Course Descriptions Fall 2010

CAS PH 100 A1 – Introduction to Philosophy
Prof P. Bokulich
MWF, 11:00-12:00

Introduction to the nature of philosophical activity through a careful study of selected
great works such as Plato’s Apology, Descartes’ Meditations, Lao Tze’s Tao Te Ching,
Pascal’s Pensées, and Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

CAS PH 110 A1 – Great Philosophers
Prof Roochnik
MWF, 1:00-2:00

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
Prof Star
MWF, 11:00-12:00

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

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 PH 150 C1 – Introduction to Ethics
Prof Griswold
TR, 2:00-3:30

This course is an introduction to major questions and themes in moral thought, including
these: is moral value “relative”? What does it mean to offer a moral reason for
something? What are the central moral theories? What are virtue, duty, and utility, and
how do they figure into ethics? We will discuss differences between secular and
religious moral outlooks, and such questions as: if God exists, how to explain evil? If
God does not exist, what foundation is there for good? We will, in the latter part of the
course, also examine some “applied” issues in ethics (these may include such topics as
sexuality, stem-cell research, the environment, terrorism and war, economic justice, and
globalization). Throughout, we will work to sharpen reasoning and argumentation skills.

CAS PH 155 A1 – Politics and Philosophy
Prof: Garrett
TR, 3:30-5

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 160 A1 – Reasoning and Argumentation
Prof Corsentino
MWF, 10:00-11:00

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

CAS PH 160 B1 – Reasoning and Argumentation
Prof Floyd
TR, 11:00-12:30

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

CAS PH 241 A1 – Philosophy of Personality
Prof: Kestenbaum
MWF, 1:00-2:00

Consideration of the nature and problems of self-understanding and self-realization.
Philosophical perspectives on growth and maturity in personality. Particular attention to
matters such as happiness, pleasure, importance, death, and the reality of the self.

The intent of the course is to examine what philosophy can contribute to, and learn
from, a theory of personhood and personality.

[Likely] Texts: Plato, Five Dialogues, Henry Bugbee, The Inward Morning: A
Philosophical Exploration in Journal Form, Robert Nozick, The Examined Life:
Philosophical Meditations, C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of Soul, Mark Vernon,
Wellbeing

CAS PH 248 A1 – Existentialism
Prof Katsafanas
TR, 2:00-3:30

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.

CAS PH 251 A1 – Medical Ethics
Prof Kober
MWF, 12:00-1:00

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.

CAS PH 251 B1 – Medical Ethics
Prof Barash
TR, 3:30-5:00

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.

CAS PH 258 A1 – Philosophy of Literature
Prof Kestenbaum
MWF, 11:00-12:00

Consideration of how questions regarding reality, imagination, meaning and truth have
found expression in poetry and the short story. What kind of knowledge and the
understanding is afforded by literature? Philosophy? Are the demands placed upon
reason, language, and experience fundamentally different in literature and philosophy?
A particularly complex set of questions involves T.S. Eliot’s assertion that “the poet is
occupied with frontiers of consciousness beyond which words fail, though meanings still
exist.” What sort of frontier is wordless? How can either philosophy or literature have a
frontier that is “wordless”? What happens when “words fail” in philosophy and literature?

[Likely] Texts: The principal philosophical text will be Martha C. Nussbaum, Love’s
Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature (Four will be chosen from the
following): Henry James, Tales of Henry James, John Updike, Early Stories, Robert
Frost, The Robert Frost Reader, Wallace Stevens, Opus Posthumous, Susan Sontag,
Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963

CAS PH 260 A1 – Knowledge and Reality
Prof Liebesman
TR, 3:30-5:00

This course will consist of a basic introduction to key topics in metaphysics, epistemology, and especially, the intersection between the two. Likely topics include skepticism, memory, the analysis of knowledge, the problem of induction, and the problem of universals.

CAS PH 266 A1 – Mind, Brain, and Self
Prof Hopp
TR, 12:30-2:00

This course is devoted to considering some of the philosophical problems that arise when we consider the nature of the human person. What is a “self”? Is the self identical with an immaterial mind? A material brain? A body? How are mind and body related to one another? And what, if anything, makes a person at some 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? In this class, we will carefully examine what some of philosophy’s best and brightest historical and contemporary figures have to say about these issues.

CAS PH 270 A1 – Philosophy of Science
Prof A. Bokulich
TR, 11:00-12:30

This course is an introduction to contemporary issues in the philosophy of science. We will explore questions such as the following: What distinguishes science from pseudoscience? Can there be crucial experiments? Are scientific theories converging on the truth? How do we know things we cannot observe directly, such as electrons, really exist? Could everything-even human behavior-be explained by the laws of physics?

CAS PH 277 A1 – Philosophy and Methods in Human Sciences
Prof Cao
TR, 2:00-3:30

After the introduction of some basic concepts in social sciences (sociology, anthropology, economics, and political science), such as structure and action, explanation and understanding, we will move to an illuminating examination of two of the most popular approaches in social science in recent decades: the rational choice approach (based on game theory) and functionalist approach in economics, sociology and political science. The enduring philosophical questions, such as prediction and progress, reductionism and holism, rationality and relativism, facts and values, will also be examined in the context of social sciences.

CAS PH 300 A1 – History of Ancient Philosophy
Prof Roochnik
MWF, 11:00-12:00

In this course we will study some of the great works of Ancient Greek Philosophy, focusing on Plato and Aristotle. Texts will include Plato’s Meno, Phaedo, Republic, selections from Aristotle’s Physics, On the Soul, Metaphysics, Ethics. We will examine and compare Plato’s and Aristotle’s answers to such questions as: what is knowledge? How do we acquire it? What is fundamental nature of reality? What is the good life? Can we achieve it? If so, how?

CAS PH 300 B1 – History of Ancient Philosophy
Prof Bronstein
TR, 9:30-11:00

In this course we will study some of the great works of Ancient Greek Philosophy, focusing on Plato and Aristotle. Texts will include Plato’s Meno, Phaedo, Republic, selections from Aristotle’s Physics, On the Soul, Metaphysics, Ethics. We will examine and compare Plato’s and Aristotle’s answers to such questions as: what is knowledge? How do we acquire it? What is fundamental nature of reality? What is the good life? Can we achieve it? If so, how?

CAS PH 310 A1 – History of Modern Philosophy
Prof Webb
TR, 2:00-3:30

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 Michalski
TR, 11:00-12:30

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: TBA
MWF, 1:00-2:00

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

CAS PH 350 B1 – History of Ethics
Prof Crisp
TR, 9:30-11:00

This course will study some important ethical issues raised in central ancient texts by Plato and Aristotle, following them into discussions by more recent philosophers, including Hume, J.S. Mill, Henry Sidgwick, and some C20 authors. These issues will include morality and religion, happiness and well-being, the nature of virtue, the soul and ethical knowledge, the value of pleasure, practical reason, friendship, courage, punishment, and the ethical significance of art.
The main ancient texts will be: Plato: Euthyphro; Meno; Protagoras; Republic. Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics.

CAS PH 412 A1 – Philosophy of the Enlightenment
Prof Schmidt
TR, 9:30-11:00

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.

CAS PH 419/GRS PH 619 A1 – Nietzsche
Prof Michalski
W, 3:00-6:00

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.

CAS PH 421/GRS 621 – Frege, Moore, Russell
Prof Ganea
TR 9:30-11

An introduction to the work of the fathers of analytic philosophy using mostly original texts.
Concerning Frege, we will aim to understand primarily how he was led by the demands of his
project of founding arithmetic in logic to develop far-reaching doctrines about the nature of
language. Concerning Russell, we will study his abandonment of idealism (under the influence
of Moore), his reconstruction of the logicist project by means of the theory of types and his
struggles with the problem of the ‘unity of the proposition’ until the crisis precipitated by the
criticisms of the young Wittgenstein.
Readings will include Frege’s The Foundations of Arithmetic, ‘Function and Concept’, ‘On
Concept and Object’, ‘On Sense and Reference’ and Russell’s Theory of Knowledge, ‘On
Denoting’, ‘Mathematical Logic as Based on the Theory of Types’, ‘The Philosophy of Logical
Atomism’.

CAS PH 422/GRS PH 622 A1 – Analytic Philosophy
Prof Floyd
TR, 2:00-3:30

A survey of classic texts in the history of early analytic philosophy, focusing on contrasting interpretations of skepticism. Wilson, Williams and Stroud on Descartes; Moore’s “Proof of an External World,” “Certainty,” and “A Defense of Common Sense”; Russell’s “Our Knowledge of the External World”; Austin’s “Other Minds”; Wittgenstein’s “On Certainty”; Quine’s “Word and Object,” and related works by Grice, Wright, Putnam, McDowell, and Travis on perception and meaning.

CAS PH 426/GRS PH 646 A1 – Phenomenology
Prof Hopp
TR, 9:30-11:00

The central concern of phenomenology is consciousness. Most conscious experiences are of or about things other than themselves-the consciousness of a cat is not itself a cat, but is of a cat. Corresponding to any type of object whatsoever (a cat, a color, a number, a philosophical argument, etc.) there is an account to be given concerning the experiences in virtue of which we can become conscious of it. Phenomenology’s task is to provide such an account by examining the essential features of conscious acts as they are given in phenomenological reflection. How is it possible, if it is, for consciousness to reach beyond itself to a world of independent objects? How can it “take hold” of those objects in knowledge and cognition? In this class, we will tackle some of the main questions of phenomenology by examining works by Edmund Husserl and others.

CAS PH 450/GRS PH 650 A1 – Types of Ethical Theory
Prof Lobel
TR 2:00-3:30

What is happiness? How can human beings achieve a balanced, healthy, fulfilling life? Classical thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Cuang Tzu, Augustine; Stoic, Epicurean, Confucian, Buddhist paths; comparison with contemporary happiness studies.

CAS PH 453 A1- Theories of Political Society
Prof Rorty
TR, 11:00-12:30

What do classical political theorists (Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Dewey) assume about human nature, about our basic motives and the roles of rationality, emotion and the imagination in choice and action? How do political institutions and social structures shape the psychology and mentality of citizens? What kind of education (broadly conceived) do they project as necessary to sustain cooperative civic life?
Seminar, enrollment limited to 25 undergraduates.

CAS PH 456/GRS PH 656 A1 – Philosophy and Religion
Prof Speight
W, 5:00-8:00

From head scarves to school prayer, the intersection of religion and politics raises important philosophical questions. How do American and European approaches to the issues of toleration and religious freedom compare? What are the best historical and contemporary arguments for toleration in an increasingly secular society? This course will parallel a series of lectures by visiting and BU professors next fall in the Institute for Philosophy and Religion, which will be incorporated in the course design. For more information, contact Professor Allen Speight, Institute for Philosophy and Religion, casp8@bu.edu.

CAS PH 458/GRS PH 658 A1 – Crime and Punishment
Prof Simons
Weds 2:10-4:10

This seminar will explore a broad range of issues concerning the
philosophy of punishment and the substantive criminal law. Topics
may include: retributivist and utilitarian justifications for
punishment; what should be criminalized; what mens rea or mental
state should be required for criminal liability; the moral and
legal relevance of the distinction between purposely and knowingly
causing harm (not only in criminal law, but also in just war law
and theory); whether fortuity or “moral luck” justifies punishing
completed crimes more than attempts; justification (e.g.
self-defense and necessity) and excuse (e.g. duress and
provocation); the meaning and significance of consent in sexual
assault and other crimes; *the insanity defense (with attention to
the free will/ determinism debate); and feminist perspectives on
some criminal law topics. The seminar is open both to law
students and to philosophy students.* For law students, no prior
background in philosophy is presupposed; for philosophy students,
no prior background in criminal law is presupposed.

Students will be asked to submit brief written questions and
comments about the readings on a weekly basis, and a 15-page paper
at the end of the semester, which can be based on the class
readings. For those law students wishing to satisfy the writing
requirement, a 25-page paper is required.

CAS PH 459/659 A1 – Political and Legal Philosophy
Prof. Baxter
Tuesday 10:40-12:40

HABERMAS, LAW & DEMOCRACY (S) This course, cross-listed with the law school, examines critically Habermas’s theory of law and democracy. Active participation of all students is required.

CAS PH 460/GRS PH 660 A1 – Epistemology
Prof Star
MWF, 12:00-1:00

An examination of some of the central questions concerning the nature, scope, sources, and structure of knowledge.

CAS PH 461/GRS PH 661 A1 – Mathematical Logic
Prof Kanamori
TR, 12:30-2:00

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 465/GRS PH 665 A1 – Philosophy of the Cognitive Science
Prof Cao
T, 4:00-7:00

The course begins with a review of the computational understanding of intelligence and various challenges to it raised by psychologists, roboticists, neuroscientists and mathematicians, based on an in-depth philosophical analysis of some key concepts in cognitive science: information (representation) and its processing (computation), a dynamical understanding of the emergence of (localized or distributed) intelligence. Then the course moves to a substantial discussion of the idea of the embodied, embedded and evolved cognition, and will end with an exploration of the bearings of cognitive science to the mind-body problem

CAS PH 468/GRS PH 668 A1 – Logic and Mathematics
Prof Webb
TR, 11:00-12:30

Selected traditional metaphysical and epistemological problems in the light of the 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 the mathematical truth.

CAS PH 474/GRS PH 674 A1 – History of Philosophy of Science: Aristotle to Mill
Prof A. Bokulich
TR, 2:00-3:30

This course is an introduction to the history of philosophy of science (“HOPOS”). Many of the great philosophers were also active scientists and/or philosophers of science, who reflected on the methodologies of science and the epistemological status of scientific knowledge. This course will trace changing views on the nature of science (natural philosophy) through works of figures such as Aristotle, Bacon, Descartes, Kant, Whewell, and Mill.

CAS PH483/683 A1/RN443/743 A1 – Topics in the Philosophy of Religion
Prof Olson
TR, 12:30-2:00

A philosophical and theological analysis of the problem of evil, as formulated in the Bible and other sacred texts, ancient and modern philosophy, literature, and cinema.

CAS PH 485 A1 – Topics in Philosophy of Value: The Emotions
Prof Griswold
TR, 11:00-12:30

Our focus in this upper level seminar is the emotions. The first cluster of questions concerns the nature of the emotions. What is an emotion (do contempt, shame, and empathy count as emotions, for example)? How does it differ from a feeling, a mood, an attitude, a disposition? Are some emotions more basic than others? Do emotions have cognitive dimensions (do they involve understanding, belief, judgment)? Can they accurately track properties or events in the world? Are emotions normally or necessarily opposed to reason? The second cluster of questions concerns the role of emotion in the good life: should emotions be an important part of a flourishing human life, as Aristotle and his followers maintain, or should they be extirpated as far as possible, as the Stoics and their followers maintain? The third section of the course will examine two emotions in particular: vengeful anger and love. We will examine both historical and contemporary writings by philosophers, psychologists, and cognitive scientists.
Prerequisites: junior or senior standing and at least three previous philosophy courses, or consent of the instructor. The format will be that of a seminar, the enrollment limit is 20, and only undergraduate students may enroll.

CAS PH 486/GRS PH 686 A1 – Topics in Knowledge, Language, and Logic
Prof Liebesman
M, 2:00-5:00

This course will consist in an in-depth study of a crucial issue in knowledge, language, and/or logic. Possible topics include truth, the semantic paradoxes, analyticity, modal epistemology, and the context/meaning interface.

GRS PH 850 A1 – Ethics
Prof Crisp
T, 2:00-5:00

This class will focus on Henry Sidgwick’s great work The Methods of Ethics (7th edn.). We shall seek to understand Sidgwick’s overall aims and methodology as well as the details of some of his central arguments and claims. Topics to be covered include: the autonomy of ethics, egoism, hedonism and the ultimate good, the morality of common sense, forms of utilitarianism, ethical intuitionism, and the dualism of practical reason. Reference will be made as appropriate to other works from the history of philosophy and contemporary ethics.

GRS PH 881 A1 – First Year Proseminar
Prof Dahlstrom
M, 3:00-6:00

This course will examine prominent treatments of meaning, reference, and judgment. Readings will be drawn from works of Frege, Russell, Kripke, Meinong, Reinach, Husserl, and Heidegger.