Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

42065-42075 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 302
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We’ll consider a selection of philosophical questions and we’ll critically examine various arguments for different positions on these questions. Topics will be as follows:

  • What are life and death? What is the meaning of life?
  • What is a person? 
  • What are personal and social identities, in particular what are races and genders?
  • What is free will? How could free will be possible if the laws of physics fully govern the behavior of the atoms we’re composed of?
  • What is knowledge? How can you know anything? Can you know you’re not in the Matrix?
  • How can you know God exists? How does modern science, not only evolutionary biology, but cosmology too, bear on the issue?
  • When, if ever, it is morally permissible to let another innocent human die?
  • Is abortion morally permissible?
  • Is it morally permissible to eat meat?
  • Is it morally permissible to be partial to your own group or nation?
  • What is philosophy? What is it good for?

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

42035-42045 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:00PM RLP 1.104
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A survey of principal topics and problems in areas such as ethics, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of religion. 

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

42030 • Matherne, Matthew
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM RLP 0.106
show description

A survey of principal topics and problems in areas such as ethics, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of religion. 

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

42050-42060 • Zhang, Ju
Meets TTH 3:30PM-4:30PM WAG 302
show description

Course Description


We will explore a number of fascinating and puzzling philosophical problems and critically examine solutions proposed by philosophers. For example,


·      What is knowledge?

·      What is consciousness?

·      Does God exist? Does the external world exist? How can we know? 

·      Is it reasonable to believe without evidence?

·      What is personal identity? Are we the same persons as we were seven days ago?

·      Are there objective moral facts? Are moral judgments mere personal opinions? Can we have moral knowledge? How can we have it?

·      Are mask/vaccine mandates morally justified?


You probably have already had some opinions with regard to these issues, but have you ever wondered whether your opinions are supported by good reasons? We will discuss arguments for and against each side of the debates revolving around these issues from various different perspectives.


Course Objectives


§  Becoming a better writer and thinker than when you started the class.

§  Having a commanding understanding of the various philosophical problems covered in this course.

§  Being able to make and critically evaluate arguments.


Required textbook


The Norton Introduction to Philosophy, (Gideon Rosen, Alex Byrne, Joshua Cohen, Elizabeth Harman, Seana Shriffrin, eds.), 2018. Second edition.

PHL 301K • Ancient Philosophy

42080 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM GAR 2.128
(also listed as C C 304C)
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An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the ancient world, concentrating on Plato

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

42085 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 208
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An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, concentrating on such figures as Descartes, Hume, and Kant. 

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

42090 • Dunlop, Katherine
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM GAR 1.134
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An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, concentrating on such figures as Descartes, Hume, and Kant. 

PHL 302C • Ethics And Enlightenment

42095 • Nader, Karim
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM GAR 0.128
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Basic issues of philosophy in Western and non-Western traditions, such as the nature of philosophy, its relation to religion and science, the self, knowledge, and virtue.

PHL 303 • Human Nature

42100-42110 • Engel-Hawbecker, Nathan
Meets MW 12:00PM-1:00PM RLP 0.112
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Theories of human nature, such as those of Plato, Christianity, Marxism, and existentialism. Modern phsychological and biological theories are included, as the interplay of nature and nurture in determining human conduct is explored. 

PHL 303M • Mind And Body

42115-42140 • Tye, Michael
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:00PM RLP 0.130
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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

42160-42185 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 101
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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 refuse the plastic straw or not worry about it? Ought I give my spare change to the homeless person 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: Should I give up a healthy organ to a dying stranger? 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

42145-42155 • Vermaire, Matthew
Meets MW 9:00AM-10:00AM WAG 302
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What’s the right thing to do? Whether we’re headed to the voting booth, deciding how to spend money, or breaking up with a significant other, we deal with versions of that question continually. Even with all that practice, though, it’s often frustratingly hard to answer. The lives we lead present us with a wide array of moral problems that are as difficult as they are important. At stake is the kind of world we’ll live in, and the kind of people we’ll be. 

This course will equip you to better engage with moral problems, from the perspective of a philosopher. You’ll consider theories of what makes actions right and wrong in general, and you’ll confront and advance arguments about the ethics of specific topics, like abortion, meat-eating, and artificial intelligence. You should expect to gain concepts and skills for evaluating your society and your own actions, while learning to think, write, and argue more clearly and insightfully.


PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

42190-42200 • Armijo, Alicia
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:00PM WAG 302
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In this course, we will critically examine some deeply contested moral issues that are pertinent to our lives today. We will explore such questions as: What is the moral status of abortion? What is more dangerous—misinformation or censorship? What are our obligations to the global poor? Given the great magnitude of the problem of global warming, do individuals have moral obligations to help fix it? To approach these moral questions, we will read historical and contemporary philosophical texts that aim to elucidate and provide answers to them. Lively discussion will be encouraged by our analysis of case studies. The only prerequisite for this course is a commitment to approaching these ethical issues in an open-minded and intellectually responsible manner. No prior experience with philosophy is required or expected.

This course is organized into five core units, which include (1) moral theories, (2) bioethics, (3) technology ethics, (4) social and political ethics, and (5) environmental ethics. We will begin with a brief introduction to logic and the fundamentals of various ethical theories, including relativism, consequentialism, duty-based ethics, social contract theory, and virtue ethics. We will spend most of the semester thereafter discussing how these ethical theories can help us analyze real-world dilemmas. We will consider topics pertinent to choices that an individual might face as well as to decisions that affect larger communities.

Topics include but are not limited to: (i) human death, (ii) euthanasia, (iii) abortion, (iv) genetic engineering, (v) surveillance technology and power, (vi) ethics of artificial intelligence, (vii) free speech in the age of social media, (viii) speech codes on campus, (ix) drugs and addiction, (x) global economic justice, and (xi) environmental sustainability and climate change.

This course carries the Ethics flag. Ethics courses are designed to equip you with skills that are necessary for making ethical decisions in your adult and professional life. You will be introduced to theories, concepts, and methods that will enable you to apply ethical reasoning to real-life situations. You will be required to think critically about various ethical viewpoints and to evaluate your own ethical views.

PHL 305 • Intro To Philos Of Religion

42205 • Del Rio, Andrew
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM JES A216A
(also listed as CTI 310)
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A critical examination of various conceptions of God and of the relationship of the human and the divine. 

PHL 310 • Knowledge And Reality

42210-42220 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:00PM 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

42285 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 201
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This is a course in the basic principles of logic. The student will come out of this course with an understanding of deductive inference and of argument generally, as wells as the notions of logical consequence, validity, soundness, and logical truth. 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.

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

42290 • Learnihan-Sylvester, Brendan
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 201
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Course Description
Whether you are in the philosophy classroom or the real world, being able to reason well is an important skill to have. And an important aspect of that skill is being able to analyze whether or not particular arguments are good or bad. This course is all about reasoning and the goodness, or badness, of arguments. In particular, we’ll study deductive logic and learn skills for analyzing deductive arguments. In this course, you’ll learn various logical concepts, how to translate natural language sentences into a formal language, and how to use truth tables and natural deduction to check for the validity of arguments. 

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

42295-42305 • Miller, Taylor-Grey
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM BUR 134
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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 study algorithms for evaluating arguments as logically valid or invalid, and
we'll get an introduction to some of the surprising discoveries logicians have made about what tasks no
algorithm can possibly do.

PHL 313Q • Logic And Scientific Reasoning

42310-42320 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM PAR 203
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Logic and Scientific Reasoning:
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."  

This course carries the Quantitative Reasoning flag.

Succeeding in this course demands hard work, but anyone who puts in the requisite hard work can do well in it. No special talents or background skills or knowledge are required---just the hard work.


Ian Hacking, An Introduction to Probability and Inductive


-   Four problem sets

-   Two Exams

About the Professor:

Sinan Dogramaci is Associate Professor in the department of philosophy. Most of his research and teaching concern logic and rationality in one way or another. He is especially interested in the ways in which logic and rationality can be properly distinguished from one another. His paper "Reverse Engineering Epistemic Evaluations" won the Rutgers Young Epistemologist prize, and can be found along with his other papers on his website, His favorite food items include the bean, the lentil, and the french fry.


*This course is open only to Plan II students.*

PHL 315F • Philosophy And Film

42325 • Drucker, Daniel
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM RLP 0.104
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Philosophy has had a close connection to fiction and narrative even in the earliest texts we have, in part because fiction is a wonderful place in which to explore philosophical questions and concerns. In this course, we’ll look at the relation between fiction and philosophy, specifically through film, and consider the ways in which they illuminate one another.

Here are some of the particular themes we’ll consider. What can we learn from film? In many ways film is the most lifelike art, at least in some of its forms: it can come closest to the way we actually experience our lives, and so it can realize our imaginations better than our imaginations themselves can. In some ways that means they can teach us a lot, for example about how certain sorts of situations would play out. But they can also manipulate us in virtue of their apparent realism. So in addition to questions of epistemology, of what we can learn from fiction and film in particular, there’s the question of the relation between film and morality: can film make us better or worse? How might it do so? In discussing that, we’ll look at some old quarrels between philosophy and narrative fiction dating back to Plato.

PHL 315L • Philosophy And Literature

42330 • Viers, Mary
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM MEZ 1.212
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This course will examine the relationship between philosophy and literature, emphasizing one or more of the following concerns: 1) philosophical theories about literature; 2) the way that philosophical ideas are conveyed through literature; and 3) the way in which certain philosophical texts make use of literary form and devices to convey philosophical ideas.  The following are among the possible topics that may be considered: distinctive characteristics of literary texts; the line between the fictional and the non-fictional; whether fictional literature can convey truth and, if so, how; the ontological status of fictional worlds and characters; the “problem of fiction” (why we care about characters we know to be fictional); the impact of literature on emotion and its relevance to evaluating literature; literary means of positioning the reader; literature in relation to moral education; the alleged intentional fallacy; the pleasures of tragedy; aesthetic and moral evaluation of literature;  the nature of genre; the genres of philosophical texts; and indirect communication.

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

42335-42360 • Higgins, Kathleen
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 101
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Description: 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, the relationship between art and reality, and the questions contemporary art raises about the purpose of art.

David Goldblatt, Lee B. Brown, and Stephanie Patridge, Aesthetics: A Reader in Philosophy of the Arts, 4th ed.

Exams 20%

Exercises and Writing Assignments  50%

Final Project 15%

Participation (including attendance, section participation, and quizzes)      15%

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

42365 • Kubala, Robbie
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM JGB 2.218
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This course will investigate philosophical issues concerning the arts: painting, film, sculpture, architecture, photography, music, literature, performance, video games, digital art, and so on. Starting from a historical survey of Western and non-Western understandings of what ‘art’ is, we will consider questions including the following: What, if anything, makes works of the arts different from other artifacts? Are there better and worse ways to engage with the arts? Could we ever persuade someone to like a particular work? How might our artistic preferences be affected by class position or other social categories? What rights should artists have in an era of remix and appropriation? How can art be used in the public sphere? Course performance will be assessed by class participation, frequent short written reflections, a midterm exam, and a final project. We will make several visits to the wonderful collection in the Blanton Museum. By the end of the course, students should have a richer set of concepts for appreciating and debating the arts, and hopefully greater confidence in their own artistic judgments.

PHL 318 • Introduction To Ethics

42370-42380 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 420
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Study of basic principles of the moral life, with critical examination of traditional and contemporary theories of the nature of goodness, happiness, duty, and freedom.

PHL 318K • Intro To Political Philosophy

42385 • Pagano, Emilie
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM MEZ 1.208
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What is justice? What is injustice? How should we theorize about justice? And how do theories of justice themselves promote justice, if they do? These are the questions we’ll ask, and try to answer, in this class.

On the one hand, we’ll examine “ideal” theories of justice, in particular, John Stuart Mill’s, Robert Nozick’s, and John Rawls’s remarkably influential theories of justice. These theories start by considering which features an ideal society would have in order to say how members of our society ought to behave, here and now.

On the other hand, we’ll examine “non-ideal” theories of justice that start by considering the features our society has in order to say how we ought to behave, here and now. In particular, we’ll examine Charles Mills’s critique of ideal theories of justice, various conceptions of “oppression,” “structure,” and “ideology,” and their implications for our ability to act, to be responsible, and to forgive.

Along the way, we’ll ask, and try to answer, these questions, too:

·       Should we legalize prostitution?

·       Are non-human animals subject to injustice?

·       Is the commodification of legal representation unjust?

·       Do we owe reparations? If so, to whom?

As a result, this class will serve as an introduction to a debate that animates contemporary political philosophy, both in the academy and beyond.

PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

42390 • Sorensen, Roy
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 210
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Course Description: Epistemologists ask: What is knowledge? What principles govern it? Is knowing a truth any better than merely believing it? Just what is the value of knowledge? Is everything knowable in principle? Does science give us knowledge or merely useful fictions to predict and control phenomena? What are the sources of knowledge? Is testimony good enough for knowledge? Or must I check it out first hand through observation or experiment? Is perception the most basic source of knowledge?

PHL 322 • Science And The Modern World

42395-42405 • Juhl, Cory
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 420
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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 322K • History Of Ethics

42410 • Driver, Julia
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM MEZ 1.216
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This course examines the development of ethical theory from Aristotle to Philippa Foot.  The philosophers to be focused on are Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Richard Price, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, W. D. Ross, Elizabeth Anscombe, and Philippa Foot.  We begin with Virtue Ethics, and proceed through various versions of Deontological and Consequentialist approaches to ethics, and end, again, with Virtue Ethics. We will be discussing the contrasts and connections between each of these thinkers and their views on normative ethics and moral psychology.

PHL 323K • Metaphysics

42415 • Koons, Robert
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 308
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An examination of the classic problems and questions of metaphysics (change, composition, time, space, existence, possibility, causation, universals), using the tools of contemporary analytic philosophy.

PHL 323M • Philosophy Of Mind

42420 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 308
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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.  

PHL 323S • Philosophy Of Science

42425 • Juhl, Cory
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM PAR 302
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Philosophical issues pertaining to science, with an emphasis on the metaphysics and epistemology of science; topics may include explanation, causation, laws of nature, scientific realism, naturalism, theories, evidence, probability, social factors, and other aspects of science.

PHL 325D • Environmntl Ethics/Philo-Wb

42430-42440 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:00PM • Internet; Synchronous
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This is a course on environmental philosophy with a focus on environmental ethics but also treating epistemological issues. Much of the course will be a survey of major problem areas including intrinsic and instrumental value of environmental features, decision analysis, animal rights, biodiversity, restoration, sustainability, environmental justice, and climate change. The emphasis will be on using locally pertinent case studies to analyze philosophical problems arising from environmental concerns.

PHL 325E • Biomedical Ethics

42445-42455 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 302
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This course surveys ethical issues raised by contemporary biomedical research and practice including the novel implications of new developments in genomics. Topics from the philosophy of medicine including concepts of health, disease, and susceptibility, are included. There are brief discussions of traditional bioethical problems such as the emergence of human identity during embryonic development, what that means for abortion and for euthanasia. Contemporary topics include genetic testing, screening, editing, and enhancing in the light of new techniques and what that means for eugenics. Problems of population health such as mandatory vaccination and quarantine are approached from a philosophical perspective including an analysis of free rider problems.

PHL 325K • Ethical Theories

42460 • Driver, Julia
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 208
show description

This course will consider three classic moral theories in detail, those
of J. S. Mill, W. D. Ross and I. Kant – otherwise known as Utilitarianism, Intuitionism and
Kantianism. We will do this by studying one classic text by each author in detail.

PHL 325N • Organizational Ethics

42465 • Bonevac, Daniel
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 308
E (also listed as HDO 325N)
show description

This course examines ethical questions relating to organizations from theoretical and practical points of view. The basic questions of ethics, in an organizational context, arise at several different levels. We can ask about my obligations to the organization, to my coworkers, to my supervisors, to the people I supervise, to shareholders, to stakeholders, and to the public. We can ask about the organization’s obligations to its members, its shareholders, and the public. We can ask about ways of structuring institutions to encapsulate the values of the organization and minimize ethical risks. Finally, we can ask about the extent to which ethical problems can be addressed by formal codes, policies, and institutional structures. Our hypothesis throughout the course will be that ethics, strategy, psychology, and organizational structure interact in important ways and need to be studied together. We will combine perspectives of game theory, business strategy, psychology, social and organizational structure, and ethics as traditionally conceived to develop approaches to ethics in the context of organizations.

PHL 329K • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

42470-42480 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 201
GC (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.

PHL 332 • Philosophy Of Language

42485 • Sorensen, Roy
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 308
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The course focuses on various philosophical issues concerning language. Topics to be discussed include, but are not limited to, the following: speaker-meaning, conversational implicature, sentence/expression-meaning, reference, modality, and propositional attitude ascriptions. 

PHL 342M • Marx And Marxist Theory

42490 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 308
GCWr (also listed as EUS 346)
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Introduction to the writings of Karl Marx as well as to those of his intellectual successors in Europe and around the globe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

PHL 342R • Philosophy Of Race/Gender

42495-42505 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 420
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Compelling arguments exist in support of the view that concepts such as race, gender, and disability are political—or “socially constructed,” as it is often put. Theorists have dedicated much energy to tracing the origins of these concepts and the way in which they change shape over time to fit the aims of dominant groups. Despite widespread agreement in broad outline, theorists disagree on the details. Furthermore, some social constructionists have been optimistic that the way to disrupt the aims of dominant groups is to recast the concepts in a way that is more inclusive and empowering—through what has been coined an “ameliorative” analysis. Unfortunately, such approaches come with a host of problems of their own. The aim of this course is threefold: (1) It surveys arguments in favor of social constructionist theories over rival positions. (2) It introduces select debates among social constructionists. (3) Finally, it scrutinizes several recent attempts to provide “ameliorative analyses” of these concepts.

PHL 344K • Intermediate Symbolic Logic

42510 • Litland, Jon
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM GAR 0.132
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This course examines the interaction between formal logic and the foundations of mathematics. We will take as our centerpiece a careful examination of some of the important results of set theory, including the paradoxes of naive set the- ory and the reformulation of set theory using the Zermelo-Frankel axioms, the development of the theory of infinite cardinals and ordinals in set theory, the formal details of the iterative conception of sets, and the basic methods of prov- ing independence results in set theory. We will couple this investigation with an examination of various results in the metatheory of first order logic that bear on the foundations of math, such as the completeness and compactness theorems, the Lo ?wenheim-Skolem theorems, and the Go ?del incompleteness theorems. 

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

42515 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM WAG 302
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This course, intended to introduce students to certain basic issues in philosophy of law, will be organized around the question: What should a legal system be? What are the fundamental features that are vital to a proper legal system, and what are some of the competing understandings of what these are?

By reading both historical and contemporary authors, we will examine the theoretical bases of proper law as well as the appropriate practical implementation of key ideals in legal systems today. Correspondingly, along the way, we will consider the meaning of several concepts that are arguably crucial to a proper legal system, such as rights, freedom, representation, popular sovereignty, democracy, and republic. 

PHL 375M • Major Ethical Theories

42520 • Dunlop, Katherine
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM RLP 0.120
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Examine selected major works in ethical theory from ancient and modern philosophy. Explicate the argumentative structure of the texts, situate them in their historical contexts, and consider their significance for contemporary moral thought

PHL 381 • Theories Of Justice

42545 • Woodruff, Paul
Meets TH 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 310
show description

Course Description: 

Do today’s political theorists have anything valuable to learn by re-visiting the springs of ancient Greek philosophy? After reviewing prominent ancient theories for the first four or five weeks, we will explore recent work on justice for the rest of the semester, largely through student presentations.  Students will be free to choose what they wish to work on, ancient or modern.

Justice is the most important social virtue. Perceived violations of justice, if uncorrected, can lead to violence, as we have seen in the last year. That’s why what is called justice in a society, in order to serve its social function, must be widely perceived to be just. Plato insisted on that, but he horrifies many of us by having rulers control the media in order to achieve this end.

Most ancient Greeks thought that justice is essential to the stability of a community and developed theories of justice with that in mind. Plato apparently believed that justice as a virtue in a society would (at least in ideal circumstances) be correlated with justice as a virtue in the individuals who people it. Can recent virtue ethics provide a conception of justice as a virtue that is compatible with recent theories of justice?

In the second half of the twentieth century, most philosophers favored theories based on the work of John Rawls, but these have stumbled over how to ensure justice for a number of situations—for example, on international issues, for equal treatment for people at different levels of cognitive or physical abilities, and in the treatment of different species. Also, Rawlsian theories are ideal in more than one way—and our society is not. Systemic injustices with respect to race and gender raise serious questions about what justice asks of individuals. What duties of justice are incumbent on people who are subject to systemic injustice? Can we reasonably expect people to cultivate justice as a virtue in an atmosphere of injustice? We will look at the recent discussion of ideal vs. non-ideal theories of justice. And we’ll consider Tommy Shelby’s defense of ghetto dwellers in Dark Ghettos.

Grading Policy:

Presentation:  30%

Paper:  50%

Participation: 20%


Handouts on pre-Socratics and post-Aristotelians

Selections from Plato’s Protagoras, Republic (Hackett translations recommended)

Selections from Aristotle’s Politics and Nicomachean Ethics

Selections from  (probably) Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, G.A. Cohen, David Wiggins, Tommy Shelby, Laura Valentini, Gopal Sreenivasan, and others.


This seminar satisfies the Ethics requirement.


PHL 382 • Russell's Metphysics Of Propos

42550 • Litland, Jon
Meets M 12:00PM-3:00PM WAG 316A
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Russell (Frege) and the metaphysics of propositions, properties, and relations

Many recent questions about the nature of propositions, properties, and relations have their origin in, or at least a perspicuous formulation in, Russell’s work. Our aim in this seminar is to give an introduction to some of these issues that is, at once, both historically sensitive and engaged with cutting-edge metaphysics.

Issues discussed include: 1) The nature of relations and relational complexes: is there a difference between the shorter-than relation and the longer-than relation? Is the state-of-affairs of Litland being taller than his brother distinct from the state-of-affairs of his brother being shorter than him? 2) What is the relation between propositions and the acts of judging them? 3) Russell’s paradox 4) The Russell-Myhill Paradox. A natural view of propositions holds that two propositions Fa and Gb are identical if the properties F,G are identical and the objects a.b are identical. But the appendix B paradox (now known as the Russell-Myhill paradox) seems to show that this is impossible. Indeed, it raises a deep problem for any view that treats propositions as structured entities, such as those advocated by, e.g,  Soames, Salmon, and Speaks. It also creates problems for hylomorphic accounts of material objects. 5) Logical atomism, including Russell’s theory of descriptions, the theory of so-called ‘incomplete symbols’, and the contemporary reaction against this theory.  6) Propositions, judgments, and ‘logical assertion’, in Kant, Frege, and Russell. 7) Frege’s concept horse paradox and recent work in higher-order metaphysics 8) The nature of the variable and recent work on variable (arbitrary, generic) objects 9) the Identity theory of Truth. 10) Russell’s three puzzles (and Kant’s anticipation of one of them).


Russell’s The Principles of Mathematics, ‘On Denoting’, Frege ‘On Concept and Object, Posthumous Writings

Articles by:  Susanne Bobzien, Kit Fine, Tim Williamson, Maegan Fairchild, Scott Soames, Joop Leo, Charles Parsons, Jeremy Goodman, Andrew Bacon, Fraser Macbride, John Myhill, Harold Hodes, Peter Fritz, Kevin Klement, Peter Sullivan, Michael Potter, Ian Proops, Agustin Rayo among others.

Students will be required to make 10-15 minute presentation (with a handout) of the main idea of their seminar paper.

Students will be required to write one seminar paper of 20-25 pages due at the end of the department-approved writing period.

This seminar satisfies the Metaphysics & Epistemology requirement. 

PHL 383 • Questions And Belief

42555 • Drucker, Daniel
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 310
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Course Description: 

Epistemology has broadened considerably lately to look seriously at questions. In this course, we will aim to get much clearer about what questions are, and how they are supposed to be relevant to the normative study of belief and its dynamics. The word 'question' is multiply ambiguous, and can refer to semantic, pragmatic, mental, and social phenomena, all of which might matter in various fundamental ways to epistemology. So we'll look at previous work in semantics, pragmatics, speech act theory, philosophy of mind, and psychology, in addition to work in epistemology. So in part, this course will function as an introduction to questions as conceived of in all these literatures. At root, questions involve systematizing alternative ways the world could be. Why should that be helpful to cognition? Another question that will guide us is this: does what it is to be a belief, or to form a belief in a deliberative, reasoning way necessarily involve questions? If so, what are the exact mechanisms involved? We may also look at the relation between questions and knowledge.

Grading Policy: 

Tentatively, the class will involve the following graded elements: problem sets, aimed at cementing course concepts and spurring small-scale creativity; presentations, aimed at being responsible for generating discussion among peers; and a seminar paper, aimed at developing mastery of a particular subject and, with luck, leading to a medium- or long-term project.


We might read any of the following authors, though others are possible: Hamblin, Groenendijk and Stokhof, Craige Roberts, Robert van Rooij, Peter Carruthers, Plato, Lawrence Powers, Jane Friedman, Dennis Whitcomb, Seth Yalcin, Daniel Hoek, Pamela Hieronymi, Matthew Mandelkern and Kevin Dorst, Sara Aronowitz, the instructor, Philipp Koralus, Stephen Yablo, and Ben Holguín. If we're lucky, some of them might visit!


This seminar satisfies the Metaphysics & Epistemology requirement.

PHL 384F • First-Year Seminar

42560 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets T 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 316A
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This seminar is restricted the first-year graduate students in philosophy PhD program.


This seminar is required for and restricted to the first-year PhD students in the philosophy department.

The aim of the course is to practice doing analytic philosophy at the professional level through seminar presentations, discussions, and written work, in a constructive and encouraging environment.


Students must write a term paper, lead at least one seminar meeting, actively participate in weekly seminar discussions, and write up a brief comment or question each week prior to the meeting.


We'll study influential articles/chapters on various topics from the last few decades of analytic philosophy. The choice of texts will reflect both what we consider essential, and also the interests of students in the class.

PHL 385 • Aesthetics

42565 • Higgins, Kathleen
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 316A
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Course Description: 

This course will combine attention to writings on aesthetics by important historical figures with discussion of recent work in aesthetics.  Among the historical readings, we will focus in particular on Kant’s “Critique of Aesthetic Judgment,” one of the formative texts that shaped Western aesthetics as a field of study.  The topics in contemporary discussion that we will consider will in many instances be framed in terms of departures from Kantian ideas.  Among them will be the alleged “aesthetic attitude,” the body’s involvement in aesthetic experience, the relationship between natural and artistic beauty, the role of “determinate” concepts in aesthetic appreciation, the relationship of art and morality, everyday aesthetics, aesthetic relativism, and a number of issues regarding art and emotion (such as the “paradox of fiction,” the appreciation of “negative” emotions in art, the emotional aspects of musical experience, etc.).

Grading Policy:

Term paper 85%

Participation (including weekly submission of discussion questions and a presentation on the term paper on the final day of class)  15%


Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns, Philosophies of Art and Beauty

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment

Probably an anthology of recent work, such as Jerrold Levinson, ed., Suffering Art Gladly

Various journal articles available through UT Libraries


This seminar satisfies the Ethics requirement?


PHL 385 • Metaethics And Aesthetics

42569 • Schafer, Karl
Meets TH 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 310
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This seminar will focus on exploring several connections between ethics/metaethics and aesthetics. Our focus will be on recent and in-progress work by philosophers such as Errol Lord (Penn), Thi Nuygen (Utah) , and Daniela Dover (UCLA), each of who will visit the seminar in person or virtually. Themes to be discussed will include: the connections between aesthetics and moral epistemology, the relationship between aesthetics and practical and theoretical rationality, the relationship between artistic criticism and criticism (or critique) in an ethical or political context, and connections between aesthetics and agency.


This seminar satisfies the Metaphysics & Epistemology requirement.

PHL 391 • Ineffability

42585 • Dever, Joshua
Meets W 12:00PM-3:00PM WAG 310
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(Description to be announced)



M&E tbd

PHL 396W • Dissertation Seminar

42590 • Sosa, David
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 310
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Intensive examination of selected dissertation topics: attention to research methods, presentation, structure, and argument. Student reports on current research.


PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42255-42265 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 302
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There are a few questions we should all ask ourselves at least once before we die, and many of them are philosophical. In this semester we'll pick out some of the most pressing of these questions, and try to answer them as best we can. Among them will be: Is there any compelling evidence that God exists? If not, is it still OK to believe that He does? What is knowledge, as opposed to mere true belief? How much can we know about our own minds, about the minds of others, and about the world outside of both? What is the relationship between our minds and our bodies? What makes each of us the same person across time? What is it for each of us to be (or not to be) of a particular race or a particular gender?

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42225-42235 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 302
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In this first semester our topic will fall under the "valuation" part of the course. We'll consider central questions in philosophical ethics, like whether values are objective, whether the value of an action should be judged just in terms of its consequences, whether taking values seriously is possible only in a religious framework. We will also discuss some current topics calling for value judgments, including eating animals, abortion, climate change, and our duties to people far away.
The text for both semesters of the course is The Norton Introduction to Philosophy, edited by Rosen, Byrne & Cohen. You will need to access it through Perusall, which makes available (for a feee, I fear) an electronic version. You’ll be assigned a few pages of this e-book for each class, and your reading and comments will trigger a grade. Past students have found this a very helpful way of ensuring they keep up with the reading for class, and it enables you to interact with other students.

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42240-42250 • Woodruff, Paul
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 302
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The course is a journey backward—and forward—in time.  We will begin with recent Utilitarian ethics, which seeks the greatest happiness of the greatest number.  After assessing the strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism, we will move on to Kant’s approach to ethics, which is based on the dignity of human beings as autonomous—as making their own ethical laws.  Then we will explore virtue ethics—the study of character in relation to action—in both Greek and Chinese traditions. This will lead us back to Socrates, and we will ask whether we can use his foundations to build a theory we can use today.  That is the project of Woodruff’s current book writing project. In all of this we will try to go through the study of history to engage with our own real, every day ethical issues.  We will end with existentialism, seen mainly through Camus.

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42270-42280 • Proops, Ian
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM • Hybrid/Blended
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This course examines some of the perennial problems of philosophy, using both contemporary readings and historical texts. Students will be introduced to philosophy’s “greatest hits” and also some of the most important techniques from its “tool kit”. Topics include: The existence of God, free will, moral responsibility, ethical theory, philosophy of race and gender, and applied ethics. There are no prerequisites for this class, and no previous knowledge of philosophy is assumed.