Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

151. Philosophical Dimensions of Personal Decisions. Students are strongly advised not to take more than two Philosophy Introductions. (3). (HU).

An introduction to some central areas of philosophy through an investigation of a range of philosophical questions that arise in connection with the making of personal decisions. Among the issues we will discuss are: What is it to choose freely? In what sense are we responsible for our decisions? What is it to choose rationally? What is the place of moral considerations in personal decision-making? How are one's choices related to the choices of others? What role does the making of choices play in developing one's identity? Readings will be drawn from current work in philosophy (including analytic and existentialist writings) and decision theory, and psychology. Three short papers, a midterm, and a final examination. WL:1 (Railton)

180. Introductory Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 180 or 201. (3). (N.Excl). (BS).
Section 001.
This course is an introduction to informal logic, and to some of the main elements of formal logic. The course examines some of the problems and fallacies which arise in informal reasoning, logical concepts used in the analysis and criticism of arguments, and provides an introduction to elementary formal (symbolic) logic. The course gives some attention to issues in branches of philosophy germane to logic, for example, the theory of knowledge, philosophy of language, and metaphysics. There will be lectures, demonstrations of problem-solving techniques, and a variety of exercises. The course is limited to approximately 50 students, which should permit opportunity for discussion. Texts and methods of evaluation to be determined. WL:4 (Macpherson)

181. Philosophical Issues: An Introduction. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 182, 202, 231, 232, 234, or 297. (3). (HU).

This course examines some of the main problems of philosophy, such as: How do we know that anything exists, other than ourselves? Are minds immaterial spirits, or are minds brains and hence nothing but complex physical objects? If human actions are causally determined by heredity and environment, is there any free will or moral responsibility? Is abortion, or euthanasia, or suicide, morally permissible? Is the nature and extent of our moral obligations determined by our feelings, self-interest, social convention, Divine commands, or something else? What are the different kinds of social, political, and economic organization, and what reasons are there for preferring one to another? How should one live one's life? What is the meaning of life, and what does this question mean? Are there good reasons for believing that God exists? Students will write papers discussing these topics. WL:4

196. First Year Seminar. First year students; second year students with permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

Section 001. The Theme for this seminar is emotion. What are emotions? What do they tell us about the relations between mind and body? Does everyone have the same emotional capacities, or do people in different cultures have different emotions? Can emotions be rational or irrational? Can reason control the emotions, or does reasoning itself merely serve our emotional impulses? What kind of emotions to animals have? Readings will include works by Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Scheler, and contemporary writers in philosophy, history, and the social sciences. Students will write three short papers (6-8) pages and a final examination. Cost:2 WL:4 (Anderson)

Section 003. We commonly believe that human beings have free will and that, as a consequence, they are responsible for their behavior in a way that non-human animals are not. Thus, while we may reward or punish our dogs or "put them to sleep" when they display bad dispositions, we do not try them, imprison them, or execute them, as we do human criminals. Whether human behavior is deemed praiseworthy or blameworthy, we tend to regard it as springing form the person, who is free author of his or her choices and actions. In this seminar, we will examine some of the complex issues surrounding our common view: What is free will? Do human beings possess it? Are we ever morally responsible for what we do, and if so, under what conditions? What is the special nature of persons, and how might it account for our having free will? We will examine traditional and contemporary theories of free will,moral responsibility and personhood, with an emphasis on contemporary views. Section 003 is restricted to Honors students; or entry by permission of the instructor or the Honors program. WL:4 (Rosati)

201. Introduction to Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 180 or 201. (3). (N.Excl). (BS).

This course aims to give students a thorough understanding of the fundamental forms of reasoning and rational argument, and to improve critical reasoning skills that could be of use in a wide range of disciplines and careers. The course examines some of the problems and fallacies which arise in informal reasoning and logical concepts used in the analysis and criticism of arguments. Some elements of formal (symbolic) logic might be introduced. Though students will be expected to master some technical detail, the course emphasizes informal logical techniques applicable to problem solving and argument in any area of inquiry. Both deductive and inductive patterns of argument will be examined. The small section's size (usually about 25 students) is conducive to informality and considerable student participation. There will also be lectures, demonstrations of problem-solving techniques, and a variety of exercises. Normally, there are weekly assignments, and short, periodic quizzes. WL:4

202. Introduction to Philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 181, 182, 231, 232, 234, or 297. (3). (HU).

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with philosophical thinking on the great questions that have moved people throughout history, and to discuss possible solutions to them. The course is taught in independent sections (of approximately 25 students) by advanced graduate students, who select topics and readings for their sections. Some sections examine the systems of such major historical figures as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche; others focus on writings of twentieth century philosophers, such as Bertrand Russell, A.J. Ayer, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. For a list of questions from which topics are typically chosen, see the description for Philosophy 181. The text is either a book of readings or a set of larger selections from separate editions of well-known philosophical works. Requirements usually include a number of short, critical papers on topics treated in the course. WL:4

203. Introduction to Symbolic Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 203 or 296. (3). (N.Excl). (BS).

Common sense classifies arguments as good or bad according to a variety of formal and informal criteria. Roughly speaking, we count an argument good if it makes plausible assumptions which exhibit its conclusion as likely to be true. Though the common sense classification is familiar and useful, sometimes we want something more precise and more amenable to systematic investigation. Thus we idealize from the intuitive notion of a "good" argument and call an argument valid if it is impossible for its assumptions to be true without its conclusion being true as well. Logic can now be defined as the study of validity. As it turns out, this study is best pursued by constructing artificial languages designed to replicate in purer form the logically relevant features of natural languages like English. Symbolic logic, the subject of this course, is the study of validity by reference to these formal languages. Students meet in sections of about 25 students each. Each section meets three hours per week and has a lecture/discussion format, with considerable student participation. Course requirements and grading vary from instructor to instructor, but normally there are weekly homework assignments and periodic quizzes. WL:4

230/Buddhist Studies 230/Asian Studies 230/Rel. 230. Introduction to Buddhism. May not be included in a concentration plan in philosophy. (4). (HU).

See Buddhist Studies 230. (Gómez)

231. Introduction to Philosophy: Problems and Principles. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 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 a number of fundamental philosophical problems drawn from a variety of branches of philosophy. Three or four of the following topics will be discussed: (1) determinism, free will, and moral responsibility; (2) arguments for and against the existence of God; (3) skepticism about the existence of the material world; (4) the nature of personal identity; (5) the relationship between mind and body; and (6) famine, affluence, and the nature of moral obligation. The second goal is to develop the philosophical skills, and more generally the critical and argumentative skills, of those enrolled. 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 papers; Philosophy 232 carries four hours of credit, has two discussion meetings per week, and requires three papers. Students who feel they would benefit from the additional hour of discussion or from the additional required writing are advised to consider enrolling in 232 rather than 231. Course readings will be drawn from an anthology, Joel Feinberg, editor, Reason and Responsibility, and possibly a course pack. WL:1 (Loeb)

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

See Philosophy 231. (Loeb)

297. Honors Introduction to Philosophy. Honors students or permission of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 181, 182, 202, 231, 232, or 234. (3). (HU).
Section 004.
This course will introduce students to philosophy through an examination of some major philosophical issues and problems. These will be discussed with reference either to the systems of such major historical figures as Plato, Aristotle, Decartes, Hume, and Kant, or to the work of such twentieth century philosophers as Bertrand Russell, A.J. Ayer, Ludwig Wittgenstein, or some combination of these approaches. For a list of questions from which topics are typically chosen, see the description for Philosophy 181. Requirements will include a number of short, critical papers. There will be significant opportunity for discussion. WL:4 (Everson)

319. Philosophy of the Arts. Phil. 202 or equivalent. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phil. 419. (3). (HU).

This course will examine the arts from a philosophical perspective. It will investigate what art is, the nature of creation, criticism, interpretation, evaluation, and appreciation, and the ways in which the various arts are important, concentrating on several specific art forms such as the novel, photography and film, representational painting, and music. It will treat questions such as: What, if anything, is distinctive about art and aesthetic experience, and how are they related to other aspects of life and culture?, In what ways are works of art expressive of feelings?, Do they have cognitive content?, In what ways do we learn from them, and how do they work to change people's perspectives or attitudes?, What is fiction and why are people interested in it?, Why and in what ways is photography more (or less) powerful than painting and drawing?, What is it for a painting or a novel to be realistic?, What is meant by indeterminate art, conceptual art, found art, and performance art?, How are these forms of art interesting, and how do they compare with more traditional ones (e.g., do they deserve to be called "art"?). Written work for the course will consist of a short paper, three quizzes, and a longer paper. This course is designed especially for students who have not had extensive work in philosophy, although background in philosophy and the arts would be helpful. Cost:3 WL:4 (Walton)

322(362). Science, Culture, and Social Values. (3). (HU).

In dealing with the relations between science, technology, and our culture, we will discuss such issues as: ways of understanding science, technology and society, science and public policy, contemporary critiques of science. Readings will be not only from philosophical writings but also from recent books and articles by cultural critics, social scientists, and natural scientists. No philosophy background is necessary. Two short papers and a final. Cost:2 (Meiland)

344. Ethics and Health Care. Inteflex 101, 201, or 301, or an introductory philosophy course. (3). (Excl).
Human Values and Health Care.
This course addresses the ethical problems faced by patients, health care providers, and the institutions in which they find themselves. The focus will be on concrete cases that pose ethical dilemmas, the moral intuitions that we bring to such cases, the ethical principles that apply to those cases, and philosophical theory that can bring a critical perspective to cases, intuitions, and principles. (Noble)

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

This course is an introduction to some problems which overlap the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language. The theme will be the general nature of intentional action, and the more particular characteristics of those actions in the course of which we speak to one another, write to one another, etc. The course will involve the study of a number of classic texts in philosophy of mind and philosophy of language, notably J.L. Austin's How To Do Things with Words, J.R. Searle's Speech Acts, the papers on intending and meaning by Paul Grice, and those by Donald Davidson on action. While these texts are not easy, we shall discuss them carefully, and every effort will be made to avoid unnecessary technicalities. The mode of instruction will be lectures, but with plenty of time for questions and discussion. Students will be expected to produce two 12-page papers, and to sit a final examination. WL:1 (Rumfitt)

359. Law and Philosophy. (4). (HU).

A philosophical analysis of the law and legal institutions. Topics will be selected from among the following: the nature of law, the source of legal authority, the moral obligation to obey the law, legal interpretation, equality and discrimination, democracy and voting rights, property rights and distributive justice, liberty, free speech, the justification of punishment (or for imposing specific punishments, such as the death penalty), the conditions for criminal responsibility (or specific applications of them, such as the defense of insanity), the legal enforcement of morality, and legal paternalism. Readings may be drawn from historical figures (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel); from contemporary legal philosophers (H.L.A. Hart, Ronald Dworkin, Joel Feinberg, Jean Hampton); from texts in legal history, criminology, or sociology, and from statutes and court decisions. The Department will offer one of 355 and 359, but not both. (Rosati)

361. Ethics. One Philosophy Introduction. (4). (HU).

This is a course in philosophical ethics. We will be concerned to see whether there is anything one can say in a principled way about what is valuable, worth wanting for its own sake, and what is morally obligatory, what it would be wrong not to do. But we shall also be concerned with philosophical questions about ethics metaethical questions, as they are called. Here we will ask, not only what is valuable, but what is value? And what is it for an action to be wrong? What are rightness and wrongness themselves? And we shall examine the relation between these fundamental philosophical questions of metaethics and substantive ethical questions. The core of the course will be an examination of three central traditions in moral philosophy in the west, typified by Aristotle, Imannuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill. We will also do a section focussed on metaethics with readings from classical and contemporary sources, including the existentialists. And we shall end the course by considering a recent critique of traditional moral philosophy raised by writers inspired by the work of the psychologist Carol Gilligan on gender and moral development, who would stress the role of personal relationships in ethics. Lecture and discussion. Two papers of 5-7 pages in length, a midterm, and a final exam. Cost:2 WL:1 (Darwall)

365/Rel. 365. Problems of Religion. (4). (HU).

The focus will be on philosophical problems common to the major monotheistic religions: arguments for and against the existence of God, the problem of evil, questions about the nature of God, the relation between religion and morality, free will and predestination, heaven and hell, pluralism vs. exclusivism, and religious toleration. There will be some attention to nonwestern religions, of which Buddhism will be taken as representative. WL:4 (Curley)

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 philosophical thought through the Hellenistic period. Though the course focuses on the philosophical systems of Plato and Aristotle, some attention might be paid to pre-Socratic thinkers, 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. Requirements will include a number of critical papers. Students who wish more detailed information should contact the Department prior to registration. WL:1 (Everson)

401. Undergraduate Honors Seminar. Open to Honors concentrators in Philosophy and others by permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

A seminar which is conceived for the purpose of assisting students in writing an Honors thesis in Philosophy. The seminar begins with several weeks discussing fundamental methodological issues in philosophy, and then enters a sequence of stages, each lasting several weeks, in which students successively (1) propose a general area for a thesis, (2) develop and explore a list of basic readings in that area, (3) write and present a brief prospectus of the thesis, and for the final project, (4) write a term paper that corresponds approximately to a chapter of a finished thesis. The aim of the seminar is to provide advice, discussion, and support for thesis writers, so that they will be able (a) to identify and begin a thesis project that genuinely engages them and (b) to enter the Winter Term in an excellent position to write a successful thesis. Cost:1 WL:1 (Railton)

403/Amer. Cult. 403/Rel. 403. American Philosophy. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (Excl).

This course will deal with American philosophy from its beginnings in Jonathan Edwards and Ralph Waldo Emerson to twentieth century philosophers. The emphasis of the course will be on the classical pragmatists: Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Among the texts will be James' Pragmatism and Dewey's Reconstruction in Philosophy and The Public and Its Problems. The section on contemporary philosophy will includes readings from W.V.O. Quine, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty. Two term papers will be required, one handed in at approximately the middle of the term and the other handed in at the last class of the term. Cost:2 WL:1 (Meiland)

419. Philosophy of the Arts. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phil. 319. Will not satisfy 400-level course requirement for concentration in philosophy. Not open to philosophy graduate students. (3). (Excl).

See Philosophy 319. (Walton)

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). (Excl). (BS).

Do you think of space as a vast empty ball in which you are immersed? Can you imagine time "itself"? Could it ever start or stop? Is there a cosmic NOW, a unique instant common to all space? This course will examine the status of these kinds of questions in the theory of relativity. We will examine what kind of being space and time have, and how that being might be related to the being of matter and energy. We will ask what there is about space and time that gives us access to the knowledge we claim to have about it. Along the way we will discuss black (and white) holes, the beginning and end of the universe, time travel. Texts are Robert Geroch's General Relativity from A to B and Lawrence Sklar's Philosophy of Physics. WL:1 (Jones)

428/Pol. Sci. 428/Asian Studies 428/Soc. 426. China's Evolution Under Communism. Upperclass standing or permission of instructor. (4). (Excl).

See Political Science 428. (Lieberthal)

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

Normative ethics is the search for basic principles that determine which sorts of acts are right and which are wrong. My intention as of writing this description is to begin with a quick survey of some main types of theory (consequentialist, Kantian, virtue-based, intuitionist); and then to proceed to an extended discussion of promising and promise-keeping, asking which theory has the best account of a basic obligation that all agree in recognizing. Philosophical background is essential, and some background in moral philosophy (such as Philosophy 361) highly desirable. There will be two lectures and one discussion section (led by the instructor) per week. There will be two or three short papers (around 1500 words each), a final examination, and possibly a midterm. Attendance and participation in the discussions is expected. WL:1 (Regan)

462. British Empiricism. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (Excl).

A close critical examination of some central philosophical works by Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, three of the most important thinkers writing in English during the early modern period. The course will focus on metaphysical and epistemological questions, but we'll strive to develop an appreciation of various broader contexts scientific, ethical, political, and religious that gave shape and urgency to these questions at the time. Texts receiving especially close attention will be Locke's Essay, Book I of Hume's Treatise, and Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Written work will be three short papers due at intervals during the term. Previous work in either epistemology or the history of philosophy would be extremely helpful. (Hills)

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

See Chinese 468. (Cook)

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

This course provides a broad survey of the modern theory of knowledge for advanced undergraduates and graduate students. It begins by introducing the traditional view that knowledge is justified true belief. The concept of justification is then examined at some length, with particular attention being paid to the "infinite regress" problem and the attendant debate between foundationalists and coherentists about the nature of justification. In discussing coherentism we will examine some of the recent contributions that Bayesian statisticians and philosophers have made to epistemology. The next segment of the course focuses on an argument, due to E. Gettier, which purports to show that the traditional analysis of knowledge is deeply flawed. Various attempts at circumventing Gettier's problem will be considered, and the important distinction between internalist and externalist conceptions of justification will be discussed in the process. The course ends with short discussions of global skepticism, and (time permitting) W. Quine's contention that epistemology should be "naturalized." Cost:2 WL:1 (Joyce)

482. Philosophy of Mind. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (Excl).

In this course will study "feelings," including both emotions (happiness, fear, embarrassment, etc.) and bodily sensations (pains, itches, orgasms, etc.) While this is not a general introduction to philosophy of mind, we will begin with a few general readings about intentionality and consciousness. Most of the course will cover, at an advanced level, philosophical and psychological theories of what emotions are, and of what their relations are to desires, moods, rationality, and action. We will end with a briefer look at philosophical and neurophysiological theories of sensations, and consider their relation to a few puzzles about consciousness. WL:1 (Lormand)


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.