For a complete list of courses and course descriptions please see the University Catalog.  For further questions please contact the department.


Spring 2021 Course Offerings

PHI 100 (0001-LEC), Class#67957, Contemporary Moral Problems, TTH 9:30-10:45Am, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 48, Instructor: Manuel Woersdoerfer
Course Description: Examines a variety of moral problems causing controversy in contemporary society.  Focuses on evaluating arguments for and against competing solutions to these problems.  Also discusses different philosophical strategies for thinking about moral obligations and relationships.  Topics surveyed include: corporate social responsibility, business and human rights, conflict minerals, palm oil and textile industries, gig economy, artificial intelligence, big data, autonomous vehicles, information privacy, social media, philosophy of technology, among others.  Gen Ed: Ethics, West Cult Trad, and Social Context & Inst.

PHI 100 (0900-LEC), Class#67958, Contemporary Moral Problems, WINTER-WEB ONLY, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 40, Instructor: Derek A Michaud
Course Description: Examines a variety of moral problems causing controversy in contemporary society. Focuses on evaluating arguments for and against competing solutions to these problems. Also discusses different philosophical strategies for thinking about moral obligations and relationships. Topics surveyed will include: abortion, euthanasia, eating animals, feminism, and misogyny. Asynchronous with optional synchronous discussions via ZOOM. Assignments will include discussion posts and quizzes.

PHI 102 (0001-LEC) Class #67959, Introduction to Philosophy, MWF 11:00-11:50am, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 48, Instructor: Derek A Michaud
Course Description: An introduction to philosophical thought and critical thinking through a reading of works from the world’s philosophical traditions. Readings will include selections from works by Plato, Aristotle, Nagarjuna, Zhuangzi, Mengzi, Descartes, Elizabeth of Bohemia, and others. Questions will be asked about the nature of wisdom and knowledge, the essence of reality and of ideas, human nature, virtue and community, justice, and political life. Synchronous lectures and discussions via ZOOM. Assignments will include discussion posts, quizzes, and a term paper on a topic chosen by students.

PHI 103 (0001-LEC) Class #66192, Methods of Reasoning, MWF 9:00-9:50am, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 48, Instructor: Derek A Michaud
Course Description: A study of principles used to distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning including the nature of rational thought, the uses of language, recognition of arguments, informal fallacies, purposes, and types of definition, deduction, and induction. Emphasis on understanding and mastering through practice some fundamental techniques for testing many kinds of reasoning. Synchronous lectures and discussions via ZOOM. Assignments will include regular homework exercises, quizzes, and a term paper on a topic chosen by students.

PHI 104 (0500-LEC) Class #67463, Existentialism and Literature, TTH 2:00-3:15pm, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 40, Instructor: Michael Swacha
Course Description:What is the purpose of our lives? Are we free to live them as we choose? Would such freedom make life easier or better? How do we process, understand, and find meaning in our everyday experiences? How do we endure being? Such weighty questions are at stake in existentialism, a philosophical moment that played out not only in traditional-looking philosophical texts, but also in texts we would often consider “literary.” In this course, we will explore existentialism through both philosophy and literature, and in texts that could easily be categorized as both. Readings may include works such as Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea and Being and Nothingness, Albert Camus’s The Stranger, Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, Simone de Beauvoir’s Ethics of Ambiguity, and Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling. Assignments will include regular short writing and a final longer essay, and may include presentations or other group assignments. Since this is a synchronous remote course, we will meet via Zoom two days a week to collectively discuss the readings. Please contact Dr. Michael Swacha at michael.swacha@maine.edu for more information. Gen Ed: Artistic & Creative Expression, Ethics, Western Cultural Tradition.

PHI 132 (0001-LEC), Class#69121, Life, Technology and Evolution, TTh 11:00-12:15pm, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 48, Instructor: Don Beith
Course Description: A philosophical study of both the emergence of life and the impact human technologies have on the course of biological evolution. We will consider how theories of biology (covering lifeforms, ecosystems, viruses and life in general) and technology shape our senses of personal identity. Special focus will be given to philosophically understanding the potentialities and limits for emerging technologies to deal with global crises, from social inequality, to the pandemic, to climate change. Gen Ed: Population & The Environment.

PHI 214 (0001-LEC), Class#68692, 20th Century Continental PHI, TTh 3:30-4:45pm, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 30, Instructor: Michael Swacha
Course Description: What is a subject? As a subject, how am I bound by the conditions of my existence—whether social, political, cultural, historical, or even linguistic? How does my context and situation structure the range of my possibilities, and limit the scope of my desires? One of the most significant problems in 20th century continental philosophy is the problem of subjectivity, which calls us to explore the ways in which our social relations determine much of our experience of life. In this course, we will consider this philosophical problem through works that may include Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology, Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, Elizabeth Grosz’s The Incorporeal: Ontology, Ethics, and the Limits of Materialism, Giorgio Agamben’s The Coming Community, Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks, and Judith Butler’s Giving an Account of Oneself. Assignments will include a few mid-length essays, and may include group work such as presentations. Since this is a synchronous remote course, we will meet via Zoom two days a week to collectively discuss the readings. Please contact Dr. Michael Swacha at michael.swacha@maine.edu for more information. Gen Ed: Western Cultural Tradition, Social Context & Institutions.

PHI 230 (0001-LEC) Class #66754, Ethics, TTH 8:00-9:15pm, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 30, Instructor: Derek Michaud
Course Description: Readings and discussions of works by Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche,  and Carol Gilligan. In each case, the nature of the system, its summum bonum, and defense is examined, criticized, and tested for its applicability to personal and public ethical predicaments. The emphasis here is on normative ethical theory however and not the application to specific moral problems and controversies. Synchronous lectures and discussions via ZOOM. Assignments will include discussion posts, quizzes, and a term paper on a topic chosen by students.

PHI 232 (0001-LEC), Class#67101, Environmental Ethics, W 12:00-2:50pm, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 40, Instructor: Don Beith
Course Description: A critical survey of major contemporary discussions of human relationships to nature and the causes of the environmental crisis. Special attention will be given to building an ethical vocabulary for interpreting the place of humans in relation to the non-human, the evolving cultural meanings of nature, and environmental justice from local Penobscot to global issues. Gen Ed: Ethics, Population & the Environment, and Social Context & Inst.

PHI 235 (0001 LEC), Class#66755, Biomedical Ethics, WEB ONLINE ONLY, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 80, Instructor: Don Beith
Course Description: An overview of central fields in medical ethics from medical humanities and clinical ethics, to medical research ethics, medical equity and justice, end of life decision making and thinking more deeply about the meaning of health, illness and medicine. We will read works written by nurses, doctors and medical professionals. Our study concludes with a reflection on biomedical ethical issues during Covid19, as well as a close reading of Camus’ The Plague. Gen Ed: Ethics, Western Cultural Tradition, and Social Contexts & Institutions.

PHI 287 (0001-LEC) Class #66756, Rel & Phil of East: Buddhism, TTH 11:00-12:15pm, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 30, Instructor: Derek Michaud
Course Description: The religious and philosophical foundations of Buddhism, including the basic teachings of the Buddha (Four Noble Truths, Noble Eightfold Path, Dependent Origination, etc.), and later philosophical developments including Madhyamaka, Yogācāra, Chan/Zen, and others. Synchronous lectures and discussions via ZOOM. Assignments will include discussion posts, quizzes, and a term paper on a topic chosen by students.

PHI 312 (0001-LEC), Class#66757, History of Modern Philosophy, TTH 9:30-10:45am, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 28, Instructor: Hao Hong
Course Description: This course offers a survey of the philosophical theories raised by major “modern philosophers” in the 17th and 18th centuries. We will focus on these theories in three areas: metaphysics (the nature of substance and the mind-body relationship), epistemology (knowledge and perception), and ethics (moral rightness/wrongness). We will pay special attention to the women philosophers of the early modern period whose voices have been ignored in the history of philosophy.

PHI 475, (0001-SEM), Class#66821, Junior/Senior Seminar–, W 4:00-6:50pm, REMOTE, 3 cr.
Max Enrollment: 20, Instructor: Kirsten Jacobson
Course Description: In this capstone course, we will consider how “the other” is a shaping force in human experience and within philosophy itself. We will examine how “the other” often represents and lives from a point of view that poses some vital challenge or threat to the “majority” view and how this tension often leads to such views being overlooked or subdued by the “dominant” group. Given philosophy’s commitment to examining the methods and conclusions of human thought, a study of what is often omitted in and by our traditional canons is especially vital. The course will begin with grounding readings, selected from texts such as: Emmanuel Levinas’s Totality and Infinity, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee, Claudia Rankine’s Just Us, María Lugones’s Pilgrimages/Peregrinajes: Theorizing Coalition Against Multiple Oppressions, Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others, R.C. Lewontin’s Biology as Ideology, Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, etc. In the latter part of the course, readings will be drawn from students’ own scholarly interests regarding the theme of “the other” from across the history of philosophy. The course will proceed in a seminar-format with time set aside in the second portion of the course for individual and group work as well as presentations. We will focus throughout the semester on developing constructive practices of idea generation, draft writing, one-on-one and group feedback, and presenting one’s research questions and work in engaging (and low stress!) ways. By the end of the course, students will have completed a research project culminating in a substantial philosophical essay and presentation.

For questions or permission, please contact: Philosophy at 207.581.1417 or email Jen Bowen at jennifer.bowen@maine.edu