Winter 2013 Courses

Anubav Vasudevan giving a lecture.

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 Winter 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.

Winter Courses at-a-glance - PDF

Open to Undergraduates

2XXXX. Introduction to Phenomenology. R. Moati.

20725. Semantics of Counterfactuals. This course will provide a general introduction to the most widely discussed proposals for how to analyze the meaning of counterfactual (or subjunctive) conditional claims, such as “If Oswald had not shot Kennedy, then somebody else would have.” In addition to the standard Stalnaker-Lewis “possible worlds” semantics for counterfactuals, we will also examine epistemic interpretations of counterfactuals, such as those proposed by Ramsey and Ginsberg. Readings for the course will include works by Goodman, Adams, Lewis, Fine and Bennett, among others.  (B)  A. Vasudevan 

21610. Medical Ethics: Who Decides and on What Basis? (=BPRO 22610,BIOS 29313,HIPS 21911). PQ: Third- or fourth-year standing. Note: 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 examines such issues as paternalism, autonomy, the commodification of the body, and the enhancement of mental and/or physical characteristics. D. Brudney, A. Dudley Goldblatt, L. Ross

23000. Introduction to Epistemology and Metaphysics. In this course we will explore some of the central questions in epistemology and metaphysics. In epistemology, these questions will include: What is knowledge? What facts or states justify a belief? How can the threat of skepticism be adequately answered? How do we know what we (seem to) know about mathematics and morality? In metaphysics, these questions will include: What is time? What is the best account of personal identity across time? Do we have free will? We will also discuss how the construction of a theory of knowledge ought to relate to the construction of a metaphysical theory—roughly speaking, what comes first, epistemology or metaphysics? (B) B. Callard

24099. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche: Character, Agency, and Fate. In this course, we will read selected texts by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche with an eye toward broaching certain fundamental questions in ethics and the metaphysics of human agency, such as: What are the limits of rational reflection? What consequences might these limits have for our notion of moral responsibility, and our understanding of how to live well? Is ethical persuasion possible, and if so, how? What does it mean to be a person, an agent—and in what sense are personhood and agency something valuable? We will be particularly interested in determining how the stylistic peculiarities of Kierkegaard’s and Nietzsche’s respective authorships afford us a distinctive way of approaching these questions. T. McKinney

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 is an introduction to some of the major thinkers and movements in the philosophy of the medieval and early modern periods. This course will aim at providing a broad overview, with special attention to developments in metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of mind. Figures discussed will include Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Locke and Hume. M. Kremer.

27000. History of Philosophy III: Kant and 19th 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. Spring. R. Moati.

29200/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Language, Time, and Nature. 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. Many philosophers have thought that studying the way we speak can lead to philosophical insight--that investigating language can itself be a way of doing philosophy.  This tutorial will investigate whether that is a viable endeavor.  We will look at Quine's influential argument to the effect that one can draw philosophical conclusions from linguistic investigations, followed by one its most serious criticisms.  Then, to answer that criticism, we will examine two topics in some depth.  First, through texts by such authors as Leibniz, Russell, Kenny, and Emmon Bach, we will consider whether tense and grammatical aspect have anything to tell us about the nature of time.  Second, through texts by such authors as Aristotle, Kripke, and Carlson, we will consider whether loose commonsense generalizations have anything to tell us about the status of natural or artificial kinds.  We will conclude the course by revisiting the major line of criticism against linguistic philosophy and considering whether, based on these two case studies, there is anything to say in response. M. Teichman.

29200/29300-02. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Rationality and Animal Minds. 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. The topic of animal minds has often proved divisive among philosophers.  Rene Descartes claimed that believing brutes think is ``the greatest of all prejudices we have retained from infancy'', while David Hume found no truth more evident than that ``beasts are endow'd with thought and reason as well as men''.  In this course we will be looking at a recent version of this controversy, one that stems from the idea that the concept of rationality should be central to our understanding of the mind and its place in nature. Our main concern will be where the minds of non-rational animals fit in this picture.  Along the way we will consider such questions as what it is to have a mind and how we recognize another, how our intellectual capacities differ from those of other creatures, and why philosophers have been led to say seemingly implausible things about the minds of non-human animals.  Authors we will read include Frege, Wittgenstein, Donald Davidson, Daniel Dennett, John McDowell, David Finkelstein, Jason Bridges, Susan Hurley, Elizabeth Camp, Alasdair MacIntrye, and Matthew Boyle.A. Browne.

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. Senior Seminar I. 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. K. Davey, Staff.

29902-01, 02. 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. K. Davey, Staff.

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Open to Graduates and Undergraduates

22810/32810. History and Philosophy of Psychology. (=HIST 25302/35302, CHSS 36901, HIPS 26901). PQ: Third- and fourth-year standing and consent of instructor.This lecture-discussion course will trace the development of psychology from the early modern period through the establishment of behaviorism in the 20th century. In the early period, we will read Descartes and Berkeley, both of whom contributed to ideas about the psychology of perception. Then we will jump to the 19th century, especially examining the perceptual psychology in the laboratory of Wundt, and follow some threads of the development of cognitive psychology in the work of William James. The course will conclude with the behavioristic revolution inaugurated by Chicago's own John Watson and expanded by B. F. Skinner. (II) R. Richards  

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

23801/33801. Theory of Reference. (=DVPR 33800, LING 33801). PQ: PHIL 30000 or equivalent required; prior exposure to analytic philosophy recommended. This course is a survey of recent theories of names, descriptions, and truth. We discuss the relation of reference to meaning, as well as the epistemological and metaphysical consequences drawn from theses about reference. After briefly reviewing classical sources (e.g., Frege, Russell, Tarski), we concentrate on current work by Searle, Kripke, Donnellan, Kaplan, Putnam, Evans, Davidson, and Burge. (II) (B) J. Stern.

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

25111/35111. Judaism and Philosophy of Religion in Contemporary Thought. (=DVPR 35111, HIJD 35111, JWSC  26700). PQ: Undergrads enroll in sections 01 & 02. Graduate students interested in taking for credit must attend 1st class before registering, and priority will be given to those with reading knowledge of French. How do distinctive elements in the Jewish tradition contribute to more general issues in the philosophy of religion?  We will approach this question through a study of three major twentieth-century Jewish thinkers:  Joseph Soloveitchik, Yeshayahu Leibowitz and Emmanuel Levinas.  Topics to be discussed include the role of practice in religion, the nature of faith, the relations between ethics and law and between religion and politics, prayer and divine service, the status of tradition and sacred texts.  Attention will be given both to debates within the Jewish tradition and to the framework of philosophical and theological issues that characterizes contemporary thought. The course will alternate between lectures and discussions. (I) A. Davidson    

26100/36100. Philosophical Interpretation of Scripture in the Middle Ages. Topic: The Problems of Evil and the Book of Job. (=HIJD 36100,JWSC 26250,RLST 25902). An important genre of philosophical writing during the Middle Ages was the commentary, both commentaries on canonical philosophical works (e.g., Aristotle) and on Scripture. This course is an introduction to medieval philosophical exegesis of Scripture, concentrating on the Book of Job and the philosophical problems of evil and suffering. Authors will include Saadiah, Maimonides, and Aquinas, and readings will include both their commentaries on Job and their systematic philosophical discussions of the problems of evil. (IV) J. Stern    

28201/38201. Topics from Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. (=GRMN 28213/38213). This course will attempt to give a general introduction to what is arguably Hegel's most exciting work. We will begin by spending some time discussing the overall project of the work, especially as articulated in the Preface and Introduction. After that, we will examine some of the most important sections of the work, such as "Sense-certainty" and "Lordship and Bondage" in more detail. (V) M. Forster

29400/39600. Intermediate Logic. (=CHSS 33600,HIPS 20500). In this course, we will prove the soundness and completeness of standard deductive systems for both sentential and first-order logic. We will also establish related results in elementary model theory, such as the compactness theorem for first-order logic, the Lowenheim-Skolem theorem and Lindstrom’s theorem. (B) (II) A. Vasudevan   

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Open to Graduate Students

41155. Kant’s Doctrine of Right. In this course we will study Kant’s Doctrine of Right, the first part of his Metaphysics of Morals. Where necessary and possible, we also consider some of his other moral and political writings. (I) (V) A. Ford, B. Laurence

49900. Reading & Research. Staff.

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

51200. Law-Philosophy Workshop. (=LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301). 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.

51404. Global Inequality. (=LAWS 92403), Global income and wealth are highly concentrated. The richest 2% of the population own about half of the global assets. Per capita income in the United States is around $47,000 and in Europe it is around $30,500, while in India it is $3,400 and in Congo, it is $329. There are equally unsettling inequalities in longevity, health, and education.

In this class, we ask what duties nations and individuals have to address these inequalities and what are the best strategies for doing so. What role must each country play in helping itself? What is the role of international agreements and agencies, of NGOs, and of corporations in addressing global poverty? How do we weigh policies that emphasize growth against policies that emphasize within-country equality, health, or education?

In seeking answers to these questions, the class will combine readings on the law and economics of global development with readings on the philosophy of global justice. A particular focus will be on the role that legal institutions, both domestic and international, play in discharging these duties. For, example, we might focus on how a nation with natural resources can design legal institutions to ensure they are exploited for the benefit of the citizens of the country. Students will be expected to write a paper, which may qualify for substantial writing credit. (I) M. Nussbaum, D. Weisbach

53205. Perception and Intentionality. This seminar concerns what it is for perceptual experience to possess intentionality. The course will be split into roughly three sections. The first section of the course will cover the nature of intentionality itself. I will discuss the two most prominent contemporary accounts of intentionality: representationalism and relationalism. I will also cover a third (broadly Aristotelian) view according to which intentionality consists in being or becoming what one is directed upon. The second section of the course will canvass attempts to give naturalistic accounts of intentionality (causal/informational accounts, teleo-functional accounts, etc.). The third section will cover the relationship between perceptual experience's intentional features and its phenomenal features including the thesis that there is a distinctive kind of phenomenal intentionality. (III) C. Frey

53341. Expressivism. Expressivism---the contemporary incarnation of the noncognitivist reaearch program of philosophers such as Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare---and its comprehensive view about the nature of both normative language and normative thought have recently been applied to many topics elsewhere in philosophy, including logic, probability, knowledge, belief, and modality. After reviewing the key motivations behind expressivism and its scope beyond the realm of the metaethical, the class will focus on the semantic commitments of expressivism. Of special interests will be the prospects of expressivism to resolve the Frege-Geach problem and, more generally, to arrive at a satisfying model of everyday discourse and reasoning. In addressing these questions, we will consider a number of non-classical semantic frameworks that have recently been proposed in philosophy of language, compare their vices and virtues, and see to what extent they are compatible with the key intuitions behind the expressivist agenda. (II) M. Willer.

54409. Russell. PQ: Students other than Philosophy PhD students need permission of instructor. An examination of the development of Russell’s interrelated logical, epistemological and metaphysical views, focusing on the period from the Principles of Mathematics (1903) to The Philosophy of Logical Atomism (1918). (III) M. Kremer

55910. Aristotle and the origin of the ethical. (=CLAS 46712). PQ: Undergraduates must email instructor for consent. Also, before the first class, students ought to carefully read book I, chapters 1-7. Note there are 2 class meeting times, plus required attendance of discussion section. This class is a close reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, devoting two class sessions to each book.  We will be reading with the following line of questioning in mind: is Aristotle’s ethical theory consistent with our basic moral intuitions?  If not, are we willing to take seriously the possibility that our moral outlook could be fundamentally mistaken?  If not, can we take Aristotle seriously as an ethicist?  The aim of the class is not primarily exegetical; our goal is to figure out whether Aristotle is right, and to think about how and whether it is possible to engage philosophically with an ethically alien point of view. (I) (IV) A. Callard.


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