Autumn 2013 Courses

Six students and an umbrella.


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

Autumn Courses at-a-glance - PDF

Open to Undergraduates

PHIL 20211. Kant’s Moral Theory. Bernard Williams (1993: 63) famously rejected the Kantian claim that, as moral agents, we should think of ourselves as legislators.  But why did Kant make this claim in the first place? The answer is first and foremost historical. In this course, we shall start by looking at the early Enlightenment context of moral thought (David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Christian August Crusius) to which Kant responds and try to locate the Kantian approach to moral theory within this context. After that, we shall read selected passages from Kant’s main writings on moral theory, the Groundwork, the Second Critique, and the Metaphysics of Morals. Finally, we shall look at some contemporary interpretations of Kant’s moral theory and – if time allows – on some contemporary moral theories that claim a Kantian heritage. C. Fricke.

PHIL 24800. Foucault: History of Sexuality. (= GNSE 23100, HIPS 24300, CMLT 25001, FNDL 22001) 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. 

PHIL 25000. History of Ancient Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy. PQ: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.  An examination of ancient Greek philosophical texts that are foundational for Western philosophy, especially the work of Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the nature and possibility of knowledge and its role in human life; the nature of the soul; virtue; happiness and the human good. G. Lear.

PHIL 25200. Intensive History of Philosophy, Part I: Plato. In this class, we will read a number of Platonic dialogues and use them to investigate the questions with which Socrates and Plato opened the door to the practice of philosophy.  Here are some examples:  What does a definition consist in?  What is knowledge and how can it be acquired?  Why do people sometimes do and want what is bad?  Is the world we sense with our five senses the real world?  What is courage and how is it connected to fear?  Is the soul immortal?  We will devote much of our time to clearly laying out the premises of Socrates' various arguments in order to evaluate the arguments for validity.  Note: This course, together with introduction to Aristotle (26200) in the Winter quarter, substitutes for and fulfills the Ancient Philosophy History requirement for the fall quarter: students can take these courses instead of taking PHIL 25000. Students must take them as a 2 quarter sequence in order to fulfill the requirement, but students who already have fulfilled or do not need to fulfill the Ancient Philosophy History requirement may take the one quarter of the course without the other.   A. Callard.

PHIL 29601. Intensive Track Seminar: Practical Theoretical Knowledge. “That’s all well and good in practice...but how does it work in theory?” runs a joke made popular on the U of C campus by student t-shirts. The joke presupposes a distinction between theoretical and practical knowledge - a distinction enshrined in philosophical orthodoxy since the publication of Gilbert Ryle’s “Knowing How and Knowing That” (1945). In the 21st century, however, some philosophers have questioned this orthodoxy, beginning with T. Williamson and J. Stanley’s “Knowing How” (2001). This course will introduce intensive majors to a lively debate in contemporary philosophy, beginning with a careful reading of Ryle’s classic texts, then turning to Stanley and Williamson’s arguments that knowing how can be reduced to a form of propositional knowledge, the responses that these arguments have engendered, and ending with selections from Stanley’s extended response in his recent book Know How (2011). Autumn. M. Kremer.

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:

PHIL 20100/30000. Elementary Logic. (=CHSS 33500, HIPS 20100) Course not for field credit. 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

PHIL 23411/33411. Being, Time and Otherness. This course will be devoted to two early Essays of Levinas, Time and Other and Existence and Existents. We will try to situate these two works in the context of the French reception of German Existentialism. The major goal of this course will be to show that the concept of Otherness in Levinas’s philosophy does not entail a simple abandonment of the Heideggerian “ontological difference” but lies in a new deduction of it that entails a new concept of Time, beyond its ontological (and Heideggerian) meaning. We will try to explain how this new deduction of the ontological difference is based on the elucidation of phenomenological events that remain hidden to the so-called “phenomenological reduction” and that requires a reform of the phenomenological method that Levinas inherits from Husserl and Heidegger. Thanks to this new method, Phenomenology can be accomplished as an investigation that is able to go beyond intentional objects.  R. Moati.

PHIL 20506/30506: Philosophy of History: Narrative and Explanation. (=HIST 25110/35110) This lecture-discussion course will trace different theories of explanation in history from the nineteenth century to the present.  We will examine the ideas of Humboldt, Ranke, Dilthey, Collingwood, Braudel, Hempel, Danto, and White.  The considerations will encompass such topics as the nature of the past such that one can explain its features, the role of laws in historical explanation, the use of Verstehen history as a science, the character of narrative explanation,the structure of historical versus other kinds of explanation, and the function of the footnote. (II) R. Richards.

PHIL 21009/31009. Aesthetics. PQ: Consent of instructor. This course introduces problems in the philosophy of art with both traditional and contemporary texts. Topics include the definition of art, representation, expression, metaphor, and taste. Autumn. (A) (I) T. Cohen.

PHIL 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.

PHIL 25110/35110. Maimonides and Hume on Religion. (=JWSC 26100, RLST 25110, HIJD 35200) This course will study in alternation chapters from Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed and David Hume's Dialogues concerning Natural Religion, two major philosophical works whose literary forms are at least as important as their contents. Topics will include human knowledge of the existence and nature of God, anthropomorphism and idolatry, religious language, and the problem of evil. Time permitting, we shall also read other short works by these two authors on related themes. (IV or V) J. Stern

PHIL 27600/37600. The Problem of Logically Alien Thought and Its Aftermath. In what sense, if any, do the laws of logic express necessary truths? The course will consider four fateful junctures in the history of philosophy at which this question received influential treatment: (1) Descartes on the creation of the eternal truths, (2) Kant's re-conception of the nature of logic and introduction of the distinction between pure general and transcendental logic, (3) Frege's rejection of the possibility of logical aliens, and (4) Wittgenstein's early and later responses to Frege. We will closely read short selections from Descartes, Kant, Frege, and Wittgenstein, and ponder their significance for contemporary philosophical reflection by studying some classic pieces of secondary literature on these figures, along with related pieces of philosophical writing by Jocelyn Benoist, Matt Boyle, Cora Diamond, Peter Geach, John MacFarlane, Adrian Moore, Hilary Putnam, Thomas Ricketts, Sebastian Rödl, Richard Rorty, Peter Sullivan, Barry Stroud, Clinton Tolley, and Charles Travis. The course is open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students with prior background in philosophy. J. Conant.

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Open to Graduate Students

PHIL 31414. MAPH Core Course: Contemporary Analytic Philosophy. PQ: 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.

PHIL 32001. Pragmatism and Philosophy of Science of C.S. Peirce. In this seminar will examine the views of the American pragmatist philosopher C.S. Peirce as they pertain to the nature and methodology of science. The course will be organized around a careful reading of the six essays comprising the series “Illustrations of the Logic of Science,” published by Peirce in Popular Science Monthly in the years 1877-78.  Among the many topics addressed in these essays are: (1). What is the aim of scientific inquiry? (2). What are the conditions for the meaningfulness of a scientific hypothesis? (3). What is the role of probability in science (inverse inference vs. hypothesis testing)? (4). Are there natural laws? (5). What are the grounds for inductive inference? (6) How are we to classify the various sciences? In addition to the six essays mentioned above, we will also consider some of Peirce’s later writings on the subject as well as contemporary interpretations of the Peircean view. (II) A. Vasudevan.

PHIL 43110. Reasons. In this seminar we will address questions about the nature of reasons and normativity, with a particular eye toward the difficulties philosophy has encountered in attempting to locate our responsiveness to normativity in the causual order. Readings will be drawn from a manuscript in progress as well as a range of work in philosophy of mind and philosophy of action, skewing toward contemporary sources. (III) J. Bridges.

PHIL 50008. Michel Foucault: Self, Government, and Regimes of Truth. (=CMLT 50008, DVPR 50008, FREN 40008) PQ: Limited enrollment; Students interested in taking for credit should attend first seminar before registering. Reading knowledge of French required. Consent Only. A close reading of Michel Foucault’s 1979-80 course at the Collège de France, Du gouvernement des vivants.  Foucault’s most extensive course on early Christianity, these lectures examine the relations between the government of the self and regimes of truth through a detailed analysis of Christian penitential practices, with special attention to the practices of exomologēsis and exagoreusis.  We will read this course both taking into account Foucault’s sustained interest in ancient thought and with a focus on the more general historical and theoretical conclusions that can be drawn from his analyses. (I) A. Davidson.

PHIL 50100. First Year Seminar. PQ: Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students. Open to grad students. This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters. J. Bridges.

PHIL 50122. The Writings of Johannes Climacus. (=SCTH 55506) PQ: Consent of Instructor. Søren Kierkegaard created a pseudonymous author Johannes Climacus, who is cited as the author of Philosophical Crumbs as well as The Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Crumbs.  This course will begin with a careful reading of Philosophical Crumbs.  If there is time, we will go on to The Concluding Unscientific Postscript.  This course is open to graduate students in the Committee on Social Thought and in the Philosophy Department.  For all other students, permission of the instructor is required.  J. Lear.

PHIL 50250. Greek Tragedy and Philosophy. PHIL 50100. (=RETH 50250, LAWS 96303). PQ: Admission by permission of the instructor.  Permission must be sought in writing by September 15. An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation, OR a solid grounding in Classics, including language training.
In other words, those who qualify on the basis of philosophical background do not have to know ancient Greek, but someone without such preparation may be admitted on the basis of knowledge of Greek and other Classics training of the sort typical of our Ph.D. students in Classics.   An extra section will be held for those who can read some of the materials in Greek
Ancient Greek tragedy has been of continuous interest to philosophers, whether they love it or hate it.  But they do not agree about what it is and does, or about what insights it offers.  This seminar will study the tragic festivals and a select number of tragedies, also consulting some modern studies of ancient tragedy.  Then we shall turn to philosophical accounts of the tragic genre, including Plato, Aristotle, the Greek and Roman Stoics, Seneca, Lessing, Schlegel, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Iris Murdoch, and Bernard Williams. If we have time we will include some study of ancient Greek comedy and its philosophical significance. (I or IV) M. Nussbaum.

PHIL 51200. Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Life and Death. (=LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512, GNSE 50101) PQ: Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors.  They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail.  Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.  This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines.  It admits approximately ten students.  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. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance.   The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors.    Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year.  The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement.   There are approximately four meetings in each of the three quarters.  Students must therefore enroll for all three quarters. Autumn, Winter, Spring. M. Nussbaum, S. Conly.

PHIL 51820. The Idea of Political Liberalism. John Rawls’s book, Political Liberalism, stakes out a remarkably original way to conceive of the goals and possibilities of political philosophy.  In addition, in Political Liberalism Rawls offers an account of distributive justice that fits with his new conception of the discipline’s goals and possibilities.  In the seminar we will (i) lay out and assess Rawls’s argument justifying his turn to political liberalism; (ii) lay out and assess the new version of Rawls’s theory of justice as fairness; (iii) lay out and assess at least one other political liberal view of proper distributive principles; (iv) examine how choosing between competing accounts of distributive principles is supposed to proceed in light of the constraints of political liberalism; and (v) determine whether and how far those constraints should be loosened. (I) D. Brudney.

PHIL 54005. Moral Sentimentalism and Its Psychological Foundations. In his Moral Sentimentalism, Michael Slote provides an account of the moral judgment that gives a prominent place to the evaluative feeling of empathy as the natural sources of human morality. But rather than embracing an emotivist account of this judgment, his claim is that this judgment is true or false in very much the same way as descriptive judgments are and that all the shortcomings of emotivism can be avoided. As for his account of empathy, he relies on social psychological research on empathic feelings. In this course, we shall take our starting point from a critical account of Slote’s theory and of the social psychological foundations on which he claims to build it. We shall then turn to Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments where we find an earlier version of moral sentimentalism, one which claims a virtue theoretical heritage in a much more convincing way than the version suggested by Slote. C. Fricke.

PHIL 54805. The Concept of Metaphysics: Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida. This course will be devoted to the confrontation of two of the most important masterpieces of Continental Philosophy: Being and Time of Heidegger and Totality and Infinity of Levinas. In this course we shall try first to focus on the Heideggerian project of a “deconstruction of the metaphysics of presence”. Against Heidegger, Levinas maintains that ontology cannot be fundamental—the question of being at the core of Heidegger's project cannot just be directed to one's own tacit understanding of being.  If the question of being is an actual question, its addressee must be an Other.  Levinas teaches that metaphysical experience of otherness cannot be captured in Heideggerian fundamental ontology. Nevertheless, Derrida in “Violence and Metaphysics” challenges Levinas’s idea of a Metaphysical Experience that could be entirely free of  Ontology and Phenomenality (in the Heidegger's senses of these terms). Against Levinas he defends the the idea that the Other cannot be identified to a Metaphysical Presence (as it is for Levinas) but necessarily coincides with an Absence and a Trace. We will try to identify and to criticize such a reduction of the Levinas' Metaphysics to the so-called "Metaphysics of Presence" identified and deconstructed by Heidegger and Derrida. Through the analysis of the philosophical conflicts between Heidegger, Levinas and Derrida about metaphysics, the fundamental goal of this course will be to defend a sense for Metaphysics after the so-called “End of Metaphysics." R. Moati.

PHIL 55799. Aristotle’s Theory of Science: Posterior Analytics I. Knowledge of Greek not required. In the Posterior Analytics, Aristotle presents his theory of science and knowledge (episteme). For Aristotle, scientific knowledge is typically obtained by means of demonstrations. A demonstration is a kind of deduction that proceeds from epistemically prior premisses and provides an explanation (aition) of why the conclusion is true. Aristotle examines the nature of demonstrative sciences by using the theory of syllogistic deduction developed in the Prior Analytics. For example, he argues that there can be no infinite chains of predication and hence no infinite regress of demonstrations. Thus, every chain of demonstrations terminates in unproved first principles (archai). The seminar will be a close reading of the first book of the Posterior Analytics, covering central aspects of Aristotle’s logic, philosophy of science, and epistemology. (II, III, IV) M. Malink.

PHIL 59950: Job Placement Workshop. 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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