permeate the criminal justice system. If a police officer says, "You wouldn't mind if I looked inside your trunk, now would you?" is that statement only a question or is it also a request or even an order? Committing perjury requires uttering something false; can a misleading but true utterance constitute perjury? This seminar will explore various linguistic issues related to the law (and the criminal justice system more generally). Tools from the philosophy of language and linguistics will be explored and then applied to legal questions. Topics covered include: perjury, consent, Miranda warnings, verbal crimes (e.g., solicitation, bribes), threats and cross-burning, invoking the right to counsel, sedition, and free speech.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: Two previous Philosophy courses or permission of the instructor. Not open to First-Year students.

Instructor: McGowan

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring

Notes:

PHIL 338
PHIL 338 - Sem: Who Owns the Past?

In this course, we will examine a range of moral and political questions surrounding cultural heritage. We will employ an interdisciplinary array of sources in order to investigate key concepts including cultural and natural heritage, value, identity, colonialism, cultural property and landscapes, stewardship, and preservation. We will use these conceptual foundations to address practical questions, such as whether cultural artifacts in Western museums should be repatriated to their countries of origin; how we should resolve value conflicts between archaeologists and Indigenous communities; and whether institutions (such as governments or colleges) should continue to honor historical figures who perpetrated injustices. The course will involve a substantial independent research project on a topic of each student’s own choosing.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: One prior course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: E. Matthes

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Spring

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 340
PHIL 340 - Sem: The Meaning of Life

This seminar will explore a range of questions concerning life's meaning. Is meaning possible in a world without God? What is the difference between a happy life and a meaningful one? What is the role of love, achievement, knowledge, beauty, virtue and authenticity in a meaningful life? Do the stories we tell about our lives contribute to their meaning? Is life, in the end, absurd - or just kind of awful? Does meaning now depend on death later? We will discuss answers to these and related questions, using readings from both philosophy and literature.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: Open to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors who have taken one course in Philosophy, or by permission of the instructor.

Instructor: de Bres

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Typical Periods Offered: Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall

Notes:

PHIL 345
PHIL 345 - Sem: Empathy, Moral Judgment

Many people think of morality as primarily concerned with promoting the good of others and view moral motivation as based on altruistic motives, a capacity for empathy, and the ability to understand the perspectives of others. And yet, just as important to morality are the duties that require us to comply with social norms based on conventions that promote various forms of cooperation. Do people have a moral motive to comply with such norms? We will begin with David Hume’s account of the motives for the natural virtues of “benevolence” and the quite different motives for compliance with the “artificial” (i.e. socially constructed) virtues of justice. We will branch out from there with readings from moral philosophy, developmental psychology, behavioral economics, and anthropology that will help us understand how social norms are inculcated and enforced - and how they are revised.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: At least one course in Philosophy, Psychology, Neuroscience, or Cognitive and Linguistic Science.

Instructor: McIntyre

Distribution Requirements: EC - Epistemology and Cognition

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 349
PHIL 349 - Sem: Race & Political Philos

Why does severe racial inequality exist in democratic societies committed to the equality of persons? How is liberalism as a political philosophy implicated in racial injustice? What are the rights and duties of the racially oppressed? This seminar considers various answers to these questions in recent political philosophy on racial injustice. First, we will examine how Enlightenment and liberal political philosophy has been and continues to be influenced by racial ideology and assess some of liberalism's central ideas. Next, we will investigate different ways of conceptualizing, explaining, and alleviating racial inequality and oppression. Finally, we will focus on the rights and responsibilities of those who live in racially segregated neighborhoods with concentrated disadvantage. We will discuss, for example, welfare entitlements, parental obligations, duties to obey the law, and permissible forms of political resistance.

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 16

Prerequisites: One philosophy course or permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Landau

Distribution Requirements: REP - Religion, Ethics, and Moral Philosophy

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Not Offered

Notes:

PHIL 350
PHIL 350 - Research or Individual Study

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: At least two courses in philosophy and permission of the instructor.

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring; Fall

PHIL 350H
PHIL 350H - Research or Individual Study

Units: 0.5

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: At least two courses in philosophy and permission of the instructor.

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring; Fall

PHIL 360
PHIL 360 - Senior Thesis Research

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: Permission of the department.

Instructor:

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Fall; Spring

Notes: Students enroll in Senior Thesis Research (360) in the first semester and carry out independent work under the supervision of a faculty member. If sufficient progress is made, students may continue with Senior Thesis (370) in the second semester.

PHIL 370
PHIL 370 - Senior Thesis

Units: 1

Max Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: PHIL 360 and permission of the department.

Typical Periods Offered: Spring; Fall

Semesters Offered this Academic Year: Spring; Fall

Notes: Students enroll in Senior Thesis Research (360) in the first semester and carry out independent work under the supervision of a faculty member. If sufficient progress is made, students may continue with Senior Thesis (370) in the second semester.