Courses in Philosophy (Division 442)

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 offers 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, 232, and 297); (B) introductions that focus on a particular branch of philosophy or area of human concern e.g., the arts, the human mind, and the law designed for students who, having no previous background in philosophy, want to study these areas in a philosophical way (153, 340, and and 359, as well as 196); and (C) introductions to logic and reasoning (201, 303, and 414).

(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 format and staffing. Philosophy 202 is taught by advanced graduate students in independent sections of 25 students. Philosophy 181 is taught by faculty, in a combination lecture/discussion format, limited to 50 students. In Philosophy 232, a faculty member delivers a lecture two hours per week, and students divide into groups of 25 for discussion sections led by graduate students. Finally, Philosophy 297, "Honors Introduction," is taught by a faculty member to a group of 25 students.

(B) Winter courses not carrying prerequisites that focus on a specific area of human concern or philosophical thought include "Philosophy and the Arts" (153), "Mind, Matter, and Machines" (340), and "Law and Philosophy" (359), as well as a First-year Seminar (196). These courses do not require previous work in philosophy. Philosophy 153 and 340 are are taught by members of the faculty, in a combination lecture/discussion format, limited to 50 students. In Philosophy 359, 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 201, is designed to improve critical reasoning skills, through an introduction to informal logic. It is taught by advanced graduate student teaching assistants in independent sections of 25 students. Philosophy 303 is an introduction to formal or symbolic logic. It is taught by a faculty member, in a combination lecture/discussion format, limited to 50 students. Philosophy 414, "Mathematical Logic," is an advanced introduction to formal logic. Philosophy 414 is designated (QR/1); it satisfies the LS&A Quantitative Reasoning Requirement in full.

A number of Winter 300-level courses require only a single philosophy introduction as a prerequisite: Political Philosophy (366), Knowledge and Reality (383), Continental Philosophy (385), and History of Philosophy: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century (389). Philosophy 372, "Philosophical Topics in the Study of Gender," has a prerequisite of one course in Philosophy or Women's Studies, or permission of the instructor.

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. The Department also maintains a home page ( Students considering a concentration in Philosophy are encouraged to make an appointment with a Philosophy concentration advisor. To request a copy of the undergraduate brochure, or to schedule an appointment with a concentration advisor, contact the Department Office (2215 Angell Hall, 764-6285).

153. Philosophy and the Arts. Students are strongly advised not to take more than two Philosophy Introductions. (3). (HU).

This course will examine the arts from a philosophical perspective. It will investigate what art is, the nature of creation, criticism, interpretation, evaluation, and appreciation, and the ways in which the various arts are important, concentrating on several specific art forms such as the novel, photography and film, representational painting, and music. It will treat questions such as: What, if anything, is distinctive about art and aesthetic experience, and how are they related to other aspects of life and culture? In what ways are works of art expressive of feelings? Are works of art important vehicles of communication? In what ways do we learn from them, and how do they work to change people's perspectives or attitudes? What is fiction and why are people interested in it? What is it for a painting or a novel to be realistic? Written work for the course will consist of a short paper, three exams, and a longer paper. WL:4 (Walton)

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 001.
This course examines some of the main problems of philosophy: Is there a God? Do we have free will? How ought we to live our lives? What is the relation between mind and body? What can we know and how do we know it? Do we have a moral obligation to obey the government, and if so, why? WL:4 (Curley)

Section 002. The aim of the course will be to consider some of the principal questions which philosophers have sought to answer, and thereby to provide an introduction to the practice of philosophical analysis. The course will range fairly widely, covering such questions as what, if anything, can be known about the external world; what the relation might be between the mind and the body; what it is to be a person; whether one can properly be held responsible for one's actions; whether there are objective moral reasons for action and, if so, how these might be determined. Although the claims of historical and contemporary philosophers will be canvassed, these will be treated as the starting-points for critical discussion. WL:4 (Everson)

196. First Year Seminar. First year students; second year students with permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

The seminar will focus on the philosophical aspects of anarchism. Topics to be discussed include: traditional arguments for the state from Hobbes and Rousseau; the moral and political philosophy of the classical anarchists such as Godwin, Proudhon, and Kropotkin; and capitalist and egoist views such as those of Stirner and Friedman. WL:4 (Roberson)

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 size (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, 182, 231, 232, 234, or 297. (3). (HU).

This course introduces students to philosophy through an examination of some central philosophical problems. Topics might include: 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 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 reasons for preferring one kind of social, political, and economic organization to another? Are there good reasons for believing that God exists? How do we know that anything exists, other than ourselves? In addressing these questions, some sections focus on major historical figures, e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant; others focus on writings of twentieth century philosophers. Requirements usually include a number of short, critical papers. WL:4

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).

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, freedom of the will, moral responsibility, and the difference between right and wrong. The second goal is to develop the philosophical skills, and more generally the critical and argumentative skills, of those enrolled. Philosophy 232 carries four hours of credit and has two hours of discussion per week. Students will be asked to write three short papers; there will also be a midterm and final exam. Our main texts are: 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)

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 an introduction to three central areas in contemporary philosophy: epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. Epistemology is an attempt to establish general standards for rationality and knowledge, and to assess whether we miserable earth creatures measure up. Metaphysics is an attempt to find rational ways of answering questions about the world that science appears to leave open, for instance, questions about God, minds and bodies, and free will. And while science and metaphysics are both in the business of describing things in the world, ethics is an attempt to find rational ways of evaluating things in the world as good or bad, right or wrong. Your grade will depend on several short papers and class participation. WL:4 (Lormand)

Section 002 An Introduction to Value: Deity, Morality, and Humanity. For very many people in our culture, questions like "What is the meaning of life?" and "How should I live?" seem to lack justifiable answers. In this course we will (1) begin to diagnose the philosophical and broader cultural roots of this "crisis of values" and (2) attempt to determine whether such a dreary perspective on the "Big Questions" is the only reasonable one. We will develop and apply the techniques of contemporary Anglo-American "Analytic Philosophy" to a number of classic (and a few not-quite-so-classic) texts in the Western philosophical tradition, and carefully examine a variety of social phenomena from both Western and non-Western cultures. Finally, (with a little luck) we may try to experience value (that is, live our lives) more reflectively, sensitively, and fully. WL:4 (Doris)

303. Introduction to Symbolic Logic. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phil. 203, 296 or 414. (3). (N.Excl). (BS).

In this course, we shall study two systems of logic, viz., the propositional and quantificational calculi. Topics to be covered with respect to the propositional calculus include truth-tables, truth-trees, natural deduction, and metatheory which involves establishing soundness and completeness results. Similarly, for the quantificational calculus, topics to be covered include natural interpretations, truth-trees, natural deduction, decidability, and metatheoretical results. In order to discuss metatheoretical results for both logics, we shall familiarize ourselves with mathematical induction. Familiarity with these two systems of logic and the associated metatheoretical results will provide students with the groundwork to do more specialized and advanced work in formal logic. Also, those in computer science and engineering will find this course relevant to their fields. This is also a good course for anyone who simply wants to know something about formal logic, which can be useful in the computer age. There will be a short test every two weeks. Each test will be worth approximately 10% each. There will also be a final exam worth 40%. Students are strongly encouraged to do all the exercises in the book. Exercises will be discussed in class and in extra tutorial sessions. WL:1 (MacPherson)

340. Mind, Matter, and Machines. (3). (HU).

This course is about the mind/body problem and related philosophical challenges to our understanding of human minds. The main aim is for students to understand the difficulties with a number of initially attractive models of mind as brain, computer, soul, and social construct and why this matters to our conceptions of ourselves. Each of these models has been the subject of some of the most lively and accessible works in contemporary philosophy; we will supplement these with some ingenious science fiction short stories. Some questions considered are: Could the brain be the seat of feelings? Could nonbiological beings think? Could machines have free will, creativity, or consciousness? Could souls interact with the physical world? Could talk of the mind be merely a useful fiction? Your grade will depend on several short papers and class participation. WL:4 (Lormand)

359. Law and Philosophy. (4). (HU).

This course analyzes law and legal institutions from the perspective of moral and political philosophy, with particular attention to U.S. civil rights law in historical context. Topics studied in this course may include: methods of legal interpretation, equality and discrimination, democracy and voting rights, the tension between property rights and distributive justice, the tension between social control and liberty (including specific liberties, such as free speech), and the justification for punishing lawbreakers (or for imposing specific punishments, such as the death penalty). Readings will be drawn from historical figures (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel); from contemporary legal philosophers (H.L.A. Hart, Ronald Dworkin, Joel Feinberg, Jean Hampton); from texts in legal history, criminology, or sociology; and from statutes and court decisions. WL:4 (Anderson)

366. Introduction to Political Philosophy. One Philosophy Introduction. (4). (HU).

Political philosophy is concerned not only with questions about how political authority might be justified, but also with broad questions about the nature of a just society, the moral foundations of our conceptions of justice, and the basic characteristics of humans and their social relations. We will examine key texts by a number of important figures in the history of political philosophy (including Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Bentham, Mill, and Marx) as well as influential works by contemporary writers (including Rawls and Nozick), with the goal of reaching a critical understanding of central issues and concepts. Midterm and final examination. Term paper. WL:4 (Railton)

372. Philosophical Topics in the Study of Gender. One course in philosophy or women's studies, or permission of instructor. (3). (HU).

The course this term will discuss several feminist frameworks for thinking about gender and gendered bodies. The following questions will guide our discussion: Is there a tenable distinction between sex and gender? What does it mean to say that a category is socially constructed? What is oppression? How is gender oppression different from and/or related to other forms of oppression? In what ways do accounts of the social construction of gender enrich our understanding of agency? In exploring these issues, we will also consider specific feminist issues that arise in science, medicine, popular culture and law. Topics may include: sexuality, rape and pornography, fashion, and femininity. Requirements: several short homework assignments, two papers, final exam. Cost:3 WL:4 (Haslanger)

383. Knowledge and Reality. One course in philosophy. (3). (HU).

This course will provide students with a broad overview of modern epistemology and metaphysics. Epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge and justified belief. We will be concerned with two main epistemological issues: (1) Is all knowledge based on a foundation of "basic" self-evident beliefs that themselves require no justification? (2) To what extent must a believer have access to the facts that justify her beliefs? Metaphysics is the study of very general concepts and properties that apply to all existing objects. We will be primarily concerned with the following two questions: (a) Is our division of objects in nature into different kinds a matter of pure convention, or do some of these divisions exist in nature itself? (b) More generally, what does it mean to say that facts about the world are independent of us? Students will be asked to read about 40 pages of material per week, to write two 10-12 page papers, and to take a midterm and a final exam. WL:1 (Joyce)

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

This course is a fairly broad survey of twentieth century German and French philosophy. We will begin with a look at phenomenology, focusing on its transformation in the early Heidegger and later appropriation by the existentialists. We will also read works by the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School, some pivotal feminist texts, essays by Levinas and Gadamer, and a few varied selections representing French structuralism. We will conclude with a brief investigation of post-structuralist thought, including deconstruction. Central to the themes of this course are the nature of subjectivity and its place within the range of human activity, the possibility of ethics without metaphysics, and the scope and power of language. Our principal text will be The Continental Philosophy Reader (eds. Kearney and Rainwater). WL:1 (Mangiafico)

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 and interpretive issues that arise in conjunction with the philosophers' works. The philosophical issues addressed are drawn from epistemology and metaphysics: 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, free will and determinism, the self, the relationship between mind and body, and personal identity. Students are evaluated on the basis of three papers and midterm and final examinations. 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 seminar will address an odd couple of questions, one from hard-nosed metaphysics and the other from the more literary reaches of the philosophy of language. First, what is there, or, as a philosopher would put it, what is there really? Second, what is it so speak metaphorically as opposed to literally? The connection is that real existence means something like literal existence. Any light that can be shed on the literal/metaphorical distinction will thus illuminate the metaphysics of existence as well. The seminar context allows us to discuss these matters intensively and in depth, and that will be our primary focus. Readings will be from a wide range of authors including (some or all of) Jeremy Bentham, Hans Vaihinger, Paul Ricoeur, Willard Quine, Rudolf Carnap, Donald Davidson, John Searle, Mary Hesse, Richard Rorty, and Kendall Walton. Students will be asked to write two or three papers. Cost:2 WL:1 (Yablo)

403/Amer. Cult. 403/Rel. 403. American Philosophy. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (Excl).

This course will deal with American philosophy from its beginnings in Jonathan Edwards and Ralph Waldo Emerson to twentieth century philosophers. The emphasis of the course will be on the classical pragmatists: Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Among the texts will be James' Pragmatism and Dewey's Reconstruction in Philosophy and The Public and Its Problems. The section on contemporary philosophy will include readings from W.V.O. Quine, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty. Two term papers will be required, one handed in at approximately the middle of the term and the other handed in at the last class of the term. WL:1 (Meiland)

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

The course will provide a critical appraisal of Platonic metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. It will begin with a consideration of the 'Socratic' dialogues and will then focus on the arguments of the Meno, Republic, and Theaetetus. Passages from other dialogues will be used to cast light on these. Three papers will be required. WL:1 (Everson)

409. Philosophy of Language. One Philosophy Introduction or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl).

Our understanding of language and communication has undergone major revisions in the past 20 years as a result of new developments in philosophy of language and in cognitive psychology. Communication has been seen as, essentially, a matter of encoding and decoding meanings. We now look at it as crucially involving context-sensitive inferential processes. Linguistic sentences have been seen as direct expressions of the speaker's thoughts. We now look at them as indirect pieces of evidence of her thoughts. The course will outline this novel, multidisciplinary approach to language and communication and explore some of its philosophical, linguistic, and psychological implications. WL:1 (Sperber)

414. Mathematical Logic. (3). (Excl). (BS). (QR/1).

A mathematical study of formal languages, with an eye to their philosophical relevance. We will study artificial "languages" whose logical features are rigorously defined, and which are intended to distill logical characteristics of natural languages like English. These will include propositional and predicate logics. We will explore proof algorithms and model-theoretic semantics for these languages, and prove various adequacy results about the proof algorithms, including soundness and completeness theorems. This course provides useful background for advanced study in linguistics and in nearly all fields of analytic philosophy, including especially philosophy of language and metaphysics. Written work will consist of problem sets and midterm and final exams, and will require detailed mathematical proofs. WL:1 (Gibbard)

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

This course will introduce students to some of the basic issues in the philosophy of science. It seeks to deepen the student's understanding of the "scientific method," and to clarify the mechanisms whereby scientific theories predict and explain human experience. The course begins with an account of the rise and fall of Logical Positivism which served as the "standard" model of scientific practice in the first half of this century. This is followed by extended discussions of the following topics: the process whereby scientific hypotheses are confirmed by empirical evidence; the nature of scientific laws; the explanatory function of scientific theories; the realism/anti-realism debate about the status of unobservables. Time permitting, the course will close with a discussion of some issues particular to the philosophy of biology. Students will be asked to read about 40 pages of material per week, to write two 10-12 page papers, and to take a midterm and a final exam. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy. WL:1 (Joyce)

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

The course will be directed toward exploring the philosophical issues that arise at the foundations of statistical mechanics. Beginning with an outline of the development of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, the course will continue with expositions of philosophical work on interpretations of probability and of statistical explanation. We will then discuss attempts at justifying the posits of both equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, the role of cosmology in these accounts, the nature of the reduction of thermodynamics to statistical mechanics, and the so-called issue of "the direction of time." Main text will be L. Sklar, The Physics of Chance. There will be a term paper and a final exam. WL:1 (Sklar)

437/MHM 437. Philosophy of Music. An introductory course in philosophy; or previous course work in music; or permission of the instructor. (3). (Excl).

A philosophical investigation of the nature and significance of music. What kind(s) of value does music have, and how is it important? Does its value lie merely in its structure, in the notes themselves? Does music have "meanings" of some sort? What is it for music to be expressive? What kinds of feelings or emotions does music evoke in listeners? Does it portray or represent feelings? Is music ever a source of knowledge or understanding or insight? Can it have (good or bad) moral effects on people? What are musical performances, and how do good performances differ from merely "correct" ones? What sorts of entities are musical works, and how are they related to performances and to musical scores? What is the role of music in song, opera, theater, film, dance? What functions does it serve in religious or cultural or social or political contexts? WL:1 (Walton)

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

A close critical examination of some central philosophical works by Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, three of the most important thinkers writing in English during the early modern period. The course will focus on metaphysical and epistemological questions, but we'll strive to develop an appreciation of various broader contexts scientific, ethical, political, and religious that gave shape and urgency to these questions at the time. Texts receiving especially close attention will be Locke's Essay, Book I of Hume's Treatise, and Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Written work will be three short papers due at intervals during the term. Previous work in either epistemology or the history of philosophy would be extremely helpful. WL:1 (Hills)

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

See Chinese 469. (Ziporyn)

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. (Feuerwerker)

482. Philosophy of Mind. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (Excl).

We will confront a small assortment of contemporary philosophical debates, which may include: functionalism and consciousness; content and holism; folk psychology, eliminativism, and simulation theory; thought and representations. WL:1 (Crimmins)

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