Current courses


Past courses

Introduction to Philosophy (Oakland University)


Winter 2019, Fall 2019 Through historical and contemporary readings, this course introduces major problems of philosophy that arise within philosophy of religion, epistemology, philosophy of mind, personhood, ontology, philosophy of race & gender, free will, ethical theory, and political philosophy. This course also introduces the skills of philosophy, including but not limited to formal and informal argumentation, conceptual analysis, charitable interpretation, and uncovering unstated assumptions. Students will read selections from The Norton Introduction to Philosophy (Second Edition), edited by Gideon Rosen, Alex Byrne, Joshua Cohen, Elizabeth Harman, and Seana Shiffrin. { syllabus}




Philosophy of Religion (Oakland University)


Winter 2020 This upper-level undergraduate course introduces students to philosophical thinking about religion in a way that is rigorous, historically informed, and sensitive to the lived nature of religious practice. Problems and phenomena addressed in the course include: Can we know whether any gods exist and, if so, how? Is the existence of suffering a problem for rational belief in God? What is the nature of faith, and how does it relate to reason? What is the nature of mystical experience? What bearing, if any, do religious systems have on morality or the meaning of life? What are the philosophical implications of religious diversity? { Syllabus}




Introduction to Philosophy (Oakland University)


Winter 2020 Through historical and contemporary readings, this course introduces major problems of philosophy that arise within philosophy of religion, epistemology, philosophy of mind, personhood, ontology, philosophy of race & gender, free will, ethical theory, and political philosophy. This course also introduces the skills of philosophy, including but not limited to formal and informal argumentation, conceptual analysis, charitable interpretation, and uncovering unstated assumptions. { Syllabus}




Philosophies and Religions of Asia (Oakland University)


Winter 2019 This upper-level undergraduate course introduces students to some of the primary texts and major themes of classical Chinese and Indian thought, both philosophical and religious. The work will be as much historical as it is topical, in that students will not only need to competently read and interpret difficult texts in multiple genres, but will engage in first-order philosophical reflection on perennial topics including the philosophy of human nature, the limits of human knowledge, the foundations of logic, metaphysics, and much else. In the last part of the course, we will discuss current debates surrounding the nature and possibility of comparative philosophy and the special problems and opportunities that attend bridging the (alleged) divides between the Anglophone and Asian traditions. All of our readings and discussions will be in English, although students with competencies in original languages are encouraged to consult with me about utilizing this knowledge in their work and in-class discussions. Required texts will include Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2nd ed., edited by Ivanhoe and van Norden) Classical Indian Philosophy: A Reader (edited by Sarma), and An Introduction to Indian Philosophy (by Perrett). { syllabus}




Introduction to Ethics in Science and Engineering (Oakland University)


Fall 2018 In this course students explore some major themes in ethical theory with an eye toward thinking critically about moral problems that inevitably arise within the applied sciences, especially computer science and engineering. We discuss a variety of modern controversies that involve computer scientists or engineers at some level—including but not limited to the Flint water crisis, the design of self-driving cars, the global surveillance disclosures of 2013, the technology of drone warfare, and the Tuskegee experiments. { syllabus}




Introduction to Ethics (Oakland University)


Fall 2018 (two sections) Questions of ethics range from the theoretical and general to the practical and particular. In this course, students examine some of the major theoretical and practical themes in ethics. In the first half of the course, we consider virtue theory, natural law theory, consequentialism, deontological theories, the feminist critique of extant moral theory, and contemporary theories of justice. In the second half, we look at a series of problems in applied moral philosophy, including world poverty and hunger, immigration, abortion, the rights of non-human animals, the ethics of terrorism, and racial justice. The course closes with an introduction to the meta-ethical problems of realism and moral skepticism. Students read primary texts and commentary from Living Ethics, edited by Russ Shafer-Landau. { syllabus}




List of other past courses (syllabi available upon request)


  • Bioethics (UNC—Chapel Hill): Fall 2018, Winter 2019
  • Introduction to Mathematical Logic, online (UNC—Chapel Hill): Summer 2017, Fall 2019
  • Ethics in Practice (UNC—Chapel Hill): Fall 2015
  • The Ethics of Peace, War, and Defense (UNC—Chapel Hill): Summer 2015
  • Philosophy of Religion (UNC—Chapel Hill): Summer 2013, Fall 2014




Ethical Theory (Oakland University)


Fall 2019 Nearly everyone has a set of moral views. Significantly fewer people have developed a full-fledged moral theory: a philosophical account of which things are good and why; which actions are forbidden, obligatory, or merely permissible; which character traits are worth developing or avoiding; whether consequences, intention, character, or something else is primary in moral evaluation; how human emotions should factor into moral decision-making; or whether there is just one or multiple equally morally legitimate ways to live. In this upper-level undergraduate course, students will critically examine how historical and contemporary moral philosophers approach these issues, as well as develop their own thinking about them. { Syllabus}





Upcoming courses

Introduction to Logic (Oakland University)


Summer 2020 Summary and syllabus will be posted when available.




Philosophies and Religions of Asia


Fall 2020 This course introduces students to some of the primary texts and major themes of classical Chinese and Indian philosophical thought. The work will be both historical and topical, as students will need to both interpret difficult historical texts in multiple genres and engage in first-order philosophical reflection on perennial topics, including the philosophy of human nature, the limits of human knowledge, the foundations of logic, and much else. In the last part of the course, we will discuss current debates surrounding the nature of comparative philosophy and the special problems and opportunities that attend bridging the (alleged) divides between the Anglophone and Asian traditions. {Syllabus when available}




Freedom, Agency, and Responsibility


Winter 2021 If a branch falls from a tree, we might "blame" the wind in the sense of attributing what philosophers call causal responsibility to the wind - the wind caused the branch to fall. But we don't morally blame it, we don't hold the wind responsible. For one thing, we don't think that the wind had any choice or agency in the matter. In this course, students will read, think, and write about how both philosophers and scientists have thought about questions of moral responsibility and freedom of the will. Questions include: what is free will anyway, and who has it? What are the conditions under which a person is appropriately held morally responsible for what happens? And is free will a necessary condition for moral responsibility? In pursuing these and related questions, students will engage with a variety of historical and contemporary sources. {Syllabus when available}