Course Descriptions Spring 2010

CAS PH100 A1 – Introduction to Philosophy
Prof 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 PH 110 A1- Great Philosophers
Prof Meyer

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 Dahlstrom

This course introduces students to the study of the ethics by examining three classical treatments of ethics in the Western philosophical tradition: the role of virtue in the good life, elaborated by Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics; the autonomy of the person and the absolute claims of duty articulated by Immanuel Kant in his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, and the consequentialist ethics and conception of civil liberty introduced by John Stuart Mill in On Utilitarianism and On Liberty. Because these thinkers studied made their ethical reflections within distinctive outlooks, cultures, and epochs, each treatment will be introduced by couching it in the respective historical context and philosophy as a whole. However, the course’s main focus is the account of ethical principles respectively given by each philosopher, comprising foundations as well as applications. As the course proceeds, differences among the approaches will make themselves apparent, affording the opportunity for independent reflection upon what makes a certain kind of life worth living and the sort of principles such a life entails.

Required texts (all from Hackett Publishers, Indianapolis, Indiana)
Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics (Irwin, tr.). Second edition. 1999. (=A)
Kant, Immanuel. Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (Ellington, tr.). 1993. (=K)
Troyer, John (ed.). The Classical Utilitarians: Bentham and Mill. 2003. (=U)

CAS PH 150 B1 – Introduction to Ethics
Prof Star

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. Garrett

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 155 A1 – Politics and Philosophy
Prof Sreedhar

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, C1 – Reasoning and Argumentation
Prof Liebesman, Corsentino

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– Reasoning and Argumentation
Prof Alisa Bokulich

Knowing how to think, reason, and argue well is essential for success in all disciplines and in everyday life. The aim of this course is to strengthen and develop your critical thinking skills; you will learn how to make good arguments and how to critically evaluate the arguments of others. This course will emphasize both real everyday examples, such as those drawn from newspaper articles, and examples drawn from the science literature. The textbook for the course is Merrilee Salmon’s Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 242 Philosophy of Human Nature
Prof Kestenbaum

Academic disciplines (and professions) make assumptions about human nature at the same time that they attempt to modify our understanding of human nature through inquiry and research. Stated differently, ideas about human nature play a role in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and professions, either as the taken-for-granted foundation for inquiry or as the subject of inquiry. As object of inquiry or assumption, as question or answer, we say “it’s human nature.” Yes, it is human nature. How, though, is human nature to be thought?

In Moby Dick, Ahab says:

All visible objects, man are but as pasteboard masks. But
in each event—in the living act, the undoubted deed—there,
some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the
mouldings of its feature from behind the unreasoning mask.
If man will strike, strike through the mask!

Is human nature a “visible” object, a mask concealing “some unknown but still reasoning thing?” Can it be known like any other “visible” object? If there is something necessarily invisible about human nature, how is it to be known or thought? What part of our human nature exists, in the words of William James, “beyond the surface of the sensible world”?

The course will examine selected ideas and experiences that might help to make human nature more visible while at the same time respecting its tendency to withdraw from inspection, to remain invisible. These are attention, illness, spirit, and meaning.


Plato, Five Dialogues
Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good
Richard Selzer, Letters to a Young Doctor
J.W.N. Sullivan, Beethoven: His Spiritual Development
Karl Jaspers, Philosophy of Existence
Ernest Becker, The Birth and Death of Meaning

CAS PH 245 – Philosophy and Religion
Prof Lobel

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 247 – Introduction to Chinese Philosophy
Prof Berthrong

“The Introduction to Chinese Philosophy” examines the development of Chinese philosophy from its ancient beginnings to its modern transformations. The primary focus will be on the development of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism in China (also some comments on Korea and Japan). The course will emphasize the classical (the Zhou-Han founders), the Neo-Daoists of the Wei-Qin, the philosophy of the Chinese schools of Buddhism, and the Neo-Confucians (the Song, Yuan, Ming, Choson, Tokugawa, Qing masters), an contemporary developments. We will demonstrate that the various traditions have an illustrious history and continue to play an important role in the development of global cultures influenced by East Asian philosophies.

CAS PH 248 A1 – Existentialism
Prof Hopp

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 condition 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 248 B1 Existentialism
Prof Meyer

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 256 Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality
Prof Sreedhar

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 Philosophy and the Arts
Prof. Speight

What makes something beautiful? What is the relation between a work of art and its context? This class will explore how different arts (music, dance, painting, sculpture, architecture) relate to different aspects of our aesthetic experience of the world. We will examine several famous philosophical theories of art and discuss them in connection with numerous specific examples of artwork in the various genres.

Likely readings will include: David E. Cooper, ed., Aesthetics: The Classic Readings; Peter Kivy, Introduction to a Philosophy of Music; Friedrich Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy; Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”; Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”; Monroe Beardsley, “What is Going on in a Dance?”

CAS PH 265 – Minds and Machines
Prof 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.

CAS PH270 Philosophy of Science
Prof Cao

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
Prof Meyer

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

CAS PH 300 B1 History of Ancient Philosophy
Prof Roochnik

An overview of Ancient Greek Philosophy that covers the pre-Socratics, the Sophists, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

CAS PH 310 A1- History of Modern Philosophy
Prof Brinkmann

Prereq: one philosophy course or sophomore standing. 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

An examination of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophy from Descartes to Kant, with emphasis on the nature and extent of knowledge.

CAS PH 350 A1 – History of Ethics
Prof Roochnik

An overview of the history of Ethics that focuses on Aristotle, the Stoics, the Epicureans, Christian Ethics, Kant, Mill and Nietzsche.

CAS PH 350 History of Ethics
Prof Lockwood

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

CAS PH 360 / GRS PH633 Logic
Prof Ganea

The most extensively studied system of logical analysis is first-order logic, the theory that takes as logical constants sentential operators (“not”, “and”, “or”, “if … then”) and quantifiers (“all”, “some”). We will study mostly the classical version of this theory, introducing a semantic notion of logical validity and proving that the technique of truth trees is fully adequate for the task of determining whether an argument is logically valid or not (a result known as the completeness theorem). The classical version of first-order logic has certain limitations: for example its language cannot properly represent counter-factual conditionals. We will therefore survey some extensions of the classical theory designed to overcome such limitations, such as modal logic (which studies the notions of possibility and necessity) and second-order logic (which allows quantification over properties and relations). The course is largely formal and mathematical in character but completely self-contained (no prior knowledge of logic is assumed). The philosophical applications of logic will be emphasized

CAS PH 403/GRS PH 603 History of Greek Philosophy
Prof Miller

Ancient Greek poets and thinkers responded to radical political crisis by seeking its causes, by articulating the forms of life that might thrive in, undercut, or stay clear of its dangers, and by thinking and rethinking the nature of the cosmos itself that such causes and such forms of life seemed to imply. We will study the way philosophy itself first emerges and develops in the context of these reflections, examining these key moments in the history of Greek thought: Hesiod’s and the Milesians’ searches, at once ethical and cosmological, for the intelligibility of the world; the efforts by Heraclitus and Parmenides to think the deepest unity of things; the way in which Plato brings the speculative discoveries of his predecessors to bear on the ethical disorder of the city by his presentation, in the dialogues, of Socratic inquiry and the “forms”; and Aristotle’s reflections on language, on form and matter, and on the prime mover, in his search for the ultimate sense or sort of being.

Texts will include Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days; translations of the Milesians, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, and Parmenides; several Plato dialogues, including the Symposium and the Republic; readings from Aristotle’s Categories, Physics, Metaphysics, and On the Soul.

CAS PH411/GRS PH 611 — British Empiricism
Prof Garrett

This course will be an intensive investigation of David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature. Although barely noticed when published, many philosophers today consider it to be the greatest philosophical work written in English. A Treatise covers a dizzying array of topics, a small sampling of which include: personal identity, space and time, skepticism of reason, the nature of ideas and belief, the problems of induction, the structure of the passions, whether animals are capable of reason, the reality of morals, whether justice is natural or artificial, and the nature of political allegiance.

In order to better understand Hume we will read selections from Locke, Berkeley, Butler, Malebranche, Reid, and a few others.

CAS PH 413 / GRS PH 613 Kant
Prof Kuehn

An in-depth reading of several of Kant’s works.

CAS PH 420 / GRS PH 620 Contemporary Philosophy
Prof Hintikka

Survey of the development of selected problems/complexes that have shape of contemporary philosophy, for example the idea of language as the universal medium (hermeneutics), immediate experience as the foundation of knowledge (phenomenology), linguistics as a methodological model for philosophy (Chomsky), philosophy as explication and the historical meaning of modern logic.

CAS PH430/ GRS PH 630 American Philosophy
Prof Kestenbaum

The course will focus on the formative phase of American philosophy through a detailedconsideration of selected works of Emerson and the pragmatism of William James and John Dewey.

In The Metaphysical Club, Louis Menand says the pragmatists believed “that ideas are not ‘out there’ waiting to be discovered, but are tools—like forks and knives and microchips—that people devise to cope with the world in which they find themselves.” Is this all that philosophical pragmatism has to offer, i.e., ideas (and ideals) as tools, living as coping? Are thinking and living capable of a loftier aspiration–and perhaps greater perfection–than that envisioned by pragmatism? Stanley Cavell thinks so:

To repress Emerson’s difference is to deny that America is as transcendentalist as it is pragmatist, that it is in struggle with itself, at a level not articulated by what we understand as the political. But what Dewey calls for, other disciplines can do as well, maybe better, than philosophy.

Similar to many interpreters of pragmatism, Cavell believes it foreshortens human experience. Problematic situations and the tools to solve them are, on these interpretations, pragmatism’s main concern. What Cavell refers to as “spiritual disorder” is at stake for philosophers such as Emerson and Wittgenstein, but not for James and Dewey.

The course will examine the grounds for including William James and John Dewey in what Cavell calls “a tradition of perfectionist writing that extends in the West from Plato to Nietzsche, Ibsen, Kierkegaard, Wilde, Shaw, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein.” What, ultimately, does pragmatism call for? If time permits, we might consider some aspects of Richard Rorty’s response to this question.


Douglas R. Anderson, Philosophy Americana: Making Philosophy at Home in American Culture

Emerson, Essential Writings

William James, The Writings of William James: A Comprehensive Edition, ed. by John J. McDermott

John Dewey, The Philosophy of John Dewey, ed. by John J. McDermott

Victor Kestenbaum, The Grace and the Severity of the Ideal: John Dewey and the Transcendent

CAS PH 451/ GRS PH 651 – Contemporary Ethical Theory
Prof Star

This course will focus on philosophical arguments during the past 50 years concerning: (1) ethical realism; and (2) the nature of virtue, especially the role the virtues should (or should not) play when thinking about what we ought to do. We will enter the territory of metaethics, when we consider arguments for and against realism, as well as the territory of normative ethics, when we consider arguments for and against giving virtue a central role to play in answering substantive moral questions. We may also briefly explore the following topics: moral knowledge, the trolley problem and non-consequentialism, rule-consequentialism, and ethical particularism. Assessment will be based on the writing and rewriting of an original philosophical paper that engages with contemporary arguments in the analytic tradition.

CAS PH 452 / GRS PH 652 – Ethics of Health Care
Lydie Fialova

This course explores the experience of suffering and examines the origins of ethics as a response to other’s suffering (Levinas). Drawing on both biographical literature (Murphy, Gudmundsson, Kane) and scholarly work (Cassell, Illich, Kleinman, Tauber), we shall follow various meanings and contexts of this experience, and their transformations by medicine. Also, we shall explore the practices of medicine shaping life from conception to death and, focusing on the utopias of the world without suffering (Huxley), examine the legitimacy of medical research justified in these terms (Jonas).

CAS PH 453: Theories of Political Society
From Individuals to Citizens: The State as An Educational System
NB This is a 400 level course. Enrollment is capped at 25.
Prof Rorty

“Education is the primary aim and function of the polity.” Aristotle
“A political system is only as good as the education it provides.” Dewey
What do some classical political theories (Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Dewey) assume about the raw material of human nature, about standard basic default motivation, and about 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 for citizens capable of constructive and cooperative civic life? How do these classical political theories address the fundamental problems of education: Who should be educated in what, for what and by whom? Who is the implicit primary beneficiary of education (the individual, the extended family, the economy, the polity?) What aspects of individuals should be developed (or suppressed) for the sake of what? What roles do social and economic institutions (the family, work places, unions, corporations) play in education? Should the Nation-State mandate a curriculum? Should the Nation-State engage in religious, moral and civic education? What are the stages in education and what is the curriculum appropriate to each? Do different sectors of the population (men, women, intellectuals, workers, non-citizens, etc.) have distinctive educational goals?

CAS PH 455/GRS PH 655- Legal Philosophy
Prof. Lyons

An examination of leading theories about the nature of law, the interpretation of law, the obligation to obey, and civil disobedience. (This is a cross-listing of LAW JD 853. Non-law students are welcome.)

CAS PH 459/GRS PH 659 – Political and Legal Philosophy
Prof Baxter

This course, cross-listed with the Law School, will consider the implications that Michel Foucault’s work might have for law and legal studies. Focus will be on Foucault’s “middle period,” with its emphasis on power. Class sessions will follow a seminar format; active participation in discussion will be required.

CAS PH 460/GRS PH 660- Epistemology
Prof Hopp

One of the principal sources of our knowledge is perceptual experience. But what kind of knowledge can it give us? What kinds of objects do we perceive? Is there a distinction between “direct” and “indirect” perception, and if so, what is it? Are concepts necessary for perceptual experience? And how, exactly, does perceptual experience generate knowledge? In this class, we’ll examine some of the central philosophical issues surrounding perceptual experience and what some of the best thinkers over the past few centuries have to say about it.

CAS PH 462 – Foundations of Mathematics
Prof Kanamori

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

CAS PH 472 / GRS PH 672 Philosophy of Biology
Prof Peter Bokulich

An overview of several key topics in philosophy of biology, including the following: Does natural selection act on groups, on individual organisms, or on genes? Can biology be reduced to chemistry or physics? What is a species? Is there a place for design or teleology in modern biology?

CAS PH 487/GRS PH 687
Prof Alisa Bokulich

This course is a discussion-based introduction to core issues in contemporary philosophy science, focusing on the topics of scientific realism, reductionism, explanation, and natural kinds. Most of the readings will be drawn from the Curd and Cover (eds.) anthology Philosophy of Science.

GRS PH 801 Plato and the longer way
Prof Miller

We will read a number of the dialogues, mostly from the later part of the corpus, with the guiding thematic concern of trying to retrace the so-called longer way that Plato has Socrates declare (but not take) at Republic 435c-d and again 504b-e. An orienting task throughout the semester will be to understand the sort of writing that dialogues are and, correlatively, the sort of reading and interpreting they call for. This will help us plumb the texts in search of Plato’s understanding of the nature of the good, the “conversion” of the soul from becoming to being, the simplicity and complexity of the forms, the status of mathematicals, and the various horizons of existence, the individual, the city, the cosmos in which, in its later modes, dialectic aims to disclose normative order.

Texts: among our readings will be (key parts of) the Republic; the Parmenides; the Philebus; the Statesman; and the Timaeus. We will also consider the Seventh Letter and Aristotle’s reports of Plato’s “so-called unwritten teachings.”

GRS PH 816
Prof Brinkmann

A course on Hegel’s aesthetics together with a discussion of related contemporary philosophies of the arts.

GRS PH870 Philosophy of Science
Prof Cao

This seminar will examine, from four perspectives (scientific realism, positivism, pragmatism and epistemic relativism), contemporary philosophical debates on the nature and limits of scientific knowledge, centered around such issues as (i) underdetermination and incommensurability versus representative and cumulative nature of scientific knowledge; (ii) social interests and perspectives versus objective facts and evidence as well as scientific rationality in theory acceptance. The aim of the course is to clarify the credentials and implications of each position, (thus to provide students with a solid ground for participating in wider cultural debates on rationality and relativism), and to have a better understanding of the recent history and current status of philosophy of science, (which is part of necessary training for professional philosophers), through a careful examination of the structure of the arguments adopted by each position in dealing with various issues.

GRS PH994 A1
Philosophy Pro Seminar 2
Professor Sreedhar

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.