Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

Philosophy Introductions

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 Winter Term, 1984. It will be taught by 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. Like Philosophy 231 and 232, Philosophy 181 is mostly concerned with contemporary discussion, but its format is different. It s 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. One such course will be offered Winter Term, 1984: Philosophy 355, "Contemporary Moral Problems"

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)

180. Introductory Logic. No credit is granted to those who have completed 201, 203, or 296. (3). (N.Excl).

This course introduces the elements of informal and formal logic. (Morton)

181. Philosophical Issues: An Introduction. No credit granted to those who have completed 182, 202, 231, 232, 234, or 297. (3). (HU).
Section 001.
This course will introduce the student to a selection of important issues in several major areas of philosophy, including ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind. Fundamental questions about morality, our knowledge of the world, the nature of persons, and relations between the mental and the physical will be examined, such as: Is morality "objective"? What are moral obligations based on? How are we to decide what we ought to do? Is there a real world which is independent of our ways of thinking and talking about it? What kinds of evidence do we have about the world? What is evidence? How are people's thoughts, desires, intentions related to the physical behavior by means of which they express them? Can we be mistaken about our own thoughts, desires, and intentions? Can we know about those of others? Can machines think? We will discuss what a number of important philosophers have said about these issues, including both important historical figures such as Descartes, David Hume, and J. S. Mill, and a variety of more contemporary philosophers. Two short papers and one or two examinations will be required. (Walton)

Section 002. 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)

201. Introduction to Logic. No credit granted to those who have completed 180, 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 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. 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. Issues such as the following 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 181, 182, 202, 231, 234, or 297. (4). (HU).

See Philosophy 231. (N. White)

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.
Philosophy 297 is an Honors introduction to a variety of contemporary philosophical problems, which might include the existence of the external world, the problem of induction, the relation of mind and body, the existence of God, and the grounds of moral judgment. The course requires careful, extensive reading, active class discussion, four short papers, and a take-home final exam. (Gibbard)

Section 002. This course will provide an in-depth introduction to three sets of philosophical issues concerning the nature of human beings or human persons. (1) Under what conditions would a person's desire to continue to exist or to survive be satisfied (the problem of personal identity)? (2) Are any of a person's acts ever performed freely or of one's own free will (the problem of free will and determinism)? (3) What is the relationship between a human being's mind and a human being's body (the mind-body problem)? Competing approaches to each topic will be considered, and there will be emphasis upon the substantive interconnections among topics. Instruction will be based upon a combination of lectures and discussion. Students should be prepared to participate extensively in discussion. Students will be evaluated on the basis of three papers and a final examination. Readings will be drawn from a number of contemporary books and anthologies. There is no prerequisite for this course. Honors freshmen are welcome. (Loeb)

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, 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)

363/RC Hums. 363. Philosophical Bases of Communism, Fascism, and Democracy. One Philosophy Introduction. (4). (HU).

See RC Humanities 363. (Cohen)

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

An exploration, through readings and discussion, of some major philosophical questions about our place in the world and our knowledge of it. Among them: Can we defend the things we think we know against skeptical challenge? Can we reconcile our view of ourselves as free agents with what science tells us about the world as a whole? Is the human mind something over and above the human body, and if so how are they related? Is our view of the world radically conditioned by the language we speak and the culture we inhabit? If so, in what sense is it a view of the world ? How do questions like these differ from ordinary scientific ones, and what is at stake in asking them? Written work will be a number of short papers. (Hills)

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 each of 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. 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. There will be three hours of lecture and one of discussion per week. (Loeb)

406. Aristotle. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).

This course will examine some of the major Aristotelian doctrines and Aristotle's defenses of them. Approximately one third of the course will be devoted to Aristotle's ethics. Another third will treat his metaphysics. And the remainder of the course will discuss another major area of his philosophy, such as his epistemology, his psychology, or his philosophy of biology. There will be two papers (one of six pages and one of twelve pages), a midterm exam, and a final exam. It is suggested that students take this course only if they have had at least two courses in philosophy (an introduction and one other). (N. White)

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

This course is an introduction to the syntax and semantics of first-order logic. It will include a proof of completeness and an account of some interesting first-order theories. (Fine).

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. (Organski)

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 papers or one long paper as they prefer. (Conly)

436. Computers, Thought, and Action. One course in philosophy or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

This course deals with traditional philosophical problems about human thought and action, with reference to modern developments in computers and related developments in biological science. These developments will be outlined in class. Basic questions to be discussed include: In what ways are humans machines? How do recent developments in artificial intelligence and the biological sciences bear on the previous questions? How might a robot use language, solve problems, reason mathematically, and acquire knowledge about its environment? How is evolution related to learning, problem-solving, design, and computer programming? This year we will emphasize the logic of evolution and its relation to inductive logic, to understand how rational, free, moral man evolved from physico-chemical mechanisms and organisms that are not rational, free, or moral. Students will have assigned readings and examinations. (Burks)

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 examination. (Walton)

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 two papers and an exam. (Velleman)

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 among 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 preparation of annotated bibliography. Mainly lectures and discussion. Readings in translation. (Munro)

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

I intend to cover some of the basic topics in metaphysics. These will include, though not be confined to, various problems concerning the identity of such objects as persons, propositions and material things. (Fine)


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