Fall 2022

Department of Philosophy

Please proceed to the Student Link for the most up-to-date information, class locations, and to register for classes. For more detailed descriptions and access to previously offered courses, please proceed to the Academic Bulletin. Course offerings from previous semesters can be found on the sidebar.

CAS – COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES

PH 100 A1: Introduction to Philosophy

Professor Derek Anderson
M W F 10:10 AM – 11:00 AM

This course is an introduction to philosophy, introducing themes from political philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of science, and Black feminist philosophy. We will discuss both classic and contemporary readings with the goal of giving the student an understanding of the tradition as well as developing a critical perspective rooted in contemporary critical theory and social justice oriented epistemology.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

* This is a lecture/discussion style course, and students must register for the lecture (A1) and one of the discussion sections with a matching letter (A2, A3, A4 or A5).

 

PH 100 B1: Introduction to Philosophy

Professor Derek Anderson
M W F 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM

This course is an introduction to philosophy, introducing themes from political philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of science, and Black feminist philosophy. We will discuss both classic and contemporary readings with the goal of giving the student an understanding of the tradition as well as developing a critical perspective rooted in contemporary critical theory and social justice oriented epistemology.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

* This is a lecture/discussion style course, and students must register for the lecture (B1) and one of the discussion sections with a matching letter (B2, B3, B4 or B5).

 

PH 110 A1: Great Philosophers

Professor Benjamin Crowe
T TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM

An introduction to philosophy through a reading of great figures in western thought. The list may include Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Russell. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

Hub: Historical Consciousness, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

* This is a lecture/discussion style course, and students must register for the lecture (A1) and one of the discussion sections with a matching letter (A2, A3, A4 or A5).

 

PH 150 A1: Introduction to Ethics

Instructor TBA
T TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM

Many of us want to lead meaningful lives. But what is it for a life to be meaningful? What makes some lives better or more meaningful than others? Can life as a whole have some significance or meaning? Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

* This is a lecture/discussion style course, and students must register for the lecture (A1) and one of the discussion sections with a matching letter (A2, A3, A4 or A5).

 

PH 150 B1: Introduction to Ethics

Professor Aaron Garrett
M W F 12:20 PM – 1:10 PM

The first part of this course will introduce students to the history of ethics from Aristotle to Kant and to basic issues in normative ethics and metaethics. The second part of this course will focus on food ethics and on the moral standing of animals. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

* This is a lecture/discussion style course, and students must register for the lecture (B1) and one of the discussion sections with a matching letter (B2, B3, B4 or B5).

 

PH 155 A1: Politics & Philosophy

Professor Susanne Sreedhar
T TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM

What is justice? What are the foundations of property rights, liberty, and equality? Are anarchism and utopianism defensible? This course is an introduction to major themes and questions in political philosophy. It includes a study of classical and modern texts, as well as contemporary political issues. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

* This is a lecture/discussion style course, and students must register for the lecture (A1) and one of the discussion sections with a matching letter (A2, A3, A4 or A5).

 

PH 160 A1: Reasoning & Argumentation

Professor Alisa Bokulich
T TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM

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 of scientific reasoning drawn from various science journals.

Textbook: Merilee Salmon’s Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking, 6th ed.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

 

* This is a lecture/discussion style course, and students must register for the lecture (A1) and one of the discussion sections with a matching letter (A2, A3, A4 or A5).

 

PH 245 A1: The Quest for God and the Good

Professor Diana Lobel
M W F 1:25 PM – 2:15 PM
Meets with CAS RN 245

An interactive seminar, investigating the meaning and purpose of human life, the significance of God or an Absolute, the role of contemplation and action in the spiritual quest, relationships between philosophy and religious thought, East and West.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Global Citizenship, Intercultural Literacy

Prerequisites: none

 

PH 248 A1:Existentialism 

Instructor TBA
M W F 10:10 AM – 11:00 AM

This course examines how existential thinkers grappled with some of the most problematic aspects of the human condition.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

* This is a lecture/discussion style course, and students must register for the lecture (A1) and one of the discussion sections with a matching letter (A2, A3, A4 or A5).

 

PH 251 A1: Medical Ethics

Instructor TBA
T TR 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM

This course will survey ethical issues that arise in connection with medicine and emerging biotechnologies. It will examine topics such as the right to healthcare, research on human subjects, euthanasia, abortion, cloning, genetic selection, disabilities, and the biomedical enhancement of human capacities. Students can expect to gain not only training in the concepts and methods of moral philosophy and the logic of argumentation, but also the resources needed for assessing ethically difficult questions that healthcare professionals routinely face. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

* This is a lecture/discussion style course, and students must register for the lecture (A1) and one of the discussion sections with a matching letter (A2, A3, A4 or A5).

 

PH 251 B1: Medical Ethics

Instructor TBA
M W F 1:25 PM – 2:15 PM

This course will survey ethical issues that arise in connection with medicine and emerging biotechnologies. It will examine topics such as the right to healthcare, research on human subjects, euthanasia, abortion, cloning, genetic selection, disabilities, and the biomedical enhancement of human capacities. Students can expect to gain not only training in the concepts and methods of moral philosophy and the logic of argumentation, but also the resources needed for assessing ethically difficult questions that healthcare professionals routinely face. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

* This is a lecture/discussion style course, and students must register for the lecture (A1) and one of the discussion sections with a matching letter (A2, A3, A4 or A5).

 

PH 254 A1: Political Philosophy

Professor Susanne Sreedhar
T TR 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM

In this course we will explore some of the central themes in the philosophical study of political society. Among the questions we will address are: Why and how do people form political societies? Under what conditions is a person obligated to obey the rules or commands of the state? What makes a government legitimate or illegitimate? What is justice? What is human nature? What rights do citizens have? What, if any, are the restrictions on the legitimate exercise of government power? These questions and others will be approached through studying the writings of several major figures in the history of political philosophy, including Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Mill.

Hub: none

Prerequisites: none

 

PH 256 A1: Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality

Professor Derek Anderson
M W F 12:20 PM – 1:10 PM
Meets with CAS WS 396, PO 396

In this course we will be philosophizing about gender and sexuality from an intersectional perspective. We begin with a detailed study of the concept and phenomenon of intersectionality, focusing on foundational texts and recent philosophical commentary including metaphysical and conceptual analyses. The intersectionality unit will set the agenda for the remainder of the semester. In the second half, we will explore issues in the metaphysics, semantics, epistemology, and politics of gender and sexuality, engaging with both classic and contemporary readings. Here we will bring our intersectional framework to bear on such questions as: What is gender? How is gender constructed? What are social constructions, anyway? How must concepts of sexuality change within a non-binary understanding of gender? How do identities and conceptions of gender and sexuality interact with intersecting systems of oppression? Who determines the meaning of the word “woman,” and how do they do it? How does a person’s gender and sexuality shape their knowledge of reality? How can we communicate and take effective political action across epistemological barriers?

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, The Individual in Community, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

 

PH 259 A1: Philosophy of the Arts

Professor Allen Speight
T TR 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM

Is a painting that shreds itself a work of art?  Is a forgery?  This course will explore philosophical questions across a range of genres and media, including architecture, painting, photography, drama, music, and dance.  Contemporary and historical readings accompanied by visits to Boston-area arts installations.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Aesthetic Exploration, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

 

PH 266 A1: Mind, Brain, and Self

Professor Walter Hopp
M W F 9:05 AM – 9:55 AM

This course is devoted to exploring the relationships among consciousness, the mind, and the brain, the nature of the self or person, and other related topics. This course will also examine whether and to what extent these issues can be addressed by contemporary natural science.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Writing-Intensive Course, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: First Year Writing Seminar (WR 100, WR 120)

 

PH 270 A1: Philosophy of Science

Professor Tian Yu Cao
T TR 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM

Uses scientific examples from the study of physics, biology, and mind. Focuses on the aims of science, the nature of scientific understanding, the structure and interpretation of scientific theories, and the development of science. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

Hub: none

Prerequisites: none

 

PH 300 A1: History of Ancient Philosophy

Professor Marc Gasser-Wingate
M W F 1:25 PM – 2:15 PM

A survey of ancient Greek philosophy, with an emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the fundamental nature of reality, how we know anything about it, wisdom, virtue, and human happiness.

Hub: Writing-Intensive Course, Ethical Reasoning, Global Citizenship, and Intercultural Literacy

Prerequisites: one philosophy course OR sophomore standing. First Year Writing Seminar (WR 100 or WR 120)

 

PH 300 B1: History of Ancient Philosophy

Professor Allen Speight
T TR 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM

A survey of ancient Greek philosophy, with an emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the fundamental nature of reality, how we know anything about it, wisdom, virtue, and human happiness.

Hub: Writing-Intensive Course, Ethical Reasoning, Global Citizenship, and Intercultural Literacy

Prerequisites: one philosophy course OR sophomore standing. First Year Writing Seminar (WR 100 or WR 120)

 

PH 300 C1: History of Ancient Philosophy

Professor Benjamin Crowe
T TR 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM

A survey of ancient Greek philosophy, with an emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the fundamental nature of reality, how we know anything about it, wisdom, virtue, and human happiness.

Hub: Writing-Intensive Course, Ethical Reasoning, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy

Prerequisites: one philosophy course OR sophomore standing. First Year Writing Seminar (WR 100 or WR 120)

 

PH 310 A1: History of Modern Philosophy

Professor Aaron Garrett
M W F 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM

An examination of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century philosophy from Descartes to Kant, with emphasis on metaphysics, mind, and the nature and extent of knowledge. Readings include Descartes, Locke, Cavendish, Conway, Spinoza, Hume, and Kant.

Hub: Historical Consciousness, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Research and Information Literacy

Prerequisites: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

 

PH 310 B1: History of Modern Philosophy

Professor Daniel Dahlstrom
M W F 11:15 AM – 12:05 PM

An examination of seventeenth- through nineteenth-century philosophy, based upon readings of works by Descartes, Cavendish, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche.

Hub: Historical Consciousness, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Research and Information Literacy

Prerequisites: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

 

PH 360 A1: Symbolic Logic

Professor Juliet Floyd
T TR 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM

A survey of the concepts and principles of symbolic logic: valid and invalid arguments, logical relations of statements and their basis in structural features of statements, analysis of the logical structure of complex statements of ordinary discourse, and the use of a symbolic language to display logical structure and to facilitate methods for assessing the logical structure of arguments. The course is an introduction to first-order quantificational logic, a key tool underlying work in foundations of mathematics, philosophy of language and mind, philosophy of science and parts of syntax. Carries humanities divisional credit in CAS.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Quantitative Reasoning I, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.

 

PH 405 A1: Aristotle I

Professor Marc Gasser-Wingate
M W F 10:10 AM – 11:00 AM
Meets with GRS PH 605

A survey of Aristotle’s views on perception, experience, and practical and theoretical forms of knowledge. Special attention will be given to his accounts of animal and human learning, as well as his moral epistemology.

Hub: none

Prerequisites: CAS PH 300.

 

PH 409 A1: Maimonides

Professor Michael Zank
M 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Meets with CAS RN 420, GRS PH 609

A study of major aspects of the thought of Maimonides. Primary focus on the Guide of the Perplexed, with attention to its modern reception in works by Baruch Spinoza, Hermann Cohen, Leo Strauss, and others. Also offered as CAS RN 420.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Oral and/or Signed Communication.

Prerequisites: CAS PH 300.

 

PH 412 A1: Philosophy of the Enlightenment

Professor James Schmidt
 T 12:30 PM – 3:15 PM
Meets with CAS HI514, PO 592

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.

Hub: none

Prerequisites: none

 

PH 419 A1: Nietzsche

Professor Paul Katsafanas
M W 1:25 PM – 2:50 PM
Meets with GRS PH 619

An intensive study of Nietzsche’s philosophical thought. Topics to be addressed may include Nietzsche’s claim that modern morality is dangerous; that the death of God brings with it the possibility of the “last man”; that modern culture exhibits or leads to nihilism; that we have lost “higher values”; that all organisms manifest a “will to power”; that the will to truth is an expression of the ascetic ideal; that we need a “revaluation of all values”; that we must affirm the eternal recurrence of our lives; and that we have a superficial understanding of the nature of happiness. Readings will include a combination of primary and secondary sources.

Hub: Historical Consciousness, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings

Prerequisite: two philosophy courses.

 

PH 460 A1: Epistemology

Professor Walter Hopp
M W F 12:20 PM – 1:10 PM
Meets with GRS PH 660

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

Hub: none

Prerequisites: CAS PH 310.

 

PH 461 A1: Mathematical Logic

Professor Akihiro Kanamori
T TR 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM
Meets with CAS MA 531 and GRS PH 661

The investigation of logical reasoning with mathematical methods. The syntax and semantics of sentential logic and quantificational logic. The unifying Godel Completeness Theorem, and models of theories. A look at the Godel Incompleteness Theorem and its ramifications.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings.

Prerequisites: CAS MA 293; or consent of instructor.

 

PH 487 A1: Topics in the Philosophy of Science

Professor Alisa Bokulich
T TR 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
Meets with GRS PH 687

This course is a discussion-based introduction to core issues in the philosophy science, focusing on the topics of data, measurement, theory change, scientific realism, reductionism, models, and natural kinds.  What are data and how are they related to models?  What does it mean to say a measurement is accurate and how do we know?  How does a scientific theory come to be rejected and a new theory take its place?  Why, for example, did astronomers decide that Pluto is not a planet?  Could all human behavior be ultimately explained by the laws of physics?  How can idealized scientific models that make all sort of false assumptions nonetheless make true predictions?  Has our scientific understanding of the world forced us to revise our philosophical conception of natural kinds? We’ll explore these and many other questions as we work together through key works in the philosophy of science.

Hub: none

Prerequisites: any one course from CAS PH 470-477, or consent of instructor.

 

PH 489 A1: Henry James & New Media

Professor Juliet Floyd
T TR 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM
Meets with GRS PH 689 and CAS EN 500

James’s writing exposed moral and aesthetic dimensions of society’s play with status, wealth, and romance. After exploring contemporary dating apps, social media, and films of James’s works, students complete a video, graphic novel, or other form of “new media” criticism.

Hub: Aesthetic Exploration, Digital/Multimedia Expression, Creativity/Innovation

Prerequisites: none

 

PH 495 A1: Philosophy and Mysticism: Jewish and Islamic Perspectives

Professor Diana Lobel
T TR 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
Meets with CAS RN 338, GRS RN 638, CAS JS348, and STH TT811

A thematic introduction to mysticism and philosophy, with a focus on the dynamics of religious experience. Readings will be drawn from medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy; Sufi mysticism and philosophy; Kabbalah, Sufi poetry, Hebrew poetry from the Golden Age of Muslim Spain.

Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Critical Thinking

Prerequisites: none

 

GRADUATE SCHOOL OF ARTS & SCIENCES

PH 605 A1: Aristotle I

Professor Marc Gasser-Wingate
M W F 10:10 AM – 11:00 AM
Meets with CAS PH 405

A careful study of Aristotle’s theoretical philosophy conducted through a close reading of selections from the Categories, Posterior Analytics, On the Soul, and the Metaphysics.

 

PH 609 A1: Maimonides

Professor Michael Zank
M 6:30 PM – 9:15 PM
Meets with CAS RN 420 and GRS PH 409

A study of major aspects of the thought of Maimonides. Primary focus on the Guide of the Perplexed, with attention to its modern reception in works by Baruch Spinoza, Hermann Cohen, Leo Strauss, and others.

 

PH 619 A1: Nietzsche

Professor Paul Katsafanas
M W 1:25 PM – 2:50 PM
Meets with CAS PH 419

An intensive study of Nietzsche’s philosophical thought. Topics to be addressed may include Nietzsche’s claim that modern morality is dangerous; that the death of God brings with it the possibility of the “last man”; that modern culture exhibits or leads to nihilism; that we have lost “higher values”; that all organisms manifest a “will to power”; that the will to truth is an expression of the ascetic ideal; that we need a “revaluation of all values”; that we must affirm the eternal recurrence of our lives; and that we have a superficial understanding of the nature of happiness. Readings will include a combination of primary and secondary sources.

 

PH 661 A1: Mathematical Logic

Professor Akihiro Kanamori
T TR 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM
Meets with CAS MA 531 and CAS PH 461

The investigation of logical reasoning with mathematical methods. The syntax and semantics of sentential logic and quantificational logic. The unifying Godel Completeness Theorem, and models of theories. A look at the Godel Incompleteness Theorem and its ramifications.

 

PH 687 A1: Topics in the Philosophy of Science

Professor Alisa Bokulich
T TR 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
Meets with CAS PH 487

This course is a discussion-based introduction to core issues in the philosophy science, focusing on the topics of data, measurement, theory change, scientific realism, reductionism, models, and natural kinds.  What are data and how are they related to models?  What does it mean to say a measurement is accurate and how do we know?  How does a scientific theory come to be rejected and a new theory take its place?  Why, for example, did astronomers decide that Pluto is not a planet?  Could all human behavior be ultimately explained by the laws of physics?  How can idealized scientific models that make all sort of false assumptions nonetheless make true predictions?  Has our scientific understanding of the world forced us to revise our philosophical conception of natural kinds? We’ll explore these and many other questions as we work together through key works in the philosophy of science.

 

PH 689 A1: Henry James & New Media

Professor Juliet Floyd
T TR 3:30 PM – 4:45 PM
Meets with CAS PH 489 and CAS EN 500

James’s writing exposed moral and aesthetic dimensions of society’s play with status, wealth, and romance. After exploring contemporary dating apps, social media, and films of James’s works, students complete a video, graphic novel, or other form of “new media” criticism.

 

PH 812 A1: Kant’s Theoretical Philosophy

Professor Sally Sedgwick
W 6:30 PM – 9:15 PM

The focus of this course is Kant’s metaphysics and theory of knowledge.  We will begin with a brief review of some of David Hume’s skeptical arguments concerning human knowledge, then explore how the Critique of Pure Reason is Kant’s effort to “save” metaphysics from Hume’s skepticism.  Among further topics to be considered: Kant’s treatment of the nature of space, his account of role the pure concepts of understanding (the “categories”) in making our experience possible, his argument in defense of the view that we have some material or non-conceptual knowledge that is necessary.  In the final weeks of the course, we will explore his claim that his particular form of idealism provides the foundation for human freedom.

 

PH 871 A1: Contemporary Issues in Philosophy of Science

Professor Tian Yu Cao
T 3:30 PM – 6:15 PM

The aim of the course is to clarify the credentials and implications of each position (thus provide students 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.

 

PH 881 A1: Proseminar for First-Year Graduate Students

Professor Daniel Dahlstrom
M 2:30 PM – 5:15 PM

This seminar is open only to first-year PhD students in philosophy, all of whom are required to enroll. The seminar is designed to help incoming graduate students hone several invaluable philosophical skills, including those needed for effective presentation and defense of one’s ideas. Topics vary by semester.

 

PH 883 A1: Topics in Philosophy IV

Professor Peter Hylton
F 11:15 AM – 2:00 PM

Topic for Fall 2022: History of Analytic Philosophy. One or more topics from the history of analytic philosophy (roughly Frege through Quine), emphasizing the importance of logic for that tradition.

 

PH 990 A1: Dissertation Workshop

Professor Paul Katsafanas
M 4:30 PM – 6:15 PM

Dissertation Workshop. Required for all Philosophy PhD students in their fourth through sixth years.

 

PH 993 A1: Philosophy Proseminar I

Professor Michaela McSweeney
T 3:30 PM – 6:15 PM

A workshop seminar offering advanced graduate students the opportunity to present and discuss work-in-progress (dissertation chapters, papers for job applications, journal submissions). A serious commitment to regular and continuing attendance is expected.