Winter 2009 Courses

Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Winter 2008 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.

Winter Courses

20100. Elementary Logic. Open to college students only. Course not for field credit. An introduction to the techniques of modern logic. These include the representation of arguments in symbolic notation, and the systematic manipulation of these representations in order to show the validity of arguments. If time permits there will be discussion of important early meta-theorems for these systems, including the Completeness Theorem for the predicate calculus, and the First Gödel Incompleteness Theorem. No prerequisites. T. Lockhart.

20702/30702. 20th Century Moral Philosophy. The mainstream tradition in analytic ethics has emphasized the notion of moral language as something restricted to central concepts, like good and right, and has thought that it had to furnish a general theory of reasons, of which Utilitarianism and Kantianism offer the crucial alternatives. Yet we find a different tradition in analytic ethics which has given prominence to the variety of concepts which shape one’s personal life and the life of a society. Concepts are here conceived as the expression of a whole world of facts, attitudes and activities, and are not restricted to moral choices and experiences in the narrow sense. This involves a rethinking of the idea that there is something such as moral language, of the distinction between facts and values, and of the very notion of the moral as distinguished from other spheres such as that of the aesthetic. It also involves a revision of what counts as giving reasons in moral thought. These various topics will be treated by discussing a number of authors, including Elizabeth Anscombe, Iris Murdoch, Stanley Cavell, Bernard Williams, Cora Diamond. The course will also examine some of the connections which this line in analytic ethics shares with the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. P. Donatelli. (A) (I)

21711. Aristotle's Politics. (= FNDL 22213). A close examination of Aristotle's political theory. Topics will include the relationship between the individual and the state, the virtues of citizenship and their relation to moral virtue, democracy, and the best political constitution. G. Lear. (A)

23405/33405. History and Philosophy of Biology. This lecture-discussion class will examine in an episodic fashion the basic biological ideas of the following theorists: the Hippocratics, Aristotle, Vesalius, William Harvey, Descartes, Buffon, Galvani and Volta (i.e., the spark of life), Bichat, Schleiden and Schwann (i.e. cell theory), Lamarck, Darwin, Mendel. The central questions of concern will be: what is life and how can it be experimentally and theoretically investigated? R. Richards. (B) (II)

23000/33000. Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology. Open to college students. This will be a general introduction to contemporary metaphysics in the Anglo-American tradition. The course is intended (primarily, anyway) for undergraduate Philosophy majors. J. Haugeland. (B)

23305/33305. History of Aesthetics. Readings from Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, and Collingwood among others. T. Cohen. (A) (I)

23600/36000. Medieval Philosophy. Open to college and grad students. Prerequisites: Phil 25000. This course involves a study of the development of philosophy in the West in the first thirteen centuries of the common era with focus on Neoplatonism. Early Christian philosophy, Islamic Kalam, Jewish philosophy, and Christian philosophical theology. Readings include works of Plotinus, Augustine, Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Maimonides, Averroes, and Thomas Aquinas. J. Stern. (IV)

25100. Evolutionary Theory and Its Role in the Human Sciences. (=BPRO 25100, HIPS 25801, HIST 25004) PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing. The course’s aim is two-fold: (1) an examination of the origins and development of Darwin’s theory from the early nineteenth century to the present; and (2) a selective investigation of the ways various disciplines of the human sciences (i.e., sociology, psychology, anthropology, ethics, politics, economics) have used evolutionary ideas. R. Richards. (B)

26000. History of Philosophy II: Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy. (=HIPS 26000) PQ: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities required; PHIL 25000 recommended. This course introduces the metaphysical thought of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Topics include the concept of substance, the mind-body problem, the part-whole relation, the principle of sufficient reason, causation, time, skepticism, the nature and existence of God, and free will. Readings include texts by Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas, Suarez, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Michael Kremer.

29200/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial: Self-Knowledge: Source, Status, and Scope. The topic of self-knowledge inhabits the intersection of epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of mind. In this course, we will be interested in the source, status, and scope of self-knowledge. Questions we will ask include: Is there a special source or mechanism (such as introspection or ‘inner sense’) by which we know ourselves? Does our self-knowledge have a special epistemic status? In what respect (if any) is it ‘immune to error’? Is the scope of self-knowledge restricted to knowledge of our own mental states? Does this distinctive kind of knowledge extend to knowledge of our actions, and thus of events in the material world? How might thinking about self-knowledge influence our understanding of ‘the self’? The bulk of our readings and discussions will concern debates about self-knowledge in contemporary analytic philosophy, though we will examine the origins of some key positions in early modern philosophy. Authors we will read will include: Descartes, Locke, Hume, Gilbert Ryle, G. E. M. Anscombe, Sydney Shoemaker, David Velleman, Quassim Cassam, David Finkelstein, and Richard Moran. W. Small.

29200/29300-02. Junior/Senior Tutorial: Russell: Logic and Knowledge. It has been said that of all the English-speaking philosophers of the twentieth century, Bertrand Russell is the “most read, most honored, and most reviled.” The first part of this course will focus on Russell’s Problems of Philosophy, and such questions as: What is the relationship between appearance and reality? What is the nature of a priori knowledge? Are there universals in addition to particulars? Does correspondence with a fact constitute the nature of truth? In the second part we’ll focus on Russell’s seminal theory of descriptions, important not only for its place in the philosophy of language, but also for its metaphysical implications. In order to provide both context and criticism for Russell’s thought, throughout the course we will read a variety of other philosophers, such as Frege, Meinong, Hylton, Kremer, Blackburn, Strawson, Donnellan, Kripke and Neale. S. Bosworth.

29901. Senior Seminar I. PQ: Consent of director of undergraduate studies. Required of fourth-year students who are writing a senior essay. The senior essay peer review workshop meets in all three quarters but students register for senior seminar in only two quarters. Students register for Senior Seminar I in either Autumn or Winter Quarter. NOTE: Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter. M. Kremer.

31220. Theories of Sex and Gender. Candace Vogler. (I)

27400/37400. Kant's Critical Philosophy. This course will be a survey of the major themes in all threes components of Kant's critical philosophy: his theory of transcendental idealism in his Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics; his moral theory in his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, and selected passages dealing with aesthetics from his Critique of Judgment. We shall be especially interested in how Kant understands the relationship among these components. The course will presuppose no prior knowledge of Kant, but prior courses in philosophy, especially modern philosophy, would be helpful. R. Pippin. (B) (V)

29700. Reading Course.

49900. Reading and Research.

Graduate Seminars

50600. Hegel’s Lectures on Fine Art. This seminar will concentrate on selected passages from Hegel’s lectures on the nature of art and on the most controversial and influential claims made in those lectures: that in the modern world, art has come to a kind of completion and can no longer have the significance it once had; that the beauty of nature is philosophically unimportant; that art is a form of self-knowledge and so that art works have a kind of truth value; and that the production and reception of art works is essentially historical. These lectures also introduce several seminal components of Hegel’s whole philosophical project and so can also serve as an introduction to Hegel theory of conceptual content, normative change, his account of the meaning of religion, the nature of self-knowledge, and the nature of human sociality. R. Pippin. (V)

50215. The Moral and Political Philosophy of John Stuart Mill. The seminar will cover the main topics of the moral and political works of J.S. Mill, from the early writings in the Thirties to classic masterpieces such as On Liberty and Utilitarianism to late essays such as the Address to the University of St. Andrews. We will explore a reading of Mill which rethinks the traditional role assigned to the two sides of his thought, the empiricist-utilitarian and the liberal, and gives prominence to a further distinctive line represented by perfectionism. The idea of the self as an object of cultivation and perfection runs through Mill’s writings and it may be reconceived as the main inspiration of his revision of the traditions of utilitarianism and liberalism. Mill thought that a liberal society which protects individual freedom and a utilitarian society interested in promoting the growth of science and well-being was one dominated by a perfectionist understanding of such notions as morality, human relations, religion, truth, personal ideals. P. Donatelli. (V)

51504. Action and Practical Knowledge. A person typically knows what she is doing intentionally. Is that because she observes herself doing it? And if not, what is the ground of her knowledge? G.E.M. Anscombe argues that knowledge of one’s own intentional action is knowledge of a very special kind, which she calls “practical”: it is not based on observation, but is, in the words of Aquinas, “the cause of what it knows.” In the last decade, philosophers of all sorts have taken a renewed interest in Anscombe, and especially in her doctrine of practical knowledge. We will examine this doctrine as well as the recent literature on the topic. Open to graduate students. A. Ford. (I)

51603. Active Thought. A widely accepted historical narrative celebrates the liberation achived by the modernist Fregean understanding of predication from the Aristotelian pre-modernist conceptions. The pre-modernist saw the inner composition of thoughts as displaying an intellectual act. Frege according to this widely accepted narrative had discredit this pre-modernist picture and gave us an act-free conception of logical unity of thoughts. Thus according the post Fregean understanding a person—a soul is logicaly speaking, non-active substance. On the face of it, the considerations Frege brought against the pre-modernist conception were strong. Yet we shall that by accepting them as conclusive modernist philosophy took a wrong turn. We present a conception of active thoughts which is not susceptible to the Fregean objections against the traditional conception. We shall consider the implications active conceptions of thoughts to our understanding of the nature of the soul and of Being. Professor Irad Kimhi.

53100. Bernard Williams on Ethics. This course will study the contributions of the late Bernard Williams to rethinking the core issues of modern moral philosophy. We will first examine early writings (Morality, essays in Problems of the Self) that began to call into question some of the key aspirations of abstract ethical theory and to develop views about ethical conflict that eventually form a key part of his substantive ethical views. We then turn to a group of writings in which Williams develops his critique of Utilitarianism, including "A Critique of Utilitarianism," the introduction to Utilitarianism and Beyond (edited with Amartya Sen), and later writing on Sidgwick. Next we examine Moral Luck, where Williams begins to develop his critique of Kantian ethics, and we follow that critique through a detailed study of the argument of his major book, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. (At this point we examine some criticisms of Williams made by contributors to a festschrift in his honor, and his reply to those criticisms.) We then consider a group of late writings in which Williams turned to (a version of) ancient Greek ethics for illumination: Shame and Necessity, and a group of posthumously collected essays. Finally, we study Truth and Truthfulness, his last completed book, for the light that it sheds on his constructive thinking about ethical critique. Prerequisite: This course is open by permission of the instructor, and those who wish to attend should e mail me by September 20, giving me an account of your prior preparation in philosophy. In general, an undergraduate philosophy major or the equivalent preparation is a necessary (though not sufficient) condition, and in some cases I will ask to see a philosophy paper to assess your preparation. M. Nussbaum.


51200. Law and Philosophy Martha Nussbaum, Brian Leiter

53900. Wittgenstein Pending

56100. Modern Philosophy Robert B Pippin, Anton Ford

59000. Philosophy of Mind David Finkelstein, Jason Bridges

59900. Contemporary Philosophy David Finkelstein

59910. Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy Gabriel Lear

59920. Formal Philosophy Kevin Davey