100 A – 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.
100 B – Introduction to Philosophy (AL)
An introductory survey of topics in philosophy: the existence of god and the problem of evil, moral relativism, personal identity, and the nature and limits of knowledge.
100 C – Introduction to Philosophy (AL) (Residential Academic Program)
A Fantastic Introduction to Philosophy: Introduction to Philosophy through Science-Fiction Short Stories. Some say that philosophy should be studied not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves. However, it is often difficult not only to comprehend philosophical questions, but also to figure out why anyone would ask such questions in the first place. In this course we will try to understand and motivate some philosophical questions by reading science fiction short stories that raise interesting philosophical puzzles. Alongside our literary survey we will explore various philosophical theories that were offered in response to these puzzles. Readings may include works by Plato, Descartes, Sartre, and contemporary philosophers as well as stories by Asimov, Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Borges, Adams and others. For more information, please consult the course website: http://www.people.umass.edu/uril/phil100/
100H – Introduction to Philosophy (Honors) (AL)
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)
160 C – Introduction to Ethics (AT) (Residential Academic Program)
160H – Introduction to Ethics (Honors) (AT)
Ethics is often divided into three subfields: normative ethics, metaethics, and practical ethics. Normative ethics is concerned with general moral principles and theories; metaethics is concerned with the status of moral claims and moral discourse; and practical ethics is concerned with particular ethical questions and seeks to bring the results of normative ethical theory to bear on them. In this class we will discuss a number of questions in each subfield. Among the questions in normative ethics we will address are: what makes an action morally right or wrong? and to what extent is this just a function of its consequences? Among the metaethical questions we will consider are: is there such a thing as moral truth? and if there is, is there a single true morality, or is moral truth relative to cultures or individuals? And among the practical ethical questions we will discuss are: is abortion morally permissible? and are we morally obliged to donate most of our money to help those in desperate need around the world?
161 – Problems in Social Thought (SB)
This course provides an introduction to the philosophy of social science. We will begin by carefully reading and discussing Alexander Rosenberg’s (2007) Philosophy of Social Science for a general survey of the field. Then we will take up Ian Hacking’s wide-ranging discussion of social construction in his (2000) The Social Construction of What? Finally, we will finish things out by considering Paul Boghossian’s critique of relativism and constructivism in his (2006) Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism. Requirements: five in-class quizzes. The texts will be available at Amherst Books (8 Main Street, Amherst, MA 01002; 413.256.1547). If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. For a course syllabus, go to: http://web.mac.com/waynetrogdon/iWeb/Site/home.html and click on “teaching”.
161H – Problems in Social Thought (Honors) (SB)
We will focus on the problem of distributive, or economic justice. In particular, we will look at arguments over the legitimacy of progressive, redistributive taxation, the practice of taxing the better off to provide support for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
164 01 – Medical Ethics (AT)
This course will provide an introduction to a number of ethical issues that arise in the context of medicine. Topics will fall into five main categories: (1) the doctor-patient relationship (2) medical research on humans and animals (3) reproductive rights and technologies, (4) medical decisions at the end of life, and (5) the allocation of scarce medical resources. Requirements: 3 analytical writing assignments, 3 in-class exams.
164 02 – Medical Ethics (AT)
164 03 –Medical Ethics (AT) (Residential Academic Program)
310 – Intermediate Logic
Continuation of Philosophy 110. Three logical systems are examined: (1)
Function Logic, (2) Identity Logic, (3) Description Logic. Work is equally
divided between translating English sentences into symbolic notation, and constructing
formal derivations. Requirements: seven exams. Prerequisite: Philosophy
110, or consent of the instructor.
Click here for WebSite.
321 – History of Modern Philosophy (HS)
A survey of important contributions to European philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Texts will include Gournay’s The Equality of Men and Women, Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, selections from Malebranche's Search After Truth, Berkeley's Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, selections from Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, and (time permitting) selections from Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. There will also be a course packet containing additional primary source material, including selections from the Descartes-Princess Elisabeth correspondence and Norris’ and Astell’s Letters Concerning the Love of God. Discussions will focus on metaphysical, theological and epistemological topics, including scepticism, causation, mind-body problems, the mechanistic account of bodies, the existence of God, a priori knowledge, and the problem of induction. Prerequisites: two courses in philosophy; not open to students who took Phil 330 in 2006. Requirements: several exams, as well as a weekly writing assignment.
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
Traditional philosophy poses questions that are answerable in a way that places little or no emphasis on the subjective experiences whence they arise. In reaction to this, existentialist philosophers of the past two centuries have vehemently attacked the traditional approach for neglecting the problem of existence. We will begin with readings from the early existentialists Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, then move on to discuss in some detail parts of Jasper’s Philosophy of Existence, Heidegger’s Being and Time and Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. Toward the semester’s end, we will take up the question of meaning. We will ask whether life is meaningful or absurd and what implications our answer to this question should have on the value of life. We will be guided by Camus’s discussion of these topics in The Myth of Sisyphus. First Warning: readings and authors listed above are tentative and subject to change. Second Warning: this course will involve a lot of difficult reading. Students with a heavy workload should consider this fact before deciding to take it.
361 – Philosophy of Art
What is beauty? Why does an experience of something beautiful leave us so speechless? The first part of the class will be an attempt at gaining a better understanding of beauty, its value, and our relationship to it. What is art? Why do some artworks leave us so speechless? The second part of the class will be an attempt at gaining a better understanding of art, its value, and our relationship to it. Throughout the class there will also be an attempt at gaining a better understanding of the relationship between beauty and art. Does the value of art depend on the value of beauty? Or is art completely independent of beauty? Finally, as an application of the theories we've looked at, we might also take a brief look at the philosophy of music versus some pictorial arts. Readings will be drawn exclusively from contemporary sources. Course website: www.people.umass.edu/ebohn/361Phil.Art.htm
363 – Marxism
This course provides an intermediate-level introduction to Marxist philosophy. We will begin with a rapid overview of the main outlines of Marxism. The remainder of the course will fall into two parts. In the first part, we will read a range of works by Marx, especially (but not exclusively) works by the "young" Marx. In the second part, we will read a selection of classics of Western Marxism (by, e.g., Lukacs, Gramsci, and Adorno) and Marxist feminism (by, e.g., Mitchell and Hartmann). Prerequisite: At least one course in either philosophy or a social science. For more information, see the course website: http://people.umass.edu/khm/0708/363.html.
383 – Philosophical Approaches to Religion
In this course, we will survey some of the most important topics in the philosophical study of religion and religious belief. Topics will include arguments for and against the existence of God, the rationality of faith and religious belief, the problem of evil, the nature of God, and the relation of science to religion. More information is available at http://www.people.umass.edu/krakauer/phil383/
393I – Indian Philosophy
This course will provide an intensive survey of several areas of classical Indian thought. The focus of the course will be selected metaphysical and epistemological doctrines of the six orthodox systems, Jainism and Buddhism, and the classic debates among these schools. In addition, we study some interesting topics in Hindu aesthetics, and material from the Bhagavadgita and two principal Upanishads. Although source material to be used in the course is drawn almost exclusively from the dialectical tradition of darshana, or philosophy, students will also gain broad acquaintance with the ways in which darshana connects with, informs, and is nourished by the mystical and religious traditions of Hinduism. We will also study excerpts from such modern thinkers as Tagore, Gandhi, Aurobindo, and Matilal in light of our study of the traditional questions. It will be useful to bring with you a firm background in philosophy or (at least!) a willingness to work through chunks of unfamiliar and complex but very interesting material. The required texts are M. Hiriyanna, Outlines of Indian Philosophy, S. Radhakrishnan and A.C Moore eds., A Source Book in Indian Philosophy, E. Easwaran, The Bhagavadgita, and a small bunch of additional readings to be made available by the instructor.
398W – Junior Year Writing Course
511 – Modal Logic
Consideration of various systems for treating the logic of necessity and possibility, including both deductive systems and elementary formal semantics for languages with modal operators. Possible secondary treatment of related issues in logic, such as tense logic, deontic logic, propositional attitudes and intensional logic generally. Texts: TBA. Requirements: Homework sets and in-depth examinations. Prerequisite: Intermediate Logic (Phil 310) or equivalent, or consent of instructor.
550 – Epistemology
We will spend the semster working through two recent and important books in epistemology: Ernest Sosa's A Virtue Epistemology and Earl Conee and Richard Feldman's Evidentialism. These books each deal with central issue in epistemology including skepticism, the debate between internalists and externalists, the nature of evidence, the role of intuitions in philosophical theory construction, the importance of reflection, and much more besides. One short paper and one longer paper will be required.
551 – Metaphysics
This class will focus on the metaphysics of properties. Some of the topics we will explore include: the notion of fundamental or "natural", degrees of naturalness, intrinsicality, quantitative properties, varieties of nominalism, essential and necessary properties, and how one's picture of properties fits in with one's unified metaphysical theory.
584 – Philosophy of Language
A rigorous introduction to central philosophical issues about language. We will examine both the relation of language to the world, and the relation of language to the mind. Readings will include works by Frege, Russell, Kripke, Quine, Grice, Putnam, Davidson, Fodor, and Chomsky. Prerequisites: Philosophy 110 (Symbolic Logic) or equivalent, and one additional course in philosophy; advanced undergraduate or graduate standing. Non-majors are encouraged to consult with me before enrolling.
593R – Renaissance and Enlightenment Feminist Philosophers
This course will examine important European and New World texts, from the Renaissance through the French and American Revolutions, that focus on such questions as: How did the Renaissance and the early modern world theorize gender difference? Was it held that men’s greater physical power justified their subordination of women in society? Were there theological arguments for men’s subordination of women? What were the arguments against the education of women, and how were these arguments criticized? Did women typically not take part in the Enlightenment project of scientific inquiry because it was thought they excelled in sensibility and imagination, but not in pure reason? What were the arguments for the view that women’s capacity for reason was deficient as compared with that of men? Which social roles were deemed appropriate for women? Was it held that the virtues are the same for men and women, or was it argued that there are specifically feminine virutes?
Our authors, who defended women’s intellectual and moral capacities, and who argued for greater educational opportunities, and broader social and political liberties for women both in the domestic sphere and in the polis, include: Christine de Pisan, Baldesarre Castiglione, Marie de Gournay, Anna Maria van Schurman, François Poullain de la Barre, Mme de Lambert, Sor Juana, Mary Wollstonecraft, Olympe de Gouges, Marquis de Condorcet and Judith Sargent Murray. Our aim will be to determine which views or arguments, if any, our various authors have in common. We will explore which ways, if any, our authors can be viewed as “feminists” or “proto-feminists”—even if we take our understanding of “pluralist feminisms” quite broadly. This will lead to our final question: What would a history of feminist philosophy look like?
Prerequisites for undergraduates: two courses in philosophy or permission of the instructor.
Requirements: class presentations, a short (5-page) paper at mid-semester, and a final (10-15 page) paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the instructor.
594C – Consequentialism