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Registration: Interim

Interim 2009


PHIL W10 Peaceable Kingdom. Though stewardship of the animal kingdom is one of the primary responsibilities accorded to human beings in the Christian creation narrative, the question of how best to respect the creatures under our care is one that Christians too often neglect to ask. This omission is especially tragic, given the compelling evidence of fallenness in the social and commercial practices that presently govern our relationships to animals. While large-scale agribusiness has increased consumer convenience, this convenience has come at a high cost, and not just to animals; confined animal feeding operations have had negative effects on the environment, on local and global commerce and agriculture in both rural and urban communities, and on public health. In view of these considerations, the purpose of this course is two-fold: first, to gain insight into the problem through a survey of the philosophical, ethical, environmental, and socio-economic issues surrounding the treatment of animals and the allocation of natural and human resources by contemporary agribusiness and other industries that use non-human animals; and second, to take the initial steps toward becoming agents of renewal by workshopping an array of concrete approaches to addressing these problems (e.g., supporting sustainable food systems, community supported agriculture, cooking and eating lower on the food chain, exploring vegetarianism and veganism, animal rights advocacy, etc.). Students will be graded on their responses to journal assignments as well as on their participation in class discussion, events, and fieldtrips. M. Halteman.  2:00 to 5:00.

PHIL W11 Moral Expectations in Film. From an early age all people learn that certain types of behavior are morally expected of them. Morality has its expectations, and it is a high priority that people learn what these expectations are. It is also a high priority that a knowledge of these expectations is passed on to each new generation. This course focuses on this rather neglected area of the moral terrain. The phenomenon of moral expectation is studied in its relationship with more familiar concepts like moral duty, moral responsibility, and supererogation. It is also examined in the context of the Christian life. A half dozen motion pictures will be shown illustrating moral expectation. Evaluation is based on a research paper and several short written assignments. One previous course in Philosophy is recommended but not required. G. Mellema.  8:30 to noon.

PHIL W12 Jewish Thought and Culture. This  course  is an introduction to Jewish thought and culture. We begin with a brief look at the historical origins of Rabbinical Judaism in the early centuries of the common era. We will then look at the development of Medieval Jewish thought through figures such as Moses Maimonides.  We will then examine the relationship between Judaism and modernity through figures such as Moses Mendelssohn and Emil Fackenheim. We will explore the experiences of Jews in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through short fiction, film, and philosophical reflection, considering the works of figures such as Hannah Arendt, Bernard Malamud, Elie Wiesel, and Chaim Potok. We will also visit a local Synagogue and speak with a local Rabbi. Evaluation is based on participation, a reading journal, and a final project.  D. Billings.  8:30 to noon.

PHIL W13 War: Context, Cause and Cure.  Why do some conflicts escalate into deadly violence, while others are resolved peacefully? How can Christians address the causes of war and violence and become effective peacemakers? What circumstances tend to inflame or reduce levels of hostility? This course explores these questions from the perspective of social philosophy and Christian ethics, based on assigned readings and several important films about situations that arise in war.  (In 2008 these were “Paths of Glory,” “Battle of Algiers,” and “Letters from Iwo Jima.”)  The course explores historic Christian teachings regarding the justification of war, including the report that was approved by the 2006 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church, and recent accounts of what just war implies for the conduct of modern states.  The transition from apartheid to multiracial democracy in South Africa provides an important case study, alongside other situations of protracted conflict where deadly violence either occurred or was averted, such as the fall of Communism, the war in Iraq, genocide in Rwanda, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Students will prepare in-class presentations on what factors are most important in resolving conflict and bringing reconciliation in situations such as these.  Evaluation is based on several essays, leading discussions, a presentation, and a short research paper. This course may fulfill an elective in the International Development Studies major. D. Hoekema.  8:30 to noon.

PHIL W40 Male Bodies in Current Culture. The biceps of male action figures have tripled in the last 20 years, and hyper-developed male muscles have featured heavily in recent movies such as “300”—a fact which has received a fair amount of attention from gender theorists, who posit this as, in part, a backlash to the rise in female economic and political power.  At the same time, many male fashion models and main-stream film stars are sporting thin, smooth bodies and ‘feminine’ features as the popularity of the “metrosexual” look grows.  All this might well make you wonder: What’s going on?!  Both these looks require a dramatic increase in time, energy, and money devoted to the body, but do they stem from the same source?  Are men finally feeling the pressure to conform to cultural ideas of physical attractiveness that women have experienced for millennia—and, if so, does this mean that the age-old philosophical identification between mind/men and women/body is finally breaking down? Evaluation is based on class participation, reading journals, and a final project. C. Van Dyke. 8:30 to noon.

PHIL W80 Modal Logic. This course introduces students to some main current theories and applications of modal logic.  Modal logic is fundamental to current research in many branches of philosophy, allowing us to reason more clearly about statements involving necessity (Any triangle *has to* have three sides), possibility (a triangle *might* have sides that are 3, 4, and 5 feet long), and were-wouldiness (If he were to have broken both legs yesterday, he would not be playing basketball today.)  We will then consider applications in philosophical theology and epistemology, with special attention to the problem of God's "middle knowledge" of free actions. Evaluation is based on written daily summaries, class participation and a presentation. Prerequisite: PHIL 173. S. Wykstra. 2:00  to 5:00.

IDIS W14 Pubs, Clubs and Post-Christian Faith Communities. K. Corcoran.

IDIS W62 Independent Study at Swiss L'Abri. L. Hardy.