Like all of Brown's fine departments, the Philosophy Department takes a special pleasure in contributing to the teaching and training of undergraduates, as part of Brown's overall commitment to a liberal education. The Department offers a range of courses suited to newcomers to philosophy, covering subjects from the philosophy of religion, to the philosophy of science, to the philosophy of literature, as well as survey courses on various periods of the history of philosophy.
For additional information, please visit the department's website: http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Philosophy/
PHIL 0010. The Place of Persons.
We’ll concentrate on some fundamental moral and metaphysical issues concerning ourselves as persons: What (if anything) gives us a moral status different from that of other animals? Do we have the sort of free will required for us to be morally responsible for our actions? What makes you one individual person or self at a particular time? What makes you today the same individual person as that obnoxious 5-year old who went by your name a few years back?
PHIL 0011. Freedom and Equality.
In this class, we will explore perhaps the two most fundamental political ideas in modern liberal societies: that humans are (or should be) free, and that they are (or should be) equals. We will explore different conceptualizations of these two important but essentially contested concepts, reading a range of views of how freedom and equality are to be defined and what (if anything) makes them morally important, before applying these views to concrete questions like the role of race and gender in our society, how our political institutions should be organized, and whether economic inequities are morally permissible.
PHIL 0012. Knowledge and Reality.
An introduction to some central issues in epistemology and metaphysics. Topics include the nature of knowledge; skepticism and contemporary responses; and the nature of space and time. Questions we may consider: What is the nature of knowledge? How do you know that radical skeptical hypotheses are false? What is our experience of (and the nature of) space and time like?
PHIL 0013. Paradoxes.
Paradox arises when claims we take to be obviously or necessarily true lead us to conclusions that seem obviously false or incoherent. Avoiding and resolving paradox is, then, a vitally important philosophical task. Attempting to do so leads us to some surprising conclusions about such wide-ranging topics as linguistic practice, the behaviors of space and time, what it is to be rational, and even the nature of truth itself. In this course, we will survey some of the most famous paradoxes in the philosophical literature, and discuss what they tell us about the world and our way of thinking.
PHIL 0014. Philosophy of Religion.
This course introduces the main issues and debates in the Philosophy of Religion. It divides into three modules. We begin with the traditional arguments for God’s existence: Did God cause the universe? Is the universe designed? Should we believe in miracles? Then we will consider the traditional arguments against God’s existence: Can there be an all knowing or all power being? Does evil in the world show there is no God? We conclude with questions regarding faith: What is faith? Is faith without evidence rational? Is belief required for faith?
PHIL 0015. Introduction to Philosophy.
This course will introduce the student to the how, what, and why of philosophical enquiry through engagement with some of the major themes, and major figures, of the field. We will follow our wonder about the world around us, ourselves and about how we should act in it, using classical as well as contemporary writings. Through a combination of lectures, readings, class discussions, and assignments the student will develop their ability to understand and engage with philosophical texts, evaluate arguments, and express their critical and reflective opinions in writing.
PHIL 0016. Language, Thought, and Reality: Themes in the Analytic Tradition.
What is the nature of the relationship between the mind and the external world? What is the relation between thought and language? And how does language enable us to capture, carve up, organize or impose order upon the world around us? These questions reflect themes that have been central to analytic philosophy since its inception near the turn of the 20th century. In this course, we will examine these questions, as well as their relevance for philosophy, by exploring and evaluating various answers and approaches advanced by prominent figures in the analytic tradition.
PHIL 0017. Animal Ethics.
This course is an introductory survey of philosophical issues in animal ethics. We affect the lives of non-human animals in myriad ways. What moral obligations do we have towards them? For example, is it wrong to eat meat? To experiment on animals? To keep pets? Should we try to reduce predation? How (morally) important is it that we save endangered species? Some take these to be among the most important ethical questions of our time. We will start with a brief overview of animal minds; then we’ll examine several contemporary theories of animal ethics. Along the way, we’ll pay careful attention to the implications of philosophy for everyday life.
|Fall||PHIL0017||S01||18094||MWF||9:00-9:50(09)||'To Be Arranged'|
PHIL 0020. Science, Perception and Reality.
It is implausible that scientific discoveries could make us give up commonsensical beliefs. It is even less plausible that commonsense could make us reject established scientific theories. So when science and commonsense appear to clash, as they do over colors, solidity, mental content, values, and death, serious philosophical problems arise. We will investigate possible responses to these problems.
PHIL 0023. Gender Metaphysics from Marginalized Perspectives.
What is the relationship between gender, sex, and sexuality? What distinguishes one gender or gender identity from another, especially when two of them might look very similar from an "outside" perspective? How internal is the process of identifying with a gender? This course explores these and other questions primarily from the perspective of the so-called "border zones" where lines between different identities, labels, and experiences are more obscure. In particular, we will consider how to define amorphous yet deeply significant concepts like "masculinity" in a way that is compatible with and accounts for the wide variety of people who identify with them - including, for instance trans men, some cisgender lesbians, and some people who don't fit neatly into the categories of "man" or "woman".
PHIL 0030. Skepticism and Knowledge.
What is knowledge? What is the extent and basis of one's knowledge about physical objects, other people, oneself, the future, morality, and religion? No overrides will be granted for this course.
PHIL 0040. Critical Reasoning.
Critical reasoning is the art of recognizing, analyzing, composing and evaluating arguments. In this course, students will acquire skills that are needed not only to understand and evaluate complex arguments, but also to construct strong arguments themselves. Topics that will be covered include: validity and soundness, argument decomposition and construction, deductive and inductive arguments, and fallacious reasoning. After solidifying their critical reasoning skills, students will apply those skills to a number of challenging philosophical debates, touching on themes such as free will, skepticism, and morality.
PHIL 0060. Modern Science and Human Values.
Modern science has taught us surprising new things and modern technology has given us extraordinary new abilities. We can now prolong life in extraordinary ways, artificially enhance our physical and cognitive abilities, and radically reshape the natural environment on local and global scales. This course is an introduction to philosophical reasoning with a focus on philosophical questions that have been raised or informed by this newfound information or these newfound abilities. In particular, we will give special attention to questions arising in connection to recent developments in computer science and artificial intelligence.
PHIL 0065. Contemporary Moral Problems.
PHIL 0080. Existentialism.
An introduction to philosophical thinking through the study of existentialist themes, including being oneself, loving others, the limits of morality, and the meaning of life in the face of suffering and death. Readings are drawn primarily from Schopenhauer, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus.
PHIL 0088. Good Persons.
In this course, we will explore what makes a person good in various aspects. Especially, we will focus on what is a good person’s moral psychological outlook. Goodness of a person is not limited to their actions, but also their emotional dispositions, who and what they care about, etc. Topics in this course may include friendship, caring, anger and revenge. We will discuss questions such as “Is it morally problematic to have a bad person as a friend”, “what does a good person care about”, “Is anger ridiculous”, etc.
PHIL 0090A. Food and Philosophy.
This course will deal with questions about the epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics and politics of food: how we should reason about the things we eat, what makes them tasty or artistic, and what we ought and ought not to eat and how we ought to structure the environment in which food is produced and distributed. This seminar is meant as a general introduction to philosophy, in which you will familiarize yourself with long-standing kinds of philosophical questions and modes of reasoning. Food will be our anchor topic, the subject matter that gives us the occasion for such philosophical reflection.
PHIL 0091. Does Humanity Have a Future, and If So, How Bad Will It Be?.
There are a number of reasons for worry about the future of humanity. Some of these reasons concern threats with fairly low probability, such as collisions with giant meteors, but others are concerned with possibilities that seem quite close at hand. The latter threats include climate change, of course, but also runaway AI, nuclear war, lethal viruses (both natural and designed), and loss of essential features of our humanity due to genetic engineering. This course will consider the consequences of such threats, should they become actual, and also estimates of their probability. For the most part, however, we will be concerned with moral, political, and metaphysical questions that they pose. Do future generations have any claim on us? If so, why?
PHIL 0110. Ancient Greek Philosophy.
This course will introduce students to the major concerns of Greek philosophy, and how they are addressed by the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. We will have two related ends: historical and critical. On the one hand, we will get clear so far as we are able what it is that these thinkers thought; on the other, it is important to evaluate their arguments. This course will emphasize the identification of the problems and the solutions to them that seemed pressing to these thinkers, especially if such problems seem alien to us.
PHIL 0200H. Contemporary Ethical Issues.
Are we morally obligated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Do we have moral obligations toward nature, animals and other people, for instance future generations and refugees? Is abortion morally wrong? Is legalization of drugs the right thing to do? In this course we will explore these and other contemporary ethical issues in the context of important moral theories; utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and the social contract theory. This course will serve as an introduction to applied ethics and normative ethics.
|Fall||PHIL0200H||S01||16524||TTh||10:30-11:50(13)||(A. Bjurman Pautz)|
PHIL 0208. Feminist Philosophy.
This course uses the tools of analytic philosophy to investigate a diverse range of feminist issues. The course begins by asking metaphysical questions. What is gender, sex, sexual orientation, disability? Second, we investigate topics in feminist epistemology. What is the relationship between social identity and knowledge? Can this both constrain and enable what one is in a position to know? Third, we consider issues in feminist philosophy of language. What can speech act theory tell us about consent? Last, we consider feminist issues in moral and political philosophy. What is bodily autonomy? Should sex work be legal? Is abortion morally permissible?
PHIL 0210. Early Modern Philosophy.
An introduction to central themes in Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Major topics include: reason, experience, and knowledge; substance and the nature of the world as it really is; induction, causation, and the origin of our ideas; skepticism, realism, and idealism. Connections are made with the scientific revolution of the 17th century. There will be discussion and advice on ways to approach philosophical reading, research and writing.
PHIL 0211. Modern Political Philosophy.
The course aims to provide an introduction to some themes and thinkers in modern political philosophy. Many of the philosophers we will read are engaging in a debate about important political questions: What reasons do people have for establishing or submitting to the authority of a state? Does participation in a political community limit our freedom or enhance it? What rights do agents have in a pre-political state of nature and within a state? We will discuss the influence this discussion had on philosophical attempts to understand the Enlightenment, Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism, and arguments supporting the rights of women.
PHIL 0212. Relativism (In Ethics and Epistemology).
The term “relativism” is used to talk about a cluster of views, which claim that what is the case in a given subject matter depends on the culture, community, or agent that is assessing the subject matter. The term is often used loosely in contemporary debates, though it shows up in arguments to controversial conclusions. Throughout this course we will (A) informatively and precisely characterize possible relativist doctrines, making sure to distinguish between them and (B) critically evaluate them and assess their plausibility in light of arguments for and against them.
PHIL 0290. Introduction to Philosophy.
Philosophy is concerned with the deepest most basic questions about the universe. We’ll concentrate on some fundamental moral and metaphysical questions: What is the right thing to do? Is morality objective? Do we have moral obligations toward people other than those we know and care about? Do we have moral obligations toward future generations? Do we have moral obligations toward animals? Is your mind identical to your brain? What is consciousness? Do we have free will? Does free will matter for morality? What is personal identity?
PHIL 0351. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.
Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most profound and influential thinkers in the history of philosophy, but also one of the most misunderstood. In particular, the work Nietzsche himself considered his magnum opus – Thus Spoke Zarathustra – has been the subject of intense debate and speculation owing to its literary style and intense, cryptic imagery. In this course, we will spend the semester reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Together we will attempt to answer key questions such as “Who is Zarathustra, and what does he represent?”, and explore some of Nietzsche’s most famous ideas, including eternal recurrence and the overman (Übermensch).
PHIL 0401. Ethics of Digital Technology.
As the capacities of digital technology have increased, it has entered (almost) every domain of our lives. Algorithmic models, Artificial Intelligence, and everyday processing of vast amounts of data increasingly shape both our private choices and opportunities, and also our interactions in the public sphere. These developments raise new ethical and normative political questions and prompt us to examine the role of values such as freedom, autonomy, equality, and privacy in the digital sphere. How should a self-driving car behave when a crash is unavoidable? Are engineers responsible for the decisions of artificially-intelligent systems? What is the value of privacy in a world that increasingly depends on large amounts of data about customers, citizens, or patients? How does the algorithmic curating of content relate to freedom of expression? These and other topics will be the focus of this course.
PHIL 0402. Moral Pluralism.
Moral pluralism is an unmistakable characteristic of modern liberal societies. Even though the dire conflicts of religion which fuelled wars and civil unrest appear to be a thing of the past, fundamental moral disagreements are still plentiful today. Now as then, these disagreements expose tensions among the core of ideas upon which liberal societies are built. This course explores moral pluralism through the lens of classic and contemporary works in political philosophy and engages with questions such as: should the state be neutral in relation to different religious and moral convictions? Are there some values which we can expect all citizens to share despite their deep disagreements? How should citizens engage with each other when they debate controversial moral questions in the public forum?
PHIL 0403. Ethics and Politics of Data.
Persona data is ubiquitous: with the proliferation of digital technology, our lives and bodies have become increasingly observable, quantifiable, and interconnected. This generates new opportunity for the state, private companies, and other individuals to act on us. Data makes us more powerful but also more vulnerable. This course focuses on the new ethical and political challenges of lives permeated by the creation, collection, and processing of personal information. Do we own data? Is there a right to be forgotten? Should we use data to predict and manipulate individual behaviour? What responsibilities do we have to others whose data is intertwined with ours? These and other related topics will be the focus of this course.
PHIL 0410. Moral Philosophy.
What is the right thing to do? What should a good person be like? More generally, what determines what is right and wrong, good and bad, virtuous and vicious? In this course, we will consider three greatly influential moral theories – utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Aristotelian virtue ethics — as well as feminist perspectives on morality.
Towards the end, we'll also consider more general questions that any moral theory faces. For instance: Does morality depend on God? Is morality relative or subjective (whatever that's supposed to mean)? And why should we care about being moral in the first place?
PHIL 0412. Climate Change Ethics.
Climate change is commonly said to be one of the defining issues of the 21st century. Calls for, and movement towards, significant action seem to be growing. Yet what ought to be done? This is a moral question as much as, if not more so, than an economic, political, or scientific question. In this course, then, we will consider climate change from the point of view of moral philosophy.
PHIL 0420. Introduction to Aesthetics.
This is an introductory course on aesthetics, giving an overview of the history of (western) aesthetics and of contemporary debates in analytic aesthetics. Among the historical figures to be read are Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Nietzsche, and Adorno. Some of the contemporary debates concern the right theory of art (representationalism, the expression theory, formalism), the definition of art, and the ontology of works of art. We will consider some general criticisms of western aesthetics. Students will be introduced to prominent positions in aesthetics, but they will also learn how to engage in rigorous philosophical argumentation in the face of those positions.
PHIL 0430. Ethical Themes in the Contemporary American Short Story.
Consideration of contemporary American short stories in terms of their treatment of such ethical themes as love, loyalty, envy, kindness, pride, loneliness, pity, despair, and charity. This course has no prerequisites. T Th 2:30-3:50. The course will be conducted entirely as online synchronous sessions via Zoom. All sessions will be recorded for asynchronous access as well.
PHIL 0450. The Meaning of Life.
This is an introductory course in ethics, with a focus on the question of what is the nature of the human good, or of a life lived well. Readings will be from classical sources (Aristotle, Epicurus, Kant, Nietzsche, Camus) as well as from contemporary authors. In investigating this question, the course will also introduce students to some of the main problems and positions in moral philosophy. Central concepts such as obligation, responsibility, pluralism, and moral knowledge will be discussed, but in the larger context of what is the nature of the good life. No prior work in philosophy will be presupposed.
PHIL 0470. Environmental Ethics.
In the first half of the course, we will ask what sorts of things have value. Does the realm of moral consideration extend past human beings to include animals, plants, and nature itself? How does environmental concern figure into the worthwhile life? What role do consumer goods play in a good life? How do we know?
Good intentions are not enough to make good policy. Thus, in the second half of the course, we will try to determine what sorts of policies actually help to protect the environment. We will learn what economics and other social sciences tell us about human behavior and how to shape institutions. We will examine issues in wildlife management, human population, resource use, and more.
PHIL 0510. Psychology and Philosophy of Happiness.
The course explores four fundamental questions about happiness: What is happiness—pleasure, life satisfaction, something else? How is happiness achieved—what are the myths and realities about what conduces to happiness? Can happiness be achieved—are we naturally well suited to be happy? Why pursue happiness—is it sufficient, or even necessary, for a good life? The course examines classic contributions from philosophy and psychology, the two disciplines that have studied happiness most extensively. Team-taught by professors from both philosophy and psychology, it invites students to compare and combine both approaches.
PHIL 0520. Global Justice.
Is it unjust that people in some countries have less wealth, worse health, etc., than those in other countries? Does this depend on whether the better off countries partly caused the disparity? Does it depend on whether the worse off are poor, or is it enough that they are relatively worse off? If there are global injustices, what obligations are there, and on whom do they fall, to remedy them? We will study (mostly) recent philosophical work on such questions, including attention to special contexts such as immigration, climate change, poverty, colonialism, secession, intervention, and war.
PHIL 0530. Marxism.
In the first part of the course, we will examine Marx's economic, political, and philosophical writings, focusing on his analysis of capitalism, his critique of liberal democracy, and his theory of history. Then in the second part, we will look at some recent attempts to renew and extend the Marxist tradition.
PHIL 0550. Free Speech.
Freedom of speech is a challenging and controversial ideal. Legal questions are central, but the issues range into moral and political philosophy as well. We will study John Stuart Mill’s influential 19th century treatment of the idea, and then concentrate mostly on discussions within the last fifty years, including much that is on the cutting edge of current thinking about freedom of speech. Topics will vary, including such things as: political speech, art and offense, pornography, hate speech, protest, copyright, internet and new media, and campaign finance laws.
PHIL 0555. Choice, Commerce, and Conflict: An Introduction to PPE.
This interdisciplinary course provides an overview of some of the core conceptual tools used to analyze issues at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE). A range of theoretical topics are covered, including: game theory, property, markets, distributive justice, public choice theory, voting, and more. We will read classical and contemporary sources on these topics as well as explore their applications to contemporary social problems (including: climate change, healthcare rationing, price gouging, universal basic income, pharmaceutical regulations, and others).
PHIL 0560. Political Philosophy.
An analytic investigation of some central problems and topics in political philosophy, including political obligation and civil disobedience, liberty, rights, equality, and democracy. Readings are drawn from recent work in the field, along with a few classics.
PHIL 0561. Love: A Survey in the History of Philosophy.
This course will be a survey in the history of philosophy on the question of what it is to love another person. We love our friends, we love our family, we love our romantic partner(s). But what is it that we do, or what kind of state are we in, so to speak, when we love them? Moreover, what are the differences between these kinds of love, or are they essentially the same? This course will survey these questions by reading some philosophers in the past who wrote on the subject matter. We will begin the course with the writings of the Ancient Greeks, particularly Plato and Aristotle, and then we will move on in the chronological order, and read the writings of Cicero, Montaigne, Bacon, Kierkegaard, among others.
PHIL 0570. Topics in Feminist Philosophy.
This survey course is designed to introduce students to core issues of feminist philosophy. We will investigate foundational and topical questions of feminist theory, by both classic and contemporary authors. Topics include: the nature of gender, oppression, masculinity and femininity, objectification, and the relationship between social inequality and knowledge. Emphasis will be placed on understanding these issues in relation to social categories such as race, sexuality and (dis)ability.
PHIL 0575. Philosophy of Sex.
Sex is an important part of human experience, and questions about it have been central to literature, politics, religion, etc. It also gives rise to characteristically philosophical questions. What exactly is sex? How are sexual activities, desires, interests, and attractions related to one another? What makes such things ‘sexual’? What sorts of ethical considerations arise in the case of sexuality? Is consent always required if sexual activity is to be ethical? Is sex between consenting adults always guaranteed to be morally unobjectionable? What exactly is wrong about rape? And is fantasizing about rape itself wrong? How do disparities due to race, gender, disability, and the like affect the ethical character of sexual interactions? Does pornography objectify or otherwise demean women, members of certain racial groups, and/or disabled people? And what exactly is objectification? Why should it be thought problematic?
PHIL 0640. Logic.
An introduction to perhaps the most fundamental tool of rational thought: deductive logic. Course begins with basic sentential logic, then moves on to deduction, quantification, and predication. Argumentation and reasoning may also be addressed at times. No previous experience with logic or philosophy is required.
PHIL 0651. Contemporary Political Philosophy.
What makes laws legitimate? What rights do immigrants have? How much can the government interfere in the economy? Can revolution be permissible? Is democracy really the best form of government, and if it is, why? In this course, we will consider these and similar questions as they have been addressed in anglophone political philosophy of (mostly) recent decades. We will also consider issues of philosophical methodology: how are questions in (political) philosophy best answered? What makes for a good argument?, etc.
PHIL 0692. The Gödel Incompleteness Theorems.
The two incompleteness theorems proved by Kurt Gödel in 1931 are among the greatest results in the history of logic. We'll study them in detail, reading Gödel's original paper and other sources. Prior exprerience with logic will be helpful but is not required. A strong background in mathematics is required, as most of the course will deal with proofs. Sophomores may be allowed to enroll if there is room and should contact the instructor for an override after pre-registration.
PHIL 0751. Problems of Irrationality: Self-Deception and Weakness of Will.
This is an historical and systematic introduction into the nature of self-deception and weakness of will. There’s little agreement among philosophers about the correct description, much less the explanation of these phenomena. Historically, they’ve been approached primarily as moral failings, while contemporary philosophers have focused more on conceptual issues: Is it always irrational to act against your better judgment? Does self-deception require an intentional effort to disbelieve some home truth? And more broadly: What do these phenomena tell us about sound, rational belief and action? What do they tell us about the sorts of creatures we are?
PHIL 0850. Introduction to the Philosophy of Language.
Discussion of the nature of linguistic meaning and other topics, such as vagueness; metaphor; and language, thought, and culture.
PHIL 0870. The Nature of Fiction.
This course is concerned with philosophical questions arising from the concept of fiction. Topics will include: What makes a story a fiction? What are fictional characters? Are fictions "created"? Are fictions physical things, like books? How do fictions make us care about things we don't even believe in? How do fictions affect our moral beliefs.
PHIL 0990F. Perception.
This is an undergraduate seminar on the philosophy of perception intended primarily for junior and senior concentrators. Topics include: naive realist versus representational theories of sensory experience, the possibility that sensory experience is massively illusory (so that we already occupy a kind of “virtual reality”), the role of the brain in shaping sensory experience, and the alleged foundational role of sensory experience in knowledge. The focus will be on vision but we will also discuss other sense-modalities. Prerequisite: at least 2 previous courses in philosophy.
PHIL 0990T. Paradox and Infinity.
This course will focus on several important paradoxes that arise within philosophy and mathematics. We will use these paradoxes to investigate central issues in metaphysics, the philosophy of language, decision theory, physics, mathematics, and logic. Among the paradoxes we will discuss are Zeno's paradoxes of space, time, and motion; the paradoxes of set theory; the paradoxes of truth and reference; the sorites paradox; and paradoxes of rational action and rational belief. Enrollment limited to 20.
PHIL 0990V. Current Questions About Rational Belief.
We'll study some "hot topics" in epistemology. Some possible questions: (1) What's the relationship between rational belief and logic? (2) Is belief best thought as all-or-nothing, as coming in gradations, or both? (3) Can the same evidence support divergent belief-states? (4) Is rational belief completely determined by evidence, or also by values or practical interests? (5) Are graded beliefs best seen as coming in precise degrees, or as more "spread-out"? (6) Can I have rational beliefs I know are denied by others just as intelligent, unbiased, well-informed, etc., as I am? Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
PHIL 0990X. Conditionals.
In this seminar we will look at different theories of what "if" means. Is it a truth-functional connective, like the material conditional used in logic? Do sentences of the form "If P, then Q" even have truth conditions? Some logic will be very helpful; some familiarity with philosophy of language also helpful. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
PHIL 0991C. Reasons and Oughts.
Contemporary philosophical problems of the fundamental deontic concepts. Topics will include: ought implies can, 'buckpassing' accounts of value, narrow and wide scope requirements, subjective and objective reasons (and ought). Enrollment limited to 20.
PHIL 0991M. Mental Representation.
Discussion of contemporary philosophical and scientific work on intentionality and mental representation. Topics will include: types of mental representation (language of thought, spoken language, perceptual states, images, cognitive maps, trees, object files, etc.), relations between mental representations and the world (reference, informational semantics, teleological semantics), the nature of perceptual content, the differences between perceptual representation and conceptually grounded representation, philosophical theories of concepts, psychological theories of concepts, theories of belief, ethological work on animal beliefs and concepts, and the nature of conscious thought (particularly, evidence pro and con the theory that thought consists of auditory imagery and articulatory imagery).
PHIL 0995. Free Will and Moral Responsibility.
This seminar introduces the problem of free will and moral responsibility as seen by contemporary philosophers. Do we have free will? What would it be like to have free will? What kind of freedom, if any, is required for humans to be blameworthy or praiseworthy for their actions? What other things might be required? Can there be moral responsibility if everything that happens is causally determined? Can there be meaningful lives if everything is determined? And what is one to make of the typical "scientists prove there is no free will" newspaper headline? We will explore these questions and possible answers through readings in analytical philosophy.
PHIL 1110. Plato.
A close reading of Plato's major dialogues from a philosophical perspective. Topics may include his ethics, politics, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, or aesthetics. Readings are from original sources (in translation) and contemporary secondary literature. (Students wishing to read the texts in the original Greek should make arrangements with the instructor.)
PHIL 1120. Aristotle.
This is an introduction to the hugely influential philosophy of Aristotle, covering his natural philosophy, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and ethics. We will closely read some of Aristotle’s most famous works as well as a selection of contemporary secondary literature. The goal of the course is both historical and philosophical: On the one hand, students will familiarize themselves with Aristotle’s philosophical positions, on the other hand, they will further develop their philosophical skills in analyzing Aristotle’s arguments for those positions. The course will combine lecture and discussion.
PHIL 1125. Aristotle's Ethics.
An investigation of Aristotle’s ethical views as they are expounded in the Nicomachean Ethics, with an emphasis on the place of virtue and what (if anything) might make Aristotle’s account distinct from others on offer, including consequentialism and deontology. Topics include happiness and human flourishing, moral education, the virtues of character (including details of specific virtues), the nature of human action, the virtues of thought, weakness of will, pleasure, and friendship. Readings from Aristotle will be supplemented with selections from contemporary accounts of virtue ethics and scholarly work on Aristotle’s writings.
PHIL 1160. Medieval Philosophy.
Since the Renaissance, medieval philosophy has often been unjustly dismissed as arcane and irrelevant, despite impressive innovations in ethics, philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and logic. Instead of surveying so vast a field, the course focuses on one or two sets of problems, such as the problem of evil, the freedom of the will, the existence of God, universals, substance, mind and meaning.
PHIL 1190. Seminar: Plato's Apology, Alcibiades, and Charmides.
A close reading of Plato's Apology, Alcibiades, and Charmides. These dialogues are unified by a concern with self-knowledge, including knowledge of what we know (and don’t know) and what we are. In the Apology, we find Socrates announcing that his investigations have shown him that “This man among you, mortals, is wisest who, like Socrates, understands that his wisdom is worthless'" (23b, trans. Grube). The Socrates of the Alcibiades likewise presents such self-knowledge—of what we know and what we don’t—as vitally important for avoiding error; he also goes on to argue that "if we know ourselves, then we might be able to know how to cultivate ourselves, but if we don’t know ourselves, we’ll never know how" (129a, trans. Hutchinson). And in the Charmides, Critias ends up defining temperance (sôphrosunê) as "to know oneself" (164d, trans. Kent Sprague).
PHIL 1210. Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Others.
A detailed study, both historical and critical, of central issues in Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Topics include a selection from: innate ideas; substance; personal identity; abstract ideas; theory of language; perception, materialism, and idealism; induction and causation; and skepticism. Also includes some discussion of later critics of classical empiricism.
PHIL 1220. 17th Century Continental Rationalism.
The course will focus on the principle of sufficient reason and involve a close reading of Spinoza's Ethics, along with other texts from Leibniz, Schopenhauer, Heidegger, and some contemporary writers.
PHIL 1230. Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason.
We will cover the main topics of Kant's masterpiece, including his third way between rationalism and empiricism, his approach to skepticism and idealism, his foundational approach to science and everyday experience, and his limitation of knowledge to leave room for practical faith. Prerequisites: PHIL 0210, 1210, 1220 or instructor permission.
PHIL 1240. Kant's Moral Philosophy.
An introduction to the central themes of Kant's moral philosophy, including autonomy, freedom, happiness, obligation, and virtue. Kant's position in the history of moral philosophy will also be considered. Readings to include all of Kant's major writings in this field, thus Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, and Metaphysics of Morals, as well as several essays and lectures. Work will include two short papers and one term paper.
PHIL 1340. Nietzsche.
The course will focus on Nietzsche’s famed critique of Christian morality. We will consider a broad range of his writings, but we will pay special attention to the most pivotal and influential of his works, On the Genealogy of Morality. We will explore the distinctive approach to the analysis and critique of morality this book offers—in particular, the interaction between morality and affectivity. The course is open to advanced undergraduate students and graduate students. Special weekly discussion sessions will be organized for graduate students taking the course.
PHIL 1350. Nineteenth-Century Philosophy.
This course will treat 19th century German philosophy. We will examine the development leading from German Idealism to Nietzsche. Starting and focal point of all debates in 19th century German philosophy is the work of Immanuel Kant. Therefore basic ideas of Kant's philosophy will be discussed first. The German idealists criticized Kant for what they called his "dualism" which they thought splits up life's unity into unrelated aspects. A special concern brought up was Kant's alleged negligence of both what is different from reason and what is beyond its scope. In this context we will be reading Jacobi's famous letter to Fichte in which he raised the issue of impending nihilism, parts of Hegel's Faith and Knowledge, and Schelling's Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom. Arthur Schopenhauer passionately opposed the systems of German Idealism (though his own philosophy has quite a bit in common with them). He emphasized the limitations of reason's power. We will be studying selected pieces from his main work The World as Will and Representation. Thus prepared, we will move on to Nietzsche who reflects and criticizes all the tendencies of 19th century philosophy, casting doubt on traditional conceptions of reason, morality, truth, and religion. The threat of nihilism reappears, even stronger and even more provocative. We will be studying Nietzsche's analyses as well as his answers.
PHIL 1360. Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy.
This course provides an introduction to major philosophers and movements within the analytic tradition. Our focus will be on the groundbreaking work done in the first few decades of the 20th century. We will read selected works of Gottlob Frege, G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and A.J. Ayer. We will discuss central issues in the philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, and metaethics. One recurring theme will be the nature and correct methodology of philosophy itself.
PHIL 1370. Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy.
The course will focus on the main figures of the German tradition-- Husseri, Heidegger, Cassirer, Gadamer, Adorno, Habermas, and Tugendhat, with emphasis on their efforts to rethink such key concepts as consciousness, history, reason, and the self. Some attention will be paid to points of intersection with German-language philosophers standardly considered "non-Continental"--Frege, Wittgenstein, and the Vienna Circle.
PHIL 1420. Philosophy and Poetry.
An examination of philosophy and poetry as rival avenues to the apprehension of truth, as well as an introduction to the basic problems of aesthetics. Philosophical readings will range from Plato to Hegel to contemporary writers. The focus of the course will be three philosophical poems: Lucretius' On the Nature of Things, Wordsworth's Prelude, and Eliot's Four Quartets. One previous course in philosophy is recommended.
PHIL 1430. Moral Theories.
A systematic examination of the main alternative normative moral theories: consequentialism; moral rights; moral duties; moral virtues. Focuses on the principal issues in the formulation of the different theories, on the main points of conflict between them, and on the critical evaluation of each. Readings are drawn mainly from contemporary work in moral philosophy.
PHIL 1440. The Nature of Morality.
Investigates major theories and issues concerning the nature of moral value. Readings from 20th-century authors. Issues include naturalism, supervenience, moral motivation, subjectivity/objectivity of value, skepticism, moral relativism, and moral realism.
PHIL 1450. Aesthetics.
This course will treat Kant's contribution to philosophical aesthetics. We will study his theory of the beautiful as well as his theory of the sublime; the latter one has been particularly appreciated in post-modern debates. Our work will be centered upon two guiding issues: (1) Kant's distinction between aesthetics and ethics on the one hand, and his exploration of their deep-rooted connection on the other hand; (2) the importance of the reflective power of judgment within the scope of Kant's overall philosophical project. Both issues lead to the question of what it means for human beings to be capable of approaching the world aesthetically.
PHIL 1460. The Problem of Free Will.
If everything we do is causally determined, is there still moral responsibility? Is there still meaning in life? Is there still a sense in which we can be said to choose our actions? These and related questions will be discussed through the writings of contemporary philosophers.
PHIL 1470. Ethics in the Novel.
Consideration of novels in terms of their treatment of such ethical themes as love, friendship, envy, deterioration, death, courage, pride, faith, integrity, betrayal, responsibility to others, revenge, justice, and mercy. The course uses twentieth-century and twenty-first-century novels (by Ernest J. Gaines, Lisa Genova, Mary Gordon, Andrea Lee, Randy Susan Meyers, and George Orwell) and also uses the fifteenth-century writer Sir Thomas Malory. No prerequisites. T Th 1:00-2:20. The course will be conducted entirely as online synchronous sessions via Zoom. All sessions will be recorded for asynchronous access as well.
PHIL 1480. History of Ethics.
The project of British moral philosophers after Hobbes was to rebut what they all perceived as an ethics based solely on enlightened self-interest with one based on disinterested concern for others. We will examine the early responses to Hobbes of Richard Cumberland and the Earl of Shaftesbury; the moral sense theorists Francis Hutcheson, Joseph Butler, David Hume, Lord Kames, and Adam Smith; and the rationalists Ralph Cudworth and Samuel Clarke. This course is recommended preparation for PHIL 1240, Kant's Practical Philosophy.
PHIL 1502. Philosophy of Race and Gender.
In this course we will explore the topics race and gender in contemporary analytic philosophy. Topics that will be discussed include: What are the concepts of race and gender? Do race and gender exist? Are race and gender social constructions? We will also discuss issues within political and moral philosophy, for instance, justice, integration, reparations, agency and consent. Finally, we will discuss the power of language, i.e. hate speech, stereotypes, generics and slurs. This course serves as an introduction to the philosophy of race and gender.
PHIL 1530. Feminist Philosophy.
A rigorous philosophical examination of five topics addressed in contemporary feminist writing: justice and gender; gender justice and developing countries; the social construction of gender, sexuality, and sexual orientation; the claim that women reason differently and have different ways of knowing and arguing; and radical feminism on pornography, rape, and intercourse. Prerequisite: one semester course in philosophy.
PHIL 1560. Philosophy of Law.
Philosophical examination of the chief classical and contemporary theories of the nature and function of law. Topics include the definition of law, the nature of legal systems, the logic of legal reasoning, the analysis of basic legal conceptions (e.g., of right and duty), legal rules and principles, law and justice, and law and morality.
PHIL 1570. Philosophy and Psychoanalysis.
The course proposes a philosophical examination of a variety of psychoanalytical theories beginning with classical Freudian theory and including ego psychology, various relational theories (object relations, intersubjectivity, and attachment theories), and self psychology. The course might also consider some of the philosophical sources of psychoanalytic theory, its interaction with recent developmental research, and its applications in literary and cultural studies.
PHIL 1580. Philosophy of Sex.
Sex is an important part of human experience, and questions about it have been central to literature, politics, religion, etc. Sex also gives rise to characteristically philosophical questions. What exactly is sex? How are sexual activities, desires, interests, and attractions related to one another? What makes such things 'sexual'? What sorts of ethical considerations arise in the case of sexuality? How do power disparities due to race, gender, disability, and the like affect the ethical character of sexual interactions? Is objectification always morally problematic? And what exactly is objectification anyway? Is sex between consenting adults always morally unobjectionable? Or are there cases in which even consensual sex is morally problematic? What makes rape the horrible violation that it is? Are rape fantasies themselves morally problematic? We'll explore these and similar questions throughout the course.
PHIL 1610. Decision Theory: Foundations and Applications.
Decision theory is a formal apparatus for analyzing preferences and choices. Students learn the formal theory and then examine its foundations and philosophical implications. Specific topics: the role of causation in decision problems, the status of the axioms of the theory, problems of infinite utility, rudimentary game theory, social choice functions, utilitarianism as a theorem.
PHIL 1630. Mathematical Logic.
This course provides a rigorous introduction to the metatheory of classical first-order predicate logic. Topics covered include the syntax, formal semantics, and proof theory of first-order logic, leading up to the completeness theorem and its consequences (the compactness and Lowenheim-Skolem theorems). There will be some discussion of philosophical issues, but the focus of the course will be on the technical material. This course provides a more rigorous and mathematical treatment of material covered in PHIL 0640. No previous familiarity with logic is required, but it may be taken after 0640.
PHIL 1635. Advanced Deductive Logic.
This course provides an introduction to the metatheory of first-order logic. We will prove the completeness of first-order logic. We then move on to the major "limitative" results, including the undecidability of first-order logic, the Gödel incompleteness theorems, and the undefinability in arithmetic of arithmetical truth. Prerequisite: PHIL 0540 or instructor's permission.
PHIL 1645. Incompleteness.
Gödel's two incompleteness theorems are among the most important results in the history of logic. We will study these results, and explore related topics, by working through some of the classic papers on the subject. Authors to be read include Gödel, Tarski, Feferman, and Visser. Prerequisites: PHIL 0640 or PHIL 1630, or special permission from instructor.
PHIL 1655. Philosophical Logic.
An examination of various philosophical issues arising in the foundations of logic, such as the following: existence, definite description, reference and truth, semantic paradoxes, implication and presupposition, modalities and "possible worlds," logical truth, the nature of logical knowledge, and logic in natural language.
PHIL 1665. Modal Logic.
Modal logic concerns the logic of necessity and possibility. In this course, we will look at formal systems that have been developed to handle these and related notions. We will cover three topics: propositional modal logic, quantified modal logic, and the logic of counterfactual conditionals. We will discuss philosophical issues, but the main focus of the course will be on the technical material. No official prerequisite. It is strongly recommended that students have taken PHIL 0540 or have a working knowledge of elementary logic.
PHIL 1675. Set Theory.
Set theory is a mathematical theory of collections, taken as objects in their own right. According to folklore, set theory provides a foundation for all of mathematics. Its central concepts are also widely employed in other fields, such as in philosophy and linguistics.
The main goals of the course are (i) to introduce you to the theory of sets in an axiomatic setting, and (ii) to equip you to engage in philosophical reflection on set theory and its applications.
Some topics we will tackle include: how to “construct” various mathematical objects in set theory; cardinals and ordinals; controversial axioms (e.g., choice, replacement, and so-called “large cardinal” axioms); how we might justify our choices of axioms.
PHIL 1680. Theories of Truth.
Philosophers have been worrying about truth for just about as long as there've been philosophers. They've worried about what truth is; about what kinds of things are true; about what it is for one of these things to be true; about how its being true is related to our knowing or thinking that it is true; and so on. We'll discuss these issues and also the so-called Liar Paradox, which threatens to show that there's an inconsistency lurking in the very notion of truth.
PHIL 1705. Epistemology.
We’ll concentrate on several issues involving knowledge and rational belief: What is knowledge, and how does it relate to rational or justified belief? Does a person’s knowing something depend on non-evidential factors such as the practical importance of the person’s being correct? Does the justification of a person’s belief depend just on facts internal to the person—or might it depend on her environment? And what can we learn from thinking about the skeptical position which claims that we’re not justified in believing even the most ordinary things about the world around us? Pre-req: Must have taken one course in Philosophy.
PHIL 1735. Metaphysics.
A survey of some major topics in metaphysics, with a particular focus on radical metaphysical arguments – arguments that call into question our most basic beliefs about the world. Topics covered may include: What is personal identity? Does personal identity matter? Do personal identity and consciousness matter? Is there right and wrong and objective value? Is there free will? Are there any good arguments for God? Prerequisite: at least one course in philosophy (2 or more preferred).
PHIL 1755. Philosophy of Science.
PHIL 1775. Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics.
An examination of philosophical issues informed by elementary quantum mechanics; topics include the measurement problem, superposition, non-locality, and competing "interpretations" of the textbook formalism.
PHIL 1780. Time.
This course will survey the major topics in the philosophy of time from Augustine’s Confessions and the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence to contemporary philosophical work on the possibility of time travel. Although the main focus will be on philosophical theories of time, and students will be learning to read, think, and write like philosophers, we will also consider the portrayal of time in various works of fiction, and the role of time in various scientific theories.
PHIL 1785. Philosophy of the Environment: Environmental Utopias.
Environmentalists have often faced criticism for wallowing in pessimistic, even apocalyptic, “doom and gloom.” This seminar in environmental philosophy will explore a variety of more-or-less optimistic, more-or-less "utopian," possible human-environmental futures, exploring a variety of questions about political economy, environmental justice, and the conservation of non-human nature. We will draw on multiple philosophical and scholarly traditions, as well as science fiction and popular literature, to imagine this plurality of “ecotopias,” considering ideas like the Green New Deal, ecosocialism, degrowth, decolonization, reparations for environmental injustice, interspecies democracy, and rewilding. Along the way we will examine issues in environmental and political philosophy about the relationships between environmental degradation and dominant political-economic and social-cultural systems.
PHIL 1791. Philosophy of Mind & Epistemology.
The first part of the course will explore the nature of mental representations with particular focus on the representations involved in the attitude of belief. The second part of the course will explore some of the shortcomings of standard, unified models of belief to motivate the development of fragmented models. Such models strive to provide a more accurate accounting of agents who might occupy (globally) incoherent or inconsistent states of mind. Exploring such models draws attention to previously underdeveloped normative questions.
PHIL 1800. Philosophy of Mind.
Questions concerning the nature of mentality and its relation to the body. Selections from the following topics: mind and behavior, mind as the brain, mind as a computing machine, thought and language, action and mental causation, intentionality and consciousness. Prerequisite: at least one course in philosophy (2 or more preferred).
PHIL 1825. Consciousness.
Topics will include: (i) the different features of various types of consciousness; (ii) dualist, physicalist, and representationalist theories of experience; (iii) the nature of pain and other bodily sensations; (iv) the nature of conscious thought; (v) the qualitative dimension of perception; (vi) introspection; (vii) the roles of attention and working memory in perceptual consciousness; (viii) blindsight, inattentional blindness, hemineglect, and related phenomena; (ix) the unconscious; and (x) what it is for a state of consciousness to be unified.
PHIL 1850. Philosophy of Language.
How is language used both to express and to communicate our beliefs and other thoughts? What is the relation between the meaning of a sentence and the meanings of the words that comprise it? We will discuss philosophical work on these and related questions including, potentially: the meanings of metaphors; the way meaning depends upon context; the nature of slurs and hate speech.
PHIL 1860. Sense and Reference.
Introduction to issues in philosophy of language and mind relating to sense and reference, including: definite descriptions, proper names, rigid designation and the description theory of names, the internalism--externalism debate, demonstratives ("this", "that"), and indexicals ("I", "here"). At least two prior courses in philosophy strongly recommended.
PHIL 1881. Philosophical Logic.
This course is intended for anyone with some background in formal logic who would like to (i) expand their knowledge of formal logical systems beyond first-order logic and (ii) engage in sustained philosophical reflection on the value and applications of these other logical systems. Particular systems we will study in this course include: many-valued logics (in both paracomplete and paraconsistent versions), supervaluations, free logic, and secondorder logic (both classical and free).
PHIL 1900. Philosophy of Biology.
This course introduces philosophy of biology through engagement with historical and contemporary philosophical and scientific texts. We will ask epistemological questions about evolutionary biology, that seek a broader understanding of the status of biology as a science, and about fundamental concepts and categories of biological theory. We will ask whether and how biological knowledge (e.g. about health, “human nature,” or ecosystems) might be relevant to philosophical or ethical claims. Relatedly, we will ask questions about the roles of social values in biology. For example: How have concepts of ‘race’ and racial difference been theorized in philosophy and biology, and how has scientific racism mischaracterized human diversity? Students will leave the course with an appreciation for the relevance and importance of philosophical debates both within and about the life sciences.
PHIL 1990. Independent Studies.
Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
PHIL 1995. Senior Thesis.
An elective for students writing a thesis. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
PHIL 2000. Graduate Proseminar.
Will cover classics of philosophy from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th; including ethics as well as metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of language.
PHIL 2010. Third Year Workshop.
No description available.
PHIL 2011A. Reductionism.
Exploration of reductive approaches in contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of science. The question of whether there is a deep sense in which all the complexity of reality reduces to some more limited class of fundamental features.
PHIL 2020. Dissertation Workshop.
Course for graduate students during their 4th year or above.
PHIL 2132. Physicalism.
This seminar will examine the thesis of physicalism about the natural world: roughly, the idea that everything is fundamentally physical. We will start by looking at a very austere form of physicalism, "identification physicalism", that offers an attractively simple and uniform picture of nature. This kind of physicalism, or something like it, has been defended by David Lewis, Ted Sider, and Cian Dorr. We will consider some new arguments against identification physicalism that are off the beaten path: arguments from the special intentional character of consciousness, arguments from the epistemic and normative significance of consciousness, and arguments based on the ease with which we can determinately think and talk about our own conscious states.
PHIL 2410. Moral Psychology.
This seminar will examine in depth some problems associated with morality, rationality, and the human psyche. Possible topics: acting for reasons, moral responsibility, practical reasoning, moral character, love, modesty, being too good, moral luck, desire, weakness of will. Undergraduates require instructor permission to enroll.
PHIL 2450. Exchange Scholar Program.
|Fall||PHIL2450||S01||16150||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
|Fall||PHIL2450||S02||16151||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
|Fall||PHIL2450||S03||16152||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
|Spr||PHIL2450||S01||24897||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
PHIL 2505. Fiction as a Vehicle for Considering Ethical Issues in Education.
This online seminar uses fiction as well as philosophy and social science in considering ethical issues in education. Topics include: What are appropriate aims and methods for different types of education? What are appropriate student- teacher relationships? How should selective schools select students? How much, if at all, should schools concern themselves with students’ and teachers’ non-academic lives? How should schools deal with sensitive topics such as racism? What special issues are involved in online teaching (which this online seminar puts us in a good position to explore)? In order to include participants with varied backgrounds, this seminar has no prerequisites.
PHIL 2510. Non-Naturalist Moral Realism.
This seminar will examine recent metaethical theories, both ‘robust’ and ‘quietist’, that take basic moral expressions to pick out non-natural properties. In the first part we will look at the reasons non-naturalists give in favor of their view: that naturalism does not work, that expressivism is defective, that robust normative properties are needed to explain certain features of our normative practice and experience. In the second part we will see how they reply to the most significant objections to the view: epistemological, metaphysical, moral psychological. At the end we will raise and attempt to answer some metametaethical questions, particularly those arising from “quietist” conception of their own view (namely, that it has no ontological commitments).
PHIL 2900. Thesis Preparation.
PHIL 2970. Preliminary Examination Preparation.
For graduate students who have met the tuition requirement and are paying the registration fee to continue active enrollment while preparing for a preliminary examination.
|Fall||PHIL2970||S01||16153||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
|Spr||PHIL2970||S01||24898||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
PHIL 2980. Research in Philosophy.
Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
PHIL 2990. Thesis Preparation.
For graduate students who have met the residency requirement and are continuing research on a full time basis.
|Fall||PHIL2990||S01||16154||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
|Spr||PHIL2990||S01||24899||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
PHIL XLIST. Courses of Interest to Philosophy Concentrators.
The Philosophy concentration offers courses covering subjects from the philosophy of religion to the philosophies of science and literature. It also provides survey courses on various periods in the history of philosophy. Concentrators can expect to acquire a broad competence in philosophy itself, including ancient European and early modern philosophy, logic, epistemology and metaphysics. The concentration also teaches, and stresses, skills in critical thinking and writing. There is also a related, but separate concentration in physics and philosophy.
10 courses total, of which no more than one may be below PHIL 0100, and at least three must be at or above PHIL 0990.
|Five Area Requirements:|
|One course in Ancient Philosophy, e.g.||1|
|Ancient Greek Philosophy|
|One course in Early Modern Philosophy, e.g.||1|
|Early Modern Philosophy|
|Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Others|
|17th Century Continental Rationalism|
|Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason|
|One course in Epistemology or Metaphysics, e.g.||1|
|Philosophy of Mind|
|Philosophy of Language|
|One course in Ethics or Political Philosophy, e.g.||1|
|Ethical Themes in the Contemporary American Short Story|
|Ethics in the Novel|
|The Nature of Morality|
|One course in Logic, e.g.||1|
|Advanced Deductive Logic|
|One Seminar: either an undergraduate seminar from the 099X series or a graduate seminar at the 2000-level||1|
|Four additional courses||4|
Up to two courses from departments other than the Philosophy department may be included among the ten courses required for the Concentration. These courses may not be counted toward fulfillment of the area requirements.
Every philosophy concentrator must complete a capstone project. The capstone will be normally be completed in a student’s last undergraduate year, and it should make use of a significant portion of what the student has learned in their undergraduate education, broadly interpreted. There are three options for the capstone course in philosophy:
- A Senior Thesis: A substantial paper, typically about 40-60 pages, that is researched and written over the course of the senior year under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Typically, students writing a thesis will enroll in PHIL 1995, Senior Thesis, both semesters. (In order for a student to be permitted to write a Senior Thesis, they must have completed at least six courses in the concentration and have received a grade either of A or of Satisfactory with Distinction in more than half of them.)
- An Independent Study: A one-semester reading course (PHIL 1990) under the direction of a faculty advisor, leading to a substantial research paper, typically 15-25 pages.
- A Special Project undertaken in connection with a philosophy course at or above 0990: Examples include a more-in-depth final paper than is otherwise required or a presentation of some of the material to the class, though students are encouraged to make creative proposals, as well. The specific project should be discussed with, and must be approved by, the instructor of the relevant course.
Every philosophy concentrator must file the Declaration of Capstone Project by the end of shopping period in their final semester. For further details on the Honor’s Thesis and Capstone Requirement, see "Senior Year Options" and "Thesis" on the Departmental website.
To qualify for Honors, a student must:
- Have grades of either A or Satisfactory with Distinction in more than half their philosophy courses and any courses from outside the department that they are counting towards the concentration.
- Successfully complete a Senior Thesis that, in the judgment of the advisor and second reader (to be appointed by the Director of Undergraduate Studies), is worthy of an Honors recommendation.
Physics and Philosophy
The Physics and Philosophy concentration is for students with a deep interest in physics who do not need to acquire the laboratory and computational skills of a professional physicist. The concentration allows students to grapple with computational problems and deepen their investigation of conceptual and epistemological issues. By the end of the program, concentrators possess an excellent conceptual understanding of the most philosophically interesting physics, relativity and quantum mechanics.
This concentration should prepare a student either for graduate study, especially in a history and philosophy of science (HPS) program, or for employment in science education or journalism. Other professions such as law and medicine will look favorably on such concentrators for having versatile interests and being able to master difficult material. The concentration may serve as an excellent preparation for a law school since physics and philosophy both exercise a rigorous approach to problems of immediate relevance to life but at the same time assume two complimentary and sometimes competing viewpoints.
Concentration advisors from the Departments of Physics and Philosophy will guide students working towards the A.B. degree.
The curriculum builds around the fields of physics that have had the biggest impact on philosophy, especially Quantum Physics, and the fields of philosophy most relevant for physics, such as Epistemology, Metaphysics and Philosophy of Physics. It is strongly recommended that students complete at least one relevant history course.
There are 11 required courses (5 in Physics, 5 in Philosophy or History, one course in mathematics) and a final project. The choice of the courses is dictated by the following considerations. The field of physics with both deepest philosophical implications and deepest influence on the rest of physics is Quantum Mechanics. Thus, a 1000-level course in Quantum Mechanics or a closely related field such as Statistical Mechanics is indispensable. The second field of physics most relevant for the concentration is Relativity. This field touches upon and serves as a foundation for a broad list of subjects with major philosophical implications of their own, for example: PHYS 1170, PHYS 1280, PHYS 1510, PHYS 1100. This requires another 1000-level physics course in the concentration. 1000-level Physics courses cannot be taken without certain preliminary work, most importantly, PHYS 0470, which serves as a prerequisite for most higher-level physics courses and which relies in turn on PHYS 0160 or PHYS 0060. Another lower-level physics course is necessary for a student to develop familiarity with the tools which have been employed in producing the physics knowledge.
A natural introduction into philosophy of physics comes from a course in Early Modern Philosophy. To a large extent, Early Modern Philosophy was shaped by scholars who combined interest in philosophy and physics (e.g., Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz). The influence of the XVII century physics revolution on other central figures such as Kant is unquestionable. Early Modern Philosophy sets an intellectual stage for many subsequent developments in the Philosophy of Physics and directly addresses some of the most perplexing issues like the connection (or lack thereof) between physics and religion. The core of the Philosophy requirement involves two courses in Epistemology, Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science. One course in this field would not be sufficient due to its very broad nature. Students are strongly advised to take a relevant History course. This requirement can be substituted by an additional philosophy course to reflect interests of those students who want a deeper background in Epistemology, Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science or have other related interests such as Ancient Natural Philosophy.
In addition to the above philosophy courses, PHIL 0210 (Science, Perception, and Reality) serves as a gateway into the concentration. It may be substituted by other relevant courses such as PHYS 0100 (Flat Earth to Quantum Uncertainty: On the Nature and Meaning of Scientific Explanation).
A course in calculus is a prerequisite for most physics and some philosophy classes.
Required courses for the A.B. degree are listed below:
|Select one of the following introductory courses in Modern Physics:||1|
|Foundations of Electromagnetism and Modern Physics|
|Introduction to Relativity, Waves and Quantum Physics|
|One course in Special Relativity and Classical Field Theory:||1|
|Electricity and Magnetism|
|Select one of the following in Methods of Experimental and Theoretical physics:||1|
|Advanced Classical Mechanics|
|Experiments in Modern Physics|
|Select one of the following in Quantum Mechanics and its applications||1|
|Quantum Mechanics A|
|Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics|
|One more 1000-level Physics course||1|
|Select one of the following gateway courses:||1|
|Early Modern Philosophy|
|Modern Science and Human Values|
|Select one of the following courses in Early Modern Philosophy:||1|
|Early Modern Philosophy|
|Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Others|
|17th Century Continental Rationalism|
|Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason|
|Select two of the following courses in Epistemology, Metaphysics and Philosophy of Science:||2|
|Philosophy of Science|
|Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics|
|Select one of the following courses in History of Science: 1||1|
|Reason, Revolution and Reaction in Europe|
|Science at the Crossroads|
|Imperialism and Environmental Change|
|Select one of the following:||1|
|Multivariable Calculus (Physics/Engineering)|
|Multivariable Calculus With Theory|
|Select one of the following:||1|
|Senior Conference Course|
A course from the PHIL 0990 Senior Seminar series
Any graduate seminar in Philosophy
Or one more Philosophy course.
Seniors wishing to earn honors by presenting a senior honors thesis should consult their concentration advisor during their sixth semester or at the start of the seventh semester concerning procedures and requirements. Students may earn honors by presenting a senior thesis judged to be of honors quality by two readers. In addition to completing the usual nonhonors requirements, the student should also have a grade point average of over 3.4 in physics, philosophy and history of science courses (of which at least five must be taken for a letter grade). Honors theses are usually prepared over a period of two semesters with an advisor from the Department of Physics or the Department of Philosophy.
The department of Philosophy offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Arts (A.M.) degree and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree. The A.M. degree is only awarded as part of the Ph.D. program.
For more information on admission and program requirements, please visit the following website: