Undergraduate Courses

Body

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
Text

 

Summer Courses                              Autumn Courses

 

Summer 2022
 

1100 - Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Staff
Multiple times
Delivery Mode: In person and DL

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 course.

1332 - Engineering Ethics
Instructor: Staff
Multiple times
Delivery Mode: In person and DL ASYNC

Can machines display racial bias? Can unmanned systems be autonomous? When is remote surveillance ethically permissible? Is whistleblowing inconsistent with loyalty? This course examines ethical questions faced by engineers everyday, and offers an overview of leading ethical theories for answering them.

GE: Cultures and Ideas

1500 - Intro to Logic
Instructor: Staff
ASYNC
Delivery Mode: DL

In PHILOS 1500, learn how to analyze the logic of arguments offered in morality, law, and science; and identify when such reasoning is valid or fallacious.

GE: Quantitative Reasons: Math and Logical Analysis

1501 - Logic and Legal Reasoning
Instructor: Staff
May 10-July 29: MW 11:40-1:15
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. Students will have the opportunity to apply legal reasoning skills to topics in philosophy of law including the economic approach to law, the role of emotion and persuasion in legal reasoning, or how law accommodates new technologies via analogy. The critical reasoning practiced in the legal context will generalize to other domains. 

GE: Quantitative Reasoning: Math and Logical Analysis

1520 - Probability, Data & Decision-Making
Instructor: Stewart Shapiro
Jun 21-Jul 29: MWF 10:20-12:45
Delivery Mode: In person

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

2120 - Asian Philosophies
Instructor: Pranav Ambardekar
Jun 6-Jul 29: MWF 3:20-4:55
Delivery Mode: In person

The goal of PHILOS 2120 is to develop a better, and a more fully rounded understanding of ourselves and the world around us by inhabiting the rich and myriad perspectives emanating from Eastern traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

GE: Literature; Diversity: Global Studies

2367 - Contemporary Social and Moral Problems in the U.S.
Instructor: Staff
May 10-July 1: MWF 11:40-1:15
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:  Level 2 Writing and Communication and Diversity: social diversity in the US

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

2455 - Philosophy and Video Games
Instructor: Staff
May 10-Jul 29: MW 3:20-4:55
Delivery Mode: DL

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

GE: Visual and Performing Arts; and Cultures and Ideas

2465 - Death and the Meaning of Life
Instructor: Abe Wang
May 10-Jul 29: TR 3:20-4:55
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: Robert Kraut
Jun 6-Jul 29: MWF 1:30-3:05
Delivery Mode: In person

Ordinary physical objects have a basic structure. Various natural sciences (physics, biology, chemistry, etc.) help us understand this structure, thereby enabling better prediction and control of the world around us.

Analogously: ordinary language and ordinary arguments have a basic structure; part of the role of symbolic logic is to help us understand this structure, thereby facilitating more effective reasoning and argumentation. In this course we develop a theory of valid deducibility adequate to handle most deductive reasoning to be found in science, mathematics, and legal discourse. Along the way we will reflect upon such notions as logical truth, logical form, the nature of language, the relation between truth and derivability, the idea of a “correct logic,” and the very idea of a valid argument. Students should emerge from the course more sensitive to the structure of deductive arguments and better equipped to evaluate them.

The course is self-contained and requires no special background beyond familiarity with the techniques of high school algebra. There will be three mid-term exams and a cumulative final exam. TEXT: E.J. Lemmon, Beginning Logic.

GE: Quantitative Reasoning: Math and Logical Analysis

 

 

Autumn 2022

1100H - Honors Intro to Philosophy
Instructor: Sahar Heydari Fard
TR 2:20-3:40
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

1100 - Intro to Philosophy
Instructor: 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: Staff
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: Preston Lennon
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: Staff
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: Staff
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: Staff
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.