Spring 2009 Courses

101-1 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? - and 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 in some central areas of philosophy; it is important to realize that there are many other areas of philosophy, many other topics within these areas, and that even of the more particular issues we look at, we will only be making a start.  We will be particularly concerned to bring out various sorts of philosophical tools and distinctions, 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'.  By the end of the course, the hope is that you will have both an interest in and ability to think interestingly, critically and productively about not only the issues we discuss, but most anything

 
101-2 Introduction to Philosophy
11:00-12:15 TR
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.
 
101-3 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 e 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 I a part of the natural, causal order. 
 
101-4 Introduction to Philosophy
11:00 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 device answers of our own. T here will be three short papers, two exams, and mandatory class attendance.
 
101-5 Introduction to Philosophy
1:00-2:15 TR
Soll 
 
Some of the topics we will discuss in this course are: What is philosophy? What is virtue? What is the appropriate attitude toward death?  Could all of our beliefs be false? What is knowledge?  What can we know with certainty? Does God exist?  What makes actions right or wrong? What makes some statements meaningful and others non-sensical?  
 
We shall read the following philosophers: Plato, Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Mill and Ayer.

101-6 Introduction to Philosophy
9:30-10:45 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 e 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 I a part of the natural, causal order. 
 
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.    
 
210-2 Reason in Communication
9:30-10:45 TR
Lecturer 
 
No description available 
 
210-3 Reason in Communication
8:50 MWF
Lecturer 
 
No description available 
 
211-1 Elementary Logic
9:55 MWF
Lecturer 
 
No description available.

 
211-2 Elementary Logic
1:20 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.  
 
241-1 Introductory Ethics (Satisfies category B for the major)
11:00 MWF
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. 
 
241-2 Introductory Ethics (Satisfies category B for the major)
8:00-9:15 TR
Lecturer

241-3 Introductory Ethics (Satisfies category B for the major).
8:50 MWF
Lecturer
 
No description available.
 
341-1 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.  
 
(W)341-2 Contemporary Moral Issues
9:30-10:45 TR
Hausman

This writing-intensive course will focus on four contemporary moral issues: surrogate motherhood, abortion, capital punishment and affirmative action.  In addition, to provide some depth and perspective, the course will consider some moral theories, particularly utilitarianism and Kantian ethics. The emphasis will be on analyzing and criticizing arguments, especially in essays.  Course requirements include homework, a quiz, a midterm and final exam, and two papers.

341-3 Contemporary Moral Issues
11:00-12:15 TR
Lecturer
 
No description available.

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
9:55 MWF
Yandell 
 
“Modern” Philosophy has come to designate the period also described as “Descartes through Kant.”  The central focus is on Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.

The course deals with the metaphysics and epistemology (including philosophy of religion, mind, and language) of these philosophers.  Their views set much of the agenda for contemporary philosophy, both by way of development of, and revolt against, earlier perspectives.  There is a long tradition of Greco-European philosophy that runs from the pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle, through Medieval philosophy, into Modern philosophy, and on to contemporary Anglo-American analytic philosophy, and the Modern period is of enormous importance in its development.  Among the issues discussed are the 3existence and nature of God, the freedom of the will, the nature of persons, what causality amounts to, the nature and sources of knowledge, theories of concepts and of meaning, individuation or what thought independently distinguishes one thing from another, perception, introspection, the nature of logic, necessity, possibility, and contingency, memory, what sorts of things are basic or primitive, skepticism, miracles, and laws of nature.  The ethics and political philosophy of the period are dealt with in other courses the Department offers.

Nature and Scope of the Course

This is a philosophy course, not a history course and not a history of ideas course.  We will examine the views of the modern philosophers.  In philosophy, you really understand a view to the degree that you understand the arguments for and against it.  Since the course is intended to bring you to the point that you do to some considerable degree understand the views of the Modern philosophers, we will consider the arguments that they offer.  The philosophers of this period were typically systematizers, and we will endeavor to see how their views, at least in intent, fit together into a coherent system.  There are lots of interpretations on offer of the views of each of the Modern philosophers, and you will be given a reading list of books containing these interpretations.  But our focus will be on the writings of the philosophers themselves.

Readings:

We will read major works of the philosophers of the Modern period, in translation where they were not originally written in English.  There will also be some strictly recommended reading fro those who wish to do it.  By the time the course is over, you will have read some of the most important texts in the history of philosophy.

Exams

There will be three in-class essay exams, one around week five, one around week ten, and the final at the time designated in the timetable.  You will be given a week or so before each exam a set of questions from which the actual exam will be taken.  The exams are thus a sort of half-way house between a paper and an essay exam without questions passed out in advance.

We will also look at some of the ideas and arguments of some more “minor” figures when doing so will aid inour understanding and assessment of the view of Descartes through Kant.

441 Environmental Ethics
12:05 MWF
Anderson 
 
This course is an examination of attempts to understand our moral obligations towards nonhuman entities in nature and nature as a whole.  Do we have obligations with respect to nonhuman animals?  Plants?  Inanimate objects such as stones and water?  Ecosystems?  If so, what are the natures and grounds for these obligations? 
 
We will investigate traditional ethical theories insofar as they address these issues.  Further, we will discuss recent attempts to extend the domains of traditional views so as to include within these theories all or some of the nonhuman beings noted above.  Finally, we will turn our attention to views which hold that the fundamental objects of moral concern are not individuals but natural “communities” as such. 
 
481 Classical Philosophers: 
1:00-2:15 TR
Comesana 
 
See 503 for description  
 
482 Classical Philosophers: Phil. Mind
1:20 MWF
Shapiro 
 
See 551 for description  
 
502 Special Topics in the Philosophy of Religion: God and Time
11:00 MWF
Yandell  
 
We will begin with God and Time: Four Views in which, not surprisingly, four thesis regarding God and time are presented and assessed. Paul Helm holds that God is eternal – that for every temporal property T, God lacks T. God exists, but there is no time at which God exists. Alan Padgett contends that God is in time, where ‘time’ is to be understood as immeasurable and distinct from space-time – a notion that he endeavors to explain. William Lane Craig (alone in the history of thought, so far as I know) that God ‘was’ eternal, but after having created the world, God came to be in time. Time has a beginning, and God begins to be in time, but God existed ‘before’ the first moment of time. One clear entailment of this view is that the properties being eternal and being temporal or being in time, are not essential properties of the items that have them. Nicholas Wolterstorff holds that God is in time. Since Wolterstorff’s view (as it true of almost all theists) is that God is no t in space, this entails that time is not identical to space-time. The remainder of the course will consider issues raised by these four views.

503 Theory of Knowledge (Satisfies Category A requirement)
1:00-2:15 TR
Comesana

The main goal of this course is to provide students with a survey of some of the central issues in contemporary epistemology.  Topics to be covered include: skepticism (do you know that you are not in the Matrix?), the problem of induction (do you know that the sun will come out tomorrow?); the concept of knowledge (what are the conditions for someone to know something?); coherentism vs. foundationalism (must knowledge have a foundation, or could everything that we know be at the same epistemic level?); and internalism vs. externalism (is the fact that you are justified in having a belief something that is determined entirely by what is inside you, or can it depend on external factors?).  The readings will be taken mostly from contemporary courses.

511 Symbolic Logic
11:00 MWF
Vranas  
 
This is a course about (not in) first-order logic: although the course starts with a review of first-order logic, the review is at an abstract level and presupposes knowledge of the mechanics of first-order logic (in particular, knowledge of how to translate into logical notation English sentences like "there are at most two gods"). The bulk of the course covers the main metalogical results, both positive (namely the soundness, completeness, compactness, and Löwenheim-Skolem theorems) and negative (namely Gödel's two incompleteness theorems). The emphasis is on understanding the results and becoming able to apply them, not in proving them. The course concludes with an examination of some philosophical implications of Gödel's incompleteness theorems.  
 
522 Philosophy of Physics
2:30-3:45 TR
Forster

An introduction.  This course will introduce 
some central topics in the  philosophy of physics.   The common sense picture of reality that we all share is based on our everyday concepts of space and time.  How is it possible that such basic concepts have been successfully changed and challenged by contemporary theories of physics, in different ways by Einstein's theories of relativity (the physics of the very large) and by quantum mechanics (the physics of the very small)?  No prior 
knowledge of the physics is required.  Rather, the focus will on the philosophical debates, ranging from the debate between Leibniz and Clarke about whether space is a "container" that exists independently of the matter it contains, why most physicists and philosophers think that the flow of time is unreal (a psychological illusion), the reasons Einstein had for replacing space and time with the concept of spacetime, the restrictions on the notion of causality imposed by Einstein's theories of relativity, and how that enters into the debate between Bohr and Einstein over the mysteries of the quantum mechanical world at small scales, to (finally) speculations about the prospects of a unified picture of reality that applies at large and small scales at the same time (a "theory of everything").

551 Philosophy of Mind (Satisfies Category A requirement)
1:20 MWF
Shapiro 
 
This course is a survey of classical and contemporary issues in philosophy of Mind.  Among these issues are: the nature of mind (is the mind composed of physical stuff?  If not, what is it?); functionalism (the view that minds are characterized not by the stuff of which they are composed, but by the functions they perform); intentionality how do beliefs come to have the content that they do?); conscious experience (how might a physicalist explain his kind of experience?); and artificial intelligence (will computers ever be capable of thought?).  Assignments will include a few papers (roughly 5 pp. in length), a final exam, and in-class prentations.

555 Political Philosophy (Satisfies Category B requirement)
2:25 MWF
Hunt

This course is an examination of the sort of liberalism that traces its lineage back to John Locke.  This is a tradition that generally assumes that the basic question for political philosophy is whether the state is an institution that can be justified at all, and generally concludes that the only states that can be justified are ones that recognize limits on their just powers.  Thus a just state must guarantee its subjects some measure of freedom.  We will begin by spending two or three weeks reading Locke’s Second Treatise and possibly his essay on reforming the “poor laws.”  We will then read Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia.  We will end by reading various critics of Nozick or Locke, including Michael Otsuka and G. A. Cohen.  Requirements of the course will include two papers (one about five pages long and the other about ten) and a final exam.
 
560 Metaphysics (Issues in Identity & Modality) (Satisfies Category A requirement)
1:00-2:15 TR
Sidelle 
 
In this course, we will be discussing and investigating a number of related issues in metaphysics: possible worlds and their nature, identity across possible worlds (closely related to the issue of essentialism), and identity across time.

Possible worlds have become a standard device in philosophical discussion of necessity (truth in all possible worlds) and possibility (truth in some possible worlds), counterfactuals (the truth of the consequent in the 'nearest' possible worlds in which the antecedent is true), contents of propositional attitudes (sets of possible worlds) and elsewhere.  One question that arises concerns the nature of possible worlds - what are they?  According to David Lewis, they are worlds, just like the one we live in, except (in a sense to be explained) very far away.  Other philosophers have less robust conceptions of what these 'worlds' are.  We will look at this debate.  Another important question concerns the identity of individuals across worlds.  When we say that Bush might have lost the election, we are saying, on the face of it, that there is some possible situation in which Bush loses.  But to evaluate this, we need to understand what it is for someone in another possible world (situation) to be Bush.  So this gives rise to the general question of under what conditions things in different possible worlds are identical, which, in more familiar English, is the question of the extent to which things could be different from, or have to be like, the way they in fact are - or in even more familiar English: What makes something the thing that it is?  In effect, the question of identity across worlds is the question: What is the very nature of this thing? - What has to be the case in order for this thing to exist at all? We will be looking at various theories concerning this.

The rest of the course will be concerned with the nature of individuals and identity through time.  We will start with an argument that seems to show that our ordinary views about objects commit us to both the possibility and actuality of there being two things in the exact same place at the same time.  We will then look at various attempts to spell out what there is, or how things do (or don=t) persist through time, which can help solve this puzzle.

So while we will be focused on the nature of worlds and questions of identity, we will in fact be concerned with a variety of issues concerning essence, modality, reduction and most generally, the nature of (physical) objects.

565 The Ethics of Modern Biotechnology
2:25-4:55 R
Streiffer
 
This course is for graduate students and upper-level undergraduates.  It is an in-depth study of a selection of ethical issues arising from the application of modern biotechnology to microorganisms, plants, animals and humans, and examines both agricultural and medical uses of biotechnology.  In contrast to much of the public, academic, and industry discussion on these issues, we will aim at a discussion that is informed both by scientific research and by work done in ethical theory, political philosophy, and other relevant disciplines, and whose character is rigorous, clear, nuanced, and unbiased.  I do not consider myself either generally for or generally against biotechnology.  As a philosopher, however, I am against bad arguments wherever they are found.    
 
581 Philosophy and Literature
2:25 MWF
Hunt
 
See 555 for description 
 
582 Great Moral Philosophers
1:20 MWF
Sartorio 
 
See 560 for description 
 
835 Spinoza
1:15-3:15 M
Nadler

A close study of Spinoza’s philosophical masterpiece, the ETHICS, with some attention to other texts as well.  We will focus on the metaphysical, epistemological, and moral elements of Spinoza’s thought.

930 Nietzsche (Nietzsche and the Affirmation of Life
3:30-5:30 R
Soll

In this seminar we shall investigate:

(1) how the  ultimate goal of Nietzsche’s philosophical project is the affirmation of life (despite all of its difficulties); how this project centers on the inculcation of a positive attitude toward life; and how this cannot be reduced to the defense of theses about the value of life, or to any normative program of value judgments or behavioral injunctions;

(2) how Nietzsche pursued this project by replacing a number of standard philosophical questions by corresponding psychological meta-questions; how this transformation, has been generally overlooked or under-appreciated; and how the psychological aspect of Nietzsche’s work is more central than his epistemology and metaphysics;

(3) how, as a result of (1) and (2), Nietzsche undertook his treatments of metaphysical, epistemological, ethical  questions, not primarily for their own sakes, but to investigate the psychology that leads to embracing them, and to foster a positive attitude toward life. 

We shall read, in addition to a number of texts by Nietzsche, several secondary works that attempt to interpret his work.  There will be several  very short written exercises (1-2 pages) and a term paper (12-15 pp.).

In order to be able to work at a reasonably high level from the very start, I shall ask the participants to have completed some readings during the semester before the beginning of the semester. This will be a refresher for those who have already studied him and a way to bring those with little or no exposure to his work up to speed. This will include Walter Kaufmann’s Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, and Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy (secs. 1-10)  and Human, All Too Human, vol. 1.

Among the other  Nietzschean texts we shall study are: The Gay Science, Beyond Good and Evil, and The Genealogy of Morals.

Among the secondary works we shall consider are:  Nehamas’ Nietzsche: Life as Literature, Reginster’s The Affirmation of Life, and some of  essays of mine and  other commentators.

941 Moral Responsibility
1:15-3:15 W
Sartorio

Some topics we will likely cover in this seminar are: the concept of  moral responsibility (different views on what it is to be morally responsible), the scope of moral responsibility (what we are responsible for), the relation between responsibility and control, the  
problem of moral luck, the relation between moral responsibility and alternative possibilities (the ability to do otherwise), and collective responsibility.

951 Free Will
3:30-5:30 M
Gibson

In this seminar, we will study standard incompatibilist arguments (and responses) to the effect that we cannot both be determined and have free will, studying e.g., van Inwagen’s classic argument and David Lewis’ response. We will look at classic accounts of freedom of will and the infinity of the will, including Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and at the more recent views, Albritton, Frankfurt, Watson, and so called ‘reason-responsive’ accounts (my paper with Denny  and work of Fischer’s). I think ‘reason-responsive’ accounts don’t work both because there are different and conflicting kinds of reasons one needs 
to be responsive to and also because cases of coercion suggest that freedom of will requires the ability to be reason-unresponsive, indeed, that one can be flat out irrational. So there is no more reason to think that freedom of will is the capacity to make rational decisions than the ability to make irrational decisions. I want to develop those criticisms. The question that emerges is whether there is any single condition or capacity that constitutes freedom of will. Answering that question, requires understanding whether cases of coercion are genuine cases wherein one does not do what one does of one’s own free will. So we will spend some time at the end of the seminar studying nalyses/accounts of coercion—e.g., Nozick, Wertheimer.

955 Egalitarianism
4:00-6:00 T
Hausman

A draft syllabus for this seminar with 
extremely detailed information is posted on the web at: 
http://philosophy.wisc.edu/hausman/955Spring2009/955syllabus-Oct26.htm

961 God and Time
11:00 MWF
Yandell

See 502 Description