Fall Undergraduate Courses

August 29 - December 19, 2017

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David G Limbaugh
M W F,  12:00 - 12:50 PM
Class #: 19336

Examines general topics in various areas of philosophy showing different sides of issues; develops critical thought and philosophical method.

David G Limbaugh
T TH     8:00 – 9:20 AM
Class #: 23394

Examines general topics in various areas of philosophy showing different sides of issues; develops critical thought and philosophical method.

Michael P Moran
M W F,  11:00 – 11:50 AM
Class #: 23395

Examines general topics in various areas of philosophy showing different sides of issues; develops critical thought and philosophical method.

Professor Ryan Muldoon
T TH,  9:30 – 10:50 AM
Class #: 21129

Are sweatshops exploitative, or the best means we have of lifting people out of poverty? Do we even owe moral consideration to people who are far away from us? Are there limits to what should be sold in the market? Are there limits to our rights to free speech? Is pornography harmful? In a world of increasing diversity, what obligations do we have to overcome our own biases about others? Is accommodating the moral and religious beliefs of others an infringement of the free exercise of our own beliefs? In this course, we will investigate these and other questions, with the goal of understanding how we fit into an increasingly complex moral environment. We will explore these contemporary challenges using not just our life experiences, but drawing on the tools that moral philosophy provides. This course will expose you to methods of reasoning that can help you decide how to respond to a wide array of contemporary moral challenges.

This course will philosophically examine contentious moral issues of the day. Among the topics that may be discussed are abortion, capital punishment, affirmative action, obligations of wealthy nations to poor nations, duties to non-human animals, vegetarianism, sex workers, pornography, legalized gambling and lotteries, gun control, drone warfare, human enhancements through drugs and prostheses, homosexual marriage, racial profiling, and legalization of currently illegal drugs.

Professor Maureen Donnelly
T TH  9:30 – 10:50 AM
Class #: 20975

The course introduces value theory, good and bad, justification of obligations to others, relationship of free choice and determinism, and contemporary moral problems analyzed by ethical principles.

Nearly everyone assumes that some human actions are morally good (or at least morally permissible), while other actions are morally wrong. However, there is often considerable disagreement over the moral worth of particular actions. The primary purpose of this class is to examine different principles which have been advocated for distinguishing between morally acceptable and morally unacceptable actions. Special attention will be paid to principles which are based on substantial philosophical arguments and which purport to be independent of specific cultural practices. We will also consider: i) the extent of a person?s responsibility for his or her actions and ii) what reasons can be given for choosing good actions and refraining from bad actions. Students should expect regular readings from historical and contemporary sources. Grades are based on written homework, regular class participation, and examinations. No prior background in philosophy is required for this course.

Professor Devlin Russell
M W F,  10:00 – 10:50 AM
Class #: 23396

Introduces value theory, good and bad, justification of obligations to others, relationship of free choice and determinism, and contemporary moral problems analyzed by ethical principles.

Angela G. Menditto
T R,  11:00 AM – 12:20 PM
Class #: 23397

Introduces value theory, good and bad, justification of obligations to others, relationship of free choice and determinism, and contemporary moral problems analyzed by ethical principles.

Botan Dolun
M W F, 1:00 - 1:50 PM
Class #: 23399

Examines techniques of problem solving, decision making, and evaluating pros and cons of an issue; organizing data; forming strategies and giving reasons; perceptual, cultural, emotional, intellectual, and expressive blocks to thinking; and simple inductive reasoning and statistical fallacies.

Professor Ryan Muldoon
T TH,  2:00 – 3:20 PM
Class #: 21130

What is the law? Why does it have authority over us? What relationship does the law have with morality? These are timeless questions, and we will look at them through a contemporary lens. This course will be divided into three parts. In the first part of the course, we will survey the philosophical literature on the authority of the law, and its sources of political and moral justification. We will learn about why we have the law, and how it is meant to structure the relations between citizens and state.

In the second section, we will explore what happens when the law is out of step with prevailing social norms. For instance, if nobody else follows the law, should you? What really commands our loyalty? Are laws legitimate if no one pays attention to them? In the final part of the course, we will explore what happens when the law is used for illegitimate ends. We will focus on cases of racially discriminatory laws and discriminatory enforcement of otherwise neutral laws. We will look at such issues as laws governing housing, civil asset forfeiture, and stop and frisk. We will also pay particular attention to the events that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement to see what philosophical lessons we can draw.

The goals for this course are to connect the abstract ideals of the authority of the law with the lived reality that we see around us.

Distinguished Professor Jorge J. E. Gracia
W, 4:00 - 6:40 PM
Class #: 23402

What is race? What is ethnicity? What is nationality? What is the relation between race, ethnicity and nationality? What are racial, ethnic, and national identities? How are these identities related to personal identity? Can the same person have several identities? How are racial, ethnic, and national groups individuated? How can we tell that someone belongs to a particular racial, ethnic, or national group? Does belonging to these groups entail particular rights? Do ethnic groups have linguistic rights? Are social groups entitled to reparations for past wrongs committed against members of the groups? Can affirmative action policies with respect to racial, ethnic, or national  groups be justified? How are race and ethnicity manifested in cultural phenomena, such as philosophy, literature, and art? These are some of the questions we intend to explore in this course. The readings come from the writings of authors who have recently staked out important, and sometimes controversial, positions on these issues.

The three credit UB Seminar is focused on a big idea or challenging issue to engage students with questions of significance in a field of study and, ultimately, to connect their studies with issues of consequence in the wider world. Essential to the UB Curriculum, the Seminar helps students with common learning outcomes focused on fundamental expectations for critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and oral communication, and learning at a university, all within topic focused subject matter. The Seminars provide students with an early connection to UB faculty and the undergraduate experience at a comprehensive, research university. This course is equivalent to any 199 offered in any subject. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade of F or R may not be able to repeat the course during the fall or spring semester.

 

Professor Maureen Donnelly
T R, 11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Class #: 22081

Literary works often deal with important philosophical issues. For example, many narratives are structured around underlying ethical distinctions between good and bad actions or between good and bad character traits. In addition, many narratives raise questions about human nature or the structure of the world in which we live and act. The purpose of this class is to consider how a general philosophical issue might be investigated through a work of literature. We will read both philosophy texts and literary texts, using the philosophy texts first for a basis understanding of a particular issues and then comparing the treatment of that philosophical issue in a selection of literary works.

We focus initially on questions of human freedom. What does it mean for human beings to be free to direct their lives and choose to commit, or refrain from committing, particular actions? Is the world structured in a way that allows for human freedom? Is freedom a requirement for moral responsibility? The second half of the course focuses on ethical issues. What sorts of actions are morally permissible? What sorts of actions are morally impermissible? What sorts of habits or personality traits characterize morally virtuous people? What sorts of habits or personality traits characterize morally degenerate people? How, generally, should we live? What are the attributes of a good life? Particular philosophical texts used in the course include selections from Aristotle, Epictetus, Boethius, Kant, and Bentham. Literary readings include works of Sophocles, Henry James, David Thoreau, and Benjamin Franklin.

The three credit UB Seminar is focused on a big idea or challenging issue to engage students with questions of significance in a field of study and, ultimately, to connect their studies with issues of consequence in the wider world. Essential to the UB Curriculum, the Seminar helps students with common learning outcomes focused on fundamental expectations for critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and oral communication, and learning at a university, all within topic focused subject matter. The Seminars provide students with an early connection to UB faculty and the undergraduate experience at a comprehensive, research university. This course is equivalent to any 199 offered in any subject. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade of F or R may not be able to repeat the course during the fall or spring semester.

Professor Nicolas Bommarito
M W F , 11:00 - 11:50 AM
Class #: 22078

This course explores the question of what it means to live well and some of the obstacles to living well from a philosophical point of view. Students will become familiar with classic ideas of philosophers like Aristotle and Zhuangzi, but also more contemporary work. We will examine issues relevant to becoming a university student like procrastination and note-taking from a practical point of view with an eye to solving common obstacles to living well. We will also critically examine the underlying concepts. For example, considering how procrastination relates to theories of rationality and the ideas of memory and originality that are involved in academic writing.

The three credit UB Seminar is focused on a big idea or challenging issue to engage students with questions of significance in a field of study and, ultimately, to connect their studies with issues of consequence in the wider world. Essential to the UB Curriculum, the Seminar helps students with common learning outcomes focused on fundamental expectations for critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and oral communication, and learning at a university, all within topic focused subject matter. The Seminars provide students with an early connection to UB faculty and the undergraduate experience at a comprehensive, research university. This course is equivalent to any 199 offered in any subject. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade of F or R may not be able to repeat the course during the fall or spring semester.

Professor James Lawler
M W F, 12:00 - 12:50 PM
Class #: 22080

Contemporary television programs and films often involve the same issues, questions and probing reflections that philosophers have explored since the time of Plato: How do we know what is a morally right action? How do we know whether something is real, or only a dream or illusion? Is there more to reality that what we can experience with our senses? Do individuals have a purpose or destiny as a result of external conditions or forces, or is this a matter for individuals themselves to decide?

Bringing together pop culture and philosophy is beneficial to both sides. Stories told with skill and imagination in popular culture provide compelling illustrations of ideas treated abstractly and systematically by philosophers. Connecting popular culture with the concepts developed by philosophers makes the concepts seem less abstract, more real. At the same time, in recognizing the presence of profound conceptual content in the works of pop culture, we will take these works more seriously—as more than mere entertainment. Often, the best of pop culture provides explorations that take philosophical ideas to unexpected levels, and so provide fresh stimulus for deeper philosophical reflection. Bringing together some of the most prominent works in contemporary popular culture with relevant classical texts from the history of philosophy is both entertaining and intellectually fruitful.

The three credit UB Seminar is focused on a big idea or challenging issue to engage students with questions of significance in a field of study and, ultimately, to connect their studies with issues of consequence in the wider world. Essential to the UB Curriculum, the Seminar helps students with common learning outcomes focused on fundamental expectations for critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and oral communication, and learning at a university, all within topic focused subject matter. The Seminars provide students with an early connection to UB faculty and the undergraduate experience at a comprehensive, research university. This course is equivalent to any 199 offered in any subject. This course is a controlled enrollment (impacted) course. Students who have previously attempted the course and received a grade of F or R may not be able to repeat the course during the fall or spring semester.

Prerequisites: Students who have already successfully completed the first year seminar course may not repeat this course. If you have any questions regarding enrollment for this course, please contact your academic advisor.

Professor Thomas Bittner
M W F , 12:00 - 12:50 PM
Class #: 18574

Introduces the formal techniques of deductive reasoning.

Note: Students must register in PHI215 to get this section.

Scott Luan
W, 8:00 - 8:50 AM
Class #: 22591

Introduces the formal techniques of deductive reasoning.

Note:  Registering in this section will automatically place you in PHI 215LR BIT LEC 

Scott Luan
R,  8:00 - 8:50 AM
Class #: 22592

Introduces the formal techniques of deductive reasoning.

Note:  Registering in this section will automatically place you in PHI 215LR BIT LEC

Professor Devlin Russell
T R, 12:30 - 1:50 PM
Class #: 23430

Examination of how humans should interact with the environment, both as individuals and as members of groups or organizations.

Professor David Hershenov
M, W, F,  2:00 - 2:50 AM
Class #: 23425

The course is designed both to provide moral guidance to future medical professionals as well to enable citizens to develop informed and reasonable positions on the most important bioethical issues of the day. Students will become familiar with the leading arguments on both sides of the following contemporary bioethical controversies: abortion, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, organ transplants, human cloning, commercial surrogate motherhood, advanced directives, informed consent, and the definition and criterion of death.

The readings are chosen to provide opposing positions. Each topic covered will have a second author arguing against the position defended in the first reading, usually commenting on the very author and essay just read. Even if students don't switch sides on an issue due to the course readings, lectures and discussions, the hope is that they will not only be able to give a stronger defense of their own positions but will also come to better appreciate the considerations that favor the opposing side. This might play a small role in making public debate more civil and reasonable.

The methodologies employed in the class should make students more aware of their own values, perhaps revealing to them commitments of which they were previously unaware. Students will learn how to construct philosophical arguments and critically read philosophy essays. All the required reading will be made available through the library electronic course reserve.

Harjeet S. Parmar
ONLINE
Class #: 24198

Examines current ethical positions and their application to ethical and social questions in medicine.

Note: This course is conducted entirely online, including any exams the course might include. At no time will this course require students to be present on campus.

Jacob Monaghan
T R, 12:30 - 1:50 PM
Class #: 23610

Examines current ethical positions and their application to ethical and social questions in medicine.

Shane K Hemmer
M W F,  11:00 – 11:50 AM
Class #: 18473

Examines current ethical positions and their application to ethical and social questions in medicine.

Uriah Burke
T R,  11:00 AM – 12:20 PM
Class #: 22094

Examines current ethical positions and their application to ethical and social questions in medicine.

Joshua Merlo
M W F,  8:00 - 8:50 AM
Class #: 23426

Examines current ethical positions and their application to ethical and social questions in medicine.

Michael P Moran
M W F, 2:00 - 2:50 PM
Class #: 21006

Reviews the history of Greek philosophy from Pre-Socratic philosophers to the Hellenistics.

Professor Louis M. Powell
T  R,  11:00 AM - 12:20 PM
Class #: 23431

Reviews the history of metaphysics and epistemology from the Renaissance to Kant.

Professor David Braun
T, R, 12:30 - 1:50 PM
Class #: 23432

Introduction to the philosophy of mind, emphasizing both historically significant and contemporary discussion of the relationship between mind and the material world.

We will discuss some fundamental questions about the nature of minds and mental states, and what is sometimes known as “the mind-body problem”. Are minds and mental states physical or non-physical in nature? Are mental states just complex dispositions to behave in certain ways? Are mental states identical with certain kinds of brain states? In what respect (if any) is a mind like a computer?

Could a purely physical object be conscious? How can a mental state represent something, or be about something? Could a physical state of a brain or computer do this? Our consideration of these questions will begin with arguments for and against several theories of the nature of minds and mental states, including dualism, materialism, behaviorism, and functionalism. The course will emphasize readings in contemporary philosophical literature. 

Pre-requisite: One prior course in philosophy.
Requirements (tentative): Two papers and two exams. The second exam will occur during the final exam period.

Professor Neil E. Williams
T R,  9:30 - 10:50 AM
Class #: 21007

Metaphysics is concerned with the most fundamental categories of existence.  These include events, particulars, properties, persons, facts, and so on.  The best way to approach metaphysics is through the consideration of certain problems; as one begins to think about how best to solve these problems, the connections between the many metaphysical problems become clear. 

Our aim in the course is to consider answers to, and methodologies employed in answering, the question: what is there?  With that in mind, this course will pay close attention to five major metaphysical issues (universals; particulars; time; causation; persistence) but in so doing we are likely to touch on most of the topics that fall within the range of metaphysics.

Students are required to have taken at least one previous philosophy course to register.  Given the content of the course, more than one previous course is highly recommended.

Professor Devlin Russell
M W F, 12:00 - 12:50 PM
Class #: 22089

What is a work of art? Does it matter if 'a five-year-old could draw that'? Is aesthetic judgment all just a matter of taste? We'll explore questions like these, both abstractly and in terms of different artistic media. We'll also look at different particular media: traditional forms like painting and music, as well as applied and popular arts, including architecture, design, food, and comics. This multimedia course will draw readings from both philosophers and artists themselves, as well as incorporate listenings and viewings.

The course considers artistic creativity and expression, beauty and the sublime, the role of art in society.

Undergraduate Tutorial Sections

PHI 401    Philosophy Honors Tutorials

PHI 498    Philosophy Undergraduate Tutorials

PHI 499    Philosophy Undergraduate Tutorials

Meeting days and times as arranged with professors.

See HUB Registration site
for Individual Course Sections with Philosophy faculty.