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 152, "Philosophy of Human Nature" will be offered Winter Term, 1987. It will be taught by a visiting faculty member.
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. Philosophy 181 is distinguished by its format. It is 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. Three such courses will be offered Winter Term, 1987: Philosophy 355, "Contemporary Moral Problems." The Department will also offer three additional 300-level courses which have a prerequisite of one philosophy course: Philosophy 383, "Knowledge and Reality," Philosophy 385, "Continental Philosophy"; and Philosophy 389, "History: 17 and 18 Century."
152. Philosophy of Human Nature. Students are strongly advised not to take more than two Philosophy Introductions. (3). (HU).
In this course we will explore the topic of human nature, with special attention to the human mind, personality, and character. We will ask about the place of mind in nature. Is the mind a part of biological nature, a part of the human body (say, the brain), or is it an immaterial thing, capable of surviving the body and living an independent existence? What is the structure of the mind? Which plays or ought to play a more central role in human life - thought or emotion? Thought and emotion are commonly believed to be at odds with one another. Thought is assumed to be rational and emotion is assumed to impede rationality. Is this really so? What is the ideal human personality? What is human virtue? Is its basis rational thought or rather emotions like compassion and love? We will try to answer these questions by looking at the views of historically important philosophers and by reading some recent philosophy. There will be at least one paper and a final. The course readings are: Plato, Meno, Phaedo, and Symposium; Descartes, selections from The Passions of the Soul; Spinoza, Short Treatise on God, Man, and His Well Being; Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil; Churchland, Matter and Consciousness and Hume, selections from Treatise of Human Nature. (Schmitt)
180. Introductory Logic. No credit is granted to those who have completed 201, 203, or 296. (3). (N.Excl).
This is an introductory course in logic. We will begin with a study of some problems, fallacies, etc., which arise in informal reasoning. This will be followed by a study of some of the elements of formal (symbolic) logic. There may also be some brief considerations of induction and of probability. The course will be conducted by lectures, discussions, and demonstrations of problem-solving techniques.
181. Philosophical Issues: An Introduction. No credit granted to those who have completed 182, 202, 231, 232, 234, or 297. (3). (HU).
This course will provide an introduction to the concerns and methods of philosophy. It will focus on three philosophical questions: Do we have free will? Can we know anything? Is anything valuable? Readings will include major works from the history of philosophy as well as contemporary sources. Three five-page papers and one exam. (Velleman)
201. Introduction to Logic. No credit granted to those who have completed 180, 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 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. (3). (HU).
This course is designed to introduce students to several of the great works in the history of Western Philosophy. The aim of the course is not to provide a whirlwind survey of the entire history of philosophy, but rather to focus upon selected works that are representative of important differing approaches to certain central and persistent philosophical problems. The point is to allow the students to go beyond merely reading and hearing about the works of great philosophers, to actually interpreting, analyzing, and critically evaluating the works themselves – the principles held and positions taken by these philosophers. In lecture, I will provide some historical background to each author and suggest interpretations and evaluations of selected portions of the assigned texts. Students will be expected not merely to record my interpretations or evaluations, but to begin to be able to read, interpret, and evaluate the texts for themselves. Thus the required reading should not be viewed as subsidiary to the lectures and discussions, but as the focus of the course. Requirements: Besides the reading, there will be three five-page papers. Topics will be assigned. Emphasis will be placed on the development of the students' own interpretive and critical ability, their ability to recognize and evaluate arguments, as well as their ability to formulate and defend their own views. There will be a final exam unless the grade point average for the class, as based on the first two papers, is B+ or better – in which case there will be no final!! (Taschek)
232. Problems of Philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed 181, 182, 202, 231, 234, or 297. (4). (HU).
See description for Philosophy 231. Besides the reading, there will be two five-page papers plus one ten-page paper. (Taschek)
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. "In daily life, we assume as certain many things which, on a closer scrutiny, are found to be so full of apparent contradictions that only a great amount of thought enables us to know what it is that we really may believe" (Bertrand Russell). Philosophy is where this thinking happens; in fact, Russell once characterized philosophy as "an unusually persistent attempt to think clearly." But to think clearly about what? The issues philosophy deals with are so fundamental that they rarely come up for explicit consideration; but so important that they can't be ignored. In this course, we will concentrate on issues about knowledge and mind. Do our everyday beliefs constitute knowledge? In particular, can we justify what we say about the external world, about the future, about causes and effects, about ourselves? What after all are we? Just our bodies, or something more? Or perhaps something entirely separate from our bodies, say minds? What is the relation between our mental aspects and our physical aspects? Are we free to act as we choose to, or are our actions determined by brute mechanical forces? These are some of the questions to be considered. Readings will be from historical and modern sources. Classes will involve both lecture and discussion. Grading will be on the basis of two papers, a midterm exam, and a final exam. No prerequisites. (Yablo)
Section 002. We all have a common stock of basic beliefs that we accept without question: for example, that there is a world of objects external to and independent of ourselves; that some of those objects are persons such as ourselves. Can these beliefs be justified or must they simply be accepted on faith? What, in any event, does it mean for an object to be "external to and independent of oneself"? And what is it to conceive of an object as a person – i.e., as a locus of intelligence, consciousness, thought and responsibility? And to what extent can such a conception of objects be reconciled with a scientific conception of reality? An introduction to these and related questions will form the subject matter of this course. Class sessions will have a lecture-discussion format. Four short papers will be required. (Boghossian)
Section 003. This is an Honors introduction to a few diverse contemporary philosophical problems. On current plans, readings will be from the collection by Edwards and Pap, A Modern Introduction to Philosophy (third edition), and the topics will be determinism, freedom, and moral responsibility; skepticism and the problem of induction; body and mind; the nature of moral judgments; the existence of God; perception and the physical world; and meaning, verification, and the possibility of metaphysics. Extensive, careful reading will be required. There will be little lecturing, and we will expect to benefit from active discussion on the part of everyone. The other requirements for the course are four short papers (c. 5pp. each) and a final exam. (Gibbard)
355. Contemporary Moral Problems. No credit granted to those who have completed 455. (4). (HU).
An examination of moral problems encountered in private, social, political 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, famine, international relations, free speech, euthanasia, vegetarianism and sexual morality. Course requirements: two 8-10 page papers and a final exam. (Baron)
363/RC Hums. 363. Philosophical Bases of Communism, Fascism, and Democracy. One Philosophy Introduction. (4). (HU).
See RC Humnities 363. (Cohen)
383. Knowledge and Reality. One course in philosophy. (3). (HU).
An examination of some central problems in metaphysics and the theory of knowledge (epistemology). Typical metaphysical problems will involve questions concerning the nature of substance, causality, space and time, mind and personhood. Typical epistemological problems will involve questions concerning the nature and scope of our knowledge of substances, of the existence of other minds and of the contents of our own mental states. A previous course in philosophy is required as a prerequisite. Class meetings will be conducted as lecture-discussion sessions. Requirements for the course will consist of a final exam and two medium-length papers. (Boghossian)
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 1900, 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 Frankfort 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 investigations of subjectivity, for work in the social sciences, and 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. Considerable attention is devoted to each of Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant. The primary emphasis is placed upon philosophical rather than historical or interpretative issues. These philosophical issues are drawn from epistemology and metaphysics (both broadly construed), to the exclusion of ethics and political philosophy. The following topics are discussed: skepticism about the existence of the material world, theories of perception and of the nature of material objects, the problem of induction, the nature and limits of a priori knowledge, innate knowledge, empiricist theories of meaning, analytic and synthetic truth, necessary and contingent truth, God, substance, causation, the self, the relationship between mind and body, and personal identity. Students are evaluated on the basis of three papers and a final examination. There are three hours of lecture and one hour of discussion per week. (Loeb)
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 his metaphysics and theory of knowledge. Issues will be raised about his belief in the possibility of objective knowledge, particularly with regard to issues of morals and values. (N. White)
414. Mathematical Logic. (3). (N.Excl).
Mathematical logic involves four kinds of topic: syntax (the development of formal languages); semantics (the assignment of meanings to the expressions of those languages); proof procedures (methods for deducing formal sentences from other formal sentences); and metalogic (mathematical reflections on the above). In this course we'll examine the syntax and semantics of propositional logic, first-order logic, and (briefly) higher-order logic; give proof procedures for propositional and first-order logic; establish the adequacy of these proof procedures (soundness and completeness); show why there can be no adequate proof procedure for higher-order logic; show the undecidability of first-order logic (Church's theorem); and explore some of the expressive limitations of first-order logic (Lowenheim-Skolem theorem). Grading will be on the basis of regular homework assignments, a midterm exam, and a final exam. (Yablo)
422. Philosophy of Physics. One Philosophy Introduction or Logic Introduction or 12 credits of science. (3). (HU).
This course will explore a number of philosophical problems which arise in the foundations of statistical mechanics. The course will first survey some of the history of thermodynamics, kinetic theory and statistical mechanics, focusing on the origin of the important conceptual problems. Some general issues concerning the meaning of probability and the nature of statistical explanation will be discussed. Then we will discuss such issues as the justification of the equilibrium formalism in statistical mechanics, various non-equilibrium theories and attempts to justify them, the problem of the origin of irreversibility, the role of cosmology in the foundations of statistical mechanics, the nature of the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics and, finally, the plausibility of the claim that our very notion of the past-future distinction is dependent on the irreversible evolution of physical systems in the world. (Sklar)
428/Asian Studies 428/Econ. 428/Pol. Sci. 428/Soc. 426. China's Evolution Under Communism. Upperclass standing or permission of instructor. (4). (SS).
See Political Science 428. (Lieberthal)
429. Ethical Analysis. Phil. 361, 363, 364, or 366. (3). (HU).
This will be a course in contemporary metaethics. Metaethics is concerned with what ethical claims mean, and with the kinds of reasoning or evidence that justify ethical claims. Can moral statements be true or false? Or are they perhaps nothing more than the expressions of feelings? Can there be good and bad reasons for moral convictions? Might what is right vary from culture to culture? The course will attempt to deal with such questions in a systematic way. It will take up the ethical intuitionism of Moore and Ross, the emotivism of Ayer and Stevenson, Hare's universal prescriptivism, and recent proposals such as Rawls' reflective equilibrium theory, Brandt's linguistic reform, and new versions of "moral realism." Students should already have some background in moral philosophy in the twentieth century analytic tradition, preferably Philosophy 361 or the equivalent. Classes will consist of lectures with discussion. Three short (five page) papers will be required, and there will be a midterm and a final examination. (Gibbard)
439. Aesthetics. One Philosophy Introduction or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).
A critical introduction to some of the main philosophical accounts, historical and contemporary, of the nature and importance of the fine arts. Our main strategy will be to work our way into aesthetics from criticism, using the ways works of art can be importantly different as a clue to the ways they are importantly alike. Along the way we'll need to devote some attention to beauty and taste – two concepts which compete with the concept of art for control of aesthetics. Instruction will be a mixture of lectures and classroom discussion; written work will be a number of short papers due at various points in the term. This is not a course in art appreciation. It assumes an ongoing and serious interest in at least some works of art, and it tries to understand that interest. (Hills)
441. Social Philosophy. Phil. 361, 363, 364, 366 or 431; or concentration in social sciences. (3). (HU).
An examination of the contemporary critique of liberalism, as exemplified in the work of J.S. Mill, John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin. Questions to be explored include the following: What is liberalism? If liberalism presupposes a public/private distinction, is the distinction viable? What exactly is the stance of neutrality and impartiality that liberals advocate? Is liberalism committed to individualism? If so, individualism in what sense? What (if any) conception of persons underlies liberalism? Generally liberalism is construed strictly in terms of domestic policy; is it really neutral with respect to international relations? How would (Rawlsian) liberalism differ if it had internationalist scope and perspective? The following preliminary and very incomplete list will provide some idea of the readings: J.S. Mill, On Liberty; John Rawls, "A Kantian Conception of Equality," "Justice as Fairness: Political, Not Metaphysical," "Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory"; Michael Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (selected chapters); Leslie Pickering Francis, "Responses to Rawls from the Left"; Ronald Dworkin, "Liberalism," "What is Equality?"; Thomas Nagel, "Moral Conflict and Political Legitimacy" and Alasdair MacIntyre, "The Magic in the Pronoun 'My'," "Is Patriotism as Virtue?" Course requirements: two 14-18 page papers and a final exam. (Baron)
455. Contemporary Moral Problems. Not open to graduate students in philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed 355. (4). (HU).
An examination of moral problems encountered in private, social, political 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, famine, international relations, free speech, euthanasia, vegetarianism and sexual morality. Course requirements: two 14-18 page papers and a final exam. (Baron)
465. Contemporary Continental Philosophy. Phil. 412 and two other courses in philosophy; or graduate standing. (3). (HU).
It will be the aim of this course to achieve a firm and comprehensive understanding of some of the main strands of recent European thought. We will start from an examination of the foundations laid by Hegel and Marx and to a lesser extent by Husserl. We will then concentrate on three principal areas: the first will be the works of Nietzsche, the second the writings of Heidegger and Sartre, and the third the current developments in Post-structuralism, in Feminist theory, in Marxism and in Literary Theory. Clear critical thinking will be the discourse of this course; two papers will be expected from every student. (Bergmann)
475/Chinese 475/Asian Studies 475/Hist. of Art 487/RC Hums. 475. The Arts and Letters of China. (4). (HU).
See Chinese 475. (Y. Feuerwerker)
477. Theory of Knowledge. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).
In this course we will discuss and evaluate competing views about the nature, definition, standards, sources, and functions of knowledge, justification, confirmation, and related notions. I will place contemporary disputes in the theory of knowledge (epistemology) in a long-range historical context. The history of epistemology since 1640 has to a large extent been the history of foundationalism as an answer to skepticism. In its strongest form, foundationalism is the view that knowledge is attainable only by certain inference from certain axioms. This view, and its weaker cousins, have been subjected to every manner of attack. We will spend some time on problems with foundationalism, and we will explore major alternatives (coherentism, contextualism, and naturalism). I would like to spend time as well on social epistemology, which views knowledge in a social setting. There will be two medium-sized papers and a final. (Schmitt)
480. Philosophy of Religion. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).
The course this term will focus on the question of whether belief in God is justified, rational, in violation of our intellectual duties, etc. We will begin with a consideration of some nineteenth and twentieth century treatments of this topic (e.g., William Clifford and William James) and spend most of the time on comparatively recent arguments (e.g., Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Kai Nielsen, Antony Flew, etc.). There will be a midterm exam, a final exam, and a term paper. (Mavrodes)
482. Philosophy of Mind. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).
This course will discuss some of the major topics in current philosophy of mind. The major groupings of topics are as follows: (1) Theories of the mental (e.g., behaviorism, central state materialism, functionalism, token-identity theory); (2) issues concerning the nature of psychological inquiry (i.e., psychophysical supervenience, psychophysical causation, the possibility of psychophysical laws, the status of "commonsense psychology," "cognitivism" and "eliminativism"); (3) intentionality and the problem of "content"; (4) problems of subjectivity and de se intentionality. It is unlikely that all, or even most, of these topics will actually be taken up for discussion; rather, the list should be taken as broadly defining the range of issues with which the course will be concerned. "One Philosophy Introduction" is the official prerequisite; however, the course is designed primarily for advanced undergraduates and graduate students with a substantive prior background in philosophy (e.g., Philosophy 345, 383, 389), though not necessarily in philosophy of mind or psychology. Two medium-length papers will be required as well as a final examinations. Texts: N. Block (ed.), Readings in Philosophy of Psychology, and probably a course pack. (Kim)
505/Chinese 505. Topics in Chinese Philosophy. Permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).
This course is a seminar (limited to fifteen students) on modern Chinese thought from the period after the Opium War to the present. The unifying theme will be the conflict and fate of traditional and modern values in Chinese society. Class meetings will concentrate on discussion of topics raised by assigned readings and will involve maximum student participation. Open to upperclassmen and graduate students. Permission of instructor is required. Students should have had at least one China area course. One substantial seminar paper is required. (Munro)
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