Course Descriptions Fall 2017

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Course Descriptions Fall 2017

CAS PH 100 A1 – Introduction to Philosophy
Professor Crowe
MWF, 10:10-11:00

Philosophy is the activity of disciplined reflection about the most fundamental concerns of human existence.   What is the fundamental nature of the world we inhabit, and how do we fit into it? To what extent can we achieve true knowledge of ourselves and of our world? What is the scope of human agency and responsibility? What makes for an excellent human life? How can we understand the ways in which matters of ultimate value to us fit together? What kind of social order should we strive to attain? How can we make sense of the realities of evil and suffering in our lives? How can we best think about the possibility of a transcendent, divine reality and of our relationship with it? In this course, we will examine some of the most important ways that people have pursued the activity of philosophy in conversation with ancient (Plato), medieval (Boethius, Abelard), modern (Descartes, Kierkegaard, William James) and more recent (Gadamer, Rorty, Bernard Williams) philosophers.   The texts we will read also provide us with the occasion to ask about the ways in which a philosophical approach to these concerns might be distinctive, as well as about how philosophy might relate to and differ from other significant forms of human discourse (such as literature and theology). Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

CAS PH 100 B1 – Introduction to Philosophy
Professor Roochnik
TR, 9:30-10:45

This course will introduce the student to the discipline of philosophy.  Our readings will include works by David Foster Wallace, Epictetus, Rousseau, Lao-Tzu, Mill and Plato.  Our goal throughout will be to think about thinking itself. 

CAS PH 150 A1 – Introduction to Ethics

Professor Anderson
MWF, 10:10-11:00

This course engages with several of the main themes of ethics, one of the major subdivisions of philosophy. Why should a person care about morality? Is there an objective fact about what is right or wrong or is morality subjective? What is it for something to be good? How must a person act in order to be moral? We will investigate several abstract theoretical approaches to these questions and discuss reasons for and against embracing them. The second half of the course will focus on non-ideal ethical theory, an approach that begins with concrete issues in social justice rather than abstract principles. The non-ideal theories we will focus on are Black Feminism and Critical Race Theory. We will then go on to explore ways in which theories of knowledge and ethics are connected from a non-ideal perspective.

CAS PH 150 B1 – Introduction to Ethics
Professor Star
TR, 12:30-1:45

What is morality? What does morality require of us in our daily lives? We look both at theories that specify what morality requires of us and at specific moral issues to which these theories apply. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

CAS PH 150 C1 – Introduction to Ethics
Professor Anderson
MWF, 4:40-5:30

This course engages with several of the main themes of ethics, one of the major subdivisions of philosophy. Why should a person care about morality? Is there an objective fact about what is right or wrong or is morality subjective? What is it for something to be good? How must a person act in order to be moral? We will investigate several abstract theoretical approaches to these questions and discuss reasons for and against embracing them. The second half of the course will focus on non-ideal ethical theory, an approach that begins with concrete issues in social justice rather than abstract principles. The non-ideal theories we will focus on are Black Feminism and Critical Race Theory. We will then go on to explore ways in which theories of knowledge and ethics are connected from a non-ideal perspective.

CAS PH 155 A1 – Politics and Philosophy
Professor Griswold
TR, 11:00-12:15

This course is an introduction to several major themes and questions in political philosophy, such as: What is justice?  Does a free and fair society include a free market?  What, if anything, legitimizes the exercise of governmental power?  What are the arguments for and against the “social contract”?  Are anarchism and utopianism defensible?  What are the foundations of property rights, liberty, and equality?  Can and should politics be conducted philosophically?  While quite a bit of attention will be given to modern European thought (and so to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Adam Smith, and Marx, for example), we will also examine works both by contemporary authors and by Plato.  Current topics (likely concerning immigration and global justice) will be discussed as well.  Throughout, we will cultivate the fundamental philosophical skills of analysis and argumentation as we delve into issues of great contemporary importance.

There are no prerequisites for this course.

CAS PH 160 A1 – Reason and Argumentation
Professor Webb
MWF, 9:05-9:55

A systematic study of the principles of both deductive and informal reasoning, calculated to enhance students’ actual reasoning skills, with an emphasis on reasoning and argumentation in ordinary discourse. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

CAS PH 160 B1 – Reason and Argumentation
Professor Bokulich
TR, 11:00-12:15

A systematic study of the principles of both deductive and informal reasoning, calculated to enhance students’ actual reasoning skills, with an emphasis on reasoning and argumentation in ordinary discourse. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

CAS PH 242 A1 – Philosophy of Human Nature
Professor Anderson
MWF, 1:25-2:15

What is it to be human? What is the relationship between human nature and human culture? How is our self-conception influenced by social, economic, and political circumstances? This course explores human nature from both a philosophical and a critical perspective. We will begin with a survey and a criticism of classical works in philosophical anthropology. We will then turn to scientific and philosophical accounts of rationality and intelligence; this will involve a historical investigation of ideas about race and gender and their connection with ideas of rationality and intelligence. The last section of the course raises questions about the relationship between gender, sexuality, and human nature and engages with the field of evolutionary psychology.

CAS PH 245 A1 – Philosophy and Religion
Professor Lobel
MWF, 1:25-2:15

Investigates the meaning and purpose of human life, the significance of God or an Absolute, the role of contemplation and action in the spiritual quest, relationships between philosophy and religious thought, East and West. Also offered as CAS RN 245.

CAS PH 251 A1 – Medical Ethics
Professor Powell
TR, 12:30-1:45

Explores moral philosophical issues that arise in connection with medicine and emerging biotechnologies. Examines topics such as the right to healthcare, research ethics, euthanasia, abortion, concepts of death and disease, and assisted reproductive technologies. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

CAS PH 251 B1 – Medical Ethics
Valerie Williams
MWF, 3:35-4:25

Explores moral philosophical issues that arise in connection with medicine and emerging biotechnologies. Examines topics such as the right to healthcare, research ethics, euthanasia, abortion, concepts of death and disease, and assisted reproductive technologies. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

CAS PH 259 A1 – Philosophy of the Arts
Professor Dahlstrom
MWF, 9:05-9:55

What, if anything, distinguishes art from other human activities? What, if anything, distinguishes a work of art from other artifacts or, for that matter, things that exist naturally? What is the relation of the artist and beauty, form and function, taste and criticism, genres and periods to the experience of art and the make-up of artworks? Can true art be faked? Does art exist, as it were, on an island? Is it the stuff of dreams? What relevance does it have, if at all, to science or to morality and political life? Does society have good reason to censor or to refrain from censoring art? Has the march of time and technology (e.g., the internet) fundamentally and globally transformed what passes in different linguistic cultures for ‘art’? The purpose of this course is to explore answers to these questions by way of critical review of historical and contemporary philosophical reflections on the arts. After a series of lectures that introduce the topic of aesthetics both historically and systematically, the course combines lecture with discussion, based on readings from philosophers and critics such as Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller, Walter Benjamin, Martin Heidegger, R. G. Collingwood, Arthur Danto, and George Dickie.

CAS PH 261 A1 – Puzzles and Paradoxes
Professor Floyd
TR, 3:30-4:45

Some of our most basic beliefs, when scrutinized, lead to absurd conclusions. For example, using only beliefs that seem uncontroversial, we can conclude that motion is impossible, that everyone is bald, and it is impossible to give a surprise exam. Carefully scrutinizing the reasoning that leads to these absurdities often yields substantial philosophical insight. In this course, we will examine a number of such puzzles and paradoxes in detail.

CAS PH 266 A1 – Mind, Brain, and Self
Professor Hopp
TR, 9:30-10:45

This course is devoted to considering three central philosophical problems that arise when we consider the nature of the human person. The first is the relation between mind and body. How are mind and body, or mind and brain, related to one another? Is there something about consciousness that cannot be explained in physical terms? What are the most promising materialist theories of mind?

The second topic is free will. What is it, and do we have it? Must an agent be free if he or she is to be held accountable for his or her actions? If all events are caused, are any actions free?

The third topic is personal identity. What is a “self”? Is the self identical with an immaterial mind? A material brain? A body? What, if anything, makes a person at one time—you at 20, say—identical with a person at some other time—you fifteen years ago? What roles do consciousness, memory, and character play in the constitution of the self?

CAS PH 270 A1 – Philosophy of Science
Professor Cao
TR, 11:00-12:15

This introductory course is designed for those with little exposure to science. Main features of the scientific enterprise will be illustrated by examples in the study of physics, biology and psychology: the aims of scientific activities (understanding, prediction and control); the nature of scientific understanding (causal explanation with general applicability); scientific procedures (by which scientific theories are formulated, tested, accepted or rejected); the structure and interpretation of scientific theories (evidential support, models and hypotheses, laws and predictions; the cognitive significance of these components); the development of science (accumulation and/or revolution). Some concepts central to the natural and social sciences, (such as space, time, forces, atom and quantum; life and evolution, structure and function; facts, value and agents) will be examined carefully. Controversies among competing schools in the philosophy of science (logical positivism, falsificationism, historicism, social constructivism and feminism) over the objectivity and rationality of the scientific enterprise will also be discussed.

CAS PH 300 A1 – History of Ancient Philosophy
Professor Gasser-Wingate
MWF, 10:10-11:00

A survey of ancient Greek philosophy, with an emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the fundamental nature of reality, how we know anything about it, wisdom, virtue, and human happiness.

CAS PH 300 B1 – History of Ancient Philosophy
Professor Gasser-Wingate
MWF, 12:20-1:10

A survey of ancient Greek philosophy, with an emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the fundamental nature of reality, how we know anything about it, wisdom, virtue, and human happiness.

CAS PH 310 A1 – History of Modern Philosophy
Professor Crowe
MWF, 2:30-3:20

An examination of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophy from Descartes to Kant, with emphasis on the nature and extent of knowledge. Readings include Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Berkley, Hume, and Kant.

CAS PH 310 B1 – History of Modern Philosophy
Professor Garrett
TR, 11:00-12:15

An examination of seventeenth- and eighteenth‐century philosophy from Descartes to Kant, with emphasis on the nature and extent of knowledge and metaphysics. Readings include René Descartes, Princess Elizabeth, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Catherine Trotter Cockburn, Benedict Spinoza, G. W. Leibniz, George Berkeley, and Immanuel Kant.

CAS PH 340 A1 – Metaphysics and Epistemology
Professor McSweeney
MWF, 1:25-2:15

Metaphysics is about what there is and how it all relates. What kinds of things exist? Do some things depend on other things? What are properties? Are there social kinds, like races or money? Epistemology is about knowledge: how can we know things? What is it to know something? What is it to be justified in our beliefs? This course is about both these areas of philosophy, as well as their intersection: are metaphysical questions especially hard to know about? 

CAS PH 350 A1 – History of Ethics
Professor Crowe
MWF, 4:40-5:30

In this course we will examine major fault lines in the history of moral philosophy. From the ancient period, we will focus on the centuries-long battle between Epicureans and Stoics regarding the highest good, moral psychology, and other key issues. From the modern era, we will explore the moral philosophies of Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill, whose central ideas are still contested by loyal partisans to this day. Finally, we will look at the moral perfectionism and social ethics of two major thinkers in the British Idealist tradition, T.H. Green and F.H. Bradley, who criticized both the Kantian and utilitarian positions, and whose work set the stage for the subsequent development of moral theorizing in much of the English-speaking world.

CAS PH 408 A1/GRS PH 608 A1 – History of Medieval Philosophy
Professor Lobel
TR, 2:00 – 3:15

Thematic introduction to mysticism and philosophy, with a focus on dynamics of religious experience. Readings from medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy; Sufi mysticism and philosophy; Kabbalah, Biblical interpretation, Sufi poetry, Hebrew poetry from the Golden Age of Muslim Spain.

CAS PH 412 A1/GRS PH 612 A1 – Philosophy of the Enlightenment
Professor Schmidt
TR, 12:30 – 1:45

A critical examination of that family of philosophical and political movements that called itself “the Enlightenment.” Students analyze key texts by Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Smith, Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, Jefferson, Madison, Kant, and Hegel. Also offered as CAS PO 592 and CAS HI 514.

CAS PH 422 A1/GRS PH 622 A1 – Analytic Philosophy
Professor Floyd
M, 2:30 – 5:15

An exploration of themes drawn from Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein and Turing, oriented toward applications of their thinking in a computational world.  The seminar will be run conjointly with a PhD seminar in the Division of Emerging Media, and follow the 2016-17 Mellon Sawyer Seminar, “Humanity and Technology at the Crossroads: Where Do We Go From Here?” being run by Professors Floyd and Russell (Philosophy) and James E. Katz (Director, Center for Mobile Communications) (see http://mellon.philemerge.com/).  Topics will include: the nature of Turing machines and their origins in philosophical thinking; journalism and the search for truth; hypermedia platforms for interpreting philosophical texts; scepticism and popular culture; realism versus virtualism, the evaluated self; the supposed “techno-singularity”, social media, identity and everyday life, digitizing human rights, accountability in a world of algorithms, and human plasticity and the human machine interface.

CAS PH 436 A1/GRS PH 636 A1 – Gender, Race, and Science
Professor Bokulich
TR, 2:00-3:15

Examines issues in feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, and philosophy of science. Is “race” a genuine scientific category or a social construct? How have views about gender and race changed? Why are there still so few women and minority scientists?

CAS PH 440 A1/GRS PH 640 A1 – Metaphysics
Professor McSweeney
W, 2:30-5:15

We will read a selection of contemporary work in metaphysics, with an eye towards worries about the epistemic foundation (or lack thereof) of metaphysics. We will also talk with some of the authors of the work we look at (either in person or via skype).

CAS PH 443 A1/GRS PH 643 A1 – Philosophy of Mind
Professor Kumar
MWF, 4:40-5:15

The topic of this course is the moral mind. The aim is to learn about the mental states and processes that underlie moral thought. Each unit will begin with general ideas in philosophy of mind. We’ll then narrow our focus and explore the following sorts of questions. How do people make moral judgments? Are they based on intuition or reasoning? What are moral emotions? Do some emotions distort moral thinking? Is morality a biological adaptation or is it acquired through learning and socialization? Can empirical research explain how moral progress occurs? Throughout the course, we’ll see how philosophical ideas about moral thinking inform, and are informed by, empirical research in psychology and neuroscience.

CAS PH 456 A1/GRS PH 656 A1 – Topics in Philosophy and Religion
Professor Eckel
W, 5:45 – 8:30

Topic for Fall 2017: Love and Hate. Designed to run side by side with the Institute for Philosophy and Religion’s fall lecture series on the topic of “Love and Hate” in the philosophy of religion. What is the role of love in living a good life? Are there different kinds of love? What are the proper objects of love? What happens when love goes wrong? These questions, and others like them, are examined in a wide range of texts drawn from the religious, philosophical, and literary traditions of Asia and the West. Also offered as CAS RN 397.

CAS PH 458 A1 – Crime and Punishment: Philosophical Perspectives
Professor Sreedhar
W, 6:30 – 9:15

This course will explore philosophical questions about the criminal justice system, both in its ideal form and as it exists today. We will examine historical and contemporary writings on punishment, focusing on concepts of punishment, justifications for punishment, preventative detention, the death penalty, and alternatives to punishment. We will also ask how deep historical and contemporary injustices, including institutionalized racism, affect how we should theorize about institutions of punishment, their possible reform, or perhaps even their abolition. Also offered as CAS PO 497.

CAS PH 461A1/GRS PH 661 A1 – Mathematical Logic
Professor Kanamori
TR, 11:00 – 12:15

The syntax and semantics of sentential and quantificational logic, culminating in the Gödel Completeness Theorem. The Gödel Incompleteness Theorem and its ramifications for computability and philosophy. Also offered as CAS MA 531.

CAS PH 468A1/GRS PH 668 A1 – Philosophical Problems of Logic and Mathematics
Professor Webb
MWF, 12:20 – 1:10

Selected traditional metaphysical and epistemological problems in the light of modern logic and various studies in the foundations of mathematics, including the nature of the axiomatic method, completeness in logic and mathematics, and the nature of mathematical truth.

CAS PH 470A1/GRS PH 670 A1 – Philosophy of Physics
Professor Cao
R, 6:30 – 9:15

An introductory survey of fascinating problems in contemporary philosophy of physics. The basic ideas and main features of physical theories, which touch upon nature at its most fundamental level and interact most crucially with philosophy, are outlined, so that students will have a road map of the central problems in the field. Throughout, the driving theme is the entanglement of a radical revision in our conceptualization of the world (which is forced upon us by the changes in the physical picture of the world due to major developments in modern physics) with central philosophical issues in metaphysics and epistemology. Some areas of discussion include: the nature of space and time in relativity theories; probability and irreversibility in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; the understanding of measurement, locality, causality, reality and objectivity in quantum theory; ontology, virtual entities, and attitudes toward infinities in quantum field theory.

In-depth conceptual analysis will be carried out in a non-technical way, without requiring either a thorough understanding of the technical details of physical theories or major competence in mathematics. The course is designed primarily for those who have a deep interest in philosophy of physics, or in theoretical physics, and plan to pursue advanced study in these areas. But it is also accessible to those who are interested mainly in the ideas of modern physics, or in the relevance of physics as a testing ground for general philosophical claims.

CAS PH 472A1/GRS PH 672 A1 – Philosophy of Biology
Professor Powell
R, 3:30 – 6:15

This course will explore conceptual and methodological problems in biological science. We will examine questions such as: Are there laws in biology and if so, how might these differ from those of physics? What are the prospects of a universal “cosmic” biology? What is the metaphysical nature of species and what role does the concept of species play in biological theory? Is the notion of human nature viable in light of our modern evolutionary understanding of the living world? What is “mind” and how did it evolve? How do we determine the function of a biological trait, and how might the biological notion of function underpin our conception of disease? What are the implications of evolutionary explanations of morality for ethical theory? No particular background knowledge of philosophy or biology is presupposed, but some experience in writing and thinking philosophically and/or theoretically would be helpful.

CAS PH 480 A1/GRS PH 680 A1 – Topics in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
Professor Roochnik
T, 6:30 – 9:15

Thinking Food & Drink. An Examination Sparked by Greek Literature and Philosophy.

This course will begin with a reading of Homer’s Odyssey. Described by Henry Fielding as “the eatingest epic,” it places the sharing of meals at the very center of human life.  We will ask, what worldview is it that allows, or even requires, eating to take on such great significance and to be celebrated?

A good Homeric meal must (of course) be accompanied by wine.  Thus, our second text will be Euripides’ Bacchae, his great exploration of Dionysus.  It will be paired with a reading of Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (in which the Dionysian is discussed at length). Through these works we will examine the meaning and value of intoxication.  What role does it play in a good human life?  Why would the Greeks have sacralized it in the form of a god?  

Our third text will be Plato’s Phaedo, in which Socrates seems to condemn all pleasures of the body, including, of course, food.  (He is, one might say, an “anorexic.”) Again, we will ask the question: what sort of worldview is it that leads to such a thorough denigration of eating and drinking?

The last section of the course will be devoted to Aristotle’s De Anima.  We will pay particular attention to his discussion of the “nutritive psyche.”  We will ask whether Aristotle’s views on eating are closer to Plato’s or Homer’s. 

CAS PH 485 A1/GRS PH 685 A1 – Topics in Philosophy of Value
Professor Dahlstrom
F, 11:15 – 2:00

What do we experience when we experience shame? Why do we experience shame? What are the different sorts of experiences that go by the name of ‘shame’? Is there a common thread running through them?   Is shame (under some rubric or any rubric) valuable? When is an experience not merely embarrassing but shameful? Can owe or should we distinguish between shame that is justly deserved and shame that is not? To what extent – if at all – is shame something natural to the human or even animal condition, and how fundamentally – if at all – does it differ across history and cultures? The aim of this course is to address these questions by examining different accounts of the nature, types, and meanings of experiences of shame.   In addition to reviewing debates in contemporary psychology on shame as a so-called ‘self-conscious’ emotion, the course will focus on Scheler’s and Sartre’s phenomenological studies of shame, as well as several more recent treatments by authors such as Gabrielle Taylor, Bernard Williams, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Lewis, David Velleman, and Dan Zahavi.

CAS PH 486 A1/GRS PH 686 A1 – Topics in Knowledge, Language, and Logic
Professor Copeland (with some lectures by Professor Juliet Floyd)
W, 2:30 – 5:15

What are the logical and philosophical origins and applications of the Turing Machine?  What, from a philosophical point of view, is computation?  This course will discuss some of the logico-philosophical aspects of Turing’s work and examine foundational issues surrounding its future extensions and applications.  Issues to be discussed include the backdrop to Turing’s famed resolution of Hilbert’s Entscheidungsproblem in philosophy, logic and foundations of mathematics at the dawn of the theory of computability; undecideability and incompleteness; Wittgenstein’s discussions with Turing; the question of AI; Searle’s Chinese Room argument; neuroplasticity and computing with the brain; the imitation game; Turing’s conception of intelligence; runaway AI; mind uploading; Turing’s ‘child machines’; and anthropomorphism and AI (can a robot smile?).

GRS PH 810 A1 – Modern Philosophy
Professor Garrett
T, 3:30 – 6:15

A close reading of Spinoza’s Ethics

GRS PH 880 A1 – Advanced Systematic Theology I
Professor Neville
T, 3:30- 6:15

The purpose of the course is to develop students’ own theological positions on ultimate reality or God. To this end it will study first-order issues about the nature of ultimate reality and also methodological or second-order issues about theology itself. The philosophical problem at the heart of theologies of ultimacy is “the one and the many.” The thesis of the course is that there is one ontological ultimate reality, an ontological act that creates everything determinate, including its own nature as creator. Indeterminate apart from creation, this ontological act can be symbolized only with broken symbols, of which there are three main families: as person, as consciousness, and as spontaneous emergence. There are also four cosmological ultimate realities giving rise to the religious projects of righteousness, wholeness, engagement of others, and achieving meaning or value-identity, each of which is addressed by every major religious tradition. The course will be in a seminar format with students making seminar presentations and preparing a research term-paper at the end. Readings will be from Wing-tsit Chan’s Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, R. Neville, editor, Ultimate Realities, R. Neville, Ultimates: Philosophical Theology Volume One, Nishitani, Keiji, Religion and Nothingness, Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology Volume One, and Wesley Wildman, Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Inquiry.

GRS PH 881 A1 – Proseminar for First-Year Graduate Students
Professor Hopp
TR, 12:30- 1:45

This seminar is open only to first-year PhD students in philosophy, all of whom are required to enroll. The seminar is designed to help incoming graduate students hone several invaluable philosophical skills, including those needed for effective presentation and defense of one’s ideas. Topics vary by semester.

GRS PH 883 A1 – Special Topics: Axiology
Professor Neville
T, 8:00- 10:45

This course examines the claim that all thinking is valuational or axiological in some sense. Four senses of thinking will be examined: imagination, interpretation, theorizing, and practical reason. The core readings will be the instructor’s trilogy Axiology of Thinking, namely, Reconstruction of Thinking, Recovery of the Measure, and Normative Cultures. We will also read Kant on imagination in the Critique of Pure Reason, Charles Peirce on interpretation in several of his essay, and Whitehead on theorizing and practical reason in his Modes of Thought. The format of the course will be a seminar with students making seminar presentations and producing a research term-paper at the end.

GRS PH 993 A1 – Placement Proseminar

Professor Star
T, 3:30 – 6:15

A workshop seminar offering advanced graduate students the opportunity to present and discuss work-in- progress (dissertation chapters, papers for job applications, journal submissions). A serious commitment to regular and continuing attendance is expected.