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He advances an account of the fundamental constituents of the world around us, and applies this account to problems that have plagued recent work in the philosophy of mind and metaphysics color, intentionality, and the nature of consciousness.

Departmental Courses | Department of Philosophy

When first published, John Heil's introduction quickly became a widely used guide for students with little or no background in philosophy to central issues of philosophy of mind. Heil provided an introduction free of formalisms, technical trappings, and specialized terminology. He offered clear arguments and explanations, focusing on the ontological basis of mentality and its place in the material world.

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The book concluded with a systematic discussion of questions the book raises--and a sketch of a unified metaphysics of mind--thus inviting scholarly attention while providing a book very well suited for an introductory course. This Third Edition builds on these strengths and incorporates new material on theories of consciousness, computationalism, the language of thought, and animal minds as well as other emerging areas of research. Topics include the relationship between mind and body, the origins and extent of human knowledge, skepticism and belief, and the nature of personal identity.

Topics addressed include the nature of the mind, its relation to the world, and the possibilities for knowledge. Is it part of physical reality, or something separate? Can science explain the nature of the mind?

Is it possible for a properly programmed computer to have a mind? If the mind is completely physical, is it located entirely in the brain? We will investigate these questions, and contrast philosophical approaches to them with the methods employed in neuroscience and empirical psychology. Topics may include human goodness, moral obligation, rights and duties, the relation of happiness to duties, the idea of role obligations specific to professional contexts, and the possibility of objective justifications of value judgments as contrasted with views from moral nihilists, skeptics, and relativists.

Topics include ways we understand sexual attraction and desire, the relationship between biological sex and gender roles, ideas of femininity and masculinity as they are reinforced through cultural and social norms, the regulation of sexuality and marriage, the publicity of sex and sexuality, and the relationship and tension between multiculturalism and feminism.

Class includes applications of concepts to contemporary debates concerning parenting, pornography, sex education, same sex marriage, harassment law, and sexual reassignment.


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Students gain not only an understanding of ethical ideas and argumentation, but also skills in constructing arguments, oral communication, close reading, community outreach, and event organization. Course will typically focus on issues raised by the creation and termination of life and include topics such as abortion, stem cell research, cloning, prenatal screening for disability, right to medical care, human experimentation, genetic enhancement and eugenics, animal experimentation, the diagnosis of death, and euthanasia.

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Course will typically focus on issues raised by the moral justification for coercing individuals and corporations, just distribution of resources, moral rights of animals, and the study of topical issues such as clean air standards, population control, land use. Contemporary case studies augmented with basic texts in ethics.

Specific literary work selected to serve as a base for the discussion of these philosophical issues. Focuses on the concept of justice and punishment, the function of law, and types of legal argument.

Legal materials include cases drawn from constitutional law, contracts, torts, and criminal law. Possible topics include but are not limited to truth, skepticism, relativism, personal identity, determinism, artificial intelligence, and the problem of evil. Film representations of these classic questions will be identified and evaluated from the perspective of various philosophers, possibly including Plato, Russell, James, Descartes, Berkeley, Kant, Locke, Hume, and others.

The relevance of Husserl’s phenomenological exploration of interiority to contemporary epistemology

Predicate logic with identity, soundness, and completeness. Topics selected from among axiomatic theories, nontruth-functional logics such as modal, deontic, and epistemic , set theory, and issues in the philosophy of logic and language. Prerequisite: or permission of Instructor.