One studies first the metaphysics of beauty, which involves issues such as beauty and being, beauty and good, and divine beauty. Then one studies beauty in the fine arts, in literature, and in nature as well as the place of beauty in the life of the human person. The course also includes questions that do not directly concern beauty, such as the essence of the tragic and of the comic.
One asks what it means to say with Aristotle that man is a social animal, and then studies how modern philosophies of intersubjectivity (Hegel, Scheler, Levinas, von Hildebrand) have contributed to our understanding of the relation of each person to others. One also inquires into the structure of communities, such as the family, the state, mankind, and how the individual can participate in these communities in a manner appropriate to their personhood.
One studies questions first raised by Aristotle in his Physics, such as the questions regarding space, time, matter, and number. One is also introduced to the philosophical problems arising from contemporary science, such as from the theory of relativity or the theory of evolution. The philosophical assumptions of some of the sciences are explored. Questions of scientific method are raised.
One inquires whether the existence of God can be proved, and studies some of the main attempts to prove it (including the cosmological, the teleological, the ontological, and the moral proofs). One studies the problems of speaking about God without anthropomorphism (that is, speaking in such a way as not to reduce God to a finite being). One comes to grips with the main objections to traditional theism, such as those of Kant and Hume, and those of process theology, and with the attempt to disprove the existence of God on the basis of the evil in the world.
One studies the different orders of law, especially the natural moral law and the positive law of the state, and their interrelations; this involves issues such as justice, authority, the is-ought distinction, the common good, and state punishment. Aquinas' Treatise on Law is typically read, as are modern authors such as Hegel, Kelsen, and Reinach.
One studies this special area of the philosophy of the human person, looking closely at the personal response of love and the interpersonal relationship constituted by love. One studies the role both of the will and of the emotions in the act of loving. The relations between love and happiness, love and unity, and love and morality are explored. Different types of love may be examined, such as eros, agape, love of friendship, and familial loves. Betrothed love and its expression in and through the body sexually are also discussed. Both classical (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Scotus, Bernard of Clairvaux) and modern (e.g., Kierkegaard, Buber, Marcel, von Hildebrand, Pieper, Wojtyla) sources are utilized.
One inquires into what the meaning of a word is, and into the kind of reality that meaning has. One studies the "performative" functions of language that philosophers have only recently noticed, and also the emotive and prescriptive force of language; one is introduced to recent philosophical studies of grammar, and also to the function of language in religion. One inquires into the place of language in the existence of person, asking whether language is only an instrument of communication and action, or a realm in which the human person dwells.
A treatment of selected issues in bioethics, such as: the dignity and identity of the human person, problems in end-of-life decisions, reproductive technology, the professional-patient relationship, theory of action and the principle of double effect, conscience and the health-care professional.
Examination and analysis of basic health care law, including that regarding beginning and end of life, reproductive issues, informed consent, confidentiality, right to refuse medical treatment, standard of care, malpractice, genetics, definition of death and organ transplantation.
3 A clinically based practicum course in bioethics consists of supervised placement in ethics rotations in Pittsburgh-Steubenville area hospitals and hospices, and reading, writing, and discussion regarding clinical issues.
Previous courses in ethics and bioethics are prerequisites, and admission requires prior arrangement with the instructor.