Undergraduate Courses

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Below is a list of upcoming undergraduate courses with full descriptions (when available) and other specific information. For a full listing of undergraduate-level courses offered by the Department, please see the course catalog. For a complete listing of courses offered in the current and upcoming semester see the schedule of classes.

Please note the following regularities as you plan for upcoming semesters, but be aware that there will be exceptions in some semesters. Please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Academic Advisor for Philosophy for help planning your Major or Minor in Philosophy.

  • Every Fall and Spring semester we typically offer 1100, 2120, 2450, 2465 and 2500, as well as a wide variety of other elective courses at the introductory level. 
  • Every Fall and Spring semester we offer 3000, the Gateway Seminar for Majors, as well as at least two courses from each category of courses required for the Major (i.e. at least 2 history of philosophy courses at the 3000 level; at least 2 topics courses at the 3000 level; and at least 2 advanced electives at the 5000 level, in addition to a variety of other electives.)
  • Every Summer we offer a variety of courses at the introductory level.

Upcoming Undergraduate Courses

Summer 2020           Autumn 2020

Summer Semester 2020


1100 – Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Staff
DE 206, MWF 10:20 – 12:25 PM

Examination of major problems, such as the nature of reality, knowledge, truth, morality, and the relation of philosophy to science and religion.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1332 – Ethics in the Professions: Introduction to Engineering Ethics
Instructor: Staff
Various Locations and Time

An examination of contemporary issues in engineering ethics in the context of major ethical theories.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1500.02 – Introduction to Logic (online)
Instructor: Staff

Online version of Philosophy 1500.01, Introduction to Logic. Teaches students the construction and evaluation of deductive and inductive arguments; principles of clear statement and valid reasoning; fallacies; and the methods by which theories and laws are established.

GE: Quantitative Reasons: Math and Logical Analysis

1520 – Probability, Data, and Decision Making
Instructor: Stewart Shapiro
KN 195, MWF 10:20 – 12:25 PM

Hardly a day goes by without our being bombarded with claims involving statistics.  Statistical reasoning can be very powerful and enlightening; it is not an exaggeration to say, with Bishop Butler in the eighteenth century, that probability is the very guide to life.  But statistics can also be misleading:  figures don’t lie, but some liars know how to figure.  Every election cycle and many advertising campaigns give us plenty of examples of misleading statistics.

In this course, we will be concerned with how statistical results are obtained, and how to evaluate those claims, culminating on the key notion of statistical significance.  The treatment will be mostly informal, with a minimum of mathematics involved.

GE: Data Analysis

2120 – Asian Philosophies
Instructor: Culmin Yoon
ML 115; TuTh 12:40 – 3:00 PM

A survey including at least three of the following philosophical systems of Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

GE: Literature; Diversity: Global Studies

2455 – Philosophy and Videogames
Instructor: Staff
DE 250, MWF 11:40 – 1:15 PM

Examination of the philosophical issues that accompany the creation, play, and critique of videogames.

GE: Visual and Performing Arts; Cultures and Ideas

2465 – Death and the Meaning of Life
Instructor: Staff
PA 060, MWF 12:40 – 2:45 PM

GE: Literature

2500 – Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Lisa Shabel
UH 353, MWF 2:50 – 6:00 PM

This is a first course in symbolic logic, which satisfies the GE requirement in mathematical and logical analysis. We will study the basic concepts and techniques of logic, including truth values, arguments, validity and soundness, and will develop formal methods for symbolizing sentences and constructing truth tables and derivations. We will cover the syntax and semantics of both sentential logic (also called truth-functional logic) and first-order predicate logic (also called first-order quantificational logic.) In this course, students will develop an acute grasp of the structure of deductive arguments and, so will be better equipped to evaluate them.

GE quant reason math and logical only course

GE: Quantitative Reasoning: Math and Logical Analysis

5700/8700 Advanced Metaphysics - Carnap, Quine and Sellars
Instructor: Professor Kraut
8-Week Session 2 (6/2 - 7/24) | TR, 4:00 - 6:20P, UH 353

W.V. Quine and Wilfrid Sellars are the most significant systematic philosophers of the twentieth century.  Their assumptions, methods, conclusions and worldviews are similar in some ways but diverge in others.  Each is best understood as reacting to Rudolf Carnap. 

We will read enough Carnap to understand the prompting stimuli he provides.  Then we will study, in great detail, the grand philosophical systems of both Quine and Sellars.  Topics will include: Kantian ingredients and the Positivists’ redefinition of philosophy; meaning and translation; indeterminacy of translation and ontology; ontological relativity; rejection of the analytic/synthetic distinction; the nature and source(s) of intentionality; the status of abstract objects; pragmatism vs. empiricism; reductive physicalism and the place of norms in a natural world; the theory/observation distinction; epistemic underdetermination vs. semantic indeterminacy; confirmational vs. semantic holism; social behaviorist theories of meaning; modality and dispositions; the adequacy of first-order extensional languages.  Readings include Quine’s Word and Object and selections from From a Logical Point of View, Ontological Relativity and other Essays, The Ways of Paradox, and Theories and Things.  We will study the entirety of Sellars’ Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind and selections from Science, Perception and Reality and Essays in Philosophy and Its History.  We will also read a finite but large number of relevant articles and secondary sources. 

This is a history course.  It is recent history, but history nonetheless.  The instructor, trained and mentored by Sellars, is no Sellarsian; in fact he is an orthodox Quinean, often annoyed by the extent to which Quine’s views are misunderstood.  This annoyance will frequently emerge in class discussion; hopefully it will be illuminating.  Requirements: participation in class discussion, and two 10-15 page papers. 

Autumn Semester 2020

 

1100 – Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Staff
Various Locations and Time

Examination of major problems, such as the nature of reality, knowledge, truth, morality, and the relation of philosophy to science and religion.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1100H – Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Allan Silverman
HN 201, TuTh 11:00 – 12:30 PM

Examination of major problems, such as the nature of reality, knowledge, truth, morality, and the relation of philosophy to science and religion.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1300 – Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: Staff

The nature of right and wrong, good and evil; the grounds of moral choice and decision; the resolution of moral conflicts.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1332 – Ethics in the Professions: Introduction to Engineering Ethics
Instructor: Staff

An examination of contemporary issues in engineering ethics in the context of major ethical theories.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1338 – Ethics in the Professions: Introduction to Computing Ethics and Effective Presentation
Instructor: Staff

An introduction to ethical theory with a special focus on ethical issues that arise in the computing profession. It includes student presentations and feedback to improve discussion skills.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1500.01 – Introduction to Logic
Instructor: Staff

Deduction and induction; principles of clear statement and valid reasoning; fallacies; and the methods by which theories and laws are established

GE: Quantitative Reasons: Math and Logical Analysis

1500.02 – Introduction to Logic (online)
Instructor: Staff

Online version of Philosophy 1500.01, Introduction to Logic. Teaches students the construction and evaluation of deductive and inductive arguments; principles of clear statement and valid reasoning; fallacies; and the methods by which theories and laws are established.

GE: Quantitative Reasons: Math and Logical Analysis

1501 – Introduction to Logic and Legal Reasoning
Instructor: Staff
JR 371, MWF 10:20 – 11:15 AM

An informal introduction to elementary deductive and inductive logic, concentrating on application to reasoning in legal contexts (e.g., courtroom argumentation and jury deliberation).

GE: Quantitative Reasoning: Math and Logical Analysis

2120 – Asian Philosophies
Instructor: Steven Brown
HH 180, MWF 11:30 – 12:25 PM

This class will explore the main philosophical traditions that underlie the cultures of India, China, Korea, Japan, and a number of other countries in south and east Asia. Specifically, we will work toward understanding some of the essential texts from Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, and Daoism. However, we will not be approaching these texts merely for their historical value. We will be engaging them as potential sources of wisdom and insight into the nature of the world around us and our place within it. 

GE: Literature; Diversity: Global Studies

2340 – The Future of Humanity
Instructor: Eden Lin
ML 174, TuTh 2:20 – 3:40 PM

What will life be like in a hundred, two hundred, or five hundred years? Some believe that further advances in technology will make human life unimaginably joyous and prosperous. Others have a much darker vision of our future—one in which our descendants are left with a depleted planet, and in which they face extinction at the hands of technological forces they cannot control. The future of humanity raises important philosophical and ethical questions. Why should we act more sustainably for the sake of future people? How large should the human population become? Should we use technology to enhance ourselves? Will we someday be able to transcend our physical bodies by uploading ourselves into computers—and if so, would this be a desirable thing to do? How might artificial superintelligence change human life—and could it destroy it? These are some of the questions that we will consider in this course.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

2367 – Contemporary Social and Moral Problems in the U.S.
Instructor: Staff
Various Locations and Time

An intensive writing course concentrating on the analysis and evaluation of philosophical argumentation concerning contemporary social and moral problems about race, gender, class, and ethnicity. Does not count on a philosophy major or minor program.

GE: Diversity: Social Diversity in the US; Writing and Communication: Level 2

2450 – Philosophical Problems in the Arts
Instructor: Robert Kraut
TO 247, MW 12:45 – 2:05 PM

GE: Visual and Performing Arts

2455 – Philosophy and Videogames
Instructor: Staff
FL 2100, TuTh 2:20 – 3:40 PM

Examination of the philosophical issues that accompany the creation, play, and critique of videogames.

GE: Visual and Performing Arts; Cultures and Ideas

2465 – Death and the Meaning of Life
Instructor: A. Silverman
HI 031, MW  11:30 - 12:25 PM (+ recitations)

What is a meaningful life? What role, if any, does the afterlife play in conceptions of meaningfulness? Can things like achievement, happiness, and engaging in valuable projects give meaning to our lives?   Would immortality or an extraordinarily long life increase or decrease the likelihood of a meaningful life? The course will explore these and related questions. 

GE for literature course.

GE: Literature

2500 – Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Neil Tennant
PO 250, TuTh 11:10 – 12:30 PM

A formal presentation of the elements of modern deductive logic; decision and proof procedures in sentential logic and functional logic.

GE: Quantitative Reasoning: Math and Logical Analysis

2670 – Science and Religion
Instructor: Staff
EC 206, TuTh 11:10 – 12:30 PM

GE: Cultures and Ideas

2850 – Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
Instructor: Declan Smithies
PS 014, WF 12:45 – 2:05 PM

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of religion. In the first part of the course, we'll examine arguments for and against the existence of God. In the second part, we'll consider whether we can rationally believe that God exists even in the absence of an argument for this conclusion. In the third part, we'll consider some traditional religious views about the nature of the soul, the possibility of an afterlife, and the basis of morality. Readings will be drawn from a range of sources, including classic texts by Plato, Aquinas, Anselm, Descartes, Leibniz, Pascal, and Hume.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

3000 – Gateway Seminar
Instructor: Tristram McPherson
UH 353, TuTh 9:35 – 10:55 AM

This course will introduce new Philosophy majors to central tools for reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing philosophy that are needed to flourish in upper-division philosophy courses.  We will very carefully read, discuss, and write about a small number of influential texts across central areas of philosophy, including, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, Early Modern philosophy and the philosophies of mind and language.

Prerequisite: Philosophy major or permission of instructor

Note: new Philosophy majors who have already taken three or more upper division Philosophy courses should contact their PHIL advisor before enrolling in this course. 

3001 – Economy, Polity, and Community
Instructor: Eric MacGilvray and Piers Turner
SM 1048, TuTh 3:55 – 5:15 PM

Examines how different ways of thinking about human nature shape our understanding of philosophy, politics, and economics. *Only open to PPE majors.

3230 – History of 17th Century Philosophy
Instructor: Staff
CL 220, WF 12:45 – 2:05 PM

GE: Literature; Diversity: Global Studies

3261 – Fundamental Concepts of Existentialism
Instructor: Tamar Rudavsky
DE 238, WF 12:45 – 2:05 PM

This course will cover basic 19th and 20th century existentialist writings, selected from among the following authors: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Sartre, and Camus. We will read both literary and philosophical works, with an eye to understanding the underlying themes (nihilism; despair; angst) of classical existentialist writers.   Requirements: midterm exam, final exam and several short written assignments.

GE: Literature

3300 – Moral Philosophy
Instructor: Justin D'Arms
SC E024, MW 10:20-11:15 (+ recitations)

What makes an action right (or wrong)? What makes a state of affairs good (or bad)? What makes a person’s life go well (or poorly)? These are the fundamental questions of normative ethics and they will be the focus of this course.

Philosophy 3300 is intended to be a rigorous introduction to normative ethics; it is designed to acquaint students who have a serious interest in philosophy with the major issues in normative ethical theory and the various approaches to these issues. We will examine the nature and basis of moral value and obligation.

The main text book is Normative Ethics by Shelly Kagan. We will also read Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant, and several other works designed to augment Kagan’s text. Requirements include midterm and final exams and a term paper.

3310 – Moral and the Mind
Instructor: Abraham Roth
FL 2110, TuTh 2:20 – 3:40 PM

3700 – Introduction to Metaphysics
Instructor: Robert Kraut
PO 150, TuTh 12:45 – 2:05 PM

3830 – Consciousness
Instructor: Declan Smithies
HH 056, WF 2:20 – 3:40

This course is an introduction to consciousness with a focus on interactions between philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. Topics will include concepts of consciousness, the hard problem of consciousness, neural correlates of consciousness, global workspace theories, higher-order theories, representational theories, change blindness, the persistent vegetative state, the unity of consciousness, the function of consciousness, and the role of consciousness in perception, cognition, introspection, action, and free will.

5240 – Studies in 18th Century Philosophy
Instructor: Lisa Downing
UH 353, TuTh 12:45 – 2:05 PM

5300 – Advanced Moral Philosophy
Instructor: Eden Lin
UH 353, TuTh 11:10 – 12:30 PM

Judgments about how well things are going for people during particular periods of time, and about how well people’s entire lives have gone or will go, are ubiquitous in ordinary life. Those judgments are about well-being—or, equivalently, welfare or quality of life. In this class, we will consider the major theories of well-being, which purport to explain what kind of a life counts as a life that is going well: hedonism, desire satisfactionism, objective list theories, perfectionism, the happiness theory, and hybrid theories. We will also consider related topics, such as the natures of pleasure and happiness, what makes a life meaningful, the relationship between well-being and value “from the point of view of the universe,” the relationship between well-being and fitting attitudes, and whether (and if so, why) death is bad for us

5420 – Philosophical Topics in Feminist Theory
Instructor: Dana Howard
JR 353, WF 12:45 – 2:05 PM