Course Descriptions Fall 2002
CAS PH 100
INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
Introduction to Philosophy is designed to give students an overview of the history of philosophy, punctuated with representative readings of key philosophers from each period of Western civilization. The reading material is divided into two formats: 1) a general outline of philosophy’s history will serve as the “scaffold” of the course, providing the student with both a general orientation, as well as some in depth discussion of key philosophers, e.g., Aristotle, Aquinas, and Kant; 2) specific philosophical works chosen principally for their ease of engagement and not necessarily because they are ‘the most important’ in the canon. The instructor’s goal is to offer a general orientation to the types of questions philosophers address and the various methods devised to answer them.
CAS PH 110
A comparative introduction to the life and thought of six preeminent philosophers from classical times in both the Western and Eastern traditions.
CAS PH 150 A1
INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS
We use moral language all the time; we say that an act is wrong, that a person is virtuous, that we have the right to certain sorts of treatment, and so on. Such language, however, can be puzzling. It is difficult to say exactly what we are referring to when we speak of such things as the rightness and wrongness of acts, and it can be just as difficult to say which acts really are right and which really are wrong. This course will begin with an investigation into the nature of moral judgments. We will ask, for example, whether morality is just a matter of opinion or emotion, whether there is a single true morality, and whether morality depends upon the existence of God. In the second part of the course, we will look at various views about what it takes for an act to be right or wrong. Is acting morally fundamentally a matter of promoting happiness, respecting rights, exercising the virtues, or what? Finally, we will examine some practical moral issues, perhaps including the morality of abortion, our obligations to people in distant parts of the world, and our obligation to tell the truth. The course will be organized around thematic concerns, rather than the works of particular great philosophers, but the reading will include a mixture of contemporary and historical texts.
CAS PH 150 B1
INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS
An introduction to ethics through critical consideration of classical and contemporary elaboration’s of ethical theory.
CAS PH 150 C1
INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS
The course provides a systematic introduction to major questions in moral thought, such as: are there any absolute moral standards or are all values relative? Is morality “constructed” by people? Is morality necessarily dependent upon religion? What is the relationship between morality and egoism? Is the morally right action the one that achieves the best outcome, or the one that is in accordance with conscience and duty, or the one that is the expression of virtue?
CAS PH 160 A1
REASONING & ARGUMENTATION
A systematic study of the principles of both deductive and informal reasoning, with an emphasis on reasoning and argumentation in ordinary discourse, and on their strategies. The aim of the course is to train the student in the skills of argument analysis, argument construction, and argument evaluation. Textbook: Hintikka and Bachman, What if…? Toward Excellence in Reasoning.
CAS PH 160 B1
REASONING & ARGUMENTATION
A systematic study of the principles of both deductive and informal reasoning, with an emphasis on reasoning and argumentation in ordinary discourse, and on their strategies. The aim of the course is to train the student in the skills of argument analysis, argument construction, and argument evaluation.
CAS PH 160 C1
REASONING & ARGUMENTATION
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.
Intermediate Level I
* Prerequisite: one philosophy course or sophomore standing*
CAS PH 245
PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION
(cross- registered with RN 109)
The Quest for God and the Good. 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
Introduction to the principal themes of Existentialist philosophy, including subjectivity, history, facticity, and freedom. There will be a particular emphasis on the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre, though forerunners of Existentialism such as Pascal, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard will also be considered.
CAS PH 249
AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITION
This survey of American philosophy will emphasize the contributions of New England Transcendentalism and pragmatism. Readings chosen from the wirtings of Emerson, Thoreau, Pierce, James and a broad sampling of 20th century pragmatists will be supplemented with historical and philosophical commentary.
CAS PH 253
Prereq: one philosophy course or sophomore standing. A philosophical examination of classical and contemporary theories of modern society. Readings will include the work of Hobbes, Rousseau, Mill, Weber, as well as later thinkers.
CAS PH 258
PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE
Prereq: one philosophy course or sophomore standing. This course will explore philosophy’s view of the nature and philosophical relevance of literature, and literature’s ways of resisting and contesting that view. Topics covered will include tragedy and moral luck, the death of the author, the relation between reason and the emotions, and the interaction of form and content in both philosophical and literary texts. Authors examined will include Plato, Sophocles, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Cavell.
CAS PH 266
MIND, BRAIN AND SELF
Prereq: one philosophy course or sophomore standing. Philosophical introduction to cognitive science. A consideration of the historical and intellectual background from which cognitive science has emerged, as well as the philosophical issues concerning the mind, brain, and self that arise from contemporary scientific research.
CAS PH 270
PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
The first half of this course is an introduction to epistemological issues in the philosophy of science. We shall examine questions such as: What distinguishes science from pseudoscience? Are scientific theories converging on the truth? Is science objective? How do we know things we cannot observe directly, such as electrons, really exist the way our theories say they do? What is an adequate scientific explanation? Could all of science in principle be explained by physics?
The second half of the course focuses on a metaphysical issue in the philosophy of science: What is the nature of space? We shall see what great philosophers and scientists such as Aristotle, Newton, Leibniz, Kant and Einstein have said about the nature of space.
The readings are introductory enough to be accessible to those with no prior background in philosophy or science.
Required texts: Introduction to the Philosophy of Science: Cutting Nature at its Seams by Robert Klee; Space from Zeno to Einstein: Classic Readings with a Contemporary Commentary by Nick Huggett.
CAS PH 277
PHILOSOPHY METHODS OF HUMAN SCIENCES
Prereq: one philosophy course or sophomore standing. Analysis of basic concepts relevant to the social sciences: causal and functional explanation, prediction, understanding and interpretation, rationality, reduction, individualism and holism, objectivity and values. Consideration of philosophical problems of the special sciences: psychology, economics, history, and archeology.
Intermediate Level II
*Prerequisite: one philosophy course or sophomore standing*
CAS PH 300 A1
HISTORY OF ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
Prereq: one philosophy course or sophomore standing. The course will explore Greek philosophy and will concentrate on its development from Thales through Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Platonic dialogues, and major chunks of the Aristotelian corpus will be read with some care. The focus will be philosophical rather than historical, and the emphasis will be on the analysis and interpretation of texts. One in-class written exam, a midterm and a final paper.
CAS PH 300-B1
HISTORY OF ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
The history of ancient philosophy is the history of the invention of philosophy and of its extraordinary accomplishments and ambitions. This unprecedented development, the lecturer will argue, was the unique creation of the Greek world–a reflection of its outlook, culture, language, politics and values; and of the geniuses that pressed the quest.
To outline and interpret the development of ancient philosophy, the course will reconstruct the speculations of Ionian and Southern Italian thinkers; the philosophical breakthroughs of classical Athens (Sophists, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle); and the re-direction of philosophy during the Hellenistic/ Roman era (Stoics, Skeptics, Epicureans and Cynics).
Through a close reading and interpretation of selected texts, the lecturer will argue for the continuity of Greek philosophical thought; but also for its surpassing autonomy and coherence. From the Presocratics through Plato, Aristotle and the Hellenistic philosophers, philosophical inquiry evolved but also remained steadfastly focused on topics that proved perennial; the possibility of knowledge, the nature of Being, the scope of reason, the search for method, the idea of the good, etc.. This fact will suggest that the history of Greek philosophy is paradigmatic of all authentic philosophy: it will explain why all later philosophy had to re-investigate the Hellenic philosophical issues.
The class will be conducted in lecture form.
CAS PH 310-A1
HISTORY OF MODERN PHILOSOPHY
Examination of theories of major seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophers, from Descartes to Hume. Along with their confidence in reason, the Continental Rationalists share a conception of philosophy as a universal discipline whose propositions are derivable from first principles regarded as necessary. The British Empiricists, on the other hand, beginning with Locke’s “historical, plain method,” claim to rely primarily on experience as the basis of their theories of knowledge.
CAS PH 310-B1
HISTORY OF MODERN PHILOSOPHY
This course pursues a detailed study of some of the principal themes of modern philosophy, focusing on metaphysical and epistemological issues, through the writings of Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant.
CAS PH 350
HISTORY OF ETHICS
Prereq: one philosophy course or sophomore standing. This class will prepare students for work in the history of ethics via an immersion in eighteenth-century British moral philosophy. The period is uniquely rich in ideas and debates and influences many of the ways in which contemporary ethicists view their discipline. Topics covered will include utilitarianism, moral sense theory, natural law, virtue ethics, rights (particularly animal rights), and conventionalism. Major authors to be considered will include John Locke, Francis Hutcheson, Joseph Butler, David Hume, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and Jeremy Bentham (as well as a few more minor figures). In addition Kant and Aristotle will be discussed in order to provide a broader background (although it would be useful if students had some familiarity with them).
Undergraduate Students should register for 400-level courses
Graduate Students should register for 600-level courses
Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
*Prerequisites: PH 300 and two other PH courses*
CAS PH 403
(cross-registered with ID 302)
A close reading of Plato’s SYMPOSIUM
CAS PH 405/ 605
A study of Aristotle’s conception of “theory” (theôria). We begin by briefly considering the Presocratics and Plato (Phaedo). Neither is, for Aristotle, adequately theoretical. The former conceal the heterogeneity of natural beings. By playfully blending muthos and logos, the latter is not sufficiently serious.
Next, we read the explicit discussions of theôria in the Ethics (Book X), Politics (VII), and Metaphysics (XII). Here theôria seems to be “contemplation,” the apprehension of the highest, most divine objects, and itself the human imitation of God’s activity.
Third, we examine the more “mundane” sense of theôria, i.e., Aristotle’s actual work in ethics, politics, physics. This sense is grounded in De Anima II.1-5, and III.4-5, the foundational account of theôria itself.
This course will test the following hypothesis: Theôria is not best translated as “contemplation.” Instead, it permeates Aristotle’s corpus (even his “practical” treatises), and is best understood as the intellectual work of apprehending objects as they appear in ordinary experience. In other words, Aristotelian theory is “phenomenological.”
Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
*Prerequisites: PH 310 and two other PH courses*
CAS PH 413
Prereq: CAS PH 310 and three other philosophy courses. A single text constitutes the basis for this course–Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Some of the great scholars of the past have devoted a lifetime to analyzing, explicating, and evaluating this work. We, alas, have only one semester. In this, the first of three Critiques, Kant introduced the idea of a critical self-examination of reason, and in the execution of this program he developed a unique new type of philosophy, called transcendental philosophy, which forever revolutionized philosophical thought. We shall examine the text carefully from beginning to end. Because Kant’s thinking is enormously complex, intricate, and subtle, we shall make ample use of secondary sources and complement textual analysis by discussing helpful comments by some of today’s finest Kant scholars.
Note: this is a course ONLY open to undergraduates.
CAS PH 420/620
PH 310 and two other philosophy courses, or consent of instructor. A survey of the main developments in recent philosophy in both the analytical and continental traditions, emphasizing the interrelations of the two. Philosophers covered include Frege, Moore, Russell, and Wittgenstein. as well as Brentano, Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre.
CAS PH 426
Prereq: CAS PH 310 and two other philosophy courses, or consent of instructor. An examination of Sartre’s monumental study of the foundations of human existence, Being and Nothingness, preceded by a brief discussion of his earlier essay The Transcendence of the Ego. Sartre’s Being and Nothingness is the central text of existentialist philosophy. It is also a great critique of metaphysics. Many of its analyses of ‘existential’ human situations are unsurpassed. The course will conclude with a critical reading of Sartre’s essay “Existentialism as a Humanism”. Requirements: thorough preparation of reading assignments, a mid-term, and a final paper. Prereq: PH300 and PH310. Some knowledge of either Hegel or Husserl would be welcome but is not required.
CAS PH 440
Prerequisites: at least one course above the 100 level. Many popular science fiction stories are about people who travel to distant times; think of’The Time Machine’, ‘Back to the Future’, and ‘Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me’. But is time travel possible? This is not to ask whether anyone has traveled in time or will ever do so. The question is rather about whether or not someone *could* travel in time. To put it another way, we will not be asking about how to build time machines, but about whether or not time travel stories inevitably involve deep inconsistencies or impossibilities. In investigating this question, we will confront various puzzles about time, God, change, possibility, causation, personal identity and free will. The course will therefore serve as an introduction to several of the central problems in metaphysics.
*Prerequisties: PH 300, 310, and one other PH course*
CAS PH 446/646
PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION
Prerequisites: PH 310, 311, and 350, their equivalents or permission of the instructor. The course is intended mainly for graduate students in philosophy of religion and philosophy, as well as advanced undergraduate majors in these fields. It is open, however, to others who can demonstrate sufficient background and preparation.
Requirements for undergraduates: two or three shorter papers (4-5 Pages) and a take home final. For graduates: two papers of approximately 15 pages each and possible a brief in class presentation.
Philosophy of Value
*Prerequisites: PH 350 and two other PH courses*
SEMINAR: PHILOSOPHY A JUST PEACE
(Professor’s Approval is Required)
This seminar will examine the role of religion in various cultures. It is organized around the Institute for Philosophy and Religion’s lecture series, which is sponsored by the Institute for Religion and World Affairs. Meet most Wednesday afternoons at 3:00 pm for discussion with the evening’s lecturer. Copies of the lecture are made available in advance as the basis for discussion. Attendance at the evening lectures (5-7 p.m.) is also required.
The Seminar provides a unique opportunity to engage major world figures in the fields of philosophy, religion, and theology in an intimate, informal setting. Consent of the instructor is required.
Please note that this is a year-long seminar and that you need to take the course both semesters in order to receive course credit.
ACTION, INTERPRETATION, AND NARRATIVE
(Professor’s Approval is required)
Cross-registered with RN 398/698 & TT 822
An exploration of basic issues in hermeneutic philosophy and interpretation theory, including the nature and meaning of mythic-symbolic language, narrative discourse, metaphoric predication and deconstruction theory, through a discussion of selected works by the scholars with whom these terms/movements/theories are most directly associated. Primary focus will be upon the growth and development of hermeneutic philosophy through a close reading of Hans-George Gadamer’s classic work, Truth and Method and the background materials that inform it; for example, Aristotle’s On Interpretation, Kant’s Critique of Judgment, Schleiermacher’s Hermeneutics, Heidegger’s Being and Time, and the debate of Bultmann and Jaspers on Christianity and Myth. Paul Ricoeur’s Interpretation Theory, the rule of metaphor, and selected essays by Jacques Derrida will also be considered.
POLITICAL AND LEGAL PHILOSOPHY
Examination of the individual’s responsibilities under law, specifically of the idea that there is a general moral obligation to obey the law, including unjust law, and the contrasting idea of civil disobedience – the possibility of morally justified resistance to law.
Philosophy of Knowledge, Language, and Logic
*Prerequisites: PH 310, 360, and one other PH course*
An investigation of the fate of scepticism in the twentieth century. We will begin discussing claims that have been made about the role of scepticism in early modern philosophy, and then focus on efforts to refute scepticism in the twentieth century — efforts largely the result of the attempt to throw off the legacy of nineteenth century idealism and historicism. We shall examine G.E. Moore’s essays “Proof of an external world”, “Certainty”, and “A Defense of Common Sense”, Russell’s Our Knowledge of the External World, J.L. Austin’s Sense and Sensibility and “Other Minds”, Wittgenstein’s On Certainty, and related works by such contemporary philosophers as Quine, Grice, Putnam, Cavell and Williams.
PHILOSOPHY OF COGNITIVE SCIENCE
Prereq: CAS PH310, 360, and one other philosophy course; or consent of instructor. An introduction to philosophical issues in cognitive science (computer science and neuroscience in particular) with special attention to the issue of emergence of cognitive activities from non-cognitive processes: the condition and nature of the emergence and its bearings to the mind-body problem. This course is for advanced undergraduates and graduate students; students from related departments (e.g., Cognitive & Neural Systems) are welcome.
PHILOSOPHY OF PHYSICS
This course is an historical and philosophical introduction to some of the puzzles and paradoxes raised by Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. No prior background in physics or philosophy is required; the requisite scientific and philosophical background material will be presented in the course. Topics to be covered include:
* Is the world deterministic or indeterministic?
* Schrödinger’s cat and the measurement problem
* Bell’s theorem, nonlocality, and the EPR paradox
* Is space(-time) a thing or simply a relation?
* Block universe and time travel
TOPICS IN SPECULATIVE PHILOSOPHY
Prereq: any one philosophy course from CAS PH 440-447, or consent of instructor. A study of divergent theories of the cognitive character of perception, cognition, and judgment.
TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY OF VALUE
Prereq: any one philosophy course from CAS PH 450-457, or consent of instructor. Of what value is the practical? Do practical engagements with the world require a theoretical ground or is practice the ground of theory? Analysis of concepts such as practice, practical reasoning and understanding, action, and theory in works of John Dewey, Michael Oakeshott, and Hannah Arendt.
John Dewey, The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action
Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics
Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind
Additional readings will be drawn from literary criticism, sociology, and anthropology.
Two, possibly three papers.
TOPICS IN KNOWLEDGE, LANGUAGE, AND LOGIC
Prereq: any one philosophy course from CAS PH 460-468, or consent of instructor. This course will focus on new approaches to logic and language theory, as well as their impact on epistemology.
*The following courses are open to Graduate Students ONLY*
MODERN PHILOSOPHY (SPINOZA)
A close reading of Spinoza’s Ethics and Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect.
This is first of two part seminars on the Critique of Pure Reason. It will focus on the Transcendental Aesthete and Transcendental Analytic. The continuation in the Spring will be devoted to the Transcendental Dialectic. Although students free to take only the first semester, no one will be admitted for the second semester who were not enrolled in the first.
A previous course on the Critique of Pure Reason is NOT required or expected; but it is assumed that students will have some basic familiarity with Kant’s theoretical philosophy and, more generally, the history of modern philosophy.
Samuel Pufendorf (1632-94) is as important in early modern ethics and politics as, say, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, or Rousseau, and for a century he was as influential as any of these. Yet, today he is largely forgotten in the standard histories of philosophy, a victim of the Kantian revolution. Pufendorf’s philosophy was in many ways the polar opposite of that of Kant, thoroughly conventionalist in both ethics and politics. Pufendorf’s central concern with his conventionalism was to bracket politics from religion, basing the former on a naturalistic idea of sociability. The idea was to show the proper foundations for a strong state – strong enough to be ‘absolute’ in politics but also to limit itself to politics. The course will center on an analysis of Pufendorf’s major work, The Law of Nature and Nations (1st ed. 1672), relate it to its most important modern referents, Grotius and Hobbes, and try to understand why Locke should have found it the most important work of its sort and why Leibniz and Kant should have disdained its author so much.
TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY I
A detailed analysis of Plato’s PHILEBUS
TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY III
The course will be devoted to an interpretation of the conceptual relation between “eternity” and “time”, in particular as it appears in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche (“Eternal Return of the Same”).Texts of St. Augustine, Hegel, Kirkegaard, Heidegger, Deleuze and Gadamer will also be discussed.
TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY IV
A sudy of the philosophical cosomology, reviewing some classic positions and then engaging several 20th Century positions in detail.