Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

40730 • Bonevac, Daniel
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM FAC 21
show description
Course Description
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

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? What is a good person? How should we make decisions?

We will move on to questions in the theory of knowledge: What is knowledge? How do we get it? What can we know? What can we reasonably believe?

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?
Required Text
Daniel Bonevac and Stephen Phillips (ed.), Introduction to World Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2009.
Papers 40%
Quizzes 10%
Exams 50%

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

40735 • Jimenez Cordero, Alejandro
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CAL 100
show description

The main purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to philosophy that will leave the students prepared to pursue philosophy further, if so inclined, and to understand the fundamental aspects of its character and significance. To this end, the course has two secondary aims. One is to provide an introduction to certain general aspects of philosophy. This comprises its aims, methodology, tools and general character. The other is to introduce a range of topics which are representative of philosophy and that will allow the student to become acquainted with philosophy in its various manifestations and to actively engage with it. The course will be centered on the reading of philosophical texts and their interpretation, as well as on philosophical writing, with an emphasis on employing writing as a means to engaging actively and critically with philosophical texts and issues.

The main topics covered will be drawn from metaphysics and epistemology, as well as from ethics. These topics will be treated from the perspective of contemporary analytic philosophy. Some of the issues surveyed will be the following: The proper mode of reasoning, argumentation and belief formation: How do we know that we know something? How should we think in order to attain truth? The nature of reality and the objects found within it: What is real and what is not? What kinds of objects exist? Our knowledge of the world and the self: Is it possible to be mistaken about everything that we believe to be true about the external world? What is our relationship to the external world? Do we know anything? Is it easier to know oneself or what is outside oneself? The nature of right and wrong: Are right and wrong objective? How should we deal with moral disagreement?

PHL 301K • Ancient Philosophy

40740 • Assaturian, Sosseh
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM RLP 0.118
(also listed as C C 304C)
show description

Alfred North Whitehead once wrote, “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”

The Republic is not only one of Plato’s richest dialogues, but one of his most influential. In it, Plato confronts some of the most fundamental philosophical questions: What can we know? How is knowledge different from belief? Is the world we encounter with our senses real or just an illusion? Is fate real? If it is, how can we be responsible for anything? How should we live?

Despite being written over two thousand years ago, the reader also encounters in this work some especially salient questions for our time. For example, one overarching question asks what a just society looks like and who should be in charge. The anonymity afforded by online communities evokes Book II’s Ring of Gyges, which asks about the effect of invisibility on human action. Freedom is touted as one of the advantages of a capitalist democracy, but Book III’s Noble Lie interrogates whether any of our desires are truly free from ideology. Book VIII then asks how a democracy (among other forms of government) deteriorates. And finally, with media outlets warning us about the rising danger of deepfake technology, we are reminded of the shadows on the walls of Book VII’s Allegory of the Cave.

We will focus on Plato’s answers to these and other questions in the Republic. Along the way, we’ll stop to look at different and dissenting responses to these questions from other figures in ancient and Hellenistic philosophy, such as Heraclitus, Aristotle, the Skeptics, and some of the so-called Sophists.

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the history of philosophy and the study of arguments by practicing the skills of extracting, interpreting, and assessing arguments that are situated in difficult, historical sources. Evaluation will consist of argument summaries, weekly in-class quizzes, two short papers, and one final paper.

While these texts may, at first, seem mysterious and outdated, they represent the origins of the western philosophical tradition and help us understand the trajectory of this tradition into today. By forcing us to confront and understand difficult texts from a context that is very different from our own, study of the history of philosophy deepens both the care with which we read and the depth with which we think, listen, and empathize.

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

40750 • Martinich, Aloysius
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 308
show description

Philosophy is the study of the most basic aspects of reality. We will study texts by the major philosophers of the early modern period, 1600-1800, who were also some of the greatest Western philosophers of all time. We have five major goals:

  1. To learn what the major philosophers taught and what reasons or arguments they gave for their beliefs.
  2. To learn how to understand and evaluate arguments and reasons.
  3. To learn some of the ways philosophy should be done.
  4. To discover, in addition to the philosophical views of others, some actual philosophical truths.
  5. To learn something about the early modern culture of Western Europe.

PHL 303 • Human Nature

40755-40765 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 302
show description

As widespread consensus would have it, a complete explanation of our physical and psychological traits must be understood not only by reference to our biology (nature), but also the influences of our environment (nurture). And, yet, the nature-nurture debate rages on in ever more subtle guises. This course will attempt to locate and critically evaluate the opposing sides in this debate. A reoccurring theme in the course concerns the difficulty of isolating putatively “objective,” or factual, scientific commitments from “ideological,” or more prosaic, stances. This should not be surprising given that theories of human nature often hypothesize about some of the most controversial topics including: race, gender, sex, sexuality, as well as people’s moral and political leanings.

PHL 303M • Mind And Body

40770-40795 • Tye, Michael
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 101
show description

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

40810 • Andrew, James
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 201
show description

The purpose of this section of Contemporary Moral Problems is two-fold: first (as the name suggests), to familiarize students with some important contemporary moral problems - crucially, through the lens of, and utilizing the resources of, moral philosophy; second (and relatedly), to familiarize students with how moral philosophers seek to think about, and engage with, moral problems (their methods differ importantly from those of, say, many politicians and pundits).

Some of the moral problems covered are perennial and will be broadly familiar to students (e.g., "Is physician-assisted suicide ever morally permissible?", "What is the moral status of abortion?", "Are we morally obligated to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet?", "What are our obligations to the global poor?", etc.); however, the arguments covered pertaining to these problems will often be unfamiliar. The course will also cover some more exotic, but no less consequential, moral problems: e.g., "What are our obligations to those people who will live in the far future?", "Are there moral concerns surrounding the efforts to develop advanced Artificial Intelligence?", and "Would it be desirable to radically extend the human lifespan?". The overarching goal is to explore strong arguments from a diverse range of perspectives, so as to leave students better equipped to think through these difficult matters on their own.

Although the course is oriented towards the practical, students will also gain a working knowledge of the major moral theories, and some of the early lectures will be devoted entirely to moral theorizing, so as to provide students with clear conceptual frameworks for thinking critically, rigorously, and systematically about moral problems.

PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

40800 • Barker, Matthias
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 214
show description

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

40805 • Evans, Amanda
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 201
show description
This class serves as an introduction to ethics by way of critically investigating some of the moral issues we encounter in the world today. The philosophers whose work we will be reading are attempting to provide answers to such questions as, “Is abortion morally permissible?”, “Is it wrong to have children?”, and “Can we hold mentally ill people accountable for their actions?”
Many of the moral problems we will discuss will already be familiar to you, but the methods through which we will engage with them will likely be unfamiliar. Philosophers approach moral problems by providing careful arguments for and against various conclusions, which differs from how politicians, theologians, and pundits might approach the same issues. Our job will be to engage in philosophical discourse with the philosophers whose work we will read, and we will do this by evaluating the strengths of their arguments.

As your instructor, I will not be in the business of trying to convince you of any particular stance on a given issue. Rather, I will be providing you with the tools and the conceptual framework to leave this class with a greater capacity to think critically and systematically about moral issues for yourself.

PHL 310 • Knowledge And Reality

40814 • Sorensen, Roy
Meets MWF 3:00PM-4:00PM GDC 5.304
show description

Instructor:  Professor Roy Sorensen

Office: Waggener Hall 405      (WAG)                       

Office hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 2:10 to 2:40 or by appointment


Textbook: Elliott Sober’s Core Questions in Philosophy Fifth Edition


Course Description:

The central question of this course is `How do we learn about the world?’. The textbook’s author, Elliott Sober, answers: Through inference to the best explanation. For instance, Aristotle learned that the earth is round by the curved shadow cast on the moon during a lunar eclipse. Although more complicated shapes could fit the observation, the most elegant hypothesis is that the earth is round. According to Sober inference to the best explanation is itself the best explanation of how philosophical questions arise and are resolved. These questions include: Does the universe have a designer? Or is it all a meaningless accident? Are my experiences caused by an external world that corresponds to these representations? Does consciousness show that I have a mind independent of my body – and that might persist after my body is destroyed? And would this independence show that I sometimes act freely?  Or are all my future actions determined by the state of the world a century ago? If I am free, are there any moral facts that ought to guide my choices? Sober believes that past philosophers were too narrowly focused on deduction and induction (the two forms of reasoning that dominate logic textbooks). We shall consider whether inference to the best explanation (sometimes called `abduction’) lives up to its contemporary popularity among philosophers.


Grading and Assignments: Your grade will be based on performance on a mid-term, two papers (2000-3000 words) and a final examination.  Each is worth 100 points for a total of 400 points. The grading scale is listed below. Students are encouraged but not required to submit a draft of each paper. Each paper should be between 2000 and 3000 words long. Topic questions will be provided.

Here is the format for the mid-term and the final examination. Before the test you will be given a long list of preparation questions. On test day you will be given a list of eight questions. You will choose five to answer. At least two of these questions will be from the preparation list.  Each answer will be worth twenty points. During the class session before the test, I will set aside some time to answer clarificatory questions about the items on the list.  That is, I will disambiguate, precisify, and in general respond to worries about misunderstanding the questions.  Of course, I do not intend to provide substantive answers.  On exam day, you need only bring a pen. 

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

40880 • Stippa, Bronwyn
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 214
show description

When we try to solve a problem, answer a question, decide on the right course of action, we rely upon our ability to reason. Our main aim in this course will be to investigate what separates good reasoning from bad. Specifically, this course will introduce you to deductive logic and formal methods of constructing and evaluating arguments. We’ll focus for the most part on two formal systems or languages devised to represent and evaluate arguments: propositional logic and quantified predicate logic. We’ll also, throughout the semester, learn how to identify common fallacies – arguments with premises which merely seem to (but actually don’t) support their conclusions. By the end of this course, you will have developed skills which will help you to detect poor reasoning, discern good arguments from bad ones, and further hone your ability to think and communicate more carefully, deeply, and critically.


Text                For All X (2018) P.D. Magnus & T. Button. Digital copy posted on canvas.


- Printing out assigned reading is recommended.

- Any additional readings will be posted on canvas.


Evaluation        Your final grade will be the total number of points you’ve earned throughout the semester divided by the total number of points possible (500 points).

The point breakdown is as follows:

Introduction – 20 points (4%)

                                                 Homework – 125 points (25%)

Problem Sets (2) – 130 points (26%)

Midterm - 100 points (20%)

Final – 125 points (25%)

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

40875 • Bischoff, Steven
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 201
show description

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 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

40885-40895 • Haderlie, Derek
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 201
show description

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

40900-40910 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 420
show description
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 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

40915 • Pollex, Brian
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM GAR 0.102
show description

Art is all around us. In this course, we’re going to engage some philosophical questions about the nature of art, our relationship with it, and what works of art mean. The course content will be arranged around three questions:

First, what makes something a work of art? Does art have to represent the world, or some important part of it? Does art have to serve some expressive role? Or is it all really just a matter of opinion? 

Second, do our attitudes toward art make sense? We all know Captain America isn’t real, but many people behave as if they care a great deal about what happens to him. Is this irrational? 

Finally, how do authors impact the meanings of the works of art they create? Can an author be wrong about what their film, painting, or song means? How open to interpretation are different kinds of art?

We’ll discuss each of these questions and some attempts to answer them. There will be weekly quizzes, several short writing assignments, and a final examination. We’ll spend time every week practicing the writing and thinking skills that will be assessed in the weekly writing assignments and the final exam so that every student is positioned not just to succeed, but excel in those assignments. By the end of term you’ll be familiar with some major issues and theories in the philosophy of art, a more careful reader, and a clearer writer.

PHL 318 • Introduction To Ethics

40920 • Del Rio, Andrew
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 201
show description

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

40925-40935 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 420
show description

“No politics!” That’s a rule many of us are familiar with at the dinner table and family gatherings, not to mention one we often implicitly abide by with friends and acquaintances. The reason for the rule is simple: political disagreements run as deep as any. But why? Well, for one, such disagreements often mark diverging theoretical, ideological, and evaluative commitments that tend to be bound up with our identity—they reflect the way we see ourselves and the way we wish to be seen by others. But disentangling the various factors that lead to political disagreements is no easy task. This is where philosophy comes in. We will critically evaluate various theoretical “isms”: utilitarianism, contractualism, and libertarianism as well as those associated with ideology: liberalism, conservatism, socialism, nationalism, feminism, ecologism, anarchism, and fascism. We will also see how some of these commitments play out in reference to several contemporary political issues, such as immigration, mass incarceration, health care, and more. 


PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

40940 • Sorensen, Roy
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 208
show description

*This course will be taught by Professor Roy Sorensen


Instructor:  Professor Roy Sorensen

Office: Waggener Hall 405      (WAG)                       

Office hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 2:10 to 2:40 or by appointment



Human Knowledge Classical and Contemporary Approaches, Third Edition

Edited by Paul K. Moser and Arnold Vander Nat, Oxford University Press

        A copy of a this text is on reserve in the PCL.

A Brief History of the Paradox by Roy Sorensen

Text available electronically through the UT Library System.

Skepticism and the Veil of Perception, by Michael Huemer Rowman and Littlefield

There will also be articles assigned as the course progresses. They will be posted on Canvas.


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?

            Skepticism and the Veil of Perception is an opinionated introduction to issues of perceptual knowledge. Chapters from this accessible book will be interleaved with readings in the anthology Human Knowledge. This historical begins with ancient Greeks and Romans (Plato, Aristotle, Sextus Empiricus) proceeds through medieval philosophy (Augustine, Aquinas); then early modern philosophy (Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, Reid, Kant); classical pragmatism and Anglo-American empiricism (James, Russell, Ayer, Lewis, Carnap, Quine, Rorty); and other influential Anglo-American philosophers (Chisholm, Kripke, Moore, Wittgenstein, Strawson, Putnam). The anthology has expanded selections on contemporary epistemology. This will be supplemented with articles suggested by students.


Grading and Assignments: Your grade will be based on performance on a mid-term, two papers (2000-3000 words) and a final examination.  Each is worth 100 points for a total of 400 points. The grading scale is listed below. Students are encouraged but not required to submit a draft of each paper. Each paper should be between 2000 and 3000 words long. Topic questions will be provided.

Here is the format for the mid-term and the final examination. Before the test you will be given a long list of preparation questions. On test day you will be given a list of eight questions. You will choose five to answer. At least two of these questions will be from the preparation list.  Each answer will be worth twenty points. During the class session before the test, I will set aside some time to answer clarificatory questions about the items on the list.  That is, I will disambiguate, precisify, and in general respond to worries about misunderstanding the questions.  Of course, I do not intend to provide substantive answers.  On exam day, you need only bring a pen. 

PHL 322 • Science And The Modern World

40945-40955 • Juhl, Cory
Meets TTH 3:30PM-4:30PM WAG 302
show description

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

40960 • Litland, Jon
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 208
show description
Course Description: Metaphysics deals with the most abstract features of reality. What is an
object in general? What is it for an object to exist? Can objects persist through time and can
they survive change? When are two objects identical? Could things have been different than they
actually are? If two things are identical, could they have been distinct? If two things are distinct,
could they have been identical?
The focus of the course will be questions about Identity fairly broadly construed. The main part
of the course will cover three broad topics: Personal Identity, Identity and Change, and Identity
and Modality. The last topic leads us to a discussion of modality more broadly. The final part of
the course will discuss some recent work on ground and essence and how these notions relate to the
material earlier in the course. Throughout we will keep an eye on the upshot these discussions may
have for ethical disputes.

PHL 323M • Philosophy Of Mind

40965 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 208
show description

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.

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

PHL 325C • Environmental Ethics

40970-40980 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 420
show description

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 325K • Ethical Theories

40985 • Deigh, John
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM WAG 208
show description

Major traditional and contemporary ethical theories discussed and critically examined. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Six semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

PHL 325M • Medicine, Ethics, And Society

40990 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM GAR 0.102
show description

The application of ethical theory to medical practice is an important part of modern 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

40995-41000 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM PAR 201
GC (also listed as C C 348)
show description

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. We’ll focus on three major thinkers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; and we’ll examine their views and arguments on some central questions about human conduct, the natural world, and our knowledge of both. We’ll begin with a brief look at some influential earlier figures known as Presocratics and Sophists, and we’ll end with a brief look at some enduring ideas of Epicurus. The emphasis throughout will be on analyzing both what these thinkers say and their reasons for saying it. The main goal is not to memorize information but to develop a critical understanding of some problems and arguments that remain very much alive today.

PHL 329L • Early Mod Phl: Descartes-Kant

41005-41010 • Dunlop, Katherine
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM WAG 302
show description

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.  A main theme will be conceptions of nature.  Specific topics to be considered include causation, substance, and the possibility of knowledge, which will be discussed with reference to contemporary scientific developments.  Readings from the rationalist tradition (including Descartes), the empiricist tradition (including Hume), and Kant.

PHL 332 • Philosophy Of Language

41015 • Dever, Joshua
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 208
show description

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 334K • Martin Heidegger

41020 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM GAR 3.116
show description

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 342R • Philosophy Of Race/Gender

41025 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 308
show description

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 346K • Aesthetics

41030 • Phillips, Stephen
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 201
show description

Aesthetics in classical Indian thought is sophisticated by any measure. The first part of the course will be concerned with a theory of emotions (bhava) and “aesthetic responses” (rasa, “relishings”) that is interwoven with linguistic theory in late classical texts. We shall spend about three weeks learning a theory of meaning, focusing on secondary meaning and “suggestion” (dhvani). We shall read Megha-duta (“The Cloud Messenger”) and the classical play Shakuntala by the poet Kalidasa (seventh century) and as well as stanzas of court poetry to see the theory in application to works addressed by classical aestheticians themselves. We may also try to develop our own style of rasa criticism with respect to a few modern Hindi films such as Jodhaa Akbar or Paheli (or a movie of choice as a paper topic). In the second part of the course, we shall look at synergisms between aesthetics and yoga along with the rasa theory’s influence on Vedantic and Tantric philosophies. A “Tantric turn” to world-affirmativism in yoga and spirituality away from a traditional anchorite’s world-rejectionism pivots on the rasa aesthetics, as we shall see. The last two weeks will be occupied with contemporary appropriations of the classical theories.



Required reading et cetera will be listed on a the “Course Web page.” All links are required. In addition, there is one required book (available at the University Co-op): Daniel Ingalls (translator), Sanskrit Poetry (any edition).

Readings to be listed include: K. Kunjunni Raja, Indian Theories of Meaning, plays by Kalidasa; works of Abhinava Gupta translated by Ingall et alia, Harvard Oriental Series 49, and so on. A syllabus is available upon request.



Two short papers (three pages, 15% each = 30%). There will also be a glossary test (5%), a midterm exam (15%), a final exam (40%), and a score for attendance (10%: twelve attendance sheets distributed randomly throughout the semester with two absences allowed).

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

41035-41045 • Smith, Tara
Meets TTH 9:30AM-10:30AM WAG 302
show description
This course will examine fundamental questions about the nature, authority, and proper application of law. We will begin by considering the purpose and the authority of a legal system. What function is the law to fill? What does the ideal of the Rule of Law demand, and what is the role of a constitution in securing that ideal? Must laws meet certain moral criteria in order to carry genuine authority?


The second and third units will concentrate on questions concerning the application of law in the judicial system. Unit 2 will focus on judicial review – specifically, the methods by which courts should interpret the law and reason about the law in order to resolve disputes concerning law’s proper application in particular cases. What constitutes inappropriate judicial “activism?” What constitutes inappropriate passivism? We will consider several competing theories, such as those that urge adherence to lawmakers’ original intent, to text, to moral principles, popular will, and precedent.


Finally, Unit 3 will focus on juries. What, properly, is their role in the administration of justice? What are the reasons for having juries (as opposed to judges or other government officials) reach verdicts and determine sentences? How should juries be constituted? Is jury nullification ever a justifiable practice?




Grades will be determined on the basis of three exams, a paper, and a few brief written homework assignments.


Readings will be taken from:

Jeffrey Abramson, We the Jury

Antonin Scalia, A Matter of Interpretation

Packet of essays and excerpts from historical and contemporary authors

A few pieces available online

PHL 354 • Origins Of Liberalism

41050 • Martinich, Aloysius
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 308
(also listed as CTI 335)
show description

Liberal democracy is roughly the theory that individual persons are free and equal, and that each must respect and be respected by other people and the government. Freedom and equality are typically connected with the rights of individuals. So liberalism is an individualistic theory in contrast with 'state' theories, which give priority to the state over individual rights. Key concepts to be discussed include liberty, democracy, the social contract, and the nature of authority and obligation.

The theory of Anglo-American liberalism developed from or competed with several traditions such as divine right theory, patriarchy, absolute sovereignty, democracy, and republicanism. These traditions were influenced by various religious, economic, and political beliefs over a long period. The most important period in this development was seventeenth-century (Stuart) England.

This course is interdisciplinary. It covers politics, philosophy, and religion. The course will cover such political and religious events as King Charles I's Personal Rule, the Long Parliament, the English Civil War, the Commonwealth, the Restoration of the Monarchy, the Exclusion Crisis, and the Glorious Revolution. The most important philosophical texts are Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan and John Locke's Two Treatises of Government. Primary texts on divine right theory and republicanism will also be read.


Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan revised edition, ed., Martinich and Batiste (Broadview)
John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Cambridge UP)
A. P. Martinich, Philosophical Writing 4th ed. (Wiley-Blackwell)
A. P. Martinich, Origins of Liberalism (available on Canvas)

Grading Policy:

Class Attendance and Participation:              20%
Assignments and Quizzes:                           50%
Midterm test:                                              20%
Final Examination (final exam period):          20%

PHL 356 • Yoga As Philos And Practice

41055 • Phillips, Stephen
Meets MWF 3:00PM-4:00PM WAG 308
GC (also listed as R S 341G)
show description

This course surveys the origins of yogic practices in early Indian civilization and traces the development of Yoga philosophies through the Upanishads, BHAGAVAD GITA, YOGA-SUTRA, Buddhist, Jaina, and tantric texts, as well as works of neo-Vedanta. We shall try to identify a set of claims common to all classical advocates of yoga. We shall look at both classical and modern defenses and criticisms, especially of alleged metaphysical and psychological underpinnings of the practices. No previous background in Indian philosophy is necessary, but students with no previous course work in philosophy or in psychology should contact the instructor.

PHL 363L • Philosophy Of Biology

41060 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 308
(also listed as BIO 337)
show description

This is an introduction to the philosophy of biology with a heavy focus on molecular biology, genetics, and evolution, and what they say about the living world including humans in light of recent advances in biology, in particular, in genomics and related areas in the wake of the Human Genome Project and other sequencing efforts. The course starts with a conceptual analysis of classical and molecular genetics followed by the innovations introduced by genomics, proteomics, and systems biology. It goes on to explore how evolutionary biology interprets the phenomena of life and what molecular biology says about evolution. It turns to controversial questions at the forefront of biological research including the possibility that human behavior is genetically determined and evolutionarily selected. Traditional philosophical problems that are illuminated by modern biology include reductionism, teleology, functional and informational explanation.

PHL 365 • Process Phil And Pragmatism

41064 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM BUR 228
show description

Topic 2: Introduction to Cognitive Science

Topic 5: Contemporary American Social Theory

Topic 6: Process Philosophy and Pragmatism

PHL 375M • Kant's Moral Theory

41065 • Dunlop, Katherine
Meets M 2:00PM-5:00PM WAG 210
show description

This course will be an intensive study of Immanuel Kant's moral theory, which remains one of the most influential ethical theories in the Western tradition. The primary text will be Kant's _Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals_, which Kant himself intended to be the most accessible presentation of his views. It will be supplemented with readings from secondary sources and other writings by Kant. In addition to presenting this content, an objective of the course is to enable students to complete an independent research project. The assignments will be designed to qualify the course for the Writing and Independent Inquiry flags; in particular, students will be required to complete a 15-20 page term paper on a topic of their choosing.

PHL 381 • Aristotle: Metaphysics 4/6

41085 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets T 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 310
show description

Past topics include major figures and movements in ancient, medieval, early modern, and nineteenth- and twentieth - century philosophy. 

PHL 382 • Classics In Philosophy Of Mind

41090 • Tye, Michael
Meets TH 1:30PM-4:30PM WAG 316A
show description

Course Description

We’ll be studying a range of articles from the recent collection on Ned Block’s work, Blockheads. This consists of more than 30 articles in Philosophy of Mind: some by eminent contemporary authors discussing Block’s work, and each with a reply by Block. Students will be invited to express preferences concerning which articles to read. They will be required to make presentations to the class on articles that interest them.

Grading Policy

Students will be graded on the quality of their presentations and on one essay of about 4000 words at the end of the semester.


Blockheads!: Essays on Ned Block's Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness (The MIT Press) by Adam Pautz (Editor, Contributor), Daniel Stoljar(Editor, Contributor), & 19 more


This seminar satisfies the M&E requirement

PHL 382 • Contemp Argument Gods Existen

41095 • Koons, Robert
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 310
show description

Course Description

Critical examination of very recent arguments for the existence of God (a necessary, non-temporal, simple, purposeful, “perfect” being), including: the first-cause (cosmological) argument from contingency, the Kalām-style first-cause argument, epistemological arguments from naturalistic debunking, arguments from normativity and semantics, the argument from the nature of modality and mathematical objects, and the argument from apparent fine-tuning of the universe for life and for scientific knowledge. We will also consider whether the popular “skeptical theist” response to the problem of evil undermines any of the arguments. 

Grading Policy

One term paper (80%), plus a seminar presentation (20%).


Alexander R. Pruss, Infinity, Causation, and Paradox (OUP 2018)

Alexander R. Pruss and Joshua Rasmussen, Necessary Existence (OUP 2018)


Jerry Walls and Trent Dougherty (eds.), Two Dozen (or So) Arguments for God (OUP 2018)

Geraint Lewis and Luke Barnes, A Fortunate Universe (CUP 2016)

Graham Oppy, Philosophical Perspectives on Infinity (CUP 2006)

Timothy O’Connor, Theism and Ultimate Explanation (Wiley 2012)

Selected articles and chapters


This seminar satisfies the M&E requirement?

PHL 384F • First-Year Seminar

41105 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 310
show description


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 environment.


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


We'll read a mix of influential articles/chapters from the last few decades of analytic philosophy.




PHL 386 • Science And Metaphysics

41110 • Juhl, Cory
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 310
show description

The course will consist in examining a number of questions surrounding the metaphysics and epistemology of science.  Two topics that will engage us for a substantial portion of the term are quantum theory and interventionist causation.  A recent book by Richard Healey proposes that we should not conceive quantum theory as describing the world, but rather as giving advice as to what credences to adopt in various physical circumstances.  I would like to spend at least a few weeks on that book, which also provides a sketch of quantum theory.  I think that it is valuable for philosophers to have at least some idea what quantum theory is and why it has been so difficult to understand.  Another topic that I would like to study is the ‘interventionist’ picture of causation.  We will go through some of the pertinent work of Woodward and of Judea Pearl.  Along the way I would like to see whether there is a way of understanding science along broadly instrumentalist lines.  I would also like to discuss reasons to doubt Quinean ‘methodological naturalism’, but also to explore Maddy’s book *Second Philosophy* in which she adopts a broadly Quinean-naturalist approach to a number of philosophical questions.  Other topics may include how the many worlds of many worlds interpretations of QM are related to the possible worlds of modal logics, why we should be suspicious of credences and other forms of probability, and whether the existence of beliefs, words, and other purported psycho-linguistic items is scientifically supported.

Grading Policy

Students will be responsible for one class presentation and a final paper.  


Healey, The Quantum Revolution/Revelation in Philosophy, other readings to be posted from among Woodward, Pearl, Maddy, Ebbs, Wallace, Bell, and others.



This seminar satisfied the M & E Requirement 

PHL 391 • Language And Power

41129 • Beaver, David
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM RLP 4.710
(also listed as CGS 380, LIN 393S)
show description


The goal of the class is to consider the problem political speech poses to philosophy of language and theoretical linguistics, and to understand not only political persuasion and propaganda, but also the more subtle ways in which power and status is manifested and maintained in speech.

The theory of meaning in linguistics and philosophy is set up to explain cooperative information exchange. Yet, as feminist theorists, anti-colonial theorists, sociolinguists, anthropologists, sociologists, social psychologists, and many others have emphasized, language is often used for less than ideal purposes, e.g. to dominate and exclude. Such uses of language do not seem to fit the idealizations theorists of meaning typically assume. But what are the idealizations, and can existing semantic and pragmatic accounts be extended to account for aspects of speech that manifest power and social status? 

The class will be based on a range of readings from social psychology, sociolinguistics, political science, pragmatics and philosophy of language, structured around a forthcoming book joint between the instructor and the philosopher Jason Stanley.

PHL 391 • Type Theory And Predicativity

41130 • Litland, Jon
Meets W 12:00PM-3:00PM WAG 310
show description

Course Description

Some people think that the world is flat. There are the things, and they are as they are. Among the things might be physical objects, properties, and facts, but all of them are alike things. Other people think that the world is stratified.  There are the things, and there are the ways the things are, but the ways that the things are are not themselves among the things. And there are the ways that the ways things are are, and so on. A stratified world view is in some sense deeply ontologically parsimonious. But the parsimony threatens to come at a price -- stratified world views can also be profoundly expressively limited. To regain expressive power, it’s tempting to flatten the stratification, making what were (very metaphorically speaking) levels of being into a flat collection of varieties of things. But the flattening threatens to come at a price -- flattened world views are rife for the creation of paradoxes of fineness of grain, recombination and circularity.  

In recent years there’s been a surge of interest in applying type theory, as a formal tool for presenting the stratified world view, to problems in metaphysics, philosophical logic and the philosophy of language. This course is an introduction to that literature and in particular to the issues surrounding predicativity and ramification. 

The course will have two interwoven parts. In one part of the course we will work on becoming familiar with the language and techniques of type theory (typed -calculus) familiar. We will study both functional and relational type theory and prove standard results on normalization, confluence, and normal forms of various sorts. We will also discuss what models for type theories look like.

The second part of the course  concerns the philosophical uses of type theory as a preferred language for doing metaphysics. There is a tradition - arguably going back to Frege and popularized recently by Williamson - of holding that metaphysical theorizing should eschew talk about properties and relations, and rather be formalized in higher-order language like type theory. We will investigate to what extent this is a defensible position, and we will consider some metaphilosophical questions that this view raises.

Our main topic in this part of the course is to what extent the paradoxes of the fineness of grain - paradigmatically the Russell-Myhill Paradox - give us reason to look at types theories that impose predicativity constraints. In such type theories we cannot, in general, assume the existence of objects that are defined by means of quantification over the very domain they belong to. (This is Russell’s “Vicious Circle Principle”.) We will investigate various approaches at developing predicativist type theries.

Further topics may include: the Curry-Howard Isomorphism, inductive definitions, inductive types, combinators, higher-order modal logic, The Logic of Opacity,


Bacon, Russell, Williamson, Fritz, Lederman, Rayo, Linnebo, Goodman, Uzquiano, Menzel, Dorr, Feferman, Walsh, Fine, McGee,

PHL 398T • Supv Teaching In Philosophy

41154 • Driver, Julia
Meets TH 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 310
show description

Restricted to Philosophy Graduate Students.


Consent of Graduate Advisor required.

Offered on the credit/no credit basis only. Students may register for this course as many as four times, but only three semester hours of credit in this course may be applied toward a graduate degree

Course Description

This seminar, required for the PhD in philosophy, prepares students to teach and to finish the PhD with a teaching portfolio that includes syllabi for courses at undergraduate and graduate levels.


The grade will be based on the following items:

Course Syllabi (2 introductory, 2 upper-division, 1 graduate) 50%

A Statement of Teaching Philosophy 10%

Teaching Observation Reports (2) 20%

Participation 20%


Readings will be made available online.

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

40815-40825 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 302
show description

Course overview The aim of the course is to reflect on moral problems, and try to work our way to some moral theories. The starting points will be discussion of fictional scenarios in which characters are presented with difficult choices. In the first instance these will be drawn from the course text (The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature, Sixth edition by Louis Pojman). Subsequently students will be invited to suggest other excerpts from fiction for discussion. Towards the end of the semester we will consider ethical theories, reading David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and J. S. Mill among the classics, and Peter Singer and Joshua Greene among our contemporaries. We will also consider whether recent developments in psychology and neurophysiology throw any light on the problems.


About the Professor Mark Sainsbury taught at the Universities of Oxford, Essex, and London before coming to the University of Texas at Austin in 2002. His books include Russell, Paradoxes, Logical Forms, Departing from Frege, Reference without Referents and Fiction and Fictionalism and, with Michael Tye, Seven Puzzles of Thought and How to Solve Them). His most recent book, his eighth, is entitled Thinking About Things (OUP 2018).


Assignments Your work for grade is as follows: 

  • two short essays  (about 1200 words each): 25 points each
  • a term paper abstract (about 500 words): 5 points
  • the term paper itself (about 2500 words): 35 points
  • a quiz in every class, from which the aggregated points will contribute 10% of the total points for grade.


PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

40860-40870 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 302
show description

There are a few questions we should all ask ourselves at least once before we die, and many of them are philosophical. In this course we will pick out some of the most pressing of these questions, and try to answer them as best we can. Among them will be: Does God exist? Is it OK to believe that He does even in the absence of evidence? 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? Are we morally responsible for the actions we commit? What is it about right and wrong actions that makes them right or wrong? Is morality objective? What is the meaning of life? Is there anything for us to fear from death?

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

40830-40855 • Proops, Ian
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM WAG 101
show description

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.