New Classes at LaGuardia

I am lucky enough to come to LaGuardia at a time when they are expanding the philosophy major and we are trying to introduce four new classes to the curriculum. I am responsible for designing two of them; Logic and Philosophy and Medical Ethics (the other two are Aesthetics and Environmental Ethics). I thought I would post the course descriptions and outlines in the hopes of getting some feedback from any LaGuardia students lurking around here on whether or not classes like these sound interesting and would be something you might consider taking if it were offered.

Logic and Philosophy

Course Description: An introduction to modern symbolic logic with a focus on its application to actual philosophical problems. Topics to be discussed include validty, entailment, truth-tables, proofs, translations from English into symbolic form, as well as more philosophical topics like the relation of modern logic to earlier syllogistic logic, the possibility of the use of logic to resolve philosophical problems (e.g. God’s existence or free will), the relation of English to logic, and the possibility of ‘alternative’ logics.

Course Outline


1. Validity & soundness
–Logic and the philosophical method.
–Entailment, inference, and validity.
–Aristotle’s identification of validity with the form of the argument.
–The seperation of validity (formal structure) and soundness (truth of premises).
–The counter-example method of testing validity

2. Syllogistic Logic
–The square of opposition and the cannonical A, E, I, and O sentence forms.
–Categories and Venn diagrams.
–The mood and forms of the valid syllogisms.

3. Philosophical issues in syllogistic logic
–Does ‘all’ imply ‘some’?
–Are some logical truths known by reason alone, independently of experience?
–some arguments cannot be expressed in syllogistic logic.

4. Basic Propositional logic I
–Beginning definitions of formal symbols for ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘not’ and ‘if…then’.
–Simple translations into symbols.
–The truth-table test for validity.

5. Basic propositional logic II
–More advanced translations.
–Introduction of rules for symbol manipulation.

6. Propositional proofs
–Introduction to natural deduction.
–Introduction to truth-trees.
7. Philosophical issues in propositional logic
–paradoxes of material implication.
–why accept valid inferences?

8. Basic quantificational logic
–Introduction of ‘all’ and ‘some’ into the formal language.
–Translations and proofs.

9. Identity and relations
–Introduction of identity into the formal language.
-Introduction of relational predicates (e.g. ‘taller than’).

10. Philosophical issues in quantificational logic.
–Is existence a predicate?
–Do mathematical truths reduce to logical truths?
–Treating names as descriptions.
–Informative identity statements.

11. Basic modal logic
–Introduction of ‘necessary’ and ‘possible’ into the formal language.
–Introduction to possible world semantics.
–translations and proofs.

12. Philosophical issues in modal logic
–The metaphysical status of possible worlds.
–one logic, or many?
–Names and rigid designators.
–different concepts of possibility: Epistemic, metaphysical, and logical.

13 Final Exam

Medical Ethics

Course Description:An introduction to some of the basic issues in medical ethics. The course emphasizes the application of moral theory to the issues that arise in the context of medical research and practice. Topics to be addressed include, among others, the role and responsibility of heathcare givers in death and dying, the use of stem cells and animals in medical research, the use of genetic information to influence the outcome of human pregnancy, cosmetic surgical addiction, and issues involving involuntary psychiatric care.

Course Outline


1. Review of basic ethical theories
–Virtue ethics.
–Utilitarianism.
–Deontology.
–Contractualism.

2. Killing those who can’t speak for themselves
–Active vs. passive Euthanasia.
–patients that can’t make their own decisions.
–defective infants.

3. Physician-assisted suicide

4. Ethical issues in reproductive science
–surrogate motherhood.
–fertility treatments.
–Over population.

5. The use of human embryos in scientific research

6. Elective cosmetic surgery and surgical addiction
7. The use of animals in scientific research

8. Issues involving justice and the allocation of medical resources
–transplants and alchoholics.
–Transplants and the black market.
–Expensive treatments.

9. Involuntary psychiatric care

10. Issues in genomics (genetic counseling/genetic engeneering)

11. Universal heathcare

12. Issues involving HIV/AIDS

13 Final Exam

4 thoughts on “New Classes at LaGuardia

  1. Lurking…there’s another one of those words that bring to mind negative connotations hmmmm… Anyway professor the course on medical ethics is something that I wish ws being taught now, as a matter of fact I think it should be a required part of the Human Services/Mental health course load. I work in a psychiatric hospital, and some of these ethical dilemma present to the workers just about everyday. I was listening to NPR this morning where the discussion was centered mostly around what to do with people who become non-compliant treatment or have no treatment. They were speaking about how the police may or may not be trained to deal with this new brand of sometimes violent and unpredictable offender. They drop them off almost everyday to us from Riker’s Island. Anyway there are also other interesting issues that you bring to mind, like treatment over objectionin a psych setting. Other things come to mind like we see animal shelters pushing adoption of dogs already in existence but not many physicians push adopting a child already in existencewhen a woman is able to have a child. And why can’t there be a stem cell bank in the very near future. Animal useage in research like you mentioned. I once worked in a research department that used the inpatients as test subjects for new medications,(of course being of unsound mental health they signed a release) Do you know that many millions of dollars in medication waste take place in a psychiatric hospital as I’m sure happens in a medical hospital. Also that we may have to revisit what the normal look of a woman’s body means in a society that actually advocates the pre-emptive strike of removing a woman’s breast when she tests for the breast cancer causing gene. And lastly on my list the search for perfection in babies, and getting rid of medically viable embryos that are not aestetically plasing to the parents… this issue gets a little personal for me, but what I guess I’m trying to say about this course is AWSOME 🙂

  2. LOL, CHRISSYNOW, “lurking” does bring negative connotations to mind 😀

    Professor, even though I have only have enough room for ONE more philosophy course, (I planned on philosopy of religion or social and political, depending on my mood the day I register for the class), logic and philosophy seems great and it’s something I would definitely consider taking. Although I have to ask, how come no philosophy of language? Because philosophy of language is, to me anyway, one of the most interesting topics in philosophy. And in a school where business administration is a very popular major, why no business ethics?

  3. Thanks for the feedback!

    yeah business ethics is a good idea…I’ll mention it to John Chaffee (the director of the philosophy program). We will do some phil language in the logic course…

    Chrissy Snow, ‘lurker’ is the term people use to describe someone who reads a blog but does not comment…no negative connotations were meant! Glad to hear the interest! Tell your friends!!

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