Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

Philosophy Introductions

The Philosophy Department offers a series of 150-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 154, "Law and Philosophy will be offered Winter Term, 1984. It will be taught by regular faculty members and will be limited to 50 students.

Philosophy 181, 202, 231, 232, 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 among 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 and 181 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. Like Philosophy 231 and 232, Philosophy 181 is mostly concerned with contemporary discussion, but its format is different. It s smaller, limited to 50 students, and is taught in a combination lecture/discussion format 3 times a week.

The Department offers 2 elementary introduction courses in logic, 180 and 201. Their subjects and levels are essentially identical. 180, however, is taught by faculty in a section of about 40-50, while 202 is taught in sections of 20-25 by advanced graduate student teaching assistants.

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."

154. Law and Philosophy. Students are strongly advised not to take more than two Philosophy Introductions. (3). (HU).

This course provides a general introduction to problems in contemporary moral philosophy and action theory as they arise in the context of law. The topics to be covered include (1) the relation of law to morality: does law express particular standards of justice or morality, or is it a disinterested arbiter among competing social conventions? Should it enforce some particular moral code, or can and should it merely adjudicate among them? How should the law respond to conscientious moral opposition to its rulings (civil disobedience, conscientious objection)? (2) legal and moral responsibility: under what conditions can individuals be held legally responsible for the consequences of their actions? Must they have intended these consequences, if they are harmful? How much knowledge and foresight of harm must individuals be expected to have? Under what conditions can a person be excused from legal responsibility by reason of insanity or mental incompetence? Can individuals be held responsible for harm to another, just because they failed to prevent that harm? Or must they have caused harm actively? (3) punishment: what is the justification for punishment? is it the reform of the criminal, the deterrent effect on the society at large, or the justified desire for retribution on the part of the plaintiff? What constitutes punishment: incarceration, forced therapy, or social ostracism? What are the actual effects of punishment? Do these effects undermine its justification? In examining each of these areas, we will begin with particular case decisions, using these as concrete focal points for posing and discussing the more general philosophical issues. The requirements for this course will be three 5-page papers, a midterm, and an in-class final exam. (Piper)

155. The Nature of Science. (3). (HU).

An introduction to the philosophy of science. Special attention will be given to questions about the nature of scientific reasoning, including: is there a scientific method? How are scientific theories tested? How are statistical inferences performed? Do the conclusions of scientific inquiry have a special claim to credibility or objectivity? What roles, if any, do values play in scientific practice? What can the history of science tell us about the nature of scientific reasoning? Can scientific reasoning appropriately be extended to other areas of inquiry? No special background will be presupposed. Lectures and discussion. Midterm and final examinations. A term paper. (Railton)

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

This is an introductory course in logic. We will begin with a study of some problems, fallacies, etc., which arise in informal reasoning. This will be followed by a study of some of the elements of formal (symbolic) logic. There may also be some brief considerations of induction and of probability. The course will be conducted by lectures, discussions, and demonstrations of problem-solving techniques. Students will be expected to do homework assignments regularly. Grades will be assigned principally on the basis of two exams and several quizzes. (Mavrodes)

181. Philosophical Issues: An Introduction. No credit granted to those who have completed 182, 202, 231, 232, 234, or 297. (3). (HU).
Section 001.
The approach to philosophical topics in this course is partially historical. There will be some attention to the origins and evolution of central ideas in the Western philosophical tradition, and to their long term influence on Western culture. Students will read the writings of about five key figures in the history of philosophy, rather than a textbook of articles by contemporary philosophers. Lectures will explain the doctrines of the thinkers, and, in so doing, illuminate certain enduring problems in philosophy and types of answers to them. A partial list of these answers includes materialism and idealism with respect to questions about what exists; rationalism, empiricism, and pragmatism with respect to questions concerning what we know and the nature of truth, and hedonism with regard to standards of good and evil. In addition to learning about these problems and types of answers, students will examine and evaluate arguments in the texts. They will gain practice in writing a paper that draws upon skills in argumentation. Evaluation of course work will be based primarily on the paper and on three, one-hour examinations. There is no final examination. Lectures and discussion will be intermixed in the same classroom setting, the discussions focusing on the texts as illustrations of topics covered in the lectures. No previous philosophy course is required. (Munro)

201. Introduction to Logic. No credit granted to those who have completed 180, 203 or 296. I and II: (3); III a and III b: (2). (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. I and II: (3); III a and III b: (2). (HU).

This course is open to students from all areas of the University. No previous work in philosophy is required or assumed. First semester 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)

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.

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.
This course will compare philosophical and scientific theories of the nature of things, organisms, minds, and social-cultural systems. Both ancient and modern authors will be studied. We will begin with Plato's idealistic account of man and the nature of the world. His view will be contrasted with Lucretius' materialistic philosophy and with a contemporary understanding of evolution and robotics. The nature of morality and human freedom will be a central topic. Then we will approach reality from the inside out, following Descartes and Berkeley, and study the earlier problems from this point of view. Students will read about 50 pages per week. There will be a midterm and a final. (Burks)

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, Staff)

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)

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

This course will examine fundamental questions of moral philosophy. Through a study of texts by some of the main figures (Aristotle, Kant, and Mill), we shall examine such questions as: Is there a "best" sort of life? Are there objectively valid, general principles of right conduct, and if so what are they? What is the relation of ethics to custom, on the one hand, and to individual responsibility and choice, on the other? In addition to these general issues we shall also examine some concrete instances in which difficult moral questions arise most likely some having to do with matters of life and death. There will be significant opportunity for student participation in class discussion. Two short papers (eight to ten pages) and a final exam. (Darwall)

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)

370. Philosophical Aspects of Literature. (3). (HU).

This course will be centered upon several literary works, tentatively including: John Barth, The End of the Road; Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies; Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths; A. Camus, The Stranger; F. Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground; Yukio Mishima, Death in Midsummer; J.P. Sartre, No Exit and The Flies. There will also be supplementary readings in various philosophical sources, including selections from Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Sartre, and Wittgenstein. The literary works will be examined for their "philosophical content," for what they have to say on a variety of philosophical issues, including ideas concerning morality, freedom, human nature, metaphysics, knowledge, and so forth. We will especially emphasize problems of philosophy of mind, problems about the nature of the self, self-knowledge and self-deception, sincerity, action, and freedom. In addition, philosophical questions concerning the nature, function, and value of literature itself will be discussed, in light of detailed examination of the selected works. Some such questions have to do with how it is that literary works express or communicate philosophical (social, political, etc.) ideas, compared to how philosophical essays, or political tracts, do, how literary works inform or illuminate readers, contribute to their understanding of themselves and their situations, and affect their lives in other ways. Other questions to be raised concern the nature of literary devices: metaphor, symbolism and allegory, and caricature. We will also discuss the theory of literary criticism. Probable requirements: three short papers and a final examination. (Walton)

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 topic of this seminar will be moral psychology. In particular, we shall concentrate on the role of so-called folk psychology in explaining actions, on the one hand, and in justifying actions on the other. We shall ask: is the common sense conception of an agent's motives subject to empirical confirmation? or is it an indispensable part of our conception of the agent as rational? Could it be both? Three short papers. (Velleman)

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) Elements of set theory and the foundations of mathematics; undecidability and Church's theorem. The text is Formal Logic by R. Jeffrey. (Sklar)

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. Readings will be chiefly from Kant, Mill, Sidgwick, and various twentieth century moral philosophers. (Gibbard)

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

This course will be concerned to examine debates regarding the relation of ethics to reason, sentiment, and the passions in 17th and 18th Century moral philosophy. In addition to their historical interest, these debates are relevant to important contemporary issues. We shall study such writers as Hobbes, Locke, Clarke, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Butler, Hume, Price, Reid, and Kant. Two papers (eight to ten pages) and a final exam. (Darwall)

458. Philosophy of Kant. Phil. 389, 461, or 462, or permission of instructor, or concentration adviser. (3). (HU).

The course focuses exclusively on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. The entire text will be analyzed, with a view to understanding Kant's epistemological doctrines of the Aesthetic and Analytic, as well as the metaphysical critique of the Dialectic as a foundation for Kant's later moral philosophy. (Piper)

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. The "minor" Continental figure Malebranche will probably receive some attention as well. Depending upon the interests and backgrounds of those enrolled, we might also discuss Locke and Berkeley, with a view to determining the extent to which their philosophical systems have affinities with those of the Continental figures. 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 three papers. There will be a final examination, but no midterm. (Loeb)

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)

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

The course this semester 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)

481. Metaphysics. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).

This course will examine several of the central topics in metaphysics such as (1) modalities (concepts of possibility, necessity, and contingency), (2) existence, (3) identity of objects and persons over time, (4) causality and determinism, (5) the possibility of free agency, (6) realism versus idealism, and (7) the nature and possibility of metaphysics. Readings from both historical and contemporary sources (although the latter may predominate). Lectures and discussions; two or three papers; final examination.


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