Past Graduate Courses

Fall 2013

PHIL 6304: History of 17th Century Philosophy (Class #10022)

Prof. Brown
1-2:30 TTH, Room: AH 304

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An examination of the central metaphysical and epistemological issues in 17th-century philosophy. The works of some of the major philosophical figures of the century will be systematically discussed. These figures include Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Malebranche, and Leibniz.  

There will be two essay examinations: a midterm and a final. Students will also be required to submit a 12-15 page term paper (20-25 pages for graduate students) on a topic determined in consultation with the instructor.

PHIL 6322: Logic and Philosophy (Class #12650)

Prof. Garson
1:00-2:30 MW, Room: AH 512

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    This course is an introduction to the application of logic to philosophy. It provides a background in predicate logic and modal logic sufficient for navigating the philosophical literature, and serves as a graduate level introduction to the philosophy of logic.
        The first half of the course will be concerned primarily with predicate logic: translation of English argumentation into predicate logic notation, proofs and trees for checking validity, and discussion of some metalogical features such as soundness, completeness, and the lack of a decision procedure.
        The second half will explore applications of predicate logic to a number of philosophical issues, including the theory of descriptions, the paradoxes of material implication, and the semantical analysis of natural language. We will also look at topics in modal logics including necessity, identity, quantification and counterfactuals.

PHIL 6332: Philosophy of Language (Class #22917)

Prof. Buckner
2:30-4:00 TTH, Room: C 113

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This course is an introduction to the philosophy of language. This is a large area that encompasses many topics, including meaning, truth, content, reference, the relationship between logic and language, and the distinctions between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. In the first half of the course, we will review some classics in this area by Frege, Russell, Tarski, Quine, Wittengenstein, Austin, Grice, Kripke, Putnam, Davidson, and Evans. We will consider how these issues intersect in some of the central "problems" of philosophy of language, such as vagueness and language learning.

In the final section of the course, we will explore more recent interdisciplinary work on the evolution of language from the protolinguistic communication systems of non-human animals, including views such as that of Dorit Bar-On, Joëlle Proust, and Tecumseh Fitch.

PHIL 6383: History of Ancient Philosophy (Class #22916)

Prof. Freeland
10:00-11:30 TTH, Room: AH 2

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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, the soul, and 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. There are two textbooks:  Ancient Greek Philosophy, from Thales to Aristotle (Fourth Edition, Edited by S. Marc Cohen, Patricia Curd, and C.D.C. Reeve (Hackett 2011); ISBN# ISBN-10: 1603844627 or ISBN-13: 978-1603844628); and Hellenistic Philosophy: Introductory Readings (Second Edition; Translated by Brad Inwood and L.P. Gerson (Hackett 1997)ISBN# 0-87220-378-6 (pbk.) Grades are based on a possible total score of 100 points, derived from these three requirements:

  • 60 points Papers (four unit papers, length varies according to unit length)
  • 30 points Short assignments
  • 10 points Class Participation

PHIL 6386: History of 19th Century Philosophy (Class #10018)

Prof. Morrison
10:00-11:00 MWF, Room: L212L

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No further information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Art and Value (Class #22918)

Prof. Mag Uidhir
4:00-7:00 T, Room: AH 512

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This seminar will focus on the various notions of value within the philosophy of art. Special attention will be paid to the notions of aesthetic value and artistic value as well as to the value of art itself. All readings will be made available electronically.

PHIL 6395: Contemporary Metaethics (Class #22919)

Prof. Phillips
2:30-5:30 H, Room: AH 512

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This Seminar will divide into two halves. In the first half of the semester we will examine both seminal 20th century versions and some more recent articulations of four main views in metaethics: non-naturalism, naturalism, non-cognitivism, and error theory. In the second half of the semester we will focus on Derek Parfit’s defense of non-naturalism in Volume 2 of his new book On What Matters. Our two required course texts will be Russ Shafer-Landau and Terence Cuneo, eds., Foundations of Ethics: An Anthology and (the aforementioned) Derek Parfit, On What Matters, Vol.2. Both are best acquired via Amazon; I will not order them through the bookstore.

PHIL 6396: Seminar in the History of Philosophy (Class #22920)

Prof. Hattab
M 2:30-5:30,  Room: AH 512

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One of the most influential and longlasting metaphysical theories in the history of Western Philosophy is Aristotle’s doctrine of hylomorphism. On Aristotle’s view, nature is populated by everyday things that we can point to, like rocks, trees and dogs – he calls them primary substances  Substances constitute independent unities that persist through a variety of changes, including changes in size, position, activity, quality and relation.  Aristotle accounted for the phenomenon of change by theorizing that each substance is made up of matter, which persists through change, and various forms, which are lost and acquired through the process of change.  Such an analysis of change raises the question, What happens when the substance itself comes into being or is destroyed?  Aristotle, in various passages, claims that in cases of substantial change there is likewise a matter that persists through the change, and a form that is acquired. But the exact nature of this prime matter and the primary form it acquires are not spelled out.  Scholastic Aristotelian commentators of the Middle Ages proceeded to develop Aristotle’s theory, by positing a formless prime matter and the substantial form, the form that first actualizes and gives being to the purely potential prime matter.  This form also accounts for the unity and characteristic properties of an individual substance for the span of its life.

            By the beginning of the seventeenth century, substantial forms had been subjected to numerous attacks. Renaissance humanists ridiculed such entities as fictional inventions of a defunct Scholastic logic. Proponents of the new science joined the chorus -- René Descartes famously characterized substantial forms as little souls hidden within matter and Locke claimed they were ‘wholly unintelligible’.  The substantial forms Descartes singled out for attack bear little resemblance to the notion of substantial form as found in St Thomas Aquinas.  Descartes was however not attacking an entity of his own invention.  By the late sixteenth century, Jesuit philosophers like Francisco Suarez, conceived of prime matter and substantial form as two incomplete substances, each of which could be conserved independently by God.  Further, Suarez treated the immortal rational soul, the substantial form of a human being, as the paradigm for all substantial forms. This is a far cry from Aquinas’ view that the substantial form is the first act educed from the potentialities of the corresponding matter, actualizing it and giving it existence.  Once the close interrelatedness and interdependence of form and matter was weakened, new conceptions of substance emerged that gave full independence to material substance and reduced the role that form had played in explaining natural change.  For Descartes, the only substantial form remains is the human soul.  But far from constituting a radical break with the prevailing view, Descartes’ dualism appears to be the last step in a series of philosophical developments by which Scholastic Aristotelians moved away from Aristotle’s original doctrine of hylomorphism.

            The goal of this seminar will be to trace some of these developments, so as to see how Aristotelian hylomorphism was transformed, and eventually undermined, from within the Scholastic Aristotelian tradition.  Readings will include selections from St Thomas Aquinas’ Commentaries on Aristotle’s Physics and Metaphysics, John Duns Scotus’ Lectura and Ordinatio, Suarez’s Metaphysical Disputations, Descartes’ works and a few other Scholastic Aristotelian works, depending on availability of English translations. There will also be a Latin reading group in conjunction with this seminar.

PHIL 6397: Philosophy of Biology (Class #22915)

Prof Weisberg
4:00-5:30 MW, Room: AH 2

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No further information is available at this time.

Spring 2013

PHIL 6305:  History of 18th Century Philosophy (Class #17775)

Prof. Hattab
2:30-4:00 TTH, Room: AH 110

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6333: Metaphysics (Class #36129)

Prof. Mag Uidhir
1:00-2:30 TTH, Room: Roy G. Cullen 102

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This course will survey the principle issues in contemporary metaphysics. Topics include universals, persistence, particulars, realism & anti-realism, causation, possible worlds, as well as certain methodological and meta-philosophical issues regarding metaphysical enquiry itself.

PHIL 6344: Philosophy of Science (Class #30636)

Prof. Weisberg
1:00-2:30 p.m. TTH, Room: Roy G. Cullen 113

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This course investigates the philosophical foundations of science. It begins with a survey of the historical development of science, and then critically evaluates the major philosophical models of the scientific enterprise. We will consider what makes science different from other methods of gaining knowledge, the nature of scientific explanation and scientific law, the ontological status of the posits of scientific theory, and the nature of theory change and scientific revolutions. The course will employ historical and current case studies of scientific practice to illuminate the philosophical issues. The course concludes with reflections on the role of science in modern society.

PHIL 6358: Classics in the History of Ethics (Class #30621)

Prof. Morrison
10:00-11:00 MWF, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6396: Desire and Virtue in Plato and Aristotle (Class #36137)

Prof. Freeland
2:30-5:30 M, Room: AH 512

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In this seminar we will focus on the accounts of moral virtue presented in Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Ethics.  We will also consider parts of other relevant texts that provide background for these ancient thinkers’ views of the soul.  The primary text apart from those mentioned will be the recent book by Hendrik Lorenz, The Brute Within: Appetitive Desire in Plato and Aristotle (Oxford, 2006). In addition to comprehending two prominent Greek theories of virtue ethics, students should also acquire some familiarity with the role of virtue within ancient Greek accounts of human psychology, including its relationship to emotions, perceptions, and thoughts.

PHIL 6397: Philosophy and Evolution (Class #36131)

Prof. Brown
11:30-1:00 TTH, Room: AH 15

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An examination of the evidence for Darwinian evolutionary theory and the significance of that theory for philosophy, religion, and society. There will be a midterm and a final, and students shall be required to submit a 10-12 page (20-25 page for graduate students) term paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor.

PHIL 6395: John Rawl's Political Philosophy (Class #36135)

Prof. Nelson
2:30-5:30 W, Room: AH 512

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6397 - Open and Closed Societies (Class #36134)

Prof. Sommers
4:00-5:30,  Room: AH 304

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Open societies and liberal democracies are celebrated for its protection of the dignity and liberty of the individual.  But can societies have an excess of freedom, as Plato argued in The Republic?   Can some degree of social control be justified if it leads to greater harmony and happiness among the populace?  Are citizens in democracies sufficiently well-informed and well-educated to govern their lives and their country?   Does the individualist ethic promoted in a free market democracy lead to stark inequalities, alienation, or demoralization?  Is there a single best form of government for all human beings, or might a political order that emphasizes individual freedom be suitable for some cultures but not others?   This course will explore these questions and others from a variety of historical, cultural, and literary perspectives.    Texts include Plato’s Republic, Huxley’s Brave New World,  Popper’s Open Society and Its Enemies, Mill’s On Liberty, Berlin¹s Four Essays on Liberty, Fukuyama’s “The End of History,” and selections from Marx, Durkheim, and De Tocqueville.

PHIL 6397: Logic III (Class #36194)

Prof. Garson
12:00-1:00 MWF, Room: AH 202

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One goal of this course is to prove the three most important theorems in logic and the foundations of mathematics. These are Turing's Theorem (There is no method to determine whether a computer program will halt), Church's Theorem (Predicate Logic has no decision procedure), and Goedel's Theorem (Arithmetic is Incomplete). We will also show the adequacy (soundness and completeness) of Predicate Logic. The course will begin with a thorough hands on exploration of Turing machines, and then apply lessons learned here to predicate logic and then arithmetic. There will be numerous exercises. After each theorem has been proven, we will explore its implications for issues in the philosophy of mathematics.

PHIL 6395: Consciousness (Class #38317)

Prof. Weisberg
2:30-5:30 T, Room: TBA

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This course focuses on the philosophical problem of consciousness.  We will attempt to clearly formulate the problem and then survey the various responses offered by contemporary philosophers, from elimination and reduction to emergence and outright dualism.  The course will pay special attention to the intuitions and thought experiments at the heart of the philosophical debate, as well as the various explanatory theories offered to solve the problem.  Among the philosophers we’ll focus on are Nagel, Chalmers, Block, Dretske, Armstrong, and Dennett.   We'll also consider some of the empirical evidence relevant to the study of consciousness.

Fall 2012

PHIL 6304: History of 17th Century Philosophy (Class #10027)

Prof. Hattab
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. TTH, Room: AH 201

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The goal of this course is to understand and critically examine the philosophical origins of modern Western thought. We will begin with key texts by Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei and René Descartes that spearheaded the scientific and philosophical revolution of the early seventeenth century. After familiarizing ourselves with these scientific methods and mechanistic/atomistic worldviews, we will study the new theories of knowledge and metaphysical principles that Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke and Leibniz developed in the wake of the new science. Finally, we will trace how some of these new philosophies (most notably Hobbes’ materialism and Spinoza’s monism) changed the conception of human nature and foundations of ethics and political philosophy.

PHIL 6322: Logic and Philosophy (Class #12859)

Prof Garson
1:00 - 02:30. MW, Room: AH 512

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6334: Philosophy of Mind (Class #10030)

Prof. Weisberg
4:00-5:30 p.m. TTH, Room: AH 304

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Philosophy of Mind focuses on philosophical questions surrounding the nature of mind.  Among these questions are:  What is the mind?  Is it a physical thing, or is it something more?  How do we know about the mind?  Are there things about the mind that we can only know from our own unique first-person perspective?  What are the different sorts of mental states?  What is consciousness?  What is the self?  Can psychology and neuroscience help to answer these questions, or are there limits to what science can tell us about the mind?  Did the mind evolve?  Do other creatures have minds?  How do know that other people have minds?

PHIL 6354: Medical Ethics (Class #10026)

Prof. Nelson
10-11:30 TTH, Room: PGH 343

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An introduction to issues in medical ethics. The course will divide into two main parts, with more emphasis on the first than on the second. 

 The first part focuses on "micro level" questions. These include the roles of patients and medical professionals in making treatment decisions:  decisions about continuing or discontinuing treatment, issues of patient autonomy, euthanasia and assisted suicide, problems with severely compromised newborns and problems of aging. We may also touch on other topics about the patient physician relation, such as truth telling and confidentiality. 

 The second part will focus on public policy regarding access to health care, health care reform, and perhaps some public health issues.

PHIL 6356: Feminist Philosophy (Class #10023)

Prof. Freeland
1:00-2:30, Room: AH 9

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6358: Classics in the History of Ethics (Class #10024)

Prof. Phillips
2:30 - 04:00 p.m. MW, Room: AH 104

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In this course we will read the most important ethical works of four central figures in the modern history of ethics: John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900), G.E. Moore (1873-1958) and W.D. Ross (1877-1971).There will be three pieces of written work: a take home midterm and a take home final, both consisting of two questions each requiring about 4-5 pages of writing, and a 7-8 page paper.

PHIL 6395: Hist of 19th Century Philosophy (Class #10022)

Prof. Morrison
10:00-11:00 AM MWF, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Philosophy of the Special Sciences (Class #33341)

Prof. Buckner
2:30 - 5:30 W, Room: AH 512

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Like other philosophy of science courses, we will focus on metaphysical issues—such as unity, reduction, causation, natural kinds, multiple realizability, and explanation.  In this course, however, we will study how these questions arise from within specific contexts in the “special sciences”, including biology, neuroscience, psychology, and computer science.  In particular, we will review five debates surrounding the nature of central posits in the special sciences—speciesconceptsheuristics, emotions, and cognition.  Central questions will involve the following:

  • Which disagreements are genuine and which are merely rhetorical or terminological?
  • How can we distinguish ontological disagreements from methodological or epistemological ones?
  • How can or should such disagreements be resolved?
  • Should findings from other sciences be deemed relevant to answering these questions—and if so, in what way?

Note that in this course we will get our hands dirty with details from the sciences.  Background readings on basic texts in these areas are available on request.

PHIL 6395: Retribution and Punishment(Class #33343)

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

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This course will examine a range of theories and justifications of criminal punishment with a special emphasis on retributive and restorative/restitutionist approaches.  Some questions to be discussed include: What is the relationship between moral responsibility and punishment?  What is the proper role of the emotions for sentencing? What is the connection between punishment and revenge?  Should victims of crimes be included in the sentencing process and is the widespread use of victim impact statements justified?   How should we understand proportionality in sentencing?  How does retribution compare with restitution?  And how do current attitudes and beliefs about punishment compare with those in other cultural and historical contexts?   Texts will be drawn from both the philosophical and criminological literature.  Throughout the semester, we will hold the empirical assumptions of the theories under scrutiny to see if they cohere with contemporary models of human agency.

PHIL 6396 - The Moral and Political Theories of Leibniz and Spinoza (Class #10029)

Prof. G. Brown
2:30 - 5:30 T Room: AH 512

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This seminar will involve a detailed examination of the moral and political theories of Leibniz and Spinoza.  In different ways, each sought to reform prevailing moral and political theory by reconceiving their religious and metaphysical foundations.  

Students will be required to submit a 20-25 page seminar paper on a topic approved by the instructor.

PHIL 6397 - Depiction, Narration, and Critical Theory (Class #10028)

Prof. Mag Uidhir
05:30 - 08:30 P.M. Th, Room: AH 302

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This course will be topically split into three sections: Depiction, Narration, & Art Criticism. The issues to be covered within each section are as follows:

I. DEPICTION

• The nature and definition of pictorial depiction with specific attention paid to the notions of resemblance, intentionality, perspective, color, objective occlusion shapes, and relative occlusion sizes

• The notion of pictorial realism, its relation to depictive convention and the epistemic scope and limits of depiction itself

• The nature of visual representation within specific media (e.g., painting, photography, portraiture) and the implications thereof

II. NARRATION

• The nature of narrative itself as well as robust and deflationary accounts of its structural, referential, and value based features

• Specific issues in narrative fiction such as the necessity and ubiquity of implicit fictional narrators therein and the coherence of ethical criticisms thereof

• The notion and function of narrativity across various media (e.g., literature, cinema, photography, comics, painting, music)

III. ART CRITICISM

• The nature of art criticism itself and as an enterprise both related to and distinct from other related domains of enquiry such as art history and philosophy of art

• Art Criticism & its essential aims: evaluating artworks, uncovering their artistic value, supporting its evaluations with reasons, and facilitating audience appreciation of those works

• Art Criticism & its essential methods: the objective categorizing of artworks into types, classifying artwork types according to artistic purposes, and evaluating the extent to which artists successfully fulfill such purposes

 

Spring 2012

PHIL 6305 - History of 18th Century Philosophy (Class #18638)

Prof. G. Brown
11:30AM - 1:00PM TTH Room: AH 303

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A detailed introduction to the epistemological and metaphysical theories of three major figures in 18th-century philosophy: Hume, Berkeley, and Kant. There will be two exams (midterm and final). Students will also be required to submit a 10-12 page term paper (20-25 pages for graduate students) on a topic selected in consultation with the instructor.

PHIL 6335 - Theory of Knowledge (Class #18639)

Prof. Johnson
1-2:30 PM MW, Room: AH 9

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6344 - Philosophy of Science (Class #22508)

Prof. J. Brown
2:30-4:00 P.M. MW, Room: AH 304

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6358 - Classics in the History of Ethics (Class #22502)

Prof. Morrison
10-11:00 A.M. MWF, Room: L 212L

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6375 - Law, Society, and Morality (Class #22506)

Prof. Nelson
10:00AM - 11:30AM A.M. TTH, Room: C 108

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6383 - History of Ancient Philosophy (Class #22509)

Prof. Freeland
Time TBA, Room: TBA

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Aims

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, the soul, and the virtuous life.  The course will be conducted entirely on line using Blackboard. There will be discussion assignments and chat room opportunities to further intellectual dialogue and interaction.

Textbooks (Required)

Ancient Greek Philosophy, from Thales to Aristotle, Edited by S. Marc Cohen, Patricia Curd, and C.D.C. Reeve (4th edition, Hackett 2011) ISBN# 10: 1603844627

Hellenistic Philosophy: Introductory Readings, Translated by Brad Inwood and L.P. Gerson (2nd edition, Hackett 1997) ISBN# 0-97220-378-6

Course Plan

The course will be divided into four units as follows:

Unit I The Presocratics
Unit II Plato
Unit III Aristotle
Unit IV Hellenistic Philosophy
Units I and IV are short units, and Units II and III are long units. 

PHIL 6395 - Contemporary Metaphysics (Class #22514)

Prof. Phillips
2:30-5:30 p.m. TH, Room: AH 512

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PHIL 6396 - Spinoza (Class #22515)

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

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Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677) was one of the most radical thinkers of his day and the philosophical writings he left behind continue to surprise and intrigue us.  Yet few philosophers study his corpus as a whole.  Historians of philosophy have concentrated on his Ethics as it is in this work that we find Spinoza’s most systematic treatment of his metaphysics, epistemology and the ethical theory that issues from these foundations.  There has been some interest more recently in the geometrical form of the Ethics and its potential connection to Spinoza’s earlier writings on method and metaphysics, but these early works remain understudied and imperfectly understood.  Spinoza’s political writings have likewise undergone something of a revival, especially at the hands of contemporary continental philosophers but again, connections between his political endeavors and his other works are not well explored.  Our primary goal then will be to study the different parts of Spinoza’s corpus so as to understand them, not only individually, but also to see how and whether they fit into a larger philosophical whole. To this end we will draw not only on Spinoza’s letters but also extracts from philosophers who influenced Spinoza, most notably Maimonides, Descartes and Hobbes, as background to understanding his works, as well as secondary literature by more recent Spinoza scholars.

PHIL 6395 - Art and Metaphysics (Class#22511)

Prof. Mag Uidhir
4:00-7:00 P.M. W, Room: AH 512

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Course Outline: Students should acquire from this course a solid understanding of the principal issues in contemporary philosophy of art. We will begin by focusing on the search for the definition of art, that is, a unifying notion of art under which works across disparate art forms may be productively classified, covering both on particular theories of art and the broader question of whether there could be even in principle such a definition. We will then turn to issues surrounding the following immediate art relata:

Art Forms: what is it to be an art form? What if anything justifies why certain media, practices, and the products thereof (e.g., painting, sculpture) enjoy greater art privilege than do others (e.g., video games, furniture design)? Can certain forms be in principle excluded from being legitimate art forms?

Authorship: what is it to be an author (have an author, be authored)? In what way might the notion of artist and author come apart or is it the case that to be an artist just is to be an author of an artwork? How ought we understand related notions such as collaboration and appropriation?

Art Interpretation: If artworks can have content (semantic, representational, aesthetic, formal, expressive, etc.), then how ought we interpret such works (i.e., determine, discern, or identify that content)? Do the actual intentions of the actual artist always, never, or only sometimes matter in art interpretation? In what way, if any, ought our art-interpretive practices (e.g., literary interpretation) diverge from our ordinary interpretative practices  (e.g., conversations, grocery lists).

Art Ontology: What kinds of things (objects, events, processes, etc.) can artworks be? Though Mona Lisa seems obviously a concrete (material, physical) object, but what kind of thing is Moby Dick or The Eroica Symphony? Must repeatable artworks such as symphonies or poems be abstract (immaterial, non-physical) objects? To what extent, if any, should our metaphysical analysis (e.g., identity, individuation, creation, restoration, destruction, etc.) be constrained by art practice and linguistic convention?

PHIL 6397 - Philosophy of Social Sciences (Class #22505)

Prof. Weisberg
1-2:30 TTH, Room: M 122

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Recent work in social psychology presents a range of surprising results concerning what it means to be a person.  We know ourselves much less well than we might have thought, and much of what drives our behavior is hidden below the surface of our conscious minds.  We are, it seems, “strangers to ourselves.”  This course considers the scope and implications of these unexpected results.  What are the results and what do they imply?  How accurate is our introspective access to our own minds?  What do these results mean for our ordinary or philosophical views of the self?  How should we adjust our self-concepts and behaviors in light of these studies?  And why are these results surprising—just who did we think we were?  Perhaps by mapping out the nature of this new, surprising self-image, we can get a grip who we thought we were and who we really are.  

Fall 2011

PHIL 6395 - Seminar on Philosophical Problems: Consciousness (Class #23925)

Prof. Weisberg
4-7 p.m. T, Room: AH 512

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6396 - Seminar on the History of Philosophy: Kant's Ethics (Class #23926)

Prof. Nelson
4-7 p.m. TH, Room: AH 512

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6321 - Modal Logic (Class #23660)

Prof. Garson
1-2:30 p.m. MW, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6322 - Logic and Philosophy (Class #23929)

Prof. J. Brown
2:30-4 p.m. TTH, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6304 - Combined Section: History of 17th Century Philosophy (Class #20823)

Prof. G. Brown
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. TTH, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6333 - Combined Section: Metaphysics (Class #23661)

Prof. J. Brown
10-11:30 a.m. TTH, Room: TBA

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PHIL 6358 - Combined Section: Classics in the History of Ethics (Class #15300)

Prof. Phillips
1-2:30 p.m. TTH, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6382 - Combined Section: Medieval Philosophy (Class #23089)

Prof. Hattab
12-1 p.m. MWF, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395 - Meaning (Class#26064)

Prof. Garson
2:30 - 5:30 p.m. W, Room: 512AH

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Description: Meaning has been a central philosophical concern in metaphysics, logic, the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. Here are samples of the kinds of questions to be explored in this seminar: What is meaning and how is it related to reference and truth? Is the concept of meaning empty or misguided? Can techniques for defining semantics in logic and formal languages provide an adequate account of meaning? How can I mean anything when the things I am talking about do not exist? Are meanings in the head? Do I always know what I mean? Can meanings cause or explain behavior, and if so how? Can a physicalist definition of the meaning of mental states be forged that is compatible with what we know about human neurology?

PHIL 6397 - Combined Section: Selected Topics in Philosophy-History of 19th Century Philosophy (Class #23662)

Prof. Morrison
10-11 a.m. MWF, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6397 - Combined Section: Selected Topics in Philosophy-Philosophy of Film (Class #23663)

Prof. Mag Uidhir
5:30-8:30 p.m. W, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

Spring 2011

PHIL 6395, 01: Seminar on Embodied Cognition (Class #21677)

Prof. Jacobson
2:30-5 p.m. TU, Room: AH 512

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iconoclast

This is an iconoclastic course. Members will be invited to think in some new ways about standard topics in philosophy, including representation, concepts, perception, memory, emotions and actions. There is a traditional approach to such topics that sees what constitutes the core of such things as occurring in the head. A very recent approach, often entitled “the embodied mind” thesis, stresses the roles of the body and the environment.

In this seminar we will review some aspects of the traditional view, but we will also try to understand the new alternatives to it. One alternative is developed by Jacobson in her forthcoming book, Keeping the World in Mind. This work counts as an embodied mind approach, but it has two distinctive features. First, it understand “representation” in a way that allows us to pay respect to what is uncovered by neuroscience without conceding that cognition is just in the head. Second, it takes the social world to be a key ingredient in human cognition. Cognition is a social phenomenon.

There will be some outside speakers. The course is not restricted to philosophy graduate students.

The course will develop a closed blog for discussing readings; students will be expected to contribute a short piece (possibly one paragraph) each week. Readings will include a selection of articles and book chapters, along with Jacobson’s book. Course work will include a twenty page term paper. (Students may elect to write two shorter papers.) There may be two short open-book tests.

PHIL 6395, 02: Seminar on David Lewis (Class #21678)

Prof. J. Brown
2:30-5 p.m. W, Room: AH 512

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David Lewis was one of the most influential philosophers of the second half of the 20th century, having made important contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind (among other areas!). In this seminar, we will read as many of Lewis's classic papers as we can, with the goal of getting a handle on the philosophical system that emerges from his work.

PHIL 6396: Seminar on Plato on Vision and Images (Class #21679)

Prof. Freeland
2:30-5 p.m. TH, Room: AH 512

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This course will involve a close study of Plato's theory of vision and images. The entire world is an image or "eikon" according to Plato, so his overview of the realm of Forms from the Phaedo affords us entry into the general system of his metaphysics. We will move on to examine details of Plato's account of physical reality, visual perception, perceptual illusions. The last topic is significant because it is used both in Plato's account of art in Republic X and as the model for something like pleasure- and desire-illusions in various of his works. This parallel with vision and visual illusions informs Plato's theory of ethics and provides the basis for explaining how the good life aims at avoiding pleasure illusions so as to pursue the most truly pleasant things.

We will begin with a review of the classic presentation of the theory of forms in the Phaedo, reading it together with some key passages of the Republic (the metaphors of Cave, Line, and Sun, plus Book X). We then move on to focus on three works in their entirety. First is the Theaetetus, a dialogue focused on epistemological issues, including the relation between perception and knowledge and the rebuttal of relativism. Second, the Timaeus presents Plato's cosmological views through a creation story about the universe and the role of humans within it. Finally we will study the Philebus, in which Plato advances both a revised metaphysics and a new ethics that allows for the inclusion of pleasure in the good life. This work develops a sophisticated analysis of pleasure and desire, and defends Socrates' controversial claim that there can be "false pleasures" or "pleasure illusions."

Students will be expected to write a weekly exegesis on an assigned text and to write either two ten-page papers or one twenty-page seminar paper. We will consult both the ancient texts (any Greek-readers are welcome!) and recent commentaries and journal articles on these works.

Books: Required

Theatetus (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
by Plato (Author), M.J. Levett, Trans.
Revised by Myles Burnyeat
Hackett, paperback
08772201589

Timaeus (Paperback by Plato (Author), Donald J. Zeyl (Translator)
Hackett Publishing Company; New Ed edition (March 2000)
$10.95/$6.05 used

  • ISBN-10: 0872204464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872204461

 

Philebus by Plato, translated Dorothea Frede
Hackett Pub Co Inc. (paperback)
ISBN 0872201708 (0-87220-170-8)

Recommended

Phaedo (Oxford World's Classic) (Paperback)
By Plato (Author), David Gallop (Translation, edition)
ISBN 0-19-283090-2

Plato Complete Works (Hardcover)
by Plato (Author), John M. Cooper (Editor), D. S. Hutchinson (Editor) 1808 pages
Hackett Publishing Company (May 1997)

  • ISBN-10: 0872203492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872203495

The Cambridge Companion to Plato (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy) (Paperback) by Richard Kraut Cambridge University Press (October 30, 1992)

  • ISBN-10: 0521436109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521436106

PHIL 6305: Combined Section on History of 18th Century Philosophy (Class #19465)

Prof. Morrison
10-11 a.m. MWF, Room: AH 322

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6334: Combined Section on Philosophy of Mind (Class #23372)

Prof. Weisberg
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. TTH, Room: Science & Engineering 206

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6335: Combined Section on Theory of Knowledge (Class #19466)

Prof. Johnsen
1-2 p.m. MW, Room: AH 208

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6351: Combined Section on Contemporary Moral Issues (Class #23400)

Prof. Phillips
1-2:30 p.m. TTH, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6355: Combined Section on Political Philosophy (Class #23373)

Prof. Nelson
11 a.m.-12 p.m. MWF, Room: AH 322

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6397, 01: Combined Section on History of 20th Century Philosophy (Class #23374)

Prof. Garson
12-1 p.m. MWF, Room: AH 204

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PHIL 3397, 02: Combined Section on Moral Diversity (Class #23375)

Prof. Sommers
10-11:30 a.m. TTH, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

Fall 2010

PHIL 6304: Combined Section on History of 17th-Century Philosophy (Class #31896)

Prof. Morrison
10 - 11 a.m. MWF, Room: M 106

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6332: Combined Section on Philosophy of Language (Class #31860)

Prof. J. Brown
2:30 - 4 p.m. MW, Room: C 106

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What does the sentence "The President believes Hobbes is a tiger" mean? Every normal speaker of English understands this sentence, and they do so effortlessly, without having to consciously reflect on it. But it turns out to be very hard to answer our question. (The obvious answer—that it means that the President believes Hobbes is a tiger—doesn't seem terribly illuminating.) And, of course, there is nothing special (nor especially interesting) about this particular sentence of English—the problem is a general one, for all sentences, in all languages.

What do our words and sentences mean? How do we know what they mean? How do they get the meanings they have? We will address these central questions in the philosophy of language. Along the way, we'll read many of the classic works in philosophy of language, as well as several recent papers tackling the same issues.

PHIL 6350: Combined Section on Ethics (Class #31862)

Prof. Nelson
10 - 11:30 a.m. TTH, AH 202

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Phil 3350, sec 31748
Phil 6350, sec 31862

This is an introduction to contemporary moral theory, focusing on normative ethics, rather than metaethics. The main readings will be from Darwall's anthology on Consequentialism and from Scanlon's contractualist theory in What we Owe to Each Other. We will also look briefly at contemporary examples in the deontological tradition. The main focus (if this isn't obvious) is on accounts of moral rightness and wrongness.

The main requirements are a midterm, a comprehensive final, and 2 or 3 short to medium length papers. (Requirements in 6350 will be different.)

PHIL 6358: Combined Section on Classics in History of Ethics (Class #19556)

Prof. Phillips
1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. TTH, Room: AH 322

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Philosophy 3358: Classics in the History of Ethics

In this course we will read much of the most important ethical work of three central figures in the modern history of ethics: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), and Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900). Kant and Mill would very often be taken to be the two most important moral philosophers of the modern era: the most important representatives of, respectively, the deontological and the utilitarian traditions. It is less standard (though far from unprecedented) to give such prominence to Sidgwick; one of the aims of the course is to explore the idea that Sidgwick merits a place as prominent as the other two.

We will focus on our three philosophers' approaches to two central issues in moral theory: (i) the nature of morality: just what are moral rules, where do they come from, and why should we follow them?; (ii) the content of morality: just what does morality tell us to do? We will also attend to their views on the status of egoism.

There will be a take home midterm and a take home final, both consisting of two questions each requiring about 4-5 pages of writing, and a 7-8 page paper. The midterm and final will each be worth 35%, the paper 30%.

PHIL 6361: Combined Section on Aesthetics (Class #32865)

Prof. Freeland
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. TTH, Room: AH 201

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Combined Section on Philosophy of Biology (Class #31861)

Prof. Weisberg
1 - 2:30 p.m. MW, Room: H 32

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Selected Topics in Philosophy: Philosophy of Biology
Prof. Josh Weisberg
Fall 2010

Our scientific understanding of the biological world is increasing at an amazing rate. New breakthroughs occur constantly, challenging our previously-held views of the natural world and our place in it. How does this science work and what are the implications of its research? This class addresses the philosophical issues arising from the science of biology. We will consider the nature of explanation in biological science; metaphysical questions concerning the nature of key biological entities and processes; issues arising from the theory evolution; the relationship between biology and other scientific domains; and the controversies generated by biological science in psychology, ethics, and religion. The goal of the course is to provide an introduction to this exciting sub-field of philosophy, and to provide students with the chance to explore some of the deep philosophical issues surrounding modern biological theory.

The course readings will be taken from the new anthology Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Biology, edited by Francisco Ayala and Robert Arp, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

PHIL 6395: Seminar on the Revolution in Epistemology (Class #34692)

Prof. Johnsen
4 - 7 p.m. W, Room: AH 512

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David Hume's argument for radical inductive skepticism posed an existential problem for epistemology: given its soundness, how can we make sense of the idea that some of our beliefs are justified by our evidence? Three great 20th century philosophers - Sir Karl Popper, Nelson Goodman and W. V. Quine - endorsed Hume's argument and strove to answer that question. Goodman and Quine made great strides toward a solution, and Ludwig Wittgenstein was arguably approaching a position much like theirs in work he was still engaged in at the time of his death. If Hume's argument is sound, much epistemology of the modern era is thrown into question, and the Goodman/Quine/Wittgenstein view constitutes a promising epistemological revolution that has gone almost entirely unnoticed.

PHIL 6396: Seminar on Leibniz and Newton (Class #31856)

Prof. G. Brown
2:30 - 5:30 p.m. T, Room: AH 512

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Philosophy 6396: Leibniz and Newton

This course will involve a close examination of the natural philosophies of Leibniz and Newton, culminating in a discussion of the philosophical disputes between Leibniz and the Newtonians that were aired in the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence. Students will be required to submit a 25-30 page seminar paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor.

PHIL 6397: Logic and Philosophy (Class #31857)

Prof. Garson
1 - 2:30 p.m. MW, Room: AH 512

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This course is an introduction to the application of logic to philosophy. It provides a background in predicate logic and modal logic sufficient for navigating the philosophical literature, and serves as a graduate level introduction to the philosophy of logic. The first half of the course will be concerned primarily with predicate logic: translation of English argumentation into predicate logic notation, proofs and trees for checking validity, and discussion of some metalogical features such as soundness, completeness, and the lack of a decision procedure. The second half will explore applications of predicate logic to a number of philosophical issues, including the theory of descriptions, the paradoxes of material implication, and the semantical analysis of natural language. We will also look at topics in modal logics including necessity, identity, quantification and counterfactuals.

 

Spring 2010

PHIL 6305: History of 18th-Century Philosophy (Class #31741)

Prof. G. Brown
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. TTH, Room: AH 208

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6335: Theory of Knowledge (Class #31744)

Prof. Johnsen
1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. MW, Room: C 108

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6342: Philosophy of Mathematics (Class #31732)

Prof. Garson
11 a.m. - 12 p.m. MWF, AH 303

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Through the ages, philosophers have thought that mathematics embodies the highest standards for knowledge. Even our best science might get things entirely wrong, but we will never have to worry that 2+2 isn't 4. However, events such as the invention of non-Euclidean geometry, the discovery of paradoxes related to infinity, and Godel's demonstration that arithmetic is incomplete have raised deep worries about the foundations of mathematics. This course will present these and other challenges to confidence in mathematics, and then discuss a number of philosophical theories about how our confidence can be restored. A main concern will be to understand what accounts for the truth of the claims of mathematics. However along the way some other philosophical puzzles will arise, for example, what are the numbers?, and what are mathematical statements really about?

Although the course will cover some technical topics related to logic and infinity, it will assume no special knowledge of mathematics beyond simple algebra. Some experience with introductory logic is a prerequisite. There will be two quizzes and a final, and occasional homework exercises.

PHIL 6344: Philosophy of Science (Class #20966)

Prof. Weisberg
1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. TTH, Room: TBA

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6354: Medical Ethics (Class #30660)

Prof. Nelson
10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. TTH, Room: TBA

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This course will divide roughly into two parts. The first part is concerned with “micro level” issues, issues about medical decision- making, doctor patient relationships and mutual responsibilities.

Specific issues will include truth telling, autonomy/paternalism, and the proper role of surrogate decision-makers. The second part discusses “macro” policy issues: the nature of insurance, access to health care, and possible reforms.

I hope to teach the course mostly, if not entirely, from online materials and library reserves.

PHIL 6356: Feminist Philosophy (Class #34332)

Prof. Freeland
1 p.m. - 2:30 a.m. TTH, Room: ARC 209

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This course is an advanced survey of recent developments in feminist philosophy. Topics include the definitions of gender and sex, ethical theories, feminist epistemologies, disputes about essentialism, and assessments of the position of women in the history of philosophy. We will study and compare the assumptions and aims of various types of feminism (radical, socialist, liberal, psychoanalytic, French, multicultural, "Third Wave," etc.). No philosophy background is assumed, but readings will typically be fairly long and abstract. The class will involve roughly 50% lecture and 50% class discussion (often in small groups). Grading will reflect the requirements of regular reading, writing, and group participation.

Writing assignments include informal one-page reaction papers as well as three longer (5-page) essay papers on assigned topics.

Texts: TBA

PHIL 6386: 19th-Century Philosophy (Class #31747)

Prof. Morrison
10 - 11 a.m. MWF, Room: L 212J

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No information is available at this time.

Texts: TBA

PHIL 6395: Seminar on Contemporary Metaethics (Class #31749)

Prof. Phillips
2:30 - 5:30 p.m. T, Room: 512 AH

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We will examine both the seminal 20th century versions and more recent articulations of four main views in metaethics: non-naturalism, naturalism, non-cognitivism, and error theory. Our only required course text will be Russ Shafer-Landau and Terence Cuneo, eds., Foundations of Ethics: An Anthology. This is best acquired via amazon; I will not order it through the bookstore. Other readings will either come from journals available electronically through the UH library website or be put on e-reserve. Work for the course will consist of a take-home midterm, a presentation, and a 15+ page term paper in 2 drafts.

PHIL 6395: Seminar on Moral Relativism/Moral Nihilism (Class #31750)

Prof. Sommers
2:30 - 5:30 p.m. TH, Room: 512 AH

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This course will explore the metaethical and normative implications of moral diversity. We’ll begin with a detailed introduction to the major metaethical positions, paying close to attention the empirical and philosophical presumptions of each theory. We’ll then review some descriptions of moral and normative diversity from the sciences, including theories and models that attempt to account for this diversity. Finally, we’ll examine contemporary philosophical work on the problem of moral disagreement, addressing questions like: how fundamental is moral disagreement? To what extent does it support the metaethical positions of moral relativism or moral nihilism? How should we react to moral diversity—can it be justified to for a society to impose one set of moral norms and standards on societies that do not subscribe to them?

PHIL 6396: Seminar on Spinoza and Hobbes: The Mathematization of Value Theory (Class #32687)

Prof. Hattab
2:30 - 5:30 p.m. MW, Room: 512 AH

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Prima facie the notion that value theory, like mathematics and other sciences, could be grounded in a set of principles from which the rest follows with deductive rigor, seems far-fetched. Aristotle’s warning that one should not expect mathematical precision in the study of human actions appears well-founded and sensible. Nonetheless, Hobbes and Spinoza, two of the 17th century’s most influential philosophers, claimed to construct their ethical and political systems with mathematical precision. In the Preface to Book III of the Ethics, Spinoza aims to “consider human actions and appetites just as if it were a question of lines, planes and bodies.” (Curley, p.153) Hobbes reduced the philosophical method to ‘ratiocination’ or calculation, which he claimed consisted in the twin operations of subtracting or dividing and adding or multiplying ideas. Both philosophers developed Descartes’ vision of a universal method that would yield a unified structure of scientific knowledge, from simple mathematical objects all the way to political society. Our aim is to determine how Spinoza and Hobbes implement their versions of the universal method in tackling questions of ethics and politics, and what implications this has for the specific philosophical content, and merits, of their axiomatic approach to value theory. We will address this by exploring three sub issues. 1) Which precedents can help us understand the particular features of the universal method as articulated by Spinoza and Hobbes in their writings on method? 2) Which features of these methods are at work in the Spinoza’s Ethics and Hobbes’ Leviathan and how do they shape the reasoning and conclusions reached? 3) How does focusing on the underlying methods employed by each affect our assessment of the philosophical contributions Spinoza and Hobbes made to practical philosophy, and the early modern approach to value theory, more generally?

PHIL 6397: Logic and Philosophy (Class #34606)

Prof. J. Brown
12 - 1 p.m. MWF, Room: AH 512

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This course is a graduate-level introduction to the philosophical applications of formal logic. Although the course is structured around a number of philosophical topics, the primary aim is to give students the degree of comfort and skill with formal apparatus necessary in much of contemporary philosophy. We will begin with the predicate calculus—with a special emphasis on translation between the calculus and natural language—before moving on to examine the basic notions of quantified modal logic. We will then spend the bulk of the semester exploring how these and other formal systems help us to treat various issues in metaphysics (essentialism, counterfactuals), philosophy of language (assertion, descriptions, conditionals), and ethics (expressivism). This course fulfills the graduate student logic requirement.

Fall 2009

PHIL 6333: Metaphysics (Class #30656)

Prof. J. Brown
10:00-11:30 TTH, Room: AH 10

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This course will survey various classic and contemporary issues in metaphysics. Possible topics include: the natures of existence and identity, the relationship between individuals and their properties, possibility and necessity, causation, the nature of time and persistence, vagueness, and the relationship between material objects and their proper parts. (Combined section with PHIL 3333.)

PHIL 6351: Contemporary Moral Issues (Class #30662)


Prof. Phillips
13:00 - 14:30 TTH, Room: C 107
(Combined section with PHIL 3351.)

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6358: Classics in the History of Ethics (Class #20966)


Prof. Morrison
10:00 - 11:00 MWF, Room: C 112
(Combined section with PHIL 3358.)

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6376: Philosophy and the Scientific Revolution (Class #30660)

Prof. G Brown
11:30 - 13:00 TTH, Room: C 106
(Combined section with PHIL 3376)

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In this course we will examine the interaction between philosophy, science, and religion during the 17th century, the century of the Scientific Revolution. In particular, we will discuss the debates that arose over the nature of explanation, scientific methodology, the status of natural laws and their relation to miracles, and the status of so-called "occult qualities." All of these issues were joined in the protracted conflict that arose between Continental philosophers and scientists, most prominently Leibniz (1646-1716), and the English Newtonians (Newton: 1643-1727) over the status of gravitational force. This conflict involved a central methodological, debate, pitting the Newtonian "experimental philosophy" against the "mechanical philosophy" favored on the Continent. This conflict, in its many and varied forms, will be discussed in detail, as will the equally vexed debate about the "force of a body's motion" — the so-called vis viva controversy.

We will begin with a brief discussion of the Copernican revolution and the work of Galileo (1564-1642). We will then turn to an extensive examination of the influential version of the mechanical philosophy that was developed by Descartes (1596-1659) and his followers, as well as the objections made against it by Leibniz and Newton, among others. We will also discuss the influential work of the English scientist Robert Boyle (1627-1691), who was in Florence in 1642 when Galileo died in his nearby villa in Arcetri. Boyle quickly became a devotee of Galileo's philosophy and the new approach he advocated for studying the world through mathematics and mechanics. Boyle was a founding member of the Royal Society of London, which became the principal organ of the British scientific community. When Newton became president of the Royal Society in 1703, he used his position to bash his opponents, especially Leibniz, who had been elected a fellow to the Royal Society in 1673. Our final topics of discussion will the be dispute, mentioned earlier, between Leibniz and the Newtonians over the status of gravitational force and the vis viva controversy concerning the "force of a body's motion."

There will be a midterm and a final exam, as well as a 10-12 page term paper on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with the instructor. Graduate students will be required to submit a 20-25 page term paper.

Texts (Required)

  • Boyle, Robert. Selected Philosophical Papers of Robert Boyle, edited by M. A. Stewart. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1991.
  • Descartes, René. The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Vol. I, edited and translated by John Cottingham, et al. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.
  • Galileo. The Essential Galileo, edited by Maurice A. Finocchiaro. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2008.
  • Leibniz, G. W. Philosophical Essays, edited and translated by Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989.
  • Newton, Isaac. Philosophical Writings, edited by Andrew Janiak. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence, edited by H. G. Alexander. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1956.

 

Texts (Recommended)

  • The Cambridge Companion to Descartes, edited by John Cottingham. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
  • The Cambridge Companion to Galileo, edited by Peter Machamer. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz, edited by Nicholas Jolley. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • The Cambridge Companion to Newton, edited by I. Bernard Cohen and George E. Smith. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

PHIL 6383: History of Ancient Philosophy (Class #30655)

Prof. Freeland
Internet Course
(Combined section with PHIL 3383.)

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Seminar on Models of the Mind (Class #31429)

Prof. Garson
2:30 - 15:30 M, Room: AH 512

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Broadly construed, this seminar’s topic falls into the philosophy of mind. However, its main focus is not on the more standard issues such as Dualism, Reduction of the Mental to the Physical or the Nature of Consciousness. Instead, we will focus on two main schools of thought concerning how to model minds, that is, how to account for mental abilities we find in human beings within a scientific theory. So from one point of view, this is a course in the Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence. 

The two schools are called Computationalism (or GoodOlFashionAI, or GOFAI) and Connectionism, and we will take some time talking in detail about what these schools say about how mental abilities (especially linguistic ones) can be explained and predicted. We will then discuss main lines of criticism against each approach. In the case of Computationalism we will cover the frame problem, which is at the root of the failure of artificial intelligence research (so far) to produce computers with human mental abilities. We will also consider Lucas’ and Penrose’s attempts to show (using Godel’s theorem) that human mental abilities transcend those of any computer. We may also visit Searle’s famous Chinese Room argument, which concludes that computational theories cannot give an account of meaning. In the second half of the seminar, we will turn to Connectionist, or neurally-inspired theories of the mind. First we will investigate whether connectionist models show any prospects for solving problems faced by computational models. Then we will examine the complaint that connectionist models are incapable of explaining language and other crucial forms of processing such as variable binding and default rules.

PHIL 6395: Seminar on Perception (Class #31431)


Prof. Weisberg
2:30 - 5:30 W, Room: 512

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Seminar on Action Theory and Morality (Class #31432)

Prof. Nelson
2:30 – 5:30 T, Room: 512 AH

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Kant pressed the question of how morality, or moral action, is even possible. He concluded that it is not possible unless human action has certain characteristics. Specifically, we have to be free and rational.

For the last 30-40 years, action theory has focused on ostensibly smaller issues: what is an intention and how is intention possible? How does something become one's intention? What is action, as opposed to mere behavior? What is the role of reason in guiding action or intention?

Though this recent work has important antecedents in the work of Elizabeth Anscombe and J. L. Austin, in the 1950s, I will concentrate in this course on the work of Michael Bratman, David Velleman and Harry Frankfurt. I plan to start with Bratman's book on intention, and I hope to end with Velleman's new book, HOW WE GET ALONG, which is supposed to come out in May. In between, we will read other papers by both authors, as well as some of Frankfurt's work.

I find these works fascinating in themselves, but I am also interested in their possible implications for moral thought, and in whether an understanding of these (relatively) small issues makes the big questions about freedom seem less pressing.

PHIL 6397: Punishment (Class #30734)

Prof. Sommers
4:00 - 5:30 MW, Room: 16 AH
(Combined section with PHIL 3395.)

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This course examines a wide range of philosophical theories of punishment, paying close attention to what these theories presume about human agency and responsibility. Questions to be discussed include:

  • What right do we have punish wrongdoers?
  • Should our justification of punishment focus on the benefits it provides for society, or on giving criminals their "just-deserts"?
  • To what extent should we take the background and/or the genetic predispositions of criminals into account?
  • Is it morally wrong to punish likely criminals before they commit their crimes (à la Minority Report)?

Throughout the course we will hold the empirical assumptions in leading theories of punishment under scrutiny to see how they cohere with contemporary models of human action in the sciences.

PHIL 6397: Philosophy of Religion (Class #31430)


Prof. Hattab
2:30 – 4:00 MW, Room: AH 304
(Combined section with PHIL 3377.)

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This is an advanced undergraduate/graduate level philosophy course in which we will conduct an in-depth investigation of fundamental philosophical questions that have arisen with respect to religion in the Western tradition (to this end, we also will study some non-Western philosophers who influenced the Western tradition). It requires prior study of Philosophy and/or Theology. The questions we will examine can be divided into roughly three classes:

  1. Epistemological questions concerning the relationship between philosophical reasoning and religious belief.
  2. Metaphysical questions concerning the nature of the divine.
  3. Ethical and political questions concerning the proper relationship between religion, morality and society.

We will begin with the roots of philosophical reflections on these issues in the writings of ancient and medieval philosophers such as Aristotle, Anselm, Avicenna, Al-Ghazali, Maimonides, Averroes and Aquinas. We will then study some of the most devastating criticisms advanced against traditional views by early moderns such as Calvin, Spinoza and Hume. We will conclude by examining the alternative approaches taken in the 19th – 20th centuries by philosophers like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and James, as well as more recent articles.

Assignments include papers, presentations and regular participation in class discussions.

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Spring 2009

PHIL 6304: History of 17th-Century Philosophy (Class #28198)


Prof. Hattab

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6334: Philosophy of Mind (Class #28201)


Prof. Weisberg

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6358: Classics in the History of Ethics (Class #28202)


Prof. Phillips

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In this course we will read much of the most important ethical work of three central figures in the modern history of ethics: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), and Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900). Kant and Mill would very often be taken to be the two most important moral philosophers of the modern era: the most important representatives of, respectively, the deontological and the utilitarian traditions. It is less standard (though far from unprecedented) to give such prominence to Sidgwick; one of the aims of the course is to explore the idea that Sidgwick merits a place as prominent as the other two.

We will focus on our three philosophers’ approaches to two central issues in moral theory: (i) the nature of morality: just what are moral rules, where do they come from, and why should we follow them?; (ii) the content of morality: just what does morality tell us to do? We will also attend to their views on the status of egoism.

There will be a take home midterm and a take home final, both consisting of two questions each requiring about 4-5 pages of writing, and a 7-8 page paper. The midterm and final will each be worth 35%, the paper 30%.

PHIL 6375: Law, Society, and Morality (Class #28203)


Prof. Nelson

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This is an introduction to the Philosophy of Law. Roughly the first half of the course introduces classic works on the nature of law and legal systems, the idea of the rule of law, and principles of judicial decision-making. (Typical readings from Aquinas, Austin, Hart, Holmes, Frank, Lyons, etc.) The second half will focus on some illustrative problem, such as the fugitive slave decisions, freedom of religion, or the content, limits, and justification of property rights.

PHIL 6395: Seminar on Aesthetics (Class #28800)


Prof. Freeland

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The Spring 2009 issue of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism will be a special issue devoted to the topic of narrative. The editor for this issue, Noël Carroll, has published discussions of narrative in a variety of contemporary media, such as television and films, but the topic has been alive and debated ever since Aristotle’s Poetics. Aristotle defined plot as a story with a beginning, middle, and end; philosophers continue to debate the definition of narrative and to provide diverse accounts of why narratives seem to possess a special kind of coherence and explanatory power.

Narrative as a subject might be thought to belong more properly to literature and literary criticism, and indeed, there are many texts addressing the theory of literary narratives (or “narratology”). But narrative has also figured recently in several sub-fields of philosophy besides aesthetics. It makes surprising appearances in philosophy of mind, ethics, and the philosophy of science and history. The notion of narrative has been used to account for the nature of the self and to describe conditions of moral responsibility by philosophers ranging from Daniel Dennett to Alsadair McIntyre, David Velleman, Charles Taylor, Paul Ricoeur, Marya Schechtman, and others. Many psychologists, such as Jerome Bruner and Oliver Sacks, also endorse narrative accounts of the self. However, there have also been forceful arguments disputing the centrality of narrative in accounting for personal identity, in particular from Derek Parfit and Galen Strawson.

The February, 2009 issue of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism will be on the list of course readings. Other readings will come from journal articles and recent book chapters addressing the nature and importance of narrative. Special emphasis will be placed on the nature and role of narrative in the visual arts (including painting, video, and film), where recent discussions have provided less analysis. Dr. Freeland will present portions of her book in progress Portraits and Persons, addressing how portraits differ from text-based narratives about persons (whether in biographies or autobiographies).

Students will be expected to give a seminar presentation on one of the readings, to write several informal papers on assigned topics from the readings, and to complete a final seminar paper involving further research on a topic covered in the seminar.

PHIL 6395: Seminar on Theory of Knowledge (Class #29241)


Prof. Johnsen

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Among contemporary philosophers, the claim that a theory leads to "the coalpit of skepticism" is about as serious a charge as can be made. Nowadays, few philosophical views command a more overwhelming consensus than that skepticism is absurd.

On the other hand, very few philosophers think Hume's argument for inductive skepticism has been refuted, and Karl Popper famously endorsed it and put it at the very center of his epistemology. In consequence, he is known as the great skeptic of the 20th century.

Somewhere between these two hands, we find the following phenomena. Although Willard van Orman Quine endorsed Hume's argument, and even acknowledged the Popperian precedent, no one considers him a skeptic. Nelson Goodman's concurrence with Hume helped pave the way for his "new riddle of induction" and his skeptical solution of that riddle. Finally, Ludwig Wittgenstein's On Certainty is universally regarded as a revolutionary refutation of skepticism, whereas in fact Hume's insight lies at its core.

The upshot: Nearly all contemporary philosophers regard skepticism as preposterous, while four members of the 20th century's philosophical pantheon endorse it. This rather piquant situation will be the focus of this seminar.

Addenda

Most contemporary writers on skepticism are besotted with Evil Demons and/or dreams, which have next to no relevance to skepticism. "Cartesian skepticism" is a misnomer.

Brains in a vat are a special case - very special.

PHIL 6395: Seminar on Metaontology (Class #29244)


Prof. J. Brown

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Ontology attempts to answer the question: What is there? Meta-ontology attempts to answer the questions: How do we—and how ought we—go about answering the ontological question? And what do answers to the ontological question mean? In this course we will examine various attempts to answer these latter, meta-ontological questions.

Following Quine’s “On what there is,” the orthodox approach to meta-ontology presumes that the primary vehicles for existence claims are existentially quantified statements. Accordingly, quantification is generally taken to be central to both the semantics of existence claims and the methodology of ontology. We will begin with the Quinean orthodoxy, before moving on to examine various of its historical and contemporary competitors: Meinongianism and Carnapianism, fictionalism, and deflationism.

PHIL 6395: Introduction to Cognitive Science (Class #32091)


Prof. Jacobson

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This is a graduate level introduction, which is required for the graduate Certificate in Cognitive Science. The topics covered will include brain anatomy and scanning, vision, action, language, our ability to do mathematics, and emotions. There will be three tests and a project-paper.

The course is designed for students with very different background, including philosophy and engineering students.

PHIL 6397: Philosophy and Evolution (Class #28206)


Prof. G. Brown

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An examination of the evidence for Darwinian evolutionary theory and the significance of that theory for philosophy, religion, and society. There will be a midterm and a final, and students shall be required to submit a 10-12 page (20-25 page for graduate students) term paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor.

Texts (Required)

  1. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (New York: Penguin, 1982). ISBN: 978-0140432053.
  2. Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (New York: Penguin, 2004). ISBN: 978-0140436310.
  3. Charles Darwin, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (Filiquarian, 2007). ISBN: 978-1599869155.
  4. Philip Kitcher, Living with Darwin (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007). ISBN: 978-0195314441.
  5. Tim Lewens, Darwin (New York: Routledge, 2007). ISBN: 978-0415346382.

 

Texts (Recommended)

  1. Jonathan Hodge, The Cambridge Companion to Darwin (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003). ISBN: 978-0521777308.

PHIL 6397: Punishment (Class #28207)


Prof. Sommers

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This course examines a wide range of philosophical theories of punishment, paying close attention to what these theories presume about human agency and responsibility. Questions to discussed include: What right do we have punish wrongdoers? Should our justification of punishment focus on the benefits it provides for society, or on giving criminals their “just-deserts”? To what extent should we take the background and/or the genetic predispositions of criminals into account? Is it morally wrong to punish likely criminals before they commit their crimes (à la Minority Report)? Throughout the course we will hold the empirical assumptions in leading theories of punishment under scrutiny to see how they cohere with contemporary models of human action in the sciences.

PHIL 6397: Mathematical Logic (Class #28662)


Prof. Garson

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6397: Kierkegaard and Nietzsche (Class #32327)


Prof. Morrison

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No information is available at this time.

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Fall 2008

PHIL 6395: Pro-Seminar in Cognitive Science (Class #32415)


Prof. Jacobson

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6397: Sidgwickian Ethics (Class #32327)


Prof. Phillips

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Free Will and Moral Responsibility (Class #32434)


Prof. Sommers

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Do we have the kind of free will that could make us morally responsible for our behavior? This course explores some traditional and contemporary responses to this question. First, we’ll review the philosophical landscape and in particular, the debate over whether free will is compatible with the truth of determinism (or a scientifically informed version of indeterminism). Next, we’ll consider the ethical and practical everyday implications of the various positions in the debate, including those that deny free will. Finally, we’ll examine recent work in the sciences regarding (1) the origins of our beliefs and attitudes about freedom and responsibility, and (2) the extent to which these beliefs and attitudes vary across cultures. We will try to understand how this empirical research bears on the philosophical positions discussed in the first two parts of the course.

PHIL 6396: The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence (1714-1716) (Class #32515)


Prof. G. Brown

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An intensive examination of the famous correspondence between the German philosopher, G. W. Leibniz, and the English philosopher and Newtonian apologist, Samuel Clarke. This correspondence arose from the bitter priority dispute between Leibniz and Newton over the discovery of the calculus, but it addressed issues in metaphysics, science, and theology, with Clarke acting as Newton's surrogate. Among the topics to be discussed are the nature of space and time, miracles and nature, the relation between God and the world, the nature of the soul and free will, matter and force.

Required Texts:

  • The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence, edited by H. G. Alexander. Manchester University Press, 1998.
  • Isaac Newton: Philosophical Writings, edited by Andrew Janiak. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

 

Recommended Texts:

  • The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz, edited by Nicholas Jolley. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • The Cambridge Companion to Newton, edited by I. Bernard Cohen and George E. Smith. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

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Spring 2008

PHIL 6395: Philosophy of Language (Class #30034)


Prof. Saka

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This is a course in the philosophy of linguistic science. We will start by getting some background in generative and cognitive linguistics, and then we will turn to such issues as causality, the role of intuition in science and philosophy, and the role of formalism.

Our first main text will be Cognitive Linguistics: Basic Readings (ed. Geeraerts, Mouton de Gruyter, 2006). From there I am thinking about using selections from the following.

Alan Chalmers. What is this Thing Called Science? (3/e, Open UP, 1999).

Alex Barber, ed. Epistemology of Language (Oxford, 2003).

Michael Devitt. Ignorance of Language (Oxford, 2006).

John Zammito. A Nice Derangement of Epistemes (Chicago, 2004).

PHIL 6395: Introduction to Cognitive Science (Class #30038)


Prof. Jacobson

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An intensive examination of the famous correspondence between the German philosopher, G. W. Leibniz, and the English philosopher and Newtonian apologist, Samuel Clarke. This correspondence arose from the bitter priority dispute between Leibniz and Newton over the discovery of the calculus, but it addressed issues in metaphysics, science, and theology, with Clarke acting as Newton's surrogate. Among the topics to be discussed are the nature of space and time, miracles and nature, the relation between God and the world, the nature of the soul and free will, matter and force.

Required Texts:

  • The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence, edited by H. G. Alexander. Manchester University Press, 1998.
  • Isaac Newton: Philosophical Writings, edited by Andrew Janiak. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

 

Recommended Texts:

  • The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz, edited by Nicholas Jolley. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • The Cambridge Companion to Newton, edited by I. Bernard Cohen and George E. Smith. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

PHIL 6395: Modality and Metaphysics (Class #30040)


Prof. Garson

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This seminar tackles the philosophical questions at the interface between modal logic and the rest of philosophy, especially Metaphysics and parts of the Philosophy of Language. The seminar will begin with technical preliminaries including possible-world semantics for modal logic, objectual and substitutional treatments of quantification, theories of identity, and definite descriptions. We will then tackle a series of related philosophical questions, including the ontological status of possible worlds and possible objects, the problem of identification of objects across possible worlds, contingent identity, the viability quantifying into modal contexts, and essentialism. There will be an exam on the technical material, an oral report and a final seminar paper.

PHIL 6396: Bacon and Descartes: Philosophical Methods (Class #34514)


Prof. Hattab

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Since the Enlightenment it has been common to divide early modern philosophers into rationalists and empiricists. Francis Bacon’s philosophical method is thus habitually seen as a forerunner to the strict empiricism of David Hume, whereas René Descartes is considered the father of modern rationalism. Also in keeping with 18th century concerns, these so-called ‘empiricist’ and ‘rationalist’ philosophies tend to be interpreted as alternative responses to the problem of objectivity. Consequently Bacon is commonly read as advancing the development of scientific communities charged with the accumulation of empirical data as a means of promoting a disinterested ‘objective’ science. Descartes’ meditative withdrawal from the senses and the external world, by contrast, is thought to paradoxically ground ‘objective’ truth in the very subjectivity of the cogito. Hence Bacon and Descartes have, respectively, become symbolic of two existing approaches to the problem of objectivity which seek to root objective knowledge in the consensus of a community of knowers and a priori forms of knowledge respectively. But to what extent were Bacon and Descartes concerned with objectivity in the Enlightenment sense? Do their respective scientific methods truly reflect an empiricist/rationalist divide? Do their writings on method have a merely symbolic value to current philosophy, or can they promote fresh ways of thinking about the foundations of scientific knowledge? We will consider these questions and others through a careful reading of Bacon’s Novum Organum and Descartes’ Rules for the Direction of the Mind along with related primary and secondary sources.

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Fall 2007

PHIL 6198: Pro-Seminar in Cognitive Science (Class #12114)


Prof. Jacobson

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Plato Seminar (Class #14835)


Prof. Freeland

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This course will involve a close study of four lengthy and complex dialogues thought to be late works by Plato. We begin with the Parmenides, which presents apparently overwhelming objections to Plato's Theory of Forms, together with an exercise in dialectic which may or may not hold clues about how the objections can be met. Next we turn to the Theaetetus, a dialogue focusing on epistemological issues. Key topics here include the relation between perception and knowledge and the rebuttal of relativism. The third dialogue, The Sophist, focuses on what would now be called philosophy of language as well as on metaphysical issues. The dialogue discusses what non-being is, whether it exists in some way, and how language can refer to it (despite the denial that it can by the pre-Socratic thinker Parmenides). Finally we will study the Philebus, a work in which Plato advances both a revised metaphysics and a new ethics that allows for inclusion of certain types of pleasure in the good life. This work includes a sophisticated analysis of pleasure and desire, and defends Socrates' controversial claim that there can be false pleasures. Students will be expected to write a weekly exegesis on an assigned text and to write either two ten-page papers or one twenty-page seminar paper. We will consult both the ancient texts (any Greek-readers are welcome!) and recent commentaries and journal articles on these works.

Required Texts:

  1. Parmenides (Paperback) by Plato (Author), Mary Louise Gill (Translator), Paul Ryan (Translator) Hackett Publishing Company (June 1996) ISBN: 087220328X
  2. Theatetus (Penguin Classics) (Paperback) by Plato (Author), Robin H. Waterfield (Introduction, Translator) Penguin Classics (August 4, 1987) ISBN: 0140444505
  3. Sophist (Paperback) by Plato (Author), Nicholas P. White (Translator) Hackett Publishing Company (October 1993) ISBN: 087220202X
  4. Philebus (Paperback) by Plato (Author), Dorothea Frede (Translator) Hackett Publishing Company; New Ed edition (June 1993) ISBN: 0872201708

PHIL 6395: Political Philosophy (Class #14837)


Prof. Nelson

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This course is not fully worked out yet. I plan to focus on issues about the appropriate standards for evaluating laws and policies. I will start with the issue of justice in taxation, treating it as a kind of case study, and we will begin by reading Murphy and Nagel, The Myth of Ownership.

We will then turn to Rawls's political theory, probably reading selections from Justice as Fairness: A Restatement, and some selections from Political Liberalism. This will lead to some discussion of the issue of consent.

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Spring 2007

PHIL 6395: Introduction to Cognitive Science (Class #07498)


Prof. Jacobson

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Knowledge and Skepticism (Class #13500)


Prof. Johnsen

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Philosophy of Religion (Class #13501)


Prof. Austin

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This course will be devoted primarily to classic writings on religion in the Western philosophical tradition. Among other things, we will examine the ontological and cosmological arguments of Anselm and Aquinas, David Hume's *Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion* and his essay on miracles, William James's "Will to Believe" and selections from his *Varieties of Religious Experience*, Pascal's Wager, and a selection from Kierkegaard.

Recent articles discussing these works and related topics will also be discussed. At the end of the course we will consider some recent discussions of religious pluralism.

The texts for the course are Ten Essential Texts in the Philosophy of Religion, edited by Steven Cahn, and The Philosophical Challenge of Religious Diversity, edited by Philip Quinn and Kevin Meeker.

The course is designed for philosophy graduate students, and is not suitable for students with fewer than 18 hours of previous work in philosophy.

PHIL 6395: Sidgwickian Ethics (Class #13550)


Prof. Phillips

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The object of this seminar is to understand the significance of Henry Sidgwick's great work The Methods of Ethics (1st edition 1874; 7th (posthumous) edition 1907) for contemporary (21st century) ethical theory. We will consider in turn Sidgwick's treatment of 3 topics central to contemporary moral theory: morality, reason, and motivation; utilitarianism vs deontology; agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons. In each case, after examining Sidgwick's treatment, we will turn to a detailed analysis of contemporary treatments of the same issues. We will discuss a wide range of contemporary literature, but it is worth drawing special attention to one soon-to-be-published work: Derek Parfit's Climbing the Mountain. It is likely to be extraordinarily influential and widely discussed, and Sidgwick's views on practical reason are integral to Parfit's project. Work for the course will consist of a 10 page midterm, a class presentation, and a 15 page term paper in 2 drafts.

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Fall 2006

PHIL 6198: Pro-Seminar in Cognitive Science (Class #07379)


Prof. Jacobson

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No information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Causation in Late Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy (Class #12985)


Prof. Hattab

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When 17th century philosophers railed against the appeal to so-called ‘occult powers’ in the scientific explanations of their Scholastic predecessors, one of their prime targets was the ultimate source of these powers: the substantial form. Substantial forms, a mediaeval addition to Aristotle’s metaphysics, supplied the crucial link between a substance’s essence (the unchanging realm of metaphysics) and its accidental properties (the changing realm of physics). When René Descartes and other proponents of the new science eliminated them from the physical world, the metaphysical grounding these forms provided for the existence and knowledge of real causal powers proved difficult to replace. Over time, extra-mental causal interactions gave way to the occasionalism of Descartes’ followers, Hume’s constant conjunctions and Kant’s a priori categories of the understanding. Hence Descartes’ mechanistic view of causation stands at the crossroads of an historic transition that forever changed causal explanations in science, with serious ramifications for theories of human agency and moral responsibility.

Proceeding seminar style, we will explore and discuss the following questions: What exactly is a substantial form? What role do they play in the Scholastic Aristotelian accounts of causation that prevailed in Descartes’ time? What criticisms were leveled against such accounts? What alternative accounts were available, and how did the metaphysical foundations of Cartesian mechanism fit into this landscape? To this end we will begin with an overview of key Scholastic Aristotelian metaphysical concepts as explained by St Thomas Aquinas in his Commentary on Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Next we will study the account of the substantial form and its causal role as laid out by 16th century Scholastic philosopher, Francisco Suarez, in On the Formal Cause of Substance Metaphysical Disputation XV. We will then examine the skeptical attacks on Scholasticism launched by Suarez’s contemporary, Francisco Sanchez, in That Nothing is Known. Finally, we will explore the roots of the mechanistic view of nature and causation Descartes developed in response to the skeptical challenge, before turning to its full application in his Principles of Philosophy

PHIL 6395: Philosophy of Language (Class #13393)


Prof. Saka

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The object of this seminar is to understand the significance of Henry Sidgwick's great work The Methods of Ethics (1st edition 1874; 7th (posthumous) edition 1907) for contemporary (21st century) ethical theory. We will consider in turn Sidgwick's treatment of 3 topics central to contemporary moral theory: morality, reason, and motivation; utilitarianism vs deontology; agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons. In each case, after examining Sidgwick's treatment, we will turn to a detailed analysis of contemporary treatments of the same issues. We will discuss a wide range of contemporary literature, but it is worth drawing special attention to one soon-to-be-published work: Derek Parfit's Climbing the Mountain. It is likely to be extraordinarily influential and widely discussed, and Sidgwick's views on practical reason are integral to Parfit's project. Work for the course will consist of a 10 page midterm, a class presentation, and a 15 page term paper in 2 drafts.

PHIL 6396: Leibniz's Metaphysics (Class #12975)


Prof. G. Brown

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An intensive examination of central themes in Leibnizian metaphysics in relation to his contemporaries and predecessors: necessity, contingency, freedom, possible worlds, causation, relations, space and time, pre-established harmony, the nature of substance and body, God.

Texts

  1. Adams, Robert Merrihew. Leibniz: Determinist, Theist , Idealist. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  2. Alexander, H. G. The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998.
  3. Jolley, Nicholas, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
  4. Jolley, Nicholas Leibniz. New York: Routledge, 2005.
  5. Leibniz, G. W. Philosophical Essays. Edited by Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989.
  6. There will also be a number items placed on electronic reserve.

 

Requirements

Students will be required to submit a 25-30 page seminar paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor.

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