Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

42145 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM FAC 21
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This course is a historical introduction to the major areas and figures in philosophy. We will study ethics, philosophy of mind and knowledge, and theories of reality by reading seminal works of major figures in throughout philosophical history.



Pojman (ed.), Classics of Philosophy, 2nd edition (Oxford, 2003).


Evaluation (+/- grades will be awarded):

Four in Class Exams: 22% each.

Weekly Postings to online forums: 12%

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

42150 • Bonevac, Daniel
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM BUR 106
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This course introduces the central problems of philosophy. It considers solutions proposed by the greatest thinkers of the Western philosophical tradition, and some from non-Western traditions as well.

We will ask what it is to be human, and reflect on the importance of this question for how we live our own lives. Are we minds and bodies? Just minds? Just bodies? What difference does it make? What is it to lead a good human life?

We will address questions in the theory of knowledge: What is knowledge? How do we get it? What can we know?

We will also raise some of the basic questions of metaphysics: What is there? What is a thing? Do things have essences? Is reality independent of our minds? Is there a God?

The course is organized according to three great philosophical traditions: Classical Empiricism, which in the West begins with Aristotle; Classical Rationalism, which in the West begins with Plato; and Idealism, which in the West begins much later, with Berkeley. A fourth group, the Skeptics, launch attacks against all three traditions. 

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

42154 • Proops, Ian
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 302
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A survey of principal topics and problems in areas such as ethics, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of religion. 

PHL 301K • Ancient Philosophy

42155 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 302
(also listed as C C 304C)
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A.N.Whitehead remarked, about a hundred years ago, that “all of Western Philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato”. That is an exaggeration, but a pardonable one. Plato is the earliest European philosopher of whom complete texts survive. He was enormously influential not only in the Ancient World, but also in the early Christian tradition as well as the Renaissance. Even today his work is studied as part of a living tradition and not just as a historical document. For these (and other) reasons, it makes sense to orient a very basic introduction to Ancient Philosophy around his work, and that is what we are going to do. The primary focus of this class will be on argument, the practice of giving reasons for complex and abstract philosophical positions. We will be considering and assessing, among other things, Plato’s account of the nature of goodness and virtue; his theory of knowledge; his commitment to the existence of abstract objects (‘Forms’) in terms of which the ordinary properties of ordinary objects in the world around us can be (allegedly)  understood; his arguments for the soul’s immortality, and its general nature.

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

42160 • Goodine, Elliot
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM WAG 308
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This course introduces some central debates in metaphysics and epistemology enlivened during the 17th and 18th centuries. We will aim to understand philosophical writings within the scientific and political contexts of early modern Europe. Additionally, we will consider how the argumentative strategies that we study continue to enliven contemporary philosophical debates.
The class will focus on various (but interconnected) topics, including:
1) God
2) Mind, Body, and Personhood
3) Knowledge, Skepticism, and Reality
4) Freedom of the Will

PHL 303 • Human Nature

42170 • Schukraft, Jason
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM CLA 0.106
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PHL 303: Human Nature

MWF 9-10 am             Jason Schukraft               CLA 0.106


Course Description


The central question of this course is easy to state but hard to answer: What are we?  While investigating this question, we will encounter a number of related questions, such as:


-       Can we survive the destruction of our bodies?

-       Do we have free will?

-       To what extent do subconscious biases and heuristics influence our actions?

-       How does our evolutionary past affect our behavior?

-       Are gender differences learned or innate?

-       What does it mean to be ‘normal’?

-       In virtue of what is someone a good/evil person?

-       Is genetic enhancement ethical?

-       Are we living in a computer simulation?


Answering these questions will require a healthy mixture of philosophy, biology, psychology, sociology, and neuroscience.  As such, our exploration of human nature will of necessity be interdisciplinary.


The purpose of this course is twofold: (1) to develop widely applicable critical reasoning skills through the close examination of an intrinsically interesting subject and (2) to develop an appreciation of the complexity of human nature and the wide array of factors that go into making us who we are.


Ludwig Wittgenstein once remarked, “A philosopher who is not taking part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring.”  Students will be encouraged to discuss issues with each other both inside and outside lecture.  Willingness to speak up in class will be crucial to success.  Careful reading of the assigned texts and regular attendance will be mandatory.  Above all, students must be prepared to ask hard questions; to challenge themselves; to be confused, perplexed, and bewildered; to feel stupid; and to simultaneously adopt a position of intellectual humility and philosophical ambition.

PHL 303M • Mind And Body

42175-42200 • Tye, Michael
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 101
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This course examines the relationship of the mind to the body. Topics covered include whether a machine could think, the Turing Test for intelligence, the reduction of the mind to the brain, whether consciousness can be captured materialistically, and the nature of persons and personal identity.We'll be thinking about immaterial spirits, futuristic computers and robots, Martians who behave like us but who have an internal structure very different from ours, brains in vats. We will consider whether these strange characters have thoughts and feelings. The point is not to consider bizarre cases just for the sake of it, but to see what light we can shed on our own nature as beings with mental lives.

PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

42235 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM SZB 104
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Chances are you’ve confronted an ethical choice recently: Should I pay someone to write my essay or do it myself? Should I recycle this plastic bottle or throw it in the trash? Ought I to help the homeless person asking for change or walk on by? Should I donate blood or can it wait until next time? Should I report the harassment I witnessed or pretend it didn’t happen? By contrast, there are many other ethical questions that you may never have explicitly considered, but that nonetheless apply to you, such as: Do I have an obligation as a person of privilege to give aid to people living in other parts of the world who are far more worse off than me? Is it wrong to use non-human animals as a food source? Is it permissible to buy clothes that contribute to child labor and unsafe working conditions? A further set of questions in ethics concerns the moral status of institutions or policies: what moral (and legal) constraints or permissions should exist with respect to decisions related to both the beginning of life (e.g., the ethics of abortion) and the end of life (e.g., the ethics of euthanasia)? Is the institution of punishment justified? What is terrorism and is it ever justified? Is torture ever permissible? This course will introduce you to the concepts, ideas, and theories relevant to understanding what these questions are asking, as well as evaluating possible answers.

PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

42240-42265 • Krecz, Charles
Meets MW 2:00PM-3:00PM CLA 0.130
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An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of a number of contemporary moral problems, including problems of abortion, sexual morality, capital punishment, pornography and hate speech.

PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

42205-42230 • Krecz, Charles
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 101
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An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of a number of contemporary moral problems, including problems of abortion, sexual morality, capital punishment, pornography and hate speech.

PHL 305 • Intro To Philos Of Religion

42270 • Phillips, Stephen
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 302
(also listed as CTI 310, R S 305)
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An examination of principal issues in contemporary philosophy of religion with special attention to religious pluralism. The views and arguments of Western theologians and philosophers will be taken up along with claims and concepts growing out of Eastern religions (Buddhism and Hinduism, in particular). Special topics include different views of the nature of a Divine Reality, arguments of rational theology, mysticism, and the theological problem of evil.

PHL 310 • Knowledge And Reality

42275-42285 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 302
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This course is an advanced introduction to philosophical issues concerning the nature of
belief, truth, and knowledge with an emphasis on the latter. Topics to be discussed include,
but are not limited to, the following:
• What is knowledge? For example, what is the difference between knowledge and
mere true belief?
• What are the basic sources of knowledge (i.e., perception, memory, testimony of
• Why, if at all, should we value the acquisition of knowledge?
• Is it really possible to know anything at all?

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

42340 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WEL 2.304
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This is a course in the basic principles of formal logic. The student will come out of this course with an understanding of deductive inference and of argument generally, as well as the notions of logical consequence, validity, soundness, and logical truth; and should come to have an appreciation for reasoning and argument work in ordinary language by translating ordinary language arguments into formally-evaluable logical forms. Specifically, we will be looking at sentential logic (which treats the inferential relations among simple sentences) and predicate logic. Predicate logic is distinguished from sentential logic by its use of quantifiers (roughly speaking ways of saying ‘all’ and ‘some’).


Readings / Texts:

The text is E.J.Lemmon Beginning Logic (Hackett);



4 homeworks (10% each); 2 in class exams (30% each)


PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

42335 • Knab, Brian
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM MEZ 1.212
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This is a first course on Logic. Our main aim is to investigate what separates good from bad reasoning. This investigation can show us how to (i) win arguments, (ii) bend machines to our wills, and (iii) solve crimes. For example, suppose there has been a murder, and you know that:
If the maid did it, then it was done with a revolver only if it was done in the parlor. But if the butler is innocent, then the maid did it unless it was done in the parlor. The maid did it only if it was done with a revolver, while the butler is guilty if it did happen in the parlor.
Fairly quickly in this course, you’ll be able to figure out — from that evidence — who was responsible.

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

42345-42355 • Hyska, Megan
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 203
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This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We'll study formal languages for representing sentences in logically precise ways. We'll look at proof systems for sentential logic and predicate logic, as well as how to use our new formal languages to analyze arguments formulated in natural language.

PHL 313Q • Logic And Scientific Reasoning

42360-42370 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 214
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Description: What logical principles dictate how a rational thinker manages their beliefs? What logical principles dictate how a batch of evidence confirms, or disconfirms, a given hypothesis to one or another degree?    In this course, we will study, and critically evaluate, the leading theory, called Bayesian epistemology. Bayesians use mathematical probability theory in order to explain when our reasoning is rational, from ordinary day-to-day inferences to sophisticated scientific theorizing. A Bayesian's focus is not on demonstrations or proofs of a conjecture's truth (as in so-called "classical" logic), nor is the focus on how we acquire knowledge (as in so-called traditional epistemology); rather, our focus is on the rational management of our degrees of confidence, that is, stronger and weaker opinions. The main question is this: when we cannot absolutely prove or know the truth about some hypothesis, how much confidence should we place in it?   For a fun snapshot of the kind of thing we'll study, check out the Wikipedia entry on "The Monty Hall Problem".   *Quantitative Reasoning Flag*

PHL 316K • Science And Philosophy

42375 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 210
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Science tries to explain the world. The philosophy of science tries to explain how it does so. This course will examine key issues and debates in the philosophy of science (specifically the philosophy of physics) against the background of central episodes in the development of modern science from the 17th century to the present day. Topics covered will include: what is the nature of the scientific enterprise, and how does it differ from other forms of inquiry? What is the relation between reason and experience in the construction and evaluation of scientific theories? Does science have a distinctive method (or methods), and a particular criterion of truth?  How does science progress? What are the relations between theory and evidence – how does empirical evidence confirm (or disconfirm) theories? Should scientific theories aim at the truth about the world, or simply at effective means of predicting events within it? How does (and/or should) science go about collecting, organizing and extrapolating from data? Among the scientists studied will be Descartes, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Young, and Perrin; among the philosophers of science those, as well as Bacon, Whewell, Mill, Duhem, Popper, van Fraassen, Kuhn and Feyerabend. Among the controversies examined will be that between the geocentric and the heliocentric models of the solar system, Newtonian mechanics and its rivals, wave- versus particle-theories of light, and the real existence of atoms. No background in either math or physics will be presupposed  - but a little wouldn’t hurt.

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

42385-42425 • Higgins, Kathleen
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:00PM GAR 0.102
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This course will consider some of the answers given in the Western philosophical tradition to questions about the nature of art and beauty, with some comparison with the aesthetic traditions of other societies.  Particular attention will be given to the nature of aesthetic experience from the standpoint of both the artist and the observer and the relationship between art and reality.

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

42427 • Galgon, Jake
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM CLA 1.102
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What makes a work of art a work of art? Can a video game be art? A wrestling match? A sandwich? What is it for art to be good or bad, and what makes a specific work a good or bad one? Are there even such things as good and bad art? Can good art make us unhappy? And if it can, what good is good art? Can art ever be as important as life and death, right and wrong? These are the sorts of questions that we'll be asking and, if we're lucky, maybe even answering. Students who take this class should be prepared to read occasionally dense material, to produce polished writing, and to participate regularly in class discussion.

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

42380 • Dalbey, Bryce
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 302
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Classic issues in the philosophy of art and beauty, illustrated from the fine arts and contemporary media: literature, drama, music, painting, film, and television. 

PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

42435 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 308
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“Knowledge is power”—as the familiar phrase goes. Individuals are liable to be exploited by social and political systems they fail to understand. Knowledge is also valuable. If you are trying to survive in the Alaskan wilderness, it is useful to know that the otherwise edible wild potato seed acts as a paralyzing neurotoxin when consumed by someone undernourished. Knowing this information may have saved the life of Christopher McCandless, the subject of John Krakuer’s /Into the Wild/. But what is knowledge anyway? Traditional definitions run afoul of counterexamples. Furthermore, justification and evidence—two concepts thought to be central to many definitions of knowledge—are also fraught in various ways. Suppose a definition of knowledge is able to withstand scrutiny, we might find that we thought we had more knowledge than we in fact have. Skepticism, in its more ambitious form, says that knowledge is impossible: despite appearances to the contrary, we cannot know anything at all. As we shall see, it is surprisingly difficult to refute the skeptic’s argument. Most people assume not only that they know a lot, but that they are, for the most part, rational in forming their beliefs. Nevertheless, contemporary cognitive psychology provides us with a very different picture. This course will introduce you to these and other related ideas, while providing you with the tools necessary for critically evaluating arguments for positions on each side the debates mentioned above. 


Readings / Texts:

/Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction/, Alvin I. Goldman and Matthew McGrath (eds.). Oxford University Press, 2015.


Grading Policy:

10 reading questions 15%

5 short essays 50%

1 final paper20%

Attendance/participation 15%

PHL 322 • Science And The Modern World

42440-42450 • Juhl, Cory
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 302
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Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our place within it. Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology. In this course we will accomplish two main goals. First, we will learn the history and content of a few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history. Second, we will consider aspects of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have. The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues. Then we will study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.      

     We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory. We will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory that have been proposed. A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.      

      Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense, science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe. His view is that the ancient Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires. Relevant facets of Chinese culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures with respect to their fostering scientific developments.

     The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century. We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives. Then we will spend time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory. The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level. But these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic scheme’. Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 323K • Metaphysics

42455 • Litland, Jon
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 210
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We will examine some of the main issues in metaphysics. We will discuss problems of Identity and Survival: is death bad? If so, why? What is it for something to persist through time? Is identity over time possible? Can it be vague whether two things are identical? We will discuss questions in Ontology: are there numbers? Are there properties? What does it mean for something to exist? Can something depend on something else for its existence?  We will discuss problems of modality: What does it mean to say that something is possible? Are there different types of possibility? Could things have been different than they actually are, or is everything necessary? 


Readings/ Texts:

Readings will be drawn from Metaphysics, an anthology, 2nd edition. Editors, Jaegwon Kim, Daniel Z.Korman and Ernest Sosa Supplementary articles will be provided on Canvas.



Class participation: 10 %. Questions and discussion on canvas: 10% 2 short essays: 20%. Written comments on the work of peers: 20% Outline of final essay: 10% Final essay: 30%

PHL 323M • Philosophy Of Mind

42460 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 208
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This course will focus on philosophical issues concerning the mind. Topics to be discussed will include, but will not be limited to, the folllowing: (1) the relationship between the mental and the physical, (2) the nature and function of consciousness, and (3) how our minds represents the world.  


Required Text: Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings, (ed.) David Chalmers. Oxford University Press 2002. Any additonal required readings will be posted on our course Canvas Site.


One 7-8 page term paper (worth 35% of the final grade); two in-class tests (30% each): Participation and attendance (5%).  

PHL 325K • Ethical Theories

42465 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 208
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This course surveys the major ethical theories (Consequentialism, Kantianism, and Virtue Ethics), and proposes several challenges to these theories from the point of view of moral psychology.  The first of these is the “partialist” challenge. Several theories seem to require us to ignore, in many (if not all) cases, our cares and loved ones when determining what we are obligated to do. This leads to a more general problem known as the “demandingness” challenge. One plausible constraint on an ethical theory is that it be realistic about the psychological limitations of creatures like us, and, yet, several theories appear to fall short of meeting this constraint. Virtue ethics, by contrast, has been touted as a psychologically realistic alternative to other theories. Nevertheless, it faces its own set of moral psychological challenges; namely empirical claims to the effect that most people fail to possess the virtues. In the light of the challenges mentioned above, we will consider the merits of two other proposals: Ethical Particularism and Bernard Williams’s “Anti-theory.”

PHL 325L • Business, Ethics, And Publ Pol

42470 • Krecz, Charles
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 302
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This course is mainly an introduction to a number of ethical problems that arise in the world of business, including problems regarding economic justice, corporate responsibility, advertising, and consumer protection. We will consider general ethical theories as well as specific business ethical issues.

PHL 325M • Medicine, Ethics, And Society

42475 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WEL 3.502
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The application of ethical theory to medical practice is an important part of modern medicine and public policy. We look at several approaches to ethics and several areas of medicine to gain insights into medical ethics. This course carries the ethics and leadership flag. Consequently, a substantial portion of the grade will involve ethical issues and reasoning.

PHL 329K • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

42480-42485 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 302
(also listed as C C 348)
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Western philosophy owes its birth to the ancient Greeks. In their care many of the fundamental questions in ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind were raised for the first time and developed in striking and sophisticated ways. We will try to determine which questions they asked, what their answers were, and whether we should accept their answers as correct even now. Readings will be drawn primarily from the works of Plato and Aristotle, but will also include material from some important Pre-Platonic figures.

PHL 329L • Early Mod Phl: Descartes-Kant

42490-42495 • Dunlop, Katherine
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 302
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This course is an introduction to early modern philosophy. The objectives of the class are to identify and analyze arguments in philosophical texts of the early modern period, and to become familiar with central themes and problems. Topics include causation, substance, and the possibility of knowledge. The relationship of philosophical theories to contemporary science will be an ongoing theme.

PHL 332 • Philosophy Of Language

42500 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CAL 200
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“Communication” is everywhere (one billiard ball communicates motion to another, ants communicate by chemical messages), and in many or even most cases, it is not linguistic. So what’s special about linguistic communication? Although non-human animals cannot literally talk, they can certainly communicate. Might their way of communicating be essentially language-like? If not, does this mean that there’s a discontinuity in evolutionary development?

As in many philosophical discussions, the presumption of human exceptionalism comes to the fore. Does our capacity for language-use make us special, setting us apart from “the brutes”? Is there a “language instinct”, and if so what bearing does this have on whether humans are special?

Philosophers have taken different approaches to the nature of linguistic communication. We will consider the very different accounts made famous by Paul Grice and by Donald Davidson, and the relevance of Chomsky’s insistence on syntax. These considerations will lead us into questions about the nature of reference and truth, and these in turn into questions about how language can be used in fictional contexts, and how these relate to our emotions.

PHL 334K • Martin Heidegger

42505 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 308
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The rise of industrial technology in late 19th century Europe and America marked a new and decisive victory in humankind’s long struggle to dominate the earth. But not everyone greeted this victory with excitement and good cheer. In fact some philosophers — most notably Martin Heidegger — saw it as the most visibly destructive symptom of our increasing alienation from ourselves, from the world, and from each other. His project, which eventually came to be known as existential phenomenology, was to examine the technological-scientific mindset that made this victory possible and expose it as superficial, derivative, and profoundly ignorant of itself. By redirecting his attention to the concrete, lived experience of everyday human existence, he hoped to reveal the fundamental structure of our distinctive way of being in the world — and, in so doing, allow us to repair our relationship with that world. Our aim in this course will be to understand and evaluate this philosophical project.

PHL 344K • Intermediate Symbolic Logic

42510 • Dever, Joshua
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM PHR 2.114
(also listed as M 344K)
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Description: This course traces the mathematical investigation of logic and the logical investi- gation of mathematics over the first half of the twentieth century. Several major metatheoretical results will be explored and discussed, including the completeness and compactness theorems, the Lowenheim-Skolem theorems, Godel’s first and second incompleteness theorems, and Fra?sse’s theorem. The goal throughout will be to gain a clearer picture of the strengths and limitations of first-order logic, and the interaction between the investigation of mathematical structures and the logic in which those structures are characterized. Various methods of characterizing and understanding mathematical structures, including canonical models, elementary embeddings, elementary chains, omitting types, and Ehrenfeucht-Fra?sse games, will be explored.    Text: Mathematical Logic (Ebbinghaus, Flum, and Thomas)   Grading Policy: Grades are based on a combination of weekly short problem sets (20%), two long problem sets (10% each), two in-class exams (15% each), and a final exam (30%).


PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

42515 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 302
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What is Law? What is the relationship between law, politics, and ethics? We will address these questions and elucidate some of their implications for issues in such areas as legal reasoning, civil disobedience, rights, and justice.

PHL 363L • Outer Limits Of Reason

42526 • Juhl, Cory
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 112
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Topic 1: Philosophy of Biology

Topic 2: The Outer Limits of Reason

Topic 4: The Philosophy of Geometry

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42320-42330 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 420
show description

Moral theories and problems

The aim in this semester is to consider some classical philosophical theories of morals (including those propounded by David Hume (f. 1750), Immanuel Kant (f. 1780), and John Stuart Mill (f. 1860), and apply them to some current moral problems (for example, the death penalty, animal rights, our duties to others). We will try to improve our views on these problems and consider how theory and practice can interact constructively. Course materials and work will be channeled through Canvas. Students will be invited to give input concerning which applied topics to discuss.



The main text will be Steven Cahn and Peter Markie (eds): Ethics: History, Theory and Contemporary Issues, Sixth Edition (2015). Everyone should also read A. Martinich's Philosophical Writing (preferably 3rd or 4th edition) within the first month of the course, though it will not be discussed in class. Background Reading: Jostein Gaarder: Sophie's World. This is a history of philosophy in the form of a novel. Specially useful for orienting the philosophers and topics of our work within a broader framework. Peter Singer: Practical Ethics provides good supplementary material on the more applied part of the course.


Grading Policy

Numerical grades for essays and the term paper are based on philosophical quality: clarity of expression, appreciation of alternative views, persuasiveness of arguments, knowledge and understanding of the relevant literature. When all the numerical grades are in, I will draw the decorated letter grade boundaries.

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42290-42300 • Deigh, John
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM WEL 2.308
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Course description:  

The course will cover major questions of ethics, politics, and human psychology in ancient and medieval philosophy: what is a good life?  must one live justly and honestly to achieve happiness in life?  what is the place of love and friendship in a good life and what are the best kinds of friendship or relations of love?  what is death and can the soul survive it?  what is freedom?  how is it realized?  is democracy the best form of government? does a citizen of a democracy owe allegiance to its laws?  We will study these and other questions through examination of great works of Plato, Aristotle, Paul, and Augustine. 



Plato, Apology, Crito, Euthyphro, Phaedo, Republic, Symposium

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

Paul, selections from letters to Romans, Corinthians, Galatians. 

Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will



Midterm exam, final exam, short papers, participation in discussion sections.  In determining the course grade, the grade on the final exam will be given roughly twice the weight of the grades on the midterm exam and short papers.


PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42305-42315 • Proops, Ian
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 420
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Course description

This course examines some of the central problems of philosophy, drawing on both contemporary readings and historical texts. Students will be introduced to philosophy’s “tool kit” as well as its “greatest hits.” Topics include: Arguments for and against the existence of God, free will, moral responsibility, ethical theory, contemporary moral issues, feminism, and aesthetics. There are no prerequisites for this class.


Grading Policy

The final grade will be based on four components: (1) section attendance and participation (15%); (2) a forty-five-minute in-class test in the final class (25%); (3) one short paper (four pages, double-spaced, 12 point) due around mid-term (30%); and (4) a longer paper (five-six pages, double-spaced, 12 point; 30%) due at the end of the semester.  Note: plus and minus grades will be awarded.


Required Text

Reason and Responsibility, 15th edition, Joel Feinberg and Russ-Shafer Landau, eds. (Wadsworth).A small number of further articles, not included in this anthology, will be assigned.