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Department of Philosophy
College of Liberal Arts
Rochester Institute of
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Rochester NY 14623-5604

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Rochester Institute of Technology



Last updated 5 April 2017

Current and/or upcoming
“variable topic” philosophy courses


Spring 2016–2017

PHIL 416: Seminar in Philosophy: Reading and Interpreting Plato’s Myths. The origin of philosophy is traditionally associated with the move from mythos to logos, from story-telling to logical argumentations and discourse. Yet Plato, the allegedly most influential philosopher of all times (if we accept Whitehead’s famous claim that Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato), uses myths, images, metaphors, and stories exactly at the most crucial turns in his philosophy, when dealing with what have become the most traditional themes of philosophical reflections, and precisely at those junctures where one would expect the use of philosophical reasoning instead. Why this seeming inconsistency? In this course, we will explore the relation between story-telling and logical argumentation by reading and interpreting Plato’s most famous myths and images as found in the entire corpus of his writings—among them, the story of the swans, the myth of metals, the myth of the charioteer, the myth of the androgynous beings, the allegory of the cave, the analogy of the divided line, the myth of Er, the story of the birth of Love, the story of Teuth, the myth of Gyges, and a few others. (Instructor: Benso.)


Fall 2017–2018

PHIL 416 Seminar in Philosophy: Philosophies of Community. The concept of community has many different expressions in both thought and society. This course begins by considering classical conceptions from both Western and non-Western sources and concludes with an examination of contemporary theories. Some of the topics addressed will be democracy, oligarchy, authoritarianism, socialism, communism, fascism, anarchism, utopia, dystopia, otherness, responsibility, friendship, and love. (Instructor: Schroeder.)

PHIL 449: Special Topics: Animals, Minds, and Morality. What goes on in the minds of the nonhuman animals around us? Does a dog experience the moral emotion of guilt when caught misbehaving? Do ravens display empathy when they console one another after a fight? Can parrots and bonobos understand human language? And might the tiny-brained jumping spiders be capable of abstract thinking? Answers to these and similar questions are not only fascinating in their own right, but have profound implications for the moral status of these animals. Throughout the course, we will draw on and critically examine cutting-edge scientific literature and leading moral philosophy to ask what animals are capable of doing, feeling, and thinking, and how this bears on their moral status and on our responsibilities toward them. (Instructor: TBA)


Spring 2017–2018

PHIL 416 Seminar in Philosophy: Truth in the Trump Era. (Instructor: Capps.)