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, 1989. It will be taught by a regular faculty member 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 organizations, 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 introduction and 181 vary in their approach to the issues, in their instructional format. Philosophy 202 (three 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 student teaching assistants in sections of approximately 25 students. Philosophy 231 (three hours) and 232 (four 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 is smaller, limited to 50 students, and is taught in a combination lecture/discussion format three times a week.
The Department offers three elementary introductory courses in logic: 180, 201 and 203. 180 and 201 are both courses in informal logic, however 180 is taught by faculty in a section of 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. Two such courses will be offered Winter Term, 1989: Philosophy 355, "Contemporary Moral Problems," and Philosophy 375, "Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud."
154. Law and Philosophy. Students are strongly advised not to take more than two Philosophy Introductions. (3). (HU).
A discussion of three fundamental issues in the philosophy of law: (1) Is there a moral obligation to obey the law and, if so, what are its limits? (2) What is the moral justification for punishing people who break the law? (3) What limits are there to the justifiable use of legal coercion? The course is intended for students who have no prior experience in philosophy. Two papers and one exam. (Velleman)
180. Introductory Logic. No credit is granted to those who have completed 201, 203, or 296. (3). (N.Excl).
This is a course designed to improve critical reasoning skills and provide an introduction to formal logic. We will study some of the problems and fallacies which arise in informal reasoning, some of the elements of formal (symbolic) logic, and some philosophy of language. There will be lectures, discussions, demonstrations of problem-solving techniques, and reading and writing exercises. (Patterson)
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 provides an introduction to the problems and methods of philosophy. It will focus on the following questions: What is the philosophic method? What is the good? What do we know and how do we know it? What is there? Are we morally responsible? What ought we to do? Readings will be from major works in the history of philosophy. There will be two one-hour essay exams, a five page paper and a final. (Benson)
Section 002. This course will provide an introduction to the concerns and methods of philosophy. It will focus on four philosophical questions: Do we have free will? Can we know anything? What are minds? Is anything of value? Readings will include major works from the history of philosophy as well as contemporary sources. Three five-page papers and an exam. (Patterson)
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. (3). (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 180, 201 or 296. (3). (N.Excl).
Common sense classifies arguments as good or bad according to a variety of formal and informal criteria. Roughly speaking, we count an argument good if it makes plausible assumptions which exhibit its conclusion as likely to be true. Though the common sense classification is familiar and useful, sometimes we want something more precise and more amenable to systematic investigation. Thus we idealize from the intuitive notion of a "good" argument and call an argument VALID if it is impossible for its assumptions to be true without its conclusion being true as well. Logic can now be defined as the study of validity. As it turns out, this study is best pursued by constructing artificial languages designed to replicate in purer form the logically relevant features of natural languages like English. Symbolic logic, the subject of this course, is the study of validity by reference to these formal languages. Students meet in sections of about twenty-five students each. Each section meets three hours per week and has a lecture/discussion format, with considerable student participation. Course requirements and grading vary from instructor to instructor, but normally there are weekly homework assignments and periodic quizzes.
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 an introduction to philosophical problems and methods through the study of the writings of great philosophers. We will study techniques of correct argument. We will critically analyze selected writings of great philosophers. We will study techniques of correct argument. We will critically analyze selected writings of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche and Marx. We will consider some of the most fundamental topics of philosophical reflection, including the nature and existence of God, the nature and extent of human knowledge, and the nature of morality. Lectures will develop and explore various alternative conceptions on each topic. Discussions will give students the opportunity to work out their own ideas in discussion with other students and the section leader. Texts: Steven Cahn (ed.), CLASSICS OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY (2nd. ed.) and Bertrand Russell, THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY. Grades are based on a 50 minute midterm exam, two short papers, a final exam and pop quizzes. (Mendola)
232. Problems of Philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed 181, 182, 202, 231, 234, or 297. (4). (HU).
This course is an introduction to philosophical problems and methods through the study of the writings of great philosophers. We will study techniques of correct argument. We will critically analyze selected writings of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, and Marx. We will consider some of the most fundamental topics of philosophical reflection, including the nature and existence of God, the nature and extent of human knowledge, and the nature of morality. Lectures will develop and explore various alternative conceptions on each topic. Discussions will give students the opportunity to work out their own ideas in discussion with other students and the section leader. Texts: Steven Cahn (ed.), CLASSICS OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY (2nd. ed.) and Bertrand Russell, THE PROBLEMS OF PHILOSOPHY. Grades are based on a 50 minute midterm exam, three short papers, a final exam and pop quizzes. (Mendola)
296. Honors Introduction to Logic. Honors students or permission of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed 180, 201 or 203. (3). (N.Excl).
In HONORS INTRODUCTION TO LOGIC we examine the theories and methods of FORMAL or SYMBOLIC logic. What this means is that we will not be learning techniques for logical reasoning, but rather studying the nature of logical reasoning for its own sake. The method will be to develop a series of progressively richer formal systems – the sentential calculus, the predicate calculus, and maybe others – intended to capture significant aspects of the logical structure of thought and language. In relation to these systems, key logical precepts, such as validity, consistency, and logical truth, can be precisely defined, and rigorously examined. Requirements for the course are weekly homework assignments, perhaps a few short quizzes, a midterm examination, and a final examination. (Yablo)
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 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)
Section 002. This course will introduce students to the study of philosophy by engaging several classic texts which concern such central philosophical issues as: the nature and extent of our knowledge; whether our choices are, or can be, free; the nature of reality; and whether there is any objective basis for judgments of value and obligation. The method of the course will be close critical reading of texts, extended and intensive discussion of arguments and issues, and the writing of clear, analytical, and critical papers. The books for the course will include some dialogues of Plato, Descartes' MEDITATIONS, Hume's ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING and DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION, Thomas Nagel's WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? and other selections. Students will be evaluated on the basis of three short papers, two exams (midterm and final), and participation in class discussion. (Darwall)
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 ethical limitations of the market, and justifications for civil liberties and civil disobedience. Rival conceptions of individualism and community, freedom and social justice will be assessed through an examination of such issues as affirmative action, world hunger, property rights, pornography, the legal enforcement of morals, and surrogate motherhood. Several weeks will be devoted to a critical study of racism as a moral issue and as a social phenomenon. 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 Hums 363. (Cohen)
371. Existentialism. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (HU).
No other philosophic movement has raised issues and questions as evocative and mortal as has been done by Existentialism. Solitude, Anguish, Authenticity, The Death of God, Self-deception, Nausea, The Will to Power, The Absurd, Fascism, Nihilism, and in spite of that the birth of a new Humanity and Culture! We will try to understand what authors like Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Kafka, Hesse, Rilke, Gide, Malraux, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus and Handke wrote and thought about these matters. The course will require hard work and hard thinking. If you feel very frail you probably should not take it. Two papers and a final examination. (Bergmann)
375. Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. (3). (HU).
Each of these men was out to change the world with his writings; each of them did so. But what else do these diverse and difficult thinkers have in common? For one thing, all four called for the development of new kinds of history, full of struggle and surprise, rooted in inherently controversial understandings of human nature and human need. (Whatever their real and obvious differences, Hegel's phenomenology of spirit, Marx's historical materialism, Nietzsche's genealogy of morals, and Freud's psychoanalysis are all put forward as NEW KINDS OF HISTORY, individual or social). And for another, all four share a deep distrust of morality: all four think that the rest of us have misunderstood morality and granted it a place in our lives that it doesn't deserve. This course will focus on a number of instances in which these four great intellectual revolutionaries find themselves in a sort of uneasy alliance, mounting a common attack on some bit of our received wisdom. It cannot offer a complete survey of any one thinker, but it can help to make some comparisons that are both interesting and honest. Written work for the course will be three ten-page papers due at intervals throughout the term. Class discussion will be strongly encouraged. (Hills)
383. Knowledge and Reality. One course in philosophy. (3). (HU).
This course is an introduction to modern epistemology. Its aims are two-fold. First, to review progress in the philosophical analysis of knowledge from justified true belief accounts, via the celebrated Gettier counter-examples to causal accounts and their reliabilitist and Nozickian descendants. Second, to reappraise some of the classical and not so classical skeptical arguments purporting to show that knowledge of the material world, of other minds, of the past, of laws of nature and of a priori truths are all impossible. The two projects interact insofar as the analysis of knowledge out to assist at least in clarifying what exactly has to be accomplished if the knowledge skeptic is to be held at bay. Basic texts for the course will be A.J. Ayer: THE PROBLEM OF KNOWLEDGE (Penguin) and J. Dancy: INTRODUCTION TO CONTEMPORARY EPISTEMOLOGY (Blackwell 1985). (C.Wright)
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 provides a survey of the philosophical views of Plato. A third of the term will be devoted to the dialogues of the early, Socratic period (LACHES, CHARMIDES, EUTHYPHR0) a third to the dialogues of the middle period (PHAEDO, REPUBLIC), and a third to the Dialogues of the later, critical period (PARMENIDES, THEAETETUS, SOPHIST). The course will be concerned with Plato's epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical views. There will be two ten page papers. (Benson)
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).
It is widely believed that scientific theories should be based on empirical evidence; but since scientific theories go beyond available evidence, all arguments from evidence to theory are logically invalid. This fact raises a number of important philosophical questions. Are scientific theories based on evidence, and if so in what sense? What kinds of arguments count as good arguments in science? What distinguishes genuine sciences from pseudosciences (e.g., astrology)? And why should we think science is better than pseudoscience? Are scientific beliefs more rational than unscientific ones, and if so, why? To answer the latter question, we need to consider the goals of science; is science aiming to discover the truth, or is it aiming at something else? We will study the three different approaches to this complex of questions which have been most influential in the 20th century – those of Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, and the Bayesian movement. We shall read Popper's classic LOGIC OF SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY, Kuhn's STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS, and a selection of recent Bayesian writings. There will be three or four short (three-five pp.) papers, and a take-home final. A conference will probably be set up on MTS to facilitate discussion of issues and communication between class members. (Maher)
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)
432. Theory of Value. Phil. 361, 363, 364, or 366; or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).
This course will explore the nature of moral experience with the aim of answering the following questions: how can one rationally change one's conception of value or of the good in the light of experience? Can conceptions of the good be tested in experience in the way scientific theories are? The connections between rival views of social science and rival views of value and of moral transformation will be critically investigated, using the life and writings of John Stuart Mill as a central case study. Other case studies may be drawn from psychoanalysis, or from fictional works by such writers as Ibsen, James, or Ellison. Hedonist and preference-satisfaction theories of value will be studied through the writings of such philosophers as Brandt, Railton, Bentham, MacIntyre, and Taylor. There will be two papers and a final examination. (Anderson)
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), and between performance and non-performance arts (music, film, dance), for instance 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)
441. Social Philosophy. Phil. 361, 363, 364, 366 or 431; or concentration in social sciences. (3). (HU).
This course is a meat and potatoes survey of social and political philosophy. Readings will include selections from Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Mill, Marx, Rawls, Nozick, and other contemporary authors. For much of its history, social and political philosophy has been dominated by its political component, concerned primarily with the normative evaluation of governments and our relations to them, but we will in addition address the normative evaluation of other forms of social organization, for instance economic arrangements and familial arrangements, as did some of the oldest and most recent social and political philosophers. The course will be a mixture of lecture and discussion, and student evaluation will be by paper and exam. (Mendola)
455. Contemporary Moral Problems. Not open to graduate students in philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed 355. (4). (HU).
Intended primarily for graduate students outside the philosophy department. Course content is the same as in Philosophy 355. Philosophy 455 requires longer and more substantial papers than those expected in Philosophy 355. Philosophy 455 required longer and more substantial papers than those expected in Philosophy 355. (Anderson)
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)
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 for course description. (Y. Feuerwerker)
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)
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. Active participation in discussions is expected of all students. Open to upperclassmen and graduate students. Permission of instructor is required. One substantial seminar paper is required. (Munro)
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