100 A – Introduction to Philosophy (AL)
MW 2:30-2:20 (+discussions)
This course provides an introduction to philosophy by way of a discussion of three central philosophical problems -- the problem of free will and determinism; the "mind-body problem"; and the problem of the existence and nature of God. In each case, the focus is on careful formulation of doctrines and arguments. The goals are (i) to understand the doctrines and arguments; (ii) to develop the ability to evaluate the doctrines and arguments; and (iii) to begin to develop the ability to extract interesting arguments from philosophical texts. There will be three regularly scheduled quizzes. Each student will be permitted to take (or take over) one quiz during final exam week. There will also be three written homework assignments. There is no term paper or final exam in this course.
100 B – Introduction to Philosophy (AL)
TuTh 4:00-4:50 (+discussions)
The goals of this course are two-fold: to develop and hone students' analytical skills and to look at a number of the central issues in philosophy. Crucial to doing and understanding philosophy is an ability to present, explain, and evaluate arguments; throughout the course we will refine these abilities. By way of an introduction to a number of core philosophical issues we will take an in-depth look at one of the greatest works of philosophy of all time, Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy. In it we will encounter skeptical arguments, arguments for the existence of God, and an argument for mind-body dualism. We will grapple with these issues in addition to questions about free will and ethics.
100H – Introduction to Philosophy (Honors) (AL)
This course will focus on some short classics of Western philosophy in order to raise questions that are still pertinent today. We’ll read some of Plato’s early dialogues that feature Socrates as a character; we’ll read Descartes’ Meditations, a beautiful work that helped initiate modern philosophy in the 17th century. We’ll read Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, an excellent example of 18th century Enlightenment thinking.
Here are some of the questions that we’ll discuss: Is something good because the gods (or God or some authority) says it is, or do they say that it is good because it is good? Are we obligated to obey laws that we disagree with? What is there to fear about death? What is virtue? How can a person discover anything new? (If she does not already know what she’s looking for, how can she recognize it if she comes across it? But if she already knows what she’s looking for, there’s no discovery to be made.) What is the relation of mentality to the physical world? What are some arguments for the existence of God? Are arguments from design for God’s existence good arguments?
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)
TuTh 9:30-10:20 (+discussions)
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) (RAP course)
Sustainability RAP (Mary Lyon 119)
160 C – Introduction to Ethics (AT) (RAP course)
Scientific Connections RAP (Mary Lyon 119)
This course is an introduction to ethics with a focus on ethical issues that arise in science. We will start with an introduction to leading theoris in ethics about what makes actions right or wrong. Next we will consider some ethical questions concerning scientific practice. Some possible questions for investigation include:
What are the ethics of scientific publication?
Is it acceptable to use humans as experimental subjects? Is it acceptable to use animals?
Should scientists have complete freedom to pose any research question and investigate any research topic?
Is it acceptable to use advances in genetics to create "designer children"? How about "designer athletes"?
We will conclude the course by looking at some things that science might be able to tell us about ethics. In particular, we'll look at some psychological experiments about moral intuition, and consider the merits of evolutionary explanations of ethics and morality.
160H – Introduction to Ethics (Honors) (AT)
How ought I to act? What kind of person should I be? What is the good life for human beings? This course offers an introduction to some fundamental debates in ethics. In the first half of the course, we look at the three major ethical schools of thought defended by Aristotle, Kant, and Mill, and address broad themes related to cultural relativism, egoism, and the relationship between God and morality. In the second half of the course, we look at several contemporary debates in applied ethics regarding affirmative action, abortion, animal rights, familial obligations, and world poverty.
161 01 – Problems in Social Thought (SB)
In this class we will study philosophic perspectives on power, privilege, and oppression. The first part of the course is aimed at gaining an understanding of the nature of privilege and oppression in relation to social inequity. The second part of the class critically considers concepts, theoretical explanations and experiences of social constructs, such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, and (dis)ability, and the various ways that privilege and oppression operate within these categories. The last portion of this course will focus on theories of justice. In particular, we will examine 1) justifications for or criticisms of different kinds of inequality, and 2) prescriptions for the equitable distribution power and resources, rights and liberties, opportunities and status.
161 02 – Problems in Social Thought (SB)
This course will survey some of the key philosophical underpinnings of the modern Western liberal state, some of its major political ideologies and some of its ideological adversaries. Topics that will be dealt with are how, if at all, states may be legitimized, civil rights, justice, equality, democracy, and some of the political challenges of multiculturalism, race and gender.
164 01 – Medical Ethics (AT)
This class offers a philosophical examination of ethical issues in the fields of medicine and bio-medical research. Topics include patient autonomy and informed consent, abortion, killing and letting die, voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, reproductive and therapeutic cloning, and the allocation of scarce medical resources. Readings will be taken from, Bioethics: An Anthology (2006), ed. Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer. Course Requirements: Three in-class exams, pop-quizzes, and take-home assignments.
164 02 – Medical Ethics (AT) (RAP course)
Health Science RAP (Melville 112)
164 03 – Medical Ethics (AT) (RAP course)
Health Science RAP (Melville 112)
The course will divided into three units. In the first unit we will examine whether there is a coherent distinction to be made between the notions of killing and letting die. If such a distinction can be made, what is the moral status of letting die: is it impermissible in the same cases that killing is? The second unit will focus on issues of patient autonomy, including issues about treatment that arise during clinical research trials. In the last unit we will consider the relationship between professional ethicists and medical practitioners: can the former contribute meaningful solutions to the ethical problems faced by the latter?
164 04 – Medical Ethics (AT)
In this course we will explore some important topics in Medical Ethics including: Abortion, Euthanasia, Paternalism, The Doctor/Patient Relationship, Gene therapy, Sex selection. In preparation for these topics, we will spend some time asking some more basic questions in Meta Ethics and Normative Ethics such as: 'Is there even such a thing as right and wrong?' and 'What makes a right action right?'
164H – Medical Ethics (Honors) (AT)
320 – History of Ancient Philosophy (HS)
A survey of Plato's views on a wide range of topics in ethics, moral psychology, metaphysics, and epistemology. Readings include "Euthyphro", "Protagoras",
"Gorgias", "Phaedo", "Republic" and "Theaetetus".
334 – American Philosophy
This course will examine some of the central themes that run through the American philosophical tradition. Special attention will be paid to issues regarding truth, objectivity, subjectivity, and the role of perspective in philosophical inquiry. Authors to be read and discussed include: Peirce, James, Dewey, Sellars, Quine, Davidson, Putnam, Lewis, Rorty, and Nagel.
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.
336.1 – Existential Philosophy
An introduction to the main themes of Existentialism through seminal writing by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre.
336.2 – Existential Philosophy
We begin with an examination of Husserl's 1907 lectures on phenomenology and the possibility of knowledge. In these lectures, Husserl is divided between two theories of consciousness. According to the first, which he originally favored, consciousness plays the role of a passive observer. According to the second, consciousness (aka "the transcendental Ego") plays a constitutive role. Sartre argues that Husserl is going about things the wrong way. The prevalence of epistemic scruples in philosophy, he argues, is based on the presupposition that knowledge is the link between consciousness and its objects. Sartre¹s existentialism is the theory that it is not primarily knowledge, but feeling and action that connect conscious beings to one another and to the world. Our focus will be Sartre's magnum opus "Being and Nothingness". Other works by Sartre that will be studied: "Transcendence of the Ego", "The Emotions: Outline of a Theory", "The
Psychology of Imagination", and "Existentialism is a Humanism . Students taking this course should expect to spend at least six hours per week on readings. Requirements: two written assignments, a midterm, and a final 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
Philosophical problems raised by modern science, physics in particular. The first half of the course will cover general topics in the philosophy of science, including laws, explanation, confirmation, induction, and the status of theoretical entities. The second half of the course will cover topics in the philosophy of physics. Focus will be on questions raised by electromagnetism and the special theory of relativity. Topics will include action at a distance, fields, energy, mass, space, and time. Requirements: at least two courses in philosophy. Previous exposure to mechanics, electromagnetism, and relativity will be helpful, but is not required.
383 – Philosophical Approaches to Religion
This course will be a survey of some of the most important topics in the philosophy of religion with special attention being given the following questions: Does science discredit religion? Does the universe exhibit design and, therefore, imply the existence of a designer? Does the existence of evil make belief in God irrational? Prerequisite: one course in philosophy, or the consent of the instructor.
398W – Junior Year Writing Course
time by arrangement
Must be taken concurrently with Phil 320.
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 course website .
551 – Metaphysics
This class is an introduction to the metaphysics of modality. We will begin by looking at some of the reasons why possible worlds are theoretically useful. We will then examine a few different accounts of what possible worlds are. Topics will include modal realism, varieties of modal actualism, modalism, the de re/de dicto distinction, essentialism, counterparts and transworld identity.
563 – Ethical Theory
In the first half of this course we will study some of the most important theories in the normative ethics of behavior. Among these will be various forms of utilitarianism and various forms of Kantianism. In each case, one focus will be on clear and accurate formulation of the theory. Another focus will be on understanding and evaluating classic objections to the theories. In the second half of the course we will study some of the most important theories of axiology. Among these will be hedonism, eudaimonism, and various forms of axiological pluralism. Readings from Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Bentham, Mill, Kant, Ross, Moore, and others. Text: an anthology of papers in ethics, title TBA. Requirements: two take-home exams, no term paper. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy.
582 – Philosophy of Science
This class is an introduction to the Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics. The class will consist of (i) a gentle sketch of the theory, and some of its weird consequences, (ii) a discussion of the measurement problem, and of the various interpretations of quantum mechanics that have been offered to solve it, and (iii) a look at some of the issues surrounding the non-locality of quantum mechanics.
591T – Plato's Republic
A close reading of The Republic with an emphasis on Plato's treatment there of topics in moral psychology, metaphysics, and epistemology.
592W – Wittgenstein's Tractatus
An in-depth examination of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s (1921) Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, its historical background, and philosophical influence. Topics include logical atomism, the picture theory of meaning, saying and showing, truth functionality, and mysticism. Texts: Wittgenstein's Tractatus, and secondary literature by various authors. Requirements: presentation, term-paper, in-class participation and weekly reading assignments. Pre-requisite: Three courses in philosophy, including at least one in Formal logic (Phil 110 or higher), or Graduate student standing, or consent of instructor.
594G – Practical Reason
TuTh 2:30 - 3:45
Practical reasoning is reasoning towards making a decision, judgment, or action. This course focuses on contemporary debates regarding the so-called standard model of practical reasoning – the Humean belief-desire model – and its critics. According to Humeans, practical reason is merely instrumental in nature: all actions can be explained by appeal to a brute desire along with some instrumental belief about how to satisfy it. We look at several competing interpretations of Hume’s own historical views, in particular whether he is best seen as an instrumentalist or a total skeptic about practical reason. Next, we discuss three major components of his view – the nature of desires, the Humean account of motivation, and the Humean account of reasons – and take up various recent debates inspired by them, such as internalism vs. externalism about reasons, motivational cognitivism, competing views about desires, and the normativity
of both instrumental and non-instrumental reasoning. Thinkers to be discussed include Hume, Kant, Nagel, Korsgaard, Williams, McDowell, Parfit, Darwall, Scanlon, Foot, Smith, Velleman, Audi, Schroeder, etc.