Philosophy is about as broad a subject as one can find in a university curriculum. It addresses a wide array of questions, some quite familiar (Does God exist? Why be moral? What is art?), others less so (What is a thing? Is space a substance?). Philosophy includes the examination of its own methods, and its own history.
It also falls within philosophy to examine the methods and practices of virtually all academic disciplines. Because of this breadth, a person can study philosophy in ways involving the styles and techniques of thought of most other fields of inquiry. For example, the work of a philosopher concentrating in logic is much like that of the student of mathematics. A philosopher primarily interested in the philosophy of religion will often be doing much the same things as a theologian or a student of the history of religion. Political philosophy is regarded by some as including political activity itself. Many other such examples exist. In addition, Philosophy examines the practices of other activities, such as the fine arts, that are sometimes thought of as different from typical academic disciplines. However, for the most part the activities characteristic of philosophy are peculiar to the discipline. The only way to know what it's really like is to give it a try.
The Department teaches a number of courses that do not carry prerequisites: (A) general introductions designed to acquaint students with a representative sample of philosophical problems (181, 202, 231, 232, and 297); (B) introductions that focus on a particular branch of philosophy or area of human concern - e.g., science, normative moral issues – designed for students who, having no previous background in philosophy, want to study these areas in a philosophical way (155, 355); (C) first-year seminars (196); and (D) introductions to logic and reasoning (180, 201, 203, 296).
(A) The general introductions deal, for example, with questions concerning the nature of reality, knowledge, the self and the mind, freedom, morality, society, and religion, but they differ in their instructional formal and staffing. Philosophy 202 is taught by advanced graduate students in sections of approximately 25 students. Philosophy 181 is taught by more experienced Lecturers or other faculty, in a combination lecture/discussion format, limited to 50 students. In Philosophy 231 and 232, a faculty member delivers a lecture two hours per week, and students divide into groups of approximately 25 for discussion sections, led by graduate students, that meet one (231) or two (232) hours per week. Finally, Philosophy 297, "Honors Introduction," is taught by a faculty member to groups of 25-30 students.
(B) Winter courses not carrying prerequisites that focus on a specific area of human concern or philosophical thought include "Nature of Science" (155), "Contemporary Moral Problems" (355), and "Philosophy of Law" (356). These courses do not require previous work in philosophy. Philosophy 155 and 356 are taught by a member of the faculty, in a combination lecture/discussion format, limited to 50 students. In Philosophy 355, a faculty member delivers a lecture two hours per week, and students divide into groups of approximately 25 for discussion sections led by graduate students.
(C) Among the introductions to logic, Philosophy 180 is designed both to improve critical reasoning skills, and to provide an introduction to formal logic; Philosophy 201 is principally an introduction to reasoning and informal logic; 203 is an introduction to formal or symbolic logic. Both 201 and 203 are taught by advanced graduate student teaching assistants in sections of approximately 25 students. Philosophy 180 is taught by more experienced Lecturers or other faculty, in a combination lecture/discussion format, limited to 50 students. Philosophy 296, "Honors Introduction to Logic," is taught by a faculty member to a group of 25-30 students. Philosophy 414, "Mathematical Logic," is an advanced introduction to formal logic. Both 296 and 414 are designated QR/1, that is, they satisfy the LS&A Quantitative Reasoning Requirement in full.
A number of Winter 300-level courses (366, 383, 385, and 388) require only a single philosophy introduction as a prerequisite.
There is additional information about the Department's curriculum in "The Undergraduate Program in Philosophy." This brochure contains information intended for students interested in taking philosophy courses, whether or not they are considering a Philosophy concentration. To request a copy, call 764-6285.
155. The Nature of Science. Students are strongly advised not to take more than two Philosophy Introductions. (3). (HU). (BS).
This course serves as an introduction to the history and philosophy of natural science. During the first half we examine some great milestones in the history of science: the Copernican Revolution in astronomy, Newton's codification of mechanics, the discovery and clarification of the energy concept, and the formulation and acceptance of the atomic hypothesis. We use this history as a stepping stone toward a broad-based "philosophical" understanding of the scientific enterprise as a whole. Among the philosophical topics we will discuss are: (i) the nature of the "scientific method"; (ii) the process whereby hypotheses are confirmed by empirical evidence; (iii) the nature of scientific laws and their role in explanation; (iv) the procedures by which new concepts are introduced into scientific theories; and (v) the reduction of one scientific theory to another. During the last half of the class we examine evolutionary biology and its implications for the creationist/evolutionist debate about the teaching of evolution in our public schools. Our aim will be to decide what makes some body of discourse a "science," and to see whether the evolution or creationism (or both, or neither) fit the bill. Students will read about forty pages of material per week, write two 8-10 page papers, and take a midterm and final exam. The course will contain about 50 students and will be taught in lecture format. Cost:2 WL:4 (Joyce)
180. Introductory Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil.
180 or 201. (3). (N.Excl). (BS).
Sections 001 & 002. This course is designed to improve critical reasoning skills and provide an introduction to formal logic. The course examines some of the problems and fallacies which arise in informal reasoning, some of the elements of formal (symbolic) logic, and logical concepts used in the analysis and criticism of arguments. There will be lectures, discussions, demonstrations of problem-solving techniques, and reading and writing exercises. It is possible that the course will make extensive use of computerized exercises and tutorials, with weekly assignments to be completed at public computing sites. (No prior experience with computers would be needed.) Students who wish to know whether the course will use computer-assisted instruction should contact the Department prior to registration.
181. Philosophical Issues: An Introduction. No credit granted
to those who have completed or are enrolled in 202, 231, 232, 234, or 297.
Sections 001 & 002. This course examines some of the main problems of philosophy, such as: How do we know that anything exists, other than ourselves? Are minds immaterial spirits, or are minds brains and hence nothing but complex physical objects? If human actions are causally determined by heredity and environment, is there any free will or moral responsibility? Is abortion, or euthanasia, or suicide, morally permissible? Is the nature and extent of our moral obligations determined by our feelings, self-interest, social convention, Divine commands, or something else? What are the different kinds of social, political, and economic organization, and what reasons are there for preferring one to another? How should one live one's life? What is the meaning of life, and what does this question mean? Are there good reasons for believing that God exists? Students will write papers discussing these topics. WL:4
Section 003. What is philosophy? Is the philosophically examined life the only life worth living? Or does philosophical examination undermine the value of life? We will consider these questions by examining ancient, medieval and modem examples of philosophizing. Authors will include Plato, Anselm, Descartes, Hume and Goodman. Problems considered will include civil obedience, the existence of God, knowledge and doubt, the mind and the body and the concept of causation. Two short papers and a final exam. Lecture with discussion. WL:4 (Franks)
196. Freshman Seminar. First year standing; second year with permission
of instructor. (3). (HU).
Section 001 – Taste. This seminar will discuss the concept of taste. Is there such a thing as good taste? Bad taste? Is taste objective in any sense? Is it relative to culture or circumstances? Is it the same in different areas – e.g., literature, clothing, food, etc.? Is taste related to ethics, or separate from it, or in conflict with it? Is taste important, or merely decorative? Readings will be drawn from philosophers such as Plato, Hume, and Kant, and also from various parts of literature, including novels and plays. WL:4 (White)
201. Introduction to Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 180 or 201. (3). (N.Excl). (BS).
This course aims to give students a thorough understanding of the fundamental forms of reasoning and rational argument, and to improve critical reasoning skills that could be of use in a wide range of disciplines and careers. The course examines some of the problems and fallacies which arise in informal reasoning and logical concepts used in the analysis and criticism of arguments. Some elements of formal (symbolic) logic might be introduced. Though students will be expected to master some technical detail, the course emphasizes informal logical techniques applicable to problem solving and argument in any area of inquiry. Both deductive and inductive patterns of argument will be examined. The small section's size (usually about 25 students) is conducive to informality and considerable student participation. There will also be lectures, demonstrations of problem-solving techniques, and a variety of exercises. Normally, there are weekly assignments, and short, periodic quizzes. WL:4
202. Introduction to Philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 181, 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 people throughout history, and to discuss possible solutions to them. The course is taught in independent sections (of approximately 25 students) by advanced graduate students, who select topics and readings for their sections. Some sections examine the systems of such major historical figures as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche; others focus on writings of twentieth century philosophers, such as Bertrand Russell, A.J. Ayer, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. For a list of questions from which topics are typically chosen, see the description for Philosophy 181. The text is either a book of readings or a set of larger selections from separate editions of well-known philosophical works. Requirements usually include a number of short, critical papers on topics treated in the course. WL:4
203. Introduction to Symbolic Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 203 or 296. (3). (N.Excl). (BS).
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 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. WL:4
231. Introduction to Philosophy: Problems and Principles. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 181, 202, 232, 234, or 297. (3). (HU).
This is a first course in philosophy assuming no background in the subject; it is open to students from all areas of the University at any stage in their studies. The course has two main goals. First, to give you a sense of what philosophers think about and why. This will be done through consideration of several historically important issues: the existence of God, skepticism about the external world, personal identity, mind/body relations, freedom of the will, and moral responsibility. The second goal is to develop the philosophical skill, and more generally the critical and argumentative skills, of those enrolled. Philosophy 231 and 232 share a common lecture for two meetings per week. Philosophy 231 carries three hours of credit, has one discussion meeting per week, and requires two short papers. Philosophy 232 carries four hours of credit, has two discussion meetings per week, and requires three short papers. The course has two texts: Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments, (Hackett Publishing Company) and Joel Feinberg's anthology Reason and Responsibility (Dickenson Publishing Co.) Cost:2 WL:4 (Yablo)
232. Problems of Philosophy. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 181, 202, 231, 234, or 297. (4). (HU).
See Philosophy 231. (Yablo)
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). (BS). (QR/1).
This is a course in modern symbolic logic. The guiding idea is to use a symbolic language to examine such logical properties and relations as valid inference, consistency and inconsistency, and logical truth. There will be two in-class exams and a final exam. Homework will be assigned weekly and satisfactory completion of the homework is a requirement of the course. WL:4 (Gibbard)
297. Honors Introduction to Philosophy. Honors students or permission
of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled
in 181, 202, 231, 232, or 234. (3). (HU).
Section 001. An introduction to philosophical problems and reasoning through the careful study and discussion of classic and contemporary readings. Issues may include: the existence of God, the possibility of knowledge, the nature of morality, evolutionism versus creationism, and the possibility of artificial intelligence. Two short papers, plus midterm and final exams. WL:4 (Crimmins)
Section 002. The course is an introduction to philosophy for Honors undergraduates through the study of three classic, but accessible, texts: Hume's First Inquiry, J.L. Austin's Sense and Sensibilia, and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. No previous acquaintance with philosophy is required. The mode of instruction will be lectures, but with plenty of time for questions and discussion. Students will be expected to produce three short papers, and to sit a midterm class test and a final exam. Cost:1 WL:4 (Rumfitt)
355. Contemporary Moral Problems. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 455. (4). (HU).
This course will explore competing theories of justice, the moral dimensions of the problems of racism and sexism, contrasting explanations of racial and gender inequality, the state enforcement of morality, and the moral status of animals and the environment. Rival conceptions of freedom, equality, and justice will be assessed through an examination of such issues as affirmative action, sexual harassment, censorship of pornography, abortion, and animal rights. 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:3 WL:4 (Darwall)
366. Introduction to Political Philosophy. One Philosophy Introduction. (4). (HU).
The course will emphasize acquaintance with competing views regarding the main problems of social and political philosophy (for example, the responsibilities of the state towards its citizens), rather than the interpretation of different authors' writings. Reading assignments will be from Will Kymlicka's Contemporary Political Philosophy and from the works of, among others, John Stuart Mill, John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, and Iris Young. The theories that we will examine and evaluate include utilitarianism, liberalism, and Marxism; we will also give our attention to recent work in feminist theory. Students will be required to write a midterm exam, a final exam, and one term paper. Lectures and discussion sections. WL:1 (Orser)
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)
383. Knowledge and Reality. One course in philosophy. (3). (Excl).
The course will offer a survey of some main issues in the theory of knowledge and metaphysics. We will consider, for example, what counts as knowledge, what is required for justification, and whether objectivity is possible. Discussion of these issues will lead us to inquire also into the nature of the self, theories of representation, and the relation between the mind and the world more generally. WL:1 (Haslanger)
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 Frankfurt School" (Max Horkheimer, Jurgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse), the thought of Michel Foucault (as represented by his The Order of Things), and Hermeneutics (Hans-Georg Gadamer). We will be concerned with the implications of the views of these thinkers for the critique of objective (and scientific) thought, for the 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. WL:1 (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, 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)
402. Undergraduate Seminar in Philosophy. Open to junior and senior concentrators and to others by permission of concentration advisor. (3). (Excl).
The topic for the seminar will be the good life. Primarily we will be asking: What makes a life intrinsically desirable and worth living for its own sake? We shall consider a wide diversity of answers to this question from such writers as Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Epictetus, Mencius, Butler, Mill, Nietzsche, Sidgwick, Moore, as well as more contemporary writers such as Bernard Williams. We may also consider responses from within some religious traditions. The seminar context will allow us to discuss these questions intensively at some depth, and that will be our primary focus. Students will write three papers. WL:1 (Darwall)
406. Aristotle. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (Excl).
Philosophy 406 provides a survey of the philosophical views of Aristotle, or focuses on some major aspect of Aristotle's philosophical systems, for example, his epistemology and metaphysics, or his ethics and political philosophy. Students who wish more detailed information should contact the Department prior to registration. WL:1 (White)
414. Mathematical Logic. (3). (Excl). (BS). (QR/1).
A rigorous mathematical study of formal symbolic systems, with an eye to their philosophical relevance. Topics may include concepts and results of model-theory, proof-theory, computability theory, and set-theory. Examples of logical systems may include propositional, predicate, and modal logics, and we may address issues about arithmetic and truth as time permits. Written work will consist of extensive problem sets (usually requiring formal mathematical proofs) and midterm and final exams. WL:1 (Crimmins)
420. Philosophy of Science. A course in logic or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl). (BS).
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, Quine, Lakatos, and Van Fraassen. Midterm and final examination. Term paper. WL:1 (Sklar)
425. Philosophy of Biology. One course in philosophy or biology. (3). (Excl).
We will be discussing issues on the border between philosophy and biology, so it will be necessary to begin by filling in a little background in each field: contemporary theories of evolution, something about population genetics, optimization theory, the claims of sociobiology, and so forth, on the one side; some discussion of general issues in the philosophy of science on the other. The controversies to be explored concern, for example, what the major forces determining evolution are, the place of the notion of purpose in biology, whether and to what degree an individual's behaviors may be due to her genes, whether evolutionary theory can explain unselfish behaviors, what the basis of biological classifications (species, genuses, etc.) is or should be. Cost:2 WL:1 (Millikan)
431. Normative Ethics. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (Excl).
Normative ethics is the search for basic principles that determine what kinds of acts are right and what kinds wrong, what kinds of states of affairs are good and what kinds bad. The course will focus on two chief families of normative ethical theories: utilitarian theories and Kantian theories. We shall ask how best to formulate these theories, and examine arguments for them and against them. We shall read Mill and Kant for background, and otherwise, for the most part, articles by twentieth century philosophers. Classes will consist in lectures and discussion. The course is designed to be at the level of an advanced undergraduate who has some prior background in moral philosophy. Philosophy 361 is an excellent background. Three short papers will be required, and there will be midterm and final exams. Short exercises in or out of class may also be required. WL:1 (Gibbard)
440. Camera Arts. One previous course in philosophy at the 300 level or above, or one course in History of Art, or one course in Film and Video Studies, or the permission of the instructor. (3). (Excl).
The invention of photography and related technologies gave new life to old questions about the nature of vision, the nature of pictures, the relation between formal and narrative values in visual art, the relation between fine art and popular culture. This course investigates the nature and significance of the main camera arts – still photography, film, and video – in the twin contexts of technological and intellectual change: the invention of new kinds of camera, and the invention of new reasons to prize or deplore what cameras offer. It opens with very general philosophical issues about picture making as such. It explores the differences between camera-made and hand-made pictures. It pays close critical and philosophical attention to selected particular works of camera art. And it closes with reflections on the camera's place in contemporary culture. Written work consists of three short papers, due at intervals during the term. WL:1 (Hills)
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. Does not meet the Philosophy Department's 400-level course requirement for philosophy concentrators. Cost:3 WL:4 (Darwall)
463. Topics in the History of Philosophy. Philosophy 388 or 389, or permission of the instructor. (3). (Excl).
This course will discuss the thought of various Renaissance and Reformation writers about politics and religion in the 16th Century, with particular attention to Machiavelli, Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Rabelais, Montaigne and Bodin. WL:1 (Curley)
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/Asian Studies 475/RC Hums. 475/Hist. of Art 487. The Arts and Letters of China. (4). (HU).
See Chinese 475. (Y. Feuerwerker)
485. Philosophy of Action. Two philosophy courses, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).
A survey of philosophical problems in human action, such as: the difference between action and mere behavior, the possibility of free will, the nature of reasons for acting, the role of intentions and plans in practical reasoning, and weakness of will. Readings will include historical figures such as Aristotle and Hume as well as contemporary philosophers such as Anscombe, Davidson, and Frankfurt. Several short papers will be assigned. Cost:1 WL:1 (Velleman)
486. Topics in Feminist Philosophy. Two courses in either Philosophy or Women's Studies, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).
The topics for this term are feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. Is knowledge gendered? Are scientific conceptions of objectivity "masculine"? What could it mean to make such claims, and how could they be justified? We will investigate the varied ways ideas about gender, gender roles, and gender identity influence the construction of knowledge and the representation of objectivity. Competing views about these influences - empiricism, standpoint theory, postmodernism – will be explored in the context of empirical research in the social sciences, biology, and medicine, with a particular focus on primatology. There will be a research paper, one or perhaps two short papers, and a final examination. Classes will be conducted as interactive lecture/discussions. Students with background (at least 2 courses) in either philosophy or women's studies are welcome to join a constructive dialogue. Cost:3 WL:4 (Anderson)
492. Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein. Phil. 414 or the equivalent, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).
This course will focus on themes central to the work of all three authors. That is, it will concern basic topics and problems in the philosophy of logic and the philosophy of language. (I shall say little about the foundations of mathematics.) We shall begin by considering the nature of Frege's revolution in formal and philosophical logic, and move on to investigate various ramifications of that revolution. In particular, we shall consider: the general nature of logic; the character of a "logically perfect" language; the difference between names and predicates; definite descriptions; the notions of sense and reference; "logical atomism"; the picture theory of the proposition; and the limits of the expressible. The basic texts will be: Frege, Conceptual Notation and Philosophical Writings; Russell ed. Marsh, Logic and Knowledge; Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. (We shall study passages from the later writings of Wittgenstein only insofar as these bear directly upon his earlier views.) Students taking the course for credit will be expected to produce three substantial papers and to take a final exam. Cost:2 WL:1 (Rumfitt)
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