Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

41640-41650 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 302
show description

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


PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

41660-41670 • Salmieri, Gregory
Meets TTH 3:30PM-4:30PM WAG 302
show description

This course introduces students to philosophy by considering three perennial questions: “Is there a God?” “How can we tell what’s true?” and “What is the relationship between morality and self-interest?” We will consider competing positions on each issue defended by different philosophers, and students will be asked to articulate (and defend) their own views. We will also explore some of the ways in which these issues are interrelated.


PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

41655
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM PAR 201
show description

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


PHL 301K • Ancient Philosophy

41675
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM GDC 2.210
show description

An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the ancient world, concentrating on Plato and Aristotle. 


PHL 303 • Human Nature

41685-41695 • Drucker, Daniel
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:00PM WAG 302
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Theories of human nature, such as those of Plato, Christianity, Marxism, and existentialism. Modern phsychological and biological theories are included, as the interplay of nature and nurture in determining human conduct is explored. 


PHL 303M • Mind And Body

41700-41725 • Tye, Michael
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:00PM RLP 0.130
show description

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


PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41750
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 420
E
show description

An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of a number of contemporary moral problems, including problems of abortion, sexual morality, capital punishment, pornography and hate speech.


PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41730-41740 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 10:00AM-11:00AM WAG 420
E
show description

Chances are you’ve confronted an ethical choice recently: Should I pay someone to write my essay or do it myself? Should I refuse the plastic straw or not worry about it? Ought I give my spare change to the homeless person or walk on by? Should I donate blood or can it wait until next time? Should I report the harassment I witnessed or pretend it didn’t happen? By contrast, there are many other ethical questions that you may never have explicitly considered, but that nonetheless apply to you, such as: Should I give up a healthy organ to a dying stranger? Is it wrong to use non-human animals as a food source? Is it permissible to buy clothes that contribute to child labor and unsafe working conditions? A further set of questions in ethics concerns the moral status of institutions or policies: what moral (and legal) constraints or permissions should exist with respect to decisions related to both the beginning of life (e.g., the ethics of abortion) and the end of life (e.g., the ethics of euthanasia)? Is the institution of punishment justified? What is terrorism and is it ever justified? Is torture ever permissible? This course will introduce you to the concepts, ideas, and theories relevant to understanding what these questions are asking, as well as evaluating possible answers.


PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41745 • Rosati, Connie
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 302
E
show description

An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of a number of contemporary moral problems, including problems of abortion, sexual morality, capital punishment, pornography and hate speech.


PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41755-41765 • Proops, Ian
Meets MW 2:00PM-3:00PM • Hybrid/Blended
E
show description

An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of a number of contemporary moral problems, including problems of abortion, sexual morality, capital punishment, pornography and hate speech.


PHL 305 • Intro To Philos Of Religion

41775
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM JES A216A
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A critical examination of various conceptions of God and of the relationship of the human and the divine. 


PHL 306D • Descartes

41790
Meets MWF 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 302
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An examination of the philosophy of Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Descartes is one of the few philosophers whose work was so influential (and whose timing so perfect) that he was taken to have ushered in a new era in philosophy, the so-called 'modern' period. What is distinctive of this trendy new period are two intellectual movements: first, the rejection (sometimes grumpy) of the Aristotelian philosophy of the middle ages, second an attempt to work out a metaphysics suitable for underpinning and validating post-Aristotelian physics. Descartes played an early and pivotal role in advancing both projects. But he also contributed a theme of his own, namely, an emphasis on the importance of philosophical method.

In this course we attempt a comprehensive study of Descartes's contributions to these three projects insofar as they relate to Descartes's metaphysics and theory of knowledge. We will read the whole of Descartes "Meditations", including the "Objections and Replies". As background, we will read large chunks of his earlier "Discourse on Metaphysics", as well as certain other minor works in which he sketches his methodology. There will be an emphasis on close readings of Descartes's discussions and on crisp, concise, clear writing. Serious attention will be paid to secondary literature, especially literature pushing back against and critiquing Descartes from the perspectives of race (Charles Mills) and gender (Christia Mercer). Ideas and conceptions from the Aristotelian background will be introduced as we go along. 


PHL 306D • Descartes

41780
show description

An examination of the philosophy of Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Descartes is one of the few philosophers whose work was so influential (and whose timing so perfect) that he was taken to have ushered in a new era in philosophy, the so-called 'modern' period. What is distinctive of this trendy new period are two intellectual movements: first, the rejection (sometimes grumpy) of the Aristotelian philosophy of the middle ages, second an attempt to work out a metaphysics suitable for underpinning and validating post-Aristotelian physics. Descartes played an early and pivotal role in advancing both projects. But he also contributed a theme of his own, namely, an emphasis on the importance of philosophical method.

In this course we attempt a comprehensive study of Descartes's contributions to these three projects insofar as they relate to Descartes's metaphysics and theory of knowledge. We will read the whole of Descartes "Meditations", including the "Objections and Replies". As background, we will read large chunks of his earlier "Discourse on Metaphysics", as well as certain other minor works in which he sketches his methodology. There will be an emphasis on close readings of Descartes's discussions and on crisp, concise, clear writing. Serious attention will be paid to secondary literature, especially literature pushing back against and critiquing Descartes from the perspectives of race (Charles Mills) and gender (Christia Mercer). Ideas and conceptions from the Aristotelian background will be introduced as we go along. 


PHL 310 • Knowledge And Reality

41795-41805 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets MW 2:00PM-3:00PM PAR 201
show description

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

41855
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 420
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

41860-41870
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM BUR 134
QR MA
show description

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


PHL 313Q • Logic And Scientific Reasoning

41875-41885
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM SZB 2.802
QR
show description
Logic and Scientific Reasoning

What logical principles dictate how a rational thinker manages their beliefs? What logical principles dictate how a batch of evidence confirms, or disconfirms, a given hypothesis to one or another degree?  

In this course, we will study, and critically evaluate, the leading theory, called Bayesian epistemology. Bayesians use mathematical probability theory in order to explain when our reasoning is rational, from ordinary day-to-day inferences to sophisticated scientific theorizing. A Bayesian's focus is not on demonstrations or proofs of a conjecture's truth (as in so-called "classical" logic), nor is the focus on how we acquire knowledge (as in so-called traditional epistemology); rather, our focus is on the rational management of our degrees of confidence, that is, stronger and weaker opinions. The main question is this: when we cannot absolutely prove or know the truth about some hypothesis, how much confidence should we place in it?   For a fun snapshot of the kind of thing we'll study, check out the Wikipedia entry on "The Monty Hall Problem."  

This course carries the Quantitative Reasoning flag.

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


_____________________________________

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


PHL 315F • Philosophy And Film

41890 • Driver, Julia
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM MEZ 1.210
show description

Formulation, analysis, and criticism of philosophical ideas in selected films.


PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

41915
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 420
VP
show description

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 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

41920
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 201
VP
show description

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 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

41900-41910 • Kubala, Robbie
Meets MW 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 420
VP
show description

This course will investigate philosophical issues concerning the arts: painting, film, sculpture, architecture, photography, music, literature, performance, video games, digital art, and so on. Starting from a historical survey of Western and non-Western understandings of what ‘art’ is, we will consider questions including the following: What, if anything, makes works of the arts different from other artifacts? Are there better and worse ways to engage with the arts? Could we ever persuade someone to like a particular work? How might our artistic preferences be affected by class position or other social categories? What rights should artists have in an era of remix and appropriation? How can art be used in the public sphere? Course performance will be assessed by class participation, frequent short written reflections, a midterm exam, and a final project. We will make several visits to the wonderful collection in the Blanton Museum. By the end of the course, students should have a richer set of concepts for appreciating and debating the arts, and hopefully greater confidence in their own artistic judgments.


PHL 318 • Introduction To Ethics

41925-41935 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 201
E
show description

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


PHL 318K • Intro To Political Philosophy

41940
Meets MWF 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 420
E
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Views of major political philosophers on humanity, nature, and society; discussions of contemporary political ideologies.


PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

41945 • Sorensen, Roy
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 210
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 323K • Metaphysics

41965 • Koons, Robert
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 208
Wr
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An examination of the classic problems and questions of metaphysics (change, composition, time, space, existence, possibility, causation, universals), using the tools of contemporary analytic philosophy.


PHL 323K • Metaphysics

41960 • Sorensen, Roy
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 208
Wr
show description

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

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


PHL 323S • Philosophy Of Science

41975 • Juhl, Cory
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM PAR 105
show description

Philosophical issues pertaining to science, with an emphasis on the metaphysics and epistemology of science; topics may include explanation, causation, laws of nature, scientific realism, naturalism, theories, evidence, probability, social factors, and other aspects of science.


PHL 325E • Biomedical Ethics

41980-41990 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MW 11:00AM-12:00PM WAG 302
E
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This course surveys ethical issues raised by contemporary biomedical research and practice including the novel implications of new developments in genomics. Topics from the philosophy of medicine including concepts of health, disease, and susceptibility, are included. There are brief discussions of traditional bioethical problems such as the emergence of human identity during embryonic development, what that means for abortion and for euthanasia. Contemporary topics include genetic testing, screening, editing, and enhancing in the light of new techniques and what that means for eugenics. Problems of population health such as mandatory vaccination and quarantine are approached from a philosophical perspective including an analysis of free rider problems.


PHL 325K • Ethical Theories

41995 • Deigh, John
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM WAG 210
EWr
show description

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


PHL 325N • Organizational Ethics

42000 • Bonevac, Daniel
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM WAG 308
E (also listed as HDO 325N)
show description

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


PHL 329K • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

42005-42015 • Leon, Jeffrey
Meets MW 2:30PM-4:00PM WAG 201
GC (also listed as C C 348)
show description

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


PHL 332 • Philosophy Of Language

42020 • Buchanan, Lawrence
Meets MW 11:30AM-1:00PM WAG 308
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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 334Q • German Scholars: US Exile

42025 • Arens, Katherine
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BUR 337
EGC (also listed as EUS 346, GSD 361Q)
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Examine the migration of established European intellectuals into the US, due to the Second World War. Explore how they worked against their persecutors for their own cultural heritage and to influence US intellectual life. Investigate the ethical dilemmas faced in transplanting their lives and projects into new contexts.


PHL 342M • Marx And Marxist Theory

42030 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM GAR 2.128
GCWr (also listed as CTI 335M, EUS 346)
show description

Introduction to the writings of Karl Marx as well as to those of his intellectual successors in Europe and around the globe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


PHL 342R • Philosophy Of Race/Gender

42035-42045 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MW 2:00PM-3:00PM WAG 420
CD
show description

Compelling arguments exist in support of the view that concepts such as race, gender, and disability are political—or “socially constructed,” as it is often put. Theorists have dedicated much energy to tracing the origins of these concepts and the way in which they change shape over time to fit the aims of dominant groups. Despite widespread agreement in broad outline, theorists disagree on the details. Furthermore, some social constructionists have been optimistic that the way to disrupt the aims of dominant groups is to recast the concepts in a way that is more inclusive and empowering—through what has been coined an “ameliorative” analysis. Unfortunately, such approaches come with a host of problems of their own. The aim of this course is threefold: (1) It surveys arguments in favor of social constructionist theories over rival positions. (2) It introduces select debates among social constructionists. (3) Finally, it scrutinizes several recent attempts to provide “ameliorative analyses” of these concepts.


PHL 342T • Advanced Political Philosophy

42050 • Deigh, John
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM WAG 210
show description

Examine one or more of the central subjects in political philosophy including liberty, justice, equality, democracy, and constitutionalism.


PHL 344M • Philosophy Of Mathematics

42055 • Litland, Jon
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM GAR 3.116
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

42065-42075 • Smith, Tara
Meets TTH 12:30PM-1:30PM WAG 302
E
show description

PHL 347 Philosophy of Law

Fall 2022

Professor Tara Smith

Course Description

 

 

This course will examine fundamental questions concerning the nature, authority, and proper application of law. We will begin by considering the purpose and the authority of a legal system. What function is the law to fill? What does the ideal of the Rule of Law demand, and what is the role of a constitution in securing that ideal? Must laws meet certain moral criteria in order to carry genuine authority?

 

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

 

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

 

Tentative:

 

Grades will be determined on the basis of three exams (60%), a paper (25%), and an assortment of a few brief written homework assignments, quizzes, and constructive participation.

 

Readings will be taken from:

Jeffrey Abramson, We the Jury

Antonin Scalia, A Matter of Interpretation

Packet of essays and excerpts from historical and contemporary authors

A few pieces available online


PHL 361K • Philosophy In Literature

42080 • Driver, Julia
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM GDC 2.410
show description

The focus will be on science fiction and philosophy.

Upper-division competency in philosophy is expected.

(More info to come)


PHL 363L • Philosphy Of Biology

42085 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 308
show description

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


PHL 380 • De Se And The Self

42105 • Schoenfield, Miriam
Meets M 12:00PM-3:00PM WAG 310
show description
Course Description:
 
In this seminar we'll explore a variety of topics about the self - some questions we might cover include:
  • Does the self, as  we tend to understand it, exist? (We'll look at some Buddhist views on this, such as those described in Albahari's Analytical Buddhismas well as some of Parfit's work on personal identity).
  • Is there some sense in which we should each see our own experiences as "special" (in much the same way the presentist or moving-spotlight theorist sees the present time as special)?  (We'll look at Hare's On Myself and Other Less Important Subjects and some recent papers engaging with his views).
  • Is the self the whole universe?  (Zuboff, "One Self")
  • How does the self figure into probabilistic reasoning? (The Sleeping Beauty problem and its variants)
  • How does the reference of an indexical like "I" get fixed?
  • Are the reasons given (by, for example, Chalmers) for thinking certain phenomenal facts are fundamental, also reasons to think indexical facts are?
  • What is the nature of evidence or reasons being *mine* and why does that status matter normatively?  (Titelbaum "One's Own Reasoning" and Dever and Capellan, The Inessential Indexical)
  • How does the notion of "self" extend beyond core cases?  (Groups, Corporations, AI)
  • Does egocentric logic provide a good framework for thinking about the self?

PHL 381 • Hellenistic Philosophy

42110 • Hankinson, Robert
Meets TH 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 310
show description

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


PHL 381 • Women In Early Modern Philosop

42115 • Schechtman, Anat
Meets W 12:00PM-3:00PM WAG 316A
show description

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

Recent years have witnessed an explosion of interest in so-called lost voices in early modern philosophy—the writings of philosophers besides the “Big Seven” canonical figures in the period (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant). This seminar will explore the works of three such philosophers: Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, and Mary Shepherd, who have figured centrally in much recent early modern scholarship. To appreciate the significance of their contributions, we'll also read some of their primary interlocutors, including members of the Big Seven, highlighting both agreements and disagreements.

No prior knowledge of early modern philosophy will be assumed.

Grading Policy

Grades will be based on a term paper, as well as class participation and weekly precis (short written responses to the assigned readings).

Texts: 

A selection of primary texts and secondary literature.

 

 

 

This seminar satisfies the History requirement


PHL 382 • Consciousness

42120 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TH 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 316A
show description

Full Title:  Visual Consciousness, Vagueness and Reference

Description:

The first part of the course (MT) will be on visual consciousness, and in particular visual indeterminacy. Topics to be covered include the refrigerator light illusion, change blindness and attention, the conditions needed to see an object, naïve realism and indeterminacy, the speckled hen, crowding, Sperling’s letter grid experiment, filling in, and pictorialism about visual experience. Readings will include essays by Block, Freeman and Simoncelli, Mack and Rock, Morrison, Munton, Nanay, O’Regan, Quilty-Dunn, Stazicker, and Tye.

The second part of the course (MS) will be on vagueness and reference. Topics relating to vagueness will include the paradoxes of vagueness (sorites paradoxes, forced march paradoxes), and the nature of vagueness (e.g. the view that it is boundarylessness). Topics relating to reference will include the individuation of names, rigidity, the transmission of names and their relation to singular thought. Provisional texts are The Sorites Paradox, edited by Sergi Oms and Elia Zardini (CUP 2019), and Names and Context, by Dolf Rami (Bloomsbury 2022).

For ten of the classes, students will be required to lead the discussion for half of the class, using the assigned materials.

 

 

This seminar satisfies the M&E requirement.


PHL 384F • First-Year Seminar

42125 • Bengson, John
Meets T 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 310
show description

Prerequisites

This seminar is restricted the first-year graduate students in philosophy PhD program.

Course Description: 
 
We'll study influential texts in recent philosophy that address central questions about reality, mind, action, language, and value. A primary goal is to practice doing philosophy at the professional level through seminar presentations, discussions, and written work, in a constructive and encouraging environment. We'll also discuss key topics in professional development, such as building a teaching portfolio, publications, and work-life balance. The course is required for and restricted to all incoming PhD students in the Philosophy Department.
 
Grading Policy:
 
Students will be asked to write a term paper and contribute to weekly meetings by (1) submitting a brief comment or question about the assigned text(s) prior to each week's session, (2) leading at least one session, and (3) actively participating in discussions during the sessions.
 
Texts:
 
We'll discuss a broad selection of major texts addressing a wide range of topics and areas (e.g., epistemology, metaphysics, value theory, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language). The texts will be influential works from the last few decades of philosophy in the analytic tradition broadly construed.

PHL 385 • Normativity: Formal And Robust

42130 • Kubala, Robbie
Meets M 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 310
show description

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing required.

Course Description

Some normative standards are more important than others. The law has more force than etiquette; moral rules are weightier than the rules of games. What explains this? Many distinguish merely formal normativity from normativity that is robust, true, genuine, substantive, authoritative, etc. What does this distinction amount to, and does it survive critical scrutiny? Starting with the debate over moral rationalism—whether we always have most reason to do as we morally ought—we will consider the normativity of etiquette and a variety of (other) conventions and social practices. Authors will likely include Rawls, Hart, Foot, Raz, Korsgaard, Bicchieri, Brennan, Buss, Copp, Dorsey, Finlay, Maguire, McPherson, Rowland, Southwood, Valentini, Wodak, Woods, and others based on participant interests.

Grading Policy

For a letter grade: regular participation, weekly Canvas posts, and a seminar paper (plus a short presentation thereon) are required. For CR/NC: regular participation and weekly Canvas posts only.

Texts

All readings will be made available as PDFs.


PHL 387 • Identity/Politics

42134 • Arens, Katherine
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM RLP 0.124
(also listed as WGS 393)
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Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 


PHL 391 • Philosophy Of Logic

42150 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets W 3:00PM-6:00PM WAG 310
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Prerequisites

Approval of both instructors required for non-Philosophy Graduate students. 

Course Description

The seminar will cover some issues in the philosophy of logic. A sample of possible topics includes the following.

  • conventionalism about logic, 
  • proof-theoretic and inferentialist approaches to logic 
  • the apriority of logic
  • the boundaries of logic, 
  • the revisability of our basic principles logic 
  • the semantic paradoxes
  • logic's relationship to metaphysics, epistemology, and language.

Grading

A term paper, and possibly a presentation

Texts

Possible authors include Jared Warren, Michael Dummett, Andrew Bacon, Gillian Russell, Gila Sher, Gil Sagi, Ian Rumfitt, Peter Schroeder-Heister, Kentaro Fujimoto, Solomon Feferman, Saul Kripke, Justin Bledin and Una Stojnic

 


PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41825-41835 • Drucker, Daniel
Meets MWF 12:00PM-1:00PM WAG 302
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This course will be the first in a two-semester sequence, the goal of which will be to introduce students to philosophy as a discipline and philosophical thinking as an activity. In the fall specifically, our fundamental questions will be these. First, how do people’s minds and the world interact? Second, how can we come to know things about the world, understand many parts of it and change it to fit better with our ideals by virtue of that interaction? To answer these questions, we will look at the philosophy of mind to understand some of how perception works; we will look at epistemology to understand how a rational agent may respond to their evidence and reason better and worse; and we will begin looking at how people want things and have values. Throughout the course we will also pay attention to how people can use language both to make contact with the external world and to share the results of that contact with others. We will read a mix of classical and more recent authors. Potential (very subject to revision!) works in the fall semester include, in rough order: Plato's Meno and Theaetetus; Aristotle's Categories and De Anima; Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy; selections from Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature, Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics, and Russell's Problems of Philosophy; Frege's "On Sense and Reference" and "The Thought"; Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism"; Ruth Millikan's "Thoughts Without Laws"; selections from Gilbert Harman's Change in View; selections from Elizabeth Anscombe's Intention; and Donald Davidson's "Actions, Reasons, and Causes".


PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41810-41820 • Sainsbury, Richard
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM WAG 302
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This semester we will be studying theoretical and applied ethics. The theories come from philosophers like Aristotle, Kant and Mill. Among the applications are problems related to race and gender, abortion, poverty and charitable giving, and the moral status of nonhuman animals.


PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41840-41850 • Proops, Ian
Meets MW 4:00PM-5:30PM • Hybrid/Blended
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This introductory course examines some of the central problems of philosophy, drawing on both contemporary readings and historical texts. Students will be introduced to philosophy’s “tool kit” as well as to some of its “greatest hits.” Topics include (some selection of) the following: Arguments for and against the existence of God; human free will; moral responsibility; ethical theory; theory of knowledge, and applied ethics. There are no prerequisites for this class and no knowledge of philosophy or logic is presupposed.