Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

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, 1991. It will be taught by a 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 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) can be expected to cover similar issues and texts, but in a different format; 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 has yet a different format. It is smaller, limited to 50 students, and is taught in a combination lecture/discussion format three times a week. Finally, Philosophy 297, Honors Introduction, is taught by a member of the faculty to small groups of 25-30 students.

The Department offers three elementary introductory courses in logic: 180, 201 and 203. 180 and 201 both cover some informal logic, while 203 introduces students to symbolic logic. 180 is generally taught by faculty in a section of 40-50, while 201 and 203 are 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, 1991: Philosophy 355, "Contemporary Moral Problems," and Philosophy 371, "Existentialism."

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)

CSP section available. See Comprehensive Studies Program section in this Course Guide.

180. Introductory Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 180 or 201. (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.

181. Philosophical Issues: An Introduction. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 182, 202, 231, 232, 234, or 297. (3). (HU).


Section 003 This course will provide an introduction to a number of philosophical issues. Issues that might be discussed include: How do we know that anything exists, other than ourselves and our own thoughts? Are minds immaterial, or are minds merely brains and hence nothing but complex physical objects? If determinism is true, and every event including human actions is causally determined by antecedent conditions, is there any free will or moral responsibility? Is the nature and extent of our moral obligations determined by our feelings, self-interest, social convention, Divine commands, or what? What is the meaning of life, and what does it mean to ask whether life has any meaning? There are no prerequisites for this course. Freshmen are welcome. An effort will be made to devote substantial class time to discussion. Texts are to be determined.

201. Introduction to Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 180 or 201. (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 or are enrolled in 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. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 203 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 preference to these formal languages. Students meet in sections of about 25 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 or are enrolled in 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 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 or are enrolled in 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)

296. Honors Introduction to Logic. Honors students or permission of instructor. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 203 or 296. (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. (Damnjanovic)

297. Honors Introduction to Philosophy. Honors students or permission of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 181, 182, 202, 231, 232, or 234. (3). (HU).

Section 001. This course is designed to introduce the student to some of the main concepts and problems of traditional metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of mind. We will read and discuss Plato's dialogue the Phaedo, Aristotle's treatise On the Soul, the Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes, and Gilbert Ryle's book, THE CONCEPTS OF MIND. Course Requirements: Two five page papers and a final exam. Cost:1 (Code)

Section 002. This is an Honors introduction to a few diverse contemporary philosophical problems. Readings will be from the collection by Edwards and Pap, A MODERN INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY (3rd 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. 5 pp. each) and a final exam. [Cost:1] (Gibbard)

345. Language and Mind. One philosophy course. (3). (Excl).

"Language and Mind" is a rigorous and demanding introduction to a range of contemporary issues at the interface of the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. The overarching concern is the relationship between thinking and speaking the extent to which our understanding of one requires and informs our under-standing of the other. The course has been designed especially to prepare undergraduate concentrators in philosophy for serious upper division and perhaps eventually graduate level work in the areas discussed, but should be of interest to any serious student interested in the relation between thought and language. The reading consists of a number of seminal papers (collected in a course pack) by twentieth century philosophers working primarily in the Anglo-American analytic tradition (e.g., Frege, Russell, Donnellan, Kripke, Perry, Grice, Davidson, and Burge) and sections of two books (by Kripke). Besides the reading, which is essential, each student will be expected to write three 10 page papers. Topics will be assigned, though students can write on a topic of their own with permission. Class participation is very strongly encouraged. Although the only official prerequisite is one previous philosophy course, a stronger background in central philosophical areas (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind) will be the most useful, as will a familiarity with (the notation of) symbolic logic. [Cost:2] [WL:4] (Taschek)

355. Contemporary Moral Problems. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 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. Cost:2 WL:1 (Anderson)

369. Philosophy of Law. One philosophy introduction. (3). (Excl).

Law is both an important institution of modern life, shaping how we plan and act, and also a focus of intense and vigorous philosophical debate. The philosophy of law lies at the intersection of moral, political, and social philosophy. It is the effort to apply philosophical methods and insights to some of the issues that are raised by the importance of law and legal systems. This course will examine questions about the nature and value of law. What, if anything, distinguishes law from the orders of a gangster? What is the connection between law, properly so called, and morality? Is there an obligation to obey the law? We will also examine questions raised by the processes of modern legal systems. What is the proper role of the judiciary, and how can judges justify their decisions? What distinguishes common law from statutory and constitutional law? In the process of investigating these questions, we will need to explore certain basic features of our own legal system, but I do not assume that students have any special familiarity with law or legal concepts. Cost:2 WL:4 (Wellman)

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)

385. Continental Philosophy Since 1900. One course in philosophy. (3). (Excl).

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). (Excl).

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. WL:1 (Loeb)

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

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. (White)

415. Advanced Mathematical Logic. Phil. 414 or permission of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 417. (3). (Excl).

A course in inductive definability. The general theory developed in this context provides an elegant conceptual framework for discussion of elementary recursion theory, and a point of view from which Kripke's theory of truth can be naturally motivated and studied. Many different techniques used in diverse fields of logic are developed and applied as part of the theory, and the main results have bearing on philosophical issues in the foundations of mathematics. (Damnjanovic)

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

Philosophy of science is concerned with such questions as: (1) In what sense, or in what ways, are scientific theories tested or confirmed? (2) Do these methods of testing or confirming confer upon scientific theories a special claim to be believed or to be objective? (3) How are we to interpret certain central notions in science: explanation, law, probability, cause, and so on? (4) Does the history or sociology of science raise questions about the epistemic claims of science? We will discuss these questions, and others, taking as our focus a survey of the development of philosophy of science from logical positivism to the present. Among the figures we will read are a number of the most influential 20th century philosophers, including: Popper, Hempel, Kuhn, Putnam, Carnap, Ayer, and Quine. Midterm and final examination. Term paper. WL:1 (Railton)

428/Asian Studies 428/Econ. 428/Pol. Sci. 428/Soc. 426. China's Evolution Under Communism. Upperclass standing or permission of instructor. (4). (Excl).

See Political Science 428. (Oksenberg)

430. Topics in Ethics. Philosophy 361; or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl). May be repeated twice for a total of 6 credits.

The course will be devoted to the two moral philosophers Henry Sidgwick and John Rawls. Sidgwick, in Victorian times, produced the fullest, most scrupulously argued treatment ever of classical utilitarianism. Rawls, in our own times, has developed an elaborate alternative to utilitarianism as a theory of justice; he draws on the social contract tradition, and on Kant in particular. Chiefly, we will read Sidgwick's treatise THE METHOD OF ETHICS and Rawl's long book A THEORY OF JUSTICE. In addition, we shall read recent articles by Rawls. Classes will consist in lectures with discussion encouraged. The course is designed to be at the level of an advanced undergraduate who has some substantial prior background in moral philosophy. Philosophy 361 is an excellent background. Anyone taking the course is in for a lot of difficult and demanding reading. Three five-page papers will be required. There will be a midterm and a final exam, with essay questions drawn from study questions issued in advance. (Gibbard)

441. Social Philosophy. Phil. 361, 363, 364, 366 or 431; or concentration in social sciences. (3). (Excl).

This course will focus on the SOCIAL side of social and political philosophy: that is, on social practices besides those associated with government. The following questions will be investigated: What is a social norm? Can particular social norms be explained as the product of rational individual action (as in game theory), of "natural" selection (as in sociobiology), or in some other way? Is behavior in accordance with social norms rational, or is it an alternative to rational action? If a society comes to reject a system of norms, can its demise ever be explained by the fact that it is immoral or irrational? The course will integrate philosophical investigations into these questions with work in social theory, and will concentrate more on the explanation of norms than on their evaluation. Philosophical readings will include selections from Aristotle, Hume, Hegel, Lewis, Gibbard, Cohen, Elster. Readings in social theory will include selections from Weber, Durkheim, Bourdieu, MacKinnon, Axelrod. We will investigate two case studies of social norms in detail: norms of feuding and revenge, and norms of gender. The course will be in a mixed lecture/discussion format. There will be two papers and a final examination. Cost:2 WL:1 (Anderson)

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

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. Cost:2 WL:1 (Anderson)

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

A detailed introduction to Kant's mature philosophical system, his so-called Critical philosophy. WHAT CAN I KNOW? WHAT OUGHT I TO DO? FOR WHAT MAY I HOPE? Kant thought these three questions summed up the most urgent concerns of human life. What is more surprising, he thought he could give all three of these questions definitive answers, answers that would constitute a complete inventory of humanly attainable nonempirical knowledge. We'll look at three main components of Kant's project; his effort to work out the scope and limits of human knowledge in general, his effort to sum up morality in a single Categorical Imperative, and his effort to give a purely moral basis and significance to religious faith. But the bulk of our time will be spent on the most challenging and controversial part of Kant's system, the account of human experience and human factual knowledge in the CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. There Kant tries to show that the world of our experience has to possess certain very general structural features by tracing those features to a source IN US. And he argues that behind the familiar world of our experience is a second, more fundamental world about which we can know next to nothing. Most of the reading will be from Kant's own works. But there will be frequent handouts, many of which will contain brief excerpts from Kant's most important predecessors and successors. Written work will be four short papers, due at intervals during the term. I'll suggest some topics, but you are free contrive your own instead. Class participation will be strongly encouraged. (Hills)

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

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)

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

See Chinese 469. (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 RC Humanities 475. (Lin)

480. Philosophy of Religion. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (Excl).

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. [Cost:1] [WL:1] (Mavrodes)

499. Senior Honors in Philosophy. By departmental permission only. (3). (Excl). (INDEPENDENT).

This course number is used for those students who are in the process of writing philosophy honor theses. Anyone wishing to write an Honors thesis in philosophy should consult the Philosophy Honors Advisor.

505/Chinese 505. Modern Chinese Thought. 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)


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.