Fall 2018 Class Schedule
IMPORTANT NOTE: All 100-level and most 200-level courses are introductory, and are intended to be accessible to all students, including those with no previous exposure to philosophy. For this reason there are no prerequisites, and freshman are free to enroll. Courses and times are subject to change.
|PHIL 109||“Know Thyself”||Goldberg||M/W 9:30 - 10:50|
PHIL 109-6-20 “Know Thyself”
In this course we will investigate the nature and significance of, as well as several possible routes to, knowing oneself. The readings will be drawn from various fields (above all, philosophy and psychology, but also from literature). The questions we will seek to answer, above all, will be: (1) What is it to know oneself? (2) How does one attain such knowledge? (3) What are the impediments to acquiring this knowledge? (4) How do the opinions and expectations of others factor in to our knowledge of ourselves? (5) Why, if at all, is it valuable to have this knowledge?
|PHIL 109-6-21||"Augustine for Everyone"||S. Ebels-Duggan||T/Th 11:00 - 12:20|
PHIL 109-6-21 "Augustine for Everyone"
Popular characterizations of Augustine hold that he synthesized Platonism and Christianity. While not untrue, this is too often an unhelpful excuse to dismiss him. And yet the great African bishop offers much more, both to the religious and non-religious (and the Platonist and non-Platonist). For Augustine's project in the Confessions is fundamentally to understand ourselves and the predicament of human life. This attempt at understanding yields a compelling portrait of our place in the universe and the significance of moral deliberation, one that is relevant to anyone interested in his question---whether religious or not.
|PHIL 109-6-22||"What is Democracy"||Mueller||M/W 10:30 - 11:50|
PHIL 109-6-22 "What is Democracy"
In this seminar we will examine some of the fundamental ideas and questions behind democracy and provide a reading of their "inventors". Some of the questions are: What is democracy? Is it a form of government, a value, an ideal, a political system, a form of life, a bit of all this? Is democracy always the best political solution (in wartime? general starvation?)? Why should the whole of the people decide and not the specialists in the respective questions? Are all democratically taken decisions automatically legitimate (what about minorities\' rights?)? How should all citizens in a democracy participate in politics? By direct self-government of the people or by voting representatives? Is everything democratically decidable or does the individual have unalterable rights? Is tolerance and/or free speech necessary for democracy and how far can it go?
|PHIL 110||Intro to Philosophy||Glanzberg||T/Th 9:30 – 10:50|
PHIL 110 Intro to Philosophy
This course has two central goals. The first is to give you an understanding of what philosophical problems are and how they might be solved. This will be done through consideration of some perennial philosophical problems, drawing on readings from important figures in the history of philosophy, as well as contemporary authors. The second goal is to develop your analytic and argumentative skills. Topics to be discussed include the existence of god, the nature of knowledge, the relation of mind to body, free will and ethics and the nature of right and wrong.
|PHIL 150||Intro to Logic||S. Ebels-Duggan||T/Th 2:00-3:20|
PHIL 150 Intro to Logic
Logic is about representing reasoning using a specialized set of symbols. The purpose of the symbols is to make it easier to discern how certain forms of sentences indicate when the reasoning involved is good, and when the reasoning is bad. So, we first learn how to use symbols to represent certain natural language sentences. We then use the symbolism to construct symbolized arguments that correspond to good arguments in natural language and use the symbolism to show when such natural language arguments---to the extent that the symbolism represents them---are bad.
|PHIL 216||Intro to Pragmatism||Mueller||M/W 3:30 – 4:50|
PHIL 216 Intro to Pragmatism
Classics of Pragmatist Thought Pragmatism is probably the first, but certainly the most important genuinely North American philosophical tradition. The classical writings of Peirce, James, Dewey set the stage for a completely new orientation in epistemology, moral and political theory, psychology and many other fields. Basic to all Pragmatist writers is the belief that the active and interactive human being in its natural and social environment has to stand at the center of reflection. They thus emphasize volitional, procedural, social, and evolutionary aspects of knowledge of any kind. Given this focus on practically involved intelligent agents, political pragmatists like Dewey, Addams, Locke explore the natural origins, revisability and legitimacy of moral and political norms. They develop the idea of a critical use of knowledge and its connection to non-violent democratic conduct. Neopragmatists (Rorty and Putnam) explore the philosophical and political implications of critical thinking.
|PHIL 266||The Philosophy of Religion||Seeskin||M/W/F 10:00-10:50am|
phil-266 The Philosophy of Religion
|PHIL 269||Bioethics||Sheldon||T/Th 3:30 – 4:50|
PHIL 269 Bioethics
An analysis of the ethical issues that arise as a result of developments in medicine and biotechnology. Topics considered will include cloning and stem cell transplantation, human and animal research, new reproductive technologies, the definition of death, abortion, euthanasia, and the allocation of resources.
|PHIL 273||Brady Scholars - “The Good Life”||Kraut||T/Th 2:00 – 3:20|
PHIL 273-1 Brady Scholars - “The Good Life”
"The Good Life" This is the first in a sequence of three courses required of sophomores in the Brady Scholars Program in Ethics and Civic Life. Our topic, the good life, will be explored by reading and discussing several recent books. We will ask: what should one try to get out of life? Is there a single best answer to this question? Is each person the final judge of what is good for that individual, or is it possible to be mistaken about where one's good lies? What is the relationship between living well and being moral? What is happiness and how is it best achieved? How important is pleasure?
|PHIL 313||Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason”: Dialect||Zuckert||T/Th 11:00 – 12:20|
PHIL 313-2 Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason”: Dialect
In this course, we will study the second half of Kant's great work, the Critique of Pure Reason, in which he presents his widely influential criticisms of traditional metaphysics. We will be concerned to understand and evaluate Kant's arguments that human beings are incapable of establishing truths beyond the reach of experience - e.g., that the soul is immortal, that God exists, or that we have free will - by pure reason alone. We will also investigate Kant's explanation of the occurrence and persistence of these metaphysical questions throughout human history: his conception of the nature of human reason as itself inevitably prone to metaphysical error, as aiming, necessarily, to transcend its own limits, in order to gain a grasp of the "unconditioned" ground of experiential reality.
|PHIL 353||Philosophy of Language||Glanzberg||T/Th 12:30 – 1:50|
PHIL 353 Philosophy of Language
Language is a familiar part of our everyday lives, but it is also an important topic in philosophy. In this course, we will explore some of the fundamental philosophical issues that surround language. We will investigate what makes a language what it is, by investigating the nature of linguistic meaning, and the range of special actions we can perform in virtue of having a language. We will also investigate what it is to know something so complicated as a human language, by investigating the nature of linguistic rules, and the kinds of cognitive states that comprise knowledge of language. As time permits, we will also examine how the contexts in which we speak influence how we communicate, and the way language is able frame thoughts about the world around us.
|PHIL 360||Topics in Moral Philosophy – “Contemporary Moral Theory”||K. Ebels-Duggan||M/W 2:00 – 3:20|
PHIL 360 Topics in Moral Philosophy – “Contemporary Moral Theory”
At least since Plato, moral philosophers have attempted to address the question "Why should I act morally?" In this class we will study some of the best contemporary philosophers' treatments of this issue. As with any good philosophical question, this one brings many others in its wake. We will take a special interest in the relationships among what we have reason or obligation to do, what we want, and what would be good for us. Do you have to want to do something in order to have a reason to do it? And do you have to have a reason to do something to have a moral obligation to do so? Or would it, rather, be good to act in some way only if you have good reason to want to do so? Good morally, or good for you, or both? The course will consist partly in lectures, but will allow plenty of time for discussion.
|PHIL 401||1st Year Proseminar – “Speech Acts”||Goldberg||M 3:30 - 6:20|
PHIL 401-1 1st Year Proseminar – “Speech Acts”
In this seminar we will look at several traditional accounts of speech acts (Bach and Harnish; Searle; Alston) and recent applications on topics such as silencing, slurs, hate speech, insinuation, and dogwhistles.
|PHIL 402||2nd Year Proseminar “Epistemic Injustice”||Medina||Th 2:00 - 4:50|
PHIL 402-1 2nd Year Proseminar “Epistemic Injustice”
Under the rubric of epistemic injustice we will study those forms of unfair treatment that relate to issues of knowledge, understanding, and participation in communicative practices. These issues include a wide range of topics concerning wrongful treatment and unjust structures in meaning-making and knowledge producing practices, such as the following: exclusion and silencing; invisibility and inaudibility; having one's meanings or contributions systematically distorted, misheard, or misrepresented; having diminished status or standing in expressive practices; unfair differentials in authority and/or epistemic agency; being unfairly distrusted; receiving no or minimal uptake; having one's voice coopted or instrumentalized; etc. We will read books and essays by Miranda Fricker, Linda Alcoff, Kristie Dotson, Charles Mills, Gaile Pohlhaus, and Jose Medina, among others.
|PHIL 415||Seminar in French Philosophy – “Biopolitics after Foucault”||Deutscher||W 6:30 - 9:30|
PHIL 415 Seminar in French Philosophy – “Biopolitics after Foucault”
This interdisciplinary course integrates readings from contemporary French philosophy and from critical race, gender and sexuality studies. Focusing on the field of biopolitical theory (and its complement, "thanatopolitics"), and the political management of life and death in both domains, it engages the legacy and ongoing influence of Michel Foucault. One section of the course is devoted to a group of lecture series offered by Foucault at the College de France, allowing students to augment their knowledge of core texts such as Discipline and Punish and History of Sexuality, with a study of some of the following: Psychiatric Power, Society Must Be Defended, and Security, Territory, Population. The second section of the course considers the role of Foucauldian biopolitics within a number of debates from contempory gender, queer and race studies. Topics will be selected from: politics of utopianism, futurism, the anti-social thesis, critique of reproductive futurism, necropolitics and afro-pessimism, cruel optimism, social ontolology and precarious life, debility, biopolitics and the management of language, and the politics of plural temporalities.
|PHIL 420||Studies in Ancient Philosophy – “Pleasure”||Kraut||W 3:30 - 6:20|
PHIL 420 Studies in Ancient Philosophy – “Pleasure”
We will examine discussions of pleasure in Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus - as well as in later authors (Sidgwick, contemporary philosophers). What is pleasure? Has hedonism been refuted? What are the best arguments for and against it? Is all pleasure good to some extent? How does it compare in value to that of other goods (if there are any)? Students should own Plato's collected dialogues and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Other assigned readings will be made available.
|PHIL 468||Seminar in Epistemology – “Topics in Applied Epistemology”||Lackey||T 3:30 - 6:20|
PHIL 468 Seminar in Epistemology – “Topics in Applied Epistemology”
In this course, we will examine key issues in applied epistemology, such as the epistemology of race, groups, the internet, and sexual consent.