Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

Philosophy Introductions

The Philosophy Department offers a series of 100-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 151, "Philosophical Dimensions of Personal Decisions" will be offered Winter Term, 1983. It will be taught by regular faculty members 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.

Some 300-level courses do not have prerequisites and can serve as introductions to particular branches of philosophy. One such course will be offered Winter Term, 1983: Philosophy 355, "Contemporary Moral Problems."

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

Many of the considerations that arise in personal decision-making are of a philosophical character, pertaining to questions about freedom and responsibility, autonomy, rationality and prudence, moral obligation, identity, and meaningfulness. This course is intended to provide an introduction to a number of basic concepts in philosophy and rational-choice theory through a sustained examination of the problems of making personal decisions. It is also hoped that this course will help clarify our thinking about choices and values, and students will be encouraged to apply concepts acquired to case histories in decision-making. No background in philosophy is presupposed, although both the reading and class discussion will require a high degree of tolerance for philosophical inquiry. In addition to doing the reading and attending class regularly, students will be required to write several short papers and to take a final examination. (Railton)

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 law-breakers? 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)

201. Introduction to Logic. No credit granted to those who have completed 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 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. 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 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 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. (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. Evaluation will be based on two or three examinations and on homework assignments. (Fine)

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 is intended as an introduction (no prerequisites) to the basic concepts and issues in philosophy. The course will be divided into two parts. The first half will focus on the epistemological and metaphysical issues, while the second half will deal with moral and political questions. The approach will be historical, that is, we shall approach these topics by way of readings taken from central works in the history of philosophy. The first section will include readings from Plato, Descartes, and Kant, among others, and in the second half we will discuss works by Plato, Hobbes, Marx and Rawls. There will be regular lectures with as much discussion as is needed. Course requirements include two papers and two exams. (Schmitz)

Section 002. Philosophy 297 is an Honors introduction to a cross section of contemporary philosophical problems. The course is organized around the concept of a person. We will begin with a number of questions about the metaphysical nature of persons. What is the relation of mind and body? What is the nature of personal identity? How is free will possible? We will then look at some of the empirical questions surrounding the notion of human nature. Finally we will consider some of the relations between personhood and morality. We will look at both the question of how the moral value accorded to persons is related to their metaphysical status and the question of how these considerations bear on problems in applied ethics. The problem of abortion will serve as a case study and a test of the moral themes under consideration. There will be a number of short exercises, two papers and a final exam. (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, punishment and the death penalty, 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).

We shall start with a discussion of the problems surrounding work (including the problem of unemployment and possible cures for it) and go from there deeper into the relationship between Technology and the Protestant Ethic (Technology is designed to eliminate labor; the Protestant Ethic enjoins us to work: the two thus conflict). This will prepare us for an investigation of the philosophical foundations for our society and culture. Among other things we will try to understand: How these foundations made work the center around which our society and culture and our individual lives turn. This should give us a deeper understanding of the present crisis. One main purpose of the course is to describe carefully and in some detail a possible more attractive society which we could help to bring into existence. In addition to selections from philosophical classics (Rousseau, Locke, Marx, et. al., the readings will include works such as Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism and a diversity of selections from contemporary authors. Emphasis will be on discussion; one 18 to 20 page paper is required. (Bergmann)

383. Knowledge and Reality. One course in philosophy. (3). (HU).

This course, which will be taught as a small lecture-discussion course, will explore five central issues in metaphysics and theory of knowledge: (1) scepticism and the possibility of knowledge - can we really be justified in the everyday beliefs we all subscribe to, or is this a matter of faith only?; (2) language and reality - does language describe a prior given reality, or does language create that reality? Or is there some other way to understand this relation?; (3) the mind-body problem is the mind or soul something distinct from the body, and, if so, how do we reconcile this with a commitment to science and scientific procedure?; (4) free will versus determinism is our sense of our own free agency really an illusion?; (5) personal identity in what is our identity as persons rooted, and is this any different from that of, say, a stone? These topics, though distinct, are importantly interrelated: they are different approaches to the underlying problem of understanding man's place in the world. Readings will come primarily from contemporary sources. You will be asked to write four papers (five to seven pages) on any four of the five topics. (Meredith Williams)

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 traces the development of philosophy in Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The focus will be on metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of science, to the exclusion of ethics and political philosophy. Since they are the most important figures of the period, we shall concentrate on Descartes, Hume and Kant. However, we shall also pay attention to Locke, Berkeley, Leibniz and, possibly, Spinoza. Topics to be investigated will include: scepticism; the nature, scope, sources and foundations of human knowledge; explanation and method in science; mind and body; realism and idealism; free will and determinism; God; and the nature of metaphysics. We shall also discuss some alternative ways of understanding the course taken by European philosophy in the period under consideration. (Michael Williams)

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, Dummett, 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)

405. Philosophy of Plato. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).

This course will examine the basic outlines of Plato's philosophical doctrine, with special emphasis on the relations between his ethics theory of value and political philosophy, on the one hand, and his metaphysics and theory of knowledge on the other. Issues will be raised about his belief in the possibility of objective knowledge, particularly with regard to issues of morals and values. Particular attention will be given to his criticisms of the Sophistic Movement, and the claims of some of its members, especially Protagoras and Gorgias, to be able to teach people skills to advance their position in society. This will lead to a discussion of Plato's view that the only good education is one that includes, in addition to the conveying of instrumentally valuable skills, the knowledge of what is good and what is bad. (N. White)

412. Philosophy in Literature. One course in philosophy or permission of instructor; not open to freshmen or sophomores. (3). (HU).

Philosophy does not deal with the same eternal unsolvable questions. Each age experiences new problems and some of the most basic of these philosophers examine. We shall read literary works in which some of the, for us now, most basic questions are articulated and then discuss these questions in the language of philosophy. Among the main issues will be: What are the main characteristics of modern cultures What is "modernity"? What is "authenticity"? What is "sincerity"? What is the relationship between these and our various "roles"? What in any case is the status of our roles as women and men and as political agents? What relationship should we have to our "innerselves," to our emotions, and in what relationship do these stand to the relationship we have to the "external" world and to its demands? Among others we shall be reading works by: Kafka, Blake, Nietzsche, Thoreau, Emerson, Milan Kundera, Borges, Christa Woll, De Bouvoir, Nadine Gordimer et. al. Emphasis will be on discussion. One 18 to 20 page paper is required. (Bergmann)

414. Mathematical Logic. (3). (N.Excl).

Logic is the science of valid reasoning. Contemporary logicians attack their subject by means of a four-part strategy: (1) formal syntax, which includes the construction of artificial languages; (2) semantics, which includes definitions of validity for the languages constructed in (1); (3) proof theory, which includes the formulation of systems of rules designed to capture the concepts of validity defined in (2); (4) model theory, which includes an examination of the adequacy (soundness, completeness, compactness, etc.) of the rules formulated in (3). This four-part strategy shall be pursued in detail for two case studies: the logic for the truth-functional connectives ("not," "and," "or," etc.) and the logic for the first-order quantifiers ("some," "all"). Taken together these two case studies constitute what is known as elementary logic. The course shall close with a survey of efforts to extend logic beyond the elementary. There shall be weekly problem sets, three midterm examinations, and a final examination. Text: Benson Mates, Elementary Logic, second edition, Oxford University Press, London. (Bealer)

422. Philosophy of Physics. One Philosophy Introduction or Logic Introduction or 12 credits of science. (3). (HU).

Statistical mechanics is one of the central theories of contemporary physics. It is a discipline replete with philosophical problems concerning its foundational concepts and postulates. Yet these problems have received surprisingly little attention to date. Some of the questions to be discussed will be: the meaning of probabilistic assertions in physics, the nature of statistical explanation, the justification of fundamental statistical assumptions in the theory, the relation of statistical theory to underlying micro-dynamics, the origin of irreversibility, the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics, the place of "cosmological" assumptions in statistical mechanics, and the hypothesis that our very notion of the asymmetry of time is founded on asymmetric statistical features of the world in time. The course is suitable for advanced undergraduates and graduate students in philosophy, physics, mathematics or related disciplines. (Sklar)

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)

429. Ethical Analysis. Phil. 361, 363, 364, or 366. (3). (HU).

This is primarily a course in twentieth century meta-ethics. We will examine contemporary theories on the nature and meaning of moral language; on the possibility of moral knowledge; and on the relation of reason to moral obligation. Topics will include intuitionism, naturalism, emotivism, and relativism. Some historical sources will be used in tracing the development of particular views. Previous knowledge of moral philosophy is recommended. Students will be required to write two short (5-8pp.) papers and one longer (12-15pp.) paper or two long papers as they prefer. (Conly)

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

An examination of some main classical and contemporary attempts to make philosophical sense of the fine arts and the way they matter to us. What sets art apart from other kinds of making and doing? How is art related to craft? to taste? to imagination? How do philosophical views about the nature of art inform the actual practice of the arts, and is there anything distinctively philosophical about the art of our own time? What do artists, critics, and philosophers have to offer each other? A willingness to take in specific works from the various arts and to take on very general arguments and distinctions will both be called for. We will try hard to keep the specifics and the generalities in touch with each other. Written work will be a number of short papers. (Hills)

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)

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

An examination of Kant's mature philosophical system, its sources, and its influence on later philosophy, with the bulk of our time spent on the account of knowledge and experience he gives in the Critique of Pure Reason. Enough attention will be paid to his views about ethics and religion to learn how his answers to the questions what can I know? what ought I to do? what may I hope? are supposed to fit together in a system of knowledge independent of experience. Within the Critique itself, emphasis will be on Kant's attempt to trace certain basic features of the world we experience to a source in us, and his associated claim that behind the world we experience is another world we cannot know. Written work will consist of a number of short papers. (Hills)

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

This course will cover the major epistemological writings of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. We shall try to clarify the sense in which the empiricists sought foundations for human knowledge, and the extent to which the problems they encountered are inherent in foundationalism itself. Some prior background in the history of philosophy would be useful; students who have not read Descartes' Meditations should do so before the course begins. Students will be evaluated on the basis of one long paper or three shorter ones. (Velleman)

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

The theory of metaphysical categories is the centerpiece of the course. The following is an outline of the topics considered. (1) The nature of metaphysics: (a)analysis, (b) ontology, (c) first principles; (2) categories: (a) Aristotelian categories, (b) the modern reduction of Aristotelian categories to the categories of universal and particular, (c) the problem posed by Cantor's paradox; (3) universals: properties, relations, and propositions; (4) particulars: concrete vs. abstract; (5) the case for other categories: matter, space, time, activity, etc.; (6) material bodies; (7) persons and intentionality; (8) identity; (9) existence and ontological commitment; (10) the prospect for metaphysical explanations. There shall be two take-home examinations and two short papers. The readings shall include works by Aristotle, Frege, Russell, Carnap, Strawson, Quine, Chisholm, and Wiggins. (Bealer)

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

Philosophy 482 will deal with a number of problems in the philosophy of mind and will touch on some of the philosophical issues raised by research in artificial intelligence. Topics will include such theories of the relation between mind and body as dualism, behaviorism, central state materialism, and functionalism. We will examine the relation between intentional states such as belief and qualitative states such as pain as well as some of the problems that qualitative states raise for theories of mind. We will be especially concerned with problems involving the nature of consciousness, the subjective point of view, our access to our own mental states, and first person propositions. The course is designed for those with a strong background in analytical philosophy. There is an emphasis on classroom discussion, and the course requires very active participation. There will be two papers and a final exam. (S. White)

487. Wittgenstein. One Philosophy Introduction and another course in philosophy; or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

This course will be devoted to a careful examination of Wittgenstein's later philosophical writings (Philosophical Investigations and On Certainty) though we shall begin with a brief look at the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The central theme of the course will be Wittgenstein's rejection of certain traditional conceptions of knowledge and rationality in favor of an anthropocentric pluralism in which human action is basic. Topics to be discussed in connection with Wittgenstein's rejection of the tradition will include: meaning and understanding; language and reality; mental phenomena and the status of psychology; the foundation of knowledge and justification; the character of philosophical perplexity; and the relation of philosophy to life. Background in any of the following areas is especially desirable: philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, history of modern philosophy. (Meredith Williams)


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