Courses and Student Information
This page includes some links that may be of general student interest, and information on courses I teach this year for Fall, Winter and Spring. Course documents are added as they become available. For descriptions and materials from prior offerings, see past courses.
Two short papers (and some further links) of general student interest:
On the nature of truth, and so what we're after in philosophy and other academic pursuits. Particularly in philosophy, one sometimes hears that a claim may be "true for me, but not you." I examine this saying, and find it wanting.
Informal discussion of criteria for argument evaluation. Insofar as philosophers examine arguments for and against different conclusions, it's important to begin with an understanding of the conditions under which an argument is effective or not.
This document from the Georgetown University Honor Council gives a nice discussion of what plagiarism is, how to avoid it, and why it should be avoided. It is essential to understand it. See also discussion in the CSUSB Bulletin (search for 'plagiarism') and the writing guide just below.
Very short discussion of aims for philosophical writing along with some general guidlines for when to cite, how to cite, and the list of sources. This document does not replace an official style manual, but may be helpful especially for papers in introductory philosophy.
Logic Lab (hours, etc.)
The logic lab is located in UH-47. It is a place to find assistance in your philosophy courses, and even just to hang out. The lab includes 16 computer stations with both standard software and specialized programs for logic courses, along with a separate tutoring area. It is staffed with philosophy majors ready to help you with your coursework in philosophy, be it a tough logic problem or a paper on the problem of evil.
A collection of personal, academic and other useful links. From the student health center, to the writing center, and the CSUSB weather station.
Phil 192 - Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
This course is an introduction to philosophy by means of an introduction to philosophy of religion. After some introductory material, the major portion of our quarter will be spent on a small set of issues from philosophy of religion. In particular, we will take up (i) the problem of evil -- the question whether the existence of evil is reason to think there is no all-powerful, all-knowing, wholly good god; (ii) the cosmological argument -- the question whether the existence of the universe is itself sufficient to show that of a creator; (iii) divine command ethics -- and especially the question whether morality is somehow dependent on god; and (iv) Pascal's Wager -- an argument to the effect that, though it cannot be known to be true, religious belief makes sense as a sort of "fire insurance."
The only prerequisite is the GE first-year writing requirement (A1). No religious, philosophical or critical reasoning background is assumed. The material is, however, intrinsically difficult (and interesting!). We will set up background, and proceed at a pace so that everyone can understand. The text is a reader specifically for this course, to be available in the CSUSB Bookstore.
Phil 308 - Alternative Logic
Alternative logics have multiple motivations. Just as predicate logic extends sentential logic to include all and some, so one may desire further extensions to, say, necessity and possibility. Further, there may seem to be fundamental difficulties for the classical approach. So, perhaps you were initially shocked (!) to discover that in classical logic anything follows from a contradiction. In this course, we consider logics alternative to the classical approach, with attention to issues of both sorts. Systems to be considered combine, in different ways, semantics based on possible worlds,and semantics allowing truth values beyond T and F (e.g., neither and even both); these include modal logics, conditional logics, and relevant logics. In one way or another, each has important philosophical applications, and each is itself a subject of philosophical debate.
The main text is Priest, An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic: From If to Is (2nd ed). We will make use of additional resources, including derivation systems from Roy, Natural Derivations for Priest. The primary treatment of the logics is sentential, so the only prerequisite is Phil 200. This course contributes to the Minor in Philosophical Logic.
Phil 300 - Predicate Logic
They say that "all aspirin is not alike." Is this to be taken literally? (Surely not.) Suppose everybody loves my baby, and my baby don't love nobody but me. Does it follow that I am my baby? (It does.) Investigate these questions and more in Philosophy 300! Philosophy 300 introduces the standard predicate calculus. We will push beyond treatment of the logical operators, 'if . . . then', 'if and only if', 'and', 'not', 'or', and move on to the quantifiers 'all' and 'some'. This material greatly expands the power of our symbolic logic, including to general mathematical reasoning. It is foundational to disciplines as diverse as philosophy, mathematics and computer science, and essential for those who will investigate theoretical underpinnings in such areas; it will be illuminating for those who would undertake further course work or reading in these and related disciplines.
Phil 300 has Phil 200 (or consent of instructor) as prerequisite. If it's been some time since you had Phil 200, you might check out the material from chapter 1, and the first parts of chapters 2, 4, 5 and 6 in the manuscript, Symbolic Logic: An Accessible Introduction to Serious Mathematical Logic. In this course, we complete chapters 2, 4, 5 and 6 along with chapter 7.
Phil 380 - Metaphysics
The central portion of this course addresses the question how to do metaphysics, and so what metaphysics is. After a general introduction, we will critically consider W.V. Quine's method for metaphysics, and especially his classic article, 'On What There Is'. In the process, we will introduce metaphysical questions about reality, truth, possibility, necessity, abstract objects and the like. This discussion should provide a foothold from which to explore philosophical questions in metaphysics and philosophy more generally. There is an opportunity (though not a requirement) to explore some additional topic in depth with a term paper. The texts include a reader with original articles (esp. 'On What There Is ') along with chapters from a manuscript About What There Is by Prof. Roy.