Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

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.

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 is a general introduction to philosophy taught by a faculty member to a class that is kept small enough so that there can be a significant discussion. The specific content varies with the person offering the course which was, unfortunately, not known when the Course Guide went to press. For a general idea of the sort of thing the course is likely to include see the descriptions for Philosophy 202 and 231.

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. 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. Two papers and one exam. (Velleman)

Section 002. This will be a general introduction to some of the main problems of philosophy. We will concentrate on issues in the areas of ethics and morality (What is it for an action to be right or wrong? Are values "objective" or "subjective"? How should we live our lives?), philosophy of mind (the nature of the self, relations between mind and body, Is there such a thing as free will?), epistemology (scepticism, what we can and cannot know, and how), and metaphysics (the nature of reality). We will consider how some major historical figures such as Rene Descartes, David Hume, and John Stuart Mill have dealt with these problems, as well as what more contemporary philosophers have said about them, and we will wrestle with them ourselves. Imagination, clarity of thought, and cogency of argument will be emphasized. Work for the course will consist of two short papers, a midterm, and a final examination. (Walton)

Section 003. This course will introduce students to philosophy through an examination of some major philosophical issues and problems, with some attention given also to the history of philosophical work on those problems. Examples of the problems to be dealt with are: free will, determinism, and moral responsibility; the possibility of objectivity in ethical discourse; the nature of our knowledge of the physical world; the nature of the mind and its relation to the body. Readings will be derived primarily from modern works, but some historical texts will also be included. (White)

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

The course will explore the moral dimensions of the problem of racism, the justification of civil disobedience, and the ethical limitations of the market. Rival conceptions of individual and collective responsibility, tolerance, community, freedom, democracy, welfare and legitimate order will be assessed through an examination of the issues of affirmative action, violent and nonviolent resistance to racist practices, the sanctuary movement, free speech, and surrogate motherhood. Emphasis will be placed on the relations between moral and political theories and social analysis. There will be three papers and a final examination. (Anderson)

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).

This is a course in metaphysics (theory of reality) and epistemology (theory of knowledge). Among the metaphysical problems which we might investigate are: existence, necessity and possibility, identity, causation, mind/body relations, and freedom of the will. Possible topics from epistemology are: the analysis of knowledge, the nature of justification, perceptual knowledge, knowledge of the past and future, knowledge of other minds, and self-knowledge. Readings will be from various contemporary metaphysicians and epistemologists. There is no text for the course; all the readings will be gathered together into a course pack. Students will be asked to write two ten page papers on assigned topics, and a final examination. Although the course's only official prerequisite is a previous course in philosophy, some previous exposure to the problems mentioned above would be helpful, as would familiarity with the basic outlines of formal logic. (Yablo)

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)

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

This course will be a survey of some of the major aspects of Aristotle's philosophy. It will include an overview of the outlines of his thought, and a close examination of particular parts of it, notably his ethics and his metaphysics. (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)

420. Philosophy of Science. A course in logic or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

A systematic study of contemporary philosophy of science. We will discuss the following topics, among others. (1) THE AIMS AND METHODS OF PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. What is philosophy of science and what is its relation to science itself? (2) THE NATURE OF SCIENTIFIC THEORIES. What is the structure of a scientific theory? How are a theory's terms and assertations related to experience? (3) THEORY CHANGE AND CONFIRMATION. Can competing scientific theories be tested objectively against one another? Is there such a thing as "the scientific method," and can it be justified? Can we speak meaningfully about scientific progress? (4) EXPLANATION, CAUSATION, LAWS, AND PROBABILITY. How do scientific theories explain? Must explanations involve laws or causal mechanisms? What kinds of probability are there? (5) PHYSICS AND METAPHYSICS. What, if any, are the metaphysical assumptions of contemporary science? What role do metaphysical issues (such as the nature of laws or causation) play in the philosophy of science? (6) PHILOSOPHY OF SOCIAL SCIENCE Are the social sciences fundamentally different from the natural sciences, and, if so, in what ways? Midterm and final examinations. A term paper. (Railton)

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

The course will explore the fundamental philosophical problems which arise in the foundations of quantum mechanics. A sketch of the history of the development of quantum mechanics and an outline of the formal structure of the theory will be given. Then such questions as the nature and meaning of the uncertainty relations, the rise of the "Copenhagen Interpretation," various interpretations of the measurement process in quantum mechanics, the nature of so-called "quantum logic," the issue of hidden variables and alleged proofs of their non-existence, and the non-separability of systems in quantum mechanics will be discussed. (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. (Oksenberg)

433. History of Ethics. Phil. 361 or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

The modern period in moral philosophy began with Thomas Hobbes, whose LEVIATHAN (1651) shook the traditional foundations of ethics and forced those who would defend ethics against (what they saw to be) Hobbes' nihilism to do so in a broadly naturalistic framework that took serious account of recent advances in science. Thus began a period of exciting and fruitful moral philosophy that stretched through the end of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth. Indeed, even debates now current in moral philosophy almost always can be traced back to origins in this period. This course will be a study of several of the central writers and texts of this "enlightenment" period. In addition to Hobbes, we shall read Hutcheson, Butler, Hume, Kant, and Bentham. We shall end with a radical critic of this broad tradition: Nietzsche. Course requirements: short paper, long paper, final exam. (Darwall)

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

This course will be devoted to a philosophical examination of the institution of art. Examples will be drawn from all of the major arts, including painting, literature, music, theater, and film. Among the questions to be discussed will be: What is art, and how does it differ from other human institutions (e.g., science)? What is interpretation? (Is interpretation "objective" or "subjective"? Can interpretations be true or false? Must they take into account the artist's intentions or the circumstances in which the work was created?) What is the function of the arts to inform, to entertain, to change attitudes, to provide pleasant or desirable emotional experiences? In what ways can works of art be illuminating or informative or foster understanding? Is art a "language"? Problems concerning creativity, metaphor, forgery, realism, relations between art and morality are likely to come up. Special attention will be given to comparisons among the various arts: between literary and visual arts (e.g., the novel and film), performance and non-performance arts (music, film, dance) and static ones (painting, sculpture). The arts will also be compared with aesthetically regarded natural objects. Written work for the course will consist of two papers, a midterm, and a final examination. (Special arrangements will be made for graduate students in philosophy). (Walton)

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

The course will explore two recent challenges to liberal political philosophy: communitarianism and analytical Marxism. What are the political implications of these two alternatives? How does liberalism fare against them? The contemporary debate between liberals and communitarians will be located against an earlier episode in the development of liberal political thought: the Enlightenment attack on the Renaissance ideal of civic republicanism. The debate will also be read as an attempt to come to terms with the problem of political justification. To what extent is the justification of political theories dependent upon interpretations of history, and to what extent on philosophical conceptions of the person? Do communitarian conceptions of political justification cut off the possibility of radical or fundamental criticism of one's own tradition? Do liberal conceptions of justification neglect the importance of shared values? The attempt by the analytical Marxists to rework Marxist political economy will also be assessed. Can the core political concerns of Marxist thought be given adequate expression within the framework of analytical Marxism? Does analytical Marxism provide a coherent alternative to liberal political thought? Readings will be drawn mainly from the works of Rawls, Dworkin, Sandel, Taylor, MacIntyre, Walzer, Roemer, Elster, and Cohen. Two papers and a final exam. (Anderson)

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

See Philosophy 355 for description. (Anderson)

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

An introduction to Kant's mature philosophical system. We will examine how his answers to human reason's three most urgent questions WHAT CAN I KNOW? WHAT OUGHT I TO DO? FOR WHAT MAY I HOPE? are meant to fit together in a comprehensive system of non-empirical knowledge. Most of our time will be devoted to the account of sense-experience, self-consciousness, and natural knowledge Kant offers in the First Critique, with its puzzling claim that WE OURSELVES MAKE the world of our experience, behind which lies another world we can know little or nothing about. But we will also examine his attempt to sum up morality in a single categorical imperative and to root religious faith in moral conscientiousness. Classes will be a mix of lecture and group discussion; written work a number of short, tightly focused papers. Kant is both important and difficult. I will try to make him accessible both to old hands at philosophy and to newcomers with some background in the history of ideas. (Hills)

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

A thorough study of Locke's ESSAY; Berkeley's PRINCIPLES AND DIALOGUES; and Book 1 of Hume's TREATISE. The main focus will be on the Theory of Ideas and its contribution to epistemology and the philosophy of mind. Students should have some prior experience either in the history of philosophy or in epistemology and the philosophy of mind. Two papers and one exam. (Velleman)

465. Contemporary Continental Philosophy. Phil. 412 and two other courses in philosophy; or graduate standing. (3). (HU).

The main writers we will study in this course are Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, the authors of the Frankfort School (esp. Adorno and Habermas) as well as Foucault and Barthes. The emphasis will not be on sampling small bits of the output of these thinkers, but on forming as far as this is possible a coherent picture of how the works of these writers fit together, and of the intellectual enterprise in which they are engaged. This means that some of the background in Hegel and Marx and Freud will be explored, and it also means that contemporary feminist and Marxist writers will figure in this course. As preparation it is very useful to have had one more elementary course in European philosophy and in addition one general introductory course to philosophy. If you do not have these prerequisites you must obtain permission of the instructor to register for this course. There will be one short and one longer paper as well as the usual examinations. (Bergmann)

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

The China that we know today owes much to nearly six centuries of Neo-Confucian orthodoxy (1313-1905). The course examines this philosophical foundation of the Chinese cultural legacy, and also the Neo-Taoism and Chinese Buddhism from which it drew. The time period covered by the course is from the third century A.D. to roughly the end of the eighteenth century, just prior to the Western impact. Some lectures are 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 themselves rich in interest and also reveal much to the Western analyst about his own world view. One of the three sequential courses on the history of Chinese thought (468, 469, 505), though it does not require either as prerequisite. Midterm, final examination and preparations of an annotated bibliography. Mainly lectures, though there will be some student participation in a seminar like setting. Readings in translation. (Munro)

475/Chinese 475/Hist. of Art 487/RC Hums. 475/Asian Studies 475. The Arts and Letters of China. May not be included in a concentration plan in philosophy. (4). (HU).

See Chinese 475. (Y. Feuerwerker)

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

The course is devoted to an intensive examination of central issues in twentieth century theory of knowledge. The core of the course consists of an extended evaluation of three competing theories of epistemic justification - foundationalism, coherentism, and externalism. These theories are discussed against the background of three major problems that motivate the bulk of recent literature in the theory of knowledge: Cartesian arguments for radical skepticism, the infinite regress argument, and the analysis of knowledge (the Gettier problem). The course concludes with a discussion of programs for providing a "naturalized epistemology." Time permitting, some attention is paid to other possible directions for epistemology, e.g., epistemics, and "death of epistemology" views. Readings will include articles or selections by such authors as: Alston, Armstrong, Austin, Ayer, Bonjour, Chisholm, Dretske, Firth, Goldman, Goodman, Harman, Lehrer, C.I.Lewis, Neurath, Nozick, Pollock, Popper, Quine, Quinton, Reichenbach, Russell, Schlick, Sellars, Stroud, and M. Williams. UNDERGRADUATES ARE CAUTIONED THAT SATISFACTION OF THE FORMAL PREREQUISITE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ADEQUATE BACKGROUND FOR THIS COURSE. An optimal background would include Philosophy 383 (Knowledge and Reality); a satisfactory background would include either Philosophy 345 (Language and Mind), or at least two 300-level philosophy courses that themselves carry prerequisites. (Loeb)

492. Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein. Phil. 414 or the equivalent, or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

As a result, initially, of certain technical and philosophical concerns in the foundations of mathematics, there developed, at the turn of the century in Europe, a renewed and extraordinarily sophisticated philosophical interest in the nature of logic and with it the nature of language and judgment. The subtle and pioneering work on these topics by Frege and subsequently by the early Russell and Wittgenstein had an extraordinarily profound effect on most subsequent philosophy in England and the U.S. an effect philosophers today are still both trying to assess and to come to terms with. Our aim in this course will be to closely examine and assess the development of, the motivations for, and the interrelations between the principal views of Frege, Russell (up through the time of his lectures THE PHILOSOPHY OF LOGICAL ATOMISM) and Wittgenstein (in the TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS) concerning the nature of logic, of language and of judgment. (We will not be concerned with aspects of their philosophies of mathematics except when they are explicitly relevant to their views on our chosen topics). There will be considerable reading. And besides the reading, the assignments will consist of two papers a 10 page midterm paper and a longer 15-25 page final paper. This course is open to graduate students in Philosophy and to undergraduates who have satisfied the following prerequisites: you must have taken either Philosophy 296 or 414, AND must have had at least one other upper level course in philosophy, preferably a course in either the philosophy of language, the philosophy of logic or metaphysics e.g., Phil. 345, 383, 435, 450, 481); or permission from the instructor. (Taschek)


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.