Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

41805 • Chen, Zhengzhi
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 302
show description

In this class, we will learn how to efficiently conduct an intellectual discussion (or, group-investigation) on any potential topic. That is, to use the method of philosophical investigation: constructing and defending arguments for your own position, while evaluating and criticizing arguments for positions other than your own.


Some sample topics to be used in this class will be:

* Could there be a reliable way for one to tell whether she is in a dream or not, e.g., the spinning top in the movie Inception?

* Can we make a machine/robot that feels joy, sorrow and pain just as we do?

* Will a physical duplicate of you be you?

* Is it logically possible for you to go back in time and kill your grandfather?

* How should we weigh the rights of the fetus against the rights of the mother when we consider the issue of abortion?

* Is the existence of God compatible with the existence of Evil?

* If to live is to suffer at least sometimes, then is it still a good thing to bring a new life into this world? Is it still a good thing to save a life?



All readings will be made available as PDFs on Canvas.

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

41800 • Christoff, Caroline
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 214
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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

41795 • Saad, Thomas
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM CAL 200
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This course surveys contemporary approaches to classic philosophical problems. Such problems include:

  • What is the relation between the mind and body?
  • Does morality have an objective basis?
  • How should I live? Is free will an illusion?
  • What is knowledge? Do I have a right to my own opinion? Is there a god?
  • Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the nature of reality?

PHL 301K • Ancient Philosophy

41810 • Assaturian, Sosseh
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM BEN 1.126
(also listed as C C 304C, CTI 310)
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The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition,” Alfred North Whitehead once wrote, “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, the reader confronts some of the most fundamental philosophical questions:

- What can we really know?

- How is knowledge different from belief?

- What does a just society look like and who should be in charge?

- Is fate real? If it is, how can we be responsible for anything? 

- How should we live?

In this course, we will focus on Plato’s answers to these and other questions in the Republic. Along the way, we’ll take occasional stops to look at different and dissenting responses to these questions from other figures in ancient and Hellenistic philosophy, such as Heraclitus, Aristotle, the Sceptics, the Stoics, and some of the so-called Sophists.

To goal of this course is to introduce students to philosophy and the study of arguments by practicing extracting, interpreting, and evaluating philosophical arguments that are situated in difficult sources. While these arguments may, at first, seem mysterious, 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 ancient philosophy deepens both the care with which we read and the depth with which we listen and empathize.

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

41815 • Proops, Ian
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 308
show description

Past description:

This course examines metaphysical and epistemological issues in early modern philosophy in a selection of major figures from Descartes to Kant. Topics include the following: the
- nature and existence of God
- the existence of the external world
- a priori knowledge,
- the analytic-synthetic distinction
- the nature of space
- the nature of the self
- mind-body interaction,
- immortality
- primary and secondary qualities
- cause
- possibility
- substance
- essence
- free will.
In addition to developing an understanding of these fundamental philosophical concepts and issues, students will learn how to read a historical text sympathetically yet critically. We will finish with a brief consideration of some questions in contemporary theory of knowledge.

PHL 303 • Human Nature

41820 • Gubler, Simone
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM BEN 1.126
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When philosophers have attempted to investigate human nature, they have often turned to consider our fellow creatures, the other animals, as well. In itself, this move is unsurprising. After all, we human beings hold ourselves as animals, and tend to describe many of our properties as “animal” properties. So, if we are to understand ourselves, then we must understand what it is to be an animal. But, at the same time, philosophers have also been attracted to the other animals as a foil for self-distinction. For, as is obvious to any person who has spent time with animals (but perhaps especially, cats), our fellow creatures are also alien to us in some deeply felt way -- they are profoundly other.


The perplexing mix of alterity and familiarity that attends human encounters with the other animals has given rise to a philosophical literature on human nature, animal nature, and their relationship, that is distinctive for its richness, ingenuity, humor, frequent wrongheadedness, and variety. In this class, we will examine this history of thought in a topical fashion. We will begin by considering ancient attempts to carve nature at its joints – to identify and classify natural kinds, including human beings, within the animal realm. Next, we will move to study the work of early modern philosophers, who sought a clearer understanding of human minds and mental faculties through comparison to those of the other animals. Then, we will proceed to immerse ourselves in a contemporary debate about the moral status of the other animals relative to human beings; a debate in which the traditional questions of natural kinds and of comparative psychology will reemerge and take on added significance. 


By studying different ways of theorizing our relationship to the other animals, we will develop critical insights into what it is to be and to conceive of oneself as human, as a human animal, and as a human animal among other animals.

PHL 303M • Mind And Body

41824-41829 • Tye, Michael
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 101
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This course examines the relationship of the mind to the body. Topics covered include whether a machine could think, the Turing Test for intelligence, the reduction of the mind to the brain, whether consciousness can be captured materialistically, and the nature of persons and personal identity.We'll be thinking about immaterial spirits, futuristic computers and robots, Martians who behave like us but who have an internal structure very different from ours, brains in vats. We will consider whether these strange characters have thoughts and feelings. The point is not to consider bizarre cases just for the sake of it, but to see what light we can shed on our own nature as beings with mental lives.

PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41830-41855 • Krecz, Charles
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 101
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An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of a number of contemporary moral problems, including problems of abortion, sexual morality, capital punishment, pornography and hate speech.

PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41860-41885 • Krecz, Charles
Meets MW 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 101
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

41890 • Ingram, Andrew
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 214
show description

This course serves as a basic introduction to moral theory and a look at moral issues of current relevance. No prior knowledge of philosophy or ethical theory is assumed. We will begin by covering some basic approaches to thinking about what makes people and things good or bad and actions right or wrong. These will give us the tools to think about the concrete problems we will cover in most of the course. These problems include affirmative action, criminal justice, environmentalism/conservation, and global poverty. Finally, the end of the course will take an abstract turn to consider whether there are objective answers to moral questions.

For some topics, a special feature of the course will be the use of laws and Supreme Court cases as reading assignments. If you are thinking about a legal career, you will have a sampling of what work in law school and practice is like from reading these sources.

PHL 305 • Intro To Philos Of Religion

41895 • Martinich, Aloysius
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CLA 0.106
(also listed as CTI 310, R S 305)
show description

This course investigates four different attitudes that have been held about the relation of humans to God. First is an ancient view according to which God's existence is presupposed and all events are interpreted as expressions of God's will. Second is a medieval view according to which the existence of God and his various attributes are suitable subjects for proof and argument. Third is a modern view according to which God exists but little is known about him through reasoning. Fourth is a contemporary view according to which God is assumed not to exist, and it is asked whether anything has any value and whether human life has a meaning. Although the course is divided historically, our goal will be to identify what is true or false, rational or not rational about the views expressed in each.

PHL 310 • Knowledge And Reality

41900 • Dalbey, Bryce
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM 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

41965 • Hyska, Megan
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 302
show description

This is a first course in formal logic. In this course, we will study formal languages for representing sentences in logically precise ways. We will work with two proof systems for both sentential logic and first order predicate logic. NB: This course varies from PHL 313 in that we will cover relatively little metatheory for the logics we learn, and will spend slightly more time on using our new formal languages to analyze arguments formulated in natural language.

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

41970 • Knab, Brian
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM PAR 1
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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 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

41975-41985 • Litland, Jon
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 302
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This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We’ll introduce and study formal languages in order to represent sentences and arguments precisely and give precise characterizations of when an argument is valid. We will introduce algorithms (formal proof systems) to determine whether arguments are valid or invalid. We will prove some of the classic results about when algorithms for determining validity exist.

List of Proposed Texts /Readings :

Richard Jeffrey, Formal Logic, Its Scope and Limits, 4th Edition


Proposed Grading Policy:


Grades will be determined as follows: A midterm counting for 18%; a final exam counting for 28% and six homework assignments counting for 8% each. Percentages will be converted to letter grades as follows

93-100% = A                  90-92%  = A-                 87-89 % = B+                83-86%  = B

80-82  % = B-                and so on until                   59 and below = F

PHL 316K • Science And Philosophy

42004 • Haderlie, Derek
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM SZB 278
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This course will examine the growth and development of science in modern times
through the history of certain crucial debates and breakthroughs that have taken place
since the beginnings of modern science in the 17th century. Topics considered will
include: what is the nature of science? Does it have a distinctive method (or methods)
that distinguish it from other forms of inquiry? What are its criteria of truth? Can science
ever achieve certainty, and if not, does it have any distinctive claims on our belief, and if
so why? What are the mechanisms of scientific progress and change? How does science
relate to, and differ from, other forms of intellectual inquiry?

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

42010 • Dill, Kimberly
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CLA 0.128
show description

Course Description: 

In this course, we will critically evaluate a variety of canonical texts in the Western philosophical tradition pertaining to the nature of beauty, art, and aesthetic experience broadly construed. We will also evaluate a selection of texts from Japanese, Indian, African, Middle Eastern, and Mexican aesthetic traditions. As the philosophical ground that we will cover is substantial, we will maintain our focus by evaluating the following questions in particular:

- What is the nature of aesthetic experience?

- What is the nature of art?

- What role does the artist play in determining the nature of the art that they produce? 

- Is there such a thing as ‘artistic genius’? 

- What is the difference between natural and artistic aesthetic experience?


We will also examine the interplay between ethics and aesthetics: 

- Does ethical content determine (whether partially, wholly, or not at all) the aesthetic value of a work of art?

- For example, are works of art with morally reprehensible content less aesthetically valuable than works of art with praiseworthy ethical content?


In addition, we will examine a variety of art forms in more depth, including:

- Film as philosophy; film and philosophy 

- Painting

- Photography

- Literature

- Poetry

- Video games 

- Food as art

- Music

- Humor

- Horror 


Course Objectives:

By the end of this course, students will: 

  • Be familiar with key, historical texts within the philosophy of the arts. 
  • Be able to articulate the central conclusions (and their arguments) within competing philosophical theories of art and aesthetics. 
  • Be able to articulate their own philosophical views about art.
  • Be able to understand these theories within the context of specific art forms (e.g., film, music, painting).
  • Be able to engage more fully with a variety of art forms, natural features, and aesthetic experiences generally.
  • Have refined their abilities to write philosophical essays.
  • Be able to articulate clear philosophical arguments.

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

42005 • Blaesi, Zachary
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM PAR 1
show description
While some of us may never have seen a play, attended a classical concert, or stepped foot inside a museum, it’s likely that almost all of us have seen a movie in the last year alone. But how many of us have stopped to think about the medium of film from a philosophical perspective? What is a philosophical perspective, anyway?
The purpose of this course is to get you asking philosophical questions and to help you develop the skills needed to address them. To this end, we will look at a number of central issues in the philosophy of art, with special focus on the medium of film. Can a film be a work of art? Is a film aesthetically worse off for being immoral? Do Hollywood films implicate a “male gaze”? Is it possible to genuinely fear characters in horror movies, and if so, can we enjoy such horrifying experiences? Can a film itself do philosophy? 
In asking these questions, we will investigate a number of substantive works in the philosophy of art as well as statements from philosophically inclined filmmakers and film theorists. By examining philosophical positions, we will both come to grasp what it is to do philosophy and learn how to do philosophy ourselves.
We will also work toward developing a number of practical philosophical skills, such as:
- Understanding and expositing philosophical positions 
- Critically evaluating arguments and viewpoints 
- Communicating complex ideas in a clear and economical manner
You can also expect to develop self-awareness for the movies you love, the movies you hate, and why you bother watching movies in the first place.

PHL 318 • Introduction To Ethics

42015 • Andrew, James
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 214
show description

The primary aims of this course will be to (a) familiarize students with the study of philosophical ethics and (b) equip them with the knowledge necessary for thinking critically and systematically about important ethical questions.  The course will be divided into three sections.  The first will be devoted to the study of the most prominent members of the three primary families of moral theories: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics.  In the second section, we will discuss the topics of moral responsibility and personal identity, some familiarity with which is required for clear moral thinking.  In the final section, we will turn our attention to some of the most pressing moral questions facing us today, such as: 

What are our obligations to nonhuman animals?
What obligations do citizens of wealthy countries have to citizens of the poorest countries?
What do we owe future generations?

PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

42020 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM WAG 210
show description

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


Readings / Texts:

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


Grading Policy:

10 reading questions 15%

5 short essays 50%

1 final paper20%

Attendance/participation 15%

PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

42024 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM WAG 307
show description

What is knowledge? What are the principal types of knowledge, and what does a person's knowing a claim or proposition p amount to? Philosophers have commonly supposed that a person's having justification, or warrant, for
believing that p is a necessary condition of his/her knowing that p. Accordingly, this course will be concerned with theories of justification as well as of knowledge, along with the question of whether there can be knowledge without what is called epistemic justification. Views in ancient, early modern, and contemporary philosophy—also one Eastern view—will be surveyed.

PHL 323K • Metaphysics

42025 • Litland, Jon
Meets TTH 8:00AM-9:30AM WAG 308
show description

This course is an overview of some of the central topics in metaphysics.
Metaphysics, generally speaking, is the branch of philosophy concerned
with the nature of reality; metaphysicians seek an understanding of the
fundamental sorts of things that constitute the world, as well as of the
structure of the world itself.

We will begin by focusing on issues surrounding one particular sort of
thing: persons. In particular, we will be considering different views
regarding what it is to be a person and for a person to persist through
change. This will lead to more general discussions of the nature and
structure of time and the persistence of things through temporal change.
From there we’ll take up the issue of composition. In particular, we’ll be
concerned with the following question: Under what circumstances do
some things (parts) compose another thing (whole)? We’ll then turn to the
problems of universals and individuation – how do we account for (i)
similarities among distinct things and (ii) the distinctness of exactly
similar things? We’ll conclude the course with a discussion of possible

PHL 323M • Philosophy Of Mind

42030 • Montague, Michelle
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GDC 1.406
show description

This course is an introduction to many of the central issues in philosophy of mind. Some of the questions we will discuss include the following. Can computers think? Is the mind an immaterial thing? Or is the mind the brain? Or does the mind stand to the brain as a computer program stands to the hardware? How can creatures like ourselves think thoughts that are "about" things? (For example, we can all think that Aristotle is a philosopher, and in that sense think "about" Aristotle, but what is the explanation of this quite remarkable ability?) Can I know whether your experiences and my experiences when we look at raspberries, fire trucks and stop lights are the same? Can consciousness be given a scientific explanation?

PHL 325C • Environmental Ethics

42035-42045 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 201
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-Phl Majors

42050 • Dancy, Jonathan
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM PAR 206
show description

This course will consider three classic moral theories, 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 325M • Medicine, Ethics, And Society

42055 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM 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 327 • Contmp Christian Philosophy

42060 • Koons, Robert
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM CLA 0.106
show description

We will examine recent work in philosophy that is written from a Christian point of view or that examines philosophical questions that arise within the framework of the Christian faith. The issues to be covered include the relationship between faith and reason, the possibility of demonstrating the existence of God, the problem of evil, the problem of reconciling divine foreknowledge and sovereignty with human responsibility, and the relation of God to time. Special emphasis will be placed on the relevance of Christian philosophy to foundational questions concerning reality, knowledge and ethics.

PHL 327 • Interpretation And Meaning

42065 • Martinich, Aloysius
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 308
show description

We will examine recent work in philosophy that is written from a Christian point of view or that examines philosophical questions that arise within the framework of the Christian faith. The issues to be covered include the relationship between faith and reason, the possibility of demonstrating the existence of God, the problem of evil, the problem of reconciling divine foreknowledge and sovereignty with human responsibility, and the relation of God to time.  Special emphasis will be placed on the relevance of Christian philosophy to foundational questions concerning reality, knowledge and ethics. 

Prerequisites: no prior work in philosophy is expected.  Non-majors are encouraged.


G. K. Chesterton, St. Thomas Aquinas

C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Francis A. Schaeffer, He is There and He is not Silent

Kelly J. Clark, Return to Reason

Phl 327 Supplemental Readings, available at UT Library electronic reserves. 


• Three in-class exams (combination of essay and multiple choice): 25% each (including an in-class test on Dec. 7).  There will be an optional, comprehensive final that can be counted for 25% of the course grade, permitting a student to drop the lowest in-class test grade.

• Short papers (eight 2-page responses to the readings): 10%. Short papers are to be turned in at the beginning of class on Monday, responding to the coming week's reading.

• Class and section participation: 15%

• Optional term paper: due the last day of class.  2500-3000 words on a topic pre-approved by the instructor.  The term paper may be used to drop a low midterm grade, or in place of the third in-class exam, at the student's discretion.


Instructor: Prof. Rob Koons.  Phone: 471-5530.

PHL 329K • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

42070-42075 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 302
(also listed as C C 348)
show description

History of Ancient Philosophy


Jeff Leon, PhD


This class will be survey of philosophical fragments and major works in three main sections: Presocratics, Plato, and Aristotle.



Ancient Greek Philosophy 4rd edition, Cohen, Curd, Reeve, eds. (Hackett Publishing, 2011).



Paper: 25%

Three in-Class Exams: 20% each.

Reader Response Discussion Postings: 10%

Participation: 5%

PHL 329L • Early Mod Phl: Descartes-Kant

42080-42085 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 201
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. Topics include causation, substance, and the possibility of knowledge. The relationship of philosophical theories to contemporary science will be an ongoing theme.

PHL 329M • Plato's Republic

42090 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GAR 2.112
show description

The Republic is Plato’s greatest masterpiece – a work of astounding literary power that is also a cornerstone of the Western philosophical tradition. Yet even its most dedicated and disciplined readers have disagreed, and continue to disagree, about its structure, its purpose, and its meaning. Our aim in this class will be to explore some of the most pressing of these disagreements, and to see whether and how we might be able to resolve them.


Proposed texts:

"Platos's Republic" (translated by CDC Reeve), "Philosopher Kings" by CDC Reeve, "An Introduction to Plato's Republic" by Julia Annas


Proposed Grading:

50% short writing assignments, 25% term paper, 15% quizzes, 10% participation


PHL 332 • Philosophy Of Language

42095 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 308
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 342 • Four Mdrn Politi Philosophy

42100 • Koons, Robert
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 308
show description

An examination of some central texts representing each of four modern political philosophies: Marxism, welfare-state or social democracy, libertarianism, and traditional or Burkean conservatism. We will try to uncover the metaphysical, epistemological, anthropological, and ethical commitments of each system and understand how the constitutional, legal, and economic framework recommended by each follows from their philosophical foundations. We will look at how each  deploys philosophical arguments and strategies against the other three, identifying the points of commonalty and tension with respect to each of the six pairings. Students will be encouraged to develop and defend their own understanding of the foundations of politics through in-class disputations and through written essays critiqued by their peers.


Proposed Readings:

The Marx-Engels Reader
G. A. Cohen, Why not Socialism?
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
J. J. Rousseau, Basic Political Writings
Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
Murray Rothbard, The Anatomy of the State
Roger Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism
C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man


Proposed Grading Policy:

Attendance and Participation: 10%
In-class disputations: 20%
Eight short papers (300-500 words): 40%
Four 4-5 page (1000-1200 words) essays, critiqued by peers: 20%

PHL 342 • Natural Law Theory

42105 • Budziszewski, J
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM PAR 304
(also listed as GOV 335M)
show description

Critical examination of leading theories of the state, including analysis of such concepts as sovreignty, obligation, rights, and freedom. 

PHL 354 • Mistranslating Latinos

42110 • Colomina-Alminana, Juan
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM PAR 306
(also listed as LIN 373, MAS 363C)
show description
  • This course is oriented around the problem of translation (literary, cultural, political, sociolinguistic) as it relates to the cultural production and/or language use arising in Latinx communities. This semester the course addresses translation from different angles, mainly issues of linguistic or cultural relativism.

PHL 358 • Philosophical Logic

42115 • Dever, Joshua
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 308
show description

Description: This class develops modal logic both as a device for better understanding the nature and boundaries of logic and as a tool with a wide variety of applications throughout philosophy. We examine Kripke frame semantics for modal logic, and the use of Kripke frames to characterize a family of modal logics. Applications of modal logic to deontic and epistemic reasoning are then explored, with a special focus on extensions to systems of dynamic epistemic logic for modelling group and interactive epistemology. We examine the role of modal logic in metaphysics, and in the logic of vagueness. We then consider the application of Kripke frame semantics to the characterization of non-classical logics such as intuitionistic and relevance logics.

Texts: Modal Logic (Blackburn, Venema, and de Riijke), and Logical Dynamics of Information and Interaction (van Benthem).

Grading Policy: Grades are based on a combination of four problem sets (50%), a midterm exam (20%), and a final exam (30%).

PHL 361K • Philosophy In Literature

42117 • Bonevac, Daniel
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM CLA 1.102
show description

This course will examine philosophical themes in great works from literary traditions around the globe. We will read poems, plays, and novels, thinking about the philosophical ideas that underlie their or their characters’ perspectives on being in the world.

Readings will be from among:

Virgil, Aeneid

Kalidasa, The Recollection of Shakuntala

Dante, The Inferno

Shakespeare, King Lear, The Tempest

Moliere, Tartuffe

Voltaire, Candide

Goethe, Faust

Schiller, The Robbers

Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Synge, The Playboy of the Western World

Zamyatin, We

Kafka, The Trial

O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds

Christie, And Then There Were None

Salinger, Teddy

Bellow, Mr. Sammler’s Planet

Borges, stories

Eco, The Name of the Rose

as well as poems by Horace, Du Fu, Li Bai, Basho, Pope, Baudelaire, and others.


A term paper.

PHL 363L • Philosophy Of Biology

42125 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CLA 1.108
(also listed as BIO 337)
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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 • Health And Justice

42130 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM WAG 302
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Mass disparities exist in the health of humans across the globe. It may seem obvious from a moral point of view that if we can do something to alleviate the global and local disparities in health and access to healthcare, that we should do something about it. Once we scratch the surface of this apparent truism, however, we find a number of assumptions in need of defense. What would ground such an obligation after all? Do humans have a right to health? If so, do they also have a right to healthcare? It may seem that these two concepts are intertwined, but consider an analogy. Someone’s right to life makes it impermissible to kill that person (unless you would be justified in doing so, say, in a case of genuine self-defense). Nevertheless, the right to life plausibly does not entail that you are obligated to protect or preserve the life of everyone who has such a right. Similarly, if humans have a right to health, then it would be impermissible to undermine their health. But it is a different question whether individual’s are obligated to protect and preserve the health of others by, for example, ensuring their access to healthcare. The course will evaluate rights-based arguments, among others, that aim to show the injustice of current disparities in health. Proponents contend that we do have a moral obligation to secure health and access to healthcare across racial, gender, socio-economic, as well as national boundaries.

PHL 365 • Intro To Cognitive Science

42135 • Van Der Feest, Suzanne
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM CBA 4.348
(also listed as LIN 373)
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Topic 2: Introduction to Cognitive Science

Topic 5: Contemporary American Social Theory

Topic 6: Process Philosophy and Pragmatism

PHL 365 • Process Phil And Pragmatism

42140 • Krecz, Charles
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 210
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An examination of process philosophy, one of the major metaphysical movements of the twentieth century, including philosophers such as James, Dewey, and Whitehead.

PHL 375M • Advanced Ethics

42175 • Deigh, John
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 210
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The seminar will be a study of late twentieth century work in ethical theory by three major philosophers in the Anglo-American tradition, Philippa Foot, Bernard Williams, and Simon Blackburn.  The focus will be on the different conceptions of ethics implicit in these philosophers' theories and their implications for the possibility of ethical knowledge.  


Proposed Texts:

Philippa Foot, Natural Goodness
Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy
Simon Blackburn, Ruling Passions



PHL 375M • Skepticism

42180 • Bonevac, Daniel
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 210
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PHL 375M, Skepticism

Spring 2018

Daniel Bonevac, Professor


You probably think that you know quite a lot. But what if you have been suffering from some

sort of illusion? What if this is all a dream? What if an evil deceiver is out to trick you? What if you are really a brain in a vat, the subject of some scientific experiment? What if you are trapped in the Matrix? This course examines skeptical attacks on the possibility of knowledge, starting with ancient writers but focusing primarily on contemporary skeptical challenges and responses to them.


List of Proposed Texts /Readings:


Keith DeRose and Ted Warfield (ed.), Skepticism: A Contemporary Reader (Oxford)

Penelope Maddy, What Do Philosophers Do? Skepticism and the Practice of Philosophy (Oxford)

John Greco (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Skepticism

Gisela Striker, “The Ten Tropes of Aenesidemus”

Myles F. Burnyeat, “Can the Skeptic Live His Skepticism?”

Selections from Sextus Empiricus, Philo of Alexandria, Francisco Sanches, René Descartes, David Hume, Roger White, Miriam Schoenfield, Katia Vavova, and others.


Proposed Grading Policy:


Prospectus for Term Paper - 10%

Draft of Term Paper - 10%

Comments on Another Student’s Draft - 10%

Attendance - 20%

Final Draft of Term Paper - 50%

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41935-41945 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 302
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This semester we will discuss a range of issues in contemporary philosophy. (1) Appearance and reality: might we be brains in vats? (2) The mind-body problem: are we just our bodies? (3) Free will: is what we do up to us?


Proposed Texts/ Readings:

Descartes: Meditations §§1, 2, 6.
Kripke: Naming and Necessity Ch 3.
Jackson: "What Mary didn't know"
Hume: Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding §7
Libet, B. 1985: "Unconscious cerebral initiative"
Kane: Four Views on Free Will.


Proposed Grading Policy:

Grades will be decorated, based on written work, quizzes and attendance. The highest grades for written work require meticulous analysis and imaginative and well-presented argumentation.

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41905-41915 • Woodruff, Paul
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM WAG 201
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A continuation of Philosophy 610QA, this course will carry the class discussion from ethics to knowledge and metaphysics.  We will start with Nietzsche’s criticism of the ethical tradition in Europe, and then move back to the beginning of that tradition in Plato.  We will then see how Plato’s ethics leads him into questions about knowledge and reality.  From Plato, we graduate to skepticism in ancient philosophy.  Then we leap forward to the modern era, where we join the debate between the advocates of reason (such as Descartes) and the team of passion and experience (Hume).   We will see how these teams handle proofs for the existence of God (with a brief look back into the middle ages). After that, we leap forward again to discuss contemporary issues about the mind and brain, then back for a serious excursion into Buddhist metaphysics.

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41950-41960 • Proops, Ian
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 214
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PHL 610QB Problems of Knowledge and Valuation.
This course examines some of the central problems of philosophy, drawing on both contemporary readings and historical texts. Students will be introduced to philosophy’s “tool kit” as well as to some of its “greatest hits.” Topics include: History of philosophy (Descartes), personal identity (for example, “What, if anything, makes me the same person I was at the age of 5?”), issues in applied ethics (for example, “Is there a moral right to own a gun?”, “What are the reasonable limits on free speech?”). Metaphysics (including, for example, time travel), and some issues in the theory of knowledge (including the question whether we know we are not living in a computer simulation). There are no prerequisites for this class.


Grading Policy

The final grade will be based on four components: (1) section attendance and participation (there is no class-participation requirement) (15%); (2) a forty-five-minute in-class test in the final class (six questions will be assigned one week in advance; students will answer three in the test, which three being revealed on the day of the test) (25%); (3) one short paper (four pages, double-spaced, 12 point) due around mid-term (25%); and (4) a longer paper (five-six pages, double-spaced, 12 point; 35%) due at the end of the semester.  Note: plus and minus grades will be awarded.


Required text
There is only one required text:
Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, with selections from the objections and replies, edited by John Cottingham (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press).

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41920-41930 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM BUR 224
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Problems of Knowledge and Valuation



10/20/17: Instructor to be: Jeff Leon, PhD


What is knowledge? What can be known?  What is real? This course is an introduction to epistemology and metaphysics, i.e. the studies of knowledge and reality. We focus on major ideas in philosophy beginning with Plato and Aristotle; work through views of early modern figures from Descartes to Kant; and end with some critical and reformulated perspectives of contemporary philosophers.



Evaluation (Final Grades will include +/-):

Weekly response postings: 15%.

Two papers, one 3-5 page paper: 10%; one 6-8 page paper: 20%.

Midterm exam: 15%.

Final exam: 25%.

Attendance and participation: 10%.

Oral presentation (on a topic related to your paper): 5%.