Course Descriptions Fall 2007

CAS PH100 A1 – Introduction to Philosophy
Professor Peter Bokulich

An introduction to Western philosophy structured around four questions: What is the nature of morality? Do we have free will? What is the relationship between our ideas and the world itself? What is the relationship between our minds and our brains?

CAS PH110 A1 – Great Philosophers
Professor Vanderschraaf

A comparative introduction to the life and thought of five preeminent philosophers from classical to contemporary times in the Western tradition.

CAS PH150 A1 – Introduction to Ethics
Professor Dahlstrom

Who ought we to be, what ought we to do, what ought we to 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 of texts in philosophical ethics.

CAS PH150 B1 – Introduction to Ethics
Professor Sreedhar

Who ought we to be, what ought we to do, what ought we to 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 of texts in philosophical ethics.

CAS PH150 C1 – Introduction to Ethics
Professor Griswold

Who ought we to be, what ought we to do, what ought we to 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 of texts in philosophical ethics.

CAS PH160 A1 – Reasoning and Argumentation
Professor Floyd

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 PH160 B1 – Reasoning and Argumentation
Professor Alisa Bokulich

A systematic study of the principles of both deductive and inductive reasoning, calculated to enhance students’ actual reasoning skills, with an emphasis on reasoning and argumentation in both ordinary discourse and in the sciences. The textbook for the course is Merrilee Salmon’s Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH160 C1 – Reasoning and Argumentation
Professor Hintikka

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 PH241 A1 – Philosophy of Personality
Professor Kestenbaum

Consideration of the nature and problems of self-understanding and self-realization. Psychological and philosophical perspectives on pattern, growth, and maturity in personality. Particular attention to philosophical issues associated with the place of emotion in the healthy personality; rationality, freedom, and responsibility.

Prerequisite: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

CAS PH247 A1 – Introduction to Chinese Philosophy
Professor Berthrong

An introduction to the Chinese philosophical tradition, including a study of classical Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Mohism, Legalism, and modern developments.

CAS PH248 A1 – Existentialism

Analysis of existentialism as a movement or orientation in contemporary philosophy. Topics include contingency and the grounds for belief and value; depth, superficiality, and the intense life; commitment and open-mindedness; tragedy and the healthy self; boredom, anxiety, and adventure; and existentialism as a philosophy of the possible.

Prerequisite: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

CAS PH251 A1 – Medical Ethics
Professor Miller

Examination of a number of value problems arising within the context of medicine and health care. Particular ethical problems of euthanasia, abortion, human experimentation, reproduction, and allocation of scarce resources; critiques of contemporary medicine as an institution.

Prerequisite: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

CAS PH254 A1 – Political Philosophy
Professor Michalski

Types of political theory, their key concepts and underlying assumptions; paradoxes in the modern idea of freedom; the concept of property; scientific progress and the understanding of the politics.

Prerequisite: at least sophomore standing or any 100-level philosophy course.

CAS PH259 A1 – Philosophy of the Arts
Professor Speight

What makes something beautiful? How do different arts (music, dance, painting, sculpture) relate to different aspects of our aesthetic experience of the world? In this course, we will explore several famous philosophical theories of art and discuss them in connection with numerous specific examples of artwork in the various genres.

CAS PH265 A1 – Minds and Machines
Professor Webb

An examination of the efforts of artificial intelligence to model the human mind and explain human thought by means of suitably programmed computers. Attention is given to the historical and mathematical origins of such efforts, as well as the main psychological and philosophical assumptions on which they depend.

Prerequisite: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

CAS PH270 A1 – Philosophy of Science
Professor Cao

Main features of the scientific enterprise are illustrated by examples in the study of physics, biology, and mind: the aims of scientific activities, the nature of scientific understanding and procedures, the structure and interpretation of scientific theories, and the development of science.

Prerequisite: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

CAS PH277 A1 – Philosophy and Methods in the Human Sciences
Professor Devlin

Examination of basic concepts of the social sciences, such as causal and functional explanations, prediction, rationality, reduction, and objectivity. Consideration of philosophical problems of the particular social sciences, such as psychology, economics, archaeology, and history.

CAS PH300 A1 – History of Ancient Philosophy
Professor Brinkmann

Classical Greek philosophy, with a concentration on the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle.

Prerequisite: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

CAS PH300 B1 – History of Ancient Philosophy
Professor Diamandopoulos

Classical Greek philosophy, with a concentration on the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle.

Prerequisite: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

CAS PH310 A1 – History of Modern Philosophy
Professor Webb

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.

Prerequisite: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

CAS PH350 A1 – History of Ethics
Professor Kuehn

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

Prerequisite one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

CAS PH404 A1 – Plato II
Professor Diamandopoulos

Plato’s later thoughts on Knowledge and the worlds of Reality and Appearance: a close reading of the Theaetetus and the Sophist.

Prerequisite: CAS PH300

CAS PH405/605 A1 – Aristotle I
Professor Roochnik

A careful study of the philosophy of Aristotle conducted primarily through a close reading of several of his major works.

Prerequisite: CAS PH300

CAS PH411/611 A1 – British Empiricism
Professor Garrett

A critical study of major texts of British Empiricists, with emphasis on Locke and Hume.

Prerequisite: CAS PH310 and two other philosophy courses, or consent of instructor.

CAS PH417/617 A1 – Hegel’s Phenomenology
Professor Brinkmann

A close reading of Hegel’s 1806 Phenomenology.

Prerequisites: CAS PH300 & CAS PH310

CAS PH422/622 A1 – Analytic Philosophy
Professor Floyd

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 “Other Minds”, Wittgenstein’s On Certainty, and related works by such contemporary philosophers as Quine, Anscombe, Grice, Putnam, Cavell, Travis and Williams.

CAS PH450/650 A1 – Types of Ethical Theory
Professor Sreedhar

Close reading of several essential works in the history of ethical theory, including some of the following: Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Kant, and Mill.

Prerequisite: CAS PH350 and two other philosophy courses, or consent of instructor.

CAS PH455/655 A1 – Philosophy of Law
Professor Baxter

This course will survey, and critically examine, some of the last half-century’s influential approaches to the philosophy of law. Readings will include works by H.L.A. Hart, Ronald Dworkin, and John Rawls. Active participation in class discussion is required.

CAS PH459/659 A1 – Political and Legal Philosophy
Professor Lyons

Topic for Fall 2007: Democracy and Equality. This seminar (which originates and will meet in the Law School, on the Law School’s calendar and time schedule) will examine the nature, value and scope of these two leading ideas in political thought. Questions we may consider include: How should we understand democracy and equality? Why should they be valued? How are they related? How might they apply outside the political realm?

Prerequisite: consent of the instructor

CAS PH461/661 A1 – Computability and Logic
Professor Kanamori

The syntax and semantics of quantificational logic through to the Godel Completeness and Incompleteness Theorems. Computability, the Halting Problem, and recursive functions.

Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

CAS PH463/663 A1 – Philosophy of Language
Professor Hintikka

Critical survey of the main issues in the philosophy of language and the foundations of linguistics, including the ideas of logical form and the universality of languages as well as the basic ideas of generative grammar, possible-worlds semantics, Wittgenstein, and speech-act theories.

Prerequisites: CAS PH310 & CAS PH360 and one other course in philosophy, or consent of instructor.

CAS PH465/665 A1 – Philosophy of Cognitive Science
Professor Cao

Can humans be thought of in analogy with machines? The course examines questions of natural and artificial intelligence in light of traditional theory and of recent research in computer science and artificial intelligence.

Prerequisites: CAS PH310 CAS PH360 and one other philosophy course, or consent of instructor.

CAS PH470/670 A1 – Philosophy of Physics
Professor Peter Bokulich

This course is an introduction to philosophical issues raised by modern physics. Topics we shall address include the following: Is time travel possible? Is space a thing or a set of relations between things? Is the world deterministic? Does quantum theory require conscious minds? Is there instantaneous action-at-a-distance? Do all possible occurrences get played out in separate parallel universes? What is the relationship between information, descriptions, and physics? No specific background in physics or philosophy is required; the class will provide a rudimentary understanding of special relativity and quantum mechanics adequate for addressing these and other conceptual problems facing physicists and philosophers.

CAS PH471 A1 – Ecology and Literature
Professor Tauber

The genre of nature writing addresses environmental ethics, the metaphysics of nature, the epistemological relationship between nature and human experience, and the spiritual significance or meaning of nature. In environmental literature, each of these categories combine philosophical interpretations and arguments with a poetic sensibility. We will examine how an ecological sensitivity has been transmitted in literature as part of a larger philosophical project of presenting “nature” as a special concern for contemporary societies. More specifically, we must ask, What are the hidden philosophies underlying modern ecology, and why is literature such a powerful means for presenting those philosophies?

Two over-arching issues structure this course – the first concerns the general relationship of philosophy and literature/poetry, and the second pertains to the specific topic of environmentalism and literature: In the first instance, we ask, Is there a conception of philosophy that includes literature as a necessary supplement? The second area focuses specifically on American writings. We will ask such questions as, What are the themes governing ecological literature? How are the romantic origins of environmentalism still operating in contemporary America? What is the relationship of the science, ecology, with the poetic interpretations of nature? What does it mean to claim that Nature is “constructed” and how does literature contribute to that understanding?

Readings will include major writings of Emerson and Thoreau, followed by twentieth-century selections from such authors as Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Edward Hoagland, W. H. Hudson, Erazim Kohak, Barry Lopez, John McPhee, Wallace Stegner, John Steinbeck, and E.B. White. These readings will be complemented with critical essays in contemporary literary ecology.

Prerequisites: Two courses in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

CAS PH477/677 A1 – Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Professor Vanderschraaf

Game theory is the branch of decision theory in which decision problems interact. This course will cover those parts of game theory of special interest to social scientists and philosophers. We will discuss specific elements of the formal theory, including: the distinction between cooperative and noncooperative games, games in the strategic and the extensive form, solution concepts, epistemic conditions needed to predict outcomes of games, equilibrium refinements, dynamical models of equilibrium selection, and folk theorems of indefinitely repeated games. We will discuss results in experimental economics that test some of the assumptions of classical game theory. Throughout the course we will examine applications of the formal concepts of game theory to problems in moral and political philosophy and the social sciences.

CAS PH481/681 A1 – Philosophical and Policy Perspectives on Tort Law
Professor Simons

This seminar will explore a range of topics in tort law (civil liability for harm caused through negligent, intentional or faultless conduct), with an emphasis on underlying philosophical and policy perspectives. Perspectives will include fairness or corrective justice, distributive justice, and economic analysis (and other deterrent theories). Among the topics that we will consider are: the Learned Hand test of negligence; private necessity and other strict liability rules; the duty to rescue; victim fault and assumption of risk; causation and loss of a chance; recovery for emotional harm; damages (including compensation for pain and suffering and punitive damages); psychology, risk, and tort law; and regulatory alternatives to tort law.

The texts will include two paperbacks: Torts Stories (Foundation Press) and Abraham, The Forms and Functions of Tort Law (Second Ed. Foundation Press). Additional articles will also be assigned and available on the CourseInfo web site.

Students will be asked to submit short written reaction papers (containing questions and comments about the readings) on a weekly basis and to write a single draft of a 15-page paper. For those students wishing to satisfy the law school writing requirement, a 25-page paper is required.

Class will meet Tuesdays 2:10-4:10 with LAW JD792.

CAS PH483/PH683 A1 – Topics in the Philosophy of Religion
Professor Olson

Focus on a specific topic in the philosophy of religion. Possible topics include a particular thinker, e.g., Kierkegaard, historical period, e.g., the Enlightenment, or problem, e.g., the existence of God or evil. Topic for Fall 2007: The Problem of Evil.

Prerequisite: junior standing and any one philosophy course from CAS 440-447, or consent of instructor.

CAS PH488/688 A1 – Topics in Aesthetics
Professor Kestenbaum

Consideration of selected topics in aesthetics, with particular attention to the relationship between aesthetic experience and analytical accounts of the experience; topics include expression, perception, qualities, the good, the ideal, and the sublime.

Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

CAS PH486/686 A1 – Topics in Knowledge, Language, and Logic
Professor Dresner

GRS PH610 A1 – Continental Rationalism
Professor Kuehn

A close reading of important works by Descartes, Malebranche, Spinoza, and Leibniz.

Prerequisite: (CASPH310) and two other philosophy courses, or consent of instructor

GRS PH619 A1 – Nietzsche
Professor Michalski

Reading and discussion of some of Nietzsche’s major works and their influence on twentieth-century thought. Discussions go back to Hegel and forward to Heidegger.

GRS PH684 A1 – Topics in Speculative Philosophy
Professor Neville

Topics for Fall 2007: A study of the metaphysics of being, God, time, eternity, nature and value through the works of Robert Neville (the instructor) and dialectical neighbors.

Grad Prerequisite: graduate standing.

GRS PH854 A1 – Seminar in Political Philosophy
Professor Rosen

GRS PH870 A1 – Philosophical Foundations of Quantum Theory
Professors Alisa Bokulich and Gregg Jaeger

This is an advanced seminar in the philosophy of physics, focusing on quantum theory. The course will be team-taught with a physicist working in the foundations of quantum mechanics, Gregg Jaeger. In the first half of the course we will be reading key original papers in the history of quantum mechanics, such as the “EPR” paper, Bohr’s response to EPR, Schrodinger’s “Cat” paper, and papers by John Bell. In the second half of the course we will focus on recent developments in entanglement and quantum information science, such as quantum cryptography, quantum computing, and quantum teleportation. Some familiarity with the quantum formalism will be helpful, but there will also be some review and exercises. The meeting time of this course will be TBA, and every effort will be made to accommodate all the students’s schedules. Please contact abokulic@bu.edu if you are interested in taking this course.

GRS PH881 A1 – Topics in Philosophy II
Professor Griswold

This seminar is required of all first year PhD students, and is open only to them. Information about the topic is forthcoming. Particular emphasis will be placed on developing research skills, public presentation skills, and an understanding on what it means to prepare a paper for publication in a refereed journal.

GRS PH883 A1 – Topics in Philosophy IV
Professor Garrett

Topic for Fall 2007: Rights, Natural Law, and their Discontents. The seventeenth century saw the development and profusion of natural law theories centered on theories of natural rights. The first part of the course will discuss a sampling of these theories and examine both their content and how they responded to their context, in particular to religious and territorial conflicts. Authors discussed will include Grotius, Pufendorf, Cumberland, Cumberland, Locke and (more problematically) Hobbes. In the second half of the course we will look at eighteenth- century British philosophers who attempted 1) to expand seventeenth-century natural law theories to accommodate new political and social situations; 2) to criticize their philosophical basis and in some cases 3) to eradicate them entirely. In this context we will consider attempts to expand natural law theories to include animal rights, issues of race and abolition, and women’s rights. Authors discussed will include Hutcheson, Hume, Smith, and Bentham . Finally we will end by considering some of the most powerful critics of rights in the wake of the French Revolution: Wollstonecraft criticisms of the the rights of man, Godwin’s attacks on marriage and private property, and the radical Jacobin John Oswald’s call for an animal revolution.

GRS PH993 A1 – Philosophy Proseminar 1
Professor Speight

Offers 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.

Grad Prerequisite: graduate standing.