Fall 2008 Courses

101-1 Introduction to Philosophy
11:00-12:15 TR
Gibson

The aim of this course is to introduce the student to philosophy. We will study some different areas in philosophy and the problems and questions addressed in those areas. But we will also study how philosophers go about answering these questions - what kinds of arguments they give, what reasons led them to their views. And we will evaluate whether their arguments are good ones. These are the different areas of philosophy that we will study: Epistemology or the theory of knowledge which is concerned with questions about the nature and extent of knowledge; Philosophy of Religion, where we will understand and evaluate arguments that try to prove God exists; Ethics, where we will be concerned with whether there really is such a thing as right or wrong, and if so, what makes something right or wrong; and finally, in the last section of the course, we will examine whether it makes sense to think that human beings have Free Will if their behavior is a part of the natural, causal order. Assignments will include both take-home and in-class essay exams.

101-2 Introduction to Philosophy
9:30-10:45 TR
Sidelle

Philosophy is both an area, with its own questions and history of discussion of these questions - What is knowledge? What goes into making an action right or wrong? What is it to live a happy (good/worthwhile) life? What is it to act rationally? Can we ever be responsible for our behavior? What is it for a sign to have meaning? Is having a mind the same thing as having a brain? - as well as a certain critical way of looking at things, approaching issues, clarifying concepts, and evaluating positions and arguments. The methods philosophers use in generating and conducting investigation in their own particular subject matter, as well as many of the issues philosophers concern themselves with, can be relevant to all sorts of subject matters, which are not, of themselves, particularly philosophical. Drawing distinctions, identifying underlying assumptions, generating puzzles, coming up with arguments and evaluating them, seeing what a disagreement is really about, distinguishing the letter from the spirit of positions, are among the many tools of philosophy, which can be used in other areas not only in critical evaluation, but in seeing possible issues and questions to raise. In this course, we will look at some quite general and fundamental philosophical issues, as well as some that are more particular, such as the rationality of emotions. We will be particularly concerned to bring out various sorts of philosophical tools and distinctions which are relevant not only to philosophy, but to philosophical reflection or consideration about other areas, and also to see how philosophical assumptions or claims may be present even when one is not 'doing philosophy'.

101-4 Introduction to Philosophy
1:00-2:15 TR

Staff
 

No Description available. 

101-5 Introduction to Philosophy
9:55 MWF
Shapiro
 

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to philosophical questions and to the kind of thinking that philosophers use to address these questions.  Philosophical questions are peculiar: unlike scientific questions, their solution typically does not depend on the collection of empirical data; unlike mathematical questions, there are no formulae that are guaranteed to produce a correct answer to them.  An adequate answer to a philosophical question requires an argument, and so it is upon arguments that we will focus in this course.  We will consider philosophical questions, such as “What should a just society look like?”, “What, if anything, can we know about the world?”, “Are minds physical?”, and “What reasons, if any, are there to believe that God exists?”.  We will examine some classical answers to these questions and will try to devise answers of our own.  There will be three short papers, two exams, and mandatory class attendance. 

101-6 Introduction to Philosophy 
11:00 MWF 
Comesana
 

This course will be an introduction to some of the main problems of philosophy, some of the proposed solutions to those problems, and the arguments that philosophers have advanced in defense of those solutions.  Topics covered will include: epistemology (do you know that you are not inside The Matrix?); ethics (is there a single true morality?; are you morally required to donate $100 to charity this term?); metaphysics (how is the mind related to the body?; if a person's actions are determined by the antecedent physical state of world, are those actions free?).  Readings will include both classical and contemporary sources. 

104-1 Good, Beauty & the Meaning of Life
9:55 MWF
Nadler
 

No Description available 

210-1 Reason in Communication
11:00-12:15 TR
Forster
 

This course is about critical thinking.  Some forms of reasoning are more persuasive than others, but many persuasive forms of reasoning are fallacious.  We will critically examine various patterns of reasoning (arguments) commonly used in newspaper editorials, political speeches, classrooms, courtrooms, and advertisements with the aim of discerning the difference between good and bad reasoning.  This skill in critical thinking may also improve your argumentative writing.  This is not a course in formal, or symbolic logic like 211 although there will be some very elementary symbolic logic.  We will look at simple examples of causal and statistical reasoning as well.  For more information, browse through the required text: Critical thinking, 6th edition, by B.N. Moore and R. Parker, Mayfield Publishing Company.    

210-3 Reason in Communication
11:00 MWF
Staff
 

No Description available. 

211-1 Elementary Logic
9:30-10:45 TR
Rauti
 

This course provides an introduction to formal logic.  We will study two formal languages and their interpretations.  We will then introduce deduction systems for the two languages, i.e. formal rules for deriving conclusions from premises.  Our goal is to characterize valid and invalid arguments and understand the notion of logical consequence.  

211-2 Elementary Logic
11:00 MWF
Vranas
 

A hotel manager put up a sign reading: "No one is permitted on these premises unless accompanied by a registered guest". Apparently the manager failed to realize that from the statement on the sign it follows that no unaccompanied registered guest is permitted on the premises! In general, the question of which statements follow from other statements is quite tricky. This course addresses this tricky question by (1) introducing a symbolic language into which one can translate a great many ordinary English sentences and almost all mathematical sentences, and by (2) using an automated proof procedure to show that certain sentences follow from other sentences.   

211-3 Elementary Logic
9:55 MWF
Staff
 

No Description available. 

241-1 Introductory Ethics (Satisfies Category B requirement)
1:00-2:15 TR
Staff
 

No Description available 

241-2 Introductory Ethics
11:00-12:15 TR
Sartorio
 

This course is an examination of some of the central topics in moral philosophy. We will identify possible reasons for holding certain views, which philosophers reconstruct in the form of arguments, and we will critically assess those reasons. We will start by considering particular moral issues, such as the debate over the permissibility of abortion and euthanasia. Then we will consider more general issues about morality, including two classical examples of moral theories, the question of whether moral responsibility is compatible with determinism, and the debate over the objectivity or relativity of morality. 

241-3 Introductory Ethics (Satisfies Category B requirement)
11:00 MWF 
Staff
 

No Description available 

253 Philosophy of the Arts (Satisfies Category B requirement)
12:05 MWF 
Anderson
 

This course investigates a set of basic questions about the nature of art: What is art?  Can it be defined?  If not, why not?  In addition, we will investigate a related set of questions concerning the nature of aesthetic appreciation: Is art appreciation merely a matter of taste?  Or, is there some objectivity involved in matters of aesthetic judgment?  We will read the works of important historical figures such as Plato, Tolstoy, Hume, Collingwood and Bell as well as the work of some contemporary philosophers.  There will be two short papers, a midterm exam, and a final exam. 

261 Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
9:55 MWF
Yandell
 

In a lecture-discussion format, we will consider the following questions: (i) what properties is God supposed to have, and can anything have them?  (ii) what arguments are there for the existence of God, and how should they be assessed?  (iii) what arguments are there against the existence of God, and how should they be assessed? - here we will be most concerned about arguments from evil (iv) is divine foreknowledge compatible with human freedom? (v) what view of being a person best fits monotheistic religion, what competing views are there, and how should these competing views be assessed?  There will be two in-class essay exams during the semester taken from study questions passed out in advance, and a final exam held kat the time the timetable indicates, also taken from study questions passed out in advance. 

341-1 Contemporary Moral Issues
9:30-10:45 TR
Staff
 

No Description available. 

(W)341-2 Contemporary Moral Issues
1:20 MWF
Hausman
 

This writing-intensive course will focus on four contemporary moral issues:  surrogate motherhood, abortion, capital punishment, and affirmative action.  In addition, it will introduce students to some moral theory to help address the issues.  The emphasis in the course will be on developing student's abilities to formulate and criticize arguments so as to be able to make up their minds rationally.  In addition to examinations and homework, there will be two essays, the second of which may be revised and resubmitted. 

341-3 Contemporary Moral Issues
12:05 MWF
Hunt
 

When are we justified in forcing people to do things that they might not want to do?  In the first five weeks of this course, we will critically examine several "liberty-limiting principles"-ideas which, if they are true, will tell us when it is right to use force.  during the remainder of the course, we will apply these principles to contemporary issues in which the use of coercion is involved, including: abortion, gun ownership, legalizing drugs, the redistribution of wealth, and censoring hate speech.  The point of the course will be to help the student to do his or her own thinking on these issues.   

341-91 Contemporary Moral Issues
9:55 M-R 
Staff
 

341-92 Contemporary Moral Issues
11:00 M-R
Staff
 

341-93 Contemporary Moral Issues
12:05 M-R
 

341-94 Contemporary Moral Issues
9:55 M-R
 

341-95 Contemporary Moral Issues
11:00 M-R
 

341-96 Contemporary Moral Issues
12:05 M-R
 

430 History of Ancient Philosophy
9:55 MWF 
Gottlieb
 

Metaphysics and Epistemology in Ancient Greek Philosophy                                   

We’ll be studying in depth, and with close attention to the texts, ancient Greek philosophers’ attempts to answer the following questions:  What sorts of things are there in the world?  Is a world of change consistent with a world of substances?  What would be a satisfactory account of unity and diversity? What sort of knowledge, if any, can we have of the world in which we live?  Why are reason and logic important?  Why become a philosopher, and what’s the difference between the philosopher and the sophist? 

There will be three tutorials. 

432 History of Modern Philosophy
1:00-2:15 TR
Gibson
 

In the 17th and 18th centuries, there were an unusual number of very important and influential philosophers.  In this course, we will focus on the Empiricist philosophers Locke, Berkeley, and Hume; the Rationalist philosophers Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz; and finally on Immanual Kant.  We will read primary texts and will be studying such metaphysical issues as the nature of substance, the will, knowledge, causality, perception, and truth.  Because of the number of important philosophers in this period, the course will be demanding and involve a lot of reading and writing.  There will be take-home essay exams which require the student to study, analyze, and criticize the philosopher’s arguments. 

440 French Philosophy-Existentialism
1:00-2:15 TR 
Soll
 

In this course we shall study two of the major figures of French Existentialism, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, whose theoretical work is considerably more voluminous, complex and sophisticated. 

We shall begin with a stylistic and philosophic consideration of Camus’s novel, The Stranger followed by a critical analysis of his essay The Myth of Sisyphus.  We shall then read Sartre’s story, The Wall, and his novel Nausea, before moving to his theoretical works, The Transcendence of the Ego, the Emotions, and Being and Nothingness.  We shall deal with this deal with this last work only in part, because it is very long and difficult. 

Among the problems and concepts we shall discuss are: the nature of “existentialism,” “alienation,” “authenticity”, “the absurd,” the irrationality and ineffability of existence, the feeling of “nausea” on is supposed to have as one becomes aware of the gratuitous nature of one’s own existence, the impossibility of real or satisfactory knowledge, the nature of consciousness, self-deception, the emotions, the nature of an individuals identity, freedom and the unwelcome responsibility it entails, the possibility or impossibility of unconscious mental processes, and “existential psychoanalysis.”  There will be two short papers, an exam, and a final paper or examination.  Two 75 minute lectures and one discussion section per week.  A critical and philosophical evaluation of the works read will be both encouraged and required. 

454-1 Plato on Love
2:25 MWF
Gottlieb
 
 

The opening scene of Plato’s Lysis shows Hippothales head over heels in love, but he has a problem.  How can he get his beloved to love him in return?  To answer this question, he enlists the help of a lover of wisdom, the philosopher Socrates, who turns the discussion in a different direction, to find out the true object of desire.  In the Symposium, Plato mixes tragedy with comedy to answer the same question, but from a different angle.  Finally, in his Phaedrus, Plato makes fun of the way in which politicians want everyone to love them, and presents a new view about what love really is. 

We’ll read all three texts in translation, and we’ll also look at passages from Plato’s other works, when appropriate.  While we’ll be concentrating on the ethical side of the dialogues, we’ll also cover topics in metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, aesthetics and political philosophy. There will be tutorials.

454-2 Classical Philosophers: Nietzsche
2:25 MWF
Hunt
 

This course will be a careful reading and discussion of the major works of Nietzsche. Texts read will come from every period of his productive life, and on all the major topics on which he wrote, with emphasis on the mature works of the 1880s and on topics having to do with value (ethical, political, and artistic). From time to time short essays by other authors will be assigned, either because they are criticizing/interpreting Nietzsche, or because they are setting out a position that contrasts with that of Nietzsche in some interesting way. We will also read some essays by Emerson because he seems in some ways to have had a strong influence on Nietzsche. The ultimate goal of everything we do will be to understand what Nietzsche was saying and to form well-grounded opinions as to the merits of what he was saying. Work for the course will include two papers and a final exam. 

481 Epistemology of Disagreement
1:20 MWF
Comesana
 

See  504 for description. 

482 Junior Honors Seminar: Philosophy of Language
11:00-12:15 TR 
Rauti
 

See 516 for description. 

501 Philosophy of Religion (Satisfies Category A requirement)
11:00 MWF
Yandell
 

Each discipline has its highly influential figures. Aquinas, Hume, and Kant have been enormously influential in the philosophy of religion. In a lecture-discussion format, we will look these three  figures. In each case, we will study their actual views, and look at some of the contemporary influence these views have, what reasons can be given for thinking that these views (of Aquinas, Hume, and Kant, and their contemporary versions) are true, and what reasons can be given for thinking that they are false. Briefly: Thomas Aquinas attempted to take portions of Classical Greek thought (Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus) and baptize it into a theology that was philosophically defensible. Put another way: he give (in particular)Aristotle=s conceptual system a recasting as a version of monotheism. A famous slogan associated with his endeavor is All our concepts are abstracted from sensory experience. David Hume attempted to take portions of Ancient Skepticism and the Empiricism of his predecessors (suitably recast) and relentlessly drew secular conclusions from them. He is viewed as being the only really consistent Empiricist among his colleagues in the history of Modern philosophy. A famous slogan associated with his endeavor is All our knowledge derives from sensory experience. Immanuel Kant said he wanted to restrict reason in order to make room for faith, but he used both reason and faith in technical sense defined from within his own perspective. His philosophy of religion is commonly viewed as the most sophisticated attempt ever to reduce religion to morality, though this reading of Kant is disputed. A famous slogan associated with his endeavor is Even though all our cognition starts with experience, this does not mean that all of it arises from experience. We will discuss, and considers reasons for and against, the views that these authors, and their more recent fans, have offered.  

504 The Epistemology of Disagreement
1:20 MWF
Comesana
 

Suppose that, after careful reflection and consideration of all the available evidence, you make up your mind and come to believe, say, that the death penalty should be abolished. Suppose also that you talk about this issue with a friend of yours who is just as smart,   
intelligent, open-minded, diligent in the collection of evidence,  etc., as you are. When someone is at least as good as you are with respect to all of these epistemic virtues, let us say that you and  this person are ``epistemic peers'' of each other. The central question in the epistemology of disagreement can be then put in this way: what should you do when you find out that an epistemic peer disagrees with you? 
 
In this course we will distinguish easier and harder versions of that question, and study what has been said about the harder questions. The main alternatives here are what we can call ``conciliatory'' views, according to which we should defer, in some appropriate degree, to the views of our peer, and ``stubborn'' views, according to which it's epistemically permissible to retain our own view. Other issues to be discussed include: When should we consider someone as an epistemic peer (or, more generally, as having some degree of epistemic competence relative to us)? Are conciliatory positions (positions according to which we should defer to the judgment of epistemic peers)   
especially prone to skepticism? Are they self-refuting? What is the role of second-order evidence in these disputes? 
 
The readings for this seminar will consist of contemporary sources. 

516 Language and Meaning (Satisfies Category A requirement)
11:00-12:15 TR
Rauti
 

This class will introduce you to the philosophy of language in the analytic tradition.  We are going to start from Locke's imagist theory of meaning and discuss its inadequacy by contemporary standards.  This will lead to G. Frege's conception of meaning, in particular his anti-psychologism, his distinction between sense and reference, his ideas on how the meaning of complex expressions depends on that of their parts. Next we will switch to B. Russell and his views on the connection between language and the world.  Our focus will be on proper names and definite descriptions.  We will develop our discussion further by looking at contemporary literature on descriptions (phrases like "The first man on the moon) and at current "direct reference" theories of proper names (like "Aristotle").  We are also going to consider the pragmatic aspect of language, in particular the ways in which we can do something by uttering certain words (we say "I do" and we get married), and the ways in which we manage, on some occasions, to imply something which is distinct from the literal meaning of the words we utter (we say "well, it's midnight" and we imply "it's time for you to leave").  

522 Special Topicf: Philosophy of Probability
11:00-12:15 TR
Sober
 

Topics considered will probably include: the debate between frequentism and Bayesianism, the interpretation of probability, the role of probability in various philosophical arguments (Pascal's wager, the Design argument, Hume's skeptical argument about induction), Simpson's paradox, psychological experiments on how people reason about probability, and topic from decision theory (the Newcomb paradox) and game theory (the prisoners' dilemma).

523 Philosophical Problems of the Biological Sciences: Darwin and Darwinism
1:00-2:15 TR
Sober, Numbers
 

In this course we will read substantial portions of Darwin's writings, as well as work by some of Darwin's predecessors (Paley and Chambers) and some of the responses in the 19th century to Darwin's theory.  Questions in the philosophy of science will be developed from these historical materials. 

524 Philosophy and Economics
11:00 MWF 
Hausman
 

This course will focus on questions concerning the nature of rationality and decision making in both strategic and non-strategic contexts and with questions concerning the moral appraisal of economic outcomes, institutions, processes, and policies.  Comparatively little will be said about economic methodology.  There will be two papers (with an opportunity to revise the second) and exams. 

545 Philosophical Conceptions of Teaching & Learning
4:00-7:00 pm M
Pekarsky
 

No Description available. 

560 Metaphysics (Satisfies Category A requirement)
2:30-3:45 TR
Sartorio
 

In this course we will discuss some of the central topics in metaphysics: the persistence of objects through time, the persistence of people through time, the nature of time itself, and free will.  We will look at some paradoxes and problems that arise regarding these topics, and we will examine how different metaphysical views fare with respect to them. 

571 Mathematical Logic
8:50 MWF
Miller
 

No Description available. 

581 Senior Honors Seminar: Metaphysics
2:30-3:45 TR  
Sartorio
 

See 560 for description. 

582 Senior Honors Seminar-Philosophy of Economics
11:00 MWF 
Hausman
 

See 524 for description. 

916 Philosophy of Language
1:15-3:15 T
Sidelle
 

This seminar is designed to provide basic background for philosophy graduate students on central literature, issues and views in the philosophy of language, with particular focus/interest on issues there that impinge upon, or are relevant to, issues or claims in other areas of philosophy.  We will look at theories of meaning and reference, analyticity, rigid designation, the distinction between pragmatics and semantics, propositional attitude reports, two-dimensionalism, indexicals, and we’ll see what else  maybe some stuff on verbal disputes. 

920 Whewell’s Philosophy of Science
3:30-5:30 T
Forster
 

In the 1840’s, William Whewell and John Stuart Mill disagreed about the nature of scientific knowledge, and how knowledge grows.  For Mill, innovative ideas and novel conceptions are literally read from the observational facts.  Thus, in planetary astronomy, Kepler used ellipses in place of circles because he saw the elliptical shape of Mars’s orbit from the new observational data collected by Tycho Brahe.  For Whewell, on the other hand, new conceptions are introduced as conjectures of mind, and then tested by their ability to unify disparate phenomena in a process he calls the consilience of inductions.  The consilience of inductions enables us to separate the wheat from the chaff, and true from the false.  For Whewell, this historical progression of science teaches us how to read the truth INITO our theories.  Whewell’s theory of scientific knowledge is importantly different from modern philosophies of science, which follow in Mill’s direction, and subscribe to the view that scientific knowledge is extracted by logical deduction FROM the best scientific theory of the day.  Whose view is right? Whewell’s, Mill’s, neither, or both? 

951 Embodied Cognition
1:15-3:15 M 
Shapiro
 

In recent years embodied cognition has emerged as a challenger to the reigning computational conception of mind. Whether this challenge is serious depends on how one understands the commitments of the computational theory of mind and also on how one articulates the claims of embodied cognition. This seminar will spend the first few meetings discussing articles that have been foundational in defining the computational theory of mind (e.g., papers by Newell & Simon, Putnam, Fodor). The topic will then turn to embodied cognition. We will examine work by philosophers (e.g. Clark, Rowlands, Noë), psychologists (e.g. Glenberg, O'Regan, Gibson) and roboticists (e.g. Beer, Brooks) in an effort to isolate some core themes by which to characterize the aims and methods of embodied cognition. By semester's end, we should be in a good position to evaluate the nature of the embodied cognition challenge to computationalism.

960 Time Travel
1:15-3:15 W
Vranas
 

Robert Heinlein's short story 'All You Zombies-' starts with a conversation between a barman and a man nicknamed 'the Unmarried Mother'. The man explains that he used to be a woman, was impregnated by a stranger, and had a daughter. By the end of the story it turns out that, thanks to time travel, the Unmarried Mother, the stranger who impregnated her, their daughter, and the barman are all different temporal stages of the same person! 
 
Welcome to the brave new world of time travel. It is a world in which you can be your own mother and father; a world in which you can witness your own death and yet go on living; and maybe also a world in which a great painting can exist without having been painted by anyone. Some people take these paradoxes to show that time travel is impossible. But contemporary physicists take time travel seriously, because it is allowed by many models of General Relativity.
 
This seminar examines (1) the physics, (2) the metaphysics, and (3) the paradoxes of time travel, using readings from physics, philosophy, and science fiction. The requirements consist of a term paper and weekly email objections to the readings. Further information, including the syllabus, is available at: http://mywebspace.wisc.edu/vranas/web/index.htm