Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

Philosophy Introductions

The Philosophy Department offers a series of 100-level courses that serve as introductions to specific areas of philosophical thought. Each probes a group of philosophical issues related to certain other fields or areas of human concern, and each is designed to show how questions in these fields or areas can lead naturally to larger philosophical matters. Philosophy 152, "Philosophy of Human Nature" and Philosophy 153, "Philosophy and the Arts" will be offered Fall Term, 1983. They will be taught by regular faculty members and will be limited to 50 students.

Philosophy 202, 231, 232, 234, and 297 are general introductions designed to acquaint the student with a representative sample of philosophical problems concerning the nature of reality, knowledge, the self, morality, religion, and society. They deal with such questions as: If a person's actions are causally determined by heredity and environment is he capable of free actions for which he can be held morally responsible? What is a person just a very complex machine, a combination of a mind or soul and a body, or what? How can such common sense beliefs as that other human beings are conscious, or that there exists an external physical world, be justified? What are scientific theories, and what kinds of considerations bear on whether they should be accepted? Are there good reasons for believing that God exists? Is abortion, or euthanasia, or suicide, morally permissible? Are value judgments (e.g., moral or aesthetic judgments) "objective" or "subjective"? What are the basic differences between the major kinds of social, political, and economic organization, and what reasons are there for preferring any one of them to the others? How should one live one's life? What is the "meaning" of life, and what does this question mean?

The 200-level philosophy introductions vary in their approach to the issues, in their instructional format, and in credit hours. Philosophy 202 (4 hours) approaches issues through a mixture of twentieth century writers (e.g., Bertrand Russell, A. J. Ayer) and seminal figures in Western intellectual history (Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant). It is taught by graduate teaching assistants in sections of approximately 25 students. Philosophy 231 (3 hours) and 232 (4 hours) are more concerned with contemporary debate about these issues than with their historical development; a faculty member delivers two lectures each week, and students are divided into groups of approximately 25 for discussion sections which meet one (231) or two (232) hours per week. Philosophy 234 (4 hours) approaches issues principally through historical sources and this results in more emphasis on different "types" of philosophical systems; a faculty member delivers two lectures each week, and students are divided into groups of approximately 25 for discussion sections which meet two hours per week.

Some 300-level courses do not have prerequisites and can serve as introductions to particular branches of philosophy. Two such courses will be offered Fall Term, 1983: Philosophy 356, "Issues in Bioethics", and Philosophy 357, "Ecology: A Philosophical Perspective."

152. Philosophy of Human Nature. Students are strongly advised not to take more than two Philosophy Introductions. (3). (HU).

This course will cover the following topics with a view to arriving at a philosophical analysis of the concept of human nature: the mind-body problem, causation, explanation of human action, rationality, intentionality and freedom and determinism. Essays and selections from Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Sartre, Hare, Dennett, Davidson, and Strawson will be studied. (Bilgrami)

153. Philosophy and the Arts. Students are strongly advised not to take more than two Philosophy Introductions. (3). (HU).

Philosophy 153 is an introduction to the problems raised by the interpretation and evaluation of works of art. The course will deal with the concept of art, the nature and value of interpretation, the notions of meaning, representation and expression and the concept of aesthetic value. Questions to be examined will include some of the following: What makes something a work of art? What are we doing when we interpret a work of art? How is the interpretation related to the author's intentions? Are truths about the actual world implied by works of art? Do paintings and photographs resemble the things they depict? What does it mean to say that a work of art expresses an emotion? Is the value of art purely subjective? These questions will be considered in connection with a number of different examples from literature and the visual arts.

180. Introductory Logic. No credit is granted to those who have completed 201, 203, or 296. (3). (N.Excl).

This course introduces the elements of informal and formal logic. It is organized around the following topics. Informal logic : nature of language and its uses, deductive versus inductive arguments, discovery and problem solving versus evidence and proof. Transition to formal logic : symbolizing statements and arguments with "not", "or", "and", etc., symbolizing statements and arguments with "some" and "all", truth versus validity. Formal inference as a game with rules : truth functional rules, simple quantification rules, searching for counter-examples. Logic as computation : grammaticality, truth-tables, computer switches and logical pianos, automata with memory. Probability and inductive logic : probability and possible universes, empirical verification. There will be weekly exercises, quizzes, and a final. (Burks)

181. Philosophical Issues: An Introduction. No credit granted to those who have completed 182, 202, 231, 232, 234, or 297. (3). (HU).
Section 001.
In this course Philosophy will be introduced to you through a discussion of three, to an extent interrelated questions. They will be: What is Freedom? What is the nature of the Self? and What is Morality? The exploration of these questions will involve the raising of a host of sub-questions. One, for example, will be whether human beings genuinely want to be free? (Many avoid the bearing of responsibility and many more seek out father-figures or conform to a crowd so the answer is not as obvious as one is apt to think.) More than half of the readings will be selections from classical philosophical texts but some will also be selections from literary works as well as from famous anthropological and sociological writings. Three papers, each approximately ten pages in length, will be required in addition to a final exam. (Bergmann)

Section 002. Philosophy 181 is an introduction to philosophy which is organized around a set of related problems. The individual problems have been chosen in order to shed light on the following question about the foundations of morality. What is the nature of a person which justifies the special concern characterized as respect for persons? We ask the same question when we ask how far this concern should extend. Should it include animals? Could it ever extend to intelligent machines? We will begin by looking at the problems related to our own identities as persons. What is the relation between mind and body? What is the nature of our identity over time? We will then look at the problems of abortion and the rights of animals to try to determine what the limits of personhood might be. Finally, we will examine the relation between our identities as persons and the scope of our obligations toward others. There will be a number of short exercises, two papers and a final exam. (S. White)

201. Introduction to Logic. No credit granted to those who have completed 180, 203 or 296. (3). (N.Excl).

This course aims to give the student a thorough understanding of the fundamental forms of reasoning and rational argument. Students will be expected to master some technical detail, but the emphasis in this course is on non-technical, informal logical techniques applicable to problem solving in any area of inquiry. Both deductive and inductive patterns of argument will be examined. Sections usually have about twenty-five students each. Each section meets three hours per week and is generally conducted with some informality and considerable student participation. Discussion and questions are encouraged, particular problems are analyzed, and students are required to demonstrate mastery of assigned material. Course requirements for grading vary from instructor to instructor. Normally there are weekly assignments frequently in written form and short, periodic quizzes.

202. Introduction to Philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed 181, 182, 231, 232, 234, or 297. (4). (HU).

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with philosophical thinking on the great questions that have moved mankind throughout history, and to discuss possible solutions to them. The course is taught in independent sections of approximately twenty-five students. Each section is taught by a teaching assistant who selects the topics and readings. Some sections examine the systems of such major historical figures as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche, while others employ primarily the writings of contemporary philosophers such as Bertrand Russell, A.J. Ayer, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and others. The subject matter generally includes ethics, free will and responsibility, philosophy of mind, epistemology and skepticism, and perhaps arguments for the existence of God. The text is either a book of readings or a set of larger selections from separate editions of well known philosophical works. During the term, each student is usually required to submit a total of at least fifteen pages of critical discussion through a series of short papers varying in length from three to five pages. Several short quizzes may also be given as well as a final examination.

231. Introduction to Philosophy: Problems and Principles. No credit granted to those who have completed 181, 182, 202, 232, 234, or 297. (3). (HU).

This course is open to students from all areas of the University. No previous work in philosophy is required or assumed. First term undergraduates are welcome. The course has two principal goals. The first is to provide an introduction to fundamental philosophical problems drawn from a variety of branches of philosophy. The second goal is to develop the philosophical skills and, more generally, the critical and argumentative skills of those enrolled. The following issues will be discussed: (1) determinism, free will, and moral responsibility; (2) arguments for and against the existence of God; (3) the nature of mind and its relation to body; and (4) self-interest, altruism, and moral obligation. There will be a final examination and one (midterm) hour examination. Philosophy 231 and 232 share a common lecture for two meetings per week. Philosophy 231 carries three hours of credit, has one discussion meeting per week, and requires two short papers while Philosophy 232 carries four hours of credit, has two discussion meetings per week, and requires three short papers. Students who feel they would benefit from the additional hour of discussion or from the additional required writing, or who need the extra hour of credit are advised to enroll in 232 rather than 231. The course has a single text, an anthology: Joel Feinberg, editor, Reason and Responsibility, 5th edition, 1981, Dickenson Publishing Company. (Loeb)

232. Problems of Philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed 181, 182, 202, 231, 234, or 297. (4). (HU).

See Philosophy 231. (Loeb)

234. Introduction to Philosophy: Types of Philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed 181, 182, 202, 231, 232, or 297. (4). (HU).

This course introduces perennial philosophical problems and the kinds of answers that have been offered by different philosophers at different times. Materialism and idealism are considered in response to questions about the nature of what exists; empiricism, pragmatism, and rationalism are examined in response to questions about the origin of knowledge and test of truth; and hedonism and other philosophies in response to questions about the good life. The approach is essentially historical in that figures such as Plato and William James who are selected as representative of various types of philosophy are also significant historically. There is also some attempt to explain cultural factors responsible for the emergence of the various philosophies considered. Finally, the study of individual philosophers can be followed by a consideration of the impact of their ideas on subsequent philosophers and/or societies. Course requirements include three one-hour examinations and one paper. (Munro)

296. Honors Introduction to Logic. Honors students or permission of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed 180, 201 or 203. (3). (N.Excl).

Logic is valuable, first, as a tool for theoretical clarification. That makes it indispensable for many of the purposes of philosophy, particularly for the purpose of analyzing the structures of sciences, mathematics, and other systems of thought. Logic is valuable in the second place because it provides methods for the evaluation of reasoning, regardless of the subject matter with which the reasoning is concerned. This course is designed to introduce the student to the concepts and methods of modern deductive logic. It will deal with such key logical ideas as validity and invalidity of arguments, entailment between propositions, and logical truth. It will examine such properties of logical systems as consistency and completeness, and ask which branches of logic can be formulated as complete, consistent systems. Examples of the use of formal logic as a tool of clarification will be discussed. Students, it is hoped, will acquire considerable skill in applying various logical techniques for evaluating reasoning and for analyzing the logical status of propositions. There will be two or three exams, and satisfactory completion of homework will be required. (Gibbard)

297. Honors Introduction to Philosophy. Honors students or permission of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed 181, 182, 202, 231, 232, or 234. (3). (HU).
Section 001.
Philosophy 297 is an Honors introduction to a cross section of contemporary philosophical problems. The course is organized around the concept of a person. We will begin with a number of questions about the metaphysical nature of persons. What is the relation of mind and body? What is the nature of personal identity? How is free will possible? We will then look at some of the empirical questions surrounding the notion of human nature. Finally we will consider some of the relations between personhood and morality. We will look at both the question of how the moral value accorded to persons is related to their metaphysical status and the question of how these considerations bear on problems in applied ethics. The problem of abortion will serve as a case study and a test of the moral themes under consideration. There will be a number of short exercises, two papers and a final exam. (S. White)

Section 002. This course is an introduction to the major problems of philosophy, usually dealing with roughly the same issues as those taught in Philosophy 231/2, though there may be some attention to historical figures.

335/Buddhist Studies 320/Asian Studies 320/Rel. 320. Introduction to Buddhism. Buddhist Studies 220 or the equivalent. May not be included in a concentration plan in philosophy. (3). (HU).

See Buddhist Studies 320. (Gomez)

345. Language and Mind. One philosophy course. (3). (HU).

Orthodox theories of mind explain mental states by reference to their causal roles. These theories conflict with the assumption that we have a unique and private form of access to our own mental states. The assumption of the privacy of the mental also poses problems for the idea that we succeed in communicating our thoughts to others. In Philosophy 345 we will explore some of the traditional problems in the philosophy of mind and some of the connections between these problems and problems in the philosophy of language. Topics in philosophy of mind include privileged access, causal theories of the mental, mental representations, and mind-body identity. Topics in the philosophy of language include meaning, causal and descriptive theories of reference, reference and autonomous psychology, the private language argument, language understanding and artificial intelligence, and metaphor. Although this course is an introduction to the specific problems under consideration, it is not intended as an introduction to philosophy. The course is primarily designed for philosophy majors and those who intend to do a significant amount of course work in the field. There will be two papers and a final examination. (S. White)

356. Issues in Bioethics. No prerequisites; one Philosophy Introduction is recommended. (4). (HU).

A discussion of ethical issues that arise in the life sciences and health care professions. Topics may include: abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide; the use of animals and humans in experiments; and the distribution and regulation of health care. Three short papers and a final exam. No prerequisite. (Velleman)

357/Env. St. 408. Ecology: A Philosophical Perspective. (3). (HU).

In this course I hope to discuss a number of ways in which philosophical distinctions and religious considerations can enter into and (perhaps) benefit our thinking about ecology. The course is just being developed, and my plans for it are still rather fluid. I hope to discuss some distinctions relevant to ethics, such as that between teleological and deontological principles, and corporate vs. private duties. I will also discuss the ethics of risk, the ethics in situations in which all choices are bad. I hope also to consider various religious views of man's relations to nature, including Christian views of mastery and stewardship, a Buddhist approach, perhaps American Indian, etc. There will be a midterm exam, a final exam, and a term paper. Texts have not yet been selected. (Mavrodes)

361. Ethics. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).

In this course we will examine fundamental questions of moral philosophy. We will discuss whether it is possible that there is a universal, objective moral law, or whether morality is in some sense relative to culture or to the individual. We will discuss how, if possible, to resolve conflicts between self-interest and duty to others. We will examine the nature of happiness and human welfare and see whether there is a "best life" at which it makes sense to aim. Finally we will look at a few selected practical problems of morality e.g. abortion and see how what we have learned bears on these. Two short papers (eight to ten pages) and a final exam. (Conly)

366. Introduction to Political Philosophy. One Philosophy Introduction. (4). (HU).

Political philosophy is concerned not merely with the question of what sort of government (if any) we should have, but also with the most general questions about how people can and should live in society. We will undertake a systematic examination of the moral, philosophical, and empirical foundations of three of the dominant political philosophies of our times: social contract theory, utilitarianism, and socialism. Our goal will be to understand the conceptions of human nature, of value, of freedom, and of society and the individual's relation to it that underlie these political philosophies. Readings will include significant figures in the history of political philosophy (such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, and Marx) as well as controversial contemporary political philosophers (such as Rawls and Nozick). Lectures and discussion sections. A midterm and a final examination. A term paper. (Railton)

371. Existentialism. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).

This course will be an Introduction to Existentialism, (in a fashion it will also be an Introduction to Philosophy), but it will not be a survey course. We will deal only with some of the existentialist thinkers. In the main we will concentrate on Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Camus. Most of the readings will be selections from the works of these authors, but some short pieces of Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Kafka and Buber may also be on the list. Three papers each approximately ten pages in length will be required in addition to a final exam. (Bergmann)

388/Class. Civil. 388. History of Philosophy: Ancient. One Philosophy Introduction. A knowledge of Greek or Latin is not required. (4). (HU).

This course is a survey of Greek philosophical thought from its beginnings through Hellenistic times. The figures covered in detail are certain Presocratic thinkers, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, the Stoics, and the Sceptics. Stress is laid not only on the doctrines of these philosophers, but also on their arguments for holding them. Attention is also given to the non-philosophical background against which these thinkers worked, particularly in the case of their ethical views. There will be three papers, ranging from four to seven pages in length, two 30-minute quizzes, and a final. One of the chief aims of the course is to teach students to write a clear, well-organized philosophy paper. (N. White)

401. Undergraduate Seminar in Philosophy. Open to junior and senior concentrators and to others by permission of concentration adviser. (3). (HU).

The subject of the seminar will be the idea of human perfection. We will study theories of what human nature is, ideals of what it could be, and the dispositions and cognitives which have been held to make perfection possible. Reading will include Aristotle, Nietzsche and Marx. One presentation and one paper required. (Conly)

409. Philosophy of Language. One Philosophy Introduction or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

The underlying aim of the course is to address the question of linguistic meaning, i.e., the question, how is it possible that sounds (or inscriptions) which may be described purely physically can also be the objects of understanding. This will lead us into questions about the relation between thought and language, reference and truth. In the course of the discussion, we will try and cover standard topics in the philosophy of language; analyticity, proper names; mood, force and speech acts; indeterminacy of translation, realism versus anti-realism, ontological commitment; identity and necessity. Essays by or selections from Plato, Locke, Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, Austin, Strawson, Grice, Quine, Davidson, Dummett, and Kripke will be studied. Students will be asked to write one long term paper or two shorter papers in the middle and at the end of the term. (Bilgrami)

414. Mathematical Logic. (3). (N.Excl).

A study of the syntax, semantics, applications, and limitations of elementary logic. Among the topics included are: (A) Truth-functions and sentential logic; symbolization of truth-functional arguments; completeness of sentential logic. (B) Syntax and semantics of quantification theory; symbolization of quantification arguments; completeness of quantification theory; limitations of quantification theory. (C) Formalization of number theory; Godel's first incompleteness theorem (in outline). The text is Formal Logic by R. Jeffrey. (Sklar)

420. Philosophy of Science. A course in logic or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

A systematic study of contemporary philosophy of science. We will discuss the following topics, among others. (1) The aims and methods of philosophy of science. What is philosophy of science and what is its relation to science itself? (2) The nature of scientific theories. What is the structure of a scientific theory? How are a theory's terms and assertions related to experience? (3) Theory change and confirmation. Can competing scientific theories be tested objectively against one another? Is there such a thing as "the scientific method", and can it be justified? Can we speak meaningfully about scientific progress? (4) Explanation, causation, laws, and probability. How do scientific theories explain? Must explanations involve laws or causal mechanisms? What kinds of probability are there? Can probabilistic phenomena be explained? (5) Physics and metaphysics. What, if any, are the metaphysical assumptions of contemporary science? What role do metaphysical issues (such as the nature of laws or causation) play in the philosophy of science? (6) Philosophy of social science. Are the social sciences fundamentally different from the natural sciences, and, if so, in what ways? Midterm and final examinations. A term paper. (Railton)

423. Problems of Space and Time. One Logic Introduction and either one other philosophy course or 12 credits of science; or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

Traditional philosophical questions about the nature of time and space have been strikingly influenced in the twentieth century by the results of contemporary physical science. At the same time, the important current physical theories of space and time rest explicitly or implicitly on deep-rooted philosophical assumptions. The purpose of this course is to study the mutual interaction between science and philosophy as illustrated in problems about space and time. Typical topics to be considered include the status of knowledge about the structure of space and time, substantial versus relational theories of spacetime, spatio-temporal order and causal order, and the so-called problem of the direction of time. This course can best be appreciated by students who have either a background in philosophy especially logic and philosophy of science, metaphysics, epistemology or background in physical science or mathematics. An attempt is made in the course to introduce the fundamental ideas of both philosophy and science at a level which can be understood by those without an extensive background so students need not be proficient in both science and philosophy to benefit from the course. The primary text is L. Sklar, Space, Time and Spacetime. There are additional readings from authors such as Reichenbach, Poincare, Grunbaum, Smart, Wheeler, and others. (Sklar)

431. Normative Ethics. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).

An examination of fundamental issues in normative ethical theory. Students in the course should normally have taken Philosophy 361 or the equivalent. The emphasis will be on theories of moral obligation and of justice; utilitarian, intuitionistic, and Kantian theories will be considered. Readings will be from a variety of sources, mostly contemporary. Three papers of about five pages each, a midterm, a final exam, and perhaps a few one page discussion notes and in-class exercises will be required. For students who seem ready to tackle a longer paper, a ten-page paper may be substituted for the second and third short papers.

433. History of Ethics. Phil. 361 or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

An inquiry into the connection between ethics and practical reason as it is drawn by Aristotle, Hume, and Kant. Readings will include: The Nicomachean Ethics, The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, and The Treatise of Human Nature. One prior course in ethics or the history of philosophy is recommended. (Velleman)

461. Continental Rationalism. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).

This course will investigate the philosophical systems of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz, based upon a careful reading of selections from their major philosophical works. The principal goal will be to come to grips with the philosophical systems of each of these philosophers in its own right. We will focus on the metaphysics and epistemology in these systems. We might also discuss Malebranche, Locke and Berkeley. The formal prerequisite is any previous course in philosophy. However, a one-term course in the history of modern philosophy (Descartes through Kant), or the equivalent, would provide a much more suitable background. Students will write a number of papers.

468/Chinese 468. Classical Chinese Thought (To A.D. 220) Upperclass standing; no knowledge of Chinese required. (3). (HU).

Philosophy 468 focuses on the major philosophical schools of the Chou-Han period which was roughly equivalent in time and intellectual fertility to the classical ages of Greece and Rome. Among these schools, special consideration is given to the Confucian and Taoist schools since the doctrines associated with these were the sources of the two major philosophical traditions in China for the next 2000 years and affected very significant cultural developments in the arts, religion, science, and politics. The course concentrates on Chinese social and political philosophies (with notable exceptions in the case of certain Taoist thinkers) and on the theories of human nature that were associated with them. Among the more interesting political theories discussed are those pertaining to social control or the most desirable and effective ways of mobilizing the population for goals determined by the rulers. Chinese philosophers have been somewhat unusual in occupying political office and in having an opportunity to test their ideas in practice. This fact has affected the character of Chinese philosophy from the beginning, and it makes the study of Chinese political philosophy especially intriguing. There is some background consideration of the social and living conditions of the periods in which the various philosophies emerged. No knowledge of Chinese is required. Readings are in translation. All students are required to prepare an annotated, critical bibliography of secondary readings. Other course requirements include a midterm and a final examination. (Munro)

477. Theory of Knowledge. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).

Knowledge is traditionally conceived as justified true belief. This course will examine the three concepts of truth, belief, and justification in detail, with emphasis on the question "Under what conditions is a belief justified ?" and the question "What is the relation between justified belief and true belief?" Major contending theories and approaches (foundationalism vs. coherentism, internalism vs. externalism, Cartesianism vs. the causal-reliability approach will be presented and discussed. Questions concerning the nature of our perceptual access to the world, memory as a source of knowledge, and our knowledge of the future may also be discussed. The last topic to be taken up will concern the nature and possibility of philosophical theory of knowledge and its relation to empirical cognitive psychology. Readings will be drawn from historical and contemporary sources although the latter will predominate. Lectures and discussions. Two medium-length papers and a final. Students should have at least one philosophy course other than logic, preferably a course in which the basic elements of epistemology were covered. (Kim)

480. Philosophy of Religion. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).

The course this term will focus on the question of whether belief in God is justified, rational, in violation of our intellectual duties, etc. We will begin with a consideration of some nineteenth and twentieth century treatments of this topic (e.g., William Clifford and William James) and spend most of the time on comparatively recent arguments (e.g., Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Kai Nielsen, Antony Flew, etc.). There will be a midterm exam, a final exam, and a term paper. (Mavrodes)


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