Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

Philosophy Introductions

The Philosophy department has instituted a new kind of introductory course. 100-level courses are 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 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 in the Winter Term, 1982. It will be taught by a regular faculty member and will be limited to 50 students.

Philosophy 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 judgements (e.g., moral or aesthetic judgements) "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 297 (3 hours) is for students in the Honors Program: it is taught by a faculty member.

Some 300-level courses do not have prerequisites and can serve as introductions to particular branches of philosophy. Three such courses will be offered Winter Term, 1982: 320, "The World View of Modern Science"; 355, "Contemporary Moral Problems"; and 397, "Topics in Philosophy" (with permission of instructor).

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)

197. Freshman Seminar. Freshman standing; sophomores with permission of instructor. (4). (HU).

This seminar will deal with the nature of values. We will be using some materials from philosophy, but also from anthropology and from history to study the question: What is the nature of morality? Readings will be selections from Mary Vernock, William Frankena and other contemporary philosophers, but also from Gregory Bateson, Margaret Mead, and Max Sheler and Nietzsche. One longish paper will be required. A draft of this paper will at some point be orally presented to the seminar by each student. (F. Bergmann)

201. Introduction to Logic. No credit granted to those who have completed 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 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.

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

This course is an introduction to the theory and application of modern symbolic logic. It emphasizes both a proper understanding of logical principles and systems and the applications of these principles to daily and scientific discourse. Techniques used are formal ones derived from contemporary symbolic logic. Course topics include the nature of logic and the logic of truth functions, monadic quantification theory, and identity. Required reading generally varies from between fifteen and thirty pages per week. Grading is usually based on a midterm, a final examination, quizzes, and assigned problems. Sections normally enroll about twenty-five students each. There are three weekly meetings which are generally conducted with some informality and a good deal of student participation. Discussion and questions are encouraged, particular problems are analyzed, and students are required to demonstrate mastery of assigned material. The requirements for grading vary with the instructor. Normally there are weekly assignments and short, periodic quizzes. See also statement on introductory logic courses.

231. Introduction to Philosophy: Problems and Principles. No credit granted to those who have completed 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. Freshmen 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. Some of the topics to be covered may include (1) the problem of free will and determinism; (2) the nature of mind and its relation to body; (3) the problem of knowledge of the physical world and of mathematical truth; (4) the nature of moral reasoning. There will be a final examination and a midterm exam. Philosophy 231 and 232 share a common lecture for two meetings per week. Philosophy 231 carries three hours of credit and has two discussion meetings per week. Students in 231 will be assigned three papers totaling 12-15 pp. Philosophy 232 carries four hours of credit. Students in 232 will be assigned four papers totaling 15-18 pp. Students who feel they would benefit from the additional hour of discussion, or who need the extra hour of credit, are advised to enroll in 232 rather than 231. The readings for the course will be short pieces by both contemporary philosophers and important figures from the history of philosophy. (N. White)

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

See Philosophy 231. (N. White)

296. Honors Introduction to Logic. Honors students or permission of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed 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 three exams. (Casullo)

297. Honors Introduction to Philosophy. Honors students or permission of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed 202, 231, 232, or 234. (3). (HU).
Section 001.
This course will examine problems that continue to vex both philosophers and non-philosophers. We will consider how philosophical argumentation can enable us to approach better some of the following questions: The Mind-Body Problem : What does it mean to say I have a soul? Do I have one? Am I a purely physical entity, or is there some immaterial substance within me that makes me different from, say, an animal? Personal Identity : Who am I? What makes me who I am? Am I the same person now I will be in ten years, or was ten years ago? Knowledge; When do I know something? How can I know what I know? What are the limits of knowledge? The Good : Can we know what is the morally right thing to do? What does it mean to say an act is morally right? When am I morally responsible for an act? Can I be blamed for something I could not help doing? We will not hope to find answers to all these questions, but to understand the issues and the arguments for different opinions. Readings will be from historical and contemporary sources. Three short papers and a final exam.

Section 002. This course has two main purposes. The first is to introduce students to some of the most basic and historically important questions of philosophy, and to a sample of important writings on them by major philosophers. The second main objective is to give students practice in working on philosophical issues themselves, with emphasis on standards of rigor, clarity, and depth of thought. Readings will include works by Descartes, Hume, Mill, probably Plato and Nietzsche, and various more recent philosophers. We will work on topics in ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind, including questions of free will versus determinism, the nature of the self, scepticism, the relation between mind and body, and the nature of morality. Work for the course will consist of three or four short papers, and one or two exams. (Walton)

320. The World-View of Modern Science. (3). (HU).

Is there an external material (physical) world, a world of familiar commonsense objects like tables, trees, and cats, existing independently of minds and opinions? Realists think so, Idealists think not. Some philosophers have thought that the familiar objects are mere "appearances" of unobservable "things in themselves." How indeed could we know that an external world exists. Skeptics think we couldn't. What justifies our claims to knowledge? Does our knowledge need justification? Whatever our view of the familiar observable objects what are we to make of the unobservable objects of science: electrons, muons, and curved space-time. Does the external world include them or are they mere "fictions." Scientific Realists believe the former; Instrumentalists believe the latter. The course will consider the issue of Realism against a background consideration of the theory of knowledge in general. The method will be the discussion of parts of the prescribed texts and other material to be distributed in class. Philosophers to be read include Descartes, Quine, Locke, Berkeley, Russell, and Ayer. The requirements for the course will probably be a term paper and a final exam. (Devitt)

345. Language and Mind. One philosophy course. (4). (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 mini-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)

355. Contemporary Moral Problems. No credit granted to those who have completed 455. (4). (HU).

An examination of moral problems encountered in private, social, and professional life. Topics will be chosen from among the following: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, preferential treatment for women and minority groups, legal ethics, civil disobedience and terrorism, and sexual morality. Two hours of lecture; two hours of discussion. Three short papers and one final exam. (S. Conly)

364. The Philosophical Foundations of Contemporary Societies. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).

This course will be an attempt to confront the confusions of our present political thinking, but it will also be an attempt to consider seriously the alternative courses that lie in front of our society and our culture. We shall concentrate, though not exclusively, on issues that surround the nature of work and discuss especially the forms work is likely to take in the future. (A possible subtitle for this course could be: "Culture after the Elimination of Labor"). In addition to some standard readings from Locke, Rousseau and Marx we shall read selections from Galbraith, Milton Friedman, C. Wright Mills, Paul Goodman, Barry Commoner and others. One longish term paper will be required. (F. Bergmann)

385. Continental Philosophy Since 1900. One course in philosophy. (3). (HU).

This course is a survey of 20th century French and German philosophy. We will analyze and interpret some of the major texts and schools of thought which have developed since l900, and we will critically evaluate and discuss the significance of the views of these philosophers. We will begin with the development of phenomenology (Edmund Husserl, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty). Sartre's existentialism will be briefly discussed. Then we will consider Structuralism (Claude Levi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan), Critical Theory or "the Frankfurt School" (Max Horkheimer, Jurgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse), the thought of Michel Foucault (as represented by his The Order of Things), and Hermeneutics (Hans-Georg Gadamer). We will be concerned with the implications of the views of these thinkers for the critique of objective (and scientific) thought, for the investigation of subjectivity, for work in the social sciences, and for the methods and goals of intellectual activity. Students will be required to write several papers. (Meiland)

389. History of Philosophy: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. One Philosophy Introduction. (4). (HU).

This course examines the development of modern philosophy in Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The primary focus will be on Descartes, Hume, and Kant, the principal figures of the period. In addition, we will devote considerable attention to Locke and Berkeley, and some attention to Rationalist figures after Descartes. The primary emphasis will be upon the important philosophical issues which arise in the historical texts. We will also pursue in some detail one or more examples of interpretative issues in order to gain experience in interpreting historical texts. The philosophical issues to be discussed will be drawn from epistemology and metaphysics (both broadly construed), to the exclusion of ethics and political philosophy. A good number of the following topics will receive considerable attention: skepticism, the nature/sources/foundations of knowledge, theories of perception and of the nature of material objects, the nature and limits of a priori knowledge, theories of meaning, analytic and synthetic truth, necessary and contingent truth, God, substance, the self, the relationship between mind and body, personal identity, causation, determinism, free will, and induction. Students will be evaluated on the basis of three papers and a final examination. All the required reading will be in Steven M. Cahn, editor, Classics of Western Philosophy, Hackett Publishing, paperback, approximately $12.50. There will be three hours of lecture and one of discussion per week. (Loeb)

397. Topics in Philosophy. Permission of concentration adviser and instructor. (3-4). (HU). May be elected for credit twice with permission of concentration adviser.

This will be a seminar with limited enrollment. We will read some of Plato's most important dialogues (Meno, Phaedo, Republic) and selections from Aristotle's major works, tracing the development of metaphysical and ethical concepts from early Plato to later Aristotle. This course satisfies the ancient philosophy requirement for philosophy majors. Two papers. Philosophy concentrators or permission of instructor. (S. Conly)

402. Undergraduate Seminar in Philosophy. Open to junior and senior concentrators and to others by permission of concentration adviser. (3). (HU).
Undergraduate seminar on Meaning and Knowledge.
In the seminar we will discuss basic questions about the nature of human knowledge from three different perspectives: (1) from the perspective of a study of the nature of human communication and linguistic meaning; (2) from the perspective of a "naturalistic" epistemology and (3) from the perspective of a critique of "pure" reason. One of the goals will be to examine these perspectives for the most reasonable answer to traditional scepticism. Texts will consist of selections from and essays by Descartes, Hume, Kant, Strawson, Frege, the logical Positivists, Quine, Goldman, Dunnett, Davidson and Stroud. Students will be asked to make presentations in the course of the seminar and then work them up into a term paper to be submitted 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. (McCarthy)

428/Asian Studies 428/Econ. 428/Pol. Sci. 428/Soc. 426. China's Evolution Under Communism. Upperclass or graduate standing. (4). (SS).

See Political Science 428. (Oksenberg)

442. Topics in Political Philosophy. Phil. 363, 364, 366, or 441; or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

In this course we will examine the prevailing conception of rational action as an explanatory and prescriptive paradigm in the social sciences and in philosophy, and consider alternatives to it. We will begin by extrapolating a precise formulation of this conception from readings in economics, jurisprudence, psychology and decision theory. Then we will examine its function in the social sciences: is it conceived as an explanatory model of human behavior, or as a prescriptive ideal to which actual behavior often fails to conform? To what extent can these two functions be made compatible within the constraints of this model? In the second half of the course, we will examine the ways in which this model has been appropriated by contemporary moral and political philosophers as a basis for attacking the following issues: (1) conceptions of the self and moral character: to what extent does the preservation of personal and moral integrity require this conception of rationality, and to what extent does it undermine it? (2) self-determination and weakness of will: many contemporary discussions of these connected issues seem to presuppose the prevailing conception of rationality. How successfully can such discussions resolve the issues if this conception is presupposed? What are the alternatives? (3) justifications of the ideal state: the two strategies of rational justification of the ideal state most popular in contemporary Anglo-American philosophy are social contract theoretic and rule-utilitarian. To what extent does each presuppose the prevailing conception of rationality? To what extent does this presupposition undermine the success of these strategies? (4) egoism, altruism and the problem of the free rider: these three connected issues arise in the context of personal moral behavior, and therefore become issues in the justification of the ideal state. To what extent are these problems contingent upon assumption of the prevailing conception of rationality, and to what extent do they represent inescapable facts of human nature with which any moral theory must cope? Readings will be drawn primarily from contemporary sources, with some attention to the historical literature. The requirements for this course are one term paper, 10 to 20 pages, one in-class final exam, and occasional quizzes. At least one course in ethics or political philosophy is recommended. (Piper)

455. Contemporary Moral Problems. Not open to graduate students in philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed 355. (4). (HU).

See description for Philosophy 355. The courses are identical except that students registered in Philosophy 455 will be asked to write an additional ten page paper. Graduate students in the philosophy department may not register for this course. (S. Conly)

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

This course examines the philosophical doctrines of Locke, Berkeley and Hume, paying special attention to their views on causation, perception and the nature of judgment. There will not be an emphasis on secondary literature but towards the very end of the course we will address two questions in order to get a better perspective on these doctrines: (1) Does empiricism rest on a mistake? and (2) Are there any dogmas of empiricism? On the latter question we will read a selection from Kant and an essay by Quine, respectively. Though it is not crucial, it would help if students have some background in the history of modern philosophy. Students have a choice between writing one long paper or two shorter papers on any theme that emerges during the course. (Bilgrami)

469/Chinese 469. Later Chinese Thought (A.D. 220-1849) Upperclass standing; no knowledge of Chinese required. (3). (HU).

This course focuses on the flowering and inter relationships between Neo-Taoism, Chinese Buddhism, and Neo-Confucianism. The time period is from the third century A.D. to roughly the end of the eighteenth century just prior to the Western impact. Some lectures focus on the social environment in which the philosophers emerged and on the influence of the philosophies on religion and the arts. The three schools are studied for their perspectives on human nature and ethical questions, their legacy for modern China, and for what they can reveal to us about our own assumptions. One of three courses on the history of Chinese thought (468, 469, 470), though it does not require either as prerequisite. Midterm, final examination and preparations of annotated bibliographies. Mainly lectures, though there will be some student participation in the nature of a seminar. Readings in translation. (Munro)

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

Can we have knowledge about the world? Does the mind have access to the physical world? To the past? To the future? If so, what is the nature of this access? How do perception, memory, and reasoning function in giving us such access? What is required for a belief to be justified, or rational? Do we have any genuinely justified beliefs? Can science help us in getting a more rational and justified view of the world? These are among the topics to be discovered in this course. The readings will be taken from classical and contemporary philosophers. Students should have at least one philosophy course as background; two or more previous courses, including logic, would be helpful. The course format will be a combination of lecture and discussion. At least one term paper and two examinations will be required. (Casullo)

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

Metaphysics is one of the most active fields in philosophy today, and 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 and concepts currently used in the field. To this end, we shall first develop (1) some basic concepts and principles regarding existence and modalities, 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) the nature of causal and other determinative connections among entities; (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 individuations 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 (Russell, Moore, Quine, Carnap, Chisholm, Davidson, Kripke, Plantinga, et al.), although some historical material will also be included. (McCarthy)

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

Philosophy 482 will deal with a number of philosophical problems in the philosophy of mind and will explore some of the relations between the traditional questions of philosophical psychology and problems raised by recent work in cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence. Philosophical issues will include the mind-body problem, the nature of mental and intentional states, personal identity and perceptions. Topics in the cognitive sciences will include frames and schemata, inference, and the language of thought. There will be two papers and a final exam. (S. White)


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.