Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

41065 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM ART 1.110
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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

41060 • Quaranto, Anastasia
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 214
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This course is an introduction to some of the problems of philosophy and some of the solutions that have been offered to them. We'll consider answers to questions like:

What is knowledge? What can we know, if anything? And how can we know it? Can we be certain of our beliefs?
What is there? Is reality independent of our minds? 
 
What are we? Are we minds and bodies? Just minds? Just bodies? Do we have free will?
 
This course is also an introduction to the practice of philosophy. We'll practice actively engaging with philosophical texts and arguments, interpreting them and critically evaluating them for fallacies, biases, and other flaws. We'll also practice reflecting on our own beliefs with the same clarity and sharpness, and we'll hone our skills of supporting claims with clear explanations and good reasons. 

PHL 301K • Ancient Philosophy

41070 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM RLP 1.102
(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

41075 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 308
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An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, concentrating on such figures as Descartes, Hume, and Kant. 


PHL 303 • Human Nature

41080 • Casser, Laurenz
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM GAR 0.128
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Who are we and what makes us who we are? This course explores some of the deepest, most fundamental, and nagging questions about our identity. We will be questioning what it means to have a nature, what it means for that nature to be human, and whether or not nature dictates who we are. To this end, we will be studying the work of philosophers, psychologists, and biologists, and explore ways in which we might give principled answers to questions of self-identity. We will engage with topics from metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of psychology, the philosophy of biology, and the philosophy of race and gender. Last but not least, we will be left wondering whether Lady Gaga is right when she says “Baby I was born this way”.


PHL 303M • Mind And Body

41085 • Evans, Amanda
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 214
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Introduction to philosophical issues about the nature of the mind and its relation to body: What is mind? Do people have free will? How does psychology relate to neuroscience? 


PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41100-41129 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:00PM ECJ 1.202
E
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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

41095 • Driver, Julia
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 101
E
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This course considers moral problems that are controversial today and the way that different ethical theories recommend that we approach these problems.  We will be discussing:  Balancing Liberty and Well-Being, Cloning and other forms of Genetic Engineering, Human Enhancement, Limits on what can be sold, Mass Incarceration, Immigration and Global Poverty, Artificial Intelligence, Animal Rights, Climate Change, and Killing.


PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41090 • Andrew, James
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM BUR 212
E
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An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of a number of contemporary moral problems, including problems of abortion, sexual morality, capital punishment, pornography and hate speech.


PHL 305 • Intro To Philos Of Religion

41130 • Martinich, Aloysius
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 308
(also listed as CTI 310, R S 305)
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Description: This course is an introduction to philosophy through problems that arise within religion. The course investigates four different attitudes that have been held about the relation of human beings 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; the questions whether anything has any value and whether human life has a meaning will be asked. 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.

 

Note: This is not a course in World Religions.


PHL 310 • Knowledge And Reality

41135-41145 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM 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
others)?
• 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

41210 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 201
show description

This is a course in the basic principles of logic. The student will come out of this course with an understanding of deductive inference and of argument generally, as wells as the notions of logical consequence, validity, soundness, and logical truth. Specifically, we will be looking at sentential logic (which treats the inferential relations among simple sentences) and predicate logic. Predicate logic is distinguished from sentential logic by its use of quantifiers.


PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

41215 • Miller, Taylor-Grey
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM RLP 0.102
show description

This is a course in the basic principles of logic. The student will come out of this course with an understanding of deductive inference and of argument generally, as wells as the notions of logical consequence, validity, soundness, and logical truth. Specifically, we will be looking at sentential logic (which treats the inferential relations among simple sentences) and predicate logic. Predicate logic is distinguished from sentential logic by its use of quantifiers.


PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

41220-41230 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 420
QR MA
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In this course, we'll study some technical tools that can help make our thinking clearer, more rational, and more reliable. In particular, we'll learn some mathematical probability theory for this purpose. Our focus will be on how probability can serve as a practical guide to good thinking. Our textbook is online and free. To get a more detailed sense of the content of the course, you can start browsing it here: https://jonathanweisberg.org/vip/


PHL 315F • Philosophy And Film

41235 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 308
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Formulation, analysis, and criticism of philosophical ideas in selected films.


PHL 316K • Science And Philosophy

41240-41250 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 12:30PM-1:30PM WAG 420
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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

41255-41280 • Higgins, Kathleen
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:00PM GAR 0.102
VP
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Description: This course will consider some of the answers given in the Western philosophical tradition to questions about the nature of art and beauty, with some comparison with the aesthetic traditions of other societies. Particular attention will be given to the nature of aesthetic experience from the standpoint of both the artist and the observer, the relationship between art and reality, and the questions contemporary art raises about the purpose of art.

Text:

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

 

Grading:

Short papers             30% total (beauty, wall text, Landmarks, something toward end)

Exam 1            15%

Exam 2            15%

Final project             20%

Section presentation 10%

Participation 10%


PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

41285 • Pollex, Brian
Meets MWF 9:00AM-10:00AM WAG 214
VP
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Classic issues in the philosophy of art and beauty, illustrated from the fine arts and contemporary media: literature, drama, music, painting, film, and television. 


PHL 318 • Introduction To Ethics

41290 • Del Rio, Andrew
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 201
E
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Study of basic principles of the moral life, with critical examination of traditional and contemporary theories of the nature of goodness, happiness, duty, and freedom.


PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

41295 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM JES A218A
Wr
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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 322K • History Of Ethics

41300 • Driver, Julia
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 208
Wr
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This course examines the development of ethical theory from Aristotle to Philippa Foot.  The philosophers to be focused on are Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, David Hume, Richard Price, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, W. D. Ross, Elizabeth Anscombe, and Philippa Foot.  We begin with Virtue Ethics, and proceed through various versions of Deontological and Consequentialist approaches to ethics, and end, again, with Virtue Ethics. We will be discussing the contrasts and connections between each of these thinkers and their views on normative ethics and moral psychology.


PHL 323K • Metaphysics

41305 • Sorensen, Roy
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 308
Wr
show description

Metaphysics

Instructor: Professor Roy Sorensen roy.sorensen@austin.utexas.edu

Office: Waggener Hall 405      (WAG)                       

Phone: Office 512-471-6755  Office hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 5 to 6 or by appointment          

Course Description: This course with survey the main issues of contemporary metaphysics and also cover the historical development of metaphysical puzzles emanating from nothingness (non-existence, omissions, and more specific absences such as holes, silence, shadows, and darkness). For the modern survey, we will average a chapter a week from Metaphysics: The Fundamentals. The topics will follow the chapter headings.

            The readings for the history of nothingness, will be chapters from the instructor’s manuscript A Brief History of Nothing (which will be made available on Canvas). We will begin in China with Lao Tzu’s interest in omissions (“doing nothing”), pass on to Buddha in India, linger with the Ancient Greeks, and proceed all the way to the present. Chapters of the instructor’s book will be distributed for the historical aspect. The strategy will be to approach standard metaphysical topics through the lens of nothingness.

            The primary focus of the course is metaphysics rather than history. So we will frequently flash forward to contemporary articles. Students are encouraged to recommend articles.


PHL 323M • Philosophy Of Mind

41310 • Montague, Michelle
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM WAG 308
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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 325J • Health And Justice

41315-41325 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 11:00AM-12:00PM PAR 201
(also listed as H S 341)
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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 325K • Ethical Theories-Phl Majors

41330 • Dancy, Jonathan
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 308
EWr
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.

Texts:

  1. S. Mill Utilitarianism ed. G Sher (Hackett)
  2. D. Ross The Right and the Good ed. P. Stratton-Lake (Oxford: Clarendon Press)
  3. Kant Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Ethics tr. M Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Grading:

Written requirements: 2 papers of 1000 words each and a final term paper of 3000 words. This is a Writing Course, and 25% of the grade for each paper will be given for writing quality alone.

These assignments will together generate 70% of the course grade; the remainder will be determined by other criteria e.g. spot quizzes. There will be penalties for absence from class. There will be no final examination.


PHL 325L • Business, Ethics, And Publ Pol

41335 • Bonevac, Daniel
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 302
E
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Issues in ethics and politics that are relevant to the organization of business and industry and the distribution of power in society; topics include the role of industry; concepts of profit, property, and moral responsibility.


PHL 325M • Medicine, Ethics, And Society

41340 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM GAR 0.102
E
show description

The application of ethical theory to medical practice is an important part of modern public
policy. We look at several approaches to ethics and several areas of medicine to gain insights
into medical ethics. This course carries the ethics and leadership flag. Consequently, a
substantial portion of the grade will involve ethical issues and reasoning.


PHL 329K • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

41345-41350 • Woodruff, Paul
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM PAR 201
GC (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

41355-41360 • 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. The relationship of philosophical theories to contemporary science will be an ongoing theme.


PHL 332 • Philosophy Of Language

41365 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM CAL 200
Wr
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The first part of the course focuses on classic views of reference, regarded as the principal link between language and world and the basis of “semantics”. In the forms now discussed, these views go back to Mill and Frege in the nineteenth century, and continue unto the twentieth and the present century with the work of Russell, Strawson, Donnellan, Quine and Kripke. There is an excellent text for this part if the course: Reference, by Barbara Abbott.

In the middle of the last century, Grice drew attention to the importance of speakers’ intentions. In general, they determine what words refer to. But on specific occasions they may contribute something else, including an emotional or evaluative component that may not be counted as part of the meaning of the word. This leads to issues in “pragmatics”, and we’ll discuss the role of context, and the nature of moral language and the kinds if language-use exemplified by slurs. In this part of the course we’ll be looking at published papers available through PCL.

Class discussion is an essential part of the course. This is facilitated by the classroom, which seats everyone round an oval table.


PHL 342 • Natural Law Theory

41370 • Budziszewski, J
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM SZB 422
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Critical examination of leading theories of the state, including analysis of such concepts as sovreignty, obligation, rights, and freedom. 


PHL 344K • Intermediate Symbolic Logic

41375 • Litland, Jon
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM GAR 0.128
(also listed as M 344K)
show description

This course focuses on some of the most important results in 20th century metalogic: the study of logical systems, their powers and limitations. We will prove the completeness of classical predicate logic, the undecidability of the halting problem, the undecidability of classical predicate logic, the undefinability of truth,  the incompleteness of arithmetic and the unprovability of consistency.

While knowledge of particular mathematical results will not be presupposed the course is technically demanding and the students are well advised to have some familiarity with mathematical proofs.


PHL 344M • Philosophy Of Mathematics

41380 • Litland, Jon
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 308
show description
Mathematics raises a host of philosophical questions: What is mathematics about? Do mathematical objects exist? If so, how can we have knowledge of them? More generally:  how can we know mathematical facts? What is the relationship between truth and proof? Are there unknowable mathematical facts?  Why is mathematics so useful for describing the physical world? Is there a unique foundation of mathematics? 
 
We will study these questions by reading classic texts of the philosophy of mathematics, including  Frege's Foundations of Arithmetic. The course will not require any specific mathematical background knowledge, but some familiarity with symbolic logic will be helpful.

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

41385 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 302
E
show description

This course, intended to introduce students to certain basic issues in philosophy of law, will be organized around the question: What should a legal system be? What are the fundamental features that are vital to a proper legal system, and what are some of the competing understandings of what these are?

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


PHL 354 • Mistranslating Latinos

41390 • Colomina-Alminana, Juan
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM GEA 114
CDWr (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 Latina/o communities. Depending upon the expertise of the individual instructor, the course might address translation from different angles: issues of linguistic or cultural relativism, complications of literary translations, the mistranslations that ensue when translating cultural texts from one medium to another (the stage to the screen or the page to the stage, for instance).


PHL 356D • Hist Christian Philosophy

41395 • Bonevac, Daniel
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM GAR 0.128
(also listed as CTI 335C)
show description

Examines the history of Christian philosophy through classic Christian thought, concerning what can be known and how people should live.


PHL 363L • Philosophy Of Science

41400 • Juhl, Cory
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 208
show description

Topic 1: Philosophy of Biology

Topic 2: The Outer Limits of Reason

Topic 4: The Philosophy of Geometry


PHL 366K • Existentialism

41405-41415 • Higgins, Kathleen
Meets TTH 3:30PM-4:30PM WAG 302
E
show description

“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.

Texts:

Albert Camus, The Stranger

Albert Camus, The Fall

Robert C. Solomon, ed. Existentialism, 2nd edition

Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (trans. Martin)

Robert C. Solomon, From Rationalism to Existentialism

 

Grading:

Exam I                           25%

Exam II                 25%

Exam III                 25%

Participation          25%

 

Participation includes a daily journal, attendance, engaged participation in sections, directed journal entries, pop quizzes, and possibly other activities.


PHL 375M • Philos Of The First Amndmnt

41420 • Smith, Tara
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 210
IIWr
show description

Description:

The US Constitution’s First Amendment names five kinds of freedom: of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition. This seminar will examine the philosophy beneath a legal system’s respecting these kinds of freedom and treating them differently from others. Correspondingly, we will examine the proper understanding and application of these freedoms to specific legal disputes.

To begin, we will consider the broad philosophical underpinnings of intellectual freedom as such, as found in the works of John Milton, John Locke, and some of the Founding Fathers’ writings. Then we will turn to focus on three of the Amendment’s specific areas of concern: assembly (more popularly referred to as freedom of association), religious freedom, and press freedom. (We will not devote time directly to speech or petition per se, although both will factor into our consideration of intellectual freedom and the Amendment as a whole.)

With each of these three, we will first consider the essential nature of the relevant activity e.g., what constitutes the press, or a journalist? What forms of association does “assembly” encompass and exclude? What makes a body of beliefs or a set of practices a religion, and how does that differ from a (non-religious) philosophy?

We will then examine some of the central arguments for competing understandings of the freedom’s meaning, rationale, and application to contemporary conflicts. Among the specific questions we will consider:

Does freedom of association include the freedom to dis-associate? And thereby, the freedom to discriminate on certain grounds? (e.g., should the Boy Scouts be free to exclude girls?) What are the implications of demands for transparency and debates over privacy for freedom of association? Would mandatory disclosure of certain personal information, for instance (such as of your membership in particular organizations or of your financial contributions to political candidates) compromise your privacy and indirectly inhibit your freedom of association?

What does state “neutrality” in the treatment of citizens demand? When is a government’s quest to avoid supporting a religion (and thereby violating the establishment clause) a case of its imposing an undue burden on that religion? Should business owners with certain religious views be legally compelled to serve clients of whom they morally disapprove? (e.g., bake a wedding cake for a gay couple?) Are religious exemptions from particular legal requirements (such as having your child vaccinated, or from a dress code) a necessary component of religious liberty?

Are the proper boundaries of press freedom any different from the proper boundaries of speech freedom? Is the press a “public service” institution? And as such, subject to different legal privileges and responsibilities? Should the press enjoy greater access to information than others do, for instance? Should the press be permitted to publish certain information (classified information) that others may not? Should working in journalism require a license? Should the press be government-subsidized? Should “shield” laws protect journalists from prosecution for defying court subpoenas and refusing to reveal the identity of their sources?

While we will naturally consider specifics to address many of these questions, throughout, the discussions will be firmly grounded by our efforts to understand the governing principles. Philosophically, what are the through-lines that justify particular understandings and applications of these ideals?

Readings: Still Tentative

Selections will be taken from the following authors and works, but the number and length of assigned readings will be pared to manageable proportions. As befits a seminar, our focus will be on drilling into very select readings, rather than superficially “covering” a large swath of territory. It also remains possible that a few of these works will be omitted all together. So please don’t be alarmed by the length of this list.

John Milton, Areopagitica

John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration
The Federalist Papers
Jonathan Rauch, Kindly Inquisitors
Jeremy Waldron, “Locke: Toleration and the Rationality of Persecution”

Onkar Ghate, “A Wall of Separation between Church and State – Understanding This Principle’s Supporting Arguments and Far-Reaching Implications

Ai Weiwei, “How Censorship Works”

Margaret M. Russell, ed., Freedom of Assembly & Petition
Andrew Koppelman, A Right to Discriminate? How the Case of Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale Warped the Law of Free Association

David Hume, Of the Liberty of the Press
William Brennan, “Liberty of the Press”
Lee Bolinger, Uninhibited, Robust, & Wide Open
Garrett Epps, ed., Freedom of the Press Its Constitutional History and Contemporary Debate

Thomas Jefferson, The Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom
Isaac Kramnick & Laurence Moore, The Godless Constitution A Moral Defense of the Secular State
Cecile Laborde, Liberalism’s Religion
Brian Leiter, Why Tolerate Religion?
Douglas Laycock, Afterword to Same Sex Marriage and Emerging Conflicts
Andrew Koppelman, Defending American Religious Neutrality
Marci Hamilton, God versus the Gavel
Christopher Eisgruber and Lawrence Sager, Religious Freedom & the Constitution
Burt Neuborne, Madison’s Music – On Reading the First Amendment
Tara Smith, "What Good is Religious Freedom? Locke, Rand, and the Non-Religious Case for Respecting It" Tara Smith, “Religious Liberty or Religious License? Legal Schizophrenia and the Case Against Exemptions”

Excerpts from court cases, such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, Hobby Lobby, NAACP v. Alabama, New York Times v. Sullivan, Branzburg v Hayes, Telescope Media

_____________

Requirements

Two papers and a final take-home essay exam.
[Paper 1: 20%; Paper 2: 40%; Exam: 25%; Participation 15%]

The second paper will be a substantial “independent inquiry” project. Each student must choose one of the three freedoms of focus (association, religion, or press), build a rigorous case for its most sensible meaning, and show how that interpretation should be applied to resolve a relevant contemporary controversy.

Before submitting the final paper, students will give oral presentations of their (tentative) major conclusions and arguments, and should then use the feedback from students and the professor to inform their final revisions.

The earlier, shorter paper will undergo peer or professor review of drafts.

The exam will be comprehensive, intended to ensure that students acquire a solid understanding of all subjects examined in the seminar.


PHL 375M • Problems In Moral Psych

41430 • Deigh, John
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 210
IIWr
show description

Topic 1: Philosophy and Feminism


PHL 381 • Aristotle's Ethics

41450 • White, Stephen
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 10
(also listed as GK 390)
show description

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


PHL 381 • Hobbes/Locke/Hume

41465 • Martinich, Aloysius
Meets TH 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 316
show description

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


PHL 381 • Kant

41455 • Proops, Ian
Meets M 12:00PM-3:00PM WAG 310
show description

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

The seminar aims to provide an overview of Kant’s theoretical philosophy as it is developed in his masterwork, The Critique of Pure Reason. It presupposes no previous knowledge of Kant or of Early Modern Philosophy. We read the book in its English translation, but I will draw attention to certain important nuances in the German. Where possible attempts will be made to relate the material to issues in contemporary philosophy, but the focus will lie on developing an historically sensitive reading of the text. We will ask after the philosophical motivations for Kant’s views and place them in the context of his reactions to the Leibniz-Wolffian philosophy dominant in his day. Secondary readings from (among others): Patricia Kitcher, Michelle Grier, Andrew Chignell, Charles Parsons, Béatrice Longueness, Michael Friedman, Corey Dyck, Anja Jauernig, Karl Ameriks, Katherine Dunlop, Ralf Bader, Eric Watkins, Des Hogan, Lisa Shabel, and Ian Proops.

Obviously, this course does count toward fulfilment of the department’s history requirement.

Grading  Policy

One paper of around 20 pages (12 point, 1.5 spacing) due at the end of term.

Texts

Immanuel Kant: Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Werner S. Pluhar, Hackett (latest edition).

Secondary literature will be made available on Canvas.

This seminar satisfies the History Requirement

 


PHL 381 • Parmenides

41460 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TH 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 310
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The Origin of Metaphysics

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Description:

Since the end of the 20th century, metaphysics as an intellectual enterprise has once again been called into serious question. Fresh doubts have been raised about its ambitions, its methods, its results, and even its cognitive significance. Partly in response to these doubts, some of our contemporaries — such as Kit Fine, Jonathan Schaffer, and Michael Thompson — have tried to recover and revitalize what they take to be the core animating insights of the ancient Greek metaphysical tradition. Our aim in this seminar will be to take a closer look at the roots of this tradition, in the hope of seeing more clearly whether our contemporaries are on the right track. We will focus primarily on the surviving fragments of a poem by Parmenides of Elea — the Greek tradition’s most influential founding father — whose views have become a topic of increasingly intense scholarly controversy over the past few decades. But we will also look carefully at the work of several other crucial figures in the history of early Greek thought, including Hesiod, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Xenophanes, and Heraclitus.

Grading:

Term Paper: 70%

Presentation: 20%

Participation: 10%

Texts:

A Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia. 2nd Edition. (2011) Edited by Patricia Curd. Translations by Richard D. McKirahan and Patricia Curd. Hackett Publishing.

Secondary readings will be drawn from the work of recent and contemporary historians of ancient philosophy.

Because we will often be discussing issues of translation, some knowledge of ancient Greek will be useful. But it will not be required. English versions of all primary texts will be made available.

 

This seminar can satisfy the History requirement OR the M&E requirement

 


PHL 382 • Mind

41470 • Montague, Michelle
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 310
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Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

This course will cover a number of central topics in the philosophy of mind including consciousness, phenomenal intentionality, cognitive phenomenology, the phenomenology of agency, and hybrid views of perception

Grading Policy

One 20-page paper and two short presentations

Texts

We’ll read a number of different philosophers including Adam Pautz, Philip Goff, Angela Mendelovici, Michael Tye, Susanna Schellenberg, Myrto Mylopoulos, Galen Strawson, Peter Strawson, and Tim Bayne

 

This seminar satisfies the M&E requirement


PHL 382 • Pers Identity/Consciousness

41475 • Strawson, Galen
Meets TH 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 310
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TITLE:  Topics in Metaphysics: Mind, Self, and Categorial Monism

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

Develop and assess a version of categorial monism; address questions about the mind/self/ person/subject of experience and about panpsychist views both inside and outside categorial monist framework. (Categorial monism is the view that there’s only one fundamental metaphysical/ ontological category; it’s compatible with but doesn’t imply either thing monism (i.e. there is only one thing) or stuff monism (i.e. there is only one kind of fundamental stuff); it’s equally compatible with thing pluralism (e.g. atomism) and stuff pluralism (e.g. Cartesian stuff dualism). Keith Campbell is a categorial monist, also early Moore and Russell, also Whitehead (also arguably David Lewis). John Heil is a categorial dualist. E. J. Lowe is a categorial pluralist (author of The Four-Category Ontology).

Grading Policy

one term paper (up to 20 pages) relating to one of course topics, due by end of semester [90%]

one in-class presentation [10%]

one end-of-semester presentation of draft term paper [0%]

Texts

various, Routledge Handbook of Panpsychism, William Seager ed. 2019

Samuel Alexander,  Space, Time and Deity 1920-4

Keith Campbell, Metaphysics 1976, Abstract Particulars 1990

Sam Coleman,  ‘Panpsychism and Neutral Monism: How to Make up One's Mind’ 2016

Durant Drake, Mind and its Place in Nature 1925

Herbert Feigl, ‘The “mental” and the “physical”’ 1958/1967

Philip Goff, Consciousness and Fundamental Reality 2017, Galileo’s Error 2019

Charles Hartshorne, Whitehead's Philosophy: Selected Essays 1935–70 1972

John Heil, The Universe As We Find It 2012, Appearance in Reality 2020

John Heil, The Universe As We Find It 2012, Appearance in Reality 2020

David Hume, Treatise of Human Nature (1.4.6 & Appendix) 1739–40

William James, Principles of Psychology (ch. 10) 1890

Fraser MacBride, “The Particular-Universal Distinction: A Dogma of Metaphysics?” 2005

Alois Riehl, Principles of Critical Philosophy 1887

Luke Roelofs, Combining Minds: How to Think about Composite Subjectivity 2019

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter 1927, My Philosophical Development 1959

Moritz Schlick, General Theory of Knowledge 1918/1925A. Strong A Theory of Knowledge 1923

G.F. Stout Manual of Psychology 1899

C.C. Williams ‘Naturalism and the Nature of Things’ 1944, ‘Universals and Existents’, 1959

C.D. Broad The Mind and its Place in Nature 1925

 

This seminar satisfies the M&E requirement


PHL 387 • Applied Normative Theories

41483 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 310
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Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

Description: a graduate level survey of topics in ethics and epistemology that bear on practical life decisions.

Topics might include: animal rights, the climate crisis, voting vs free-riding, abortion, epistemic injustice, statistics and stereotyping, statistical evidence in the law, artificial intelligence (re the problem of other minds as well as ethical problems), whether it is better to exist, nationalism and special moral relationships (such as family), and special justifications for killing in war.

Grading Policy:

A term paper (graded), maybe a class presentation (probably not graded), and weekly discussion questions on canvas (ungraded)

Texts

Authors might include: Peter Singer, Mark Budolfson, Diane Jeske, William MacAskill, Amia Srinivasan, Nick Bostrom, Michael Huemer, Ned Block, Shamik Dasgupta, Miranda Fricker, Lara Buchak, Sarah Moss, Sam Krauss, Elizabeth Harman, Alex Guerrero, Jeff McMahan, David Benatar. 

 

This seminar satisfies the Ethics requirement


PHL 387 • Identity/Politics

41482 • Arens, Katherine
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM CMA 3.108
(also listed as C L 382, WGS 393)
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Katherine Arens

Department of Germanic Studies

arens@austin.utexas.edu

 

Spring 2020:  WGS 393 (45225)  = CL  382 (34075)

T/TH 12-30-200 CMA 3.108

 

Identity (and) Politics:

From Class Identity to Positionality and Intersectionality

 

This course will offer students a laboratory in which they can work through the practical implications of theories of identity and politics from Marx through contemporary work in positionality and intersectionality.  It is a "laboratory"  framed as a work-in-progress seminar, where students start the semester with a project or type of cultural text that they are interested in, and then use that text’s/text type’s cultural site to explore it as reflecting different generations' debates about identity, politics, and power.  By the end of the class, students will be expected to present a well-theorized case study project outline that combines the texts read in the class with further research in theory and on the chosen texts – the kind of document suitable for submission to a conference, journal, or granting agency. 

The theories to be discussed originate in work by Kant, Hegel, and Marx; critically, they add up to a very contemporary call for understanding texts as participant in social and political networks, not only personal psychology, and for understanding the projects of culture not as representational (imposing social norms or authorial insight onto them) but as interventional -- as speaking from nexes of power and social/historical/cultural praxis that create subject positions and mediate agency within groups.  This class, therefore, investigates culture from a post-bourgeois lens, investigating texts rather than art, consumption rather than production of ideology, and the limits and potentials for signification rather than simple reception.

Their goal, and the goal of this class, is to explore generations of texts designed not just to lead/oppose/revolt, but to recenter and pull focus onto interpretations that privilege the multiplicity of subject positions emerging from texts – more than those that signify, testify, and teach rather than preach, but also those inspiring acts of resistant consumption of cultural traditions. The class will introduce (not survey) scholarship in the various subfields in order to open out the map for the various strands of cultural analysis that can be used in students’ individual project-investigations into identity politics as a research field. 

 

SELECTED READINGS (all readings will be available as pdfs on the class Canvas site):

Marx, selections from the "German Ideology"

Marcuse, "One-Dimensional Man"

Benhabib, "Below the Asphalt"

Horkheimer, "Traditional and Critical Theory"

Patricia Hill Collins, Intersectionality

and essays by Lacan, Kristeva, Irigaray, Deleuze, Lyotard, Kornbluh, Gates, Sandra Harding, bell hooks, and work on intersectionality and postcoloniality

 

GRADING

20% oral introductions to theories (strictly limited to 5 min;  deductions for overrun)

10% abstract for final project

15% map of analysis and research

15% theory postings

40% 20-pp final paper OR 7-10 page conference paper plus a grant proposal (5-10 pp).

 


PHL 387 • Politics/Law/Moral Character

41484 • Budziszewski, J
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM BAT 1.130
(also listed as GOV 382M)
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Prerequisites

Graduate Standing

Course Description

We will consider the ethical foundations of law and politics, focusing on the moral virtues.  The questions we consider are of interest to philosophers of politics and jurisprudence, constitutional scholars, political scientists, legislators, and jurists.  The approach is partly historical, partly contemporary.

Most of our ancestors took for granted that it was impossible to organize a decent legal and political order without a certain kind of character on the part of the citizens and the rulers.  Some thought we inevitably get the government we deserve; others thought that certain constitutional devices could ‘stretch’ virtue, so that it might be possible to get a somewhat better government than we deserve (for example, with the help of checks and balances).  Not until Hume did it became common to suppose that a well-designed regime is not particularly reliant on virtue at all.  On this view, arguably, it should have been easier than it has been to promote republican government in countries that are not accustomed to it.

I am primarily an ethical and political theorist, rather than a jurisprude, a historian, or a number cruncher.  However, I invite students who identify with a variety of approaches.

Grading Policy

One third:  Vigorous class participation.

Two-thirds:  Term paper.

Texts

  1. A packet, available at the McCombs location of the UT Copy Services (GSB 3.136), including a readings by Alschuler, Anscombe, Pieper, MacIntyre, Langdon, Sherry, Solum, and Duff.

 

  1. Online readings from Aristotle, Cicero, the Bible, Augustine, Hume, Madison, Hamilton, and “Centinal.”

 

  1. J. Budziszewski, Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Virtue Ethics (Cambridge, 2017). You may use either a hardcover or an electronic version.

PHL 387 • Practcl/Theortc Rationality

41485 • Sosa, David
Meets T 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 316
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Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

Practical reasoning (understood as reasoning to action or intention) has often been understood on the model of theoretical reasoning, which was thought of as itself secure. In this course we will be suggesting that all such approaches (including Aristotle’s notion of the practical syllogism) are hopeless.  We will ask whether this means that the reverse approach is preferable or that practical and theoretical reasoning are simply two distinct species of a single genus (perhaps some notion of judgement). In the process we hope to learn as much about the intended conclusion of theoretical reasoning as about the intended conclusion of the practical.

Grading Policy:

Your grade will be determined entirely by the quality of your paper.

Texts

Among others, we will read at least some of:

Anscombe Intention

Scanlon Being Realistic about Reasons

Dancy Practical Shape

 

 

This seminar satisfies the Ethics requirement


PHL 389 • Core Logic

41505 • Schoenfield, Miriam
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 310
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Prerequisites

This course 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 logi;  quantified modal logic, de re and de dicto readings, possiblist and actualist quantifiers, and 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; systems of non-monotonic inference; generalized quantifier theory; Bayesianism, probabilistic decision theory, and game theory; social choice theory; and core results of classical first-order metatheory including completeness, compactness, and the Godel incompleteness results.

Grading

Grading will be based on periodic problem sets.

Texts

Readings will be made available as required.


PHL 394K • Philosophy Of Language

41510 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets W 12:00PM-3:00PM WAG 310
(also listed as LIN 394K)
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Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

This course will be an advanced survey of contemporary issues in the philosophy of language. We will focus on various philosophical issues concerning language, including, but not limited to, the following: speech act theory, sentence/expression meaning, reference, quantification, propositional attitude ascriptions, and context sensitivity.  An overarching aim of the course is to get clear (or at least clearer) on the relationship between mental content, the content of our speech acts, and the literal context-invariant meanings of the sentences we use in performing such acts. 

Grading

Grades will be determined solely on the basis of a term paper (90%) and one in-class presentation (10%).  

Texts

Readings will include many classics in 20th century analytic philosophy of language, as well as numerous articles from the last decade.  All readings will be posted on our course Canvas site


PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41150-41160 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 302
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The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 


PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41180-41205 • Proops, Ian
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM WAG 101
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The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 


PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41165-41175 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 302
show description

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil.