Bruce W. Hauptli

Emeritus Professor of Philosophy 

Copyright © 2021 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

Professional Email:   Personal EMail:

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

Fall 2021 Course: Plato's "Aristocratic and Authoritarian" Republic vs. Dewey's "Pragmatic" Democracy

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 offered this course for MSC previously in the Spring of 2017. 

Spring 2021: Course: Introduction to Philosophy

Plato’s early dialogues provide an excellent introduction to the philosophic activity, and in this course we will read and discuss Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito.  These three short dialogues (approximately 55 pages in total) are so accessible that they require no prior study of philosophy, yet they provide the reader with an outstanding picture of the Socratic activity and its importance according to Plato.  They also provide an excellent picture of one view of liberal education at its formative stage.  These dialogues are so rich that even the most serious scholars have critically discussed them for more than two millennia, and our discussions will also devote time to some of their criticisms.  In addition to providing the opportunity for interested individuals to learn about the philosophical activity, discussion will show students how to actually engage in it, as we seek an answer the question "What is this thing called philosophy?"  This course was first offered at  MSC in the Fall of 2016, and scheduled for Spring of 2020 but cancelled because of the Covid-19 outbreak.  .

Fall 2019 Course: Benedict Spinoza's Ethics: What The World Is Like According to Philosophy's Most Consummate Deductive Rationalist

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?

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 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?”

  Text: 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. 

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. 

Various Personal Position Statements: the following provide a picture of my educational philosophy, my view of the university and its 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 Don't Provide "Course Triggers" My Guide To Writing Philosophy Papers


Book: The Reasonableness of Reason: Explaining Rationality Naturalistically (Chicago: Open Court, 1995).  Information

Invited Article:

     “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:

     “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:

      “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)

 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
Can We Inhabit Other Lives? and Consilience and Consciousness (Reading: Thomas Nagel's "What Is It Like To Be A Bat?")--the two are very similar (with the first one being the most recent version) 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--for FIU's Academy For the Art of Teaching Presentation to Phi Sigma Tau Panel--Living One's Skepticism Contra Burnyeat
Presentation to Phi Sigma Tau--Introduction to Skepticism  

Course Websites for FIU Courses I Taught In the Decade Before Retirement: (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 the History of 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 

    My Vita

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

    Giving To FIU

    Arts and Letters Daily--an excellent source of daily information of interest

    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    FIU Home Page  


Last revised: 08/24/2021