(unless otherwise specified, MWF classes are 50 minutes,
and TuTh classes are 75 minutes)
100 – Intro to Philosophy
MW 11:15 (+ discussion sections)
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 – Intro to Philosophy
TuTh 1:00-1:50 (+ discussion sections)
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.
100H – Honors Intro to Philosophy
110 – Intro to Logic
Introduction to symbolic logic, including sentential and predicate logic. Focus on translating English statements into symbolic notation, and evaluation of arguments for validity using formal proof techniques. Text: Hardegree, Symbolic Logic: A First Course, 3rd ed. Requirements: homework and exams. Prerequisites: none.
160 – Intro to Ethics
MW 12:20-1:20 (+ discussion sections)
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.
160B – RAP Intro to Ethics
160C – RAP Intro to Ethics
This course is an introduction to some important issues in ethics. In the first unit of the course, we will consider what makes for a good life. For instance, is pleasure all that is required for a good life, or is something more needed? In the second unit of the course, we will consider leading theories about what one ought and ought not to do. Among the theories to be considered are Ethical Egoism, Consequentialism, Kantianism, and Social Contract Theory. In the final unit of the course, we will consider if there is any good explanation to be had for why people act morally. In particular, we will be considering whether features of our evolutionary past can shed some light on this issue. The book for the first two units is Russ Shafer-Landau's The Fundamentals of Ethics. The book for the last unit is Brian Skyrms's Evolution of the Social Contract. Both are available at Amherst Books.
160D – RAP Intro to Ethics
160H – Honors Intro to Ethics
161 – Intro to Social Thought
This course is an introduction to classic thinkers in Western political philosophy: Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, and Rawls. In addition, we will also examine a few contemporary debates about the nature of rights, liberty, equality, free speech, and multiculturalism and the politics of identity.
164.1 – Medical Ethics
164.2 – Medical Ethics
164.3 – Medical Ethics
164.4 – RAP Medical Ethics
164H– Honors Intro to Medical Ethics
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.
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329 – Medieval Philosophy
Survey of medieval philosophy, focussing on such puzzling questions as (1) Is human free will compatible with God’s foreknowledge of all that will ever happen? (2) Are there good arguments for the existence of God? (3) Can we coherently suppose the world to have begun in time? (4) Could morality be adequately based on the mere fact that God wants us to do something, rather than on the reason God has for wanting us to do it? (5) Can there be something that is a universal thing? Text: /Philosophy in the Middle Ages/, edited by Hyman and Walsh. Requirements: mid-term exam, term paper and take-home final exam. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy, or consent of the instructor.
330 – Continental Rationalism
A critical study of selected works in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophical theology by17th-century rationalists on the continent and in England: Descartes, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, Malebranche, Astell, Cavendish, and Leibniz. Topics include: the nature and existence of mind, mind-body problems, scepticism and knowledge of the external world of bodies, the mechanical account of body, the origin of sensation, causation, the existence of God, concurrentist and occasionalist theories of God’s relation to creation, necessity and contingency. Requirements: short weekly writing assignments; midterm and final essay exams. Prerequisites: two courses in philosophy.
336 – Existential Philosophy
This course will be a survey of the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Some of the central Nietzschean themes we will consider include eternal recurrence, master-slave morality, the Apollonian and the Dionysian drives, the will to power, perspectivism, the overman, and the “death of God”. Course requirements include two six-page take-home exams, one in-class exam, and a final paper. Prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy.
336 – Existential Philosophy
We begin with an examination of the phenomenological tradition in 19th-20th century philosophy. Our topics include Psychologism, Phenomena and Phenomenological Reduction, The Theory of Intentionality, and Being-for-Others. Readings include material from Brentano, Husserl, Frege, Ryle, Merleau-Ponty, Chisholm, Sellars, Heidegger and Sartre. In the second part of the semester, we turn to the topic of absurdity and meaning. Theists argue that life is meaningful, but only because God exists. In a Godless universe, there would be no purpose and no meaning to life. The existential philosophers Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre held that life’s struggles were futile. Camus argues that life is absurd and altogether without meaning. We will consider these views and their implications. Is meaningfulness only possible with God? Is an absurd life worth living? We will also ask whether the topic of the meaning of life is itself meaningful. Readings include material from Tolstoy,
Sartre, Camus, Ayer, Nagel, and Feinberg. Requirements: homework assignments, midterm and a cumulative final.
341 – Metaphysics
A survey of central problems and arguments in metaphysics. Topics include: personal identity, fatalism, the nature of time, the existence of God, and the compatibility of free will and determinism. Text: Riddles of Existence, by Earl Conee and Theodore Sider.
355 – Philosophy of Mind
The mind-body problem breaks down into two questions: how can mere matter think and how can it be conscious? We will investigate both of these issues through a critical evaluation of the major theories on the relationship between mind and body.
361 – Philosophy of Art
383 – Philosophy of Religion
In this course, we will consider the following questions. Does the appearance of design in the natural order give us reason to believe that God exists? Does the mere existence of the universe give us reason to believe that God exists? Does the existence of evil give us reason to believe that God does not exist? To what extent do religious beliefs require evidence in order to be justified? Do religious experiences justify religious beliefs? What should our attitude toward religious belief and practice be? Should they be respected, tolerated, or neither? Can there be reasonable religious disagreement?
398W – Junior Year Writing Course
time by arrangement
Must be taken concurrently with Phil 330.
500 – Contemporary Problems [SENIOR SEMINAR]
A seminar for senior majors focusing on close reading of a sample of the most significant papers in 20th century Anglo-American philosophy, drawn from different areas of philosophy. Students will write short weekly papers and also a final term paper.
513 – Math Logic I
Elementary meta-mathematics and logical meta-theory. Topics include completeness and consistency proofs for first-order logic, model theory, elementary number theory (especially Peano arithmetic), and Gödel's incompleteness theorems and related results. Text: Mendelson, Introduction to Mathematical Logic, 4th ed. Requirements: problem sets and exams. Prerequisite: Philosophy 310, or consent of instructor.
550 – Epistemology
Some beliefs are justified; others are not. What is it that makes the difference? What conditions must be satisfied if a belief is to be justified? The available views about justification may be divided into two types: internalist and externalist. Roughly, internalists believe that the features which a belief must have if it is to be justified are, in some sense, internal to the agent: for example, on one such view, they must be available to introspection. Externalists disagree: the features which make a belief justified need not be entirely internal. We will examine this debate in detail. We will read work by BonJour, Comesana, Conee, Feldman, Goldman, Kornblith, Sosa, Stroud, Williamson and others. Readings will be made available. Prerequisites: Three courses in philosophy or permission of instructor. Requirements: One short (5-7 page) paper and one longer (12-15 page) paper.
582 – Philosophy of Science
Th 1:00 - 3:30
This class is an exploration of the main accounts of the laws of nature, the pros and cons of these approaches, and the consequences of adopting these approaches for other issues. This will include an in-depth look at the Humean account of laws advocated by David Lewis (and its variants), the primitivist account of laws dvocated by Tim Maudlin, and the counterfactual account of laws advocated by Marc Lange.
583 – Philosophy of Religion
Tu 7:00 - 9:30
592M – Early Modern Metaphysics
Cartesian Mind-Body Problems
Since the seventeenth century, critics have charged that Descartes’ metaphysics and physics are both incompatible with his commitment to mind-body causal interaction. In 1675, Simon Foucher argued that Descartes was committed to this inconsistent triad: (1) mind and body causally interact; (2) mind and body are essentially distinct substances; and (3) there must be an essential likeness between a cause and its effect. Leibniz argued that mind-body interaction violated the law of conservation of motion—a main principle in Descartes’ physics. Princess Elisabeth challenged Descartes to demonstrate how an incorporeal soul could voluntarily move its body, such that this motion could be explained by the mechanical philosophy. For in mechanism, motion
requires the contact of surfaces of the mover and the body it moves. In exploring these mind-body problems, we will analyze Descartes’ causal principles; examine his views about mind-body “union,” reconstruct
the details of, and critically evaluate, his accounts of sensation and voluntary motion. Near the end of the course, we’ll determine if mind-body problems eventually led Descartes to embrace a form of Occasionalism, viz., the view that inanimate bodies have no causal power and God alone moves them. We’ll conclude by examining one of the social/political uses to which Descartes’ metaphysics of mind and body were put in the seventeenth century: Poullain de la Barre’s Cartesian defense of the equality of the sexes. Requirements: seminar presentations, one short (5-page) paper, and a final paper (15 pages). Required texts: The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. I & II trans. Cottingham, et al.; The Correspondence Between Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia and René Descartes, trans. Shapiro; François Poullain de la Barre, Three Cartesian Feminist Treatises, trans. Bosley. Contemporary articles, as well
as chapters from Tad Schmaltz’s recent Descartes on Causation, will be made available.
593F – Feminist Theory
Tu 1:00 - 3:30
We human beings rely heavily on each other in our efforts to gain knowledge; arguably, there is very little that any single person could know if limited to information gathered all by themselves. But if we depend on other people for information, how do we know who to trust? What if the things that we take to indicate expertise are actually misleading? Some feminist epistemologists have been arguing recently that this epistemological question is especially pressing when we consider highly stratified societies. In such societies, it's argued, marks of privilege are apt to be mistaken for marks of epistemic authority. In this course, we examine these arguments. The main text for the course will be Miranda Fricker's book, Epistemic Injustice. This will be supplemented by articles in mainstream epistemology and in feminist epistemology.
595S – Formal Semantics
We usually understand novel sentences – e.g., this one – with little or no hesitation. How do we accomplish this? According to the received opinion, our linguistic knowledge divides into two modules – roughly, words and rules – which in turn correspond respectively to Lexical Grammar and Compositional Grammar. The present course concerns Compositional Grammar, more specifically Compositional Semantics – the study of how the meanings of compound expressions are derived from the meanings of their parts. We pursue this enterprise within the framework of Categorial Grammar – more specifically, within the framework of Type-Logical Grammar. Topics will include: set theory, type theory, lambda-calculus, categorial syntax and semantics, type-logical syntax and semantics. Prerequisite: Phil 511, or graduate status, or consent of the instructor. Requirements: homework assignments. Click
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