Courses

2014-15 Undergraduate Academic Catalog

PHL 110. WHAT CAN WE KNOW? 4 sh
This course introduces students to the amazing diversity of knowledge. Explore questions
such as: How does scientific knowledge differ from literary insight, moral intuition and
spiritual wisdom? When are doubt and skepticism justified, and when do these cautions
keep us from risking to know the world in new ways? When is certainty unquestionable,
difficult, undesirable, or simply impossible? Humans have limitations. Does it follow that
human knowledge also has limitations besides error and ignorance? Knowledge is growing,
but are we growing more knowledgeable or just more full of information? Must real knowledge
be universal and/or accessible to everyone or is some knowledge personal and/or
private? Join us in thinking philosophically about what we really know about knowledge. Offered fall and spring. 

PHL 112. HOW SHOULD WE LIVE? 4 sh
This course invites you to think philosophically about the meaning of our working ethical
values such as responsibility, respect and compassion, but also to develop a critical perspective
on values: what life might be, should be, and ought to be. What is worthwhile and
really matters? How does anyone know for sure? We explore the scope and depth of values
such as community, beauty, justice, equality and wealth, while testing those values with
rational skepticism and shared experience. The goal is to ask better questions about how
we live so that we can practice those values that will enable us to bring about what is most
worthwhile in action, community and in life. Offered fall and spring.

PHL 210. CRITICAL THINKING 4 sh
This foundation course in critical thinking introduces reading and listening skills, argument
analysis and evaluation, and creative problem-solving methods. Such skills are valuable
throughout life, from making effective presentations to promoting independent thinking.
Offered fall and spring.

PHL 212. ETHICAL PRACTICE 4 sh
Ethical practice is a foundation course exploring ways to act wisely and effectively in our
life with others. Drawing on the philosophical tradition and on critical examination of
life situations, students engage such topics as personal integrity, sensitivity and fairness to
others, and conditions for collaborative and respectful living. Offered fall and spring.

PHL 215. ETHICS AND DECISION MAKING 4 sh
This course explores the field of ethics with an emphasis on its application to decision
making and leadership. It will explore nested contexts for decision making – environmental,
institutional and interpersonal; use criteria for ethical assessment (e.g., what is good for
the whole and fair to each participant/part in each context); and provide scope for ethical
practice by means of a modest service learning component and case studies. This course is
offered in conjunction with the leadership minor. Students may receive credit for both PHL
212 and PHL 215, but may only count one course toward a PHL major or minor. Offered
fall.

PHL 230. METHODS OF PHILOSOPHICAL INQUIRY 4 sh
What exactly do philosophers do? What makes a particular way of inquiring philosophical?
And what ethical, political and philosophical questions, problems, challenges and advantages
do different methods have? This class will critically examine different methods of
philosophical inquiry, both orthodox and heterodox, to address such questions. Students
will engage with these methods through texts that describe and/or embody them, and
through assignments that offer opportunities to enact different methods.This class is
required for philosophy majors and recommended for any students interested in taking
upper-level philosophy courses.

PHL 320. RECLAIMING DEMOCRACY 4 sh
Reclaiming Democracy brings together students and faculty from many different colleges
and universities in Greensboro with others in the greater Greensboro community to examine
what we mean by “democracy” and to explore the different traditions that drive public
policy, governance and citizen engagement. The course draws on multiple disciplines to
examine and model democracy, focusing on democracy in the local community.

PHL 321. CRAFTING A MEANINGFUL LIFE 4 sh
Everyone wants to live a meaningful life. However, not everyone knows how to go about
doing so. During this hands-on workshop, students will learn to apply an assortment of
philosophical skills that will empower them to develop their own approaches to life’s most
basic questions: what counts as a meaningful existence? Is self-satisfaction and authenticity
sufficient or are there objective criteria for making such judgments? How does meaningfulness
relate to living a good or a happy life? Drawing on the wisdom offered by a variety of
philosophical and religious traditions, students will enhance their self-understanding and
develop a clear and satisfying personal vision for how to create and sustain meaning in their
everyday practices.

PHL 330. ECONOMIC JUSTICE 4 sh
This class will explore the moral dimension of economic policy. Students will participate in
a series of active exercises designed to illuminate the fact that economic policy decisions are,
in fact, moral. By focusing on contemporary issues of social justice, students will critique
economic theory and policy from a practical and a moral point of view.

PHL 331. ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY 4 sh
This study of the origins of Western philosophy concentrates on the Golden Age of Greece,
including such topics as Socrates, his predecessors and his great successors, Plato and
Aristotle. Students consider what it means to live a human life in a humane and liberating
communal context. Offered at least once every two years.

PHL 333. MODERN PHILOSOPHY 4 sh
Discussion centers on crucial intellectual developments in the 17th and 18th centuries when
the modern Western worldview arose. Specific attention is given to far-reaching changes
in philosophical methods, theory of knowledge, new senses of self and world, and thinkers
such as Descartes, Hume and Kant. Offered at least once every two years.

PHL 334. POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY 4 sh
Discussion focuses on the roots of modern political thought, including such key 17th- and
18th-century developments as the case for sovereignty in the modern nation state, the rise of
individual rights and the rationale for modern democracy. Major thinkers such as Hobbes,
Locke and Rousseau are studied against the background of their turbulent times.

PHL 338. NIETZSCHE AND THE DEATH OF GOD 2 sh
This course examines Friedrich Nietzsche’s critique of traditional thinking, in particular
his critique of the institutions and assumptions of Western religions and his challenge to
bring forth a new type of human being in the face of the “Death of God.” This is a twocredit,
half-term course that readily pairs with PHL 339.

PHL 339. MARTIN BUBER AND THE ECLIPSE OF GOD 2 sh
This course explores Martin Buber’s dialogical philosophy as a response to the modern
condition that is both uniquely Jewish and at the same time universal, and as a philosophy
of healing in both the individual and the collective sense. This is a two-credit, half-term
course that readily pairs with PHL 338.

PHL 341. PHILOSOPHY OF LAW 4 sh
This basic examination of the nature, function and limits of law gives attention to human
rights and natural justice, law and morality, theories of punishment and questions of legal
responsibility. The course is of particular interest to prelaw, business and political science
students.

PHL 344. PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 4 sh
Course study promotes the intelligent, critical assimilation of scientific information by
developing a general framework for analyzing scientific claims. Topics include the structure
of scientific reasoning, science in its cultural context, and the logical and other elements
shaping scientific change.

PHL 345. FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY 4 sh
This survey and application of feminist philosophies examines central ideas in feminist
thought, including the social construction of gender, the exclusion of women from traditional
philosophy and the intersection of gender with other social factors such as race and
class.

PHL 346. PHILOSOPHY OF THE BODY 4 sh
This course explores philosophical questions surrounding the body and the self. Central to
our exploration will be an attempt to understand the various connections between embodiment
(the fact that we have bodies and our experiences of those bodies) and subjectivity (the
fact that we are persons, capable of action and choices). The course includes contemporary
and historical readings, extensive written work and activities based on the course material.

PHL 348. ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS 4 sh
Students explore the bearing of philosophical and religious ethics upon practical problems
regarding the natural environment. This course also considers the possible need for new ethical
frameworks to address the environmental crisis we now face. Cross-listed with REL 348.

PHL 350. THE SPIRIT OF ISRAEL 4 sh
The 20th century proved to be one of the most challenging and defining periods in Jewish
history; from the emergence of political Zionism and the tragedy of the Holocaust to the
creation of the State of Israel. It is from this national entity that future Judaism will have to
speak and serve its historical purpose, that is, “the great upbuilding of peace.” This course
will examine the philosophical writings of thinkers associated with the spirit of Israel and
the latter’s manifestation in Jewish history. A special attention will be given to the expression
of such a spirit in the contemporary relationship between Israel and the world.

PHL 352. EASTERN PHILOSOPHY 4 sh
Eastern Philosophy centers first on ancient China, exploring The Book of Changes and the
thought of Lao Tzu and Confucius. The course continues with investigation of Buddha’s
insight, following Mahayana Buddhism into China where it becomes Zen. Finally, the
course examines the spirit of Zen and its influence on Japanese arts and culture.

PHL 356. RESTORATIVE JUSTICE 4 sh
This is a rapidly growing cultural, political and criminal justice framework for doing
justice beyond the State’s retribution against offenders. This course presents and applies the
philosophy of restorative justice for dealing with violence, whether homicide or genocide
through “moral repair.” This is the philosophy of justice beyond punishment to include
apology, forgiveness, restitution and reconciliation.

PHL 360. PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION 4 sh
A philosophy of education is an interconnected set of views about what education is, what
it is to learn and to teach, what knowledge is and what it is good for. These are fundamental
questions to which the possible answers vary dramatically. This course begins by exploring
the philosophy of education implicit in American education today and proceeds into a range
of increasingly challenging alternatives.

PHL 361. CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY 4 sh
Students become acquainted with philosophical trends in the 20th century and develop
appropriate skills of inquiry. The course surveys the changing landscape of philosophy in
this volatile century and introduces students to key figures who have shaped that landscape.

PHL 362. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY 4 sh
Focusing on the rich heritage of 19th- and 20th-century American thought from such
figures as Emerson, Thoreau, Pierce, James, Dewey and others, this course emphasizes the
originality of American philosophy and its continuing relevance.

PHL 366. MARX, DARWIN AND FREUD 4 sh
These revolutionary makers of the modern mind — Marx, Darwin and Freud — have had
enduring influence on subsequent thought in such diverse fields as philosophy and politics,
biology and religion, sociology and psychology. This course examines their work in light of
more recent attempts to incorporate, reform and extend their insights.

PHL 371-79. SPECIAL TOPICS 4 sh
Special topics are variable courses of timely and enduring interest. Past and current offerings
include:

PHL 370 Bio-Ethics
PHL 371 Politics of Beauty
PHL 373 Philosophy and the Holocaust
PHL 375 Philosophy and Film
PHL 379 Philosophy of Leadership 
 

PHL 461. INTEGRATIVE TUTORIAL 4 sh
This capstone course integrates the student’s understanding of the history, issues and
demands of philosophy via readings, class discussion and individual mentoring projects
with philosophy faculty. It culminates with a final project on a topic chosen by the student
which requires substantial philosophical research, writing and reflection and is evaluated by
all members of the department. Offered fall.

PHL 471. SEMINAR: SPECIAL TOPICS 4 sh

PHL 481. INTERNSHIP IN PHILOSOPHY 1-4 sh
The internship provides work experience in a setting that is rich with practical philosophical
problems. The goal is to enrich the student’s appreciation of the link between philosophy
and life. Offered on an individual basis when suitable opportunities can be arranged.
Permission of the department is required.

PHL 491. INDEPENDENT STUDY 1-4 sh

This page was updated July 1, 2014.