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?
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PHIL 0020. Mind and Matter.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to philosophical problems, arguments, and theories about the nature of the mind and its place in nature. Questions that will be examined include: What is consciousness? What is the mind-body problem and what are the prospects for solving it? Does the existence of consciousness imply that the world is not wholly physical? How is mental causation possible? Are there souls or selves, and, if so, what are they? Do we have free will? We will approach these and other questions by examining how contemporary analytic philosophers have responded to them.
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. Reason and Religion.
This is an introductory course in the philosophy of religion. We will be considering central questions in the philosophy of religion, e.g. the existence of God, from a contemporary analytic perspective. As this is a course in analytic philosophy, we will be addressing these issues in a way that stresses clarity and rigor.
PHIL 0050. Aesthetics: Art and Morality.
From Plato to the present, the power of the arts to trigger powerful emotions has been seen by some thinkers as a threat to morality, by others as a vital support. This debate raises such issues as whether aesthetic experience is a distinctive kind of experience and whether the creation and reception of art are autonomous activities free from the constraints of morality and politics. Beyond Plato, authors to be read will include such figures as Hume, Mendelssohn, Rousseau, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Ruskin, Tolstoy, Collingwood, Stanley Cavell, Martha Nussbaum, Alexander Nehamas, and others.
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 0070. The Individual and the State.
Chief among the demands that states make of individuals is that they obey. But why should we? This introductory-level course takes this challenge as a touchstone for a broader examination of political philosophy that falls into three main categories: arguments over the basis of the state’s claim to an individual’s obedience; arguments over the scope of its claim to authority; and arguments over the existence of our obligation to obey in the face of that claim.
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 0090. Philosophy East and West.
Investigates themes associated with what is known as the "Western" philosophical tradition-e.g., idealism, skepticism, and the limits of understanding-as they arise in various philosophical traditions in the East (including Upanishadic, Buddhist, and Taoist traditions). The "Western" philosophers studied include key historical figures such as Wittgenstein, Kant, and Plato, as well as more recent philosophers.
PHIL 0100. 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 0110. 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 0111. Personal Identity.
What makes me the same person over time? How can we decide whether a person at a time is identical with a being alive at another time? We will consider the continuing existence of the body, the ability to remember experiences, and other criteria. Readings from classic (17th and 18th century) and contemporary sources.
PHIL 0120. Freedom and Responsibility.
An introduction to philosophy by way of consideration of such issues as: whether we are, can be, or ought to be free to think and act as we choose; whether we are or can be responsible (morally or legally) for our thoughts or actions or their consequences; and whether we ought to be punished for any of our thoughts or actions or their consequences. Readings from classical and contemporary sources.
PHIL 0130. Introduction to Analytic Philosophy.
This course will be an introduction to some of the main issues and methods in contemporary analytic philosophy. We will look at work on free will, the mind-body problem, knowledge and skepticism, truth and relativism, morality, and value. We will also take note of some of the main methodological tools employed in that work, such as reflective equilibrium, use of counterexamples, appeal to the best explanation, and thought experiments.
PHIL 0140. Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy.
This course will introduce students to Buddhist philosophy through the lens of contemporary philosophical themes. We will look at questions of personal identity, ethics, metaphysics, and free will, among others. There will be two related focuses: one historical and one critical. We will first get clear on the various accounts, and then will evaluate the arguments offered. No prior knowledge of either philosophy or Buddhism is required; both will be introduced in tandem, so that students will leave the course with an introductory understanding of both Buddhist philosophy and the philosophical themes discussed.
PHIL 0160. An Introduction to Pain and Suffering.
What are pain and suffering? Do they matter, and if so, why? What can we do about them? What should we do about them? The goal of this course is to answer those three central questions – what we might call the ‘what?’, ‘who cares?’, and ‘now what?’ – of pain and suffering. The course is designed to give an introduction to the philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology relevant to answering those questions, as well as to how they are addressed in Buddhism.
PHIL 0170. College Ethics.
As college students, you face a number of ethical decisions. Should you use cognitive-enhancing drugs? If there is a speaker you oppose, is it okay for you to engage in disruptive protest? Should you support calls for the university to take political positions, or should a university be politically neutral? In this course we'll be looking at these and other issues relevant to your lives as college students. There are no prerequisites for the course.
PHIL 0180. 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 0190. Contemporary Moral Problems.
Is it ever morally permissible to get an abortion? Is euthanasia morally permissible? Can capital punishment be ethical? Do non-human animals have the same moral status as humans? Is it morally acceptable to keep more resources than one needs? These are examples of questions that contemporary applied ethics attempts to answer. In this introduction to contemporary moral problems, we will discuss potential answers provided by contemporary philosophers to these and other controversial questions.
PHIL 0200A. Consciousness.
This course will provide an introduction to the main philosophical theories of consciousness, and also to the relevant experimental work in neuroscience and cognitive psychology. Among the issues to be considered are: the different forms of consciousness, the relationship between consciousness and attention, the role of consciousness in perception, and the "hard problem" of consciousness (that is, the problem of determining how "qualitative" psychological characteristics like pain and the taste of lemons are related to neurobiological characteristics of brain states).
PHIL 0200B. Time Travel.
Although time travel is a commonplace of popular fiction, considering it closely reveals some interesting paradoxes. Studying these paradoxes provides a natural introduction to many core topics in metaphysics, including causation, possibility, personal identity, free will and the relationship between philosophy and physics. For first year students only.
PHIL 0200C. Personal Identity.
What makes me the same person over time? How can we decide whether a person at a time is identical with a being alive at another time? We will consider the continuing existence of the body, the ability to remember experiences, and other criteria. Readings from classic (17th and 18th century) and contemporary sources. Enrollment restricted to first-year undergraduates.
PHIL 0200D. Thinking Through Faith.
Since the dawn of science, reason has been seen as a threat to faith. We will approach the issue obliquely, reading contemporary authors who approach it from very different directions. Writers include: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Marcus Borg, Rita Brock, John Crossan, William Jones, Jon Levenson, Elaine Pagels, Rebecca Parker, and Barbara Taylor. Faith is no prerequisite, but those who have no appreciation for what it might mean to "live faithfully" may find it difficult to engage with the readings, as will those who regard it as blasphemous to subject the claims of faith to critical appraisal. Enrollment to 15 first year students.
PHIL 0200F. Language, Race, and Gender.
We will explore slurs, pejoratives, epithets and normative generics. Topics include: How do these expression express contempt? How can they be used to derogate social groups? Is the derogatory element and the contempt they express part of the meaning or is it implied when they are used in certain contexts? Is it a feature of semantics or pragmatics? Do they refer? What are their semantic values? Do they have an expressive content? This course will serve as an introduction to philosophy of language. The nature of linguistic meaning, how language represents the world, the interface between semantics/pragmatics will be discussed.
PHIL 0200G. Personal Identity and Moral Responsibility.
First year seminar on personal identity and moral responsibility.
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.
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PHIL 0201. Philosophy of Death.
This course is about death: what it is, why it’s bad (and good?), and how we should approach our death, and others’. The course will be divided into three parts. In part one, we will consider questions regarding the nature of death. In part two, we will look at questions regarding the value of death and immortality. In part three, we will look at questions regarding the ethics of death.
PHIL 0202. Causation.
A topic of interest to philosophers has been the existence and nature of causal relations. Philosophers have asked what sorts of causal relations, if any, there are in the world and how human beings come to have knowledge of them. In this course, we examine the main answers to these and other questions that have been proposed by philosophers throughout the history of philosophy to the present. Throughout the course, students will be taught the principles of careful textual analysis, some of the basic presuppositions of analytical philosophy, and how to present philosophical arguments clearly, both orally and in writing.
PHIL 0203. Introduction to Islamic Philosophy.
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the major thinkers, schools, themes and concepts of Islamic philosophy. We will begin with the translation movement from Greek into Arabic and the influence of the Koran, then look at texts by and about al-Kindi, Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes, Suhrawardi, and Mulla Sadra, among others. Students are required to read the assigned texts, to submit weekly reading response, and to write three 4-page papers or one 12-page paper on a chosen topic. While all assigned texts are in English, interested students can attend meetings devoted to reading sources in Arabic.
PHIL 0204. Philosophy of Attention.
This course is meant to provide and introductory exploration into the concept of attention, with special focus on methods of phenomenology, conceptual analysis, and interpretation. We will give special consideration to the role of attention in relation to self-understanding, morality, and aesthetic experience. We will consider questions such as: What is attention? How is attending related to consciousness, awareness, and the unconscious? What role does attentiveness play in agency and embodied action? How can attention be cultivated and shaped? Can we attend too much or too little, too narrowly or too widely, or even in the wrong ways?
PHIL 0205. Understanding Arguments.
In this course you’ll learn how to analyze arguments philosophically, extracting their essential elements and mapping their structure in order to determine how they work, what assumptions they’re relying on, and whether they’re any good. You’ll develop your critical faculties by examining arguments from both mass media and the philosophical literature, on topics ranging from voting rights and prison sentencing to free will and the existence of God. You’ll also learn to direct these faculties inward, clarifying your own thinking so that you can produce rigorous and effective argumentative writing of your own.
PHIL 0206. 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 0207. 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 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?
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PHIL 0209. Nothingness.
Many philosophers have written a great deal about nothing: whether there can be nothing, why there isn’t only nothing, whether can talk about nothing, and what it is like to experience nothing. Can there be any meaning to this sort of talk? Is there some important metaphysical role to be played by nothing or nothingness? Is such questioning merely a confusion resulting from misuse of language? This course will survey writings on nothing, with particular attention to the problem of ineffability. We will develop necessary skills to come to terms with and rationally argue about obscure topics and challenging texts.
PHIL 0210. 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 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 0220. 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 0230. Human Knowledge and Truth.
Science is widely considered our best way of gaining knowledge about the world, and so we believe it deserves a privileged place in our epistemic lives. But is the view that gives science its privileged position correct? If so, why? What is the methodology of science, and does this methodology produce rational and reliable beliefs? And what does it mean to give some belief formation system a privileged position anyway? Why should any belief formation system be privileged over another? We will discuss some of these questions by looking at central issues in the philosophy of science and epistemology.
PHIL 0240. Dreams.
This course is concerned with philosophical questions arising from dreams and dreaming. We will be dealing with contemporary and historical philosophers' work in an exploration of this mysterious and fascinating, yet extremely widespread, activity.
PHIL 0260. Philosophy of Social Science.
This is a general introduction to the philosophy of social science. Social science brings with it certain specific problems and modes of explanation. This course is designed to introduce students to some of the issues surrounding social science. What sorts of problems and phenomena are social scientists concerned with explaining? How are they different from the problems tackled by natural scientists? Is there a mode of explanation distinctive of social science? What sorts of theoretical tools do social scientists use? We'll consider all these questions, and more.
PHIL 0300A. Introduction to the Philosophy of Wittgenstein.
The course will be a careful guided reading of Wittgenstein's main works: the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and the Philosophical Investigations, together with some of the authors he was arguing against, Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell.
PHIL 0300B. Feminist Philosophy in the 21st Century.
The essential predicate of feminism is that men and women are equal, that each is entitled to all the rights that flow from full personhood and moral agency. Feminism contrasts with sexism--the view, express or implied, that men and women are not equal and shouldn't have the same rights. Feminism has gained a central place in much of western culture. Nonetheless, there remain philosophical disagreements about the implications of feminism and the extent to which sexism remains in our social and legal institutions and philosophical assumptions. The subject matter of the class will be taken from these areas of disagreement.
PHIL 0300C. Unacceptable Conclusions: Arguments Against Common Sense.
Consider three claims: "Plants obtain energy from sunlight." "The earth will not suddenly lurch out of orbit tomorrow." "Hurting people is morally wrong." Probably, we take these claims to be objectively true. And probably, we take ourselves to know them to be true. According to both the relativist and the skeptic, we are wrong. This course introduces students to the two most fundamental challenges to views widely taken to be core tenets of "common sense." We will first consider the challenges in their most general forms and then examine domain specific challenges, with special regard to the domains of science and morality.
PHIL 0300D. Love and Friendship.
Love and friendship are of central importance to a flourishing life. But what are love and friendship? This course will begin with a study of a few key historical texts (Plato, Aristotle, and Montaigne). After that we will turn to contemporary philosophy. We will consider the following questions: What is the nature and value of friendship?; Do we have reason to love the people we love?; What may parents do for their children and what do grown children owe their parents?; Ought we to love our country? An emphasis will be placed on careful reconstruction and evaluation of philosophical arguments.
PHIL 0300E. Causes and Effects.
This course will introduce students to the methodology, aims, and concerns of analytic philosophy by way of an extended study of a particular issue in metaphysics over time: causation. Students will become familiar with identifying, reconstructing, and evaluating philosophical arguments and the philosophical methodology practiced in the analytic tradition, as well as reading some central figures in the philosophical canon.
PHIL 0300F. Animals and Ethics.
We will consider some philosophical questions that confront us when we reflect on the place of animals within our moral thinking. What do we owe to the other animals, and why? What kinds of treatment and relationships are consistent with what we owe to animals? Should or could animals have rights? What is the moral significance of sentience, rationality, and species membership? In what ways is the de facto subjugation of animals similar and dissimilar to the subjugation of other groups? We will consider and evaluate different answers to these questions, and students will be encouraged to develop their own.
PHIL 0300G. Introduction to the Philosophy of Wittgenstein.
This course examines Wittgenstein’s two groundbreaking works, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) and the Philosophical Investigations (1953), both of which reshaped 20th-century thought. What are the limits of language? What is the nature of philosophy? Can there be such a thing as a private language? Wittgenstein addresses these and other questions in both works. His answers are at times cryptic, such as when he says “The limits of language mean the limits of my world”. The primary goal of this course is to come to grips with the main claims of both works and the development of Wittgenstein’s thought.
PHIL 0350. Ancient 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 0360. 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 0390. 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 0400. 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 0410. Marxism after Marx.
A study of current debates in Marxist theories concerning such issues as dialectic market socialism; class, race, and gender; and democracy. Prerequisite: PL 40 or permission of the instructor.
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 0500. 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 0540. 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 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 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 0570. 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 0580. Philosophy of Economics.
In this course, students will investigate the historical and contemporary overlap between philosophy and economics, from the writings of Adam Smith and Karl Marx to recent works in philosophical and economic theory. We will consider the following questions: Are economists committed to a particular theory of ethics or well-being? How should economists and philosophers understand the welfare of individuals? What is the link between free markets and important conceptions of individual freedom? How might moral and political philosophy benefit from economic analysis? How might philosophy inform or enrich economic analysis? Finally, how can economic analysis and philosophy together inform public policy?
PHIL 0650. 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 0660. Philosophy of Psychology.
An introduction to philosophical issues concerning the foundations of psychology and the cognitive sciences. Possible topics include behaviorism and functionalism, mentality and neural processes, mental representation, the computational model of mind, the implications of artificial intelligence, the connectionist model, the role of consciousness in psychology, and the status of psychology as a science.
PHIL 0670. Art, Music, and Science: An Introduction to Aesthetics.
Topics will include: art and representation; art and the emotions; beauty, form, and aesthetic experience; and the definition of art. We will focus especially on the visual arts, though we will consider examples drawn from music as well. We will be looking throughout to understand how empirical research bears on traditional topics in the philosophy of art, drawing from empirical perception science, evolutionary biology, and cognitive neuroscience. The course will be example driven: We will try out philosophical theories against our lived reactions to many dozens of images of visual art, and against our reactions to a number of music selections.
PHIL 0700. Philosophy of Religion.
This course will discuss a representative group of philosophical issues and problems that arise in connection with religious worldviews. Specific topics may include but are not limited to the following: concepts of a god, the existence and attributes of God, the problem of evil, miracles, religion and morality, faith and science, and the possibility of religious knowledge. Prerequisite: At least one previous philosophy course.
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 0770. Introduction to the Philosophy Mind.
Examines three central mysteries in the philosophy of mind: the relationship between the mind and the body; the nature of thoughts; and the nature of consciousness. Prephilosophical and historical approaches, and discussion of the currently dominant themes.
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 0880. Ethical Themes in the Contemporary American Short Story.
Consideration of contemporary American short stories in terms of their treatment of such philosophical themes as love, loyalty, envy, belief, despair, and charity. This course has no prerequisites. T Th 1:00-2:20. This class will be conducted entirely as online synchronous sessions via Zoom. All sessions will be recorded for asynchronous access as well.
PHIL 0990A. Distributive Issues in Health Care.
No description available.
PHIL 0990B. Equality in Political Theory.
A study of the connections and conflicts between the liberal democratic commitment to political equality of all citizens, and the more leftist goal of economic equality, or equality of well-being. For example, do the purported rights that produce economic inequality override those that support political equality, or vice versa? Texts will be mostly contemporary.
PHIL 0990C. Foucault and Epistemology.
Provides both an overview of Foucault's major contributions to philosophy and a focused analysis of his theory of knowledge, especially the links between power, discourse, and knowledge. Considers debates over Foucault's claims and whether his account leaves us with an epistemic nihilism.
PHIL 0990D. Justice, Resource Allocation, and Health Care Rationing.
Three main sections: first, the main philosophical theories of distributive justice and their implications for the right to health care; second, a number of specific moral issues in allocating, prioritizing, or rationing health care resources; and, third, fair institutional procedures for health care rationing. Readings drawn both from philosophical work on justice and from literature in health policy and bioethics. Prerequisite: one course in ethics or political philosophy. Preference given to concentrators in philosophy or biomedical ethics.
PHIL 0990E. Kant's Moral Philosophy.
No description available.
PHIL 0990F. Perception.
Begins with a reading of some classic works, and then moves on to contemporary work. 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. Suggested prerequisite: at least one course in philosophy (2 or more preferred).
PHIL 0990G. 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 0990H. Race and Racism.
With special attention to the U.S., this course examines the origins of the concepts of race and racism and current controversies about it.
PHIL 0990I. Self-Respect.
We often act as if the sole object of morality were treating others properly. In this course, we will consider how we ought to treat ourselves. Among the questions we will consider are: What is self-respect? How is it attained, preserved, and lost? Can self-respect exist in the absence of personal and moral integrity? This course is a Senior Seminar; lectures and discussions will be led at the level of advanced undergraduates.
PHIL 0990J. The Concept of Alienation.
We will read texts concerning the concept of alienation from Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre with a view to developing a concept of alienation that proves useful for an understanding of contemporary conditions.
PHIL 0990K. Topics in the Philosophy of Language.
During the first half of the semester, we read several of the classic works that form the background for contemporary philosophy of language, including works by Frege, Russell, Ayer, Quine, and others. During the second half, we take up one or more topics of contemporary discussion, chosen from the following: vagueness, paradoxes of self-reference, the nature of truth, realism versus antirealism.
PHIL 0990L. Valuing Persons.
We all have notions of good, bad and ordinary people, but reality defies our concepts. Many otherwise "nice"people voted for Hitler. People with stupid views about morality are sometimes better "in practice" than their smart counterparts. The same person may be honest with her husband but dishonest with the IRS , brave in battle but scared of public speaking. This class will explore this complexity, touching upon topics like free will and rationality, through the work of contemporary philosophers.
PHIL 0990M. Descartes Meditations.
This seminar will focus on the main arguments and overall goals of Decartes' Meditations, read in conjuction with the Objections and Replies and some of Decartes' other writings. Also discussed will be some philosophically engaging studies of the Meditations by contemporary writers such as Harry Frankfurt and Bernard Williams.
PHIL 0990N. Moral Metatheory: What is Moral Theory Good For?.
Moral theory investigates morality, but moral metatheory investigates moral theory. Some problems we'll consider include: Is moral theorizing worthwhile? What's the point of moral theory? What should good theories do? Does widespread disagreement or the reliance on questionable intuitions invalidate moral theorizing? What exactly does the moral theorist know? What counts as good philosophical methodology, and how do we know?
PHIL 0990O. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
PHIL 0990R. Rational Belief.
We'll examine a number of issues concerning rational belief. Specific questions will probably include: What is the relationship between rational belief and logic? Is what's rational for me to believe completely determined by my evidence? Does what's rational for me to believe depend on my practical interests? Can I be rational in holding opinions that are denied by others who are seemingly as smart, unbiased, well-informed, etc., as I am? We'll look at these questions from a couple of different perspectives, one which sees beliefs as all-or-nothing states (either one believes P or one doesn't), and the other which sees belief as coming in degrees.
PHIL 0990S. The Problem of Political Obligation.
No description available. Enrollment limited to 20 seniors.
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 0990W. Early Modern Theories of Ideas.
Early modern philosophers routinely employed the notion of ideas in their epistemologies. But what are ideas? Where do they fit in the prevalent substance-mode ontology of the period (if at all)? How are they supposed to avoid skepticism? And how was Hume able to turn them to his advantage? This course is a study of the evolution of theories of ideas from Descartes, Arnauld, Malebranche, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley and Hume. Recommended prerequisites: PHIL 0220 or 0360. Enrollment limited to 20. Not open to first-year students.
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 0990Z. Where Theory Meets Experience: French Philosophy of Science, 1900-1950.
Philosophy of science was greatly influenced by the views of Henri Poincare and Pierre Duhem. We will read their works along with contemporaries such as Emile Meyerson and Gaston Bachelard. All readings will be in English. Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy, or instructor permission. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
PHIL 0991A. Seminar on Ethics, Education, and Fiction.
This seminar focuses on fiction as a vehicle for discussing ethical issues in education. It also uses works by philosophers. Topics include the following: What are appropriate aims for various types and levels of education? What are appropriate student-teacher relationships? How much, if at all, should schools concern themselves with the non-academic side of students' and teachers' lives? How should the performance of students and teachers be evaluated? How can fiction enrich the philosophical discussion of such questions? This seminar is open to students with backgrounds in philosophy, literature, or the social sciences (including the study of education). Enrollment limited to 20 undergraduates.
PHIL 0991B. Causation.
This course will explore the relation between cause and effect from multiple perspectives. We will investigate how humans normally conceive of causation, how scientists investigate causality, how to apply judgments of causation in legal and moral situations, and what ultimately ties everything in the universe together. Enrollment limited to 20 juniors and seniors.
PHIL 0991C. Reasons and Ought.
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 0991E. Identity and Authenticity.
Identity and authenticity are typically thought to be closely allied in that being oneself (authenticity) presupposes and depends on a conception of what one is (identity). However, close scrutiny of the ideal of authenticity and of the nature and development of identity exposes significant tensions between the two concepts. Drawing on sources from philosophy, psychoanalytic psychiatry, and sociology, the course will examine these concepts and the tensions that arise between them.
PHIL 0991H. Medieval Philosophy.
This course is a survey seminar on major philosophical topics in medieval philosophy in the Latin tradition, which spans from about the 5th to the 15th century, with a special concentration on thinkers and texts in the hundred years between 1250 and 1350. The goal is to gain an overall view of the issues that were important to thinkers of this time period and the approaches taken to try to solve them.
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 0991P. Aesthetics: What is a Picture?.
This course will consider various issues about pictures and their role in art. What is a picture as opposed to other kinds of symbols? What is pictorial meaning? How does our response to pictures differ from other aesthetic responses? How do photographs differ from paintings? Readings will be drawn from historical as well as contemporary sources, such as Plato, Alberti, Harris, Kames, Winckelmann, Lessing, Herder, Kant, as well as Goodman, Gombrich, Wollheim, Robert Hopkins, Dominic MacIver Lopes, and Diarmud Costelloe.
PHIL 0991Q. Advanced Topics in Philosophy of Physics.
A focused, in-depth exploration of contemporary work in or related to the philosophy of physics. Possible themes include scientific ontology, explanation, reduction, time, chance, and laws. At least one previous philosophy course, ideally in metaphysics or epistemology, is required.
PHIL 1002. Avicenna.
This course will familiarize students with the life, works, ideas and legacy of one of the most influential thinkers of classical Islamic philosophy, Avicenna (d. 1037). We begin with Avicenna’s life and works, then look into some major themes in his logic, natural philosophy, epistemology and metaphysics. Then, we will consider Avicenna’s controversial views on God’s knowledge of the particulars, the nature of his Pointers and Reminders and the commentary tradition it inspires, as well as Avicenna’s heritage in Islamic thought and beyond. Throughout the course, we will read selections from his opus magnum, The Cure, in English translation.
PHIL 1100A. Plato and His Opponents.
This class offers a close, contextual study of five major Platonic dialogues: Republic, Gorgias, Protagoras, Phaedo and Meno. Our special interest is the particular thinkers, movements and ideas that Plato is opposing or responding to in these works. So we will examine his opposition to Presocratic naturalism, his rejection of empirical science, his critiques of humanistic ethics (hedonism and the social contract) and of rhetoric and democratic process, and his dispute with Homer and tragedy. We will treat these several opponents as charitably as possible, to get the fullest possible overall sense of Plato's motives and interests.
PHIL 1100B. Life and Money.
Money is not just an economic, but a deeply philosophical issue. It figures in theories of interaction based on exchange and contracts. Money is said to be an "abstract" form of happiness, thus it permeates the debates on well-being, welfare, and wealth. By opening up a vast horizon of possibilities, money also sharpens our sense of temporality. Issues of social cooperation and cohesion come into play, questions of personal identity and individual life-plans are to be raised. In the aftermath of the latest economic crisis it is recommendable to reappraise philosophical texts scrutinizing the role of money in our lives.
PHIL 1100C. Medieval Arabic Philosophy.
Medieval Arabic philosophy is, broadly speaking, a derivation and continuation of the philosophy of the Hellenistic world. This course is a general study of the most important figures and ideas in this philosophical tradition with a special emphasis on metaphysical thought. The goal is to gain an overall view of the issues that were important to thinkers of the tradition and of the approaches taken to try to solve them. This course is a sort of philosophical journey into the past aiming at getting to know it as best as we can.
PHIL 1100D. Conditionals.
In this course, 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.
PHIL 1100E. Moral Emotions.
This class ultimately considers the ethical relevance of how we feel. Throughout, we will focus our attention on emotions that arguably have the greatest ethical significance: significance for our interactions with others, for what they express about our characters, and what they reveal about our assessments of the characters of others. Specific emotions that we will discuss include: respect, anger, resentment, guilt, contempt, shame, disgust, pride, gratitude, and love.
PHIL 1118. Plato's Republic.
In Plato’s Republic, Socrates and his companions inquire into why it is better to be just than unjust. The ensuing conversation ranges widely, addressing the best way to set up a city, the parts of the soul, knowledge and its objects, pleasure, poetry, and many more topics besides. This class is a close reading of the dialogue, supplemented with recent secondary literature.
PHIL 1210. Issues for Feminism in Ethics (GNSS 1712).
Interested students must register for GNSS 1712.
PHIL 1250. 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 1260. 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 1270. Pragmatism.
Course examines the central themes of American pragmatism - the belief/doubt model of inquiry, assertibility theories of truth, the critique of philosophical dualisms - with some attention to their applications to social philosophy. The focus will be on the classical theories of Peirce, James, and Dewey, as well as on contemporary philosophers such as Quine, Rorty, and Putnam.
PHIL 1280. 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 1290, Kant's Practical Philosophy.
PHIL 1282. Hellenistic Ethics.
TO BE DETERMINED
PHIL 1282A. Hellenistic Ethics.
Seminar on Hellenistic Ethics
PHIL 1283. 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 1290. 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 1300. Philosophy of Mathematics.
This course provides an introduction to the philosophy of mathematics. We will discuss the nature of mathematical objects: Are they mental constructions, do they inhabit some Platonic realm, or are there no mathematical objects at all? We will also discuss the status of our knowledge of mathematics: How is that we are justified in reasoning as we do in mathematics? The first part of the course will be devoted to discussing the history of the philosophy of mathematics. The second part of the course will focus on contemporary debates in the philosophy of mathematics.
PHIL 1310. Myth and the Origins of Science.
Examines explanations of the origin of the cosmos, human beings and issues of human concern, such as illness, death and the afterlife, with readings from literary, philosophical, and scientific sources from the ancient Near East and Greece. We will ask how we and the ancients distinguish science from non-science and how ancient science differs from our own.
PHIL 1400. Ethics in the Novel.
Consideration of novels in terms of their treatment of such ethical themes as love, friendship, envy, death, courage, faith, integrity, betrayal, responsibility to others, revenge, justice, and mercy. The course deals with twentieth-century and twenty-first-century novels and also with Malory. No pre-requisites. This class will be conducted entirely as online synchronous sessions via Zoom. All sessions will be recorded for asynchronous access as well.
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. 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 1440. Virtues and Vices.
How should one live? Consequentialist moral theories direct us to do the most good. Deontological theories tell us we must do what is right, where this might prohibit us from doing the most good. (E.g., acting rightly might require refraining from harvesting a non-consenting person’s kidney in order to save another’s life.) Opposed to both these prominent theories are philosophers who advocate returning concepts of virtue and vice to the central place they enjoyed in ancient ethics. This course provides an introductory survey of the motivations for, prospects of, and opposition to the return to virtue in contemporary ethical theory.
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 1490. Philosophy of Sex.
What is sex? What are 'sexual' desires? Does sexually desiring someone necessarily objectify them? Is objectifying someone always bad? What makes some act (solo or partnered) sexual? Are all 'consensual' sexual acts morally unexceptionable? Or are some sexual acts so 'perverse' that even consent cannot excuse them? Is it all right to fantasize about cheating? or bestiality? or rape? Are literary, photographic, or cinematic presentations of such fantasies (i.e., certain sorts of pornography) always morally or politically problematic? Students should have taken at least one prior philosophy (or other related) course.
PHIL 1500. Methodology of Philosophy.
Does successful philosophical inquiry yield new facts or new ways of looking at old facts? Is philosophical truth absolute or relative? Relative to what? Why does philosophy lack not only a body of generally agree-upon truths, but even an established method of settling disputes? Must the results of philosophical inquiry accord with "common sense" and if so, why?
PHIL 1520. 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 1530. Experimental Philosophy.
Experimental philosophy (X-phi) is the offspring of a marriage between traditional conceptual analysis and scientific method. It investigates intuitions about such traditional philosophical topics as free will, moral responsibility, knowledge, and causation, but it does so systematically and rigorously, by giving carefully worded questionnaires to samples drawn from the general population, and subjecting the results to statistical analysis. The samples may include but are not limited to philosophers and philosophy students. Thus far X-phi has achieved interesting results in moral philosophy, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and epistemology. The course will survey some of these results, examine the current objections to X-phi, and provide some instruction in the art of designing X-phi questionnaires. Open to juniors and seniors.
PHIL 1550. 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 1590. Philosophy of Science.
Some very general, basic questions concerning science. Can evidence justify belief in theories which go beyond the evidence? What is the nature of good scientific reasoning? Is there a single scientific method? What is a scientific explanation? Does science reveal truths about unobservable reality, or merely tell us about parts of the world we can measure directly?
PHIL 1600. 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 1610. Philosophy of Relativity Physics.
This course will examine how Einstein's Special and General Theory of Relativity bears on important philosophical issues with a focus on whether spacetime constitutes a kind of substance and what spacetime structures are required to support explanations of physical phenomena. Also discussed are connections with logical positivism, cosmology, spacetime singularities, determinism, wormholes, time travel, causation, and the passage of time.
PHIL 1620. Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics.
Can cats be both dead and alive? Can baseballs tunnel through solid walls? Is the universe constantly branching? What does that even mean? In this course we’ll examine the standard non-relativistic quantum mechanical formalism and show how various interpretations of that formalism give surprising answers to the questions above. Among the philosophical issues at stake: the nature of explanation and probability in the physical world, how if at all we can make choices between empirically equivalent theories, and the role of appeals to intuition, common sense, and simplicity in science. Prerequisite: One previous course in philosophy. No physics experience required.
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 0540. No previous familiarity with logic is required, but it may be taken after 0540.
PHIL 1640. 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 1650. 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 1660. 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 1670. 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 1680. 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 1690. 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 1700. 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 1710. 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 1720. 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 0360, 1700, 1710 or instructor permission.
PHIL 1730. Nietzsche.
A systematic study of Nietzsche's philosophy as it developed throughout his works. Substantial attention also given to Nietzsche's major philosophical predecessors (e.g., Kant and Schopenhauer) as well as to the most significant recent secondary literature on his philosophy. Prerequisite: at least one prior course in philosophy.
PHIL 1740. 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 1750. 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 1760. 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 1765. 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 1770. 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 1780. Philosophy of Biology.
General problems in the philosophy of science as they apply specifically to the biological sciences. Issues include the status of biological and neurobiological laws, "property reductionism" and emergentism in relation to the thesis of vitalism, evolutionary explanation, ethical and cultural influences on genetic research, and gender bias in scientific theorizing and gender research in the biological sciences.
PHIL 1790. Philosophy of the Social Sciences.
An examination of philosophical questions raised by the idea of distinctively social sciences such as economics, political science, sociology, history, and psychology. Readings from traditional and contemporary philosophers on such topics as individualism, rationality, interpretation, and value neutrality. Three short papers and weekly (very) short writing assignments.
PHIL 1800A. Anarchism, Libertarianism, and Authority.
Examines arguments challenging the idea that state power is ever morally justified, and the idea that there is any obligation to obey the law. Also considers a more moderate class of views that holds that state power is justified only for very narrow purposes such as keeping peace, but not including most of the things that modern states do. A previous course in moral or political philosophy is recommended.
PHIL 1810B. Expressivism.
Expressivism is a theory (or family of theories) of the language of ethics (and perhaps other things), according to which we best understand the meanings of ethical statements not by grasping their truth conditions, but by understanding what a person does (and what state of mind a person expresses) by making them and otherwise using them.
PHIL 1810C. Recent Work in Philosophy of Language.
Consideration of recent work in philosophy of language. Topics may include: meaning and truth; proper names and reference; demonstratives and context-sensitivity; semantics and pragmatics; metaphor and figurative expression. Prerequisites: One course in logic, and at least one other course in philosophy.
PHIL 1820. 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 1830. 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 1840. 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 1850. 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 1870. 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 1880. 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 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 1885. 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 0540 or PHIL 1630, or special permission from instructor.
PHIL 1890A. Contextualism and Naturalism in Twentieth-Century Epistemology.
Topics include the epistemological ideas of the later Wittgenstein; the "epistemological naturalism" that P. F. Strawson finds in Wittgenstein (and in Hume), and adopts as his own philosophy, early and late; naturalized epistemology, as defined by W. V. Quine; and varieties of contextualism in the epistemology of recent decades, including selections from the work of Robert Nozick, Fred Dretske, Peter Unger, and, most recently, David Lewis.
PHIL 1890B. Wittgenstein.
This course will focus on the Philosophical Investigations and its treatment of various questions in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. Some attention will also be given to his Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics. Prerequisite: Two courses in philosophy.
PHIL 1890C. Philosophy and Science of Perception.
This course is structured around close examination of Wilfrid Sellars's classic essay "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind". Additional readings set the work in its historical context (reductionist views of mind, foundationalist epistemology, and scientific instrumentalism), and include Ayer, Carnap, Chisholm, Hempel, Price, Schlick, Skinner, and Ryle.
PHIL 1890H. Sartre.
The course will focus on Sartre's Being and Nothingness, one of the great works of twentieth-century philosophy. Attention will also be given to some of his literary texts (Nausea, No Exit) that complement this work.
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 1910A. Currents in American Pragmatism: Peirce to Putnam.
Pragmatism is a uniquely American contribution to philosophy. This course analyzes the development of pragmatism by investigating the work of Peirce, James, Quine, Richard Rorty, and Putnam. Special emphasis is placed on the role played by recent pragmatism in the realism/antirealism debate.
PHIL 1910B. Intentionalty in Brentano, Meinong, Husserl.
Intentionality--that feature of our mental states in virtue of which they are of or about something--was a central theme for a number of philosophers working in Vienna at the turn of the century, including most prominently Franz Brentano, Alexius Meinong, and Edmund Husserl. Their work influenced both phenomenological and analytic traditions, including Freud, Heidegger, Moore, Russell, and Ryle.
PHIL 1910C. German Idealism.
A study of the major figures and unifying themes of classical German Philosophy, focusing on Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Also includes discussion of such figures as Jacobi, Reinhold, Maimon, Hölderlin, and Novalis.
PHIL 1910E. Hegel's Metaphysics.
Hegel is famous (or rather infamous) for entertaining and endorsing startling and obscure claims like “Contradiction is the rule of truth,” “The Truth is the whole,” and “What is rational is real, and what is real is rational.” Before one is in the position to evaluate, to criticize (and to dismiss) these claims one has to become familiar with their philosophical background. The aim of the seminar is to find out what is meant with claims like these and why Hegel thought of them as reasonable.
PHIL 1990. Independent Studies.
An elective for students with at least six previous courses 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 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 2020M. Speech, Thought, and Agency: Understanding Ourselves and Others.
We begin with Donald Davidson’s work on radical interpretation as a theory about how we gain entry into other minds—that is, other agent’s meanings and thoughts. We will then consider the theory theory vs. simulation theory controversy regarding mind-reading. There is also a more basic question: How do we manage to attribute thoughts and meanings to ourselves? That is, how is self-interpretation possible? Next, we will take up action explanation—how we understand actions, our own and those of others. We will explore cases in which such understanding fails—cases of alienation, defective agency, and failure of empathetic understanding. Enrollment limited to 40 graduate students in Philosophy.
PHIL 2020Q. Perception.
A survey of contemporary philosophical views about the nature of perception, with occasional lingering looks at relevant parts of the scientific literature. Topics will include appearance and reality, colors, the nature of perceptual representation, perceptual consciousness, the relationship between perception and cognition, the controversy about whether perceptual content is thick or thin, and the relationship between perceptual experience and epistemic rationality.
PHIL 2030A. 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 2030B. Moral Responsibility and Free Will.
Introduction to the free will debate through 20th century classics (is freedom compatible with determinism? What kind of freedom, if any, is required for moral responsibility?). Exploration, through more contemporary discussions, of issues relating to credit and blame for actions, among which are: the significance and nature of autonomy, the significance of desert, the relationship of all that to character, challenges from scientists to the existence of pretty much all these things, how to think of addiction, and such meta-questions as the place in the discussion of empirical results and of extremely artificial examples.
PHIL 2040G. The Ethics of Belief.
Will focus on the nature of belief, on the sense in which belief is subject to norms, and on what this fact can tell us about the ethics of action. There will be some attention to classical texts--Locke, Hume, Clifford, and James--but the focus will be on contemporary writings. Undergraduates require instructor permission to enroll.
PHIL 2040H. Rawls.
A close study of A Theory of Justice and Political Liberalism, with attention to some of Rawls' most famous critics: Dworkin, Habermas, Cohen, Sen. Open to graduate students only; others may enroll with instructor permission.
PHIL 2050E. Level-Connections in Epistemology.
Long ago, Alston warned against "level-confusions" in epistemology. Being justified in believing that P, he argued, cannot require being justified in believing that one is justified in believing P. One might accept this, while still thinking that there are some important inter-level connections. For example, one might hold that the justification of one's belief that P could be undermined by a justified belief that one was not justified in believing P. These sorts of connections have played a part in recent discussions of the epistemology of disagreement, bootstrapping, and higher-order evidence. We'll look at a number of papers which deal, in different ways, with the rational relationships between ordinary beliefs, and beliefs about those beliefs. Open to graduate students only; others may enroll with instructor permission.
PHIL 2050F. Recent Work in Epistemology.
Philosophical Perspectives 2010 presents a nice cross-section of current work by both younger and more established epistemologists of varied interests and orientations. We'll read a number of papers from this volume, perhaps supplemented by other readings for context. Enrollment limited to 40 graduate students concentrating in Philosophy.
PHIL 2060A. Concepts.
Topics will include: The individuation of concepts, the relationship between concepts and language, the relationship between concepts and perception, the semantic, representational, and informational properties of concepts, the nature of propositions, "conceptual truth" and the a priori, intuitions and experimental philosophy, and conceptual combination. Most of the readings will be from such philosophers as Peacocke, Prince, Brandom, Gibbard, and Machery, but we will also look the work of several psychologists, including Larry Barsalou and Susan Carey.
PHIL 2060B. Perception.
This seminar will be mainly concerned with the metaphysics of perception. One topic will be recent work on the content of perceptual experience, including especially work on the question of whether there is perceptual awareness of natural kinds, and the question of whether there is perceptual awareness of Gibsonian affordances. We will also consider questions about the degree to which perception is influenced by higher cognition. Another topic will be the question of whether the fundamental objects of perceptual awareness are viewpoint-dependent or "perspectival" properties. And a fourth will be the comparative merits of representational and acquaintance-based theories.
PHIL 2060E. Consciousness.
No description available.
PHIL 2060F. Epistemology and Metaphysics of Perception.
After a review of such traditional epistemological topics as Cartesian and Pyrrhonian skepticism about perceptual knowledge, the argument from hallucination, and the argument from perceptual relativity, we will consider the account of the relationship between perception and knowledge that is provided in Anil Gupta's recent book, Empiricism and Experience. We will then turn our attention to topics in the metaphysics of perception, including colors and color experience, the representational content of perceptual experience, perceptual quality spaces, and perceptual consciousness.
PHIL 2060I. Introspection.
This course will examine the nature of our introspective access to our sensory experiences and to our non-experiential mental states (e.g., propositional attitudes.) Topics covered will include: the Cartesian idea that we have "special access" to (or "direct acquaintance with") our mental states; empirical and philosophical arguments questioning the reliability of introspection; the transparency model of introspection, in the case of experience (Tye, Dretske, Byrne) and in the case of propositional attitudes (Evans, Byrne); Peter Carruther's interpretive sensory access theory of our knowledge of our non-experiential mental states; and recent empirical work that involves combining introspective testimony with fMRI readings.
PHIL 2070J. Measuring Value.
Some things are better than others. Maybe we can also ask, how much better? We will sort out what has to be true for this question to have a real answer, and then think about whether those things are true. Topics include: the aggregation of expected value, value and time, equality and the separateness of person. The main texts will be John Broome's Weighing Goods and Weighing Lives. Some experience with formal decision theory is helpful, though not required.
PHIL 2070K. New Wave Reasons Realism.
No description available. Open to graduate students only; others may enroll with instructor permission.
PHIL 2100H. Ideal Theory and Political Philosophy.
PHIL 2100I. Groups as Agents.
There are some things that only groups can do, such as sing a G7 chord, or invade a country. We also commonly speak of methods by which groups make decisions. These attributions raise the question whether groups are agents in only a metaphorical sense--with individuals being the only "real" agents--or whether action, intention, choice (and then belief?, responsibility?) genuinely characterize groups as such. Text will be the book by Pettit and List, "Group Agency: The Possibility, Design, and Status of Corporate Agents." Other authors include Bratman, Gilbert, Tuomela, Kutz. Enrollment limited to 40 graduate students concentrating in Philosophy or Political Science. Senior undergraduates may request permission to enroll.
PHIL 2100P. Structural Injustice.
What is structural injustice, and what is unjust about it? “Structural racism” (or sexism) is often said to be a kind of racism that can be present even without any racists (or sexists). Natural disasters can obviously bad, but they are not (it seems) wrong. If structural injustice is not a species of (any configuration of) individual moral wrongs, then how is it wrong and not (only) bad in the manner of a natural disaster? In this class we will study these and related questions through discussion of recent philosophical literature.
PHIL 2110H. Color and Perception.
A study of the science and philosophy of color-perception. We will study the varieties of color as phenomena in the world, the processes thanks to which we become aware of them, and what as philosophers we should say about the nature of colors. We will also study some of the "color measurement" systems developed for scientific and technical purposes. Readings will include a selection from: Maxwell and Helmholtz, Hurvich and Jameson; philosophical readings from C. L. Hardin and the useful anthology edited by Byrne and Hilbert. Open to graduate students only; others may enroll with instructor permission.
PHIL 2110O. Color.
Graduate seminar on color
PHIL 2110P. Heidegger and Iris Murdoch.
Iris Murdoch was, with Anscombe, Midgley & Foot, one of the great ‘Quartet’ of women philosophers in the second half of the 20th century in Britain. Heidegger was, along with Plato, Kant, Wittgenstein and Simone Weil, a constant reference point for Murdoch—and she left unfinished at her death a book on Heidegger that is now edited for publication by Justin Broackes. We will study Heidegger’s Being and Time, and a series of his later essays, with Murdoch and other recent commentators: and we will examine the sympathies and disagreements between these two strong but very different philosophers.
PHIL 2120J. Philosophy of Language.
Our goal in the course is to read two recent papers proposing a somewhat new idea about how to deal with so-called "Frege cases." These are my paper "Solving Frege's Puzzle," and an as yet unpublished paper by Jim Pryor, "Mental Graphs." We'll read these toward the end. Most of our time will be spent developing the background that is necessary to see why such a radical approach might seem like a good idea. As it happens, our focus will be more on philosophy of mind than on philosophy of language, but this kind of issue tends to straddle that border.
PHIL 2140B. Recent Works in Epistemology.
In this seminar, we will discuss contemporary work in epistemology.
PHIL 2140E. The A Priori.
This seminar concerns the nature of a priori knowledge and justification. The course will focus on the following issues: (1) Is there a coherent conception of the a priori? (2) What must an account of the a priori explain? (3) Are a priori justified beliefs possible? If so, how? (4) Are contemporary accounts of the a priori – e.g., those based on rational insight or concept-possession – tenable? Enrollment limited to 40 graduate students concentrating in Philosophy.
PHIL 2140J. The Metaphysics and Epistemology of Modality.
In this seminar, we will discuss the nature and epistemology of facts about possibility and necessity. The aim of the course is to discuss interesting work on the subject, including classic texts, under-discussed older texts, and recent contributions. Topics include (i) Can modal properties be reduced to non-modal properties? What is the relationship between different kinds of modal properties? (ii) What is the correct semantics for modal language? (iii) How should we account for our knowledge of modal facts? (iv) What, if anything, do we need modal notions for?
PHIL 2150G. Aristotle's Metaphysics.
Aristotle's Metaphysics, books VII, VIII, and IX, investigate the question, what is substance? Do these books revise Aristotle's view in the Categories that individual living things are primary substances? We will work through the central books of the Metaphysics systematically, discussing the nature of Aristotle's project, his essentialism, his views about matter and form, potentiality and actuality, particulars and universals, and attempt to understand his conclusions about substance. Enrollment limited to 40.
PHIL 2150I. Plato's Theaetetus.
In this seminar, we will discuss Plato's Theaetetus, his investigation of knowledge, and associated topics, including relativism, perception, true and false judgment, and accounts, with a view to understanding how Plato distinguishes knowledge from true belief. Open to graduate students only; others may enroll with instructor permission.
PHIL 2160I. Philosophical Issues About Human Longevity.
No description available. Undergraduates require instructor permission to enroll.
PHIL 2160K. To Be Determined.
This seminar focuses on fiction as a vehicle for philosophical discussion of conceptual and moral issues involving disability, illness, and death. These issues include the definitions of 'death,' 'illness,' and 'disability,' euthanasia and assisted suicide, hospices vs. life-extending care for the dying, decision-making for the incompetent, and the disability-rights movement’s challenge to traditional approaches to disability. In addition to novels, short stories, and disability-rights material, we will read work by philosophers and bioethicists to provide philosophical grounding. In order to include students with varied backgrounds, this seminar is open to undergraduates and has no prerequisites, despite the high course number.
PHIL 2160S. Fiction and Ethical Issues in Education.
This seminar uses novels and short stories as well as conventional philosophical and sociological pieces as vehicles for exploring ethical issues in education. Topics will include admission to selective schools, grading, student discipline, teacher evaluation, student-teacher relationships, curriculum content, and the relation of education to society as a whole. In order to include students with a wide range of interests and backgrounds, this seminar has no prerequisites and is open to all students.
PHIL 2160T. Fiction as a Vehicle for Considering Ethical Issues in Education.
This seminar uses fiction as well as philosophy and sociology as vehicles for discussing 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 handle allegations of misconduct? How does the pandemic affect such matters? In order to include participants with varied backgrounds, this seminar has no prerequisites. It is entirely online via synchronous Zoom sessions all recorded for asynchronous access as well.
PHIL 2170G. Alienation.
The seminar will explore certain aspects of alienation, understood as the peculiar consciousness of "not being myself" (also called "self-alienation"). The seminar will first examine fundamental questions, propedeutic to an exploration of alienation (What is consciousness of self? Does it come in different forms? Is it dependent on, or affected by, the consciousness of others?), and then turn to more specific cases of alienation (e.g., the view of shame as an heteronomous emotion, an assessment of oneself by the standards of others). Readings will include works by Frankfurt, Velleman, Strawson, Sartre, Calhoun, as well as recent research in social psychology. Open to graduate students only; others may enroll with instructor permission.
PHIL 2170H. Nietzsche on Morality and Psychology.
The seminar proposes a close systematic examination of On the Genealogy of Morality and relevant portions of other works. The purpose of the seminar is to attempt to understand in what sense, if any, there can be a "psychological" critique of morality. Besides primary sources from Nietzsche’s works, we will also consider relevant works from contemporary moral psychology and recent scholarly literature. Enrollment limited to 20 graduate students and seniors.
PHIL 2170K. The Concept of a Meaningful Life.
The seminar will explore some fairly recent work on attempting to canvas the concept of a meaningful life. Specific topics will include, besides some classic analyses of the concept, the relevance of mortality to meaningfulness, the role of love in a meaningful life, and the relation between meaningfulness and a number of other goods, such as happiness, well-being, and morality. We will read works from philosophers including Thomas Nagel, Robert Nozick, Harry Frankfurt, Susan Wolf, Jay Wallace, and Kieran Setyia, among others.
PHIL 2180A. Kant's Philosophy of Arithmetic, Before and After Frege.
PHIL 2190E. Medieval Metaphysics.
A seminar on medieval metaphysical theories, both in the Arabic and Latin traditions, covering topics such as matter, substance, extension and unity.
PHIL 2190F. Kant and the Development of German Idealism.
The purpose of the course is to give a survey of the development of German idealistic thought from Kant to the early Schelling. It will deal mainly with the metaphysical and the epistemological aspects of this movement and focus primarily on those aspects that are related to Kant’s theoretical philosophy. Topics that are dealt with include: (1) Kant’s criticism of metaphysics and his epistemological program; (2) reactions to Kant’s approach by F. H. Jacobi, K. L. Reinhold and G. E. Schulze; (3) Fichte’s ‘subjective’ idealism; and (4) Schelling’s search for ‘lacking premises’.
PHIL 2190G. Recent Work on Moral Obligation.
What, if anything, is added when one claims a morally recommended course of action is an obligation? May I have an obligation simply to perform or refrain from certain actions, or are all obligations directional, in the sense of being owed to a particular other who holds a correlative right? Do I have certain obligations to everyone? To strangers, for example? What about my enemies or moral adversaries? And what of so-called special obligations? Are there some things that I morally owe to my family, friends, compatriots, and/or professional colleagues that I do not owe to just anyone?
PHIL 2190H. Theories of Self-Consciousness in Classical German Philosophy (Kant, Fichte, Hegel).
Theories of consciousness and self-consciousness play an important role in the philosophical systems of the main representatives of classical German philosophy. In particular Kant, Fichte and Hegel share the conviction that without a convincing understanding of consciousness and self-consciousness a coherent conception of both mental and physical reality is unattainable. The aim of the course is to look more closely into their approaches to this topic and to discuss critically the metaphysical, epistemological and psychological claims these philosophers connect with their respective views concerning consciousness and self-consciousness.
PHIL 2190I. Aristotle’s Analytics.
Aristotle’s Analytics formed logic and informed reflection on scientific knowledge for much of the history of Western philosophy. The Prior Analytics present the first formal theory of deduction, known as the syllogistic. The Posterior Analytics include heterogeneous material within the framework of a theory of demonstration, i.e. of knowledge-bearing deduction. The question of how Aristotle’s logic (Prior Analytics) and epistemology of science (Posterior Analytics) intersect remains contested, as is the relationship between logic and epistemology generally in philosophy since Kant. In this course we shall focus on this fraught point, beginning with a general introduction to the syllogistic.
PHIL 2190J. Kant and the Development of German Idealism.
The purpose of the course is to give a survey of the development of German idealistic thought from Kant to the early Schelling. It will deal mainly with the metaphysical and the epistemological aspects of this movement and focus primarily on those aspects that are related to Kant’s theoretical philosophy. Topics that are dealt with include: (1) Kant’s criticism of metaphysics and his epistemological program, (2) reactions to Kant’s approach by F. H. Jacobi, K. L. Reinhold and G. E. Schulze. (3) Fichte’s ‘subjective’ idealism, (4) Schelling’s search for ‘lacking premises’.
PHIL 2200. 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 2203. Aristotelian and Neo-Aristotelian Causation.
Graduate seminar on Aristotelian and Neo-Aristotelian accounts of causation
PHIL 2450. Exchange Scholar Program.
|Fall||PHIL2450||S01||15513||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
|Fall||PHIL2450||S02||15514||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
|Fall||PHIL2450||S03||15515||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
|Spr||PHIL2450||S01||24307||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
PHIL 2700. Third Year Workshop.
Students will receive training and practice in writing papers for publication in philosophy journals. Each student will complete a paper that has significantly greater scope and depth than a normal seminar paper. The paper will normally have some relevance to an envisioned dissertation, but there will be more emphasis on the quality of work than on relevance to future projects.
PHIL 2800. Dissertation Workshop.
No description available. Course for graduate students during their 4th year or above.
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.
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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.
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|Spr||PHIL2990||S01||24309||Arranged||'To Be Arranged'|
PHIL XLIST. Courses of Interest to Philosophy Concentrators.
Bernard M. Reginster
Felicia Nimue Ackerman
Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Philosophy
Dan W. Brock
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
David P. Christensen
Royce Family Professor of Teaching Excellence, Professor of Philosophy
Judy C. Lewent and Mark L. Shapiro Professor of Philosophy
Lombardo Family Professor of the Humanities
Mary Louise G. Gill
David Benedict Professor of Classics and Philosophy
Paul D. Guyer
Jonathan Nelson Professor of Humanities and Philosophy
Richard Kimberly Heck
Professor of Philosophy
Christopher S. Hill
William Herbert Perry Faunce Professor of Philosophy
W. Duncan MacMillan Family Professor of the Humanities, Professor of Philosophy
Adam R. Pautz
Professor of Philosophy
Bernard M. Reginster
Professor of Philosophy
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
Joshua B. Schechter
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Visiting Assistant Professor
Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Anna S. Bjurman Pautz
Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy
Rosalind E. Ladd
Visiting Scholar in Philosophy
Michelle Mason Bizri
Visiting Scholar in Philosophy
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 strengthen their knowledge of and skills in ancient philosophy, early modern philosophy, logic, epistemology and metaphysics. Students are asked to identify an area of specialization. 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 0350, and at least three must be at or above PHIL 0990.
|Five Area Requirements:|
|One course in Ancient Philosophy, e.g.||1|
|Myth and the Origins of Science|
|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 Language|
|Philosophy of Mind|
|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|
|Science, Perception and Reality|
|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|
|Intermediate Calculus (Physics/Engineering)|
|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: