Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

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 Fall Term, 1986. It will be taught by a 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 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 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. Philosophy 181 is distinguished by its format. It is 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 201 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. Three such courses will be offered Fall Term, 1986: Philosophy 356, "Issues in Bioethics," Philosophy 357, "Ecology: A Philosophical Perspective," and Philosophy 375, "Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud."

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

This course will focus on three ethical questions about the law: What is the nature of our obligation to obey the law? What justification is there for punishing lawbreakers? Are there spheres of activity that the law should not attempt to control? In seeking answers to these general questions we shall consider specific topics such as draft resistance and civil disobedience; drug laws and "victimless" crimes; obscenity laws and censorship; and the insanity defense. Students will be evaluated on the basis of three short papers and a final exam. No prior knowledge of philosophy or law is required. (Velleman)

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 three hourly exams and one final. (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)

Section 002. Philosophy 181 will be an introduction to some of the basic problems of philosophy. These include questions concerning: the nature of the mind is the mind (or soul) something distinct from the body? If so, how is this to be reconciled with a commitment to science and its methods? The nature of personal identity what makes something a person? And what is it for different stages of some thing to be stages of the same person? Freedom of the will is our sense of our own free agency defensible in light of modern science? The nature of knowledge can we be justified in holding some of our most fundamental everyday beliefs or must we simply accept them on faith? The nature of morality are moral judgments capable of truth and falsehood? Is there any reason why we should act morally? Course requirements: a midterm, final, and two short papers. Class meetings will have a lecture/discussion format and student participation will be encouraged. (Boghossian)

201. Introduction to Logic. No credit granted to those who have completed 180, 203 or 296.I and II: (3); IIIa and IIIb: (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. (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 personal identity; and (4) self-interest, altruism, and moral obligation. There will be a final examination and one midterm 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, 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 cover some of the fundamental problems in the different areas of philosophy. Typical of such problems are: Do we know anything? Are we truly free? Is morality objective? What is the relationship between mind and body? How does language work? The emphasis in the course will be on an analytic approach to these problems. Students will be evaluated partly on the basis of exams and partly on the basis of papers; and they will be expected to participate in class discussion. The work of any major philosopher may be used as background reading. (Fine)

Section 002. This course will examine some of the major philosophical problems: the existence of God, the nature and limits of human knowledge, the idea of freedom, the basis for ethical judgments, and the grounds of legitimate political authority. The readings will consist of a series of primary sources. Works by such philosophers as Plato, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Mill, Marx, and Camus will be included. Class sessions will follow a lecture and discussion format and students will be evaluated on the basis of several brief papers and a final examination. No prerequisites. (Lipschutz)

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. (Foulk)

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

"Language and Mind" is a rigorous and demanding introduction to a range of contemporary issues at the interface of the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. The overarching concern is the relationship between thinking and speaking the extent to which our understanding of one requires and informs our understanding of the other. The course has been designed especially to prepare undergraduate concentrators in philosophy for serious upper division and perhaps eventually graduate level work in the areas discussed, but should be of interest to any serious student interested in the relation between thought and language. The reading consists in a number of seminal papers (collected in a course pack) by twentieth century philosophers working primarily in the Anglo-American analytic tradition (e.g., Frege, Russell, Donnellan, Kripke, Perry, Grice, Davidson, and Burge) and sections of two books (by Kripke). Besides the reading, which is essential, each student will be expected to write three 10 page papers. Topics will be assigned, though students can write on a topic of their own with permission. Class participation is very strongly encouraged. Although the only official prerequisite is one previous philosophy course, a stronger background in central philosophical areas (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind) will be the most useful, as will a familiarity with (the notation of) symbolic logic. (Taschek)

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. 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 and the ethics of 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).

The course begins by examining issues concerning individual responsibility and moral authority raised by Milgram's famous psychological study of obedience. Specifically, what does the authority of ethics derive from? The core of the course is an examination of central traditions in moral philosophy, including Kant, Mill, and Ross, as well as critiques of traditional views by some recent writers who stress the role of personal relationship in ethics. Lecture and discussion. Three short papers and a final exam. (White)

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)

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. (N. White)

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

How can we know anything about the external world? Traditionally, philosophers concerned with this question have felt strongly obliged to defend themselves against the challenge of scepticism, which suggests that in fact no such knowledge is possible for us. But how exactly are we to understand the sources and point of sceptical challenges in philosophy? Why do we and to what extent should we take the threats of philosophical scepticism seriously? Until we appreciate the nature and sources of the anxiety that philosophical scepticism raises in us, we will hardly be in a position to respond adequately to its evident threat. In this seminar, we will be directly concerned with these very pressing and very persistent philosophical questions. We will use as our central text the recent book by Barry Stroud, The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism. This will be supplemented by readings by authors Stroud explicitly discusses (Descartes, Kant, Austin, Moore, Carnap, Quine and others). The course should be of interest to anyone seriously interested in contemporary analytic epistemology. This course is open only to junior and senior philosophy concentrators although non-concentrators with substantial (relevant) philosophical backgrounds may be admitted if there is room. In any case, this course will be philosophically demanding; some background in epistemology is essential! Ideally, students will have taken "Knowledge and Reality" (Phil. 383) or some other course or courses with equivalent emphasis on epistemological issues. As this is a seminar, active and informed class participation is essential. Students must be willing to do the assigned readings on time. Each student will be expected to give a short presentation and there will be two papers: one ten page paper due around the middle of the term, and one fifteen to twenty page paper due at the end of the term. (Taschek)

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)

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? (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)

439. Aesthetics. One Philosophy Introduction or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

This course will be a philosophical examination of the institution of art, and of our notions of aesthetic value, aesthetic appreciation, criticism, etc.. Questions to be investigated include: What is art? How does art differ from science? Is art a language? Are works of art symbols? Are they vehicles of communication? Do the arts depend on conventions? In what ways are the arts valuable or important? What is it to interpret a work of art? Is interpretation "objective"? What kinds of reasons can be given in support of an interpretation? Does appreciation or criticism require consideration of the artist's intentions or his background? What is it for a work to be expressive? To be representational? In what ways may one work be more realistic than another? What is the difference between fiction and non-fiction? What is it to perform a theatrical or musical work of art? Examples will be taken from all of the major arts, including literature, theater, painting, music and film. There will be considerable emphasis on comparisons among the various artistic media and genre. The main text will be William Kennick, Art and Philosophy, second edition. There will be two required papers and one or two examinations. (Walton)

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)

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

This course is intended to introduce students to some of the fundamental issues and principles in contemporary metaphysics, and to familiarize them with important research tools currently used in the field. To this end, we shall first develop (1) some basic concepts and principles regarding existence and modality, such as logical and metaphysical necessity, possible worlds, essential and contingent properties, necessary and contingent beings, and individual essence. We shall then turn to particular topics such as these: (2) causation, supervenience, and other determinative connections; (3) the persistence of material bodies over time (the problem of the "Ship of Theseus"); (4) the unity and persistence of persons; (5) the existence and nature of Platonic objects. e.g., properties and sets; (6) the "supervenience" of wholes on their parts, and (7) the structure and individuation of events, changes, and facts. The course will emphasize systematic treatment of the problems rather than their historical backgrounds. Two medium-length papers (on suggested topics) will be required, as well as a final examination on a pre-announced set of questions. Readings will be chiefly from the contemporary sources, although some historical material may also be included. This course is intended primarily for advanced undergraduates with a substantial background in philosophy (e.g., Philosophy 383 and some logic) and graduate students. (Kim)


lsa logo

University of Michigan | College of LS&A | Student Academic Affairs | LS&A Bulletin Index

This page maintained by LS&A Academic Information and Publications, 1228 Angell Hall

The Regents of the University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 USA +1 734 764-1817

Trademarks of the University of Michigan may not be electronically or otherwise altered or separated from this document or used for any non-University purpose.