Bruce W. Hauptli

Emeritus Professor of Philosophy 

Copyright © 2023 Bruce W. Hauptli  

Department of Philosophy Home:
Florida International University 15 Dummer Street
Modesto Maidique Campus Bath, ME  04530
Miami, FL 33199 Cell: 305-301-1355
Department: 305-348-2185 Brief Biography     
My Vita

Professional Email:                 Personal Email:

Personal Position Statements: the following provide my educational philosophy, my view of universities and their constituencies, and other items of possible interest: (click on links for statements)

My View of The Nature of A Liberal Arts Education Why Tenure Is Important To Universities and Colleges--My View
My View of the Relation of Academic Administration and Collegial Governance Regarding Professional Responsibility and Ethics
On The Connection Between Research and Undergraduate Teaching Why I Belong To An Academic Union
Education, Indoctrination, and Academic Freedom Why Non-Faculty Senates Are Important To Universities
Why Business Models Are Inappropriate for University Communities My Lecture Supplement Introducing Philosophy: "What Is Philosophy?"
Why I Didn't Provide "Course Triggers" My Guide To Writing Philosophy Papers
A Quick Introduction to "Deliberative Democracy" and Democratic Education Hate Speech and Democratic Responsibility: Rights, Civility, and Dignity
Regarding "Singular" Conceptions of The Good/The Good Life  

Lectures Given To Others' Courses at FIU Elaborating My Considered Views: (click on links for lecture)

A Quick and Dirty Argument Against Moral Relativism Proof, Skepticism, and Faith
Some Things Are Just Plain Wrong (Readings: William Gass's "The Case of the Obliging Stranger" and Ted Bundy's
"Letter To A Victim")
Presentation on The Role of The Faculty, Academic Freedom, and Unions in Universities  
Can We Inhabit Other Lives? (Reading: Thomas Nagel's "What Is It Like To Be A Bat?") Relativism, Objectivism, and Judging (Readings: Ambrose Beirce's "A Horseman In The Sky"
and Jonathan Bennett's
"The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn)"
What Is A Self, and Why Should You Care? (Reading: Daniel Dennett, “Why Everyone Is A Novelist”) Presentation on Postmodernism to Professor Alvarez' Derrida Seminar

The Enlightenment Project (Readings: Chapters 1-3 of E.O. Wilson's Consilience)

Presentation On Academic Freedom
Presentation on Inculcating Academic Honesty in Our Students Presentation to Phi Sigma Tau Panel--Living One's Skepticism Contra Burnyeat
Presentation to Phi Sigma Tau--Introduction to Skepticism  

Volunteer Instruction for Maine's Midcoast Senior College (click on links for course websites)

Fall 2023: Course Description: : Introduction to Plato.  Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito provide an excellent introduction to Plato and philosophy.  These dialogues (55 pages of reading) are so accessible that they require no prior study, yet they are so rich that even the most experienced scholars have critically discussed them for more than two millennia.  Our discussions will devote time to both the dialogues and some of the historical criticisms of them.  In addition to providing the opportunity for interested individuals to learn about Plato and philosophy, they are intended to engage students in topics such as “Does Socrates have substantive knowledge,” “Must one always obey the laws,” and “Is Socrates engaged in a religious quest?”  This course was first offered at  MSC in the Fall of 2016, and Spring of 2021. 

Spring 2023 Course: Could Amy Gutmann's Philosophy of Education Help Repair Our Democracy?
Course Description: Amy Gutmann published Democratic Education while a professor at Princeton in 1987.  As Provost at Princeton and later as President at the University of Pennsylvania, she elaborated on her philosophy of education and worked to put it into practice.  Gutmann emphasized the importance of publicly supported education that "develops the capacity to deliberate among all children as future free and equal citizens" and  "schooling whose aim is to teach the skills and virtues of democratic deliberation within a social context where educational authority is shared among parents, citizens, and professional educators."  We will contrast her educational philosophy with several others as we assess its potential to repair our democracy, and we will study its implications at all educational levels for both the control and the distribution of such an education.  
Amy Gutmann, Democratic Education, second edition (1999) ISBN 978-0691009162

Spring 2022 Course: What Do Colleges and Universities Owe Democracy? 
Course Description
: Ronald Daniels’s account of liberal education points to a “vital tension” in liberal democracies, arising as they work to bind “the notion of a government responsive to popular will to the imperative to protect individual rights and preserve rule of law.”  As President of Johns Hopkins University, Daniels contends universities must provide students with a civic education that prepares them for the responsibilities of democratic citizenship, and maintains universities fail to recognize, let alone meet this responsibility.  Daniels discusses historical attempts to address this and offers his own proposals.  I n this course we will critically study his analysis and proposals.  
Text: Ronald J. Daniels, What Universities Owe Democracy, ISBN 978-1421442693 (Kindle or hardcover).

Winter 2022 Course: Progressive Capitalism: A Possible Model for A Renewed America 
Course Description: Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Prize in Economics 2001) is concerned our divided society endangers our future.  His People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism For An Age of Discontent provides a possible model for reuniting us and restoring a broad commitment to our common good while rescuing capitalism from its current excesses.  He maintains markets are shaped by public policy, and that our markets are not truly competitive because of our public policies.  We will read and discuss his recipe for restoring our society considering how his recommendations for new public policies might foster recommitment to our common good while limiting both exploitation and market power thus restoring competition. 
  It should be noted that I am not a trained economist—I’ve never even had a course in economics.  I have extensively studied political and social philosophy, however, and have a good deal of experience with economics and markets as an investor for over 50 years, and with public policy as a political activist throughout that time.  I read Stiglitz’ book earlier this year and found his proposals very interesting.  I decided to teach the course because I want to better understand his proposal (teaching something is a wonderful way of coming to better understand it), and because I hope to discuss his proposal with others of diverse political and economic perspectives.
Text: Joseph Stiglitz, People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism For An Age of Discontent (NY: W.W. Norton, 2019).  Kindle, $9.17 Paperback: 978-0393358339 $9.65

Fall 2021 Course: Plato's "Aristocratic and Authoritarian" Republic vs. Dewey's "Pragmatic" Democracy
Course Description: In his Republic Plato provided a characterization of, and an argument for, his ideal individual and state.  His view is that those who know what is good should rule, paternalistically if necessary; and that those who lack such knowledge have the best chance of living the good life if they surrender their freedom and accept the rule of the wise.  On his account democracy (which was the sort of government in at his time) is one of the worst forms of government imaginable!  He emphasizes the transformative role which education can play in producing good individuals and states and the importance of acquiring both knowledge of unchanging and objective essences, and the objective and unchanging nature of human virtue.  His influence on our culture is immense. 
  Writing roughly twenty thee centuries later, John Dewey provides both a critique of Plato’s views, and a defense of democracy rooted in an American pragmatism which provides some significant challenges to a number of deep contributions which Plato has made to the Western culture.  Rejecting Plato’s fixations with the fixed, permanent, unchanging, and singular essences (of man, justice, virtue, and knowledge), Dewey offers a contrasting view of the good life for individuals, good civic states, and the value of democracy.  In this course we will study Plato’s views and arguments and contrast them with Dewey’s.  I first offered this course for MSC in the Spring of 2017. 

Fall 2019 Course: Benedict Spinoza's Ethics: What The World Is Like According to Philosophy's Most Consummate Deductive Rationalist
Course Description: Spinoza is a rather unique philosopher who has been accused of being both “god-intoxicated” and atheism.  While he grew up in Amsterdam, which had at the time one of the most tolerant European climates, in 1656 he was excommunicated from the Jewish community of Amsterdam.  In 1660 they petitioned Municipal authorities to denounce him as a “menace to all piety and morals,” and in 1661 he leaves Amsterdam and begins writing his Ethics.  While his book criticizing Descartes could safely be published in 1664, Spinoza had to publish his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670] anonymously (and to protect the publisher from political retribution the title page identified the city of publication as Hamburg and the publisher as Henricus Kunraht).  This book was written in Latin in hopes of avoiding censorship by the secular Dutch authorities though the Calvinist Council of Amsterdam denounced it as a “work forged in Hell by a renegade Jew and the Devil.”  Spinoza’s collected works were published (in both Latin and Dutch editions) by his friends with the title pages containing neither the name of the publisher nor the location of the publisher. In this course I plan to introduce the students to Spinoza’s philosophical worldview, clarify his unflagging commitment to a deductive conception of rationality and a priori truth, and examine the consequences of his commitments to these. 
In this course I plan to introduce the students to Spinoza’s philosophical worldview, clarify his unflagging commitment to a deductive conception of rationality and a priori truth, and examine the consequences of his commitments to these.

Spring 2019 Course: Political Compromise: Necessary for Democracy But Unacceptable to the Bases of Our Political Parties--Are We Doomed?
Course Description: The din and deadlock of public life in America reveal the deep disagreement that pervades our democracy.  The disagreement is not only political but also moral as citizens and their representatives increasingly take extreme and intransigent positions.  A better kind of public discussion is needed, and Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson in their book, The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It, provide an eloquent argument for “deliberative democracy” today.  In our class we will have the opportunity come to understand the core elements of the theory of “deliberative democracy”.  We will critically assess the authors’ arguments for it and the possibility that it might offer some hope of promoting improvement in our democratic governance. 

Spring 2018 Course: Descartes: Sensible Doubts and Legitimate Knowledge?
Descartes’ Meditations is so accessible that it requires no prior study of philosophy, yet it provides the reader with an outstanding picture of this activity and its importance.  It also provides an excellent picture of one view of liberal education at that time in our culture.  The material is so rich that even the most serious scholars have critically discussed them for more than three-and-three-quarter centuries, and our discussions will devote time to many of these criticisms.  In addition to providing the opportunity for interested individuals to learn about Descartes and his philosophy, students will learn much about the philosophical activity in general, and the class discussions will show students what it is like to engage
in this activity.  He wishes to place human knowledge on the most firm of foundations so that the "new modern age" could be certain of its understanding of the world.  To do so he tries to give skeptical doubts their maximal sway.  In doing so, he believes, he can uncover both the most secure form of knowledge, and the method for building the new "scientific understanding" upon this foundation.  His project has a lasting influence upon our culture, and in this course we will study his Meditations on First Philosophy [1641].  We will address the following questions:
     “Why does he start out in skepticism?” 
“Do his doubts ultimately make sense?”  “What is his first claim to knowledge, is it as secure as he claims, and what problems does it initiate?” 
“What method does he employ to gain further knowledge, does it really produce the desired understanding, and how is it related to science (then and now)?” 
“How successful are his proofs for the existence of a deity?” 
“Can he move from knowledge of the self to knowledge of others, and then to knowledge of the physical world?”
: Renť
Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy (Fourth Edition), Trans: Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1998)—ISBN (paper): 978-0-87220-420-1. 

My Publications:

Book: The Reasonableness of Reason: Explaining Rationality Naturalistically (Chicago: Open Court, 1995).  Review (scroll down on link). 

Available from Amazon where the "Look Inside feature provides the complete Preface.  The brief Amazon description says: Does reliance on reason require an unreasonable faith in reason?  In The Reasonableness of Reason, Professor Hauptli argues that naturalized epistemology enables us to explain the reasonableness of the rationalist commitment.  Examining different forms of rationalism in turn, the author exposes their limitations.  Traditional (justificatory) rationalists are indeed caught in a paradox, and those contemporary rationalists who simply affirm that we should be rational without attempting to argue for it (kerygmatic rationalists, as Hauptli terms them) cannot successfully defend rationalism. Another school of rationalists (realistic rationalists) manages to avoid the paradox which besets justificatory rationalism but, Hauptli shows, this approach rests on a maxim as arbitrary as that of the kerygmatic rationalists.  What of naturalized epistemology?  A discussion of several naturalistic orientations yields the distinction between descriptive and explanatory naturalism.  While descriptive naturalists are reduced to offering no more than an arbitrary commitment, explanatory naturalists can supply a satisfactory response to the challenges raised by conceptual diversity and change.  They offer a therapy argument, designed to show how an understanding of our roles as theory-holders and theory-changers undercuts much of the force of traditional challenges to rationality.  Explanatory naturalism can successfully defend the reasonableness of reason. 

Invited Article: (link yields article, reprints available--request by email)

     “The Urgent Need for Liberal Education in Today’s Troubled World,” invited for inclusion in Colleges At The Crossroads: Taking Sides on Contested Issues, eds. Joseph L. DeVitis and Pietro A. Sasso (N.Y.: Peter Lang, 2018), pp. 35-44. 

Refereed Articles: (links yield articles, reprints available--request by email)

     “A Dilemma for W.W. Bartley’s Pancritical Rationalism, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, v. 21 (1991), pp. 86-89. 

      “Kekes on Problem-Solving and Rationality,” Philosophy of the Social Sciences, v. 14 (1984), pp. 191-194.

     Frankfurt on Descartes: Consistency or Validation of Reason?” International Studies in Philosophy, v. 15 (1983), pp. 59-70.

     “Quine’s Theorizing About Theories,” Synthese, v. 57 (1983), pp. 21-33.

     “Doubting ‘Descartes’s Self-Doubt’,” Philosophy Research Archives, v. 6 (1980), pp. 1-23.

     Quinean Relativism: Beyond Metaphysical Realism and Idealism,” The Southern Journal of Philosophy, v. 18 (1980), pp. 393-410.

     “Inscrutability and Correspondence,” The Southern Journal of Philosophy, v. 17 (1979), pp. 199-212. 

 Referred Critical Notes and Review Essays: (links yield articles, reprints available--request by email)

      “Rescher’s Unsuccessful Evolutionary Argument” a review of Nicholas Rescher's A Useful Inheritance, in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, v. 45 (1994), pp. 295-301. 

      “Unfathomed Knowledge, Unmeasured Growth?” a review of W.W. Bartley's Unfathomed Knowledge, Unmeasured Wealth: On Universities and the Wealth of Nations, in Philosophy of the Social Sciences, v. 23 (1993), pp. 97-102. 

Unpublished Work: I believe they are worth a look, but they are no longer submitted for consideration for publication.  While many were written in the 1980's and 1990's, the copyright date indicates when they were first placed on the web or the date of the latest revision: (click on links for papers)

William Alston's Epistemic Level Confusion and Disguised Fideism Philosophy and The Quest For A Justified World-View--A Review of Kekes (a criticism of John Kekes'
The Nature of Philosophy
Good Philosophy Is Unavoidably Technical--A Criticism of Adler (a criticism of his Six Great Ideas PBS video program) Living One's Pyrrhonistic Skepticism (Contra Burnyeat)

Course Websites for FIU Courses I Taught In the Decade Before my Retirement in 2015: (click on links for course websites--some of the lectures have been revised during retirement, and the date at the end of each indicates the date each was last given or revised)

PHH 2063 Classics In Philosophy: Introduction to Philosophy--taught for the last time in Spring 2015.  This course introduces the history of philosophy by examining the works of Plato, Anselm, Hobbes, and Descartes. 

PHH 3401 16th and 17th Century Philosophy--taught for the last time in Fall 2014.  A course which in the Department's History of Philosophy sequence which dealt with orientations of four philosophers: Rene Descartes, Blaisť Pascal, Benedict Spinoza, and Gottfried Leibniz

PHH 3402 British Empiricism--taught for the last time in Spring 2015.  A course in the Department's History of Philosophy sequence which deals with orientation of three philosophers: John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. 

PHH 3700 American Philosophy--taught for the last time in Fall 2015.  A course introducing American Pragmatism through studying the works of Charles Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. 

PHH 4930 A Major Philosopher: Wittgenstein--taught for the last time in Spring 2014.  The course concentrated on the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. 

PHI 3300 Epistemology--taught for the last time in Fall 2013.  A basic upper division course in the theory of knowledge.  It addressed skepticism, the nature of knowledge, epistemic justification (what is requisite if we are to support our claims to knowledge), and alternative orientations within contemporary epistemology. 

PHI 3601 Ethical Theory--taught for the last time in Fall 2013.  A basic course in ethical theories, this course concentrated upon a critical analysis of the theories of Hobbes, Mill, Kant, and Aristotle. 

IDS 6937 Great Ideas Seminar: Special Topics--Liberal Education and Democracy--I taught this course in Summer 2004.  The seminar focused on a historical survey of the evolving idea (and ideal) of liberal education and its relationship to democracy.  Attention was directed to its cultural origins and contexts, and to its importance for democratic citizenry. 

Information for FIU Students: (click on links for information)

Regarding Requests for Letters of Recommendation
Regarding Independent Study Requests--though retired I am still open to them.  
Regarding Requests to Do PHI 4911 Projects With Me--though retired I am still open to them.  

Useful Links:

    Student Malapropisms Collected Over My Years of Teaching 

    FIU Department of Philosophy (includes information of faculty, Student Advising Guide, etc.)

    Giving To FIU

    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    FIU Home Page  

Professional Email:   Personal Email:

Last revised: 12/14/23