Current and Upcoming Courses

Fall 2022 Courses

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101-1: Introduction to Philosophy

9:55am – 10:45am MWF
Instructor: TBD

Open to all students but preference will be given to Freshmen & Sophomores who have had no previous philosophy course other than 210, 211, 253 or 254.

101-2: Introduction to Philosophy

11:00am – 11:50am MWF
James Messina

In this course, you will gain a sense of what philosophy is, what it is good for, and how it is done. We will proceed by considering answers to philosophical questions like the following: What, if anything, makes me at 39 years old the same person I was when I was 16? Do I have an immortal soul? If death is the total and permanent annihilation of my existence, what attitude should I have towards it? Do I have free will? Does God exist? What is knowledge and what can be known? What kinds of actions are morally right and morally wrong? Is there even an objective morality? Is my life meaningful? Is it better to exist or not to exist? We will be reading a mixture of historical and contemporary sources. As will soon become clear, much of philosophy consists in formulating and evaluating arguments. Assuming you do the work, you can expect to emerge from this class with improved analytical skills and with an understanding of some fundamental philosophical issues.

101-3: Introduction to Philosophy

9:30am – 10:45am TR
Hayley Clatterbuck

An introduction to some of the major problems and methods of philosophy. We will start by inquiring about belief and testimony. Does free speech make society better? What’s wrong with conspiracy theories? We will then turn to the specific question of whether we should believe in God by surveying some of the most influential arguments for and against God’s existence. We will then consider questions about the metaphysics of persons. What makes me the same person over time? Do I have free will? Could an AI be a person? We will conclude by considering questions of ethics. What makes something right or wrong? Is it relative to a culture? Is it ever moral to disobey the law? To answer these questions, we will focus on various philosophical skills, such as argument reconstruction and thought experimentation. Discussion is highly encouraged!

101-4: Introduction to Philosophy

11:00am – 12:15pm TR
Instructor: TBD

Open to all students but preference will be given to Freshmen & Sophomores who have had no previous philosophy course other than 210, 211, 253 or 254.

101-5: Introduction to Philosophy

12:05pm – 12:55pm MWF
Instructor: TBD

Open to all students but preference will be given to Freshmen & Sophomores who have had no previous philosophy course other than 210, 211, 253 or 254.

101-6: Introduction to Philosophy

2:30pm – 3:45pm TR
Instructor: TBD

Open to all students but preference will be given to Freshmen & Sophomores who have had no previous philosophy course other than 210, 211, 253 or 254.

104-1: Spec Topics in Philosophy for Freshmen

Topic: Children, Marriage and the Family
2:30pm – 3:45pm MW
& 1:20pm – 2:10pm R
Harry Brighouse

This is a class in moral philosophy that examines the ethical questions surrounding family life. We shall be looking at a series of issues concerning a very specific area of morality: the issues concerning children, parents, and family life. What moral norms or values ought to guide both public policy and personal behavior? How should those norms guide us? So, it is very tightly focused on issues that you ought, already, to have thought about.

In addition to the philosophical readings, we will be reading a good deal of non-philosophical literature. In order to reflect critically on the norms and values relevant to the family, we have to know something about the family: what families have actually been like and what they actually are like, as well as about their effects on the social environment. Here are just three of the topics we will discuss:

• Should parents be licensed?

• Should the government promote marriage?

• How much should parents control their children’s values?

The class involves reading, a little lecturing, and a lot of discussion. The new ideas you encounter will stretch your imaginations, will also help you to think better about some of the central decisions in your life, like whether to have children, how to raise them, whether to marry (and if so, who you should choose!). We’ll form a community of learners: you will get to know your classmates. You will discover that, even within a small class, students have had very different experiences of family life, and you will get to understand and reflect on their perspectives. No prior exposure to philosophy is needed; and most students find, to their surprise, that they want to take at least another course on the same kinds of issues.

104-2: Spec Topics in Philosophy for Freshmen

Topic: Philosophy and Natural Science
1:00pm – 2:15pm TR Honors Only
Farid Masrour

For many centuries, philosophers have asked questions such as what kind of things exists in the world; is the mind only a material thing; are there moral rights or wrongs; do we have free will; what is the meaning of life? Suppose you think that scientific methods are

the best general methods for determining what is true and what is false. Does this mean that you should answer these philosophical questions in a specific way? Many scientists and scientifically-minded philosophers assume that the answer is Yes. For example, they think that scientific thinking demands that you believe that only physical things exist, that we do not have free will, or that there are no moral values. The goal of this course is to examine these assumptions. We will focus on some of these philosophical questions, survey some of the answers that philosophers have given to these questions and discuss which answers fit our sciences well, if any.

141-1: The Meaning of Life

9:55am – 10:45am MWF
Instructor: TBD

This course enters the subject of philosophy through a question that is familiar to nearly every student: What is the meaning of life? This question will be approached through reading both classical philosophical works (by Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Tolstoy, Kant, etc.) and the works of contemporary philosophers (Wolf, Nozick, Nagel, Kazez, etc.).

210-1: Reason in Communication

9:30am – 10:45am TR
Farid Masrour

211-1: Elementary Logic

12:05pm – 12:55pm MWF
Peter 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.

211-2: Elementary Logic

9:55am – 10:45am MWF
John Mackay

This course is an introduction to formal logic, the study of valid reasoning. We will study methods for proving that an argument is either valid or invalid. Validity, as we will understand it, depends on the form of arguments rather than on their content; we will therefore work with a formal, symbolic language in which the form of sentences is made explicit. We will study both truth–functional and quantificational logic and use a deductive proof procedure for each.

211-3: Elementary Logic

1:00pm – 2:15pm TR
Bruno Whittle

Logic is the study of arguments. An argument, in this sense, is a bit of reasoning, that starts from certain assumptions, and extracts some piece of information from these. For example: Helen is a bear; all bears gamble; therefore, Helen gambles. There are two things that we can ask about an argument. (a) Are the starting points true? And (b) does the end point really follow from these? We will focus on (b). (Your other classes should all, in one way or another, help you with (a).) We will learn some general techniques for determining whether a claim follows from some others. These will allow us to evaluate arguments regardless of their subject matter—be it chemistry, politics, or where to go for dinner. We will use a precise artificial language that allows perspicuous representations of natural language arguments, and that also allows rigorous methods for determining what follows from what.

241-1: Introductory Ethics (Fulfills Category B)

9:55am – 10:45am MWF
Instructor: TBD

Nature of moral problems and of ethical theory, varieties of moral skepticism, practical ethics and the evaluation of social institutions. Prerequisites: Sophomore Status.

241-2: Introductory Ethics (Fulfills Category B)

11:00am – 12:15pm TR
Russ Shafer-Landau

Nature of moral problems and of ethical theory, varieties of moral skepticism, practical ethics and the evaluation of social institutions. Prerequisites: Sophomore Status.

241-3: Introductory Ethics (Fulfills Category B)

11:00am – 11:50am MWF
Instructor: TBD

Nature of moral problems and of ethical theory, varieties of moral skepticism, practical ethics and the evaluation of social institutions. Prerequisites: Sophomore Status.

241-4: Introductory Ethics (Fulfills Category B)

2:30pm – 3:45pm TR
Instructor: TBD

Nature of moral problems and of ethical theory, varieties of moral skepticism, practical ethics and the evaluation of social institutions. Prerequisites: Sophomore Status.

243-1: Ethics in Business

9:55am – 10:45am MWF
Instructor: TBD

Case studies of moral issues in business; types or reasons appealed to for settlement.

243-3: Ethics in Business

1:00pm – 2:15pm TR
Instructor: TBD

Case studies of moral issues in business; types or reasons appealed to for settlement.

341-1: Contemporary Moral Issues

2:30pm – 3:45pm TR
Instructor: TBD

A philosophical study of some of the major moral issue in contemporary society, such as those concerning abortion, euthanasia, punishment, property, politics, sex, nuclear disarmament, and world hunger.

341-2: Contemporary Moral Issues

12:05pm – 12:55pm MWF
Instructor: TBD

A philosophical study of some of the major moral issue in contemporary society, such as those concerning abortion, euthanasia, punishment, property, politics, sex, nuclear disarmament, and world hunger.

341-3: Contemporary Moral Issues

1:00pm – 2:15pm TR
Instructor: TBD

A philosophical study of some of the major moral issue in contemporary society, such as those concerning abortion, euthanasia, punishment, property, politics, sex, nuclear disarmament, and world hunger.

341-4: Contemporary Moral Issues

11:00am – 11:50am MWF
Instructor: TBD

A philosophical study of some of the major moral issue in contemporary society, such as those concerning abortion, euthanasia, punishment, property, politics, sex, nuclear disarmament, and world hunger.

341-5: Contemporary Moral Issues

12:05pm – 12:55pm MWF
Instructor: TBD

A philosophical study of some of the major moral issue in contemporary society, such as those concerning abortion, euthanasia, punishment, property, politics, sex, nuclear disarmament, and world hunger.

341: Contemporary Moral Issues (Fulfills Comm B)

A philosophical study of some of the major moral issue in contemporary society, such as those concerning abortion, euthanasia, punishment, property, politics, sex, nuclear disarmament, and world hunger.

Lec. 91 8:50 – 9:40 MTWR
Lec. 92 9:55 – 10:45 MTWR
Lec. 93 11:00 – 11:50 MTWR
Lec. 94 12:05 – 12:55 MTWR
Lec. 95 1:20 – 2:10 MTWR
Lec. 96 11:00 – 11:50 MTWR

430-1: History of Ancient Philosophy

9:55am – 10:45am MWF
Paula Gottlieb
Metaphysics and Epistemology in Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Thales to Aristotle

Unscrupulous politicians, democracy in peril, foreign interference, fake information and the plague. Welcome to Athens in the fifth century BCE! The philosopher Socrates, who lived in such turbulent times, said that the unexamined life is not worth living, and his most famous follower, Plato, argued that the examined life requires consideration of what we can know (epistemology) and what exists (metaphysics). In this class we’ll be studying in depth, and with close attention to the texts, Plato’s, Aristotle’s and earlier 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 enduring objects? 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 a philosopher and what become is the difference between the philosopher and the sophist? Good participation in section is required. There will also be tutorials. Class participants will be asked to write a series of 1500-word essays answering specific and challenging questions on assigned texts or particular topics. They will then come in pairs to see the instructor for an hour or so, during which time they will read out and discuss their work. Grades will be assigned to the written work. The point of the tutorial is purely educational and fun.

432-1: History of Modern Philosophy

9:30am – 10:45pm TR
Instructor: TBD

From Descartes through Kant. Prerequisites: Jr st; 3 credits in philosophy or consent of instructor.

440-1: Existentialism

11:00am – 11:50am MWF
Henry Southgate

Feeling like life is absurd, that existence is meaningless? Worried that you aren’t living authentically? Then a course in Existentialism is just what you need. Study the classic texts of this intellectual movement that expressed despondency about Western civilization, its decadence, and its values, and that explored the implications of the concept of freedom for the nature of the self and the meaning of life. Along the way you’ll meet the likes of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, and De Beauvoir.

454-1: Classical Philosophers

1:20pm – 2:10pm MWF
Paula 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. We also meet the philosopher Diotima, and the anti-philosopher, Alcibiades. 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.

Good participation in section is required. There will also be tutorials. Class participants will be asked to write a series of 1500-word essays answering specific and challenging questions on assigned texts or particular topics. They will then come in pairs to see the professor for an hour or so, during which time they will read out and discuss their work. Grades will be assigned to the written work. The point of the tutorial is purely educational and fun.

454-2: Classical Philosophers

2:30pm – 3:45pm MW
Instructor: TBD

One or more classical philosophers, movements, or problems selected for intensive study. Prerequisites: Junior Status 3 credits in philosophy or consent of instructor.

454-3: Classical Philosophers

1:20pm – 2:10pm MWF Honors Only
Paula 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. We also meet the philosopher Diotima, and the anti-philosopher, Alcibiades. 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.

Good participation in section is required. There will also be tutorials. Class participants will be asked to write a series of 1500-word essays answering specific and challenging questions on assigned texts or particular topics. They will then come in pairs to see the professor for an hour or so, during which time they will read out and discuss their work. Grades will be assigned to the written work. The point of the tutorial is purely educational and fun.

503-1: Theory of Knowledge (Fulfills Category A)

1:20pm – 2:10pm MWF
James Messina

In this course, we will examine some topics of current debate in contemporary epistemology. Topics may include (but are not limited to): skepticism; the definition of knowledge (including whether and to what extent the concept of knowledge can and should be defined at all); the structure of knowledge; the nature of justification; the relationship between epistemology and natural science (to what extent can epistemology be “naturalized”?); the nature and evidentiary value of philosophical intuitions; and issues in social epistemology. Our readings will be, for the most papers, journal articles, and book chapters by contemporary philosophers.

511-1: Symbolic Logic

4:00pm – 5:15pm TR
Bruno Whittle

This class is a continuation of 211, and will assume a thorough knowledge of that material (but not anything beyond this). 211 is principally about what follows from what, i.e. which claims are logical consequences of which others. In this class we will take things up a level, and ask questions about the nature of logic itself, and also about its limits. Although these questions are deeply philosophical, they are tractable by precise formal methods, and that is the approach we will take in this class. For example, we will look at different ways of understanding the notion of logical consequence. Thus, we might say that P is a logical consequence of a set of claims X if P is true in any possible situation in which the members of X are. Alternatively, though, we might think that P is a consequence of X if there is a proof of P from X. These understandings of the notion of consequence seem quite different. We will establish, however, that they are in fact equivalent. We will also study results to the effect that logic and language are limited in certain surprising ways. Students will be asked to give rigorous proofs. However, familiarity with this practice will not be presupposed. Rather, one aim of the class is to introduce it.

516-1: Language and Meaning (Fulfills Category A)

2:30am – 3:45am MW
John Mackay

The course will cover some of the main themes in the philosophy of language. The human ability to communicate information about the external world through language is remarkable and raises a number of philosophical questions. Topics to be considered include: what it is for a linguistic expression to be meaningful; how it could come about that a linguistic expression – which is at some level just an arbitrary group of sounds or symbols – could have a meaning; how both the mind and the external world interact with language to determine meaning; how speakers use and manipulate language in different settings to communicate different kinds of information; and the way in which the meaning of a term depends on context.

520-1: Philosophy of the Natural Sciences (Fulfills Category A)

9:30am – 10:45am TR
Elliott Sober

In this course, we’ll investigate several philosophical questions about science, such as: (1)What’s the difference between science and non-science; (2) What is a scientific explanation? (3) What does it mean for an observation to provide evidence for a theory? (4) Should ethical and political values be allowed to affect scientific decision making? (5) Is the goal of science to discover true theories, or to discover theories that make accurate predictions, or both? (6) Is the fact that one theory is simpler than another a reason to believe the first and not believe the second? (7) What is the relationship of physics to other sciences – do facts discovered in other sciences “reduce” to physical facts? The course will make use of elementary ideas from the mathematical theory of probability.

520-2: Philosophy of the Natural Sciences (Fulfills Category A)

9:30am – 10:45am TR Honors Only
Elliott Sober

530-1: Freedom, Fate and Choice (Fulfills Category A)

4:00pm – 5:15pm TR
Instructor: TBD

This is a course on the freedom of the will. We will study the following: classic arguments from fatalism and determinism to the effect that human beings do not have free will; ‘compatibilist’ accounts of the freedom of the will which maintain that we can have free will even if past events and the laws of nature determine what we do; accounts of the freedom of the will which tie freedom to the agent’s ability to make rational decisions; whether is it possible to give an account of the freedom of the will that can account for all of the cases in which people intuitively do not do what they do of their own free will— e.g., cases in which the impediment seems internal and psychological, (addiction or phobia) and cases in which the impediment seems external (coercion). We will study some classical philosophers —Descartes, Locke, Moore— but most of the material will be from more contemporary sources—Peter Van Inwagen, David Lewis, P.F. Strawson, Rogers Albrittion, Gary Watson, Harry Frankfurt and others.

541-1: Modern Ethical Theories (Fulfills Category B)

11:00am – 12:15pm TR
Harry Brighouse

This course is an advanced introduction to contemporary thinking in ethical theory. It is impossible to understand the concerns of contemporary ethicists without some understanding of the two main kinds of ethical theory developed in the 18th and 19th centuries, consequentialism and deontology, so we spend some time looking at the most important developers of the variants of these kinds of theory, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. In the rest of the course, we shall look at various moral problems, whether it would be good for us to be saints, the ethics around benefitting from injustice, the preservation of existing value. We shall also look at the ethics of life creation, in the course of which we shall consider various theories of wellbeing and duty; and another book considering whether, and if so how, lives can be meaningful.

541-2: Modern Ethical Theories (Fulfills Category B)

9:55am – 10:45am MWF
Instructor: TBD

Ethical theories and problems as discussed in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Prerequisites: Junior Status 3 credits in philosophy or consent of instructor.

541-3: Modern Ethical Theories (Fulfills Category B)

11:00am – 12:15pm TR Honors Only
Harry Brighouse

This course is an advanced introduction to contemporary thinking in ethical theory. It is impossible to understand the concerns of contemporary ethicists without some understanding of the two main kinds of ethical theory developed in the 18th and 19th centuries, consequentialism and deontology, so we spend some time looking at the most important developers of the variants of these kinds of theory, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. In the rest of the course, we shall look at various moral problems, whether it would be good for us to be saints, the ethics around benefitting from injustice, the preservation of existing value. We shall also look at the ethics of life creation, in the course of which we shall consider various theories of wellbeing and duty; and another book considering whether, and if so how, lives can be meaningful.

543-1: Special Topics in Ethics

Topic: TBD
11:00am – 11:50am MWF
Instructor: TBD

Intensive study of ethical theory, or of one or more ethical theories or moral philosophers of the present or modern period. Variable content. Prerequisites: Junior Status 3 credits in philosophy or consent of instructor.

549-1: Great Moral Philosophers (Fulfills Category B)

2:30pm – 3:45pm TR
Russ Shafer-Landau

This course will consider a number of central moral questions: what is the nature of human flourishing? What is the ultimate standard of rightness? Where does morality come from? — as they are addressed in classic texts by Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Mill, and Ross.

549-2: Great Moral Philosophers (Fulfills Category B)

2:30pm – 3:45pm TR Honors Only
Russ Shafer-Landau

This course will consider a number of central moral questions: what is the nature of human flourishing? What is the ultimate standard of rightness? Where does morality come from? — as they are addressed in classic texts by Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Mill, and Ross.

551-1: Philosophy of the Mind (Fulfills Category A)

1:00pm – 2:15pm TR
Hayley Clatterbuck

In the past few centuries, science has been able to provide physical explanations of most phenomena and has rejected the existence of things that are purportedly non-physical (ghosts, souls, etc. However, despite the astonishing success of neuroscience, some aspects of the mind do not seem to yield to physical reduction. Unlike other physical objects, mental states have meaning. The mental states of others cannot be directly observed. Minds have subjective experiences; it feels like something to wake up or to eat a cheeseburger. We will consider various theories of how the mind relates to the physical world, including attempts to explain meaning and consciousness in those terms.

560-1: Metaphysics (Fulfills Category A)

11:00am – 11:50am MWF
Instructor: TBD

Major problems in metaphysics, such as: existence, universals and particulars, space and time, individuals, categories, substance and attribute, necessity. Prerequisites: Junior Status and 3 credits in philosophy or consent of instructor.

562-1: Special Topics in Metaphysics

Topic: Time Travel
11:00am – 11:50am MWF
Peter Vranas

If you believe that time travel is a frivolous topic, good for science fiction but not for rigorous scientific or philosophical investigation, think again. The physical possibility of time machines has recently become the subject of an active debate in leading physics journals. Concurrently, the philosophical literature concerning the metaphysical issues related to time travel has mushroomed. This course examines the physics, the metaphysics, and the paradoxes of time travel. No knowledge of physics is presupposed.

562-2: Special Topics in Metaphysics

Topic: TBD
1:00pm – 2:15pm TR
Instructor: TBD

An intensive study of one or more topics such as: existence, universals and particulars, space and time, individuals, individuation, categories, substance and attribute, necessity, events and processes. Prerequisites: Junior Status 3 credits in philosophy or consent of instructor.

562-3: Special Topics in Metaphysics

Topic: TBD
9:55am – 10:45am MWF
Instructor: TBD

An intensive study of one or more topics such as: existence, universals and particulars, space and time, individuals, individuation, categories, substance and attribute, necessity, events and processes. Prerequisites: Junior Status 3 credits in philosophy or consent of instructor.

562-4: Special Topics in Metaphysics

Topic: Time Travel
11:00am – 11:50am MWF Honors Only
Peter Vranas

If you believe that time travel is a frivolous topic, good for science fiction but not for rigorous scientific or philosophical investigation, think again. The physical possibility of time machines has recently become the subject of an active debate in leading physics journals. Concurrently, the philosophical literature concerning the metaphysical issues related to time travel has mushroomed. This course examines the physics, the metaphysics, and the paradoxes of time travel. No knowledge of physics is presupposed.

701 Reading Seminars (combined with Graduate Seminars)

Instructor Consent

701-001 Reading Seminars

Topic: Spinoza
1:15pm – 3:15pm W
Steven Nadler

701-001 meets with 835. Please see the description of 835 below.

701-003 Reading Seminars

Topic: Concepts in Evolutionary Biology
4:00pm – 6:00pm T
Elliott Sober

701-003 meets with 920-1. Please see the description of 920-1 below.

701-004 Reading Seminars

Topic: Animal Bioethics
4:00pm – 6:00pm R
Robert Streiffer

701-004 meets with 941-1. Please see the description of 941-1 below.

701-005 Reading Seminars

Topic: Social Metaphysics
4:00pm – 6:00pm M
Instructor: TBD

701-005 meets with 960-1. Please see the description of 960-1 below.

701-006 Reading Seminars

Topic: Morality of Defensive Harm
1:15pm – 3:15pm F
Instructor: TBD

701-006 meets with 941-2-1. Please see the description of 942-2 below.

835-1 Advanced History-Philosophy

Topic: Spinoza
1:15pm – 3:15pm W
Steven Nadler

The seminar will be devoted to a close reading of Spinoza’s Ethics, focusing on the work’s metaphysical, epistemological and moral themes.

902-1 Proseminar in Philosophy

Topic: Proseminar
1:15pm – 3:15pm M
Martha Gibson

904-1 Teaching Philosophy

5:30pm – 7:30pm W
Harry Brighouse

Becoming a better teacher requires that you have good content knowledge, but it also involves the development and practice of complex skills. What we’ll do in this class is very preliminary: we’ll introduce you to some specific strategies that will help you induce your students to learn; we’ll develop a common language for discussing teaching and (by actually discussing specific instances of teaching and learning); and we’ll introduce you to some intellectual resources for considering and reflecting on the kinds of issues that will arise regularly throughout your career as a teacher. Because we want to introduce strategies, because strategies can’t work without content, and because there is some literature we want you to think about, we’ll structure most classes by using the strategies we want you to learn to facilitate discussion of the literature we want you to think about.

920-1 Seminar-Philosophy of Science

Topic: Concepts in Evolutionary Biology
4:00pm – 6:00pm T
Elliott Sober

In this seminar, we will examine several key concepts in evolutionary biology – fitness, natural selection, units of selection, adaptation, mutation, drift, common ancestry, phylogenetic trees, and species. The goal is to address metaphysical and epistemological questions that pertain to these concepts. Probability is an analytic tool that will be relevant to some of these topics, so the seminar will begin with the ABCs of probability. Questions from general philosophy of science will come up as well – for example, questions concerning the interpretation of evidence, scientific realism, instrumentalism, operationalism, causality, laws, essentialism, and the principle of parsimony.

941-1 Seminar-Ethics

Topic: Animal Bioethics
4:00pm – 6:00pm R
Robert Streiffer

We will look in detail at some of the main philosophical approaches to animal ethics, selected from classical utilitarian (e.g., Peter Singer), two-level utilitarian (Gary Varner), classical animal rights (Tom Regan), neo-Kantian (Korsgaard), capabilities (Nussbaum), hybrid (Robert Streiffer and David Killoren, Jeff McMahan), relationalist (Robert Streiffer and David Killoren, Baruch Brody, Clare Palmer), political (Sue Donaldson, Will Kymlicka, Robert Garner), feminist care (Josephine Donavan, Lori Gruen), hierarchical deontological (Shelly Kagan), and consensus-based mid-level principle (Beauchamp and DeGrazia) approaches. We will also discuss some of the practical implications of these approaches for human-animal relationships in animal research and in animal agriculture.

941-2 Seminar-Ethics

Topic: Morality of Defensive Harm
1:15pm –3:15pm F
Instructor: TBD

The first is to introduce you to several contemporary debates in the normative ethics of self-defense. The second is to examine how these debates bear on other domains of normative ethics and political philosophy. We will pay special attention to war and punishment, but broach several other topics along the way. Readings will be drawn from the work of Cécile Fabre, Helen Frowe, Jeff McMahan, Jonathan Quong, Victor Tadros, and Judith Jarvis Thomson among others.

960-1 Metaphysics Seminar

Topic: Social Metaphysics
4:00pm – 6:00pm M
Instructor: TBD

In social metaphysics the tools of analytic metaphysics are applied to the social world. In this graduate seminar we will survey different methodologies for social metaphysics including social metaphysics as philosophy of social science, social metaphysics as an emancipatory political project, deflationist social metaphysics, and social essentialism. On the way we will explore methodological and meta-metaphysical issues raised by the prospect of social metaphysics.

Summer 2022 Courses

104 Special topics in Philosophy for Freshmen

June 20– July 17
MTWR 8:55 – 11:35
Instructor: Joel Ballivian

Prerequisites: Open to Freshmen with no previous college level coursework in philosophy.

After the 2015 publication of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay, “The Case for Reparations,” we have witnessed a resurgence of interest in the question of reparations for historic injustice in the U.S. This class is an opportunity to explore the reparations debate more carefully, with specific attention on historic injustices against Black Americans. We will consider cases like slavery, Jim Crow, land theft from indigenous groups, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, and the ongoing impact of certain injustices. Various puzzles and questions regarding reparations will be explored. What moral justification is there for reparations? Who is responsible for repairing historic injustice? Is it fair to make innocent people bear some of the financial burden of reparations? How will reparations be financed? What policies will help resolve the impact of historic injustice? Will reparations work? What is the place of forgiveness and radical truth-telling in the reparations process? Why has the U.S. been so reluctant to pursue reparations for past injustices against Black Americans, despite offering compensation to interred Japanese Americans during WII as well as some victims of the holocaust? To explore these questions, we will immerse ourselves in class discussion centered on contemporary activist and scholarly work.

210 Reason in Communications (Fulfills QR-A)

June 20 – August 14
Online Asynchronous
Instructor: Farid Masrour

Interested in improving your skills in recognizing, evaluating, and engaging in reasoning with the added bonus of satisfying a QR-A requirement? If so, this course is for you. Throughout the course you will learn to recognize and analyze reasoning as it occurs in everyday discourse, to recognize and analyze the effect of rhetorical devices, and to follow basic logical principles and avoid common logical fallacies. We will pay special attention to reasoning in mass communication media. The course is entirely online. So, you can take it in an environment of your choice and with a timetable that fits your schedule.

211 Elementary Logic (Fulfills QR-B)

June 20 – July 17
MTWR 1:10 – 3:50
Instructor: Michael Schon

Prerequisites: Sophomore Status. This course will cover how to prove the (in)validity of arguments using first order logic with identity. We will begin by covering sentential logic and monadic predicate logic in order to build the skills required for the more complicated logical system that is first-order logic with identity. The focus will be on translations and proofs by natural deduction.

241 Introduction to Ethics

May 23 – June 19
MTWR 8:55 – 11:35
Instructor: Jesse Steinberg

In deciding how to act, we frequently guide ourselves by principles which forbid or require various kinds of action. Moral philosophy is the attempt to systematically explore a number of questions which arise in connection with such principles. We may ask, for example: What is it for a principle to be a moral principle? Is morality a matter of personal or cultural preference? Is God the source of morality? Why should I be moral? Is there any way for us to know what one ought to do in a given circumstance? Is it morally permissible to eat meat? Are we obligated to help others in need (and, if so, to what extent)? Is torture is ever justified? This course will examine moral questions like these and the answers suggested by various moral philosophers.

304 Topics in Philosophy – Humanities

June 20 – July 17
MTWR 8:55 – 11:35
Instructor: Joel Ballivian

After the 2015 publication of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay, “The Case for Reparations,” we have witnessed a resurgence of interest in the question of reparations for historic injustice in the U.S. This class is an opportunity to explore the reparations debate more carefully, with specific attention on historic injustices against Black Americans. We will consider cases like slavery, Jim Crow, land theft from indigenous groups, the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, and the ongoing impact of certain injustices. Various puzzles and questions regarding reparations will be explored. What moral justification is there for reparations? Who is responsible for repairing historic injustice? Is it fair to make innocent people bear some of the financial burden of reparations? How will reparations be financed? What policies will help resolve the impact of historic injustice? Will reparations work? What is the place of forgiveness and radical truth-telling in the reparations process? Why has the U.S. been so reluctant to pursue reparations for past injustices against Black Americans, despite offering compensation to interred Japanese Americans during WII as well as some victims of the holocaust? To explore these questions, we will immerse ourselves in class discussion centered on contemporary activist and scholarly work.

341 Contemporary Moral Issues (Fulfills COMM-B)

May 23 – June 19
MTWR 1:10 – 3:30
Instructor: Peter Vranas

Under what circumstances, if any, is abortion morally permissible? Should the death penalty be abolished? What causes terrorism, and is it ever morally permissible to torture terrorists? This course teaches students how to think systematically about these fascinating questions. The emphasis is not on defending particular answers but is instead on providing students with the tools they need to reach their own answers.