100 A – Introduction to Philosophy (AL)
In this course we will examine some of the most central topics in the history of Western philosophy, including skepticism, free will, the existence of God, competing views about human nature, and the meaning of life. Some thinkers to be discussed include Plato, Descartes, Anselm, Aquinas, Pascal, Hume, James, Ayer, Strawson, Nagel, Putnam, and Camus.
100 B – Introduction to Philosophy (AL)
Two lectures, one discussion section per week. This first course in philosophy will be divided into two parts: in the first, we will discuss some central questions in ethics; in the second, we will address questions in the theory of knowledge. Readings include Plato's Gorgias, John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism, Bertrand Russell's Problems of Philosophy, and W V Quine's Web of Belief.
100H – Introduction to Philosophy (Honors) (AL)
An introduction to philosophy through a survey of some major philosophical questions, such as: Does God exist, and is this something we can know independently of revelation? What makes us the same person from moment to moment? What is justice, and how should society be organized to treat everyone fairly?
Phil 110 – Introduction To Logic
Introduction to Symbolic Logic. Two logical systems are examined: (1) Sentential Logic, (2) Predicate Logic. Work is equally divided between: (a) translating English sentences into symbolic notation, and (b) constructing formal derivations. Text: Hardegree, Symbolic Logic: A First Course, 3rd ed. Requirements: In-class exams. For more information, consult course website.
160 A – Introduction to Ethics (AT)
In the first half of the class we'll discuss some of the main theories that have been offered for evaluating what one ought and ought not to do, such as Ethical Relativism, Ethical Skepticism, the Divine Command theory, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and the Social Contract Theory.
In the second half of the class we'll turn to look at some controversial issues in ethics, with possible topics including animal rights, euthanasia, abortion, infanticide, parental responsibilities, neonatal circumcision and children's rights.
160 B – Introduction to Ethics (AT) (Residential Academic Program)
Our study has three parts. In the first, we consider challenges to ethics. Questions that will be discussed are: (1) Are moral judgments expressions of personal preference? (2) Are there objective moral standards that apply to every culture? (3) Is there any reason to be moral? (4) Do we ever act selflessly? In the second, we discuss the ethical theories of philosophers such as Aristotle, Mill, and Kant. In the third, we will consider some specific global and environmental moral problems. These include: poverty, pollution and animal rights. The textbook is Cahn, S. (ed.) Exploring Ethics: An Introductory Anthology OUP (2008). ISBN: 978-0195342000. I have ordered copies at Amherst Books, which is located at the corner of Pleasant St. and Main in downtown Amherst. Course requirements: regular attendance, weekly homework assignments, and a final exam.
160 C – Introduction to Ethics (AT) (Residential Academic Program)
160H – Introduction to Ethics (Honors) (AT)
This course will begin by discussing three normative ethical theories—theories about how one ought to live or which actions are morally correct—namely Aristotelian, Kantian and Utilitarian theories. We will consider problems that each of these theories faces. Next, we will turn to metaethics, which addresses the status of moral claims, for example, whether ‘lying is wrong’ can be true or false. Finally, we will consider the application of moral theories to contemporary problems: abortion, famine relief, corporate responsibility, etc.
Requirements: Three in-class exams and a short, final take-home essay.
161 – Problems in Social Thought (SB)
This course is an introduction to the philosophy of social science. In the main part of the course, we will consider a range of approaches to the philosophy of social science, including both traditional approaches and their (Marxist, feminist, and other) rivals. In the second part of the course, we will consider a range of applications of social theory through the lens of the philosophies of social science covered in the first part.
Course website: http://people.umass.edu/khm/0809/161.html
164 01 – Medical Ethics (AT)
Is human life sacred? How should we treat someone who is brain dead, but whose body is still warm and breathing? Is a fetus the kind of being whose life we should go to great lengths to preserve? If you haven’t been living in a cave your whole life, then you’ve probably had (or at least witnessed) debates about questions like these. If you want to get some good ammo for the next time you’re in a discussion about moral issues like abortion or euthanasia, then this is the class for you. We’ll read about the various sides of the debates. We’ll critically examine the main arguments. We’ll question the common assumptions. And in the process, you’ll hone your ability to analyze a problem and write clearly about it. But be warned: this class is not for the faint of heart.
164 02 – Medical Ethics (AT) (Residential Academic Program)
When it comes to the practice of medicine, ethical questions abound. When, if ever, is it morally permissible to withhold treatment knowing that doing so will bring about the end of a life? When, if ever, is it permissible for a healthcare provider to assist in a person's suicide? What is the moral status of a human embryo or a human fetus? What makes for a just distribution of scarce medical resources? In this course, we will examine some answers that have been given to these (and other) questions. Along the way, we will (i) make some progress toward forming our own considered views on these matters and (ii) learn how to think carefully and systematically about difficult ethical questions.
164 03 –Medical Ethics (AT) (Residential Academic Program)
This course provides an introduction to medical ethics. While the chief aim of the course is to enhance students’ understanding of various moral controversies that arise in the context of medicine, it is also designed to introduce them to positions in philosophical ethics and to help develop their analytical and critical thinking skills, especially as they apply to moral decision-making. We will discuss such questions as the following: Under what conditions, if any, is a doctor morally entitled to withhold medical information from her patient? Can a medical researcher permissibly sacrifice the well-being of one of his subjects for the sole purpose of gaining scientific knowledge? Do human fetuses have the same rights as human adults? Should voluntary, physician-assisted euthanasia be legalized? What types of cloning (if any) are morally acceptable? What criteria should govern the distribution of scarce medical resources? Is a free-market approach to health care morally justifiable? Requirements: three exams and two short papers. Required textbook: Biomedical Ethics, by Walter Glannon (Oxford, 2004). A few brief articles will be made available by the instructor.
164 04 –Medical Ethics (AT)
In this course we will consider some interesting problems that arise in the context of the practice of medicine. Topics may include abortion, euthanasia, distribution of resources, and related issues. One of the main goals of the course will be to develop the ability to clearly formulate and evaluate arguments.
164 05 –Medical Ethics (AT)
This course will deal with issues of ethical import for medical practitioners and administrators. It will be divided, by topic, into four sections:
(1) Killing vs. Letting Die
It is usually assumed that killing is not morally permissible (i.e., it is wrong). Sometimes, however, there might be good reason to distinguish a notion of letting die, in which one merely abstains from performing an action or actions that might prevent someone from dying. We might then ask, if letting die is different from killing, is letting die also morally impermissible? Or conversely, if letting die is sometimes permissible, is killing? In this section of the course, we will examine whether the distinction between killing and letting die can be made coherently, and if so, what the moral status of letting die might be.
(2) Genetic Engineering
Recent research suggests that highly sophisticated methods of genetic manipulation lay in the near future. This possibility invites ethical debate. Principally, the debate centers on the degree of genetic manipulation that is morally permissible. While it might seem relatively easy to defend the view that an individual may make use of genetic manipulation to correct or relieve a particular problem in an isolated case, it is much more difficult to defend an extension of genetic manipulation to include the prevention of future problems in the population at large (usually by altering the gene pool). We will look at why some think this extension is problematic.
(3) Doctor/Patient Relations
Should doctors always tell patients the truth (and the whole truth) ? Should patients always tell doctors the truth (and the whole truth)? Or is it sometimes morally permissible to lie, or leave out certain information? In this section we will try to shed some light on these questions. Additionally, we will examine the notion of informed consent: is this traditional approach to recommending treatment an ethical one? Does it, for example, serve the patient's best interest? This will lead us to ask, finally, how qualified doctors are to understand what is in the best interests of their patients, and how this might affect their ability to prescribe treatments.
(4) Philosophers and Ethicists
We will close the course with a brief examination of exactly what role philosophers and ethicists should play in medical decision making. Are medical practitioners qualified to make difficult ethical decisions on their own, or should they call on experts in ethics (called 'ethicists') to aid them? And if they are called upon, how great a role should these ethicists have?
164H – Medical Ethics (Honors) (AT)
This course will provide an introduction to some of the most interesting and important debates in bioethics. Some of the questions we’ll ask: Is it morally permissible to terminate a pregnancy? Is it morally permissible for parents to pre-determine the sex of their child? When, if ever, is it okay to withdraw or withhold medical treatment? Should we fight to save the life of a severely disabled newborn? Is there a right to end one’s own life? Should doctors tell the truth? How should we allocate scarce medical resources? Do governments have a moral obligation to provide their citizens with a basic level of health care? You must be a student in the Commonwealth College to register for this course.
330 – Continental Rationalists
A study of the metaphysical, epistemological, and theological doctrines of the leading Continental Rationalists of the Seventeenth Century: Descartes, Spinoza, Malebranche, and Leibniz. We will focus on seminal texts by these philosophers, and debates among them and their various critics. Lectures accompanied by lots of discussion.
335 – Contemporary Analytic Philosophy
Consideration of the major trends in British and American philosophy in roughly the first half of the 20th century. Topics include philosophical analysis, logical atomism, logical positivism and "the linguistic turn" in philosophy. Texts: works by Russell, Wittgenstein, Ayer, Kripke and/or others. Requirements: Take-home essay exams, in-class quizzes. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy, or consent of instructor.
336 – Existential Philosophy
This course is a survey of Existentialist philosophy in the late 19th and early 20th century. Readings will include Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, and Camus. Some of the themes of these readings include God,
value, freedom, authenticity, meaning, and the absurd. Requirements: Three short papers, one take-home exam.
362 – Philosophical Approaches to Politics
An investigation into foundational issues in political theory, such as the basis of state authority, the nature of property rights, balancing the values of individual autonomy and equality, and the question of nationalism. Readings from Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, Marx, Rawls, Nozick, and others.
381 – Philosophy of Women
Philosophical Perspectives on Gender.
This course will offer systematic examination of a variety of philosophical issues raised by the existence of gender roles in human society: Is the existence or content of such roles determined by nature? Are they inherently oppressive? How does the category gender interact with other socially significant categories, like race, class, and sexual orientation? What would gender equality look like? How do differences among women complicate attempts to generalize about gender?
In the last part of the course, we will bring our theoretical insights to bear on some topical issue related to gender, chosen by the class, such as: is affirmative action morally justifiable? Should pornography be regulated? Is abortion morally permissible?
Readings will be drawn from historical and contemporary sources. Methods of analytical philosophy, particularly the construction and critical evaluation of arguments, will be emphasized throughout.
382 – Philosophical Approaches to Science
In this course we will focus primarily on epistemological issues relating to science. In pursuit of this goal we will review some of the major developments in the philosophy of science in the 20th century, proceeding chronologically through important works of A.J. Ayer and the logical positivists, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyeraband, and others. Alongside this chronological survey, we will pause to investigate several key issues including: confirmation and refutation, Hempel's Raven Paradox, induction and Hume’s Problem, and Goodman's New Riddle of Induction. After this we will spend some time thinking about the Demarcation Problem – the problem of distinguishing science from pseudoscience (e.g., is intelligent design just as much a science as the theory of evolution?). We will conclude the course by considering the relation between science and other aspects of society. Possible further topics include: scientific realism/anti-realism and modern theories of confirmation.
Required Texts: Theory and Reality, by Peter Godfrey-Smith; Language, Truth, and Logic, by A.J. Ayer; The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn; and various articles available on e-reserve and online.
383 – Philosophical Approaches to Religion
In this course we will consider various issues that arise when one thinks philosophically about religion. Possible topics for discussion include arguments for the existence of God, the need (or lack of need) for such arguments, the divine attributes, the problem of evil, the nature of religious experience, and
the relation of religion to science.
393R – Race and Ethics
In this course we will be exploring questions such as "What is a 'race'?", "What is racism?" and "What is the nature of racial stereotypes?" We will also be exploring the existential predicaments of being subjected to racism or otherwise racialized and some of the racial meanings of being an African American, a white American, an Asian American, a Multiracial American, an Hispanic American or a Native American. Other topics will include current debates about race and responsibility, the morality of rap music, thinking in terms of “Us” and “Them” after 9/11, and a cosmopolitan perspective on race and racism in America.
394A – Action Theory
Wittgenstein once asked, “What is left over if I subtract the fact that my arm goes up from the fact that I raise my arm?” Using recent philosophical articles, we¹ll explore possible responses to this question. We¹ll also consider what it is to be an agent who intentionally does things, as opposed to an entity (like a rock or a tree) to which things happen. We’ll consider the so-called Causal Theory of Action as a solution to the problems of action and agency. Prerequisites: 3 philosophy courses, including introductory logic; or permission of the instructor.
398W – Junior Year Writing Course
Must be taken concurrently with Phil 330.
511 – Modal Logic
This course is intended to follow Philosophy 310 (Intermediate Logic), and examines various modal logical systems including alethic modal logic, epistemic logic, deontic logic, tense logic, and the logic of propositional attitudes. Emphasis will be on quantification, identity, descriptions, scoped singular terms, and actuality. Text: Hardegree, Introduction to Modal Logic (available on-line). Prerequisite: Philosophy 310, or consent of the instructor. For more information, consult http://people.umass.edu/gmhwww/511.
551 – Metaphysics
TuTh 2:30 - 3:45
563 – Ethical Theory
We are sorry, but this course has been cancelled.
582 – Philosophy of Science
TuTh 1:00 - 2:15
This class will explore topics regarding the nature of space and time. Possible topics include: (1) Classical conceptions of space and time, (2) Relativistic conceptions of space and time, (3) Whether space and time are substances, or just convenient ways of encoding spatiotemporal relations (Substantivalism vs. Relationism), (4) Whether spatiotemporal relations are intrinsic or extrinsic, (5) Whether objects inhabit regions of spacetime, or are identical to regions of spacetime (Supersubstantivalism), (6) Whether objects are spatially and temporally divisible (Perdurantism vs. Endurantism), (7) Whether space and time are infinitely divisible, (8) Whether the present is special in some way (Presentism vs. "Moving Spotlight" view vs. Externalism), (9) How time is different from space, (10) The source and nature of the `arrows of time', (11) And the tenability and implications of time travel.
594W - Propositional Attitudes
time by arrangement
The course will be an advanced introduction to a central area in contemporary philosophy of language—the semantics of propositional attitude reports, i.e., claims of the form ‘Lois believes that Superman flies.’ The focus will be on the various attempts to solve Kripke’s Puzzle, which runs as follows: Paderewski, a famous Polish statesman, was also an accomplished pianist. Suppose that Peter believes that Paderewski, the pianist, is a gifted musician but, not realizing that one and the same person is both statesman and pianist, does not believe that Paderewski, the statesman, is a gifted musician. Then it is unclear whether the sentence ‘Peter believes that Paderewski is a gifted musician’ is true or false. We will begin with a quick review of the pre-Kripkean history of the topic, proceed with a close examination of Kripke’s own statement of the puzzle, and then consider a variety of proposed solutions: semantic, pragmatic, as well as approaches that don’t fit comfortably in either category. Topics to be discussed include: the logical form of attitude reports, the semantics of that-clauses, the nature of propositions, the semantics/pragmatics divide. Time permitting, we will discuss Kit Fine’s treatment of Kripke’s Puzzle in his recently published Locke Lectures. Text: Matthew Davidson, On Sense and Direct Reference (McGraw-Hill).
The course is for graduate students, or advanced undergraduates who have taken either Phil 110 or its equivalent, or a course in Linguistics. Requirements: For graduate students, one short paper (5 pages) and one final paper (15-20 pages) and possibly one seminar presentation; for undergraduates, take-home midterm essays and a final paper (10 pages).
595P – Philosophy of Psychology