Spring 2012 Courses

Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Spring 2012 quarter. This course list may change.

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

Note: College students may only enroll in courses whose first number is 2 without prior permission from the instructor. A College student who has secured prior permission to sign up for a course from the instructor may, in that case and only in that case, enroll in a course whose first number is larger than 2.

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

Note: Letters A and B refer to undergraduate field designations; Roman numerals I-V refer to graduate field designations.

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If you click on the image or link below, you will find an enlargeable image of a chart which perspicuously represents the weekly meeting times of our Spring 2012 Courses. Once the chart has opened in a new window, you can enlarge the image to whatever size you like in order to make it easier to read.

Spring Courses at-a-glance - PDF

Open to Undergraduates:
21211.  Hamlet.  (=SCTH 25701, FNDL 23513)  Hamlet is probably the most famous character in world literature and thus also its most famous philosophy student.  Consequently he speaks with a certain authority when he says: “There are more things under heaven and earth, Horatio/than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” The aim of our reading of the play will be to seek to illuminate the meaning of this “more” -- a something further e.g., a dream, a ghost, a play, which does not lie beyond the world, but within it, “in heaven and earth”. I. Kimhi.

21610. Medical Ethics:  Who Decides and on What Basis? (=BPRO 22610,  BIOS 29313, HIPS 21911) PQ: Third or Fourth year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the biological science major. Decisions about medical treatment take place in the context of changing health care systems, changing ideas about rights and obligations, and among doctors and patients who have diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.  By means of historical, philosophical, and medical readings, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, the commodification of the body, and the enhancement of mental and/or physical characteristics. D. Brudney, J. Lantos (Biology).

21712. Aristotle’s syllogistic. (=CLCV 25611) This course is an introduction to Aristotle’s theory of deductive inference. Readings will be drawn from the Prior Analytics  and other works of the Organon. Examples of questions we will discuss are: What is Aristotle’s conception of deduction (syllogismos), and how does it differ from modern conceptions? How can ordinary language arguments be formalized within the Prior Analytics’ syllogistic theory? What role do deductions play in Aristotle’s dialectics (Topics) and theory of science (Posterior Analytics)? We will also look at Aristotle’s justification of perfect syllogisms, proofs by reductio ad impossibile, proofs by ecthesis, the square of opposition, and what is known as the problem of existential import. The course will not presume any prior familiarity with symbolic logic. M. Malink.

23010. Knowledge and Freedom. In this course, we'll be concerned with a pair of related topics: (1) If you want to know what I think, feel, imagine, or intend, I'm usually the best person to ask. Why is this? How am I able to speak about my own conscious states of mind so easily, accurately, and authoritatively? What distinguishes a conscious belief, hope, or fear from an unconscious one? (2) What's the differences between free action and unfree action or mere behavior? It seems natural to say that in order to act freely, someone must know what he is doing, and, to a certain extent, what's moving him to do it. What exactly is the connection between self-knowledge and freedom? Can a nonlinguistic animal act freely? (B) D. Finkelstein.

24002. Language and Skepticism. Open to students who have been admitted to the Paris Humanities program. This course will be taught at the Pairs Humanities Program. In this course we will examine the relationship between two central concerns of Western philosophy: language and skepticism.
Philosophical skepticism denies the possibility of wide swaths of human knowledge —up to and including everything we might think we know about the world outside our minds.  The most famous and influential skeptical argument is in René Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, and we will spend the first part of the course examining this text in detail.
20th century philosophy had a deep interest in language, largely funded by the conviction that understanding language is the key to solving, or perhaps dissolving, philosophical problems. This orientation may be viewed as a manifestation of the Modernistic preoccupation with the media of human thought and activity.
We will spend the bulk of the course examining three 20th-century attempts to solve the problem of philosophical skepticism through reflection on the nature of language.  The first is logical empiricism, which aimed to show that purported statements of skepticism or of other sweeping philosophical doctrines are meaningless.  The second is ordinary-language philosophy, according to which arguments for skepticism depend upon distortions of our ordinary practices of offering and assessing claims of knowledge.  The third is the contemporary movement of contextualism, which traces the skeptical threat to a failure to grasp the pervasive context-sensitivity of meaning. We will ask in each case whether the claims made about the nature of language can be sustained, and whether they really do have the power to defeat the skeptical challenge.

We close the course with an examination of some of the larger questions about the nature of linguistic meaning raised by our preceding discussion, focusing on the work of Jean-François Lyotard and François Recanati. J. Bridges.

27000. History of Philosophy III: Kant and the Nineteenth Century. PQ: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. This course attempts to provide a broad survey of German philosophy from the time of Kant into the nineteenth century. Topics covered include: Kant's transcendental idealism; Herder's philosophy of language; Romantic theories of interpretation and translation; Hegel's project in the "Phenomenology of Spirit"; Marx's theory of ideology and critique of religion; and Nietzsche's critiques of religion and traditional morality. The course consists mainly of lectures, but discussion is also encouraged. M. Forster.

29200/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Stoic Ethics. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. Among the philosophical schools that emerged during the Hellenistic period - ushered in by the death of Aristotle in 322 B.C. and the demise of the Greek city-state as the foundational political institution - Stoicism would enjoy the greatest success, eventually receiving advocates at both the highest (e.g. the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius) and lowest (e.g. the former slave Epictetus) levels of society.  But what was it about Stoicism that made it have such appeal then, and can it have a similar appeal to us today?  Unlike Aristotle who drew a distinction between the theoretical and practical applications of reason, the Stoics retained the Platonic unity of reason on which a theoretical understanding of reality directly informs our practical aims.  But unlike Plato who believed such an understanding must ultimately appeal to an immaterial world of Forms, the Stoics held that the object of understanding was nature itself, and that happiness consisted in living ‘in accordance with nature’.  However else we are to understand this cryptic phrase, it involved, for the Stoics, two further innovations that went beyond anything in Plato and Aristotle: an understanding of freedom in a deterministic cosmos, and the first full-blooded theory of cosmopolitanism - the view that the cosmos is a community of all rational beings.  In this course, we will try to come to grips with the central issues of Stoic ethics, including: the Stoic conception of reason; the theory of oikeiosis; the Stoic understanding of fate and responsibility; the theory of preferred indifferents; law and cosmopolitanism.  The readings will come primarily from the original source materials contained in Long and Sedley’s The Hellenistic Philosophers, but we may also draw upon further works by such authors as Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.  Knowledge of Greek and Latin are not required. M. Crema.

29200/29300-02. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: “Who am I?” Reflections on identity, agency and unconscious activity. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. “Who am I?” is a question that usually marks critical moments in life, and which almost every contemporary adolescent has faced. It is, or so we hope to argue, a practical question that emerges from the need to make oneself into a particular person, and to give to one’s life a definite direction.
The course will be devoted to reflect on the nature of this question. We will pay special attention to the way in which our identity is intertwined with our agency, our practical reason, and our unconscious activity. S. Mejia.

29700. Reading Course. Consent of Instructor & Director of Undergraduate Studies; Students are required to submit the college reading & research course form. Staff.

29902.  Senior Seminar II. PQ: Consent of director of undergraduate studies. Required of fourth-year students who are writing a senior essay. Students writing senior essays register once for Phil 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter quarter, and once for Phil 29902,  in either the Winter or Spring quarter.  (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter.) The senior seminar will in fact meet in all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.  J. Bridges, B. Callard, staff. Winter, Spring.

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Open to Graduates and Undergraduates:

20620/30620. From Phenomenology to Ontology: Merleau-Ponty's 'The Visible and the Invisible'. We are going to read Merleau-Ponty’s last unfinished book: ‘The Visible and the Invisible’. In that fascinating work, whose posthumous publication exerted an incredible influence on the subsequent development of Continental philosophy, Merleau-Ponty makes a resolute turn from phenomenology to ontology. He opens up a critical discussion of Cartesian dualism and introduces the idea of a so-called ontology of ‘flesh’. We are going to ponder the meaning of the unprecedented extension he gives in this work to the problem of embodiment. We will focus especially on the following question: what does he mean by ‘the flesh of the world’? In this last major work of his, Merleau-Ponty radicalizes his entire conception of perception. He reopens the question of the ontological status of the perceived as such; at the same time he shows the extent to which that which is not perceived is itself an intrinsic dimension of the perceived. A subsidiary aim of the course will be to locate and assess the way in which Merleau-Ponty seeks to situate his absolutely unique semiotics of the sensible world between the standing alternatives of phenomenology and structuralism. J. Benoist.

20720/30720. Ordinary Language Philosophy. Ordinary Language Philosophy:  An eclectic reading of some of the main work that was produced by the “school” that developed mainly in Oxford just after World War II, including essays by John Wisdom, Stuart Hampshire, J.O. Urmson, P. F. Strawson, and J. L. Austin among others.(III)T. Cohen. B

23400/33400. Philosophy of Mind and Science Fiction. (=CHSS 38900, HIPS 25400) Could computers be conscious? Might they be affected by changes in size or time scale, hardware, development, social, cultural, or ecological factors? Does our form of life constrain our ability to visualize or detect alternative forms of order, life, or mentality, or to interpret them correctly? How do assumptions of consciousness affect how we study and relate to other beings? This course examines issues in philosophy of mind raised by recent progress in biology, psychology, and simulations of life and intelligence, with readings from philosophy, the relevant sciences, and science fiction.(B) W. Wimsatt.

23405/33405. History and Philosophy of Biology. (=HIST 25104/35104; CHSS 37402; HIPS 25104). 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? (B) C. Bloch, R. Richards.

23409/33409. Introduction to Heidegger (=SCTH 33901, FNDL 23409). An introduction to the most important elements of Heidegger's philosophy, including: his account of the distinctness of human existence, his basic ontological theory, his account of Western modernity, his philosophy of art, and his relation to other philosophers, especially to Nietzsche. Prior work in philosophy is advisable. R. Pippin.

23710/33710. Radical Interpretation and Affective Constraints. Central to the interpretivist approach (Quine, Davidson, Dennett) to meaning and mind is the idea of a principle of charity: the need to construe speakers and agents as rational beings as a condition for interpreting their actions, thoughts and utterances. Yet, empirically, it is increasingly evident that the intersubjective common ground on which interpretation and communication rests is to a significant extent affective in nature. Emotion and emotional receptivity are essential tools of interpretation and understanding. What is the significance of this for interpretivist conceptions of meaning and mental states? We will read interpretationist work by Davidson and Dennett, as well as recent philosophical and empirical work on affect, interpretation and cooperation. (B) B. Ramberg.

24260/34260. Ethical Knowledge. (=MAPH 34260). In this course, we will explore the character of ethical knowledge: knowledge what to do or how to live. Our investigation will focus on three groups of questions: (1) What is the connection between ethical knowledge and acting well? Is ethical knowledge a form of practical knowledge? Does it consist in a grasp of rules and principles, or rather in a capacity to perceive the right thing to do in concrete circumstances? (2) What is the significance of the fact that ethical knowledge concerns how we are to live our lives -- that is, the fact that the subject and object of the knowledge are the same? And what is the scope of this “we”? Is ethical knowledge knowledge of how human beings ought to live? Or human beings round here, at this point in history? Or must it be knowledge of how rational beings ought to live, be they human or Martian? (3) Is (any) ethical knowledge a priori? What role does experience play in its acquisition? Our readings will be drawn from contemporary practical philosophy inspired by Aristotle and/or Kant. Authors we will read include G.E.M. Anscombe, John McDowell, Michael Thompson, David Velleman, Christine Korsgaard, and Sebastian Roedl. We will also read relevant excerpts of Aristotle and Kant; some prior familiarity with Aristotelian and Kantian ethics will be helpful, but by no means essential. W. Small.

25209/35209. Emotion, Reason, and Law. (=LAWS 99301, PLSC 49301, RETH 32900). Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor. Emotions figure in many areas of the law, and many legal doctrines (from reasonable provocation in homicide to mercy in criminal sentencing) invite us to think about emotions and their relationship to reason.   In addition, some prominent theories of the limits of law make reference to emotions: thus Lord Devlin and, more recently, Leon Kass have argued that the disgust of the average member of society is a sufficient reason for rendering a practice illegal, even though it does no harm to others.  Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied closely, with the result that both theory and doctrine are often confused.  

The first part of this course will study major theories of emotion, asking about the relationship between emotion and cognition, focusing on philosophical accounts, but also learning from anthropology and psychology.  We will ask how far emotions embody cognitions, and of what type, and then we will ask whether there is reason to consider some or all emotions “irrational” in a normative sense. 

We then turn to the criminal law, asking how specific emotions figure in doctrine and theory: anger, fear, compassion, disgust, guilt, and shame. Legal areas considered will include self-defense, reasonable provocation, mercy, victim impact statements, sodomy laws, sexual harassment, shame-based punishments.

Next, we turn to the role played by emotions in constitutional law and in thought about just institutions – a topic that seems initially unpromising, but one that will turn out to be full of interest. 

Other topics will be included as time permits.(A) M. Nussbaum.

25720/35720. Plotinus (=CLAS 36811, CLCV 26811, SCTH 34201, FNDL 27906). We will read selections from the Enneads of Plotinus with an emphasis on the nature of beauty and its role in spiritual ascent. We will consider the relationship between spiritual vocation and the beauty of the world, the proper orientation to human embodiment as a condition for the successful pursuit of the contemplative life, and the power of language to communicate the ecstatic accomplishment of this life. (IV) G. Lear, M. Payne (Classics).

27302/37302. Infinity in Early Modern Philosophy. This course will focus on the notion of infinity in early modern philosophy. Whereas for us this is primarily a mathematical notion, in that period it figured not only in mathematical innovations (such as the calculus) but also in metaphysical and theological theories and debates. We will examine various such approaches to infinity with an eye to what contemporary philosophical debates might learn from them; in particular, we will be interested in the question of whether there was a distinctly philosophical, rather than mathematical, notion of infinity salient to early modern thinkers. We will concentrate on Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Hume, but will also look briefly at other figures such as Hobbes, Gassendi, and Locke. (V)  (B) A. Schechtman.

27500/37500. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. This course will be devoted to an intensive study of selected portions of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. The focus of the course will be on the Transcendental Analytic and especially the Transcendental Deduction.  We will begin, however, with a brief tour of some of the central claims of the Transcendental Aesthetic.  Some effort will be made to situate these portions of the first half of the Critique with respect to the later portions of the book, viz. the Transcendental Dialectic and the Doctrine of Method.  Although the focus of the course will be on Kant’s text, some consideration will be given to some of the available competing interpretations of the book. The primary commentators whose work will thus figure briefly in the course in this regard are Lucy Allais, Henry Allison, Stephen Engstrom, Johannes Haag, Robert Hanna, Martin Heidegger, Dieter Henrich, John McDowell, Charles Parsons, Sebastian Roedl, Wilfrid Sellars, Peter Strawson, and Manley Thompson. Our interest in these commentators in this course will always only be as a useful foil for understanding Kant’s text. No separate systematic study will be attempted of the work of any of these commentators.  Of particular interest to us will be topics like  Kant’s criticisms of traditional empiricism, the distinction between sensibility and understanding, and his account of the relation between intuitions and concepts. The aim of the course is both to use certain central texts of recent Kant commentary and contemporary analytic Kantian philosophy to illuminate some of the central aspirations of Kant’s theoretical philosophy and to use certain central Kantian texts in which those aspirations were first pursued to illuminate some recent developments in epistemology and the philosophy of mind. (V) (B) J. Conant.

29405/39405. Advanced Logic (=HIPS 20905;  CHSS 39405)PQ: Intermediate logic or prior equivalent required, or with consent of instructor. In this course we will prove the Undecidability of Predicate Logic, and both Gödel’s First and Second Incompleteness Theorems. We will also examine the concept of interpretability, and will make some connections with broader issues in mathematics. Finally, we will discuss some uses and abuses of Gödel’s Theorems that can be found outside logic and mathematics. For instance – do Gödel’s Theorems entail that the mind is not a machine? (B) (II) K. Davey.

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Open to Graduate Students:

33905. Introduction to Phenomenology: Heidegger, Being and Time. (=DVPR 31800, SCTH 33905). Starting with Kant, focusing on Husserl and Heidegger, the course will check the different possible definition of a phenomenon in late modern and contemporary philosophy. J. Marion.

37314. The Right of Politics and the Knowledge of the Philosopher: Rousseau’s On the Social Contract. (=SCTH 37314, PLSC 37314, FNDL 27907). This seminar will take place during the First five weeks of the quarter (March 26-April 25, 2012). In this seminar I shall present a new reading of Rousseau’s most famous work on politics. The tension between philosophy and politics is of central importance for Rousseau’s political philosophy. In his Social Contract Rousseau delineates the foundations of the legitimate republic, the principles of political right, and the conditions of the happiness of the political life. By founding the well-ordered commonwealth in philosophy, the book determines the limits of politics and shows the right of philosophy.

I shall use the American edition of Rousseau’s text by Roger Masters (St. Martin’s Press, or Collected Writings) and the French edition by Robert Derathé (Œuvres completes, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade). H. Meier.

41150. Political Liberalism. PQ: Open to philosophy graduate students, and others with permission. Political Liberalism is the view that the principles of justice must be acceptable to reasonable citizens who disagree with one another on basic questions of morality and religion. In this course we will explore whether a commitment to Political Liberalism is compatible with a commitment to ideal theory, the aspiration to provide an account of the ideal political community. On the face of it there seems to be a tension, for the widespread acceptance of false practical doctrines seems pretty squarely non-ideal. On the other hand, defenders of Political Liberalism have argued that the persistence of practical error is inevitable given a commitment to a free society, and surely, we might think, the ideal political community is free. Can and should this circle be squared? And if not, what are we to say about the freedom of an ideal society? Authors to be read include especially John Rawls, but also Martha Nussbaum, Joshua Cohen, Joseph Raz, David Estlund and others. (I) B. Laurence.

49700. Preliminary Essay Workshop. PQ: All and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years. A two-quarter (Spring, Autumn) workshop on the preliminary essay required for all doctoral students in the Spring of their second year and the Autumn of their third year. The workshop involves discussion of general issues in writing the essay and student presentations of their work. Although students do not register for the Summer quarter, they are expected to make significant progress on their preliminary essay over the summer. M. Kremer.

49900. Reading & Research. Staff.

50625. Speech and Signs: Merleau-Ponty on Language. Immediately after completing his masterwork ‘The Phenomenology of Perception’, Merleau-Ponty, driven in particular by his research on the nature and status of the literary work of art, made a turn towards a generalized theory of ‘expression’ -- a theory according to which even perception itself should be understood as a mode of expression. In the context of elaborating this theory, he developed an entirely novel phenomenology of language, one which is as sophisticated as it is interesting. It is characterized, in particular, by its emphasis on speech as such, and the nature of the expressive act in general. Merleau-Ponty interprets speech as an act, and in a criticism of Husserl, he questions the precedence of ‘content’ (meaning) over performance. He thereby strikes out in a novel direction in the philosophy of language, one which opens up its connections with philosophy of perception, in a manner that bears interesting comparison with parallel developments in Anglophone philosophy, especially as pioneered  in the work of J. L. Austin. We will explore this parallel. At the same time, we will give attention to the manner in which Merleau-Ponty's perspective on language -- one which is part of a more global perspective on signs, their production and their use -- is itself determined by a constant dialogue with contemporaneous developments in Continental structuralism, as it was then unfolding in France. This is the background against which we shall place his discussion of the complementarity of speech (parole) and language (langue). This course will therefore attempt a synoptic overview of Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy on language -- a region of his philosophy which has never been accorded its just desert -- but which, when properly understood, emerges as a pivotal chapter in the history of philosophical reflection on language in the 20th century. J. Benoist.

51113. Thinking and Being: Part II.  (= SCTH 51113) This course is the second course in a two-course sequence to be offered by the instructor. Students may take either the first half or the second half of the two-course sequence for credit or both. Students who wish to take only this second half of the sequence for credit must at least have already audited the first half of the sequence during the previous quarter. This course will involve a close examination of the merits and weaknesses of the philosophical arguments and conceptions discussed in the second half of the instructor’s unpublished book manuscript Thinking and Being.  The focus in this quarter will be on the limitations of a post-Fregean understanding of the relation between the logical and the psychological and the relative strengths of a philosophical position which refuses to accord priority either to the logical or the psychological in an account of the nature of thought, while at the same time refusing any form of sharp dualism between the logical and the psychological. We will be especially concerned to examine Frege’s distinction between the force and the content of a judgment and subsequent understandings within the analytic tradition of the role that that distinction ought to play in a proper account of the relation between the psychical and logical aspects of thought. In this connection we will also take a critical look at the work of Peter Geach and his elaboration of what has come to be known as “the Frege/Geach point”. There will be accompanying readings drawn from a variety of relevant primary texts in the history of early analytic philosophy, especially selections from Frege, but also from Russell and early Wittgenstein, along with a variety of secondary texts on those selections, including articles by McDowell, Palmer, Ricketts, Tashek, and Wiggins, as well as related writings on the nature of logic and the history of philosophical thought about it, including selected work by Robert Brandom, Lewis Carroll, Wilfrid Sellars, Peter Strawson, and Jean Van Heijenoort. The seminar will also look back at some of the primary readings from and secondary readings on Plato and Aristotle discussed in the previous quarter in order to reassess their significance in the light of this quarter’s examination of the assumptions and shortcomings of a post-Fregean conception of the relation between the logical and the psychological. I. Kimhi.

51200. Law-Philosophy Workshop. (=LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301). PQ: Extends over more than one quarter. Continuing students only. 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.

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 the instructors by e mail.  Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students. M. Nussbaum, Law Fellow (tba).

51790. The Problem of Evil. (=DVPR 51790). This course will consider recent work in philosophy of religion on the problem of evil, especially attempts at constructing theodicies or defenses responding to the problem of suffering (or natural evil).  Authors to be discussed may include:  Marilyn McCord Adams, Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (1999); Peter van Inwagen, The Problem of Evil (2006); and Eleonore Stump, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering (2010).  Requirements:  Active participation in seminar discussion and a term paper. (I) M. Kremer.

51831. The Paradox of Rights. (=SCTH 51800; GRMN 51812)The form of "individual rights" ("subjektive Rechte") is the distinctive feature of modern legal, and in a broader sense normative orders. It develops out of the tradition of Roman Law by breaking with its most fundamental assumption of a conceptual and normative alliance between law and ethics. The importance of the idea of a "right" lies in a reflective rearrangement of the relation between the social and the natural: by its very form, "rights" guarantee an inner-social space to the non-social ("natural" freedom or "interests"). Rights are thereby the form of a revolutionary break in the history of Western societies which is deeply ambivalent. As Max Weber has claimed, rights are paradoxical: they are instruments of liberation which establish new and even more intense forms of social domination. This paradox of rights can be studied by exploring how they establish the dualisms that are at the centre of modern political, legal, and social thought: the dualisms of state and (civil or bourgeois) society, of democracy and capitalism, of the individual and community, of nature and society, and so on.
While the form of rights remains unanalyzed in contemporary liberalism (which takes it for granted and thereby neutralizes or naturalizes it), it has been a central topic of the thinking of modernity in philosophy and legal theory since the late 18th century. The seminar will explore this tradition by reading texts by Kant, Hegel, von Savigny, Constant, Mill, Marx, Weber, Jellinek, Schmitt, Benjamin, Luhmann, Habermas, Derrida, Ewald, Brown. C. Menke.

53355. Three Varieties of Contemporary Pragmatism: Farewell to Richard Rorty?  Is Rorty’s distrust of constructive philosophy an important part of his pragmatist legacy? Or was that skepticism rather a meta-philosophical idiosyncrasy? Robert Brandom and Huw Price have explicit and deep affinities with Rorty, yet their works are also formidable examples of the constructive drive of contemporary pragmatism.  Focusing on works by these three philosophers, we try to learn something about pragmatism after Rorty; what it is, and what it might become. B. Ramberg.

53415. Logos, Reason & Philosophy According to Justin and Other Apologists. (=DVPR 54300, SCTH 51902). Unlike the distinction most widely admitted by modern and contemporary authors, the early Christian Fathers claimed that followers of Christ, that is of the Logos made man among us, are philosophers, or, at least, play among non-Greeks, the role played by philosophers among Greeks. This identification of Christian faith to rationality and philosophy remained dominant at least to Origen. Starting from Justin, «philosopher and martyr», the inquiry will follow up this tradition up to Ireneus. J. Marion.

53600. The Philosophy of Probability. This course will be devoted to a critical survey of contemporary issues in the Philosophy of Probability. We will begin by reviewing the traditional arguments for probabilism (the view that an agent's credences or partial beliefs ought to conform to the axioms of probability) and consider recent challenges to the standard preference-based approaches to justifying probabilities. We will then turn our attention to the question of probability dynamics (the question of how a rational agent ought to revise his or her probabilities in the light of new evidence). We will review and assess the arguments that have been offered in support of the most widely-considered proposals for how probabilistic updating ought to proceed (e.g., simple conditionalization, Jeffrey conditionalization, minimal information updating). The course will conclude with a brief examination of contemporary responses to certain well-known paradoxes of probability theory, e.g., Bertrand's paradox and the St. Petersburg paradox. (II) A. Vasudevan.

53715. Action and Perception. PQ: Graduate students from departments other than Philosophy will be admitted on a case by case basis. Aristotle holds that action concerns particulars, which constitute a sphere governed by perception. Strangely, contemporary action theory has little to say on the topic. The role that was traditionally assigned to perception is now assigned to belief, a propositional attitude that has nothing special to do with particulars, and that might as well be about anything—about general laws of nature, mathematics, logic, history, probabilities, predictions of the future, etc. What is the significance of the fact that human beings are not just believers, but perceivers? Why does animal movement, in general, seem to require perception? In the case of specifically rational animals (i.e. of human beings), what is the role of perception in practical reasoning? What is its role in performing an action? And what is its relation to the knowledge one has of what one is doing? A. Ford.

55791. Topics in Aristotle: Metaphysics Theta. Metaphysics Theta is among the richest of Aristotle’s works. The topics it covers--actuality, potentiality, capacities, change, movement, generation, natures, and substance—are central to Aristotle’s philosophical system. This seminar will be devoted to a close reading of this text. Other parts of Aristotle’s corpus will be covered when appropriate. C. Frey.

58200. Psychoanalysis and Ethics. (=SCTH 55504) Admission requires consent of instructors. This research seminar begins from a point about the power of moral and ethical considerations in our lives: if you convince people that they are unethical or otherwise morally bad, you have done them a kind of damage much worse than you do if you take their money or break their bones, and much worse than if you convince them that they are ugly, or dim, or irrational.  People can adjust to being unattractive.  They can adjust to being less than reasonable or smart.  But once they think that they are bad, it becomes very difficult for them to so much as take in any positive messages you have to give them about themselves.  They can grow mean.  They can become so abject that they lack even capacity to want more for themselves than what they have got so far.  This in turn suggests that the varieties of personal inadequacy marked by winding up on the wrong side of a good/bad divide in the assessment of human beings, human action, and human life more generally are crucial to understanding human flourishing.  In this seminar, we will turn to psychoanalytic work to account for this aspect of the place of ethical or moral assessment in human life.  Although Sigmund Freud notoriously distanced psychoanalytic work from specific concern with morality, in working from and against Freud, both Jacques Lacan and Melanie Klein developed accounts of mental life that turn on how the mind copes with anxiety triggered in brushes against the good/bad divide.  We will explore psychoanalytic work with an eye toward developing a philosophical moral psychology centered on the role of ethical or moral assessment of human beings, human life, and human conduct in mental functioning.  We hope thereby to provide theoretical underpinnings for our starting observation about the power of moral and ethical considerations. J. Lear, C. Vogler.

59950. Job Placement Workshop. This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the fall of 2011.  Approval of dissertation committee is required. Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter. Pass/Fail. G. Lear.

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[philfac] Please submit by FRI 2_24 SPRING 2012 office hours