Autumn 2007 Courses

Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Autumn 2007 quarter. These course lists may change.

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.

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Autumn Courses

Open to Undergraduates:

21215. Art and Morality. This course will examine the relation between art and morality in two directions: first, by asking whether moral considerations should have anything to do with our aesthetic judgments; and second, by asking how art can affect our moral lives---that is, whether art has the power to make people better (or worse). Moral problems connected with non-representational arts such as music will receive special attention. Authors considered will include Plato, Hume, Kant, Schiller, Sartre, Adorno, and several contemporary philosophers of art. (A) Brian Soucek.

23000. Introduction to Epistemology. This course will introduce students to a range of the most central questions in contemporary theory of knowledge and some classic attempts to answer them. We will focus on the concepts of knowledge and justification, asking what knowledge is, whether we can have it (and, if so, of what), what its sources, structure and limits are, what justification is, what justifies justified beliefs, and whether justification is internal or external to one's own mind. In the final weeks of the course, we will turn to look at Wittgenstein's discussion of knowledge, certainty and scepticism in his On Certainty. (B) Edmund Dain.

24800. Foucault and the History of Sexuality. Prerequisites: Prior philosophy course or consent of instructor. This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed. (A) Arnold Davidson.

25000. History of Philosophy - I: Ancient Philosophy. Prerequisites: Completion of the general education requirement in Humanities. An examination of ancient Greek philosophical texts that are foundational for Western philosophy, especially the work of Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the nature and possibility of knowledge and its role in human life; the nature of the soul; virtue; happiness and the human good. Gabriel Richardson Lear.

25704. Plato's Republic. This course will guide students through a careful reading of Plato's Republic. Among questions we shall consider: What is justice and why think of it as a human excellence? What is the relation between politics, human psychology and metaphysics? Why does Plato write in dialogue form and why does he use myths, allegories and images in the course of his argument? What are the problems with democracy as Plato understood it? (A) Jonathan Lear.

29601 Intensive Track Seminar: Thomas Kuhn's Philosophy of Science.
The first half of the course will be devoted to a close reading of Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In the second half, we will examine Kuhn's subsequent elaborations, modifications, and retractions of the views set forth in that work, especially as they touch on the following questions: What is a scientific revolution?, What does it mean to say that X and Y are incommensurable?, And, if they are, what would one be claiming, if X and Y are theories?, Or, alternatively, if they are conceptual schemes?, Or if they are languages? How does each of these claims differ from the other two? Which, if any, of these three incommensurability claims entail relativism, which do not, and which, if any, of the resulting forms of relativism are vicious? James Conant.

Open to Graduates and Undergraduates:

2000/ 3000-level Philosophy of Language. This course introduces some central theories and currents in contemporary analytic philosophy of language. In the first half of the course we will discuss some positive, systematic attempts to give an account of meaning, starting with Frege's distinction between sense and meaning (or reference) and Russell's response to Frege here. The second half of the course will turn to scepticism about meaning and Saul Kripke's influential argument, drawing on the later Wittgenstein, that there can be no such thing as meaning anything by any word. We will look in detail at that argument, as well as at Kripke's own attempted solution to it, before turning to some of the most central responses to it in contemporary philosophy of language in the works of, e.g., Colin McGinn, Crispin Wright and John McDowell. Edmund Dain.

20100 / 30000. Elementary Logic. Course not for field credit. An introduction to the concepts and principles of symbolic logic: valid and invalid argument, logical relations among sentences and their basis in structural features of those sentences, formal languages and their use in analyzing statements and arguments of ordinary discourse (especially the analysis of reasoning involving truth-functions and quantifiers), and systems for logical deduction. Throughout, we are attentive to both general normative principles of valid reasoning and the application of these principles to particular problems. Time permitting, the course ends with a brief consideration of set theory. Kevin Davey.

20610 / 30610. Goethe: Literature, Science and Philosophy. This lecture-discussion course will examine Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's intellectual development, from the time he wrote Sorrows of Young Werther through the final stages of Faust. Along the way, we will read a selection of Goethe's plays, poetry, and travel literature. We will also examine his scientific work, especially his theory of color and his morphological theories. On the philosophical side, we will discuss Goethe's coming to terms with Kant (especially the latter's Third Critique) and his adoption of Schelling's transcendental idealism. The theme uniting the exploration of the various works of Goethe will be the unity of the artistic and scientific understanding of nature, especially as he exemplified that unity in "the eternal feminine." German is not required, but helpful. (A) (V) Robert Richards.

21405 / 31405. Liberalisms. The course looks at three great texts in the liberal tradition: John Locke's Second Treatise of Government, J.S. Mill's On Liberty, and John Rawls's Political Liberalism. We will examine these texts both to explore the evolution of liberalism and to determine the criteria a defensible modern liberalism must satisfy. (A) (I) Daniel Brudney.

21615/31615. Meaning and Scepticism. This course introduces some central theories and currents in contemporary analytic philosophy of language.  In the first half of the course we will discuss some positive, systematic attempts to give an account of meaning, starting with Frege's distinction between sense and meaning (or reference) and Russell's response to Frege here.  The second half of the course will turn to scepticism about meaning and Saul Kripke's influential argument, drawing on the later Wittgenstein, that there can be no such thing as meaning anything by any word.  We will look in detail at that argument, as well as at Kripke's own attempted solution to it, before turning to some of the most central responses to it in contemporary philosophy of language in the works of, e.g., Colin McGinn, Crispin Wright and John McDowell. (B) (III)  Edmund Dain.

22500 / 32500. Biological and Cultural Evolution. Prerequisites: Third- or fourth-year standing or consent of instructor. Core background in evolution and genetics strongly recommended. This course draws on readings and examples form linguistics, evolutionary genetics, and the history and philosophy of science. We elaborate theory to understand and model cultural evolution, as well as explore analogies, differences, and relations to biological evolution. We also consider basic biological, cultural, and linguistic topics and case studies from an evolutionary perspective. Time is spent both on what we do know, and on determining what we don't. (B) (II) William Wimsatt. Co-taught by S. Mufwene Additional idents: BPRO 23900, NCDV 27400.

23900 / 33900. Austin. Our readings are in the works of J. L. Austin, mainly How to Do Things with Words, and essays related to those lectures. If time permits, we consider later developments in the works of Grice and Cavell, among others. (B) (III) Ted Cohen.

27201 / 37201. Spinoza's Theological Political Treatise. The course is an in-depth study of Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. Among the topics to be discussed are: Spinoza's Bible criticism, the nature of religion, truth and obedience, the nature of the Hebrew State, Spinoza's Theory of the State, the freedom to philosophize, and finally, the metaphysics of Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise. (A) (V) Yitzhak Melamed

Open to Graduate Students:

50100. First-year Seminar. Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students. Meets in Autumn and Winter quarters. David Finkelstein.

50115. Joseph Raz's Morality of Freedom. Description: In this seminar we will investigate a family of issues that arise in Joseph Raz's 1986 book The Morality of Freedom. Topics will include practical reason, including Raz's claim that some reasons exclude or preempt others; well-being, including Raz's claim that the sources of value for human beings are multiple and at times incommensurable; political neutrality, including especially its relation to Raz's ideal of autonomy; and legal positivism, including its implications for the relationship between law and morality and for the nature and extent of obligations to obey the law. We will supplement The Morality of Freedom with other of Raz's writings and with various secondary articles on Raz's work. (I) Jonathan Garthoff.

50210. Philosophy of Science: Induction. This course will survey some modern attempts to explain how non-deductive inferences can be justified. We will begin by critically examining Hume's account of induction, and will then move on to more contemporary approaches to the problem of induction, exploring pragmatic, rationalistic and externalist defenses of induction. Strawson's more sweeping criticism of the problem of induction will also be examined. Time permitting, we will consider other topics such as Goodman's 'new' problem of induction, and probabilistic accounts of inductive justification. (II) Kevin Davey.

50220. Plato's Philosophy of Art. For Plato, the nature of poetry, music, and dance is primarily an ethical matter. Not only do the mimetic arts develop ethical character but also, interestingly, the activity of the poet (or performer) is itself a paradigmatic case of a certain form of life. In this seminar we will study the Ion and relevant selections from the Republic and Laws with a view to understanding these and other issues of concern to Plato (e.g., the ontological status of poetry; the criteria of poetic beauty) in his discussions of mimetic art. (IV) Gabriel Richardson Lear.

51200. Seminar: Law & Philosophy. Prerequisites: Students are admitted by permission of the instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) by September 20 to Nussbaum and Anderson by e-mail. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students. This is a seminar/workshop most of whose participants are faculty from various area institutions. It admits approximately ten students by permission of the instructors. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. There are twelve meetings throughout the year, always on Mondays from 4 to 6 PM. Half of the sessions are led by local faculty, half by visiting speakers. The leader assigns readings for the session (which may be by that person, by other contemporaries, or by major historical figures), and the session consists of a brief introduction by the leader, followed by structured questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Writing Requirement. The schedule of meetings will be announced by mid-September, and prospective students should submit their credentials to both instructors by September 20. Past themes have included: practical reason; equality; privacy; autonomy; global justice; pluralism and toleration; war; sexuality and family. The theme for 2007-8 will be Coercion. People whom we are planning to invite include Catharine MacKinnon, Stephen Schulhofer, Cass Sunstein, Bernard Harcourt, Marcia Baron, and Alan Wertheimer. Martha Nussbaum.
*Special note: This course is co-taught by Martha Nussbaum and Scott Anderson (Law-Philosophy Fellow, The Law School and Assistant Professor of Philosophy, The University of British Columbia).

52300. Education and Moral Psychology. This seminar will study some classic works in the philosophy of education, asking what account of children they articulate and how their educational proposals are connected both to psychological analysis and to normative ethical and political ideas. Included will be philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, the Greek and Roman Stoics, Rousseau, Kant, J. S. Mill, Dewey, and Rabindranath Tagore, but also thinkers about childhood and education who were not professional philosophers, such as Friedrich Froebel, Johann Pestalozzi, Maria Montessori, and Donald Winnicott. We will ask about how education is related to important goals of the personal life, such as happiness and autonomy, but also how it is related to important goals of a shared political life, such as mutual respect and compassionate attention to human need. (I) Martha Nussbaum.

58500. French Philosophy. Prerequisites: Reading knowledge of French required. A close reading of Michel Foucault's 1978-1979 course at the College de France, Naissance de la Biopolitique. Some attention will also be paid to related writings of Foucault in this period. (I) Arnold Davidson.

58501. Identity Matters. 'Identity' is obviously an important theme in the social sciences and in contemporary philosophy, but is there a coherent concept of identity at work in the current so-called 'discourses about identity' ? The aim of the course will be to try to make sense of this special notion of identity. First, the notion of a "crisis of identity' (Erik H. Erikson) will be traced back to two of its intellectual roots, namely the empiricist psychology of the self (William James) and the tradition of expressivism (as exemplified by the German ideas of 'Umwelt' and 'Bildung'). Then, the course will explore the metaphysical background of the concept of self-consciousness, drawing on the Fregean notion of a "criterion of identity' (as used first by Wittgenstein in his 'philosophy of psychology' and then by Elizabeth Anscombe in her paper on "The First Person"). In a third step, we will spell out some consequences of these thoughts about criteria of identity for various issues of personal, existential and collective identity. (III) Vincent Descombes.

53900. Wittgenstein Workshop. James Conant and Michael Kremer.
56000. Early Modern Workshop. Yitzhak Melamed.
58600. Continental Philosophy. Arnold Davidson
59000. Philosophy of Mind Workshop. David Finkelstein and James Conant.
59910. Workshop: Ancient Philosophy. Gabriel Richardson Lear.
59900. Contemporary Workshop. David Finkelstein.