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Spring 2018 Courses

Find information about upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses within the Philosophy Department on this page.

Upper-Level Undergraduate Courses

PHIL 3334: Philosophy of Mind (Class #24363)

Prof Garson
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM, Room: AH 302

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This course covers some of the deepest and most puzzling problems philosophy.  What is consciousness and how is it possible that the brain (mere meat), is capable of bringing it into the world?  Does conscious experience challenge a materialistic account of what there is?  How do we know (if it is true) that anybody else has consciousness?  Is Free Will possible, or even desirable?  What is a Mind anyway?

The course presumes that we can learn a great deal in philosophy by looking elsewhere.  So material from neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and even science fiction and fantasy will provide important background for our discussion.

The course will include weekly readings from a variety of sources, short reaction papers on the readings, two quizzes and a final.  Students interested in working on a larger project with a paper may petition to have that work replace one or more of the exams.


PHIL 3335: Theory of Knowledge (Class #24365)

Prof. Oliveira
MoWe 1:00PM - 2:30PM, Room: AH 201

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Epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge. Philosophers working in this area (epistemologists) ask questions such as: Do we really know anything? Do we know anything, in particular, about the world outside our minds? If so, how do we know it? What is it, exactly, that turns a mere belief into real knowledge? The traditional approach to these questions—called Internalism—attempts to answer them by appealing only to features that are internal to the perspective of the believer. The first part of this course is an introduction to a variety of these attempts. An alternative approach—called Externalism—attempts to answer these questions by appealing to features that are external to the perspective of the believer. The second part of this course is an introduction to a variety of these alternative attempts. Throughout the course, however, the possibility of having to accept negative answers to these questions will hover constantly over our heads. That is the threat ofSkepticism.


PHIL 3344: Philosophy of Science (Class #19978)

Prof. Weisberg
TuTh 8:30AM - 10:00AM, Room: AH 201

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No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 3351: Contemporary Moral Issues (Class #24366)

Prof. Phillips
MoWe 2:30PM - 4:00PM Room: SEC 205

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Morality and Non-Human Animals; Abortion; Euthanasia; Famine and Moral Obligations; Affirmative Action; War and Terrorism. Reading normally one philosophical article (or equivalent) per class. Written work will consist of a take-home midterm and a take-home final, each consisting of 2 papers, each paper being about 5 pages in length (typed, double-spaced).


PHIL 3354: Medical Ethics (Class #24271)

Dr. Phillips-Garrett
MoWe 4:00PM - 5:30PM, Room: L 212L

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Medical ethics are fundamental to good patient care and to the promotion of public health and healthy policy. Knowledge of the philosophical underpinnings of ethics is important for anyone considering a career in healthcare since it provides a basis for understanding the ethical choices that healthcare and medical professionals face. In this course, we will investigate the philosophical and ethical implications of medicine and its practice. We will begin with a brief survey of the major normative ethical theories and move on to issues such as informed consent, euthanasia, surrogacy, and health care distribution.


PHIL 3361: Aesthetics (Class #19979)

Prof. Freeland
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM, Room: AH 201

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This course will be an advanced and in-depth study of two topics of special interest in aesthetics: environmental aesthetics and philosophy of film. We will devote half of the semester to each topic, using a recent anthology for each (Nature, Aesthetics, and Environmentalism: From Beauty to Duty, ed. Allen Carlson and Sheila Lintott (2008), and The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film, ed. Paisley Livingston (2009). Readings will include some historical materials as well as recent articles from philosophy journals. Students will be expected to participate in class discussions, write 10 informal reaction papers, and complete mid-term and final take-home essays.


PHIL 3383: History of Ancient Philosophy (Class #24406)

Prof. Freeland
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM, Room: AH 201

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This course is an advanced survey of ancient Greek philosophy from the presocratic period through to the Hellenistic period, focusing on the development of Greek views of the cosmos and metaphysical reality, the definition of knowledge, accounts of the soul, and views of the virtuous life. There will be four units in the course, covering the presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, and Hellenistic thought. Units II and III are long units, while I and IV are short. Requirements are four unit papers (length varies according to unit length), and ten short assignments. There are no in-class exams. Graduate students and Honors Credit students will be asked to write one continuous paper on a topic connecting Plato and Aristotle, i.e., a longer paper submitted at the end of Unit III, rather than two separate papers on Units II and III. This paper will offer the chance to discuss Aristotle’s critical response to some key issue in Plato, concerning for example his theory of knowledge, metaphysics, the soul, or ethics.


PHIL 3386: History of 19th Century Philosophy (Class #24405)

Prof. Morrison
MoWeFr 9:00AM - 10:00AM, Room: L 212L

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No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 3395: Philosophy of Cognitive Science (Class #24408)

Prof. Buckner
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM, Room: AH 304

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  • Can robots have minds? Could my mind be downloaded to a computer?
  • Is my behavior caused by my beliefs and desires, or is it all just neural activity in my brain?
  • Do animals have thoughts? What kinds of experiments could we perform to find out?
  • Must cognitive science appeal to representations? How can we accurately map or represent the world around us?
  • How did intelligence evolve? What distinguishes rational life forms from non-rational ones?
  • What counts as a good explanation in cognitive science? Is the mind governed by general laws (like physical particles), chemical mechanisms (like biological life forms), or is intelligence something that inexplicably emerges out of the chaotic firing of billions of neurons?

Cognitive science attempts to answer these questions through the cooperation of psychology, computer science, philosophy, linguistics, neuroscience, biology, and anthropology. In this course, we will review the philosophical and methodological foundations of cognitive science, especially regarding how findings from so many different sciences with different methods could fit together in a coherent way. We will discuss how cognitive science began as a response to behaviorism in psychology, and cover its attempts to answer these daunting questions with scientific rigor. In particular, we will see what the major paradigms in the history of cognitive science would say about these issues, including classical computationalism, connectionism, dynamicism, and the predictive coding approach. No philosophical background is required, but an introductory course in Logic, Psychology, or Computer Science is highly recommended.

Required Reading: Andy Clark, Mindware - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Cognitive Science, 2nd edition


PHIL 3395: War and Peace (Class #26293)

Dr. Luttrell
MoWeFr 10:00AM - 11:00AM, Room: C 113

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The class is a philosophical introduction to just war theory, the changing nature of war, and movements for peace.  Topics covered include: nationalism, pacifism, gender and war, humanitarianism, and human rights.


Graduate Courses

PHIL 6334: Philosophy of Mind (Class #24418)

Prof. Garson
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM, Room: AH 302

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This course covers some of the deepest and most puzzling problems philosophy.  What is consciousness and how is it possible that the brain (mere meat), is capable of bringing it into the world?  Does conscious experience challenge a materialistic account of what there is?  How do we know (if it is true) that anybody else has consciousness?  Is Free Will possible, or even desirable?  What is a Mind anyway?

The course presumes that we can learn a great deal in philosophy by looking elsewhere.  So material from neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and even science fiction and fantasy will provide important background for our discussion.

The course will include weekly readings from a variety of sources, short reaction papers on the readings, two quizzes and a final.  Students interested in working on a larger project with a paper may petition to have that work replace one or more of the exams.


PHIL 6335: Theory of Knowledge (Class #24417)

Prof. Oliveira
MoWe 1:00PM - 2:30PM, Room: AH 201

See/hide more information about this course »

Epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge. Philosophers working in this area (epistemologists) ask questions such as: Do we really know anything? Do we know anything, in particular, about the world outside our minds? If so, how do we know it? What is it, exactly, that turns a mere belief into real knowledge? The traditional approach to these questions—called Internalism—attempts to answer them by appealing only to features that are internal to the perspective of the believer. The first part of this course is an introduction to a variety of these attempts. An alternative approach—called Externalism—attempts to answer these questions by appealing to features that are external to the perspective of the believer. The second part of this course is an introduction to a variety of these alternative attempts. Throughout the course, however, the possibility of having to accept negative answers to these questions will hover constantly over our heads. That is the threat ofSkepticism.


PHIL 6344: Philosophy of Science (Class #19977)

Prof. Weisberg
TuTh 8:30AM - 10:00AM, Room: AH 201

See/hide more information about this course »

No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 6383: History of Ancient Philosophy (Class #26879)

Prof. Freeland
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM, Room: AH 201

See/hide more information about this course »

This course is an advanced survey of ancient Greek philosophy from the presocratic period through to the Hellenistic period, focusing on the development of Greek views of the cosmos and metaphysical reality, the definition of knowledge, accounts of the soul, and views of the virtuous life. There will be four units in the course, covering the presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, and Hellenistic thought. Units II and III are long units, while I and IV are short. Requirements are four unit papers (length varies according to unit length), and ten short assignments. There are no in-class exams. Graduate students and Honors Credit students will be asked to write one continuous paper on a topic connecting Plato and Aristotle, i.e., a longer paper submitted at the end of Unit III, rather than two separate papers on Units II and III. This paper will offer the chance to discuss Aristotle’s critical response to some key issue in Plato, concerning for example his theory of knowledge, metaphysics, the soul, or ethics.


PHIL 6395: Metaphilosophy (Class #24410)

Prof. Sommers
We 2:30PM - 5:30PM, Room: AH 512

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This course will examine the often implicit methodological assumptions that underlie debates in analytic philosophy, focusing mostly on the fields of ethics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind. Questions to be discussed include: what is the role of intuition in philosophical arguments and theories? What are the philosophical assumptions that lead one to theorize in the first place? What is the value (or lack thereof) of experimental philosophy? Do thought experiments shed light on philosophical questions? We’ll also examine critiques of analytic philosophy from Wittgenstein, pragmatists like Dewey and Rorty, and feminist philosophers such as Virginia Held and Nancy Scheman.


PHIL 6395: Seminar Philosophical Problems (Class #22412)

Prof. Loewenstein
Tu 2:30PM - 5:30PM, Room: AH 512

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This seminar will be on conditionals – both indicative and subjunctive (i.e. counterfactual) conditionals. The topic, as I am conceiving of it, is perhaps best categorized as at the intersection of metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of physics and logic.

Conditionals play a crucial role in many arguments in just about every area of philosophy, and yet they are still not well understood.Here are a few philosophical topics where conditionals play an important role:

  1. Metaphysics and philosophy of science: causation; dispositions; laws of nature; temporal asymmetry; free will 
  2. Epistemology: counterfactual and reliabilist accounts of knowledge and justification; safety and sensitivity; epistemic modality 
  3. Ethics and decision theory: deliberation; obligation; Newcomb’s problem (and other puzzles) 
  4. Philosophy of religion: God’s foreknowledge of free actions (the “middle knowledge” debate)

In the case of counterfactuals, philosophers usually defer to the Lewis-Stalnaker analysis, but that is largely just for a (perceived) lack of a better alternative – the Lewis-Stalnaker analysis is far from problem-free. There are many interesting, unresolved puzzles about conditionals and their proper analysis. We'll be looking at many these puzzles and at some of the best attempts at solving them.


PHIL 6396: Leibniz, Berkeley, Kant (Class #24413)

Prof. Brown
Th 2:30PM - 5:30PM, Room: AH 512

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What Berkeley, Leibniz, and Kant have in common is that each of them is a prominent “idealist” of some sort.  Kant calls his own version of idealism “transcendental,” while denigrating Berkeley’s as “dogmatic” or “mystical and visionary,” and as being among those “fantasies” that his own work in the Critique of Pure Reason “contains the proper antidote” (Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics § 13, Note III).  But while Kant labels both Berkeley and Descartes “idealists” (the latter of whom he calls an “empirical” or “problematic idealist”), he does not characterize Leibniz as an idealist at all—perhaps a recognition of the fact that Leibniz’s brand of idealism is very complex and not easily classifiable.

Given that there is some sense in which Berkeley, Leibniz, and Kant may all be said to be “idealists,” the primary object of this seminar is to determine how, and to what extent, their “idealisms” are similar and how, and to what extent, they differ.  The focus will be on how each of them understood the notion of an “object” and the distinction between appearance and reality.  This will ultimately lead to a critical discussion of Kant’s notion of a “thing-in-itself” in relation to all three of our philosophers.


PHIL 6397: Selected Topics in Philosophy (Class #24414)

Prof. Coates
Mo 2:30PM - 5:30PM, Room: AH 512

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No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 6397: History of 19th Century Philosophy (Class #24416)

Prof. Morrisson
MoWeFr 9:00AM - 10:00AM, Room: L 212L

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No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 6397: Philosophy of Cognitive Science (Class #24420)

Prof. Buckner
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM, Room: AH 304

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  • Can robots have minds? Could my mind be downloaded to a computer?
  • Is my behavior caused by my beliefs and desires, or is it all just neural activity in my brain?
  • Do animals have thoughts? What kinds of experiments could we perform to find out?
  • Must cognitive science appeal to representations? How can we accurately map or represent the world around us?
  • How did intelligence evolve? What distinguishes rational life forms from non-rational ones?
  • What counts as a good explanation in cognitive science? Is the mind governed by general laws (like physical particles), chemical mechanisms (like biological life forms), or is intelligence something that inexplicably emerges out of the chaotic firing of billions of neurons?

Cognitive science attempts to answer these questions through the cooperation of psychology, computer science, philosophy, linguistics, neuroscience, biology, and anthropology. In this course, we will review the philosophical and methodological foundations of cognitive science, especially regarding how findings from so many different sciences with different methods could fit together in a coherent way. We will discuss how cognitive science began as a response to behaviorism in psychology, and cover its attempts to answer these daunting questions with scientific rigor. In particular, we will see what the major paradigms in the history of cognitive science would say about these issues, including classical computationalism, connectionism, dynamicism, and the predictive coding approach. No philosophical background is required, but an introductory course in Logic, Psychology, or Computer Science is highly recommended.

Required Reading: Andy Clark, Mindware - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Cognitive Science, 2nd edition


PHIL 6397: War and Peace (Class #24421)

Dr. Luttrell
MoWeFr 10:00AM - 11:00AM, Room: C 113

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The class is a philosophical introduction to just war theory, the changing nature of war, and movements for peace.  Topics covered include: nationalism, pacifism, gender and war, humanitarianism, and human rights.