Autumn 2012 Courses

Anat Schechtman teaching a seminar.


Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Autumn 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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Forthcoming: 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 Autumn 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.

Autumn Courses at-a-glance - PDF

Open to Undergraduates

21000. Introduction to Ethics. (=HIPS 21000). In this course, we will read, write, think, and talk about moral philosophy, focusing on two classic texts, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism.  We will work through both texts carefully, and have a look at influential criticisms of utilitarianism and of Kant's ethics in the concluding weeks of the term. This course is intended as an introductory course in moral philosophy. Some prior work in philosophy is helpful, but not required. (A) C. Vogler   

21212. The Sacred: Philosophy and Art. (=SCTH 25702). The seminar will be devoted to conceptions of the sacred. We shall read Rodulf Otto ("The Idea of the Holy"), Marcia Eliade ("The Sacred and the Profane"), and Sigmund Freud ("Totem and Taboo"). We shall review the Kant's discussion of sublime as the origin of Otto's very influential phenomenological conceptions of the Sacred. We shall then proceed to discuss various positions concerning the essential links of art, philosophy, and the sacred. I. Kimhi.  

21390. Philosophy of Poverty. (=PBPL 21390, PLSC 21390, HMRT 21390). Global poverty is a human tragedy on a massive scale, and it poses one of the most daunting challenges to achieving a just global order.  In recent decades, a significant number of philosophers have addressed this issue in new and profoundly important ways, overcoming the disciplinary limitations of narrowly economic or public policy oriented approaches.  Recent theories of justice have provided both crucial conceptual clarifications of the very notion of ‘poverty’—including new measures that are more informed by the voices of the global poor and better able to cover the full impact of poverty on human capabilities and welfare—and vital new theoretical frameworks for considering freedom from poverty as a basic human right and/or a demand of justice, both nationally and internationally.  Moreover, these philosophers have pointed to concrete, practical steps, at both the level of institutional design and the level of individual ethical/political action, for effectively combating poverty and moving the world closer to justice.   The readings covered in this course, from such philosophers as Peter Singer, Thomas Pogge, David Graeber, and Martha Nussbaum, will reveal, not only the injustice of global poverty, but also what is to be done about it. B. Schultz  

23002. Paradox.  A paradox is a piece of reasoning that proceeds from reasonable assumptions and seems to be valid but which yields a conclusion that cannot be accepted. The analysis of paradoxes often teaches us something about what exists, what we can say, and how we should reason. In this course, we will explore some famous paradoxes of both deductive and non-deductive logic in order to see what we may learn from them about the nature and limits of deductive and non-deductive reasoning. Possible topics include the liar paradox, the paradox of the unexpected hanging, the so-called semantic paradoxes, the sorites paradox, Russell's paradox and some of the paradoxes associated with the concept of probability. (B) K. Davey

24800. Foucault: History of Sexuality.  (=GNSE 23100, HIPS 24300, CMLT 25001, FNDL 22001). Note: One prior philosophy course is strongly recommended. 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. Davidson    

25000. History of Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy. (=CLCV 22700). PQ: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. Enrolled students who do not attend the first class will be dropped.  This is a course in Ancient Greek Philosophy.  We will study major works by Plato and Aristotle, ones that introduced the philosophical questions we struggle with to this day: What are the goals of a life well-lived?  Why should we have friends? How do we explain weakness of will? What makes living things different from nonliving things? What is the difference between knowledge and belief? What is definition and what is capable of being defined? A. Callard

29200/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial: Relativism and Universalism. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. Meets with Jr/Sr section. Pre-requisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. Are our normative claims about what is good, what is right, even what is true, constrained to a particular culture, or way of life?  Or, are there universal principles to which all people, of all places and times, either (implicitly or explicitly) adhere, or should adhere? In this course, we will examine the rich, complex relationship between these two views, relativism and universalism.  Our readings will draw from both philosophy and anthropology, giving us the opportunity to consider closely the interplay between theory, examples and context. Authors include M. Krausz, D. Wong, C. Geertz, R. Shweder and M. Nussbaum. A. Luboff.

29200/29300-02. Junior/Senior Tutorial: Knowledge and the Concept of Mind. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. Meets with Jr/Sr section. Pre-requisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. What is knowledge? How do we acquire it? Do we really have any? These are, typically, taken to be the central questions of epistemology, i.e., the theory of knowledge. But attempts to answer them are intimately connected with the arguably broader issue of how to understand the nature of the mind. Different conceptions of mind suggest different answers to these questions, different answers—indeed, even approaches—to these questions encourage different conceptions of mind. In this course, we will trace out some of the connections between epistemology and philosophy of mind as they appear in the history of epistemology, with a focus on the late twentieth century. We will consider both the analytic approach to epistemology instituted by Edmund Gettier, including the now well-known criticisms of the approach due to Timothy Williamson, as well as the more historically oriented approach represented in the works of Wilfrid Sellars and his followers, including Donald Davidson and John McDowell. N. Koziolek.

29601. Intensive Track Seminar: Descartes' Meditations. PQ: Open only to third-year students who have been admitted to the intensive track program. This course will consist in a close reading and discussion of Descartes' Meditations. Our main aims will be to understand what Descartes attempts to achieve in this work, and to consider how successful he is in doing so. Topics to be discussed are doubt and certainty, the nature and existence of external objects, truth and error, and the alleged Cartesian circle. We will also study proofs for God's existence and veracity, the real distinction between mind and body, and the notion of mind-body union.  A. Schechtman.

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

29901-01, -02, -03, -04. Senior Seminar I. PQ: Consent of director of undergraduate studies. Note(s): Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.  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 meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout. K. Davey, Staff.

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Open to Graduates and Undergraduates:

20100/30000. Elementary Logic. (=CHSS 33500,HIPS 20700 ). Course not for field credit. No prerequisites. An introduction to the techniques of modern symbolic logic. The focus will be on the syntax and semantics of classical propositional and first-order quantificational logic. The course will introduce methods for determining whether a given argument is valid or invalid. We will discuss how statements and arguments of ordinary discourse can be represented within the formal language of  propositional and quantificational logic. There will also be discussion of some important meta-theorems for these logical systems. M. Malink 

20721/30721. Dynamic Semantics. (=LING 20721/ 30721) PQ: Knowledge of first-order logic with identity strongly recommended. Students will benefit most if they have taken classes in semantics or philosophy of language before. An introduction to the foundations and applications of dynamic approaches to natural language semantics. We will study the formal details and empirical motivations of various major dynamic semantic frameworks such as File Change Semantics, Discourse Representation Theory, Dynamic Predicate Logic, and Update Semantics, and see how they address a number of puzzling natural language phenomena such as donkey anaphora and presupposition projection. In parallel to the formal component, the empirical and theoretical advantages and drawbacks of dynamic semantics will come under scrutiny, and we will also pay close attention to the philosophical repercussions of a dynamic approach to discourse and reasoning. (B) (II) M. Willer     

21210/31210. Philosophy and Literature. This course is a reading of works by a variety of contemporary authors who deal with the question of whether, and how, fiction and philosophy are related to one another. (A (I) T. Cohen

21503/31503. Ancient Metaphysics.  (=CLCV 27112, CLAS 37112).In this course we shall study some of the very different accounts of the world developed by the ancient Greek philosophers. In particular we shall consider the following: Aristotle’s ontology of form and matter, actuality and potentiality; Epicurean atomism; the Stoic strange combination of rationalism and thoroughgoing physicalism of all-pervading pneuma; Platonic theories of a transcendent realm.  E. Emilsson

21605/31605. Justice. PQ: At least one previous course in philosophy. This course explores a tradition of thought about justice extending from Plato through Kant. In addition to works by these authors, we will read selections from Aristotle, Aquinas and Rousseau. One of the distinguishing marks of this tradition is its emphasis on the relation between justice and the common good. Another mark, related to the first, is its tendency to conceive of justice as holding among the parts of a whole,  and not—or not simply—among discrete individuals. (A) (I)   A. Ford

21700/31600. Human Rights-1: Philosophical Foundations. (=HMRT 20100/30100, HIST 29301/39301, LLSO 25100, INRE 31600, LAWS 41200, MAPH 40000) Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I)  B. Laurence.

22000/32000. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. (=CHSS 33300,HIPS 22000,HIST 25109,HIST 35109). The natural sciences aim at discovering and explaining truths about the world. This enterprise gives rise to various philosophical questions, among them are: What distinguishes science from other forms of enquiry? Is there anything unique about the scientific method—in both its conceptual and experimental elements—that enables the discovery of different aspects of reality? Is science a progressive enterprise advancing towards uncovering truths about the world, or does it consist of one theory arbitrarily replacing its predecessor, without ever coming closer to a final truth? Is there such a thing as scientific objectivity, or are scientists trapped in their preexisting theoretical assumptions? What are the criteria for a scientific explanation? What are scientific laws? In discussing these questions, we will engage with some of the most influential views in the philosophy of science, and critically examine their arguments in light of important case-studies from the history of science. (B) (II) C. Bloch

23015/33015. Darwin's Origin of Species and Descent of Man. (=HIST 24905/34905, HIPS 24901,CHSS 38400). This lecture-discussion class will focus on a close reading of Darwin's two classic texts. An initial class or two will explore the state of biology prior to Darwin's Beagle Voyage, and then consider the development of his theories before 1859. Then we will turn to his two books. Among the topics of central concern will be: the logical, epistemological, and rhetorical status of Darwin's several theories, especially his evolutionary ethics; the religious foundations of his ideas and the religious reaction to them; and the social-political consequences of his accomplishment. (II) (V) R. Richards.

25402/35402. Freud and Philosophy. (=FNDL 22801, SCTH 34401). PQ: This class is intended for undergraduate majors in Philosophy & Fundamentals, & graduate students in Philosophy & Social Thought. All others require consent of instructor. This course will introduce students to the basic ideas of psychoanalysis -- the unconscious, transference, fantasy, acting out, repetition -- in the context of the traditional philosophical questions of what it is to be a human being and what the good life is for humans.  Extensive reading from Freud as well as selections from Plato, Aristotle, Sartre and others. J. Lear. 

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Open to Graduate Students

31414. MAPH Core Course: Contemporary Analytic Philosophy. This course is open only to MAPH students. MAPH students who wish to apply to Ph.D. programs in philosophy are strongly urged to take this course. A survey of some of the central concerns in various areas of philosophy, pursued from the perspective of the analytic tradition. In epistemology, our topics will include the definition of knowledge, the challenge of skepticism, and the nature of justification. In the philosophy of mind, we will explore the mind-body problem and the nature and structure of intentional states. In the philosophy of language, we will address theories of truth and of speech acts, the sense/reference distinction, and the semantics of names and descriptions. In ethics, we will focus on the debate between utilitarians and Kantians.  B. Callard.

32610. Herder's Philosophy. (=GRMN 32612). This course will attempt to provide a broad introduction to Herder's philosophical thought. Among the topics covered will be his philosophy of language (including his theories of interpretation and translation); his philosophy of mind; his aesthetic theory; his philosophy of history; and his political philosophy. The course will consist mainly of lectures, but discussion will also be encouraged. (V) M. Forster

45391/55391. Plato on Beauty and Truth. (=SCTH 55391). Plato thinks that beautiful speech is truthful and that truthful speech is, in some way, beautiful.  Why does he think this and why does he think it important?  Readings will include portions of the Republic, Sophist, and Phaedrus so as to understand the beauty of philosophical dialectic by contrast with the false beauties of (some) poetry and rhetoric. (IV) G. Lear.

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.

50100. First-year Seminar. Open to grad students. Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students. This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.  D. Finkelstein.

50111. Vagueness: its nature, its semantics, its logic. (=50111). Note: This course meets twice a week during weeks 1-6.  In this class we will draw together work on vagueness that has been done, over the last forty years, within philosophy, linguistics and formal logic. The overarching aim is to develop a coherent picture of what may appear to be (increasingly) diverging approaches to a single central theme.  Among those from whose work we will draw are (in alphabetical, not thematic, order): Dummett, Edgington, Fine, Graff-Fara, Greenough, Raffman, Shapiro, Van Rooy, Varzi, Williamson, Wright.  I will also draw on my own work, distant as well as more recent.  Through much of the course the context dependence of vague predicates will play a prominent part.  Students enrolled in the course will be expected to write an essay (of about 3000 words), which will be due at the end of the quarter. H. Kamp. (II)

50211. Models of Philosophy/Religion as a Way of Life. (=CMLT 50511, DVPR 50211, FREN 40212, HIJD 50211). PQ: Reading knowledge of French required. Limited enrollment; Students interested in taking for credit should attend 1st seminar before registering. Consent only. In the first part of this course, we will examine Stoicism as a way of life through a reading of Pierre Hadot’s commentary (in French) on Epictetus’ Manual, supplemented by other writings of Hadot. The second part of the course will be devoted to the topic of Judaism as a way of life, focusing on the writings of Joseph Soloveitchik.  The third part of the course will consider a number of historically and theoretically heterogeneous essays that take up different aspects of our theme.  Depending on the interests of the seminar participants, texts for this part of the course may include the writings of Francis of Assisi, essays by Michel Foucault, Hilary Putnam, and Wittgenstein’s “Lectures on Religious Belief”. (I)  A. Davidson.

51114. Being and Creation. (=SCTH 55603). The distinction between essence and existence was introduced as part of metaphysical doctrine of creation in Islamic theology. This doctrine cannot be found among the ancient philosophers but became central to the Scholastics. In the seminar we shall read works by Avicenna, Averroes, and Thomas Aquinas. We shall compare Descartes' and Spinoza's receptions of the creation doctrine. I will propose that central concepts of contemporary philosophy such states of affairs or facts and notions of the mind and of the world that go with them can be traced to the doctrine of creation. I. Kimhi.

51200. Law-Philosophy Workshop. (=LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301). PQ: Extends over more than one quarter. Continuing students only.The Workshop will explore a broad range of topics that arise in ethics, philosophy of action, and philosophy of criminal law related to questions of freedom and responsibility:   what is it to act freely?  Is responsibility compatible with the causal determination of action?  Does the assignment of responsibility in the criminal law make philosophical sense?  How does addiction or mental illness affect ascriptions of responsibility in the law, and how should it?  Readings will be drawn from philosophy, psychology, and criminal law theory. 

Coates and Leiter will meet with enrolled students for two two-hour sessions in October to go over some classic readings on the subject of freedom and responsibility.   We will then host six or seven outside speakers addressing these issues.  Coates or Leiter will meet with the students a week in advance for one hour to go over the readings.   Confirmed speakers so far include Pamela Hieryonmi (Philosophy, UCLA), Stephen Morse (Law & Psychiatry, Penn), Hanna Pickard (Philosophy, Oxford), Derk Pereboom (Philosophy, Cornell), and Gary Watson (Law & Philosophy, Southern California).

Attendance at all sessions of the Workshop is a requirement.   JD students should contact with a resume and a brief statement of background and/or interest in the topic in order to secure permission to enroll.  Philosophy PhD students may enroll without submitting these materials. B. Laurence, B. Leiter, Justin Coates.

51403. Global Justice:  Distributive Justice, Humanitarian Intervention. (=HMRT 50200). What can justify one nation’s intervention in the affairs of another? And what can justify one nation arresting a citizen of another nation and prosecuting him or her for an act that was not against the law in the nation in which it occurred?  Indeed, what can justify one nation arresting the head of state of another and prosecuting him or her?  What is the conception of national sovereignty such that it could be consistent with such apparent violations of sovereignty?  These are questions that need to be answered if we are to understand when and why it is permissible or even obligatory for one state to interfere in the affairs of another in order to protect human rights or to punish their violation. (I) D. Brudney.

52201. The concept of institution: From modern political philosophical to social philosophy. (=SCTH 51301, FREN 41301). Modern political philosophy is an inquiry into the legitimacy of political authority (why should I be submitted to a Sovereign?). Social philosophy is an inquiry into the meaning of social action : what does it take for an agent to be acting socially?
According to the French School of sociology (Durkheim, Mauss, Lévi-Strauss, Dumont), human beings are social beings insofar as their lifes are governed by collective representations and institutions. This view can be presented as a way of dealing with the paradoxes of a purely political view of social life as found in social contract theories of political sovereignty.
First, we will assess Durkheim’s reading of Jean-Jacques Rousseau Social Contract as having anticipated the sociological understanding of social life by overcoming a purely atomistic view of political associations (with the concept of a “general will” and its foundation in the “moral” constitution of the people, i.e. its collective habits and social institutions).
Then, we will consider contemporary proposals to locate the concept of institution within the framework of a philosophy of action (Anscombe, “On Brute Facts”; Castoriadis, The Imaginary Institution of Society). V. Descombes.

55395. Plotinus/Neoplatonism. (=CLAS 45312). Note: No Greek required. Plotinus (205-270 AD) was the founder of Neoplatonism—a movement and mode of thought that pervaded Late Antiquity and set permanent marks on the philosophical tradition in Europe and among the Muslims. In this seminar we shall read two treatises of Plotinus, Ennead V.1, On the three principal hypostases and Ennead VI.8, On free will and the will of the One. E. Emilsson.

55789. Aristotle on Substance and Essence: Metaphysics Zeta. Note: Knowledge of Greek not required. Book Zeta of the Metaphysics, sometimes characterized as ‘the Mount Everest of ancient philosophy’, is concerned with the question, What is substantial being (ousia)? Aristotle explores several potential answers to this question, specifying substantial being as subject, essence, universal, or genus. His discussion is based on the distinction between form and matter of composite beings. Further questions discussed in Zeta include: Do non-substantial beings have an essence or definition? Why do definitions constitute a unity? What role do essences play in scientific explanations? The seminar will be a close reading of Zeta.(III, IV). M. Malink.

59950. Workshop: Job Placement Seminar. This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the fall of 2012.  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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