Spring 2013 Courses

Marko Malink teaching a seminar on Aristotle's Logic.


Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Sping 2013 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 Spring 2013 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

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  

21402/31402. Unhappiness.  (=SCTH 25703/ 35703). "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness" says Nelly in Beckett's Endgame. We shall seek to distinguish between unhappiness, as the subject of poetic works, from unhappiness as it is understood by philosophy, which, I would argue, is precisely as funny as nothing. We shall discuss some famous unhappy families. A Greek tragedy (Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus), a Renaissance tragedy (Shakespeare, Hamlet), a modern theater of the absurd (Beckett: Endgame). I. Kimhi.

21505. Wonder, Magic, and Skepticism.  In the course of discussing how it is that a philosophical problem arises in the first place, Wittgenstein says, “The decisive movement in the conjuring trick has been made, and it was the very one that we thought quite innocent.” This isn’t the only place where Wittgenstein speaks as if being gripped by philosophical problems is a matter of succumbing to illusions--as if a philosophers are magicians who are taken in by their own tricks. In this course, we’ll discuss philosophy and magical performance, with the aim of coming to a deeper understanding of what both are about. We’ll be particularly concerned with Wittgenstein’s picture of what philosophy is and does. Another focus of the course will be the passion of wonder. In the Theatetus, Plato has Socrates say, “The sense of wonder is the mark of the philosopher. Philosophy indeed has no other origin.” And when magicians write about their aesthetic aims, they almost always describe themselves as trying to instill wonder in others. Does magic end where philosophy begins? And what becomes of wonder after philosophy is done with it?  (B) D. Finkelstein

21590. Disagreement. This course will examine three central areas of philosophy—epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy—through the lens of issues raised by persistent disagreement. We will consider questions such as the following. What is the connection between the possibility of disagreement and objective truth? When should disagreement with our peers lead us to doubt what we think we know? What is the line between intellectual arrogance and having the courage of our convictions? Does the persistence of moral disagreement show that morality is subjective? Should the political community be neutral between parties that disagree on basic questions of morality, religion and justice? When is and isn’t it acceptable to just agree to disagree? No prior knowledge of philosophy is necessary for this course. (A) B. Laurence   

23502. Introduction to Philosophy of Mind.  Among the principal tasks of philosophy is to understand the position of our minds and our mental activities within the increasingly detailed account of the world that the physical and biological sciences provide. We will survey and critically examine the developments of this philosophical program in the twentieth century. Special emphasis will be given to the nature of consciousness and of mental content. (B) C. Frey  

27000. History of Philosophy III: Kant and 19th Century. PQ: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. This course is going to focus on an understanding of the most important conceptions and doctrines defended by Kant in his “Critique of Pure Reason”. It will include a study of relevant ideas found in his German predecessors, notably Leibniz and Wolff, as well as a presentation of important developments in the wake of Kant’s work. In this latter part of the course, Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit" is to receive special attention. Apart from lectures, the course will include discussion. A. Mueller.

29200/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Rules, Autonomy, and Metaphysics of Normativity. Meets with Jr/Sr section. Pre-requisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. It is a philosophical commonplace to use the expression ‘space of reasons’ to highlight the normative character of rationality in contrast to a notion of nature as a system of causal (or probabilistic) laws. Yet one may wonder whether this distinction entails a dualistic metaphysics, where two spheres of reality are so separated that a connection between them becomes unintelligible. In this course, we will examine a strategy to avoid such a dualism by explaining the normative standards of reasoning in terms of what is sometimes called ‘attitude-dependence’. In other words, we will focus on the idea that subjects who reason also constitute the norms of reasoning by holding each other responsible to some standards of correctness in thought and action. In particular, we will examine and elaborate the explanatory resources of this strategy, whose emergence we will trace to Kant’s notion of autonomy, in connection with the following three challenges. (1) The normativity of reasoning cannot be generally understood in terms of a self-conscious activity of rule-following, because in that case any rule for the application of a rule would require another rule for its own application, and infinitely so. (2) It cannot be completely up to one to decide which normative standards one is bound to, because that would preclude the possibility of error and thus also obliterate normativity. (3) Proposals that seek to overcome these two challenges by modeling reasoning as a discursive practice, accounting for its normative structure on the basis of social statuses of commitment and entitlement, are incompatible with the traditional way of understanding freedom as rational constraint and power as constraint due to an external force. Finally, we will investigate the limits of the explanatory strategy that relies on attitude-dependence by asking to what extent the attitudes on which it makes norms depend can be plausibly understood as elements in the natural history of the human species. We will read texts by Rousseau, Kant, Sellars, Ryle, Brandom, McDowell, Foucault, Canguilhem, Dennett, and others. T. Tiisala

29200/29300-02. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Reasons, Motivation, and Morality. Meets with Jr/Sr section. Pre-requisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. We often say things like “he ought to do so-and-so” or “she has a reason to do such-and-such”. But what do we mean when we talk about what people ought to do or about their reasons for action? What is the relation between people’s reasons and their motivations? Are there reasons which exist independently of our motivations? Or are all reasons somehow dependent on the motivations which we happen to have or which we would have if we were fully rational? Related questions extend into the realm of morality: Are there reasons which are specifically moral in nature? If so, how are they related to our motivations? Finally, is one irrational or in error if one does not act on moral reasons, or can there be a perfectly coherent, non-mistaken villain? In this course we will discuss some of the central meta-normative and meta-ethical positions regarding the nature of normative and moral reasons: Thomas Nagel’s realism, Christine Korsgaard’s Kantian anti-realism, Sharon Street’s Humean anti-realism, and Michael Smith’s hybrid of Humean-Kantian realism. We will introduce these positions by discussing Hume’s and Kant’s views on motivation and moral motivation, as well as the distinction between internal and external reasons and between motivating and normative reasons. We will also consider the nature of specifically moral reasons - in particular, reasons stemming from the motive of duty - and their alleged categorical force. Additional authors include Donald Davidson, Philippa Foot, Barbara Herman, John McDowell, Derek Parfit and Bernard Williams. N. Ben Moshe.

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

29902 -01, 02, -03, -04. Senior Seminar II. PQ: Consent of director of undergraduate studies. Note(s): 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 meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout. M. Kremer, Staff.

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Open to Graduates and Undergraduates

20640/30640. Ontological Dependence.  This course will examine historical and contemporary approaches to the relation of ontological dependence, focusing on Aristotle, Descartes, and among more recent authors, Kit Fine. Questions to be discussed will include: What is ontological dependence and how does it differ from other dependence relations, e.g., causation or priority in definition? How does this relation bear on notions such as substance and essence, and vice versa? What is the historical trajectory from Aristotle onwards concerning these questions? (B) (III) (IV) (V) M. Malink, A. Schechtman   

20120/30120. Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. PQ: Two previous courses in the Philosophy Department required; Philosophical Perspectives does not qualify. We'll read and discuss Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Our central concerns will include: (1) Wittgenstein's metaphilosophy, (2) meaning and rule-following, (3) privacy and expression. (B) (III) D. Finkelstein   

21314/31314. The Presocratics. This is an advanced survey course on the Presocratics. The figures covered will include but will not be limited to Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and the Atomists. The focus will be primarily on issues of metaphysics, epistemology, and natural philosophy, though other topics will be discussed as they arise. (B) (IV) C. Frey

21713/31713. Aristotle on Virtue. (=FNDL 21715). Examination of Aristotle’s theory of moral virtue as it is developed in the Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics, and Politics.  How does virtue differ from self-control? In what way is virtue a perfection of both our capacity for non-rational desire and our reason?  What does Aristotle mean by saying that virtuous people act for the sake of the beautiful?  How is virtue promoted and sustained by political community?  What is the relation between virtue and natural flourishing? (A) (IV) G. Lear    

22200/32200. Philosophy of Cognitive Science. (=CHSS 34914,HIST 24914/34914). Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field in which theories and methods from psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, artificial intelligence, and philosophy are used to study cognition. Computational models play an increasingly significant role in the understanding of cognitive phenomena such as perception, categorization, concept formation, and problem solving. In this course, students will become familiar with some of the methods and models used in cognitive science, and discuss philosophical issues pertaining to the methodology and basic premises of cognitive science. (B) C. Bloch    

22500/32500. Biological and Cultural Evolution. (= NCDV 27400, BPRO 23900, BIOS 29286, CHSS 37900, HIPS 23900, LINIG XXXXX). 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) W. Wimsatt, S. Mufwene    

29405/39405. Advanced Logic. 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?  (II) (B) K. Davey 

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Open to Graduate Students

31900. Feminist Philosophy. (=GNSE 29600, HMRT 31900, LAWS 47701, PLSC 51900, RETH 41000). PQ: Undergraduates by permission only. The course is an introduction to the major varieties of philosophical feminism: Liberal Feminism (Mill, Wollstonecraft, Okin, Nussbaum), Radical Feminism (MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin), Difference Feminism (Gilligan, Held, Noddings), and Postmodern "Queer" Feminism (Rubin, Butler).  After studying each of these approaches, we will focus on political and ethical problems of contemporary international feminism, asking how well each of the approaches addresses these problems. (I) M. Nussbaum

36900. Phenomenon:  From the Constitution of the Object to the Self-Manifestation of the Event.  Kant, Husserl, Heidegger. (=DVPR 36900, THEO 36900). J. Marion.

49700. Workship: Preliminary Essay. 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.

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

51303. Acting and Thinking. (= SCTH 51114). An action, according to Aristotle, can be a logical conclusion of thinking. We shall try to understand this claim by reading book 7 of Nicomachean Ethics (we shall discuss Aristotle on practical syllogism, the weakness of the will, the difference between practical and theoretical).  We shall proceed to consider the place of these ideas in Kant's First and Second Critique.
We shall look at commentaries on the relevant texts by E. Anscombe, J. Dancy, S. Engstrom, J. McDowell, A.W. Price, S. Rodl, and others. I. Kimhi.

51411. Freedom and Love in Psychoanalsyis (and Life). (=SCTH 51411). This seminar will take up the idea -- developed after Freud, but influenced by him -- that freedom and love are fundamental values in psychoanalysis.  And they are fundamental values of psychoanalysis because they are constitutive of flourishing human life.  We shall read carefully articles by Hans Loewald, Paul Gray and Heinz Kohut (as well as articles by Lear and Levenson) that try to show how freedom and love show up in the details of human life, often hidden as such, and how psychoanalytic treatment facilitates their development.  We shall concentrate on theory and technique: giving clinical vignettes that give concrete realization to these ideals.  Students should have previous acquaintance with the writings of Freud as well as Plato's Symposium.  The seminar is open to graduate students in Philosophy and Social Thought as well as to undergraduate majors in Philosophy and Fundamentals.  All others require permission of the instructors. Taught jointly with Clinical Prof. L. Levenson (Yale), Visiting Kohut Professor in the Committee on Social Thought. J. Lear.

51508. Thomistic Moral Philosophy. PQ: Consent of Instructor. Vast areas of Anglophone practical philosophy have focused on Aristotle's ethics of late, and some new neo-Aristotelians have turned to work by Thomas Aquinas for help.  Our tasks in this seminar will be three: (1) to consider recent work in neo-Aristotelian ethics; (2) to see what contemporary neo-Aristotelians seek in turning to Aquinas; and three, to consider how far Thomistic thought about virtue, happiness, practical reason and practical wisdom are compatible with contemporary neo-Aristotelian practical philosophy more generally. (I) (IV) C. Vogler.

52220. Marx's Capital. In this course we will read the first volume of Karl Marx’s Capital. (I) (V) A. Ford.

53146. The Meanings of “Theology”: Introduction to the History of the Concepts. (=THEO/DVPR 51610). J. Marion.

53610. Probability and Inductive Logic. PQ: Elementary Logic or equivalent. In this course, we will examine the most well-known attempts to develop a theory of inductive logic, i.e., a logic which defines the (probabilistic) relations of inductive support that obtain between sentences in a formal language.  In the first half of the course, we will examine, in detail, Carnap’s program in inductive logic. We will consider both the early “a prioristic” stage of Carnap’s work, in which it was held that the principles of inductive logic suffice to determine a unique methodology for inductive reasoning, as well as the subsequent weakening of these principles to allow for a continuum of inductive methods. In the second half of the course, we will examine the various philosophical objections leveled at Carnap’s program, as well as examine more recent attempts to assign probabilities to sentences in a first-order language. Readings for the course will include works by Carnap, Goodman, Putnam, Gaifman and Paris among others. (II) A. Vasudevan.

PHIL 57602. Autonomy: Kant's Conception of the Essence of Morality. (=DVPR 57602) Autonomy is the centre of Kant’s conception of morality. Hence we must try to understand the idea of self-legislation if we want to understand his moral theory, and examine its consistency and implications if we want to know whether an account of morality can be based on it. The course is to include discussion of the Categorical Imperative and of wider ethical questions regarding topics such as moral motivation, law and virtue. Students will participate by reading relevant texts, presenting brief comments on them, and joining in the discussion. A. Mueller.

59950. Workshop: Job Placement. 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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