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Current Undergraduate Courses

Please consult SPIRE for the latest information, including meeting times and places. For course descriptions, see below.

Undergraduate courses: Spring 2018
  Course name Instructor Meeting Room
100 Introduction To Philosophy Kornblith MW      10:10-11:00 Thompson 106
100H Introduction To Philosophy de Harven TTH       01:00- 02:15  South College W219
105 Practical Reasoning Eddon TTH       01:00-02:15 Lederle Tower 123
110 Introduction To Logic Klement TTH       01:00-02:15 Thompson 106
160.01 Introduction To Ethics Meacham MW       12:20-01:10 Hasbrouck Ad 126
160H Introduction To Ethics Shea TTH       11:30-12:45 Dickinson 112
163 Business Ethics Gibbs MWF     01:25-02:15 South College E241
164.01 Medical Ethics Horowitz MW       11:15-12:05 Thompson 106
164.02 Medical Ethics Liu MWF      10:10-11:00 Integ Lrng Cntr N211
164.03 Medical Ethics Nahm MWF      12:20-01:10 South College E470
164.04 Medical Ethics Wilson TTH        10:00-11:15 South College E470
164.05 Medical Ethics Grafton-Cardwell TTH        11:30-12:45 Hasbrouck Ad 113
164H Medical Ethics Chen TTH        10:00-11:15 Elm 0227
166 Environmental Ethics Gruber MWF       01:25-02:15 South College E470
170 Problems in Social Thought Benjamin MWF       10:10-11:00 South College E470
310 Intermediate Logic Hardegree TTH         01:00-02:15 South College W211
321 History of Modern Philosophy Garcia TTH        11:30-12:20 South College E470
328 Plato And Aristotle de Harven TTH        10:00-11:15 South College W219
336 Existential Philosophy Garcia TTH        02:30-03:45 South College E470
343 Intro to Philosophy Of Art Miller MWF      11:15-12:05 South College E470
346 Intro to Phil of Language Perez Carballo MW        02:30-03:45 South College W219
360 Intermediate Ethics Graham TTH        04:00-05:15 South College W219
383 Intro to Phil of Religion Hadad MWF     12:20-01:10 South College E245
500 Contemporary Problems Antony W          04:00-06:30 South College E301
511 Modal Logic Hardegree TTH       10:00-11:15 South College E301
541 Topics in Metaphysics Eddon TH         04:00-06:30 South College E301
553 Topics in Phil of Science Meacham TH         01:00-03:30 South College E301
593E S-Ethics in Epistemology Kornblith TH         04:00-06:30 South College E301


Course Descriptions

100.01 | Introduction to Philosophy

This course is designed to present an introduction to philosophy by way of four central topics: the nature of mind; free will; knowledge; and ethics. Within each topic, we will have a number of provocative and engaging readings which should stimulate both thought and discussion, including work by Rene Descartes, Hilary Putnam, Daniel Dennett, Nomy Arpaly, Thomas Hill, Susan Wolf, Laurie Paul, Samuel Scheffler, and others. All readings will be available on-line. Writing assignments will consist of short papers, due approximately every second week. There will be no exams.

Gen Ed: AL | Credits: 4

100H | Introduction to Philosophy (Honors)

Plato and Aristotle taught that philosophy begins in wonder. During this introductory course, we will wonder about the nature and existence of God, knowledge and reality, the mind-body problem, and ethics and morality. So we will be asking questions like this: Is there a God? How do we know that? If there is, and God is good, why is there evil? What is knowledge? How do we get it, and what sorts of things do we know? What is the relationship between the mind and the body? What about between the brain and the mind? Can computers think? What is a person? What makes you the same person today as you were yesterday? Do we have free will? What is the nature of morality? Is there an objective right and wrong? Why should I do the right thing? How does morality contribute to my happiness, if it does at all? In wondering about the answers to these questions you will learn the nature of philosophical argumentation and analysis, how to question your assumptions, and valuable critical thinking skills that are applicable well beyond this course.

(This course is restricted to Commonwealth College first-year students.)

Gen Ed: AL | Credits: 4

105 | Practical Reasoning

This course covers methods for understanding and evaluating reasoning, arguments and inferences, of the sort found in daily life, political speeches, academic writing and beyond. We address such questions as: What is the structure of an argument? What considerations are relevant for determining its strength and cogency? What sorts of appeals to quantitative and scientific data are appropriate, and what sorts aren’t? What, if any, kinds of reasoning patterns can be identified as fallacious or abusive? How can we understand and overcome cognitive biases?

Text: Waller, B., Critical Reasoning, 5th or 6th edition.

Gen Ed: R2 | Credits: 4

110 | Introduction to Logic


An introduction to symbolic logic, including sentential and predicate logic. Its purpose is to familiarize you with certain formal methods for representing and evaluating arguments and reasoning. These methods can be used not only for philosophy, but for any subject matter. The focus is on translating English statements into symbolic notation, and evaluating arguments for validity using formal proof techniques.

Requirements: Homework exercises and exams.

Text: Hardegree, Symbolic Logic: A First Course, 4th ed.

Prerequisites: none.

Gen Ed: R2 | Major: Logic | Credits: 3

160 | Introduction to Ethics

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.

Gen Ed: AT | Major: Value | Credits: 4

160H | Introduction to Ethics (Honors)

(This course is restricted to Commonwealth College first-year students.) Description forthcoming.

Gen Ed: AT | Major: Value | Credits: 4

163 | Business Ethics

Description forthcoming

Major: Value | Credits: 4

164.01-05 | Medical Ethics

A survey of some philosophical topics in medical ethics, focusing on questions about (if ever) when medicine should be used to end life, and when it should be used to improve quality of life.

Gen Ed: AT | Major: Value | Credits: 4

164H | Medical Ethics (Honors)

An introduction to ethics through issues of medicine and health care. Topics include abortion, treatment of impaired infants, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, truth-telling, medical experimentation on human beings and on animals, and the allocation of scarce medical resources.

(This course is restricted to Commonwealth College first-year students.)

Gen Ed: AT | Major: Value | Credits: 4

166 | Environmental Ethics

What is your relationship to the natural environment? More importantly, what should your relationship be? In this class, we will engage with the issues of population growth and resource use, biodiversity loss and sustainability, non-human animal welfare, environmental justice, and global climate change. We will examine these issues through grappling with the following distinctively ethical questions: (a) is nature just for humans to use? (b) how should we understand the value of nature? (c) what is the moral status of non-human animals, and how should we take their welfare into account in our lives? (d) how should we think about inequitable environmental access?; (e) what should you and I do about climate change?

Gen Ed: SB | Major: Value | Credits: 4

170 | Problems in Social Thought

An introduction to modern Western political and social philosophy. We will focus on key works by Machiavelli, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, and Marx and on questions about the nature and limits of political power, rights, and liberty.

Gen Ed SB | Major: Value | Credits: 4

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.

Course website:

Gen Ed: R2 | Major: Logic | Credits: 3

321 | History of Modern Philosophy

In this course we will reconstruct some of the most important arguments produced in the early modern period (16th-18th centuries) by groundbreaking European male and female philosophers, including René Descartes, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, Nicolas Malebranche, Margaret Cavendish, George Berkeley and David Hume. The focus will be on central metaphysical, theological and epistemological issues, including scepticism, causation, mind-body problems, the mechanical account of bodies, the existence of God, the problem of induction, and a priori knowledge. Given the importance and breadth of the texts and topics covered, the stress on historical and critical evaluation of arguments, and the emphasis on written and verbal expression, this course meets the objectives of the General Education (Historical Studies) curriculum.

Prerequisite: credit for one course taken in the UMass Philosophy Department.

Gen Ed: HS | Major: Hist(B) | Credits: 4

328 | Plato and Aristotle

This course will focus on Aristotle, for centuries known simply as The Philosopher for the breadth of his writings and depth of his influence. During the semester, you will see how Aristotle is foundational of logic, metaphysics, science, and ethics. We will begin with Aristotle’s toolbox, or Organon, where we will find logic, science and dialectic (Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, De Interpretatione). Alongside these epistemological works, we will look at Aristotle’s metaphysics, the study of substance, accident and being qua being (Categories, Metaphysics). Next, we will move to the study of nature, where we will read Aristotle on change, teleology and explanation (Physics). Within the study of nature, we will see Aristotle establish the life sciences, and within that a sophisticated philosophy of mind, or psychology (De Anima). Our final topic will be happiness and the human good, which will take us through the birth of virtue ethics to the competing claims of character virtue and contemplation for the title of highest human good, closing with the role of the state in achieving the human good (Nicomachean Ethics, Politics)

Major: Hist(A) | Credits: 3

336 | Existential Philosophy

An introduction to the main themes of Existentialism through seminal writing by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre.

Gen Ed: AL | Credits: 4

343 | Introduction to Philosophy of Art

Description forthcoming.

Major: Value | Credits: 3

346 | Introduction to Philosophy of Language

Here is a remarkable fact: a few years after you were born, you had the ability to understand an infinite number of sentences in your native language. What is it that you learned (in such a short period of time!) that allowed you to do that? One of the most fruitful approaches to answering this question starts with the assumption that you learned the meanings of finitely many words and you learned how those meanings combine to give rise to infinitely many meaningful sentences. We will look at some of the ways in which such an approach has be carried out in order to examine some philosophical issues it raises: What are meanings? What is it to know the meaning of a word? How do words get their meanings? What is the relationship between meaning and truth, communication, and cognition?

Prerequisites: Philosophy 110 and one prior philosophy course, or consent of instructor.

Major: M&E | Credits: 3

360 | Intermediate Ethics

Three subfields of ethics are: value theory, normative ethics, and metaethics. Value theory, or axiology, is concerned with what it takes to live a good life; normative ethics is concerned with general moral principles and theories; and metaethics is concerned with the status of moral claims and moral discourse. In this class we will discuss a number of questions in each subfield. Among the questions in value theory we will address are: what is the good life? what is worth pursuing for its own sake? how do we improve our lot in life? 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?

Major: Value | Credits: 3

383 | Introduction to Philosophy of Religion

Description forthcoming.

Major: M&E | Credits: 3

500 | Contemporary Problems

The purpose of this course is to tie together the things you’ve learned in your academic work in philosophy -- and to extend that learning to contexts outside the classroom. This course, then, is going to be a workshop in the articulation, exploration, and application of philosophical ideas that have had a special impact on you. You will choose an article or book chapter from one of your previous courses -- this will be your "foundational article" -- and then complete a series of assignments focused on that article. Assignments will include: an oral seminar presentation to the class, an application of your article to topical issues (e.g., through an "op-ed", movie review, or other piece for a general audience) and a poster presentation designed for a non-academic audience, and a conventional term paper. (Details to be determined, partly on the basis of class size)

Note: this course satisfies the Integrative Experience requirement.

Gen Ed: IE | Major: TBA | Credits: 3

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.

Credits: 3

541 | Topics in Metaphysics

In this class we will look at various issues connected with the constitution, composition, and mereology of objects (and perhaps other things). We will begin with some of the classic paradoxes of material constitution and some proposed solutions. We will consider questions regarding whether composition is restricted in some way, and how the mereology of objects relates to the regions at which they are located. Other topics include temporal parts, relative identity, composition as identity, gunk and junk, logics of mereology, etc. This class may be taken for seminar credit.

Credits: 3

553 | Topics in Philosophy of Science: Decision and Infinity

Description forthcoming.


Prerequisites for undergraduates: at least three prior philosophy courses or consent of instructor.

Credits: 3

593E | S-Ethics in Epistemology

This course will investigate the prospects for an adequate account of the epistemology of ethics, with special focus on realist views of ethics. All readings will be available on the U-Drive, and will include work by Boyd, Clarke-Doane, Daniels, Korsgaard, McGrath, Railton, Setiya, Street, among others. A brief paper outlining the topic of one's term paper will be required, as well as a term paper of approximately 15 to 18 pages.

Prerequisites for undergraduates: at least three prior philosophy courses or consent of instructor.

Credits: 3