PHIL 402 - Undergraduate Seminar in Philosophy
Section: 002 Causation, Responsibility, and the Force of Language in The Brothers Karamazov
Term: WN 2013
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Enforced Prerequisites:
Two 300-level Philosophy courses.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov is both a squalid tale of murder, depravity, and betrayal, and a heartfelt attempt to reconcile the evil in the world with the existence of an omnipotent, benevolent God. And yet it manages to be one of the greatest novels of all time — a huge influence on figures as diverse as Nietzsche, Freud, Joyce, and Woolf. One reason why The Brothers Karamazov is so influential is that it brims with philosophy. We will take an unusual approach in this class, reading the novel alongside work in contemporary analytic philosophy that refines and tries to address the philosophical questions it raises. This approach will enrich both our understanding of the novel and our understanding of a wide range of philosophical issues, including judgment and punishment, moral luck, the distinction between doing and allowing, special obligations (especially those to family), the nature of testimony, the relationships between intention, causation, and culpability, and the force of our words and actions on others. The philosophers we will read and discuss include Robert Adams, Elizabeth Anscombe, J.L. Austin, David Hume, David Lewis, J.L. Mackie, John Rawls, Bernard Williams, and Susan Wolf.

Course Requirements:

In class we will discuss drafts of papers submitted in advance by individual students and read in advance by the class, with an eye toward helping the entire class improve the revision of their own writing.

Intended Audience:

This is a capstone seminar for junior and senior concentrators in philosophy.

PHIL 402 - Undergraduate Seminar in Philosophy
Schedule Listing
002 (SEM)
W 3:00PM - 5:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0374528373
The brothers Karamazov : a novel in four parts with epilogue, Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky ; translated and annotated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky., Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2002
ISBN: 0631222219
God and the problem of evil, Author: ed. by William L. Rowe., Publisher: Blackwell 2001
ISBN: 0674411528
How to do things with words, Author: J.L. Austin ; edited by J.O. Urmson and Marina Sbisa., Publisher: Harvard University Press 2d ed. 1978
ISBN: 9781405131674
Philosophical writing : an introduction., Author: A. P. Martinich., Publisher: Blackwell Publishing 3. ed. 2005
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