Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

In the Summer Term the Department of Philosophy teaches two introductory courses: 181, an introduction to philosophy, and 180, an introduction to logic. Philosophy 181 is a general introduction 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 organizations, 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? Philosophy 181 is generally limited to 50 students and is taught in a combination lecture/discussion format. Philosophy 180 is a general introduction to logic which covers both informal and beginning symbolic logic.

180. Introductory Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 180 or 201. (N.Excl).

This is a course designed to improve critical reasoning skills and provide an introduction to formal logic. We will study some of the problems and fallacies which arise in informal reasoning, some of the elements of formal (symbolic) logic, and some philosophy of language. There will be lectures, discussions, demonstrations of problem-solving techniques, and reading and writing exercises.

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

This course will provide an introduction to a number of philosophical issues. Issues that might be discussed include: How do we know that anything exists, other than ourselves and our own thoughts? Are minds immaterial, or are minds merely brains and hence nothing but complex physical objects? If determinism is true, and every event to include human actions is causally determined by antecedent conditions, is there any free will or moral responsibility? Is the nature and extent of our moral obligations determined by our feelings, self-interest, social convention, Divine commands or what? What is the meaning of life, and what does it mean to ask whether life has any meaning? There are no prerequisites for this course. Freshmen are welcome. Two five to eight page papers, and a final examination, will be required. An effort will be made to devote approximately one-fourth of class time to discussion. Texts are to be determined.

383. Knowledge and Reality. One course in philosophy. (HU).

This course is an introduction to modern epistemology. Its aims are two-fold. First, to review progress in the philosophical analysis of knowledge from justified true belief accounts, via the celebrated Gettier counter-examples to causal accounts and their reliabilitist and Nozickian descendants. Second, to reappraise some of the classical and not so classical skeptical arguments purporting to show that knowledge of the material world, of other minds, of the past, of laws of nature and of a priori truths are all impossible. The two projects interact insofar as the analysis of knowledge out to assist at least in clarifying what exactly has to be accomplished if the knowledge skeptic is to be held at bay.


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