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, physical science, and medical practice designed for students who, having no previous background in philosophy, want to study these areas in a philosophical way (319, 320, and 356); and (C) introductions to logic and reasoning (180, 201, 296, and 303).

(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 of the Arts (319), "The Worldview of Modern Science" (320), and "Issues in Bioethics" (356). These courses do not require previous work in philosophy. Philosophy 319 and 320 are taught by members of the faculty, in a combination lecture/discussion format, limited to 30 and 50 students, respectively. In Philosophy 356, a faculty member delivers a lecture two hours per week, and students divide into groups of 25 for discussion sections led by graduate students.

A number of Winter 300-level courses require only a single philosophy introduction as a prerequisite: "Introduction to 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. Of these courses, 383, 385, and 389 meet requirements for the concentration.

(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 designed to improve critical reasoning skills, through an introduction to informal logic. Philosophy 303 is an introduction to formal or symbolic logic. Philosophy 180 and 303 are taught by 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 students. Philosophy 201 is taught by advanced graduate student teaching assistants in independent sections of 25 students.

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 (http://www.lsa.umich.edu/philosophy/). Students considering a concentration in Philosophy are encouraged to make an appointment with a Philosophy concentration advisor; students considering an Honors concentration should consult with the Philosophy advisor for the Honors concentration. 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). The Office can also provide information about the Department's Undergraduate Philosophy Club and undergraduate e-mail group.

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).
Sections 001 and 003.
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 a number of these topics. WL:4

Section 002. This course will offer an historical introduction to philosophy, reading (in translation) selected works by five French philosophers in the period from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. We'll read Montaigne, Descartes, Pascal, Voltaire, and Diderot. These works raise various philosophical problems, among them: skepticism, cultural relativism, the rationality of religious belief, religious toleration, the problem of evil, and fatalism. For further information consult the professor's Web page: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~emcurley/. Cost:2 WL:4 (Curley)
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196. First Year Seminar. First year students; second year students with permission of instructor. (3). (HU).
Section 001 The Death of God and the Meaningful Life.
Late in the nineteenth century Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead. This seminar will examine various interpretations of his assertion as well as the implications it might have for living a meaningful life. Without God, can our lives still have meaning? To what extent is our estimation of life's value tied to a concept of an afterlife? And might the growth of religious activity in the past century prompt us to reassess Nietzsche's diagnosis? Students will be expected to participate regularly in class, to help lead the discussion on one occasion, and to write a final research paper. WL:4 (Mangiafico)
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201. Introduction to Logic. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 180 or 201. (3). (HU). (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
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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
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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)
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296. Honors Introduction to Logic. Honors students or permission of instructor. Credit is granted for only one of Phil. 203, 303, or 296. (3). (MSA). (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. We will study ways of reasoning about reasoning. 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. Many good Honors students will find this course challenging, and working with course material should help students to develop skills in understanding concepts and methods of argumentation that are initially difficult. WL:4 (Gibbard)
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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 002.
This course serves as an introduction to three of the perennial issues on which the finest minds in history have exercised their intelligence. The first topic is philosophical scepticism: the thesis that you are never correct if you say you know something. As with many philosophical issues, this one is hard to believe, but also difficult to refute. The second topic is the relationship of the mind to the body and its physical activity. Are mental events just physical events such as states of the nervous system, or do they have a distinctive nature of their own? Finally, we will take up the question of how (if at all) we can rightly be said to act on rational decisions, or on choices made by our free will when we are apparently physical organisms in a universe governed by brute, unreasoning laws of nature. There will be three short papers. WL:4 (Tappenden)

Section 003. This course will introduce students to philosophical questions and methods through the works of great philosophers, including: Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant. Among the questions considered by these philosophers are: What is the best sort of life for a person to live? Is there a God? Can I know that there is a world outside my own mind? Can I trust my sense to tell me what it's like? Why should I tell the truth? Written assignments will consist of 4-6 short papers. WL:4 (Velleman)
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303. Introduction to Symbolic Logic. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phil. 203, 296 or 414. (3). (MSA). (BS).
Symbolic logic is the application of formal, mathematical methods to human reasoning. Its goal is to determine which forms of reasoning must produce true conclusions when applied to true premises. This course will introduce students to the two simplest, but most important systems of formal logic: the propositional calculus, which classifies forms of reasoning that involve the truth-functional operations of negation, disjunction, and conjunction ("not," "or" and "and"); and the monadic predicate calculus, which characterizes inferences involving the quantifiers "all" and "some." The first half of the course will focus on the propositional calculus. A system of inference rules will be developed, and students will be shown how it can be applied both to the evaluation of ordinary arguments and to problems as "practical" as the design of computer chips and the simplification of electric circuitry in houses. A series of "metatheorems" will then be proved to show that the system developed indeed captures all and only the valid truth-functional inferences. During this portion of the course, students will also be asked to master proofs by mathematical induction. The second half of the course will be dedicated to the study of first-order logic. Basic concepts of the proof theory and model theory for first-order monadic languages will be discussed, and the important metatheorems theorems will be stated, among them the completeness, compactness, and Lowenheim Skolem theorems. There will be regular homework assignments, assigned weekly, as well as a midterm examination and a final. WL:1 (Tappenden)
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319. Philosophy of the Arts. Phil. 202. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phil. 419. (3). (HU).
From the beginnings of philosophical reflection on art, claims about art's ability to move us, to engage our emotions, have been central to discussions of its special value and special dangers. How true are such claims? How is what art makes us feel both like and unlike its counterparts in firsthand experience? Curiously, art is also said to disengage us, to remove us from currents of emotion and desire that sweep us along in everyday life. How much truth is there to this second idea, and how can the same works inspire both talk of engagement and talk of disengagement? We'll look at several influential theories about art's emotional powers. We'll investigate how works of art differ in the ways they inspire and use audience emotion. And we'll apply what we learn to some issues in the aesthetic ethics of contemporary culture. Written work will be three short papers. WL:4 (Hills)
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320. The World-View of Modern Science. (3). (HU). (BS).
Contemporary science, especially contemporary physics, presents us with a picture of the nature of the world that is, at first glance, very strange indeed. Yet this scientific world view arises continuously out of our naive everyday experience of the world and rests upon experimental evidence formed in our ordinary concepts for dealing with the world. This course will examine a number of examples of how the scientific conceptions arose, what kind of world they describe for us and how the evidence of observation and experiment supports these world views. Some topics to be discussed will be the overall structure of the cosmos, the nature of space and time, the problem of motion, the structure of matter and light, and the issues of law and chance in the world. Throughout emphasis will be on what these historical examples tell us about the philosophical assumptions and methodological rules of science. Cost:2 WL:4 (Sklar)
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356. Issues in Bioethics. No prerequisites; one Philosophy Introduction is recommended. (4). (HU).
All of us are, or will be, consumers of health care, and some of us will also be providers. The practice of medicine is directed at prolonging life and improving health, but we have become increasingly aware that promoting these values can conflict with other values: most obviously, resources spent on health care cannot be spent on other expensive goods like education. In this course we will focus on one value that is everywhere at issue in medicine autonomy, the capacity of persons to regulate their own lives. If doctors and patients disagree about a course of treatment, who should have the final say? In testing the efficacy of a new procedure, is it permissible to withhold information that the subject requires to effectively regular her own life? We will (necessarily) pay close attention to philosophical issues surrounding autonomy, but we will be most concerned to focus our discussion "at the bedside," and carefully consider actual cases in health care: euthanasia and the "right to die," informed consent, abortion, and the termination of impaired infants. Hopefully, we will learn something about what is required for a humane practice of medicine, and also something about what it means to be a person. There will be two largely essay-based exams, and two medium length papers. WL:4 (Doris)
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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)
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372. Philosophical Topics in the Study of Gender. One course in philosophy or women's studies. (3). (HU).
Section 001 Feminist Thought.
This course will provide a survey of several feminist frameworks for thinking about sex, gender, and oppression. We will begin by considering whether there is a tenable distinction between sex and gender, what it means to say that a category is socially constructed, and how social constructions can be oppressive. We will then take up representative samples of three feminist theoretical approaches (the Humanist approach, the Gynocentric approach, and the Dominance approach), together with sample political applications of them. Topics may include: sexuality, marriage, fashion, pornography, spirituality. The latter part of the course develops a critique of attempts to provide a single systematic feminist framework, drawing on a greater recognition of women's diversity; this critique will lead us to rethink the project of feminist theory and to consider what new paths feminist theorizing might hope to take. Requirements: several short homework assignments, two papers, final exam. WL:4 (Haslanger)
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375. Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. (3). (HU).
This course will introduce you to the main works and thoughts of the authors mentioned in its title. But it will, beyond this, acquaint you also with a number of recent efforts to implement in practice elements taken from their ideas. Broadly speaking, these are responses to the nihilism and the sense of disorientation and disenchantment of our age. One could say that they in various ways seek to build paths towards a culture "more humane, and more intelligent, but also more cheerful, and sensuous and flamboyant" then the one which we have now. A major topic in the course will be the revolution in the realm of work, with the focus on efforts to use the brilliant inventions of Hi-technology not only to speed up work and create more unemployment, but to instead enable a far greater number to do work that is their vocation or their calling. One paper and final examination. WL:4 (Bergmann)
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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)
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385. Continental Philosophy Since 1900. One course in philosophy. (3). (HU).
Rather than a comprehensive survey of twentieth-century Continental philosophy, this course will be a more detailed introduction to four of the tradition's most influential thinkers: Heidegger, Sartre, Foucault and Derrida. We will read a major work by each philosopher in the attempt to understand the intellectual movements of phenomenology, existentialism, structuralism and deconstruction. Central to the themes of the course will be the nature of subjectivity and its place within the range of human activity, the possibility of ethics, and the role of language. Students will be expected to write two substantial papers. Cost:2 WL:1 (Mangiafico)
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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)
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406. Aristotle. One Philosophy Introduction. (3). (Excl).
The course will aim to provide a thorough grounding in the basic issues of Aristotelian philosophy including the metaphysics, natural science, psychology, ethics and political philosophy - through a careful examination of primary texts and selected secondary sources. The texts we will concentrate on include: Metaphysics, Physics, De Anima, Nicomachean Ethics and Politics, but others will be considered as well. The goal will be to explore the systematic nature of Aristotle's thought while paying careful attention to the details of the text under scrutiny. Students will be required to complete several short homework assignments, two papers and a final exam. WL:1 (Haslanger)
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416. Modal Logic. Phil. 414. (3). (Excl). (BS).
Modal logic is the logic of necessity and possibility, and by extension of analogously paired notions like validity and consistency, obligatoriness and permissibility, the known and the not-ruled-out. This a first course in the area, based on Hughes and Cresswell's A New Introduction to Modal Logic. A solid background in first-order logic, including soundness and completeness results, is essential. Topics to be covered include (some or all of) alternative systems of modal logic, Kripkean "possible world" semantics, strict implication, modal predicate calculus, modality and existence, contingent identity, intensional objects, counterpart theory, and the logic of actuality. The emphasis will be more on technical methods and results than philosophical applications. Grades will be assigned on the basis of homework and exams. Cost:1 WL:1 (Yablo)
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419. Philosophy of the Arts. Not open to philosophy graduate students. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Phil. 319. (3). (Excl). Will not satisfy 400-level course requirement for concentration in philosophy.
See Philosophy 319. WL:4 (Hills)
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420. Philosophy of Science. A course in logic. (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, observation, and so on? (4) Does the history or sociology of science raise questions about the credibility of scientific theories? We will discuss these questions, and others, surveying 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 (Railton)
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433. History of Ethics. Phil. 361. (3). (Excl).
The modern period in moral philosophy began with Thomas Hobbes, whose Leviathan (1651) shook the traditional foundations of ethics and forced those who would defend ethics against (what they saw to be) Hobbes' nihilism to do so in a broadly naturalistic framework that took serious account of recent advances in science. Thus began a period of exciting and fruitful moral philosophy that stretched through the end of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth. Indeed, even debates now current in moral philosophy almost always can be traced back to origins in this period. This course will be a study of several of the central writers and texts of this "enlightenment" period. In addition to Hobbes, we shall read Hutcheson, Butler, Hume, Kant, Bentham and Rousseau. We shall end with a radical critic of this broad tradition: Nietzsche. Course requirements: short paper, long paper, final exam. Cost:2 WL:1 (Darwall)
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443. Foundations of Rational Choice Theory. Two courses in philosophy, economics or psychology (or some combination thereof), and satisfaction of the quantitative reasoning requirement. (3). (Excl).
Philosophy 443 is a philosophically sophisticated introduction to the theory of rational choice that underlies orthodox treatments of decision-making behavior in economics, political science, and other social sciences. The course will investigate the strengths and weaknesses of the "standard" expected utility model of practical reasoning, and will explore some of the more popular alternative models. Its main focus will be on decision theory for the individual agent, but topics in game theory and social choice theory will be covered as well. There will also be a short section on the use of game-theoretic reasoning in evolutionary biology. Readings will be drawn from the literature in economics, psychology, political science and biology as well as philosophy. The course should be interesting and assessable to students from all five of these disciplines. Students should expect to take a midterm examination, a final, and to write two 12-20 page papers. Cost:2 WL:3 (Joyce)
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458. Philosophy of Kant. Phil. 389, 461, or 462, or permission of instructor, or concentration advisor. (3). (Excl).
A detailed introduction to Kant's mature philosophical system. We'll look at Kant's effort to work out the scope and limits of possible human knowledge, 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 devoted to the account of human experience and human factual knowledge in the Critique of Pure Reason. There Kant argues that the world of our experience must possess certain very general 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 required reading is from Kant's own major works. Written work is three short papers. Class participation will be strongly encouraged. Cost:2 WL:1 (Hills)
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475/Chinese 475/Hist. of Art 487/RC Hums. 475/Asian Studies 475. The Arts and Letters of China. (4). (HU). May not be included in a concentration plan in philosophy.
See Chinese 475. (Feuerwerker)
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