Department Chair

  • Jennifer McErlean
    Professor of Philosophy
    Siena Hall 414
    (518) 783-4129
    mcerlean@siena.edu



Philosophy Courses Fall 2011

Philosophy and the Human Being, PHIL 101

Multiple Sections & Professors

Reason and Argument, PHIL 103

Multiple Sections

PHIL 101 or PHIL 103 are required of all Siena students in fulfillment of the Core Disciplinary Requirement.

Either PHIL 101 OR PHIL 103 is required for all courses listed below except Symbolic Logic.

Philosophy and Reality, PHIL 202 (MW 3:35-4:55, Burkey)

Who cares???  Why is there something rather than nothing?  Whether there is a God or not?  Whether reality is ultimately one or whether there are kinds or layers of reality?  Whether natural science is the final word on thinking about reality?  Whether it’s all relative?  Whether there is progress in understanding beauty, or evil, or human freedom?  If you care, take this course.  Expect to read and discuss texts from Ancient, Medieval, Modern, and Contemporary philosophers that challenge your common sense and stretch your intellectual imagination. (ARTS, CAP)

Ethics, PHIL 210 (W 6-8:50, Lopez)

When is it all right for me to lie? Is it right for me to eat animals? How should I respond to poverty and injustice in the world at large? These are all ethical questions, questions that involve us in thinking deeply about what is morally right and morally wrong. We might also want to add: What kind of person do I want to be? And: How can I live a flourishing human life? This class will involve us in a philosophical investigation of ethical conduct and the moral dimension of human life. We will explore ethical questions along with such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, J. S. Mill, Kant, as well as along with several contemporary thinkers.  (ARTS, CAP)

Ethics, PHIL 210 Honors (MWF 1:30-2:25, Santilli)

Students have the opportunity to read wonderful books that draw upon the richest ideas of western philosophy concerning good and evil, happiness, right and wrong, and justice, in an intimate, seminar style class. This course uniquely looks at ethics in unusual contexts, such as that of the Crow nation of Montana and the Aborigines of Australia, but also wrestles with contemporary social concerns like health care and torture. The focus of this honors class is on student learning as cultivated by group discussion and independent research. Permission required. (ARTS, CAP)

The Democratic Idea, PHIL 230 (TR 11:30-12:50, Gillon)

This course examines an important idea in political philosophy, that of democracy.  It does this both by studying the idea as it manifests itself in various epochs of the history of philosophy, and by exploring controversial questions in contemporary democratic theory. (ARTS, CAP)

Philosophy of Art, PHIL 240 (TR 2:30-3:50, Söderbäck)

This course examines the relationship between art and reality. We will discuss whether art merely is attempting at copying reality, or whether it tries to elevate or even move beyond that which we think of as “real.” If art is indeed meant to copy reality, can it ever capture its object truthfully? And if this is not its primary task, what is it that it is meant to “do” and how do works of art affect our experience of the world? Through the study of concrete works of art and philosophical works treating the nature of aesthetic experience, questions will be raised regarding the relationship between truth and illusion, original and copy, authenticity and deception, and depth and surface. Due to its ambition to closely examine the relationship between artifact and reality, this course could also be taken by students interested in metaphysics. (ARTS, CAP)

Greek and Roman Philosophy, PHIL290 (MW 3:40-5:00, Blanchard)

Philosophy began with the Greeks—our English word ‘philosophy’ comes from the ancient Greek word φιλοσοφία, which describes an activity that is thought to have begun sometime late in the 7th century BCE.  Its development has many stories.  This course will unfold this sequence, from ancient Greek philosophy’s inception among the Pre-Socratics to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and then briefly to some of their Roman successors.  We will pursue the exposition and critical evaluation of the Greek beginnings of Western philosophy through careful study of important fragments and texts from several thinkers.  Greek and Roman Philosophy is a course required for the philosophy major.  (ARTS, PHY)

Medieval Philosophy, PHIL342 (TR 10-11:20, Davies)

Medieval philosophy isn't quaint.  It is an exploration of the big ideas of thinkers like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure and Duns Scotus.  It treats of the common questions about God, man, and the world that Christians, Islamic, and Jewish philosophers discussed as they confronted the philosophical works of Aristotle.  Readings from original texts and class discussion are an important part of this course.  (ARTS, PHY)

Symposium on Living Philosophers, PHIL491 (F 2:30-4:30, Alexander and McErlean)

The Symposium is a unique course offered by the Philosophy Department on the work of Kwame Anthony Appiah, one of the foremost thinkers on political thought, theories of race, and experimental ethics. This 4-credit seminar will meet on Friday afternoons, 2:30-4:40, for both the Fall and Spring Semesters. Professor Appiah will visit Siena College twice, once to introduce us to the body of his work and again at the end of the year to enter into a panel discussion with students who have written extensively and critically on his work. Permission of the instructors is required for registration, we invite interested students to email us for more information (jalexander@siena.edu or mcerlean@siena.edu). (ARTS)