Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy-Wb

40495 • Bonevac, Daniel
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Course Number and Title                                     PHL 301, Introduction to Philosophy

Semester and Year                                               Fall 2020

Instructor’s Name and Academic Rank                   Daniel Bonevac, Professor



This course introduces the central problems of philosophy.

                What is there?

                How do I know?

                What should I do?

It considers solutions proposed by the greatest thinkers of the world’s philosophical traditions.

  • Metaphysics: What is there? What is a thing? Do things have essences? Is reality independent of our minds? Is there a God?
  • Philosophy of Mind: What it is to be human? Are we minds and bodies? Just minds? Just bodies? What difference does it make?
  • Epistemology: What is knowledge? How do we get it? What can we know? Can we know anything at all?
  • Ethics: What is it to lead a good human life? What is a good person? How should we make decisions?

List of Proposed Texts /Readings: Selections from

 Ancient Philosophy:          Confucius, Analects

                                    Plato, Laches, Republic

                                    Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Categories, Metaphysics

Classical Philosophy:        Zhuangzi, Zhuangzi

                                    Sextus Empiricus, Outline of Pyrrhonism

                                    Gautama, the Nyaya-Sutra

                                    Augustine, Against the Skeptics

Modern Philosophy:          Descartes, Meditations

                                    Hume, Treatise of Human Nature

                                    Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Critique of Pure Reason

                                    Mill, Utilitarianism

                                    Peirce, How to Make Our Ideas Clear

                                    Ortega y Gasset, The Modern Theme

All are included in Daniel Bonevac and Stephen Phillips (ed.), Introduction to World Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Proposed Grading Policy:


Weekly Quizzes                                                           10%

Writing Assignments (10 pages)                                    50%

Midterm and Final Exams                                              40% (20% each)

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy-Wb

40490 • Bischoff, Steven
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM • Internet
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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-Wb

40500 • Vermaire, Matthew
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM • Internet
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Despite the modern world’s amazing scientific advances, some of our most pressing and interesting questions still seem beyond the reach of experimental research: What is consciousness? Is there a God? What are race and gender? Should we be vegans? How should the government be set up? Are right and wrong objective or subjective? Could we be living in a computer simulation? What, if anything, can we know for certain? Philosophers have argued about questions like these from ancient times up to the present day, and in this course we’ll consider some of the arguments they’ve offered. As you survey important areas of the philosophical tradition, you’ll also become a sharper philosopher yourself, learning to evaluate and compose arguments with more clarity and insight. You should hope to become a better thinker and writer while grappling with “big questions” both old and new.

PHL 301K • Ancient Philosophy-Wb

40505 • Schiller, Henry
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM • Internet
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An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the ancient world, concentrating on Plato and Aristotle. 

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy-Wb

40510-40514 • Dunlop, Katherine
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM • Internet
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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-Wb

40515 • Pagano, Emilie
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM • Internet
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Social construction plays an important role in the “human nature wars.” There it corresponds to the view that paradigmatically human kinds – such as gender, race, disability, and sexuality – are produced by human societies rather than by human nature. In this course, we’ll investigate these human kinds and ask: Are they produced by human societies? By human nature? As well as: Why does it matter?


As a result, students will become familiar with the metaphysics of human nature, as well as with the many questions – often ethical – social constructionism about gender, race, disability, and sexuality give rise to. For instance:


·        If gender is socially constructed, what is the relationship between sex and gender?

·        If race is socially constructed, can we choose which race to belong to?

·        If disability is socially constructed, can impairments (e.g., fibromyalgia) be disabilities?

·        If sexuality is socially constructed, is there any sense in which we were “born this way”?

PHL 303M • Mind And Body-Wb

40520-40545 • Tye, Michael
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:00PM • Internet
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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

40550 • Dale, Michael
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM JES A121A
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An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of a number of contemporary moral problems, including problems of abortion, animal ethics, the environment, sexual morality, and capital punishment.

PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems-Wb

40555-40565 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM • Internet
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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-Wb

40570 • Engel-Hawbecker, Nathan
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM • Internet
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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 310 • Knowledge And Reality-Wb

40575-40585 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets TTH 3:30PM-4:30PM • Internet
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This course is an advanced introduction to philosophical issues concerning the nature of
belief, truth, and knowledge with an emphasis on the latter. Topics to be discussed include,
but are not limited to, the following:
• What is knowledge? For example, what is the difference between knowledge and
mere true belief?
• What are the basic sources of knowledge (i.e., perception, memory, testimony of
• Why, if at all, should we value the acquisition of knowledge?
• Is it really possible to know anything at all?

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

40650 • Jimenez, Bulmaro
Meets W 9:00AM-10:00AM GAR 0.102 • Hybrid/Blended
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We may define logic as the study of proper reasoning. This is a very important topic. For example, if we understand what proper reasoning is, we may use that understanding to become better thinkers. This is similar to how understanding our emotions can help us regulate them better, or how understanding the laws of physics can help us to develop technology. Moreover, the study of logic has many applications in real life. For example, if we want to create a computer that is able to reason correctly and that can simulate human thought, logic will be highly relevant for this. Logic is also extremely useful for developing general reasoning skills, and can vastly improve your reading, writing and math skills.

The main purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to standard modern logic. Modern logic is based on the study of a special kind of languages, formal languages. Roughly speaking, a formal language is a language that is built from the ground up, with its own special rules. There are two reasons why formal languages are useful for the study of logic. First, much of our reasoning is conducted by means of language, or at least much of our reasoning can be expressed in language. Formal languages provide a useful model of ordinary languages, such as English. Secondly, our reasoning seems to follow certain rules that we must obey in order to reason correctly, and again, formal languages can be used to model those rules.

With this in mind, this course will focus on teaching three main components that are closely related and that complement each other:

1) Teaching how to use a certain basic formal language, what we call ‘classical predicate logic’.

2) Learning about this language, on top of learning how to use it. This may be called, in a more formal way, ‘fundamentals of metalogic’.

3) Exploring the issue of how exactly this basic formal language might be used to study the actual reasoning that we conduct in ordinary language and the rules that it follows, as well as other kinds of reasoning. (The official name for this is ‘fundamentals of philosophical logic’.)

By the end of this course, you will be highly competent in classical predicate logic, component (1). This is a skill a bit similar to basic computer programming (in some respects). You will also have a good basic notion of components (2) and (3). The course is meant to be of medium difficulty, and to involve a moderate amount of work. More importantly, it is meant to be fun and based on active learning. No necessary prerequisites.

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic-Wb

40655 • Kahn, Amelia
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM • Internet
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This course is an introduction to formal logic for those with no previous experience with the subject.  Logic is the study of arguments.  We use arguments all the time— to figure out what to do or what to believe, to justify views we already hold, and to convince others to see things our way.  Logic gives us tools to better understand arguments and identify good and bad arguments.  In this course, you’ll learn to distinguish different types of arguments, reconstruct arguments from various sources, and recognize the logical form of several common types of claims.  You’ll become familiar with two related formal systems— propositional and predicate logic—which will enable you to evaluate and construct arguments.

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic-Wb

40660-40673 • Litland, Jon
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This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We'll study formal languages for representing sentences
in logically precise ways, we'll study algorithms for evaluating arguments as logically valid or invalid, and
we'll get an introduction to some of the surprising discoveries logicians have made about what tasks no
algorithm can possibly do.

PHL 313Q • Logic/Scientific Reasoning-Wb

40675-40685 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM • Internet
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Logic and Scientific Reasoning
What logical principles dictate how a rational thinker manages their beliefs? What logical principles dictate how a batch of evidence confirms, or disconfirms, a given hypothesis to one or another degree?    In this course, we will study, and critically evaluate, the leading theory, called Bayesian epistemology. Bayesians use mathematical probability theory in order to explain when our reasoning is rational, from ordinary day-to-day inferences to sophisticated scientific theorizing. A Bayesian's focus is not on demonstrations or proofs of a conjecture's truth (as in so-called "classical" logic), nor is the focus on how we acquire knowledge (as in so-called traditional epistemology); rather, our focus is on the rational management of our degrees of confidence, that is, stronger and weaker opinions. The main question is this: when we cannot absolutely prove or know the truth about some hypothesis, how much confidence should we place in it?   For a fun snapshot of the kind of thing we'll study, check out the Wikipedia entry on "The Monty Hall Problem."  

This course carries the Quantitative Reasoning flag.

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


Ian Hacking, An Introduction to Probability and Inductive


-   Four problem sets

-   Two Exams

About the Professor:

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


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

PHL 315F • Philosophy And Film-Wb

40690 • Blaesi, Zach
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM • Internet
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Formulation, analysis, and criticism of philosophical ideas in selected films.

PHL 316K • Science And Philosophy

40694 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MW 12:00PM-1:00PM CPE 2.210 • Hybrid/Blended
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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-Wb

40695-40720 • Higgins, Kathleen
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Description: This course will consider some of the answers given in the Western philosophical tradition to questions about the nature of art and beauty, with some comparison with the aesthetic traditions of other societies. Particular attention will be given to the nature of aesthetic experience from the standpoint of both the artist and the observer, the relationship between art and reality, and the questions contemporary art raises about the purpose of art.

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

40725 • Pollex, Brian
Meets MWF 3:00PM-4:00PM • Internet
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Art is all around us. It influences our opinions, our decisions, and eventually the kinds of people we become. We spend less time thinking about it than we should. 

In this course, we are going to address some philosophical questions about art. The course content will be arranged around two topics. The first unit of the class, taking us through about two months, will be organized around the question “what makes something a work of art?” In this first unit, we’ll survey important ideas from classical antiquity through the late 20th century about the nature of art, while introducing and practicing philosophical tools and methods. The first unit uses visual art to demonstrate important ideas, with a focus on modern art. 

 The second and final unit of the class focuses on whether our attitudes towards art make sense. We’ll talk about our emotional responses to fiction, aesthetic testimony, Michael Bay, and #metoo, using the philosophical tools we practiced in the first unit. This second unit primarily uses film and video as the artwork we will base our discussions on. 

There will be weekly reading quizzes, four short writing assignments, a midterm, and a final examination. Exams will be take-home and non-cumulative. We’ll spend time practicing the writing and thinking skills that will be assessed in the weekly writing assignments and the final exam so that every student is positioned not just to succeed, but excel in those assignments. By the end of term you’ll be familiar with some major issues and theories in the philosophy of art, a more careful reader, and a clearer writer.


PHL 318 • Introduction To Ethics

40730 • Del Rio, Andrew
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WEL 3.502 • Hybrid/Blended
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This course will explore the deep questions about how we ought to live and what kind of person we ought to be. We will study different answers to the questions: What is the good life—the life worth living? What makes an action the morally right thing to do? Is there even such a thing as the morally right thing to do? And if there is, isn’t it all relative? What’s God or religion have to do with the good life and the right thing to do? Can we even know right from wrong? Scattered throughout our study of ethical theories we will study debates about specific ethical dilemmas of contemporary interest. Alongside these more theoretical matters we will take time to individually reflect on how we would like to develop our own characters and practice doing so.

PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

40735 • Drucker, Daniel
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM BUR 224 • Hybrid/Blended
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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 322 • Science And The Modrn World-Wb

40740-40750 • Juhl, Cory
Meets TTH 12:30PM-1:30PM • Internet
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Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our
place within it. Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves
are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which
deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.
In this course we will accomplish two main goals. First, we will learn the history and content of a
few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history. Second, we will consider aspects
of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.
The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues. Then we will
study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.
We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory. We
will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory
that have been proposed. A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are
doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.
Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense,
science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe. His view is that the ancient
Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires. Relevant facets of Chinese
culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures
with respect to their fostering scientific developments.
The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century.
We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern
evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives. Then we will spend
time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.
The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level. But
these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic
scheme’. Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our
place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 323K • Metaphysics-Wb

40755 • Montague, Michelle
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:30AM • Internet
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Metaphysics 323K Fall 2020

Professor Michelle Montague

Metaphysics studies the ultimate structure of reality, and what the nature of reality is can make a profound difference to our lives. Does God exist? Which God, and why should we care? Are we free? If we’re not free, how can anyone be morally responsible for what they do? If no one is morally responsible for what they do, what kind of system of punishment (if any) is justifiable? Is morality objective? Who am I? Am I the same person throughout my life?

PHL 323M • Philosophy Of Mind-Wb

40760 • Strawson, Galen
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM • Internet
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In this course we try to answer a stream of linked questions. What is mind? What is consciousness (is there a hard problem of consciousness)? Why do some people think that consciousness doesn’t exist? What is self-consciousness (human beings are said to be self-conscious, dogs aren’t)? What’s the relation between consciousness and matter, mind and brain? What, for that matter, is matter? Is panpsychism (the view that everything is mental) defensible? Are ‘behaviorist’ or ‘functionalist’ theories of mind defensible? How did mind begin? / What is a person? What is meant by ‘personal identity’ (what makes a person the same person at different times)? What is a ‘self’ (is there such a thing)? What is a soul (is there such a thing)? / What are memory, perception, imagination, desire and belief, and intentional action? / What sort of knowledge do we have of other people’s minds? (Is seeing the color red the same for all of us? Can we know this?) What sort of knowledge do we have of our own minds (to what extent are we subject to cognitive biases and illusions and unconscious impulses)? Can it be true, as some say, that we are constantly self-deceived, and completely wrong about why we do what we do? What is the will? Do we have free will?

PHL 325D • Environmntl Ethcs/Philosphy-Wb

40770-40780 • Casser, Laurenz
Meets TTH 12:30PM-1:30PM • Internet
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This course constitutes a critical examination of both contemporary and traditional issues in environmental philosophy. It involves detailed analysis of relevant debates in ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics, and draws on historical, political, and scientific material to address both theoretical and practical issues within environmental philosophy and policy making. Special emphasis will be given to the following guiding questions: (1) What justifies concern for the environment? (2) How should we act on environmental issues in the face of uncertainty and conflicts of interest? (3) How do environmental problems relate to problems of equity and justice?


Topics include but are not limited to: (i) defining “environment” and “nature”, (ii) the value of non-human entities, (iii) anthropocentrism, (iv) animal liberationism vs. environmentalism, (v) biodiversity, (vi) conservation biology, (vii) wilderness, (viii) sustainability, (ix) ecological restoration, (x) ecofeminism, (xi) environmental racism, and (xii) climate change.


PHL 325K • Ethical Theories-Wb

40800 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM • Internet
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This course surveys the major ethical theories (Consequentialism, Kantianism, and Virtue Ethics), and proposes several challenges to these theories from the point of view of moral psychology.  The first of these is the “partialist” challenge. Several theories seem to require us to ignore, in many (if not all) cases, our cares and loved ones when determining what we are obligated to do. This leads to a more general problem known as the “demandingness” challenge. One plausible constraint on an ethical theory is that it be realistic about the psychological limitations of creatures like us, and, yet, several theories appear to fall short of meeting this constraint. Virtue ethics, by contrast, has been touted as a psychologically realistic alternative to other theories. Nevertheless, it faces its own set of moral psychological challenges; namely empirical claims to the effect that most people fail to possess the virtues. In the light of the challenges mentioned above, we will consider the merits of two other proposals: Ethical Particularism and Bernard Williams’s “Anti-theory.”

PHL 329K • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy-Wb

40805-40815 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM • Internet
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Western philosophy owes its birth to the ancient Greeks. In their care many of the fundamental questions in ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind were raised for the first time and developed in striking and sophisticated ways. We will try to determine which questions they asked, what their answers were, and whether we should accept their answers as correct even now. Readings will be drawn primarily from the works of Plato and Aristotle, but will also include material from some important Pre-Platonic figures.

PHL 332 • Philosophy Of Language

40825 • Dever, Joshua
Meets T 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 420 • Hybrid/Blended
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The course focuses on various philosophical issues concerning language. Topics to be discussed include, but are not limited to, the following: speaker-meaning, conversational implicature, sentence/expression-meaning, reference, modality, and propositional attitude ascriptions. 

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

40835-40845 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets M 10:00AM-11:00AM ECJ 1.202 • Hybrid/Blended
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This course, intended to introduce students to certain basic issues in philosophy of law, will be organized around the question: What should a legal system be? What are the fundamental features that are vital to a proper legal system, and what are some of the competing understandings of what these are?

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

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law-Wb

40849 • Rosati, Connie
Meets M 10:00AM-11:00AM • Internet
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This course, intended to introduce students to certain basic issues in philosophy of law, will be organized around the question: What should a legal system be? What are the fundamental features that are vital to a proper legal system, and what are some of the competing understandings of what these are?

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

PHL 356C • Contmp Christian Philosophy

40850 • Koons, Robert
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 201
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We will examine recent work in philosophy that is written from a Christian point of view or that examines philosophical questions that arise within the framework of the Christian faith. The issues to be covered include the relationship between faith and reason, the possibility of demonstrating the existence of God, the problem of evil, the problem of reconciling divine foreknowledge and sovereignty with human responsibility, and the relation of God to time. Special emphasis will be placed on the relevance of Christian philosophy to foundational questions concerning reality, knowledge and ethics.

PHL 375M • Philosophy Of Action-Wb

40870 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM • Internet
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This course will be an advanced seminar in the philosophy of action.  Special focus will be given to questions concerning the analysis of intentional action, the relationship between practical and theoretical reasoning, and questions concerning free will and responsibility.  In addition to classic and contemporary readings in action theory, we will also be looking at relevant literature drawn from the philosophy of mind and cognitive psychology at several junctures in the course.  

Bratman, M. (1987) -  Intentions, Plans, and Practical Reasoning.  Harvard University Press

Dancy, J. and Sandis, C. (2015) - Philosophy of Action: An Anthology

Mele, A. (2002) - Springs of Action: Understanding Intentional Behavior

Grading Policy:
Registered students will be required to write two research papers (roughly 10-12 pages each) for the course.  Each of these papers will be worth 45% of the final grade; the remaining 10% determined by class attendance and participation.

PHL 380 • The Varieties Of Meaning

40880 • Sosa, David
Meets M 12:00PM-3:00PM WAG 316A • Hybrid/Blended
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Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Adviser or instructor required.

Course Description

What we talk about when we talk about about (and ‘about’!). 

A presupposition of much philosophy of mind and language since at least Frege has been what we might call “monosemanticism,” that the phenomenon of intentionality is fundamentally uniform. The proposition is at once the meaning of the declarative sentence and that to which we’re related in any propositional attitude. Propositions constitute the contents, in some important sense, of both thoughts and sentences. And they determine what those thoughts and sentences are about. In virtue of having the contents they do, thoughts and sentences are apt to have truth conditions and, accordingly, truth values.

A still underdeveloped alternative is “polysemanticism”: that the phenomenon of intentionality is rather fundamentally multiplex. No kind of thing is at once the meaning of a sentence of a natural language and that to which a subject is related in thought. What it is to be the object of an attitude is different in kind from what it is to be the meaning of a sentence.

That idea, for what it’s worth, will be the focus of the seminar: there is more than one way for some thing to present another again—to represent it. And language and thought exploit two different such ways. I think such a view provides a new perspective on long-standing obscurities in philosophy of mind and language, several of which will be revisited and reconstrued. But it is not without its own difficulties.

One central challenge is to explain the nature of communication: an attractively simple view is that (in its paradigm, at least) communication is a matter of one subject’s transmitting the content of a thought of theirs by encoding it in a bit of a common language. But if there’s a sense in which no bit of language can simply encode a thought, then a different account is wanted. If there is time, the seminar will also investigate the motivations for the simple view, and contemplate the prospects for an alternative, according to which communication is not dependent on any content of thought.


Enrolled students will be required to write a substantial term paper. In addition, participants will be expected to take part in online course discussions. Near the end of term, there will be final paper workshops.

Possible Texts

(partial list) 
Burge, Davidson, Donnellan, Fodor, Frege, Kripke, Loar, Mates, Putnam, Russell, Salmon

PHL 381 • Aristotle: Metaphysics 7/8

40885 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets T 6:30PM-9:30PM WAG 316A • Hybrid/Blended
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PHL 381         Aristotle: Metaphysics  Z and H

Course Description:

This class will work through, reasonably slowly and carefully, Books Z and H (VII and VIII) of Aristotle’s Metaphysics which been described, if not very felicitously, as the ‘Mount Everest of philosophy. In them, Aristotle tries to get to grips with his central notion of substance, and its relations to form, matter, essence, definition, universals and particulars, subject and attribute, genus and species – among other things. Whether, and if so how and with what results, he succeeds in doing is another matter altogether. Our task will be try to see if he does.

Grading Policy:

1 term paper, (90%); class participation (10%)


Bostock, D., Aristotle’s Metaphysics Books Z and H Clarendon Aristotle Series. 1994. ISBN 0-19-823947-5.





PHL 382 • Mind-Wb

40890 • Montague, Michelle
Meets W 12:00PM-3:00PM • Internet
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Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

This course will be divided into two parts. The first part will be concerned with the metaphysics of properties and relations. The second part will be concerned with the metaphysics of intentionality, and in particular whether or not intentionality is a relational phenomenon. 

Grading  Policy

One 20-page paper and two short presentations


We’ll read a number of philosophers including Michael Loux, David Armstrong, F.P. Ramsey, P.F. Strawson, Gareth Evans, Quassim Cassam, Tim Maudlin, Kati Farkas, Laurie Paul, Mika Martin, Laura Gow, and Adam Pautz.


This seminar satisfies the Metaphysics & Epistemology

PHL 383 • Problems Of Induction-Wb

40895 • Schoenfield, Miriam
Meets TH 12:30PM-3:30PM • Internet
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Instructors:  Miriam Schoenfield and Sinan Dogramaci


Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

We'll discuss various epistemological issues concerning induction and also explanation. The weekly topics and readings will remain more on the epistemology side and less on the technical math and science side. However, students will have a chance to become comfortable with some formal tools, especially Bayesian epistemology, if they wish, by concurrently doing a crash course of assigned textbook exercises the first half of the term.

Grading  Policy



Likely authors we'll study: Goodman, Lipton, Lange, Norton, Bacon, Rinard, Berker.


This seminar satisfies the Metaphysics & Epistemology requirement




PHL 384F • First-Year Seminar-Wb

40900 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets T 1:30PM-4:30PM • Internet
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This seminar is restricted the first-year graduate students in philosophy PhD program.



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

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



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



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

PHL 387 • Nietzsche's Phil/Style-Wb

40909 • Higgins, Kathleen
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM • Internet
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Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 

PHL 391 • Grounding And Essence

40925 • Litland, Jon
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 316A • Hybrid/Blended
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Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

When we ask for the grounds for a fact we ask in what the existence of that fact consists: we ask why or how the fact obtains. When we ask about the essence of an item we ask for the properties that makes that item what it is: we ask what the item is. In the last 25 years or so both the notions of essence and ground have received a lot of attention in metaphysics. In this course we will consider how ground and essence relate to each other, paying particular attention to how these notions are used in debates in meta-ethics. (Depending on interest we may also consider how these notions are used in social ontology.) Questions that we will discuss may include: is ground reducible to essence or vice versa? Can facts about ground be explained in terms of facts about essence? How do ground and essence relate to real definitions and theories of "generalized identity"? Should metaethical naturalism be formulated as a claim about the essence of normative properties or as a thesis about what grounds normative properties? What is the relationship between supervenience and essence? How should normative principles be formulated (supposing there are any)? What is the relationship between basic and derivative normative principles?  

Grading  Policy

The grade will be based on a term paper (80%) and a presentation to the class (20%)


Readings may include articles by: Fine, Rosen, Schaffer, Berker, Leary, Bader, Shumener, Glazier, Leary, J. Wilson, A. Wilson, Correia, Skiles, Ditter, Lange, Litland, Koslicki, Enoch, Bennett, Thompson, Dasgupta, Koslicki, Maguire. 


This seminar satisfies the Metaphysics & Epistemology Requirement. 

PHL 396W • Dissertation Seminar-Wb

40930 • Strawson, Galen
Meets TH 3:30PM-6:30PM • Internet
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Restricted to doctoral students in philosophy.

Intensive examination of selected dissertation topics: attention to research methods, presentation, structure, and argument. Student reports on current research.

Taught as a Web-based course.

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knwldg/Valuation-Wb

40590-40600 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM • Internet
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Course overview The aim of the course is to reflect on moral problems, and try to work our way to some moral theories. The starting points will be discussion of fictional scenarios in which characters are presented with difficult choices. In the first instance these will be drawn from the course text (The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature, Sixth edition by Louis Pojman). Subsequently students will be invited to suggest other excerpts from fiction for discussion. Towards the end of the semester we will consider ethical theories, reading David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and J. S. Mill among the classics, and Peter Singer and Joshua Greene among our contemporaries. We will also consider whether recent developments in psychology and neurophysiology throw any light on the problems.


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


Assignments Your work for grade is as follows: 

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

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knwldg/Valuation-Wb

40620-40630 • Deigh, John
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM • Internet
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The course will cover major questions of ethics, politics, and human psychology in ancient and medieval philosophy: what is a good life?  must one live justly and honestly to achieve happiness in life?  what is the place of love and friendship in a good life and what are the best kinds of friendship or relations of love?  what is death and can the soul survive it?  what is freedom?  how is it realized?  is democracy the best form of government? does a citizen of a democracy owe allegiance to its laws?  We will study these and other questions through examination of great works of Plato, Aristotle, Paul, and Augustine. 

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knwldg/Valuation-Wb

40635-40645 • Evans, Matthew
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM • Internet
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There are a few questions we should all ask ourselves at least once before we die, and many of them are philosophical. In this semester we'll pick out some of the most pressing of these questions, and try to answer them as best we can. Among them will be: Is there any compelling evidence that God exists? If not, is it still OK to believe that He does? What is knowledge, as opposed to mere true belief? How much can we know about our own minds, about the minds of others, and about the world outside of both? What is the relationship between our minds and our bodies? What makes each of us the same person across time? What is it for each of us to be (or not to be) of a particular race or a particular gender?
**Fall 2020 - this is a web-based course; instruction will be completely online**