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

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Spring Semester 2022

1100 - Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor – Pranav Ambardekar
TR 8:00am-9:20am
Delivery Mode: in person

Great thinkers from West and East, from the past and present have been gripped by a common set of intellectual puzzles. How can we know that our world isn't just a giant computer simulation? Can an all-benevolent, all-powerful, and all-knowing God really exist with so much evil and suffering in the world? What makes you and your childhood self the same person? Do human beings have free will? What makes an act morally good or societies just? Why, if at all, should we value free speech?  This introductory course is an opportunity to learn how to engage critically with some prominent responses to these questions.

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1100 - Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Steven Brown
MWF 10:20-11:15am and MWF 3:00-3:55pm
Delivery Mode: in person

What is the ultimate nature of right and wrong? Can values be objective? Why is there something rather than nothing? Does God exist? Do we have free will? Does it matter? Does anything matter, really? Believe it or not, these are all serious philosophical questions that have important implications for how we should live our lives. This class will strive to engage them using historical and contemporary philosophical sources from around the globe.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1100H - Honors Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Stewart Shapiro
TR 9:35-10:55am
Delivery Mode: in person

We will explore some different various senses of the self, and the proper way to live, that were prominent in ancient Greece and Rome. We will begin with the stark contrast between Socrates and his star pupil Plato, and then move to Aristotle on virtue and friendship, and then onto the major schools of the later period: Epicureanism and Stoicism. The questions to be addressed include: Is pleasure the only good? Is a life of justice to be preferred? What is the importance of examining one’s own beliefs—as opposed to getting proper, informed instruction from others? How is the soul to be nurtured? Is the soul independent of the body?

GE: Cultures and Ideas

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1300 - Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: Xiang Yu
MWF 9:10-10:05 am
Delivery Mode: in person

How should we live? What is a good life? Is it sometimes permissible to kill innocent human beings? Is it permissible to kill animals for food? Ethical philosophy attempts to answer these sorts of questions through reason and reflection. Within current ethical philosophy, there are three major schools of thought: utilitarianism, virtue theory, and deontology. In this class, we will investigate these major ethical theories in some detail by closely reading both the founding texts as well as reading some modern re-interpretations and criticisms. In addition, we will look at some applied ethical issues including abortion, animal rights, race and gender.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1300 - Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: Ali Aenehzodaee
TR 3:55-5:15 pm
Delivery Mode: in person

We often act in ways where our values fail to line up with our behavior. At other times, we feel conflicted about decisions which require the compromise of one value in pursuit of another. And still at other times, we avoid difficult conversations because they involve moral disagreements. Moral conflicts such as these can be sources of personal and interpersonal turmoil. They can spark heated debates and inspire mass protests. But reflection on moral conflicts can also help us better understand the things that matter to us most.

This course is an opportunity to actively reflect on our moral beliefs and values. Our aim is to better understand how to navigate real and complex moral conflicts, in part by engaging in moral philosophy – the careful study of our basic moral concepts. We’ll learn about the leading philosophical theories which attempt to provide practical guidance to our lives. We’ll then deploy these theories to discuss some of the deepest moral controversies today, including but not limited to: reproductive rights and the ethics of abortion, our moral obligations to non-human animals and the environment, the just distribution of wealth and resources across humanity, and the ethics of emerging technologies. Lastly, we’ll explore some foundational questions: Are moral truths objective or are they a product of humanity? Is morality commanded by God or can there be moral truths in a godless world? How should we respond to deep moral disagreements, and how, if at all, can they be settled? Throughout the course, we’ll practice articulating, and critically evaluating, our moral beliefs and values through a rich set of course readings, class discussions, and a series of guided writing exercises.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1332 - Engineering Ethics
Instructor: Staff
various times
Delivery Mode: in person and DL

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

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1338 - Computing Ethics and Effective Presentation
Instructor: Scott Brown
various times
Delivery Mode: in person

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 - Introduction to Logic
Instructor: Abe Wang
TR 8:00-9:20 am
Delivery Mode: in person

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

GE: Quantitative Reasoning: Math and Logical Analysis

1500 - Introduction to Logic
Instructor: Tyler Cook
TR 5:30-6:50 pm
Delivery Mode: in person

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

GE: Quantitative Reasoning: Math and Logical Analysis

1501 - Introduction to Logic and Legal Reasoning
Instructor: Evan Woods
MWF 12:40-1:35 pm
Delivery Mode: in person

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

1520 - Probability, Data, and Decision-Making
Instructor: Zoe Ashton
MWF 11:30 am - 12:25 pm
Delivery Mode: in person

When was the last time you took a risk? It’s far more recent than you think. We constantly undertake risks including deciding to drive to work and deciding to go bungee jumping. One of these is a risk we undertake without much hesitation while the other seems to require careful consideration. In this course, we will examine the rational processes by which we make decisions in the face of uncertainty. To cash out this decision theory, we’ll examine (a) what probability is and how it relates to uncertainty, (b) evaluate the data needed to determine the probability of an event, (c) how to weigh the benefits of an outcome against its risks, and (d) how our actions and beliefs ought to be guided by the probabilistic information we gain.

GE: Quantitative Reasoning: Math and Logical Analysis

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2120 - Asian Philosophies
Instructor: Steven Brown
TR 11:10am-12:30pm
Delivery Mode: in person

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 and Global Studies: Diversity


2120 - Asian Philosophies        
Instructor: William Marsolek
WF 12:45-2:05pm
Delivery Mode: in person

Before we die, we want to know some pretty simple things: who are we? How can we live an authentic human life? When should we be selfish, and when should we sacrifice? What does true happiness look like? This course explores these questions as they arise in the Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist traditions.

GE: Literature and Global Studies: Diversity


2194 - The Philosophy of Happiness, an Inside-Out college course
Instructor: Amy Shuster
W 5:30-8:20pm
Delivery Mode: in person

A survey of philosophical responses to questions about what happiness is and whether/how/why to pursue it in light of the prevalence of suffering in our world and our capacity for harm and vulnerability.  Enrollment by instructor consent only.  Apply here.

GE: Petition for Cultures and Ideas

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2367 - Contemporary Moral and Social Problems in the US
Instructor: Evan Thomas
TR 8:00am-9:20am and TR 3:55-5:15pm
Delivery Mode: in person

We live in a very unequal world. This courses explores two related questions about this inequality. Firstly, what if anything do we owe to those that are less fortunate than us? Secondly, how should we think about inequalities relating to class, race, gender, disability, and species membership.

GE: Writing and Communication (level 2) and Diversity: Social Diversity in the US

2367 - Contemporary Moral and Social Problems in the US
Instructor: Zac Harmon
TR 2:20-3:40pm
Delivery Mode: in person

In this course, we will consider a number of controversial issues that arise in our contemporary moral and political lives. In doing so, we will learn how to analyze moral arguments and civilly debate contentious topics. We will also hone our ability to defend our own positions with careful reasoning and to sharpen our skills at writing, communicating, and critical thinking.

GE: Level 2 Writing and Communication and Diversity: social diversity in the US

2400 - Political and Social Philosophy
Instructor: Zac Harmon
WF 2:20-3:40pm
Delivery Mode: in person

What is a political regime? Under what conditions is political authority justified? What is justice and what role do political institutions play in securing it? Should promoting human equality be a goal of politics? We will begin the course by examining some influential ancient responses to these questions. We will then turn to examine how these questions are taken up by representatives of four major modern political ideologies: liberalism, conservatism, socialism and anarchism. Finally, we will examine powerful challenges to these modern traditions raised by philosophers concerned with the political salience of racial, ethnic, and gender differences.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

2458 - Philosophy and Animals
Instructor: Evan Thomas
MWF 1:50-2:45pm
Delivery Mode: in person

This course explores three related questions about nonhuman animals. Firstly, what kinds of minds if any do animals have and how do they differ from human minds? Secondly, what ethical duties if any do we owe to animals? Thirdly, how does the topic of animal rights relate to progressive social movements like feminism, anti-racism, and disability rights?

GE: Cultures and Ideas


2465 - Death and the Meaning of Life
Instructor: Allan Silverman
TR 11:10am-12:30pm
Delivery Mode: DL

What is a meaningful life? What role, if any, does the afterlife play in conceptions of meaningfulness? What is the relation of achievement, happiness, or engaging in valuable projects to the meaning to our lives?   Would immortality or an extraordinarily long life increase or decrease the likelihood of a meaningful life? We’ll read short essays from a reader and spend weeks on Susan Wolf’s Meaning in Life and Why it Matters, which was the required first-year reading at Princeton.

GE: Literature

2465 - Death and the Meaning of Life
Instructor: Scott Harkema
MWF 10:20-11:15am
Delivery Mode: in person

Your own death is coming. Is this actually a bad thing for you? Moreover, given that we will all die, does our short time here have any meaning? In this course we will encounter answers to these kinds of questions about death and meaning from various literary and philosophical sources, from Plato and Lucretius to Leo Tolstoy and James Baldwin. By examining their views and arguments, we aim to gain a better understanding of ourselves as mortal beings.

GE: Literature

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2500 - Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Neil Tennant
WF 11:10am-12:30pm
Delivery Mode: DL

In this course you will learn to read and write the formulae of the language of symbolic logic. You will learn how to use formulae of this language to represent the 'logical structure' of various sentences of English, as well as of mathematical statements. This will enable you to assess the validity, or correctness, of a stretch of another person's reasoning involving such statements. You will learn how to tell whether their reasoning is logically correct, and how to spot fallacies in it when it is incorrect. You will acquire the skill of reasoning for yourself, step by step, in a completely logical way from given premises to a conclusion based on them. This is a general skill, with a wide range of applications. These include proving mathematical theorems from self-evident axioms; making predictions on the basis of scientific hypotheses; or arguing a legal case on the basis of factual evidence, statute, and judicial precedent.

GE: Quantitative Reasoning: Math and Logical Analysis

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2690 - Genes and Society
Instructor: Dana Howard and Susan Cole
WF 9:35-10:55am
Delivery Mode: in person

How much of who you are is related to the genetic sequences that you inherited from your parents? Does it matter? The field of genetics was born in the early 1900s when Gregor Mendel defined inheritance patterns in peas. An explosion of research over the next century suggested that changes in DNA sequences affect traits and behaviors in all organisms. The completion of the human genome sequence in 2003 represented the height of genetic optimism, suggesting that if we knew gene sequences we could revolutionize science and medicine. However, our understandings (and misunderstandings) of genetic inheritance have had enormous societal impacts that must be discussed and understood by a broad population of scientists and citizens. We will discuss the science behind, and philosophy underlying issues like the genetic modifications of crops, animals and humans; the impacts of genetics on medicine; and the extent to which genetics influence critical social constructions like race, sex, and sexuality. This class will teach philosophers and ethicists some science, and teach scientists some ethical and philosophical framework so we can engage in robust discussions of the intersections of genetics and society.  

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2850 - Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
Instructor: Todd DeRose
MWF 3:00-3:55pm
Delivery Mode: DL

Is there a God and if so, what is this God like? Is the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfectly good creator compatible with the kinds of evils we observe in the world? Are there good arguments for or against the existence of a God, and is there anything wrong with believing in a God in the absence of good evidence? What, finally, is the relationship between morality and religion? If you are curious about these kinds of questions, this course is a great place to explore them—whether you are a theist, an atheist, or an agnostic.

It is one important goal of this course—as you would expect—to familiarize participants with some of the major figures and debates in the philosophy of religion. Doing so will also contribute to two further goals. First, because the central questions in philosophy of religion represent all of the major areas of philosophy (that is, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and logic), participants will become familiar with a wide range of philosophical issues. In fact, this course can function as an introduction to philosophy more generally. Second, participants will learn a number of techniques for studying and evaluating philosophical texts and philosophical arguments.

GE: Cultures and Ideas


3000 - Gateway Seminar
Instructor: Tristram McPherson
WF 2:20-3:40pm
Delivery Mode: in person

This course introduces new Philosophy majors to central tools for reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing philosophy that are needed to flourish in upper-division philosophy courses.  We 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.

3210 - History of Ancient Philosophy
Instructor: Allan Silverman
WF 11:10am-12:30pm
Delivery Mode: DL

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Roughly, we will  spend weeks 9 weeks on Plato and  6 on Aristotle. While we will discuss the metaphysics—the study of what there is-- and epistemology—the study of how we know—the main focus will be on the moral psychology  and ethics of these seminal thinkers—how and why we act, what we should do, and what is happiness for a human being. Readings will include the Apology, Phaedo, and parts of Republic, De Anima, and Nichomachean Ethics.

GE: Literature and Global Studies: Diversity

3220 - History of Medieval Philosophy
Instructor: Tamar Rudavsky
WF 9:35-10:55am
Delivery Mode: in person

A general introduction to major issues in medieval philosophy, with texts drawn from Jewish, Islamic and Christian traditions. All texts will be read in English. Representative issues include: creation vs. eternity of the world; divine omniscience vs. human freedom; immortality of the soul; and the perennial tension between faith and reason.  In each of these areas, we shall examine whether the tenets of reason and science can be harmonized with those of faith.

GE: Literature and Global Studies: Diversity


3230 - History of 17th Century Philosophy
Instructor: Lisa Shabel
WF 12:45-2:05pm
Delivery Mode: hybrid

This course will focus on the transformative questions asked by Western philosophers in the 17th century: Do we have immaterial souls? How do our minds and bodies interact? What is the nature of the physical world? What does it mean to be a person in this world? And, perhaps most importantly: can we know the answers to any of these questions with absolute certainty? In order to discuss these questions, we will engage in debate with a selection of philosophers including René Descartes, Elisabeth of Bohemia, Anne Conway, Margaret Cavendish, John Locke, Lady Masham, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

GE: Literature and Global Studies: Diversity

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3300 - Moral Philosophy
Instructor: Zac Harmon
MW 11:30am-12:25pm plus Friday recitations
Delivery Mode: in person

What makes an action morally right or wrong? What sort of things are valuable and worth pursuing in life? Are there objective moral standards or is morality culturally relative? Does morality require belief in God? What sort of character traits should we cultivate if we want to be good people? We will explore these and other questions as they are taken up in some of the principal traditions of European moral philosophy, including utilitarianism, Kantianism and virtue ethics. We will also look at some important challenges to traditional morality and moral philosophy. 

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3440 - Theorizing Race
Instructor: Kwaku Korang
TR 3:55-5:15 pm
Delivery Mode: in person

AAAS/PHILOS 3440 will address questions of the following sort: What is race? What conditions in history and society give rise to race—as acceptable definition and categorization of (human) identity? Who have been the preeminent (Enlightenment) philosopher-thinkers--and their followers--who have defined and refined race as a modern category of identity? When, where, and why does race come to be in the world? Of what use, and for what purpose, is race? What are the consequences of race—i.e., the lived experiences and conditions that race gives rise to? By and through these questions and more, this course will acquaint students with knowledge of the relations between different social and global groups—as found in America and elsewhere. Students will get to find out the manner in which these social and global relations of race have been shaped by power and knowledge. Additionally, students will learn about the bases and the terms in which, in the modern world, identities, cultures, and communities—and their ideologies—are formed.

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3700 - Introduction to Metaphysics
Instructor: Robert Kraut
TR 12:45-2:05pm
Delivery Mode: in person

The world is complex and mysterious.  We will examine various metaphysical assumptions: that reality contains spiritual as well as physical entities; that consciousness is not a physical phenomenon; that there exist necessities in nature; that there exist abstract objects knowable through reason alone; that moral and aesthetic properties, like physical properties, are real; that finite beings can have knowledge of the world as it is in itself.  Efforts will be made to clarify our concepts of possibility, necessity, causation, persistence, metaphysical dependency, identity, and mind-dependence.

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3800 - Introduction to Philosophy of Mind
Instructor: Richard Samuels
TR 11:10am-12:30pm
Delivery Mode: in person

This course explores central themes, theories and issues in the mind of mind. Specifically, we focus on an array of responses to a pair of fundamental issues: the traditional mind-body problem (roughly, how mental and physical phenomena are related to each other) and the problem of consciousness (roughly, what is consciousness, and how can physical organisms have conscious experiences.)

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5010S - Teaching Philosophy
Instructor: Tristram McPherson
WF 9:35-10:55am
Delivery Mode: in person

Are some of the attempts to teach you philosophy that you have experienced better than others? This course will explore ideas and strategies for teaching philosophy on the premise that it is a matter of learnable skills and practice, not innate talent. How can we help others to develop the skills for reasoning and discussion that philosophers tend to value? What can we do to make our lessons engaging, inspiring, and memorable? We will also put these ideas and strategies to work at a local high school.


5261 - Phenomenology and Existentialism
Instructor: Tamar Rudavsky
WF 11:10am-12:30pm
Delivery Mode: in person

This course is an in-depth survey of the main ideas of Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre. It is useful to have had Phil 3261 or its equivalent before taking this course, but that is not required. We will focus on Heidegger’s BEING and TIME, and Sartre’s BEING and NOTHINGNESS, after dipping into Husserl’s CARTESIAN MEDITATIONS. I may sneak in some Levinas or Derrida, depending on class interest. Requirements: [undergrads --midterm; final; discussion posts and term paper]. [graduate students: we can discuss requirements separately] Please email me if you have specific questions.

5440 - Philosophical Perspectives on Race, Education and Citizenship
Instructor: Winston Thompson
M 12:45-3:05pm
Delivery Mode: in person

This course in philosophy of education presents its participants with a unique opportunity to engage in a close study of race and education within a political context. It takes seriously the large body of scholarship in philosophy and the social sciences that suggests that race functions within, across, and through educational institutions to confer dis/advantage of various sorts. This course will focus on the consequences of this idea, carefully investigating some of the underlying claims, implications, and normative obligations that accompany them. 

This course will allow participants to pursue many of the practical and conceptual questions that rest at the intersection of race and education. Among these are the following: How does education play a specific role in racialized patterns of benefit and detriment? What role, if any, should race play in our understanding of educational policy and practice? How does race affect our understanding of  the ways that education might prepare persons for the complex work of citizenship (and what might this mean for you, at a university with the motto” Education for Citizenship”)? How does race impact the ways that educational experiences shape the persons that students are able to become? How does a historical study of approaches to these questions prepare us to deal well with race and education in our increasingly complicated present – and future? In what ways does a philosophical study of race and citizenship offer any clarity regarding other identity categories and their impact on education? How, if at all, does race intersect with other identity categories (gender, class, sexuality, etc.) in educationally significant ways? How does race present special challenges to abiding concerns within the field of philosophy of education?

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5500 - Advanced Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Neil Tennant
TR 11:10am-12:30pm
Delivery Mode: in person

This course covers the metatheory of first-order logics and languages. It studies systems of natural deduction (and associated sequent calculi) for propositional and predicate logic, and relates these to appropriate kinds of formal semantics, via soundness and completeness theorems. Other philosophically and foundationally important results expose the fundamental tension between expressive power and deductive power in any language for mathematics; the existence of countable models for any consistent first-order theory; and the reducibility in principle of all of mathematics to a theory of sets that is based on first-order axioms that govern a single binary relation.

5830 - Introduction to Cognitive Science
Instructor: Jay Myung
TR 9:35-10:55am
Delivery Mode: in person

This course is a broad survey of the exciting interdisciplinary field of cognitive science devoted to the study of human intelligence and intelligent systems, from the perspectives of philosophy, neuroscience, psychology, artificial intelligence, and linguistics. The course introduces the constituent disciplines and their respective contributions to the study of cognition. Concretely, students learn the foundational concepts of computation and information processing under two unifying themes emphasized throughout: (1) Information processing: The mind/brain is viewed as a complex system that receives, stores, retrieves, transforms, and transmits information; (2) Neuroscience grounding: Explicit effort is made to show how mental phenomena emerge from the interactions of networks of neurons in the brain.