Spring 2007 Courses

Listed below are the courses the Department offered in the Spring 2007 quarter.

The Registrar's office has up to date scheduling information for all University of Chicago graduate and undergraduate courses.

College students may only enroll in courses whose first number is 2. Graduate students may only enroll in courses whose first number is 3 or higher.

Spring Courses

21000. Introduction to Ethics Open to college students.
Prerequisites: Some prior work in philosophy is helpful, but not required. . In this course, we will read, write, and think about central issues in moral philosophy. This survey course is designed to give a rapid introduction to philosophical ethics (largely in the Anglo-North American tradition (although not entirely as a product of Anglo-North American philosophers). We will begin with work by Immanuel Kant and Henry Sidgwick and conclude with important twentieth century work in metaethics and normative ethics (one thing that we will consider is the distinctions between metaethics, normative ethics, and the various fields united under the rubric 'applied ethics'). This course is intended as an introductory course in moral philosophy. (A) Candace Vogler. Spring 2007.

21101/31101. Introduction to the Philosophy of Music Open to college and grad students.
An introduction to topics in the philosophy of music, mainly by way of readings from contemporary authors. Among topics to be covered are: What is a musical work, what kind of thing? Is "absolute music" better than music with a text or a program? What explains the emotional effect of music? Is opera the best or the worst of the musical arts, or neither? Authors to be read include Peter Kivy, Stephen Davies, Jerrold Levinson, Kendall Walton, and Jenefer Roibinson. If time permits we will consider an earlier author, Adorno. Ted Cohen. Spring 2007. (I)

*Special note: (A)

21400. Happiness Open to college students.
From Plato to the present, notions of happiness have been at the core of heated debated in ethics and politics. Is happiness the ultimate good for human beings, the essence of the good life, or is morality somehow prior to it? Can it be achieved by all, or only by a fortunate few? These are some of the questions that this course engages, with the help of both classic and contemporary texts from philosophy, literature, and the social sciences. This course includes various video presentations and other materials stressing visual culture (A) R. Barton Schultz. Spring 2007.

*Special note: This course is taught by Jay Elliott

21691. Plato in Paris Open to college students.
It has been said that all of western philosophy is a footnote to Plato. This course will be an introduction to contemporary French philosophy via a study of the influence Plato has had on the major French philosophers of our time. We shall read crucial Platonic texts- among them, Symposium, Phaedrus, Laches, Apology - and at the same time read the interpretations that Foucault, Pierre Hadot, Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan have given to them. We shall concentrate on the following philosophical questions: What is it to have free speech? How can philosophy itself be a way of life? How can philosophy change one's soul? What is the nature of love? How does philosophy fit into a great city, like ancient Athens and contemporary Paris? No previous knowledge is required of Plato or of French philosophy. Jonathan Lear. Spring 2007.

*Special note: To be taught at The University of Chicago's Paris Center.

21715. Perceptual theory: inference, qualia and consciousness Open to college students.
The study of perception has generated a large literature in both philosophy and the empirical sciences. The course will examine the relation between philosophical thinking about perception and empirical results and theories concerning perception in several specific areas. The focus will be on the role of inference in perception, the qualitative character of sensory states and the nature of perceptual consciousness. Readings will be drawn from a wide range of contemporary and historical sources. No required books. Staff TBD. Spring 2007.

*Special note: This course is taught by David Hilbert

22900/32900. Seminar: Philosophy of Social Science Open to college and grad students.
This course considers philosophical issues in the social science, such as the interaction of factual, methodological, valuational issues, problems special to the historical sciences, issues of scale and hierarchy, the use of quantitative and qualitative methods, models of rationality and the relation between normative and descriptive theories of behavior, the nature of teleology, functional organization and explanation, social adaptations, levels of selection, and methodological individualism, cultural and conceptual relativity, and heuristics and problems with and strategies for analyzing complex systems. William Wimsatt. Spring 2007. (II)

*Special note: (B)

24902. Telling the Truth: Skepticism, Relativism and BullshitOpen to college students. Over the last few years, there has been a philosophical backlash against the perceived postmodern denigration of truth. The concept of truth, it is argued, must be returned to its rightful place in our discourse about science, politics and the arts. It is claimed that neglect of the concept has produced soft-headedness and weakened the resolve of progressive thinkers to resist incursions into education and government by their fundamentalist opponents. This class will begin with an examination of the recent backlash against relativism and return to the concept of truth. We will read portions of recent books by philosophers (including Simon Blackburn, Thomas Nagel and Bernard Williams) that take on relativism and argue for the value of truth. We will ask whether it is correct to say that relativist arguments are "self-undermining", as many influential defenders of truth (Thomas Nagel, and Bernard Williams, for example) have complained. We will read the most sophisticated philosophical critics of truth and try to appreciate why rejecting this concept has had such appeal. And we will read and watch popular expressions of skepticism about the possibility of "objective" truth. Along the way, we will consider whether it makes sense for everyone to agree that something is the case, and yet still be wrong; whether our claims to know certain things are always limited because they come from a particular perspective; what exactly "bullshit" is; and what value (if any) truth contributes to the good life. Staff TBD. Spring 2007.

*Special note: This course is taught by Nat Hansen

26005. Early Modern Philosophy and Science Open to college students.
This course will focus on two central questions. First, many philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries were also scientists. How did their roles complement each other or come into conflict? For instance how did Descartes's scientific research contribute to or pose challenges for his philosophy? Second, we will concentrate on the concern of the early modern period with proving realist claims. How successful were the efforts to prove (using reason and experiment) that we can construct a scientific or philosophical picture of external reality that is true independently of our own prospective? What did these efforts teach us about our own reason and understanding? (B) Staff TBD. Spring 2007.

*Special note: Taught by Lydia Patton. (B)

27000. History of Philosophy III: Kant and the Nineteenth Century Open to college students.
Prerequisites: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. . This course provides a broad introduction to the most important thinkers and themes in later 18th nd 19th century Philosophy. Michael Forster. Spring 2007.

27301/37301. The Principle of Sufficient Reason Open to college and grad students.
According to the Principle of Sufficient Reason every fact must have a reason, or explanation. In other words: there are no brute facts. If a certain penguin has three dots on its right wing - there must be a reason for this. If there are no penguins with precisely three dots on their right wings - there must be a reason for that as well. In the first half of the course we will read works by the two philosophers who introduced the principle: Spinoza and Leibniz. In the second part, we will read texts by Kant, Maimon, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and some contemporary analytic philosophers, and discuss the plausibility, implications, and justification of the principle. Yitzhak Melamed. Spring 2007.

*Special note: Full title: The Principle of Sufficient Reason in Early Modern and Continental Philosophy. Field V

29000/39700. Intermediate Logic - II: Incompleteness Open to college and grad students.
Prerequisites: Intermediate Logic - I or equivalent.. The focus of this course will be Godel's Incompleteness Theorems. We will prove these theorems in detail, and also discuss their broader philosophical implications. Kevin Davey. Spring 2007. (II)

*Special note: (B)

29200/29300. Junior/Senior Tutorial Open to college and grad students.
Prerequisites: Open only to philosophy majors. Title: "Absurdity and Human Nature" We will investigate the philosophical significance of the feeling that life is absurd. What does this feeling reveal about the nature of human existence? Is it simply the lived experience of philosophical skepticism? What, if any, are the consequences for how we lead our lives? In particular, is absurdity consistent with happiness? Readings will include: Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus, essays by Thomas Nagel, Stanley Cavell, Ernst Jentsch and Martin Heidegger, and excerpts from Plato's Symposium and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Staff TBD. Spring 2007.

*Special note: Taught by Kate Withy. Seniors should register for this course as PHIL 29300

29200/29300. Junior/Senior Tutorial Open to college and grad students.
Prerequisites: Open only to philosophy majors. Title: "Pleasure and the Good Life" Many of us think that ethical principles and sensibilities can help us lead the good life. It is much harder to believe that pleasure can guide us in our efforts to live a good life. While we would like to think that a decent life will be fulfilling and pleasant, the good life often requires sacrifice, and what we leave aside in our efforts to live ethically seems to be opportunities for pleasure and private advantage. Moreover, critical work in psychoanalysis and feminist theory has shown the sphere of intimacy - often taken to be the main site of pleasure - to be especially open to disappointment, disruption, and destructive illusions. Romantic love, friendship, and family - areas of our lives where we seek pleasure - also look to be areas where we cannot trust our own inclinations. In this course, we will explore the possibility that pleasure might guide us in our efforts to lead a flourishing human life. To what extent and in what ways can you trust your pleasures? Are there distinguishing marks for pleasures linked to ethical actions as compared to pleasures opposed to goodness? In examining these and related questions, we will read texts by Plato, Aristotle, Freud, Mill, MacKinnon, and several other feminist writers. In addition, we will analyze literary texts by Saunders, Mann, Gogol, Poe, and O'Connor to frame certain philosophical worries about pleasure and possibilities for answers. Staff TBD. Spring 2007.

*Special note: Taught by Erica Holberg. Seniors should register for this course as PHIL 29300

29902. Senior Seminar II Open to college students.
Prerequisites: PQ: Consent of director of undergraduate studies. . All students writing a B.A. Essay in the Philosophy Department must register for Philosophy 29901 ("Senior Seminar I") and Philosophy 29902 ("Senior Seminar II"). Philosophy 29901 is offered in both Autumn and Winter, and Philosophy 29902 is offered in both Winter and Spring. However: B.A. writers must EITHER register for Phil 29901 in the Autumn and Philosophy 29902 in the Winter, OR register for Phil 29901 in the Autumn and Philosophy 29902 in the Spring OR OR register for Phil 29901 in the Winter and Philosophy 29902 in the Spring. Students may not register for both courses in the Winter. Michael Kremer. Spring 2007.

*Special note: B.A. writers must attend all meetings of the work-in-progress workshop, which meets periodically over all three quarters. Contact the director of undergraduate studies for details.

43920. Action and Perception Open to grad students. The course will be devoted to exploring and assessing John McDowell's treatment of problems in the philosophy of perception (especially as set forth in his already classic work Mind and World) and the possibility of a parallel treatment of problems in the philosophy of action. In addition to some texts by McDowell and some selections from Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, and Wittgenstein, the seminar will focus mostly on writings on perception and/or action by Elizabeth Anscombe, Robert Brandom, Donald Davidson, Jennifer Hornsby, Brian O'Shaughnessy, John Searle, Michael Thompson, and Wilfrid Sellars. In the Winter Quarter, the course will be conducted by James Conant and Robert Pippin; in the Spring Quarter, the course will consist mostly of presentations of recent work on the philosophy of action by John McDowell and discussion of those presentations. Although the course meetings will be distributed over two quarters, it will count for only one quarter of credit. Students who wish to take the course for credit must attend the entire two-quarter sequence of the course Robert Pippin and James Conant . Spring 2007. (III)

*Special note: The course will be co-taught by John McDowell.

51602. Topics in Ethics: Action-based work in ethics II Open to grad students.
This seminar will be conducted as two courses, focused on recent work in ethics, but grounded in work by Elizabeth Anscombe. In Winter, we will read several of Anscombe's essays and the whole of Intention. We will then turn to more recent work by Philippa Foot, Tom Pink, and Michael Thompson. In Spring, we will consider work by David Velleman, John McDowell, Iris Murdoch, Warren Quinn, Doug Lavin and Rosalind Hursthouse. Throughout, we will be concerned with the fate of one strand of neo-Aristotelian as a foundationalist project in moral philosophy. The Winter term course will serve as a prerequisite for the Spring term course. Candace Vogler. Spring 2007. (I)

51815. Themes in Recent Political Philosophy: Recognition & Respect Open to grad students.
Over the last few decades, "recognition" has been a buzzword in political philosophy. Everyone, it seems, demands recognition. Yet it is far from clear what this amounts to. Is it a psychological state, and if so, whose psychological state? Or is it perhaps an institutional state of affairs? Moreover, why, precisely, is recognition so important? Does it soothe the soul? Satisfy a basic moral entitlement? Recognition is sometimes said to be connected to "respect." But how? And is that what makes it crucial? In this seminar, we examine central texts from the recognition debates to determine what is at stake and whether what is at stake is in fact of great importance. Daniel Brudney. Spring 2007.

53000. Frege Open to grad students.
Gottlob Frege was a mathematician by training, whose philosophical work was not widely known during his lifetime. His main philosophical project, the logicist reduction of arithmetic, collapsed at the height of his career with the discovery of Russell's paradox. Yet Michael Dummett credits Frege with a revolution in philosophy comparable to Descartes's. His innovations in logic and the philosophy of language have had a lasting influence on analytic philosophy, shaping thinkers as diverse as Russell, Wittgstein, Carnap, and Ryle. Recent years have seen attempts to revive his logicist project, fueled by careful attention to the details of his technical achievements in logic. We will study closely Frege's major writings: his innovative logic (Begriffsschrift, 1879); his logicist manifesto (Foundations of Arithmetic, 1884); his mature philosophy of logic and language ("Function and Concept," "On Sense and Meaning," "On Concept and Object," 1891-2); the final form of his logicist project (Basic Laws of Arithmetic, 1893, 1903); and his post-paradox writings (Logical Investigations, 1918-26) - supplemented from minor published works, correspondence, and unpublished writings. While major interpretations of Frege's thought will be discussed, the emphasis will remain on Frege's writings throughout. Time permitting, there may be a brief discussion of Frege's influence on the development of analytic philosophy. Michael Kremer. Spring 2007. (III)

*Special note: The requirement for the course will be a term paper. Interpretative and critical essays, as well as essays developing some aspect of Frege's thought in relation to contemporary issues, will be accepted.

53900. Workshop: Wittgenstein Open to grad students.
Prerequisites: Consent of instructor. This Workshop meets over three quarters. James Conant. Spring 2007.

54101. Consciousness Open to grad students.
When we try to make sense of unconscious states of mind--unconscious fears, desires, beliefs, and the like--we run into some of the same difficulties that we encounter when we think about the minds of young children and non-linguistic animals. Unconscious attitudes can seem to sit awkwardly between the conceptual and the non-conceptual, between the personal and the subpersonal, and between the mental and the non-mental. Relatedly, when a person acts on an unconscious desire, we are inclined to think of her as not-quite-responsible for the activity, but not entirely free of responsibility either. In this seminar, we'll be exploring the connections between consciousness, agency, concepts, and mindedness as such. We'll (probably) read work by Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Donald Davidson, Richard Rorty, Jonathan Lear, Sebastian Gardiner, Marcia Cavell, Daniel Dennett, John McDowell, and Richard Moran. David Finkelstein. Spring 2007. (III)

56000. Workshop: Early Modern Philosophy Open to grad students.
The purpose of the workshop is to provide a space for discussion of early modern philosophy among faculty and advanced graduate students, to bring to campus scholars working on innovative ideas, and to discuss relevant crucial and difficult texts. The workshop meets on alternate Fridays at 10:30 in the philosophy seminar room. For further details email Yitzhak Melamed (ymelamed@uchicago.edu) Yitzhak Melamed. Spring 2007.