Course Descriptions Spring 2011

CAS PH 100 A1 – Introduction to Philosophy
Prof: P. Bokulich
TR, 2:00-3:30

A general introduction to Western Philosophy that will address questions such as the following:
What is the relationship between our ideas and the material world? Might the world be a computer-generated illusion (like in The Matrix)? Can we prove or disprove the existence of God? What is the foundation of morality? Do facts about right and wrong depend on our particular culture? Do they depend on God? How is the mind related to the brain? Could a computer think? What is consciousness? Do we have free will?

CAS PH 100 B1 – Introduction to Philosophy
Prof: Hopp
MWF, 2:00-3:00

In this class we will examine several central important philosophical theses and the main arguments for and against them. Topics include the existence of God, the problem of evil, free will, and the meaningfulness or meaninglessness of human existence.

CAS PH 110 A1 – Great Philosophers
Prof: Bronstein
MWF, 2:00-3:00

A close study of some of the great works in the history of Western philosophy. Our main texts will be Plato’s Republic, Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, and Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality. We will discuss a broad range of topics, including: justice, virtue, the soul, knowledge, skepticism, the existence of God, the mind-body problem, inequality, the political state, and human nature. We will pay particular attention to how these philosophers conceived of the human self and its relationship to others.

CAS PH 150 A1 – Introduction to Ethics
Prof: Corsentino
MWF, 12:00-1:00

Who ought we be, what ought we do, what ought we strive for? Examination of our obligations to ourselves, to other humans, and to the natural world in light of ethical theory and contemporary problems. Readings from a wide range in philosophical ethics.

CAS PH 150 B1 – Introduction to Ethics
Prof: Katsafanas
MWF, 3:00-4:00

Are there any objective truths about which actions are good, bad, right, and wrong? If so, how do we discover what these truths are? In the first quarter of the class, we will examine some grounds for doubting that ethical claims can be true. In the remainder of the class, we will study four different types of ethical theory: consequentialism, deontology, contractarianism, and virtue ethics.

CAS PH 150 C1 – Introduction to Ethics
Prof: Richardson
TR, 12:30-2:00

This course is a systematic introduction to ethics. The class will examine the meaning and status of moral claims and engage with important moral questions, such as the development of moral character, the nature of the good life, and the possibility of escaping moral nihilism. We will also discuss the major positions in normative moral theory by reading both classical and contemporary texts, and will conclude the course by trying to apply these moral theories to practical topics such as abortion, animal rights, and gay marriage.

CAS PH 155 A1 – Politics & Philosophy
Prof: Sreedhar
TR, 9:30-11:00

A study of the theoretical foundations of modern industrial democracy, with special attention paid to the Enlightenment. Readings from Machiavelli, Locke, D’Alembert, Rousseau, Madison, and Tocqueville.

CAS PH 159 A1 – Philosophy and Film
Prof: Garrett
TR, 3:30-5:00

It is easy for us to imagine that someone might confuse a film with “real life,” in fact this has been a plot device in numerous films (for example in Three Amigos). This points to something interesting about film, that we might take it to be real, and invites us to ask further questions. What is it about some kinds of films that they could be confused with reality? Can films be true? Are they fictions in the same sense that a novel is fiction? Will they be superceded, or have they already been superceded, by media which will take to be more real?
These are just a few of the philosophical questions one can ask about film. Some other questions we will consider are: is it immoral to represent immoral acts in a film (even if the acts have never happened)? Should we understand the combination of sound and visual images as more akin to a symphony, a photograph, neither, or both? Is the horror portrayed in horror films the same thing as the horrors we and others experience in our lives? If not, what is “horror”? What does the way we emotionally respond to films say about our emotional lives and the place or even centrality of emotions in our lives?
Throughout the course stress will be placed on thinking about philosophical issues though thinking about film, video, and other moving images as media, as opposed to appraising the philosophical content of particular films. Although we will watch some films in the class, and students will be encouraged to watch films outside of class, the content will mostly focus (pardon the pun) on philosophical questions arising from more general reflections on film.

CAS PH 160 A1 – Reason & Argumentation
Prof: Webb
MWF, 12:00-1:00

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.

CAS PH 160 B1 – Reason & Argumentation
Prof: Liebesman
TR, 12:30-2:00

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.

CAS PH 242 A1 – Human Nature
Prof: Kestenbaum
MWF, 1:00-2:00

Consideration of ways in which questions about human nature have received philosophical formulation through analysis of such concepts as depth, courage, authority, intensity, possibility, transcendence, tradition, adventure, unity, sex, struggle, and peace. Discussion of past and recent work in philosophical anthropology.

CAS PH 245 A1 – Philosophy & Religion
Prof: Lobel
MWF, 1:00-2:00

Introduction to religious thought, exploring the aims of human life, the place of God in the good life, and the role of contemplation and action in the spiritual quest. Readings from Plato, Aristotle, Bible, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Augustine, Maimonides, Ghazzali.

CAS PH 248 A1 – Existentialism
Prof: Hopp
MWF, 10:00-11:00

The central philosophical and literary figures commonly regarded as existentialists are a diverse bunch, but are united in their skepticism concerning the power of traditional philosophical or scientific analysis to render human thought and action intelligible, the value they place on individual authenticity, and the importance they assign to emotionally exceptional states of mind for the full disclosure of human (and even non-human) reality. In this course we will examine works by Kierkegaard, Dostoevski, Nietzsche, Kafka, Camus, and Sartre. We will be especially concerned with what these thinkers have to say about the conditions of modern humanity, the ability of science to explain human action, the authority of moral laws, the importance of individual “authenticity,” and the “absurdity” of human life, either with or without God.

CAS PH 253 A1 – Social Philosophy
Prof: Cao
MWF, 11:00-12:00

Through a reading of come selected texts (Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, Juergen Habermas, Theory and Practice, Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Claude Lefort, The Political Forms of Modern Society, John Stuart Mills, On Liberty and The Subjection of Women, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Discourses, Max Weber, Selections), we will examine modern and contemporary theories of society, concerning its nature and the direction of its evolution. The philosophical and sociological discussions are framed in terms of the complicated relationship between individuals and society, and between civil society and the sovereign power.

CAS PH 256 A1 – Philosophy of Gender & Sexuality
Prof: Sreedhar
TR, 12:30-2:00

An analysis of the notions of gender and sexuality, with readings from Plato, Rousseau, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Sartre, Levinas, Scruton, Bloom. Questions include: are gender and sexuality natural, or are they social constructions, how are they related to love and desire?

CAS PH 259 A1- Philosophy & the Arts
Prof: Kestenbaum
MWF, 11:00-12:00

Introduction to aesthetics, considering such questions as: What is a work of art? How does one know whether or not it is good or bad?

CAS PH 265 A1 – Minds and Machines
Prof: Ganea
MWF, 11:00-12:00

The idea that the human mind is essentially a machine is not new but it has been revitalized by the advent of the modern digital computer, and it has functioned as a paradigm both in philosophy and in cognitive science. The course will describe the foundations of the theory of computation and explore the successes and the limitations of computational explanations of various aspects of the mind, with particular emphasis on the problem of mental representation.

CAS PH 272 A1 – Science, Technology, and Value
Prof: A. Bokulich
MWF, 10:00-11:00

The goal of this course is to come to a deeper and more reflective understanding of the nature of science and technology, their ethical implications, and their impact on society. As citizens, business people, and policy makers we cannot afford to be ignorant of the developments in science and technology. As scientists, engineers, or healthcare professionals-or even simply as consumers-we cannot afford to be ignorant of the ethical, social, and political implications of our practices. In this course we shall examine some of the important ways in which science, technology, society, and values are interconnected. The course will include case studies of particular technologies such as nuclear technology, prescription drugs, GM crops, and computers.

CAS PH 300 A1 – History of Ancient Philosophy
Prof: Bronstein
MWF, 1:00-2:00

Our focus will be on the two giants of Ancient Greek Philosophy, Plato and Aristotle. Our main texts will be Plato’s Apology, Euthyphro, Symposium, and Republic, and selections from Aristotle’s Categories, Physics, On the Soul, Metaphysics, and (especially) Nicomachean Ethics. We will examine and compare Plato’s and Aristotle’s answers to such questions as: What is virtue? What is knowledge? What is love? What is the fundamental nature of reality? What is the good life?

CAS PH 300 B1 – History of Ancient Philosophy
Prof: Rorty
TR, 11:00-12:30

We shall concentrate on ancient Greek and Roman moral and political philosophy, reading Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics in their entirety, as well as selecting from early Epicurean and Stoic authors. Our general aims: …to understand and engage with ancient moral and political theories…to see how Plato’s and Aristotle’s discussions of justice, virtue, and the good life presuppose and imply views on psychology, education, epistemology, and metaphysics (Philosophy is always systematic: there are no isolated questions, no piecemeal solutions.)…to join Plato, Aristotle, the Epicureans and Stoics in discussing and pursuing the questions they raise. (Philosophy is not a spectator sport: it is always active and collaborative.)
Note: Enrollment limited to 20.

CAS PH 310 A1 – History of Modern Philosophy
Prof: Torza
MWF, 1:00-2:00

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
Prof: Webb
MWF, 11:00-12:00

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 350 A1 – History of Ethics
Prof: Buickerood
TR, 9:30-11:00

A critical and comparative examination of the ideas of representative moral philosophers from Plato to Nietzsche.

CAS PH 350 B1 – History of Ethics
Prof: Lockwood
TR, 11:00-12:30

This course examines Western ethical thought from the time of Plato through the nineteenth century. The course focuses on the ethical writings of three different eras: Classical Greece and Rome (Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Cicero), Medieval Christianity (Boethius, Aquinas), and continental modern philosophy (Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche). Underlying many of the readings is the question of how ideas from Greek ethical thought are transformed as they are incorporated into or rejected by subsequent Western ethical traditions. Our primary goal will be reading, discussing, and evaluating several seminal ethical texts. Our secondary goal will be situating these works historically and examining certain topics that have been addressed in the history of western ethics, including the nature of happiness, virtue, the relationship of religion and morality, the notion of the good, the nature of the sympathy, and the grounds of ethical obligation. Students will be evaluated in the course on the basis of four papers, classroom participation, a midterm, and a final exam.

CAS PH 360/GRS PH 633 A1 – Symbolic Logic
Prof: Floyd
TR, 11:00-12:30

An introductory survey of the concepts and principles of symbolic logic: valid and invalid arguments, logical relations of statements and their basis in structural features of statements, analysis of the logical structure of complex statements of ordinary discourse, and the use of a symbolic language to display logical structure and to facilitate methods for assessing discourse, and the use of a symbolic language to display logical structure and to facilitate methods for assessing the logical structure of arguments. We will cover the analysis of reasoning with truth-functions (“and”, “or”, “not”, “if…then”) and with quantifiers (“all”’ “some”), attending to formal languages and axiomatic systems for logical deduction. Throughout, we aim to clearly and systematically display both the theory underlying the norms of valid reasoning and their applications to particular problems of argumentation. The course is an introduction to first-order quantificational logic, a key tool underlying work in foundations of mathematics, philosophy of language and mind, philosophy of science and parts of syntax and semantics. It is largely mathematical and formal in character, but lectures will situate these structures within the context of questions raised in contemporary philosophy of language and mind.

CAS PH 410/GRS PH 610 A1 – Continental Rationalism
Prof: Garrett
TR, 2:00-3:30

A critical study of major texts of seventeenth-century philosophy.

CAS PH 415/GRS PH 615 A1 – 19th Century Philosophy
Prof: Katsafanas
MWF, 1:00-2:00

In this course we will study some of the great works of nineteenth-century German philosophy. Texts include Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity, Marx’s Communist Manifesto and German Ideology, Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation, and Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality. Topics to be addressed include the aspiration for philosophical systematicity; the notion of dialect; the sources of normative authority; the relationship between philosophy and history; the philosophical status of religion; whether modernity enables or undermines self-satisfaction; ideology and false consciousness; and the concepts of alienation and authenticity.

CAS PH 424/GRS PH 624 A1 – Wittgenstein
Prof: Floyd
M, 3:30-6:30

An intensive study of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, with contemporary philosophical problems in mind and some attention to Wittgenstein’s overall development. Themes covered include the nature of concept-possession, the scope and character of logic, Wittgenstein’s criticisms of mentalism and various forms of psychologism, questions about what it is to follow a rule, to understand a language, and to express a thought. We shall examine selected passages from drafts of the Investigations in texts such as Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics and Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, focusing especially on the interplay between Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophy and the themes of skepticism, the nature of logic, and the grammar of psychological concepts; there will be some discussion of his views on ethics and on truth as well.

CAS PH 427/GRS PH 627 A1 – Heidegger and Existential Philosophy
Prof: Dahlstrom
W, 10:00-1:00

Following some introductory discussions of Heidegger’s earliest writings and lectures, this course is devoted to a close reading of significant portions of Heidegger’s Being and Time. The topics covered will include Heidegger’s treatment of such topics as being-in-the-world, the workworld and tool-use, emotion, understanding, interpretation, discourse, the everyday, fear and anxiety, care, truth, death, conscience, authenticity, and time.

CAS PH 436/GRS PH 636 A1 – Gender, Race, and Science
Prof: A. Bokulich
MWF, 1:00-2:00

This course is an examination of issues arising at the intersection of feminist philosophy, philosophy of race, and the history and philosophy of science. We shall examine questions such as the following: How have views about gender and race changed over the history of science and the history of philosophy? Is ‘race’ a genuine scientific category or just a social construct? Why are there still so few women and minority scientists? Has the content of science been affected by the fact that it has been carried out almost exclusively by white men? The primary goal of this course is to come to a deeper and more critically reflective understanding of both the history of the concepts of race and gender and the various roles that these concepts continue to play in contemporary science.

CAS PH 440/GRS PH 640 A1 – Metaphysics
Prof: Liebesman
TR, 9:30-11:00

In this course we’ll examine some central issues in contemporary metaphysics. Likely topics include modality, material constitution, realism/anti-realism, and causation.

CAS PH 443/GRS PH 643 A1 – Philosophy of the Mind
Prof: P. Bokulich
TR, 11:00-12:30

This course will focus on the current philosophical debate over physicalism. What does physicalism require? Is consciousness nonphysical? Addressing these questions will take us into debates over necessity, a priori knowledge, reductive explanation, and conceivability as guide to possibility. The readings will include works by Kripke, Chalmers, Jackson, Block, Stalnaker, Stoljar, Papineau, Yablo, and others.

CAS PH 452/GRS PH 652 A1 – Ethics of Health Care: Global and Economic Perspective
Prof: Kober
TR, 9:30-11:00

Advances in biological sciences and technologies present various ethical challenges, especially when compounded with economic interests. These ethical issues become ever sharper in light of their global reach and influence. This course examines several such issues in detail, with particular attention to questions of commodification, medical tourism, and enhancement. Topics discussed include reproductive technologies, organ transplantation enhancement, and counterfeit drugs.

CAS PH 459/GRS PH 659/LAW JD 725 A1 – Political Responsibility: A Duty to Obey and a Duty to Disobey
Prof: Lyons
W, 2:10-4:10

The duty to support just institutions calls for compliance with just laws but not with unjust laws. But no political system, however well designed, can guarantee the justice of all its laws; and theorists have long defended the widely accepted idea that every member of a community is morally obligated to obey all of its laws, including its unjust laws. This seminar will critically examine the more familiar and the more promising grounds that have been proposed for such an obligation, such as consent, gratitude, fairness and the duty of justice itself. We will also consider the possibility of basing a duty to disobey of the same grounds. Required writing will include a term paper on an approved topic in two drafts. A short mid-term paper may also be required. This seminar originates in the Law School but will be open to a limited number of non-law students.

CAS PH 462/GRS PH 662 A1 – Foundations of Mathematics
Prof: Kanamori
TR, 12:30-2:00

Axiomatic set theory as a foundation for, and field of, mathematics: Axiom of Choice, the Continuum Hypothesis, and consistency results.

CAS PH 470/GRS PH 670 A1 – Philosophy of Physics
Prof: Cao
M, 2:00-5:00

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 as a testing ground for general philosophical claims.
Texts: Tian Yu Cao, Conceptual Developments of 20th Century Field Theories; Lawrence Sklar, Philosophy of Physics; Alastair Rae, Quantum Physics: Illusion or Reality.

GRS PH 801 A1 – Ancient Philosophy 1
Prof: Roochnik
R, 6:00-9:00

A careful reading of Aristotle’s Metaphysics.

GRS PH 858 A1 – Aesthetics
Prof: Speight
T, 2:00-5:00

Seminar in aesthetics, with an emphasis on the historical development of aesthetic ideas (the beautiful, the sublime, the ideal), particularly in the German tradition from Baumgarten through Kant to the 20th century. Among other topics, the course will consider the relation between aesthetics and politics in thinkers such as Lessing, Schiller, Schlegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Benjamin and Lukacs.

GRS PH 994 A1 – Proseminar
Prof: P. Bokulich
W, 10:00-1:00

Continuation of PH 993, offering continuing support and opportunities for professionalization for students as they complete dissertations and present their research in professional settings. Class meetings involve workshops on a graduated series of placement tasks and mock paper presentations by each student.