Course Offerings

Spring 2023 in the 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.

Please note that Philosophy offers lecture/discussion style courses, which means that in order to complete your enrollment in this style of course and be eligible to receive credit, you must register for the lecture section AND a discussion section that corresponds by letter. For example, if you register for CAS PH 100 A1, you must also register for CAS PH 100 A2, A3, A4, or A5.

Please also note that GRS (Graduate School of Arts & Sciences) courses are available for students enrolled in graduate programs only, and undergraduate students may only register for GRS courses with special circumstances and approval from the instructor.

CAS – College of Arts & Sciences

CAS PH 100 A1: Introduction to Philosophy
Staff
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:10 AM – 11:00 AM
Introduces the nature of philosophical activity through careful study of major philosophical topics. Topics may include the nature of reality, knowledge, God’s existence, and the significance of human life.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 100 B1: Introduction to Philosophy
Professor Michaela McSweeney
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:20 PM – 1:10 PM
Even if you haven’t taken a philosophy course before, you’ve already done lots of philosophy in your life. Doing philosophy is, partly, just engaging in the process of trying to get a deeper and clearer understanding of hard questions about ourselves and the world (and the questions we might not realize that we care about!) and the kinds of answers we can give to them. This course is centered around some of those questions: what is it to be a person, and how should we, and do we, interact with the rest of the world? We will read mostly contemporary philosophy, by many living philosophers, at least one of whom will hopefully visit our class and talk with us about their work. Below is a summary of some of the questions we might address, though please note, we may not cover all of these, and I may add new topics not described below. My primary goal for my students in this course is to get you doing philosophy yourselves, exploring your own ideas about these questions and how they apply to your own life and what matters to you.
We’ll start out by asking epistemological questions—questions about knowledge and justification. How can we know things about the world? Do we know anything at all about the world? And what is the relationship between our communities/social groups and how and what we know? Does the internet age complicate all of this? We’ll then turn to metaphysical questions: what is it to be a person? How is this question answered in different philosophical traditions? We’ll then turn to moral (and more metaphysical!) questions about persons: first, what is it to be mentally ill? How should we treat people who are mentally ill? Second, when, if ever, is punishment justified, and what makes it morally acceptable? We’ll think about the relationship between both these questions and the questions of when people are morally responsible for their actions, and whether we have free will.
Finally, we will turn to philosophical questions that, very roughly, are about our emotions and what gives our lives meaning. These may include: What is it to be a “whole” self? Is authenticity a source of meaning in our lives? What is privacy, and does it matter? Is there a difference between pleasure and joy? Are some emotions politically good, or bad? Is death bad, and if so, why?
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 110 A1: Great Philosophers
Professor Benjamin Crowe
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:20 PM – 1:10 PM
An introduction to philosophy through a reading of great figures in western thought. The list may include Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Russell.
BU Hub: Historical Consciousness, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 150 A1: Introduction to Ethics
Professor Matthew Clemente
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:10 AM – 11:00 AM
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?
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 150 B1: Introduction to Ethics
Professor Matthew Clemente
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:15 AM – 12:05 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?BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 150 C1: Introduction to Ethics
Professor Stephanie Sheintul
Tuesday, Thursday 12:30 PM – 1:45 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?BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 155 A1: Politics & Philosophy
Professor Darien Pollock
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:15 AM – 12:05 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.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 159 A1: Philosophy and Film
Professor Aaron Garrett
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM
We will investigate philosophical issues connected with film. Some questions we will explore include; “Is there anything that is distinctive about film as a medium?”; “What distinguishes film genres?”; “Is there a clear distinction between documentary films and fiction films?”; “Why do we watch horror films and tragedies if they involve feeling unpleasant emotions?”; “How does film narration function?”; “On what basis do we evaluate films?”; “Are some films objectively better than others?”; “Is moral art better art?” This course has a film-viewing component.
BU Hub: Aesthetic Exploration, Philosophy Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 160 A1: Reasoning & Argumentation
Professor Alisa Bokulich
Tuesday, Thursday 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 Edition.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 160 B1: Reasoning & Argumentation
Professor Derek Anderson
Tuesday, Thursday 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
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. We will emphasize argumentation and criticism in ordinary life and also present formal models of reasoning and argumentation that are widely applicable. Simultaneous training in skills of argument analysis, argument pattern recognition, argument construction, and argument interpretation and creation.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 242 A1: Philosophy of Human Nature
Professor Daniel Dahlstrom
Tuesday, Thursday 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
Examines the way in which Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud undermine traditional conceptions of human nature. These thinkers teach us to question our ordinary assumptions about religion, human distinctiveness, the conscious mind, the role and status of morality, and the uplifting effects of civilization.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Historical Consciousness, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 245 A1: The Quest for God and the Good
Professor Diana Lobel
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 1:25 PM – 2:15 PM
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.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy.

CAS PH 247 A1: Introduction to Chinese Philosophy
Professor Benjamin Crowe
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 1:25 PM – 2:15 PM
Is human nature fundamentally good or fundamentally bad? How can we best achieve an enduring social order? What is the shape of a life well lived? This class examines such questions in the context of the classical period in Chinese philosophy, focusing on (1) Kongzi period in Chinese philosophy, (2) Mozi, (3) Mengzi (Mencius), (4) Zhuangzi, and (5) Xunzi. A primary goal of this course is to expose students to the richness, vitality, and plurality of the philosophical scene in ancient China. Topics discussed include moral virtue, music, education, and the ethics of war.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 248 A1: Existentialism
Professor Walter Hopp
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM
This course examines how existentialist thinkers grappled with some of the most problematic aspects of the human condition.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 251 A1: Medical Ethics
Professor Rachell Powell
Tuesday, Thursday 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.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 251 B1: Medical Ethics
Professor Stephanie Sheintul
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 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.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 253: Social Philosophy
Professor Tian Yu Cao
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM
Through a reading of some selected texts we will examine modern and contemporary theories of society, concerning its nature and the direction of its evolution. The philosophical and sociological discussions are framed in terms of the complicated relationship between individuals and society, and between civil society and the sovereign power.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Social Inquiry I, Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 256 A1: Philosophy of Gender & Sexuality
Professor Tanner Hammond
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:20 PM – 1:10 PM
This course analyzes gender and sexuality from an intersectional perspective. We focus on metaphysics, epistemology, and semantics to understand gender and sexuality as they exist within interlocking systems of oppression including racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, and fatphobia.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, The Individual in Community, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 261 A1: Puzzles & Paradoxes
Professor Juliet Floyd
Tuesday, Thursday 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
Some of our most basic beliefs, when scrutinized, lead to absurd conclusions. For example, using only beliefs that seem uncontroversial, we can conclude that motion is impossible, that everyone is bald, and it is impossible to give a surprise exam. Carefully scrutinizing the reasoning that leads to these absurdities often yields substantial philosophical insight. In this course, we will examine a number of such puzzles and paradoxes in detail.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Quantitative Reasoning I, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 266 A1: Mind, Brain & Self
Professor Derek Anderson
Tuesday, Thursday 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
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.
Prerequisites: First Year Writing Seminar (e.g., WR 100 or WR 120).
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Writing-Intensive Course, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 300 A1: History of Ancient Philosophy
Professor Marc Gasser-Wingate
Tuesday, Thursday 11:00 AM – 12:15 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.
Prerequisites: one philosophy course or sophomore standing. First Year Writing Seminar (e.g. WR 100 or WR 120).
BU Hub: Writing-Intensive Course, Ethical Reasoning, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Legacy.

CAS PH 300 B1: History of Ancient Philosophy
Professor Benjamin Crowe
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:10 AM – 11:00 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.
Prerequisites: one philosophy course or sophomore standing. First Year Writing Seminar (e.g. WR 100 or WR 120).
BU Hub: Writing-Intensive Course, Ethical Reasoning, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Legacy.

CAS PH 310 A1: History of Modern Philosophy
Staff
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM
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.
Prerequisites: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.
BU Hub: Historical Consciousness, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Research and Information Literacy.

CAS PH 310 B1: History of Modern Philosophy
Professor James Kinkaid
Tuesday, Thursday 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
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.
Prerequisites: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.
BU Hub: Historical Consciousness, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Research and Information Literacy.

CAS PH 310 C1: History of Modern Philosophy
Professor James Kinkaid
Tuesday, Thursday 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
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.
Prerequisites: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.
BU Hub: Historical Consciousness, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Research and Information Literacy.

CAS PH 350 A1: History of Ethics
Professor Allen Speight
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:10 AM – 11:00 AM
Are there fundamental principles for determining the right way to act ethically? How do different eras answer this question? What is the significance of these differences? This course addresses these questions by examining classical ethical texts from different historical traditions.
Prerequisites: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Ethical Reasoning, and Critican Thinking.

CAS PH 360 A1: Symbolic Logic
Professor Peter Hylton
Tuesday, Thursday 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
This course is an introduction to the concepts and techniques of deductive logic (truth-functional and first-order logic, in particular). We will learn how to use the concepts of logic to symbolize English statements, and how to assess the validity of statements which have been symbolized in this way. We will also reflect on what we have been doing, and demonstrate results about it.
Prerequisites: one philosophy course or sophomore standing.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Quantitative Reasoning I, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 412 A1: Philosophy of the Enlightenment
Professor James Schmidt
Tuesday, Thursday 3:00 PM – 4:45 PM
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 413 A1: Kant
Professor Sally Sedgwick
Tuesday, Thursday 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
This course provides an introduction to Kant’s theoretical and practical philosophy. We will begin by briefly reviewing David Hume’s skeptical arguments concerning human knowledge, and then explore how the Critique of Pure Reason is Kant’s effort to “save” metaphysics from Hume’s skepticism. Among 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 experience possible, his argument in defense of the view that we have some material or non-conceptual knowledge that is necessary. During the second half of the course, we will read selections from Kant’s practical philosophy and philosophy of history. We will explore his claim that his “transcendental” idealism provides the foundation for human freedom.
Prerequisites: CAS PH 310 and two other philosophy courses, or consent of instructor.

CAS PH 418 A1: Marx and Marxism
Professor Tian Yu Cao
Wednesday, 6:30 PM – 9:15 PM
In this introductory course, Marxism will be treated mainly as a conceptual framework for understanding history and society (including economy, politics and culture), and also as a critique of capitalism and a program of transforming the capitalist society for human emancipation, with an analysis of both its philosophical and ethical presuppositions and its conceptions of a post-capitalist society. The evolution of its theoretical bases, through its three stages (classical Marxism of Marx and Engels; the Soviet orthodoxy and its critics; and contemporary Marxisms) will be critically examined, and its practical (political, economic and cultural) impacts on the historical course since its inception briefly outlined. 
Prerequisites: two courses in philosophy or consent of instructor.
BU Hub: Historical Consciousness, Social Inquiry I, Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 422 A1: Analytic Philosophy
Professor Juliet Floyd
Thursday, 12:30 PM – 3:15 PM
A survey of major texts and strategies in the analytic tradition focusing on the question, What are concepts? We first read Frege on the concept/object distinction, then Russell on singular terms and descriptions, and Dubois on double-consciousness, proceeding through Quine on the analytic/synthetic distinction, Austin on truth and facts, Anscombe on the concept of intention, Wittgenstein’s anthropological turn, Turing on the concept of computability, and essays by Arendt, Davis, Diamond, Das and Laugier on the contemporary significance of our view of concepts for anthropology, feminism, everyday ethics and social criticism today.

CAS PH 426 A1: Phenomenology
Professor Daniel Dahlstrom
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM
Rigorous examination of foundations of philosophical phenomenology in Husserl and others.
Prerequisites: CAS PH 310 and two other philosophy courses, or consent of instructor. First Year Writing Seminar (e.g. WR 100 or WR 120).
BU Hub: Oral and/or Signed Communication, Writing-Intensive Course, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings.

CAS PH 436 A1: Philosophy of Gender, Race, and Science
Professor Darien Pollock
Monday 2:30 PM – 5:15 PM
An upper-level exploration of topics in the philosophy of gender and the philosophy of race, informed by historical and scientific inquiry. Explores philosophical questions about the nature of race and racism, sex and sexism.
Prerequisites: sophomore standing.
BU Hub: Ethical Reasoning, Social Inquiry I, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 446 A1: Philosophy of Religion
Professor Michael Zank
Wednesday 6:30 PM – 9:15 PM
Critical investigation of the limits of human knowledge and the theoretical and practical demands for meaning attached to notions of God, providence, immortality, and other metaphysical conditions of human thriving, from Plato to modern philosophies of religion.
Prerequisites: CAS PH 300 and CAS PH 310.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Social Inquiry I, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 457 A1: Philosophy and Narrative
Professor Allen Speight
Friday, 11:15 AM – 2:00 PM
What is the role of story or narrative in human understanding? Why do we tell stories and what is their importance in our lives? This seminar will explore the revivified contemporary debate among philosophers, literary theorists, and others about the importance of narrative for issues in moral psychology, agency and personal identity, and look at work across various disciplines that make often differing appeals to notions of narrativity (including history, medicine, literature, film, journalism, and evolutionary theory). Readings will include works by MacIntyre, Ricoeur, G. Strawson, Carroll, Velleman, Goldie, Currie, Lamarque, Hegel, Bakhtin, Benjamin, Lukács and Arendt, among others.

CAS PH 458 A1: Crime & Punishment
Professor Susanne Sreedhar
Tuesday, 3:30 PM – 6:15 PM
This course will explore philosophical questions about the criminal justice system, both in its ideal form and as it exists today. We will examine historical and contemporary writings on punishment, focusing on concepts of punishment, justifications for punishment, preventative detention, the death penalty, and alternatives to punishment. We will also ask how deep historical and contemporary injustices, including institutionalized racism, affect how we should theorize about institutions of punishment, their possible reform, or perhaps even their abolition.
Prerequisites: CAS PH 350 and two other philosophy courses. First Year Writing Seminar (e.g. WR 100 or WR 120).
BU Hub: Writing-Intensive Course, The Individual in Community, Social Inquiry II.
NOTE: This course is by permission of instructor only, and is cross-listed with PO 497 (Political Science). For access to the class, please contact Professor Sreedhar.

CAS PH 462 A1: Foundation of Mathematics
Professor Akihiro Kanamori
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM
Axiometic set theory as a foundation for, and field of, mathematics: Axiom of Choice, the Continuum Hypothesis, and consistency results. Offered cross-listed with CAS MA 532.
Prerequisites: CAS PH 461, or consent of instructor.

CAS PH 470 A1: Philosophy of Physics
Professor Tian Yu Cao
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:20 PM – 1:10 PM
An introductory survey of fascinating problems in contemporary philosophy of physics. The basic ideas and main features of physical theories, which touch upon nature at its most fundamental level and interact most crucially with philosophy in general, are outlined, so that students will have a road map of the central problems in the field. Throughout, the driving theme is the entanglement of a radical revision in our conceptualization of the world (which is forced upon us by the changes in the physical picture of the world due to major developments in modern physics) with central philosophical issues in metaphysics and epistemology. Some areas of discussion include: the nature of space and time in relativity theories; probability and irreversibility in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; the understanding of measurement, locality, causality, reality and objectivity in quantum theory; ontology, virtual entities, and attitudes toward infinities in quantum field theory.

In-depth conceptual analysis will be carried out in a non-technical way, without requiring either a thorough understanding of the technical details of physical theories or major competence in mathematics. The course is designed primarily for those who have a deep interest in philosophy of physics, or in theoretical physics, and plan to pursue advanced study in these areas. But it is also accessible to those who are interested mainly in the ideas of modern physics, or in the relevance of physics as a testing ground for general philosophical claims.

Prerequisites: CAS PH 310 and CAS PH 360.
BU Hub: Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Scientific Inquiry I, and Critical Thinking.

CAS PH 472 A1: Philosophy of Biology
Professor Rachell Powell
Thursday 3:30 PM – 6:15 PM
Conceptual problems in biology; unity or pluralism of science; hierarchy theory; biological explanation; evolutionary theory, teleology and causality, statistical explanation; the species problems; mind and the brain; and language in animals and humans.
Prerequisites: CAS PH 310 and CAS PH 360, and one other philosophy course, or consent of instructor.

CAS PH 476 A1: Philosophy of Earth Sciences: From Deep Time to the Anthropocene
Professor Alisa Bokulich
Tuesday, Thursday 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
Many of the most pressing global issues today (climate change, scarcity of clean water, the acceleration of species extinction, and other geohazards ranging from earthquakes to sea-level rise) require a basic geoscience literacy that is missing from many students’ education.  As Naomi Oreskes (2012) writes “the earth sciences are profoundly important, not only because they challenge conventional philosophical portraits of how scientific knowledge is produced, tested, and stabilized, but also because they matter for the future of the world.” There is a growing recognition that no one field alone is prepared to address these global issues.  They will require that we start thinking, learning, and researching across disciplinary boundaries.
A growing number of geoscientists, as well as humanists and social scientists, are arguing that we have entered a new geologic epoch: the Anthropocene.  It used to be thought that human activities and chronologies were insignificant compared to the vastness of geologic time and power of Earth processes.  As advocates of the Anthropocene are at pains to point out, however, this is not the case: humans have become a geologic force, shaping the Earth’s geology, ecosystems, and producing rapid and catastrophic climate change.  With this power comes a profound responsibility to recognize how our decisions and actions shape the Earth and a responsibility to begin forging a path for an ethical and sustainable tomorrow. Geologists have long known that the present is the key to understanding the past.  What we are now beginning to realize, however, is that understanding the past is in fact the key to navigating the future.  The deep time histories of mass extinctions can, for example, help us learn about the critical tipping points of ecosystems and our climate.  As Marcia Bjornerud argues, learning the “rhythms of Earth’s deep past and conceiving of time as a geologist does can give us the perspective we need for a more sustainable future.”
This course, “Philosophy of the Earth Sciences: From Deep Time to the Anthropocene” is an interdisciplinary exploration of these important themes.  The aims of the course are two-fold: First, students will come to a deeper understanding of the methodologies used in the geosciences and how reliable knowledge is produced, even in the face of uncertainties.  Second, students will come to a deeper appreciation of how our history and future are intertwined with the history and future of the Earth, and the broader philosophical lessons that can be learned from the Earth sciences.

CAS PH 496 A1: Topics in Religious Thought
Professor Diana Lobel
Tuesday, Thursday 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
What is happiness? How can we achieve a balanced, healthy, fulfilling life? Classical thinkers such as Aristotle, Plato, Chuang Tzu; Stoic, Epicurean, Confucian, Buddhist paths; comparison with contemporary studies on happiness and mindfulness.
BU Hub: Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meaning, and Critical Thinking.

 

GRS – GRADUATE SCHOOL OF ARTS & SCIENCES

GRS PH 608 A1: History of Medieval Philosophy: Aquinas
Professor David Decosimo
Monday, 2:30 PM – 5:15 PM
Philippa Foot once wrote, “It is my opinion that the Summa Theologica is one of the best sources we have for moral philosophy, and moreover that St. Thomas’s ethical writings are as useful to the atheist as to [anyone.]” Taking Foot at her word, this seminar examines Aquinas’s mature moral philosophy, with a special focus on his moral psychology, philosophy of action, and account of the virtues.

GRS PH 613 A1: Kant
Professor Sally Sedgwick
Tuesday, Thursday 12:30 PM – 1:45 PM
This course provides an introduction to Kant’s theoretical and practical philosophy. We will begin by briefly reviewing David Hume’s skeptical arguments concerning human knowledge, and then explore how the Critique of Pure Reason is Kant’s effort to “save” metaphysics from Hume’s skepticism. Among 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 experience possible, his argument in defense of the view that we have some material or non-conceptual knowledge that is necessary. During the second half of the course, we will read selections from Kant’s practical philosophy and philosophy of history. We will explore his claim that his “transcendental” idealism provides the foundation for human freedom.

GRS PH 618 A1: Marx and Marxism
Professor Tian Yu Cao
Wednesday, 6:30 PM – 9:15 PM
In this introductory course, Marxism will be treated mainly as a conceptual framework for understanding history and society (including economy, politics and culture), and also as a critique of capitalism and a program of transforming the capitalist society for human emancipation, with an analysis of both its philosophical and ethical presuppositions and its conceptions of a post-capitalist society. The evolution of its theoretical bases, through its three stages (classical Marxism of Marx and Engels; the Soviet orthodoxy and its critics; and contemporary Marxisms) will be critically examined, and its practical (political, economic and cultural) impacts on the historical course since its inception briefly outlined.

GRS PH 622 A1: Analytic Philosophy
Professor Juliet Floyd
Thursday, 12:30 PM – 3:15 PM
A survey of major texts and strategies in the analytic tradition focusing on the question, What are concepts? We first read Frege on the concept/object distinction, then Russell on singular terms and descriptions, and Dubois on double-consciousness, proceeding through Quine on the analytic/synthetic distinction, Austin on truth and facts, Anscombe on the concept of intention, Wittgenstein’s anthropological turn, Turing on the concept of computability, and essays by Arendt, Davis, Diamond, Das and Laugier on the contemporary significance of our view of concepts for anthropology, feminism, everyday ethics and social criticism today.

GRS PH 626 A1: Phenomenology
Professor Daniel Dahlstrom
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM
Rigorous examination of foundations of philosophical phenomenology in Husserl and others.

GRS PH 633 A1: Symbolic Logic
Professor Peter Hylton
Tuesday, Thursday 11:00 AM – 12:15 PM
This course is an introduction to the concepts and techniques of deductive logic (truth-functional and first-order logic, in particular). We will learn how to use the concepts of logic to symbolize English statements, and how to assess the validity of statements which have been symbolized in this way. We will also reflect on what we have been doing, and demonstrate results about it.

GRS PH 646 A1: Philosophy of Religion
Professor Michael Zank
Wednesday 6:30 PM – 9:15 PM
Critical investigation of the limits of human knowledge and the theoretical and practical demands for meaning attached to notions of God, providence, immortality, and other metaphysical conditions of human thriving, from Plato to modern philosophies of religion.

GRS PH 657 A1: Philosophy and Narrative
Professor Allen Speight
Friday, 11:15 AM – 2:00 PM
What is the role of story or narrative in human understanding? Why do we tell stories and what is their importance in our lives? This seminar will explore the revivified contemporary debate among philosophers, literary theorists, and others about the importance of narrative for issues in moral psychology, agency and personal identity, and look at work across various disciplines that make often differing appeals to notions of narrativity (including history, medicine, literature, film, journalism, and evolutionary theory). Readings will include works by MacIntyre, Ricoeur, G. Strawson, Carroll, Velleman, Goldie, Currie, Lamarque, Hegel, Bakhtin, Benjamin, Lukács and Arendt, among others.

GRS PH 662 A1: Foundations of Mathematics
Professor Akihiro Kanamori
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30 AM – 10:45 AM
Axiometic set theory as a foundation for, and field of, mathematics: Axiom of Choice, the Continuum Hypothesis, and consistency results. Offered cross-listed with CAS MA 532.

GRS PH 670 A1: Philosophy of Physics
Professor Tian Yu Cao
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:20 PM – 1:10 PM
An introductory survey of fascinating problems in contemporary philosophy of physics. The basic ideas and main features of physical theories, which touch upon nature at its most fundamental level and interact most crucially with philosophy in general, are outlined, so that students will have a road map of the central problems in the field. Throughout, the driving theme is the entanglement of a radical revision in our conceptualization of the world (which is forced upon us by the changes in the physical picture of the world due to major developments in modern physics) with central philosophical issues in metaphysics and epistemology. Some areas of discussion include: the nature of space and time in relativity theories; probability and irreversibility in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; the understanding of measurement, locality, causality, reality and objectivity in quantum theory; ontology, virtual entities, and attitudes toward infinities in quantum field theory.

In-depth conceptual analysis will be carried out in a non-technical way, without requiring either a thorough understanding of the technical details of physical theories or major competence in mathematics. The course is designed primarily for those who have a deep interest in philosophy of physics, or in theoretical physics, and plan to pursue advanced study in these areas. But it is also accessible to those who are interested mainly in the ideas of modern physics, or in the relevance of physics as a testing ground for general philosophical claims.

 

GRS PH 672 A1: Philosophy of Biology
Professor Rachell Powell
Thursday 3:30 PM – 6:15 PM
Conceptual problems in biology; unity or pluralism of science; hierarchy theory; biological explanation; evolutionary theory, teleology and causality, statistical explanation; the species problems; mind and the brain; and language in animals and humans.

GRS PH 676 A1: Philosophy of Earth Sciences
Professor Alisa Bokulich
Tuesday, Thursday 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM
Many of the most pressing global issues today (climate change, scarcity of clean water, the acceleration of species extinction, and other geohazards ranging from earthquakes to sea-level rise) require a basic geoscience literacy that is missing from many students’ education.  As Naomi Oreskes (2012) writes “the earth sciences are profoundly important, not only because they challenge conventional philosophical portraits of how scientific knowledge is produced, tested, and stabilized, but also because they matter for the future of the world.” There is a growing recognition that no one field alone is prepared to address these global issues.  They will require that we start thinking, learning, and researching across disciplinary boundaries.
A growing number of geoscientists, as well as humanists and social scientists, are arguing that we have entered a new geologic epoch: the Anthropocene.  It used to be thought that human activities and chronologies were insignificant compared to the vastness of geologic time and power of Earth processes.  As advocates of the Anthropocene are at pains to point out, however, this is not the case: humans have become a geologic force, shaping the Earth’s geology, ecosystems, and producing rapid and catastrophic climate change.  With this power comes a profound responsibility to recognize how our decisions and actions shape the Earth and a responsibility to begin forging a path for an ethical and sustainable tomorrow. Geologists have long known that the present is the key to understanding the past.  What we are now beginning to realize, however, is that understanding the past is in fact the key to navigating the future.  The deep time histories of mass extinctions can, for example, help us learn about the critical tipping points of ecosystems and our climate.  As Marcia Bjornerud argues, learning the “rhythms of Earth’s deep past and conceiving of time as a geologist does can give us the perspective we need for a more sustainable future.”
This course, “Philosophy of the Earth Sciences: From Deep Time to the Anthropocene” is an interdisciplinary exploration of these important themes.  The aims of the course are two-fold: First, students will come to a deeper understanding of the methodologies used in the geosciences and how reliable knowledge is produced, even in the face of uncertainties.  Second, students will come to a deeper appreciation of how our history and future are intertwined with the history and future of the Earth, and the broader philosophical lessons that can be learned from the Earth sciences.

GRS PH 801 A1: Ancient Philosophy I
Professor Marc Gasser-Wingate
Tuesday 12:30 PM – 3:15 PM
A survey of the nature and status of nonhuman animals, as we find them described in the works of Plato, Aristotle, and later Stoic, Platonist, Neoplatonist thinkers. We will focus on different ways of distinguishing between animals and other living beings, on how the cognitive and emotional lives of nonhuman animals compare with our own, and how, more broadly, we should understand their place in the natural world. We will also consider our thinking on these matters might imply about how we should treat nonhuman animals.

GRS PH 805 A1: Modern Philosophy
Professor Aaron Garrett
Thursday 3:30 PM – 6:15 PM
A close reading of David Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature and related passages from the two Enquiries. Topics discussed will include causation, scepticism, the relation between the passions and reason, motivation, sympathy, and the nature of moral evaluation.

GRS PH 880 A1: Topics in Philosophy I: Recognition and Identity
Professor Paul Katsafanas
Tuesday 6:30 PM – 9:15 PM
Recent work on the connection between identity and recognition. Questions of identity concern who I am. Questions of recognition concern who I am acknowledged as being. How do these relate? According to a rich philosophical tradition that emerges from Fichte and Hegel, our identities may involve, be founded upon, or be constituted by relations of mutual recognition. We will explore these ideas, focusing mainly on contemporary readings on identity and recognition. Historical readings may include excerpts from Rousseau’s Second Discourse, Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and Philosophy of Right, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality, Max Scheler’s Ressentiment, and Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. Contemporary readings may include articles and book excerpts from Axel Honneth, Nancy Fraser, Marya Schechtman, Charles Taylor, Stephen Darwall, Hilde Lindemann, Mark Schroeder, and others.

GRS PH 990 A1: Dissertation Workshop
Professor Paul Katsafanas
Tuesday 3:30 PM – 6:15 PM
Intended for the Philosophy Ph.D. students working towards a dissertation prospectus or dissertation. Students present their research and discuss each other’s research projects.

GRS PH 994 A1: Philosophy Pro Seminar II
Professor Michaela McSweeney
Monday 2:30 PM – 5:15 PM
A continuation of GRS PH 993. A workshop seminar offering advanced graduate students the opportunity to present and discuss work-in-prgoress (dissertation chapters, papers for job applications, journal submissions). A serious commitment to regular and continuing attendance is expected.
Prerequisites: GRS PH 993 or consent of instructor.