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

Advanced
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Spring 2023


1100 - Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Neil Tennant
TR 2:20 PM - 3:40 PM
in person

This is an introduction to rigorous thought about a variety of concepts and problems of fundamental significance. You will be introduced to methods of philosophical analysis, the clarification of important concepts, the careful appraisal of arguments and theories, and the sheer breadth and variety of philosophical concerns. The course aims to enable you to write more clearly, think more deeply, and pursue your intellectual interests both with more attention to detail and with an eye to the 'bigger picture'. We shall be covering topics drawn from the following list: Existence of God; Naturalism; Skepticism and the External World; the Mind-Body Problem; Free Will v. Determinism; the Problem of Induction; the Paradoxes. We shall be studying some profoundly influential writings by various famous thinkers.  

Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1100 - Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Robert Kraut
TR 1:00 PM - 1:55PM
in person, Recitations at Various Times on Mondays

The world is complex and mysterious.  Various sciences--physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, linguistics, etc.--help us deal with some of the questions that arise.  But other areas are neglected by the sciences: questions and controversies persist regarding the nature of morality, freedom of the will, the existence of God, the nature of consciousness, the limits of political authority, and the just and fair solution to problems concerning abortion, our obligations (if any) to those less fortunate than ourselves, and the achievement of racial justice and equality.  This course provides in-depth exploration of these and related topics. Two midterm exams, cumulative final exam, a term paper, and participation in extensive, collaborative discussion of the issues and arguments.

Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1100 - Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Matthew Willis
MWF 9:10 AM - 10:05AM
in person

As an introduction to philosophy, this course will explore questions like:  What is the nature of knowledge (and can we ever defeat the skeptic)?  Can we prove whether or not God exists?  What can science tell us about the world?  Do we have free will?  How ought we think about morality?  And, what makes us, as individuals, who we are?  In the process of examining these questions, we will survey some of the major contributions to philosophy from a diverse body of sources, both historical and contemporary.  In confronting these issues, students will also learn to recognize and reconstruct philosophical arguments – allowing them to employ some of the concepts and techniques introduced here into their own philosophical argumentation and writing.

Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1100 - Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Nathan Dowell
MWF 10:20 AM - 11:15AM
in person

Human beings from every culture throughout history have asked big philosophical questions. You have almost certainly asked some of these questions yourself. While there are so many philosophical topics we could explore in this class, we will focus on those of a particular kind: those that concern knowledge. As we’ll see, these contain some of the biggest questions of philosophy and are highly relevant to our daily lives, especially those about biases and religious, political and moral disagreement. We will think about: Why is knowledge valuable at all? Can we know that the world exists outside of our minds? Do we need evidence to rationally believe God exists? Can we know something if lots of informed, smart people disagree with us about it? Can we know things in an area if we know that people are prone to biases there (as in politics)? This introductory course is an opportunity to learn how to engage critically with some of the prominent responses to these questions.

Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1300 - Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: Jason DeWitt
MWF 9:10 AM - 10:05AM
in person

What is the morally right thing to do? Are there definite moral truths? Where do moral truths come from: God, our fellow human beings, or something else? Why should I be a good person even if there is no afterlife? What should I think about vegetarianism, abortion, and whether I should be giving more to charity? 
In this course, we will examine major ethical traditions from around the world and across history in an effort to answer these sorts of questions. We will focus on several real-world ethical issues and try to think clearly about them. And we will refine our critical thinking skills through philosophical writing and conversation in order to refine our own moral commitments.


Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1300 - Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: Dylan Flint
TR 3:55 PM - 5:15 PM
in person

In philosophy 1300, we get to explore the foundations of moral philosophy, mostly understood in the Western tradition. We begin the course by considering some challenges to classical moral theorizing, such as Cultural Relativism, Moral Nihilism, and Divine Command Theory. Then we will concern ourselves with the question what, if anything, has value? After this, you will be introduced to two classical normative theories: Utilitarianism and Deontology (or Kantianism). Finally, we will finish the course by considering an alternative to classical moral philosophy, namely Virtue Ethics. This will include looking into Stoicism, Confucianism, and contemporary Care Ethics.

Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1300 - Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: Pranav Ambardekar
WF 9:35 AM - 10:55AM
in person

By surveying the ideas of important thinkers and philosophical traditions from the West as well as the East, this course aims to get students thinking about the nature of right and wrong, good and evil, the grounds of moral choice and decision, and the resolution of moral conflicts.

Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1300 - Introduction to Ethics
Instructor: William Marsolek
MWF 1:50 PM - 2:45 PM
in person

Why do I regret yelling at my partner? When should I be selfish, and when should I sacrifice? Should I tell my parents my little brother is smoking? Am I a loudmouth, or am I too shy? What is stopping me from stealing the wallet I found on the ground? Do I owe it to myself to come out to my family, even if they won’t respect me? What do I want people to say about me when I die? In their own way, these questions are about this umph, pull, or shudder we experience when we examine how we navigate the ethical world. They are about the experiences that make our lives precious, individual, and agonizing. Many philosophers devoted much of their lives to exploring and answering these questions. We will read, discuss, and evaluate how well they did.

Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1332 - Engineering Ethics
Instructor: staff
various times
ASYNC  - DL – In Person

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

Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1338 - Computing Ethics and Effective Presentation
Instructor: Scott Brown
various times + recitation
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.

Cultures and Ideas

1500 - Introduction to Logic
Instructor: Staff
Various times
in person

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

Quantitative Reasons: Math and Logical Analysis and Math & Quant Reasoning or Data Analysis

1501 - Introduction to Logic and Legal Reasoning
Instructor: Donald Soles
MWF 12:40 PM - 1:35 PM
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).

Quantitative Reasons: Math and Logical Analysis and Math & Quant Reasoning or Data Analysis Foundation

1520 - Probability, Data and Decision-making
Instructor: Zoe Ashton
MWF 11:30 AM - 12:25 PM
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.

Data analysis; and Math & Quant Reasoning or Data Analy

2120 - Asian Philosophies
Instructor: Steve S. Brown
TR 11:10 AM - 12:30 PM
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.

Literature; Diversity: Global Studies and Literary, Visual & Performing Arts Foundation

2120 - Asian Philosophies
Instructor: Vaughn Papenhausen
WF 12:45 PM - 2:05 PM
in person

A survey including at least three of the following philosophical systems of Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Daoism, and Confucianism. In this iteration of the course, we will pay particular attention to philosophy from China, particularly Confucianism, Daoism, and Mohism, as well as Buddhism. We may also cover some Hinduism and Jainism as time permits. We will engage with these texts and traditions as sources of philosophical insight (as opposed to merely for their historical or cultural value). Our goal is to develop a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us, and to learn and apply basic tools of philosophical reasoning in the process.

Literature; Diversity: Global Studies and Literary, Visual & Performing Arts Foundation

2194-01 - Group Studies:  The Philosophy of Happiness
Instructor: Amy Shuster
T 5:30 PM - 8:20 PM
in person

A survey of philosophical responses to questions about what happiness is and whether/how/why to pursue itin light of the prevalence of suffering in our world and our capacity for harm and vulnerability.  Enrollment by instructor consent only.  Interested students should complete this application before October 28. 

2194-02 - Group Studies:  Global Development Ethics
Instructor: Steve S. Brown
MWF 3:00 PM - 3:55 PM
in person

All too often, global human development has been measured merely by the standards of economic growth. However, philosophers and other thinkers have long offered arguments suggesting that we need an account of development which includes a broader understanding of well-being, equity, empowerment, sustainability, human rights, and cultural freedom. This course will investigate the many challenges that face us as a global society and strive to develop a truly satisfying account of what our goals should be as we move forward into the future.

2367 - Contemporary Social and Moral Problems in the US
Instructor: Aaron Yarmel
WF 2:20 PM - 3:40 PM
in person

Should non-human animals have rights? How should people respond to grave social injustices in their communities? Should sex work or pornography be criminalized, decriminalized, or legalized, and what moral principles should govern sexual interactions more broadly? How should we respond to existential threats that may permanently eliminate our entire species? In this class, we will explore these questions and more.

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

2367 - Contemporary Social and Moral Problems in the US
Instructor: Tyler Cook
MWF 12:40 PM - 1:35 PM
in person

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.

Writing and Information Literacy Foundation

2367 - Contemporary Social and Moral Problems in the US
Instructor: Zac Harmon
TR 2:20 PM - 3:40 PM or WF 11:10 AM - 12:30 PM
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.

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

2400 - Political and Social Philosophy
Instructor: Zac Harmon
WF 2:20 PM - 3:40 PM
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.

Culture and Ideas

2450 - Philosophical Problems in the Arts
Instructor: Richard Fletcher
TR 12:45 PM - 2:05 PM
in person

This course will examine major philosophical problems in the arts (e.g. definition and identification, reality, representation, form, expression, taste, and judgment) through close readings of core texts in Western aesthetics (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Tolstoy, Freud, Bell, Benjamin, Heidegger, Danto, Lyotard). Our aim will be to engage with how these problems contribute to forming a working definition of art through analytic arguments, as well as through decolonial critique and Indigenous aesthetics inspired by an experimental encounter with the artists and other participants at the exhibition documenta 14 that took place in Athens, Greece and Kassel Germany in 2017.

Visual and Performing Arts; and Literary, Visual & Performing Arts Foundation

2456 - Philosophy of Sport
Instructor: Alex Wolf-Root
TR 9:35 AM - 10:55 AM or TR 3:55 PM - 5:15 PM
in person

Are college athletes exploited? How does sport impact health and wellbeing, and are all such impacts acceptable? Are doping bans justifiable? In what way does sport impact gender equity, and how should we improve such situations? Are esports even sports? Answering these questions requires knowing a lot of facts and it helps to have some direct experiences with sport, but we also need philosophical knowledge of moral terms (like exploitation, justification, and obligation) and philosophical skill (such as moral evaluation). As it turns out, philosophical knowledge and skill also can help with other important parts of our lives. This course offers an introductory engagement with philosophy through a focus on issues that arise in and around sport. 

Health and Wellbeing

2465 - Death and the Meaning of Life
Instructor: Steve S. Brown
TR 3:55 PM - 5:15 PM
in person

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.

Literature

2465 - Death and the Meaning of Life
Instructor: Yonghao (Abe) Wang
MWF 10:20 AM - 11:15 AM
in person

Why do we live? Why should we continue to live? How should we live? This course will explore these questions pertaining to the meaning of life. In addition, we will explore the reason why we ask these questions in the first place by thinking about suffering.

Literature

2500 - Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Stewart Shapiro
TR 11:30 AM - 12:25 PM + recitation
in person

What is it to reason?  What is it to reason correctly?  What role do symbols play in reasoning?  We will try to answer these questions. In this course we will present a symbolic deductive system to model correct reasoning.  It will be shown how many arguments in ordinary language can be “translated” into this system, where they can be checked for validity.  Important logical concepts, like consistency, consequence, validity are presented via the system, and the techniques of mathematical logic are illustrated with it.

Quantitative Reasoning: Math and Logical Analysis; and Math & Quant Reasoning or Data Analysis Foundation

2540 - Introduction to Philosophy Rational Choice
Instructor: Sahar Heydari Fard
WF 9:35 AM - 10:55 AM
in person

An introduction to various ways of conceiving of rationality and its subsequent role in individual and collective decision-making, with an emphasis on rationality in ethics and how rationality might inform the evaluation of social norms and social conventions.

2670 - Science and Religion
Instructor: David Blanks
TR 11:10 AM - 12:30 PM
in person

Science and religion have greatly impacted our society, but how are the two related?  As we examine these two important fields, we’ll attempt to answer the following questions.  What is science?  What is religion?  How do the two relate to each other?  Does science overlap with religion?  If there is overlap, is it marked more by conflict or more by concord?  Is it possible to be both a genuine religious believer and a good scientist?  Are science and religion both supposed to provide us with knowledge about the world?  How is it exactly that we come to know about the world through science, and how exactly do we come to know about the world through religion?  Can anything be known outside of science?  Are any religious beliefs supported by science?   Does science have anything to say about morality and values?

Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

2680 - Scientific Controversies
Instructor: Chris Pincock
WF 9:35 AM - 10:55 AM
in person

Modern science raises many difficult questions about the nature of the universe and our place in it. This class considers several controversies that arise within science and investigates their broader philosophical significance. How does science work in different domains and at different times, and what can science tell us about ourselves and the nature of the world? This semester we will consider four questions: What is life? Can computers think? What is intelligence? Are there male and female brains? Readings will be drawn from the sciences and the philosophy of science.  

Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

2690 - Genes and Society
Instructor: Justin D'Arms
TR 9:35: AM - 10:55 AM
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. 

2900H - Honors Seminar on Women Oxford Philosophers after WWII
Instructor: Allan Silverman
T 12:40 PM - 3:25 PM
DL

This course will look at the remarkable quartet of Oxford women who changed the philosophy, especially the Moral Philosophy, of Oxford and the world, in the 1950s. We will read philosophical essays of G.E.M Anscombe, Phillippa Foot, Mary Midgely and especially Iris Murdoch. If students are willing and able, we shall also read Murdoch’s great novel, The Sea, The Sea, which won England’s top literary prize in 1978. Besides reading and participating in discussion, the course requirement will be 10 pages of writing on topic(s) determined in consultation with the instructor.

3000 - Gateway Seminar
Instructor: Declan Smithies
WF 12:45 PM - 2:05 PM
in person

The Gateway Seminar is designed to introduce new students to the philosophy major. The main aim of the course is to help you develop the intellectual skills you’ll need to succeed in upper-level philosophy courses. As a result, we’ll spend time talking about how to read a philosophy paper, how to write a philosophy paper, how to evaluate arguments, and how to design counterexamples. We’ll develop these skills through an exploration of some central problems in ethics, epistemology, and philosophical methodology.

3002 - PPE Core 2:  Tradition, Progress, Utopia
Instructor: Piers Turner
TR 3:55 PM - 5:15 PM
in person

This course examines three ways of thinking about social and political change, each of which captures something important about social and political life, and each of which has significant blind spots. The first focuses on “traditional” values or ways of life that should be protected and preserved. The second envisions a future of steady progress toward an identifiable social or political ideal. The third looks forward to a radical social transformation that allows us to transcend existing institutions and values. We will explore each of these ways of thinking by examining they can help us to think about the relationship between human beings and nature, and about the foundations of human societies.

3120 - Engaging Time
Instructor: Tamar Rudavsky
WF 9:35 AM - 10:55 AM
in person

Time is a familiar yet slippery concept. From Plato to Husserl, philosophers have grappled with what time is. This course introduces the philosophical dimensions of time and temporality. Some of the issues addressed in the course include: how do we measure time; is time real, or is it the result of our subjective perception; is there an ontological difference between past and future – does it make sense to talk about travelling back to the past or forward to the future; does God know the future, and if so, are human beings free to refrain from activities that God ‘knows’ they will do? Students will further expand their investigations of time through exposure to a variety of philosophical schools ranging from ancient Greek, medieval, and contemporary thinkers. By the end of the semester students will have a wealth of language and imagery to describe their own understandings of temporality. Requirements: The usual, discussion posts, midterm, final, and paper.

Cultures and Ideas

3210 - History of Ancient Philosophy
Instructor: Allan Silverman
TR 9:35 AM - 10:55 AM
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.

Literature; Diversity: Global Studies; Traditions, Cultures and Transformations

3300 - Moral Philosophy
Instructor: Justin D'Arms
MW 11:30 AM - 12:25 PM + recitation
in person

What things are good? Whatever we want? Or are some things worth wanting in ways that others aren’t? What makes a person’s life go well? What is it right to do? Is this determined by the consequences of actions, or by considerations of some other kind? What is the relationship between being a rational person, on one hand, and wanting what’s good and doing what is right on the other? This course will critically assess some philosophically influential answers to these questions, and to other, related ones. This course will emphasize the development of essential philosophical skills: reading texts carefully for philosophical comprehension, writing papers that analyze arguments and philosophical positions clearly and raise critical points about them, discussing philosophical issues rigorously in a group setting.  

3410 - Philosophical Problems in the Law
Instructor: Alex Wolf-Root
TR 2:20 PM - 3:40 PM
in person

“You ought to obey the law, and if you violate the law, you ought to be punished.” On first glance this might seem obviously true, but it’s deceptively difficult to engage with justifications for those claims. We’ll start the course by investigating what, if anything, justifies a duty to obey the law. From there we’ll investigate legal punishment, especially with regards to the US. Our investigation will include both theoretical justifications for systems of punishment and practical problems we see today.

3440 - Theorizing Race
Instructor: Kwaku Korang
TR 2:20 PM - 3:40 PM
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.

3650 - Philosophy of Science
Instructor: Neil Tennant
TR 11:10 AM - 12:30 PM
in person

This course offers an advanced study of major concepts and controversies in the `general' philosophy of science (as opposed to its more specialized areas, such as the philosophy of quantum physics). The student will receive a thorough grounding in the logic of scientific method: the respective roles of induction, inference to the best explanation, and the hypothetico-deductive method of testing scientific hypotheses against the observational data. Central questions include: What kind of language is to be chosen for the formulation of theories about the external world? What are its logical operators? What logic governs it? Can there be a neutral observational language? What is the status of `theoretical' entities? What exactly are `laws of nature'? What is the relationship between theory and evidence? Does science really concern itself with causation and causal laws? How do the `special sciences' (such as psychology) relate to the `hard sciences' (such as physics)? Does science support a deterministic view of the universe? Can one characterize the notion of cognitive significance? Can one distinguish science from metaphysics? What role does mathematics play in scientific theorizing and explanation?

5241 - Studies in 18th-Century Philosophy – Kant
Instructor: Lisa Shabel
F 12:40 PM - 3:25 PM
in person

In this course, we will read and study as much of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason as we can during the semester. We will discuss the problem of synthetic a priori knowledge; Kant's theory of pure sensibility; Transcendental Idealism; the Deductions of the Categories; the System of Principles; the Antinomies; and more. Our study will be illuminated by related texts in Kant, and a commentary on the Critique, to be selected.

5440 - Philosophical Perspectives on Race, Education & Citizenship
Instructor: Winston Thompson
M 4:30 PM - 7:15 PM
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?

5500 - Advanced Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Stewart Shapiro
TR 3:55 PM - 5:15 PM
in person

An introduction to the meta-theory of first-order languages. The proof theory and model-theoretic semantics for a standard formal language will be developed. The course will include proofs of the completeness, compactness, and Löwenheim-Skolem theorems. The purpose of the course is to provide an introduction to mathematical logic, and to provide some of the logical background presupposed by many contemporary philosophical authors. Occasionally, issues in the philosophy of logic will be raised. There will be a midterm exam, a final exam, and several quizzes over homework exercises. 

5800 - Advanced Philosophy of Mind
Instructor: Declan Smithies
WF 11:10 AM - 12:30 PM
in person

In this course, we will discuss the moral significance of consciousness. Can we have any moral obligations to “Zombies” who lack any capacity for conscious experience? Or to “Vulcans” who are conscious but lack any capacity for pleasure, pain, or affectively valenced experience? To answer these questions, we will examine various theories of wellbeing and moral status in order to assess what kinds of mental capacities you need in order to fall within their purview. In particular, we will examine the nature of desire, pleasure, and pain

 

Autumn 2022
 

1100 - Intro to PhilosophyInstructor: Steve Brown
TR 9:35-10:55
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; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1100 - Intro to Philosophy
Instructor: Staff
Multiple Times
Delivery Mode: In person

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; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1300 - Intro to Ethics
Instructor: Justin D'Arms
MW 10:20-11:15
Delivery Mode: In person

An introduction to philosophy through the discussion of questions about ethics and morality. We begin with some foundational questions: Can we rationally debate moral questions? Do value and morality depend on God’s commands? Are they relative to the views of an individual or culture? What makes a person’s life go well? Are people fundamentally selfish? Then we consider how philosophical issues are relevant to some controversial social questions. Some topics will be chosen by student interest. Possible options include: freedom of speech and hate speech; the justification of mask and vaccine mandates; the ethical treatment of animals; the case for and against affirmative action and reparations; performance enhancement through drugs, genes, and technology; the moral status of abortion and euthanasia; the nature and justification of punishment; the ethics of war.

GE: Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1300 - Intro to Ethics
Instructor: Staff
TR 11:10-12:30
Delivery Mode: In person

GE: Cultures and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

1332 - Engineering Ethics
Instructor: Staff
Multiple Times
Delivery Mode: In person and DL options

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: Staff
Multiple 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 - Intro to Logic
Instructor: Staff
Multiple Times
Delivery Mode: In person and DL options

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 and Math & Quant Reasoning or Data Analysis Foundation

1501 - Intro to Logic and Legal Reasoning
Instructor: Staff
MW 5:30-6:50
Delivery Mode: In person

This course equips students with the tools of logic and critical thinking especially as they apply to the assessment of legal reasoning. By examining court cases and legal materials, students will learn to assess the strength and validity of legal reasoning, and thus to be able to evaluate and weigh legal evidence and testimony to reach justified conclusions. The critical reasoning practiced in the legal context will generalize to other domains.

GE: Quantitative Reasons: Math and Logical Analysis and Math & Quant Reasoning or Data Analysis Foundation

2120 - Asian Philosophies
Instructor: Steve Brown
MWF 10:20-11:15
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; Diversity: Global Studies and Literary, Visual & Performing Arts Foundation

2120 - Asian Philosophies
Instructor: Todd DeRose
TR 5:30-6:50
Delivery Mode: In person

This class will explore the main philosophical traditions that underly 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 and Literary, Visual & Performing Arts Foundation

2340 - The Future of Humanity
Instructor: Eden Lin
WF 11:10-12:30
Delivery Mode: In person

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

2342 - Environmental Ethics
Instructor: Matthew Willis
TR 2:20-3:40
Delivery Mode: In person

Examination of the moral issues generated by the impact of human beings on the natural environment.

2367 - Contemporary Social and Moral Problems in US
Instructor: Staff
Multiple Times
Delivery Mode: In person

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

2367 - Contemporary Social and Moral Problems in US
Instructor: Amy Shuster
TR 11:10-12:30
Delivery Mode: In person

Reserved for first-year students only.

GE: Writing and Information Literacy Foundation

2400 - Political and Social Philosophy
Instructor: Zac Harmon
WF 9:35-10:55
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: Culture and Ideas

2450 - Philosophical Problems in the Arts
Instructor: Robert Kraut
WF 12:45-2:05
Delivery Mode: In person

Our goal is to understand (and evaluate) several theories about the nature and function of art.  We will consider such questions as: What is the difference between creative innovation and fraudulence?  Is there a "correct interpretation" of a literary text or painting?  Is objective criticism possible, or is art criticism merely the expression of subjective preferences?  Can artworks be understood in isolation from social-historical forces?  Do artworks express emotions?  Is it worth theorizing about art?  Why?  

GE: Visual and Performing Arts; and Literary, Visual & Performing Arts Foundation

2455 - Philosophy and Videogames
Instructor: William Marsolek
TR 12:45-2:05
Delivery Mode: In person

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

GE: Visual and Performing Arts; and Literary, Visual & Performing Arts Foundation

2465 - Death and the Meaning of Life
Instructor: Allan Silverman
TR 9:35-10:55
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: Tyler Cook
MWF 12:40-1:35
Delivery Mode: In person

Some philosophers claim that if there is no afterlife, our lives are meaningless; all of our efforts are hopelessly and absurdly pointless.  Nothing we do in life, according to these authors, can have any genuine significance.  Others are far less pessimistic and argue that even without an afterlife, our existence can be meaningful.  They claim that things like achievement, happiness, and engaging in valuable projects can give meaning to our lives.  In fact, some philosophers even contend that death is a crucial feature of a meaningful life; immortality would inevitably drain our lives of meaning and undermine our happiness.  The course will explore these competing theories and attempt to determine which of them, if any, is correct.

GE: Literature

2500 - Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Neil Tennant
TR 11:10-12:30
Delivery Mode: In person

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; and Math & Quant Reasoning or Data Analysis Foundation

2660 - Metaphysics, Religion, and Magic in the Scientific Revolution
Instructor: Daniel Olson
WF 11:10-12:30
Delivery Mode: In person

The seventeenth century saw revolutionary developments in natural science, specifically, in matter theory, mechanics, chemistry, and astronomy.  These developments were intertwined with magical traditions, religious doctrines and disputes, and, especially, philosophical theories and arguments.  This course will examine some of these connections in the works of some of the most influential natural philosophers of the period.  Our main goal is a richer understanding of this crucial period in the development of modern science.  In addition, as with any philosophy class, we will evaluate the cogency of the arguments and the consistency and plausibility of the views we encounter. 

GE: Historical Study

2670 - Science and Religion
Instructor: Staff
TR 3:55-5:15
Delivery Mode: In person

Some of the most fundamental questions of our age concern the relationship between science and religion. This course focuses on such issues.

GE: Culture and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

2850 - Intro to Philosophy of Religion
Instructor: Steve Brown and Pranav Ambardekar
MWF 1:50-2:45
Delivery Mode: In person

Is it rational to believe in God? What kind of evidence might there be one way or the other? How exactly do these questions bear on our everyday religious and spiritual practices? And how should we view religious and spiritual practices different from our own? These are questions that have occupied philosophers all across the globe, but rarely do we have an opportunity to hear from more than one cultural perspective. This philosophy of religion class is different.

Two instructors, each from different philosophical traditions, will provide students with a unique opportunity to critically engage prominent perspectives from the East as well as the West. In doing so, we aim to break away from the dominant ‘Atheism vs. Monotheism’ approach to the philosophy of religion in Western academia. Instead, by incorporating diverse perspectives from the rich traditions of the East, this course offers a rigorous and holistic approach to the debate over God, spirituality, and the meaning of life.

GE: Culture and Ideas; and Historical and Cultural Studies Foundation

3001 - PPE Core 1
Instructor: Piers Turner and Emma Saunders-Hastings
TR 3:55-5:15
Delivery Mode: In person

This course examines three models of human nature, each of which captures something important about social and political life, and each of which has significant blind spots. The first model sees human beings as rational actors who seek to maximize the satisfaction of their preferences. The second model sees human beings as citizens with public responsibilities that orient them toward the pursuit of the common good. The third model sees human beings as members of communities that provide an identity and a set of values that enable them to navigate the social world. We use these models to explore two fundamental social and political questions: first, the question of what makes a society a “good” society, and second, the question of whether and to what extent a good society should rely on individualistic or collective processes – markets or politics – to organize its affairs.

3240 - History of 18th Century Philosophy
Instructor: Zac Harmon
WF 2:20-3:40
Delivery Mode: In person

This course will focus on the metaphysical and epistemological ideas of three major philosophers of the Eighteenth Century: George Berkeley, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. Topics to be discussed include causation, the nature of substance, the existence of God, and also whether and how we can justify knowledge about such things. We will discuss the historical connections among the ideas of the three thinkers, aiming to understand how Kant reacts to his empiricist predecessors. Course requirements will likely include two exams and a paper. 

3261 - Fundamental Concepts of Existentialism
Instructor: Tamar Rudavsky
WF 11:10-12:30
Delivery Mode: In person

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.  midterm exam, final exam and several short written assignments.

GE: Literature

3300 - Moral Philosophy
Instructor: Zac Harmon
MW 11:30-12:25
Delivery Mode: In person

What things are good? Whatever we want? Or are some things worth wanting in ways that others aren’t? What makes a person’s life go well? What is it right to do? Is this determined by the consequences of actions, or by considerations of some other kind? What is the relationship between being a rational person, on one hand, and wanting what’s good and doing what is right on the other? This course will critically assess some philosophically influential answers to these questions, and to other, related ones. This course will emphasize the development of essential philosophical skills: reading texts carefully for philosophical comprehension, writing papers that analyze arguments and philosophical positions clearly and raise critical points about them, discussing philosophical issues rigorously in a group setting.

3420 - Philosophical Perspectives on Issues of Gender
Instructor: Dana Howard
WF 9:35:00 AM-10:55:00 AM
Delivery Mode: In person

What does it mean to be a woman or a man? Can one be neither? What is the relationship between sex, gender, sexuality, femininity and masculinity? How does one’s gender play a role in shaping one’s conception of the good, or of truth, or of justice? This course surveys these core philosophical issues surrounding gender, primarily but not exclusively from a feminist perspective. It explores the ways in which philosophers contributed to the development of feminism, and the ways in which feminist theory is expanding and challenging mainstream philosophy in turn. The course is thus intended to develop critical thinking skills that are broadly applicable in a myriad of major current philosophical topics in epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy.

GE: Cultures and Ideas; Diversity: Social Diversity in the US

3440 - Theorizing Race
Instructor: Sahar Heydari Fard
TR 9:35-10:55
Delivery Mode: In person

Introduction to issues of "race," consideration of the historical emergence and development of ideas of "race" and of racist practices, along with their contemporary formations.

3800 - Intro to Phil Mind
Instructor: Richard Samuels
TR 2:20-3:40
Delivery Mode: In person

Over the last few decades, the philosophy of mind has become a central subfield of philosophy. The aim of this course is to provide a survey  of the major themes, theories and issues that have dominated this subfield. Specifically, we will focus on three fundamental issues:  the traditional mind-body problem (roughly, how mental and physical phenomena are related to each other); the problem of consciousness (roughly, what consciousness is and how physical organisms can have conscious experiences); and the problem of intentionality (roughly, how it is possible for our thoughts to represent the world).

5211 - Ancient Philosophy: Plato
Instructor: Allan Silverman
R 12:40-3:25
Delivery Mode: DL

We shall study Plato’s Metaphysics, Epistemology and Ethics.  The main texts will be the Phaedo, Republic, and Theaetetus.  Course Requirements:  1 ten page paper.

5460 - Philosophy in Literature
Instructor: Tamar Rudavsky
WF 9:35-10:55
Delivery Mode: In person

An introduction to some of the most interesting points of intersection between philosophy and literature. In this course we will explore two kinds of connections between them, most notably:  Philosophy on literature – philosophical approaches to understanding literary texts (truth; authorship; selfhood)  and Philosophy in literature – literary texts that explicitly invoke philosophical problems or approaches.  Specific topics and authors will be chosen from the following list:  a)     What is time; can we travel forward or backward in time? Is time even real? (Augustine; Borges; Lightman; McTaggart; Lewis; LeGuin)  b)    How can we, if at all, account for personal identity over time? (Kafka; Dostoyevsky; Parfit; Hume)  c)     Do we actually have free will – do we make free choices? (Sophocles; Borges; Chisholm; Taylor)  d)    Reality, Truth and Illusion (Plato; Borges; Baudrillard; Rashomon (film)) e)     If something is conceivable, is it possible? f)     Is there a meaning to life? (Sartre; Tolstoy)  (Calvino; Yablo)g)    The fine line between literary philosophy and philosophical literature (Kundera) 

5700 - Advanced Metaphysics
Instructor: Robert Kraut
TR 3:55-5:15
Delivery Mode: In person

Topic: Meaning, Interpretation, Norms and Objectivity

The goal is to explore the process of interpretation and the ontology of meaning. One wishes to know, e.g., whether interpretation of speech discloses determinate, objective features of assertions—"meanings" which are there to be discerned—or whether it involves the "projection" of subjective constructs onto other people's behavior. If it is projected, one wishes to know whether it can be "correct"--and, if so, the criteria by which correctness is determined. Ongoing inquiries in aesthetics and semantic theory involve the nature of this contrast between “the found” and “the made”—and, more broadly, the nature and determinants of meaning and the very idea of correct interpretation. In this course we will explore these topics, and various notions of "objectivity" which lurk in the background. Pragmatism will be foregrounded in our discussions, insofar as it provides an illuminating perspective on these inquiries—and, in its more radical moments, seeks to dismiss them as riddled with illegitimate assumptions.  We will study and discuss work by Wittgenstein, Kripke, Stroud, Quine, Davidson, Gibbard, McDowell, Rorty, Boghossian, and Matti Eklund.  Prior completion of PHILOS 2500: Symbolic Logic is STRONGLY recommended. Grade based upon two papers, weekly postings on Canvas, and contributions to class discussion.