Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

41550 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM 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

41530-41540 • Montague, Michelle
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM PAR 201
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The purpose of this course is to introduce a selection of the major problems in philosophy, to some of the solutions that have been offered to them, and to some of the arguments for these solutions.  These problems concern God, freedom, mind, knowledge, and ethics.  Does God exist?  Are we free? What is the mind? Do we know anything? Is value objective?

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

41545 • Trees, Hannah
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 214
show description

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

PHL 301K • Ancient Philosophy

41555 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 302
(also listed as C C 304C)
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An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the ancient world, concentrating on Plato and Aristotle. 

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

41560 • Proops, Ian
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 308
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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

41565 • Dill, Kimberly
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM BEN 1.126
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In this course, students will engage in a broad survey of Eastern, Western, Ancient, Modern, and Indigenous philosophical literature. Some of the topics that we will cover include the philosophy of psychology, the philosophy of religion, the philosophy of race and gender, the philosophy of technology, and environmental philosophy. We will approach these issues by employing historical, epistemological, aesthetic, and broadly empirical methodologies. We will pay particular mind to tricky questions concerning the nature vs nurture debate, soteriological prospects (i.e., are humans capable of enlightenment?), worries posed by psychopathy, the distinction between the human and non-human world, and problems of the self and soul.

PHL 303M • Mind And Body

41570-41580 • Tye, Michael
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 302
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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

41585 • Schiller, Henry
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM WAG 302
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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

41620-41645 • Gilani, Syeda
Meets MW 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 302
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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

41590-41615 • Gubka, Steven
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 302
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When we consider undertaking an action, we sometimes ask ourselves moral questions: Would it be morally wrong to do this action? And if so, why? In this course, we will investigate moral questions that arise from various topics including abortion, euthanasia, the livestock industry, economic inequality, global warming, and implicit bias about race and gender.

Some specific questions that we will consider are: Under what circumstances is it morally permissible to have an abortion? Is it immoral to breed non-human animals for slaughter and consumption? Are people with wealth obligated to be charitable to people living in poverty? For each question, we’ll examine and evaluate proposed answers and their supporting arguments.

PHL 305 • Intro To Philos Of Religion

41650 • Jimenez Cordero, Alejandro
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 214
(also listed as CTI 310, R S 305)
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This course will focus on two main topics: the existence of God and religion. With respect to the first topic, the course will first discuss the question of what is involved in the claim that God exists. It will then proceed to discuss certain arguments for (such as the ontological, cosmological and design arguments) and against (such as the problem of evil) the claim that God exists. With respect to the second topic, the course will discuss the meaning of religious language, as well as certain questions concerning religious belief and practice, such as whether religion is needed for morality and the relationship between religious practice and the question of the existence of God.

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

41705 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 214
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This is a course in the basic principles of logic. The student will come out of this course with an understanding of deductive inference and of argument generally, as wells as the notions of logical consequence, validity, soundness, and logical truth. Specifically, we will be looking at sentential logic (which treats the inferential relations among simple sentences) and predicate logic. Predicate logic is distinguished from sentential logic by its use of quantifiers.

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

41700 • Stippa, Bronwyn
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM RLP 0.106
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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

41725-41735 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 420
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This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We'll study formal languages for representing sentences in logically precise ways, we'll study algorithms for evaluating arguments as logically valid or invalid, and we'll get an introduction to some of the surprising discoveries logicians have made about what tasks no algorithm can possibly do.

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

41710-41720 • Litland, Jon
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM WAG 420
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 315F • Philosophy And Film

41740-41750 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 12:30PM-1:30PM WAG 302
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This course is an introduction to philosophical issues raised by film as an art form. Topics treated will include a selection from: (1) the aesthetics of cinema as a medium; (2) relation of film to other art forms, especially the differences between film and theater; (3) cinematic judgments and mass audiences; (4) the auteur theory; (5) film, art, and documentation (the relation between fiction and non-fiction); (6) the ethics of film making and cinematic depiction; (7) eroticism, obscenity, and pornography in film; and (8) the problem of censorship. Throughout the emphasis will be on addressing philosophical issues concerned with the representation, pleasure, valuation, emotion, exploitation, and liberty. Most readings will be from philosophical writing on film with use made of film theory and criticism as needed.

PHL 315L • Philosophy And Literature

41755-41765 • Higgins, Kathleen
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 302
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This course will examine the relationship between philosophy and literature, emphasizing both philosophical theories about literature and the way that philosophical ideas are conveyed through literature and literary form and devices.  Some of the topics to be considered include: distinctive characteristics of literary texts; the line between the fictional and the non-fictional; whether fictional literature can convey truth and, if so, how; the ontological status of fictional worlds and characters; the “problem of fiction” (why we care about characters we know to be fictional); the impact of literature on emotion and its relevance to evaluating literature; literary means of positioning the reader; literature in relation to moral education; the (alleged) intentional fallacy; the pleasures of tragedy; aesthetic and moral evaluation of literature;  the nature of genre; the genres of philosophical texts; and indirect communication.

PHL 316K • Science And Philosophy

41770 • Dale, Michael
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM GAR 3.116
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This particular version of Science and Philosophy will focus on the burgeoning field of moral psychology. The last few decades have seen unprecedented advances in the empirical sciences, particularly neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology. What happens when these empirical findings—many of which undermine or at least come into conflict with our ordinary intuitions about ourselves and the world—run up against the traditionally theoretical discipline of ethics? Can they weigh in on such debates or should they be understood as mere descriptions of the world? For example, can the empirical finding that peoples’ behavior is not so much predicted by their character traits but instead by the situations that they find themselves in undermine virtue ethics, which presupposes the existence of character traits? Or what about morality itself? Can the idea that natural selection shaped our moral beliefs call the objectivity of morality into question? In this class, we attempt to answer these questions. Modern moral psychology is one of the most exciting and controversial fields in philosophy today, one in which the research is progressing in a way that is having real impacts on how we think about morality. This semester we will be on the cutting edge of such research, and hopefully you can judge for yourself how much the empirical findings of science can weigh in on ethical matters.

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

41780 • Dalbey, Bryce
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM CAL 100
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This course is an introduction to some of the philosophical questions about art, including: What makes something an artwork? What is valuable about art? What makes an artwork beautiful? Do artworks have `meanings' and if so what are they? We will survey several kinds of art (including music, visual art, the performing arts, and literature) and see whether these questions can be answered generally or only relative to particular kinds of art. We will also look at less traditional forms of art and see what they reveal about the nature of art and the practice of creating and appreciating art.
We will also address several questions that connect with issues outside of philosophy of the arts, including: What do artworks represent or express, do all artworks represent or express, is doing so relevant to their status as art? Do fictional characters exist and if not, how can we say true things about them? How can it be enjoyable or rational to undergo what appears to be unpleasant states of mind, as when watching horror films, listening to depressing songs, or viewing tragic plays? Is the way we talk about art and artists inappropriately gendered and if so how should it be changed?

PHL 318 • Introduction To Ethics

41785-41795 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:00PM GAR 1.126
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What sort of life should I live? What kind of person should I be? What sort of actions am I obligated to perform? Such questions are in the province of ethics. They ask not how you have lived, or who you are, or what you have done, but how you ought to live, what sort of person you should be, and what actions you are obligated to perform. Normative (or ethical) theory—the topic of this course—attempts to provide systematic answers to these questions. You may be wondering why we need such theories when the answers may initially seem obvious. Perhaps you feel as though you should bring about as much happiness for yourself as possible even if it means ignoring the happiness of others. But this would be to neglect the very things that make one happy; namely, friendship and other valuable relationships that require for their existence and maintenance caring about others and their interests, as well as acting on their behalf even when it is difficult or inconvenient to do so. Thus, in ethics we often find that what looks like an easy question to answer, raises puzzles instead. Normative theorists set out to resolve these puzzles. They also offer comprehensive ethical theories that, when applied to specific cases, specify a verdict about what one ought to do in that situation. In this course, we will critically evaluate competing theories, as well as asking questions about the nature of ethics itself.

PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

41800 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 10
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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

41805 • Koons, Robert
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 208
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An examination of the classic problems and questions of metaphysics (change, composition, time, space, existence, possibility, causation, universals), using the tools of contemporary analytic philosophy.

Robert Koons and Tim Pickavance, Metaphysics: The Fundamentals (Wiley/Blackwell, 2014)



Four short (1-2 page) chapter reports                 20%
Attendance and class participation                      10%
In-class “disputations”                                       10%
Midterm exam                                                   20%
In-class final exam                                             20%                                       
Term paper                                                       20%

PHL 323M • Philosophy Of Mind

41810 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM GAR 0.128
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What is a mind? How does it relate to a person's brain? How does it relate to their body and the external world? Could a robot or a computer be conscious? What is it to experience a pain? How does the mental fit into the physical universe? Philosophical thinking about the mind has been focused on questions like these for hundreds of years.

In this class we will consider some of the most important historical answers offered to the questions above as well as the views of many contemporary philosophers of mind. Specifically, we'll look at theories like dualism, the identity theory, functionalism, and others. The goal is for each student to be able to articulate the basic issues examined, to describe several possible responses to those issues, and to evaluate those positions critically. This course requires active participation, including reading assigned material before each class meeting and participation in class discussions.

The objectives are:
(i) To raise the student's understanding of the complex nature and historical background of issues in the philosophy of mind, and
(ii) To develop critical thinking and enable students to communicate in an intelligent manner on these issues.

PHL 325C • Environmental Ethics

41815-41825 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 201
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This is a course on environmental philosophy with a focus on environmental ethics but also treating epistemological issues. Much of the course will be a survey of major problem areas including intrinsic and instrumental value of environmental features, decision analysis, animal rights, biodiversity, restoration, sustainability, environmental justice, and climate change. The emphasis will be on using locally pertinent case studies to analyze philosophical problems arising from environmental concerns.

PHL 325K • Ethical Theories-Phl Majors

41830 • Dancy, Jonathan
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 308
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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

41835-41875 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:00PM GAR 0.102
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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

41880-41885 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM PAR 301
(also listed as C C 348)
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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

41890-41895 • Dunlop, Katherine
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM WAG 420
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This course is an introduction to early modern philosophy. The objectives of the class are to identify and analyze arguments in philosophical texts of the early modern period, and to become familiar with central themes and problems. Topics include causation, substance, and the possibility of knowledge, which will be discussed with reference to contemporary scientific developments.  Readings from Descartes and other rationalists, Locke, Hume, and Kant.

PHL 332 • Philosophy Of Language

41900 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CAL 200
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PHL 332 Philosophy of Language


The course will introduce you to the history of the subject from the late nineteenth century. Central topics are: meaning, sense and reference (proper names, definite descriptions); propositional attitudes and their attribution (belief, desire etc), and the pragmatics of language use (speaker meaning, conversational implicature, the nature of discourse). We will go slowly and carefully.


What is a language? A rough initial answer is that it is a system of signs with meaning. But what is meaning? Asked the meaning of “dog”, for example, a natural first answer is that it refers just to dogs. This kind of answer would have appealed to one of our earliest authors, John Stuart Mill, but was argued to be unacceptable by the Garman philosopher and mathematician, Gottlob Frege, whose paper “On sense and reference” (1892) is regarded by many as the foundational document of philosophy of language as it is now practiced. Much recent discussion can be roughly described as a debate between Millian and Fregean views.

The emphasis on the reference of words threatens to overlook their use. Language is not just a system of signs: it is a living, changing, flexible part of culture. Philosophers like Paul Grice, starting with a famous paper “Meaning” in 1957, argued that the source of word meaning is what people who use them mean: speaker-meaning is more basic than word-meaning. The brings language as an ongoing activity into a central position. One question is whether we can combine the insights of the Fregean tradition, which prioritizes language as a system of signs, with those from the Gricean tradition, prioritizing language as a way of making manifest what we mean.


The main authors to be studied are Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Peter Strawson, Keith Donnellan, Saul Kripke and Paul Grice. All the required reading is available electronically through PCL, so you won’t need to buy any texts.

Class style

Participation is an essential feature of this class (the classroom is round-table style). Feel free to ask questions or make comments at any point, and be prepared to be called on by name to give your take on a topic under discussion. I expect to use Squarecap as a way of registering attendance and asking you questions. This involves you paying a small fee, and having an internet enabled device (phone, tablet, or laptop).


  1. Participation: 10%
  2. Peer review of another student’s draft midterm essay 10%
  3. Midterm essay: 30% (due at end of Spring Break)
  4. Term paper abstract: 10%
  5. Term paper: 40% (due shortly after end of classes)

This course has a writing flag.

When you write your draft midterm essay, it will be reviewed by another student and also by me (your instructor) and you will receive detailed comments. The comments are for grade but the draft essay is not. You need to take the comments into account when preparing the final version of the midterm essay, which is for grade. I recommend adopting the same procedure for the term paper: let me and at least one other student see a draft and give comments, and then take these into account when preparing the final version. (This is a recommendation, but because of time constraints students will not receive grade credit for commenting on another student’s term paper draft. I hope the thought that you can help another student—and perhaps receive help in exchange—will be incentive enough!)

The heavy emphasis on written work in this course gives you the opportunity to solidify your understanding of what you have read, to gain practice in the accurate and systematic presentation of complex material, and to engage in imaginative construction and evaluation of arguments.

PHL 342 • Four Mdrn Politi Philosophy

41905 • Koons, Robert
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 208
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
Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom
John Stuart Mill, Basic Writings
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Basic Political Writings
G. A. Cohen, Why not Socialism?
André Gorz, Farewell to the Working Clas
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice
Michael Sandel, Liberalism and its Critics
Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France
Robert Nisbet, The Quest for Community
Roger Scruton, A Political Philosophy
Proposed Grading Policy:
Attendance and Participation: 15%
Short Oral presentation 4%In-class debates (with three other students): 30%
Eight short papers (300-500 words): 16%
15-20 page essay, critiqued by peers, revised: 35%

PHL 342 • Natural Law Theory

41910 • Budziszewski, J
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM BEN 1.122
(also listed as GOV 335M)
show description

GOV 335M / PHL 342:


Professor J. Budziszewski



Unique number:      38220

Class meets:               MW 1:00-2:30pm, BEN 1.122

Prof's office hours:   W 9:30am-12:45pm in MEZ 3.106

Prof’s email:    

Prof’s office phone:  232-7229; phone does not record messages; email strongly preferred

Course website:         Canvas

Prof’s website:           The Underground Thomist,

Course policies:         See the FAQ at the “Other Things My Students May Need” section of the Teaching page at my personal website.




The course can be taken as either GOV 335M or PHL 342.  It carries a writing flag and fulfills part of the basic education requirement in writing.  If taken as a government course, enrollment requires six semester hours of lower-division government.  The subfield is Political Theory / Political Philosophy.




“Natural law” refers to moral law – in particular, the fundamental moral principles that are built into the design of human nature and lie at the roots of conscience.  Natural law thinking is the spine of the Western tradition of ethical and legal thought.  The founders of the American republic also believed in the natural law -- in universal and "self-evident" principles of justice and morality which the Declaration of Independence called "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God."   For generations afterward, most Americans took the reality of natural law for granted.  Thomas Jefferson appealed to it to justify independence; Abraham Lincoln appealed to it to criticize slavery; Martin Luther King appealed to it to criticize racial discrimination. You would hardly guess any of this from the present day, because belief in natural law has come to be viewed as "politically incorrect."  Nevertheless, the tradition of natural law is experiencing a modest renaissance.


Is there really a natural law?  What difference does it make to society and politics if there is?  Is it really "natural"?  Is it really "law"?  To consider these questions, we will read a variety of influential works on natural law from the middle ages to the present.  Probably, most of your liberal arts education has implicitly rejected the whole idea, but in this course, for a change, you have an opportunity to hear the other side.


We will focus on the classical natural law tradition, not the revisionist version which was popular among the social contract writers.  The first two units of the course focus on the ethical and legal thought of the most important and influential classical natural law thinker in history, Thomas Aquinas.  He is a difficult writer, but we will work through his Treatise on Law carefully and I will provide lots of help.  In the final unit, which is about the continuing influence of the classical natural law tradition, we will read a number of authors including Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John McLean, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, C.S. Lewis, a contemporary theologian, and two contemporary philosophers.




Unit 1, Foundations of Law:  Analytical outline (25%).

Unit 2, Natural and Human Law:  Take-home essay (25%).

Unit 3, Legacy of the Classical Natural Law Tradition:  Whole-course journal (25%).

Class participation (25%).


Absences also affect your grade.  Please read the attendance policy in the Frequently Asked Questions section of my personal scholarly website.


I do not use plusses and minuses.




Even if you prefer to use the PCL Reserve Room or read online, you must bring physical copies of the readings to class, even if only photocopies or printouts.  Electronic devices such as laptops, cellphones, sound recorders, and smart pens must be powered down and stowed away during class.  There are no exceptions except for pacemakers.




J. Budziszewski, Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Treatise on Law (Cambridge, 2014).  This is a paperback.


Additional shorter readings, which will be made available on Canvas or online.




J. Budziszewski, Companion to the Commentary (Cambridge, 2014).  This free electronic book will be available through Canvas, and it is also available at my personal website.

PHL 346K • Aesthetics

41925 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 302
show description

The nature and purpose of art and the aesthetic experience. Key theories of aesthetics both in the history of Western aesthetics and in Eastern traditions. 

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

41930-41940 • Smith, Tara
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 201
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

Possibly: John Arthur & William H. Shaw, Readings in the Philosophy of Law, 5th edition 

Possibly: a few additional readings, either in a course packet, posted as pdfs, or available online

PHL 354 • Mistranslating Latinos

41945 • Colomina-Alminana, Juan
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM CMA 5.190
(also listed as LIN 373, MAS 363C)
show description

Check back for updates.

PHL 365 • Health And Justice

41955 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM BUR 116
show description

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 • Organizational Ethics

41960 • Bonevac, Daniel
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 308
show description


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

List of Proposed Texts /Readings:

Confucius, Analects
John Hooker, Taking Ethics Seriously: Why Ethics Is an Essential Tool for the Modern Workplace
Avinash K. Dixit and Barry J. Nalebuff, The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and in Life

Proposed Grading Policy:

Grades in this course will be based on class attendance, participation in class, and about 15 pages (about 4,000 words) of writing.

PHL 366K • Existentialism

41965-41975 • Higgins, Kathleen
Meets TTH 3:30PM-4:30PM WAG 201
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“Existentialism” was hardly a philosophical movement in the traditional sense, for few of its major figures would have described themselves as existentialists.  And yet the existentialists do represent a movement in the sense that they sharing certain concerns, such as emphasis on how reflective thought relates to our actual lives, skepticism regarding reason, reevaluation of traditional approaches to ethics, and insistence on passionate engagement as essential for a meaningful life. Among the figures we will consider are Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, and Simone de Beauvoir.

PHL 375M • Is Meaning Intelligible

41980 • Juhl, Cory
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 210
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According to a view of the world that we find obvious, there are material things such as tables or electrons or planets.  In addition, there are linguistic expressions that have semantic properties such as being true or false, and individual words that stand for things or properties or logical operations.  Relatedly, there are brains and minds, and mental states such as beliefs can also be true or false.  In this course we will consider how semantic or meaning properties of words or perhaps neural states are related to the sorts of properties that science and sensory perception reveals.  In the background of our thinking will be views that all 'legitimate' or 'real' properties or things are of a sort that are discoverable by science, or that are  'reducible' to such properties or things or facts.  We will critically examine a variety of views about how meaning is related to the world of perception and science, consider objections, and see whether we can find any new ways to illuminate how words and brain states are related to facts and things.


We will read papers or chapters from books by Roy Harris, Wittgenstein, Fodor, Stich, Putnam, Kripke, Quine, Ebbs, Davidson, Millikan, Neander, and others.


Two short (3-5pp) papers and a longer (8-10pp) paper will count for 90% of the grade.

10% of the grade will result from class participation and discussion.

PHL 375M • Philosophy Of Emotions

41985 • Deigh, John
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 210
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The seminar will be a study of theories of the emotions in modern philosophy.  The first half of the seminar will examine the historically important theories of Rene Descartes, David Hume, William James, and Sigmund Freud.  The second half will examine the leading contemporary theories of Antonio Damasio, Martha Nussbaum, and Peter Goldie.   



Descartes, The Passions of the Soul

Hume, selections from A Treatise of Human Nature

James, "What is an Emotion?"

Freud, "The Unconscious"

Damasio, Descartes' Error

Nussbaum, selections from Upheavals of Thought

Goldie, The Emotions



The grade will be based on evaluation of the papers written for the seminar and participation in seminar discussion. 

PHL 381 • Socrates

42005 • Evans, Matthew
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 310
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Instructors: Matt Evans and Paul Woodruff


Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

Lots of philosophers were thinking and writing by the time Socrates arrived on the scene, but there is a reason why we call them all “Presocratics.” Something new began with him — a distinctive style of intellectual engagement that captured Plato’s imagination and, as a result, dominated the early history of our discipline. In this seminar we will examine a number of Plato’s so-called “Socratic” dialogues, including the Euthyphro, the Apology, the Protagoras, the Gorgias, and the Lysis. Our aim will be to reach a better understanding of the Socrates who emerges in these works, and to assess his contributions — both substantive and methodological — to the foundation and development of ancient Greek thought. Among the topics we will discuss are the meaning and force of the Socratic paradoxes, the epistemic status and ontic presuppositions of Socratic inquiry, the so-called “Socratic fallacy,” the contrast between Socrates and the Sophists, and the relation between the Apology and the aporetic dialogues.



This seminar satisfies the History requirement

PHL 382 • Brentano And Husserl

42010 • Montague, Michelle
Meets M 12:00PM-3:00PM WAG 310
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Instructors: Michelle Montague and Katherine Dunlop


Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.


Course Description

This course will be divided into two equal parts. In the first part we will focus on Franz Brentano, and in particular on his theories of consciousness, intentionality and emotion.  In the second part we will study Edmund Husserl’s views with special reference to intentionality and phenomenological method, and situate Husserl with respect to other thinkers of the fin de siècle and early modern periods.


Grading Policy

One substantial term paper and a presentation in seminar. 


Readings will be excerpts from the following.


Primary sources:

Brentano, F. (1874) Psychology From an Empirical Standpoint (Routledge).

Brentano, F. (1889) The Origin of our Knowledge of Right and Wrong (Routledge).

Husserl, E.  (1900-1)  Logical Investigations (Routledge).

Husserl, E.  (1913)  Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology …  (Kluwer).

Husserl, E.  (1931)  Cartesian Meditations (Kluwer; will include if there is sufficient time and interest).


Secondary sources:  Scholarly articles on Husserl, and the following books:

Chisholm, R.M. (1986) Brentano and Intrinsic Value (Cambridge University Press).

Kriegel, U. (2018) Brentano’s Philosophical System (Oxford University Press).

Textor, M. (2017) Brentano’s Mind. (Oxford University Press).


 This seminar satisfies the M&E requirement


PHL 382 • Perceptn/ Evolutn Consciousnss

42015 • Tye, Michael
Meets TH 1:30PM-4:30PM WAG 316
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Instructors:  Michael Tye and Mark Sainsbury


Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

The course will be divided into two parts. The first part is on vagueness and the evolution of consciousness. The second part is on perception.

The first part: Some philosophers and scientists have likened the appearance of consciousness in living beings to that of a light switch being turned on. Consciousness, on this view, suddenly appeared and then it became richer and richer through time rather as a beam of light may become brighter and broader in its sweep.  Others have said that the light switch model for consciousness is fundamentally misconceived. Consciousness is not an on/off matter. Rather consciousness arose gradually just as life did, becoming richer through time as animal brains became more complex.

It will be argued that both of these views encounter difficulties and that a paradox arises here in our thinking about consciousness. A solution will be offered to the paradox. This part of the course is largely on the philosophy of mind but an excursion into the topic of vagueness will occupy us in the middle (and this will involve some formal discussion). Readings will include essays by Searle, Pautz, Antony, Papineau, Fine and Chalmers,

The second part is devoted to the main problems and theories of perception: How should we distinguish the senses? What are the objects of perception? What is a Bayesian model of perception?  Is perception “representational” or “relational”? Does perception have “content”? If so, is the content conceptual or nonconceptual? Should one give the same answer for all the senses? Is Burge right to say that the perceptual constancies are the source of objectivity? Can one appeal to the constancies to distinguish perception from sensation? How, if at all, does perception underpin thought? How, if at all, is it a source of justification? Readings will include Burge (2010) The Origins of Objectivity, various articles from The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception and from Nanay (ed., 2017) Current Controversies in Philosophy of Perception. A class by Michael Rescorla on Bayesian perspectives.

This seminar satisfies the M&E requirement


PHL 382 • The Subject Of Experience

42020 • Strawson, Galen
Meets TH 4:30PM-7:30PM WAG 310
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Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.


Course Description

A general survey of questions raised by the notions of the subject of experience, the self, and the person. The course will be centered in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind, extending into epistemology, social psychology, moral psychology, and ethics.

Central questions. What is a subject of experience? Is there such a thing as ‘the self’? Review of the ideas of Descartes, Locke, Hume (all three standardly misunderstood). William James on the self. The question of self-knowledge (questions about introspection, immediate acquaintance, the ‘situationist’ data, the injunction to ‘know yourself’, the structure of self-consciousness—role of embodiment, role of ‘the other’). Other possible topics: The ‘narrative’ conception of the self. Indian views. The structure of consciousness. Kant on the self. Relevance of data from psychopathology.


Grading Policy:

Term paper (up to 20 pages) relating to one of the topics covered 90%; one in-class presentation 10%




Illustrative selection of authors: A. Coliva, B. Dainton, A. Damasio, D. Dennett, R. Descartes, B. Gertler, D. Hume, W. James, D. Kahneman, J. Locke, A. MacIntyre, I. Murdoch, F. Nietzsche, D. Parfit, M. Proust, B. Russell, M. Schechtman, S. Shoemaker, G. Strawson, C. Taylor, D. Velleman, S. Wolf, D. Zahavi, P. Zimbardo.




This seminar satisfies the M&E requirement

PHL 387 • Moral Conc/Moral Disagreem

42025 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets T 4:00PM-7:00PM WAG 310
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Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

When do two people have disagreeing moral views? How can we tell when there is disagreement? In virtue of what is there disagreement? Is the so-called "Moral Twin Earth" argument effective? Does disagreement support moral relativism, or skepticism, or anything? What makes a concept a moral concept, a judgement a moral judgement? In virtue of what does a person have certain moral concepts?

Grading Policy

Term paper and a class presentation.



Readings by: Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons, Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, Janice Dowell, Robbie Williams, Plunkett & Sundell, Khoo & Knobe, Gilbert Harman, Sharon Street, Philippa Foot, Stephen Finlay, and maybe John MacFarlane.


This seminar satisfies the Ethics requirement

PHL 387 • Value Theory

42030 • Dancy, Jonathan
Meets T 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 310
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Seminar Title:  VALUE THEORY


Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

In this course we will consider various problems in the theory of value, some of long standing, and some that have emerged more recently.


Grading Policy

The grade for the course will be determined entirely by the quality of your paper.


We will read work by, among others, Korsgaard, Scanlon, Raz, Zimmerman, and Hurka.


This seminar satisfies the Ethics requirement

PHL 389 • Core Logic

42047 • Litland, Jon
Meets W 12:00PM-3:00PM WAG 310
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This seminar is restricted to first year Philosophy graduate students


Course Description

This course is the required graduate logic seminar. The course will introduce students to a variety of issues in logic that are of importance for work across philosophy. Possible topics include: modal logic and systems of propositional modal logic;  quantified modal logic, de reand de dicto readings, possibilist and actualist quantifiers, necessitism and contingentism; counterfactual conditionals; multi-valued logic; formal theories of truth including Kripke’s fixed-point construction and revision theories; supervaluationism and the semantics of vagueness; proof theory and Gentzen systems; intuitionistic logic; relevance logic and contradiction-friendly paraconsistent logics; higher-order logic and lambda-calculus;  and core results of classical first-order metatheory including completeness, compactness, and the Godel incompleteness results.


Grading Policy

Grading will be based on periodic problem sets.



Readings will be made available as required.

PHL 394K • Philosophy Of Language

42060 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 310
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Title:  Metasemantics

Ray Buchanan and Josh Dever



Graduate Standing


Course Description

Whereas the semanticist attempts to specify the meanings, or semantic values, of the expressions of a particular language and the rules by which they can be composed so as to issue in the meanings of more complex expressions, the meta-semanticist asks a different question: what are the facts (if any) in virtue of which a particular expression have the meaning that it does? For example, even if we agreed in advance that, say, the semantic-value of the proper name ‘Joe Biden’ is its reference, or that the meaning of a particular determiner phrase is a certain function from properties to properties to truth-values, there is still the further question of why those expressions come to have those particular semantic features.  In this class, we will look at various philosophical attempts to answer the meta-semantic question.  Readings will include some classic texts on these issues including papers by Dummett, Lewis, and Schiffer, but will primarily be pulled from two recent anthologies on these topics - The Science of Meaning (2018 Oxford University Press, (eds.) Ball and Rabern) and Metasemantics (2014, Oxford University Press, (eds.) Burgess and Sherman,) - as well as a forthcoming book by Robbie Williams entitled The Nature of Representation. 


Grading Policy

Grades will be determined on the basis of one final term paper.  





PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41655-41665 • Woodruff, Paul
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 420
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A continuation of Philosophy 610QA, this course will carry the class discussion beyond ethics to the support for ethics—reality and our ability to know it.  In this we are following Plato’s journey from Socrates’ questions to a theory of transcendent being.  We will start by looking at recent theories of relativism and then ask whether we can have access to knowledge of objective truth.  We’ll look at Plato’s Theaetetus and ask whether relativism can be coherent, and we’ll go on to seek a definition of knowledge.  In the middle of February, in time for Valentine’s day, we will arrive at the subject of love, which Plato believes leads us to a grasp of reality, as we will learn from the Symposium.  After a foray into the history of skepticism, we will 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 two sides 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 advance to a serious excursion into Buddhist metaphysics, which centers on the challenging idea that a human being has no real self. 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41685-41695 • Proops, Ian
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 302
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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’s Mediations), 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), and issues in applied ethics (for example, “Is there a moral right to own a gun?”, “What are the reasonable limits on free speech?”). There are no prerequisites for this class.

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41670-41680 • Evans, Matthew
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM WAG 302
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There are some 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 a few of the most pressing of these questions, and try to answer them as best we can. In the spring semester we will ask questions about valuation — good and bad, right and wrong. Among them will be: What is it about right actions that makes them right? Is it only that they bring about the best available outcome? What is it for one outcome to be better or worse than another? What is it for one life to go better or worse than another? Could it be wrong to bring someone into existence? Do we owe anything to future generations? Are there some things that it would be wrong to say, regardless of whether they are true? Are all of us leading immoral lives? Readings will be drawn primarily from recent work in philosophical ethics, and will be made freely available on Canvas.