Autumn 2014 Courses

Raoul Moati teaching a seminar.

 

Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Autumn 2014 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 priorpermission 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 2014 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.

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Autumn Courses at-a-glance - PDF

Open to Undergraduates

PHIL 21720. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. (=FNDL 21908) PQ: Philosophy or Fundamentals major. This seminar will offer a close reading of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, one of the great works of ethics.  Among the topics to be considered are: What is a good life?  What is ethics?  What is the relation between ethics and having a good life?  What is it for reason to be practical?  What is human excellence?  What is the non-rational part of the human psyche like?  How does it ever come to listen to reason?  What is human happiness?  What is the place of thought and of action in the happy life?
We shall use the new translation by C.D.C. Reeve (Hackett Publishers). (A)  J. Lear.

PHIL 23000. Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology. 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.

23011. Faith and Reason. (=RLST 23011) Recently, a number of best-selling books, by professional philosophers like Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell), scientists like Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), and popular writers like Sam Harris (The End of Faith) have argued that modern science shows that religious faith is fundamentally irrational. This argument has not gone unanswered (for example by Francis Collins in The Language of God and by Pope Benedict XVI, in his Regensburg lecture). This course will examine the relationship between religious faith and reason. We will discuss four positions: (1) reason and faith are in conflict, and it is best to abandon science in favor of faith (religious fundamentalism); (2) reason and faith are in conflict, and it is best to abandon faith in favor of science (scientific atheism); (3) reason and faith do not make cognitive contact, and one can freely choose faith without conflict with reason ("non-overlapping magisteria," fideism); (4) reason and faith do make cognitive contact but are mutually supporting, not in conflict (harmonious compatibilism). We will focus on contemporary debates but also consider their historical roots (for example, Aquinas, Leibniz, Voltaire, Hume, William James). Among the topics to be discussed will be the nature of reason and faith, arguments for and against the existence of God, the problem of evil, evolution and intelligent design, cosmology and the origin of the universe, the rationality of belief in miracles and the supernatural, and evolutionary and neuroscientific explanations of religious belief and religious experience. M. Kremer. (B)

PHIL 24602. The Analytic Tradition.PHIL 24602. The Analytic Tradition. This course will introduce students to the analytic tradition in philosophy. The aim of the course is to provide an overview of the first half of this tradition, starting from the publication of Frege's Begriffsschrift in 1879 and reaching up to the posthumous publication of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations in 1953. The course will focus on four aspects of this period in the history of analytic philosophy: (1) its initial founding phase, as inaugurated in the early seminal writings of Gottlob Frege, G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, as well as Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus; (2) the inheritance and reshaping of some of the central ideas of the founders of analytic philosophy at the hands of the members of the Vienna Circle and their critics, especially as developed in the writings of Otto Neurath, Rudolf Carnap, Moritz Schlick, and W. V. O. Quine, (3) the cross-fertilization of the analytic and Kantian traditions in philosophy and the resulting initiation of a new form of analytic Kantianism, as found in the work of some of the logical positivists, as well as in the writings of some of their main critics, such as C. I. Lewis; (4) the movement of Ordinary Language Philosophy and Oxford Analysis, with a special focus on the writings of Gilbert Ryle and the later Wittgenstein (B) J. Conant.

PHIL 24800. Foucault: History of Sexuality. (= GNSE 23100, HIPS 24300, CMLT 25001, FNDL 22001, THEO 53357). PQ: 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. Autumn. A. Davidson.

PHIL 25000. History of Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy. 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.

PHIL 25116/53358. Philo of Alexandria on Prayer, Interpretation, and Soul Formation. (=SCTH 51413, BIBL 50505) PQ: Registration is by consent only. The writings of Philo of Alexandria are by far the largest extant remainder of Hellenistic Judaism: the mutually transformative encounter between Greek philosophy and ancient Judaism. Working with the Hebrew Bible’s Greek translation, Philo developed an allegorical approach that would become foundational for Neo-Platonists and for later Christian Jewish interpreters. This course focuses on the perfectionist dimension of Philo’s project. What role do reading interpretation and prayer play with respect to the perfection of the subject? What is the goal of this process, and what makes the Greek translation of the Bible capable of contributing toward this? What is the relationship between literal and allegorical layers of meaning? What is the relationship between the scriptural law of Moses and the unwritten law of nature, or between the particularity of Judaism and the universality of philosophy? How does prayer enable the transformation of the subject? Among the treatises from the Philonic corpus, we will read the following: The Contemplative Life; On Abraham; Life of Moses I and II; Who is The Heir; Confusion of Tongues; On the Sacrifice of Cain and Abel; On the Creation of the World; On the Decalogue; Special Laws I; Allegorical Interpretation II. J. Lear, H. Najman.

PHIL 28010/38010. Introduction to the Philosophy of Language. An introduction to philosophical thought about the nature of language. The questions we will address include: What is meaning? What is truth? How does language relate to thought? How do languages relate to each other? What is metaphor? What is fiction? The focus will be on classic work in the analytic tradition (Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, Tarski, Quine, Austin, Grice, Davidson, Donnellan, Putnam, Searle, Kaplan, Kripke) but we will also read, and relate to this modern work, some current work in the philosophical literature and some seminal discussions of language in the writings of Plato and Aristotle.  (II) B. Callard.

PHIL 29200/29300. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: The Critique of Pure Reason and Kant’s Method for Overcoming Metaphysics. 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. This course has two aims. First and primarily, it will introduce students to one of the most important texts (if not simply the most) in the history of philosophy, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. The Critique is, of course, monumental in scope, and one cannot expect to cover it adequately in one ten-week quarter. A principled selection of passages must be made. So second, the course will focus on Kant’s method for overcoming metaphysics in the Critique. More specifically, we will think about Kant’s doctrine that the metaphysical claims and concepts prevalent at his time lack ‘meaning’ or ‘significance’. Per Kant, metaphysics as conceived by his predecessors distinctively made claims or employed concepts that referred to items that are not objects of possible experience. Part of Kant’s strategy for overcoming metaphysics thus construed seems to be to declare such reference impossible, and the claims or concepts that make it, meaningless. Thus questions lurking in the background will include:
-What does Kant mean by ‘meaning’ and ‘reference’?
-Can one think a thought that is ‘meaningless’ by Kant’s lights, and what does that amount to?
-Are his strategy and method, thus described, compatible with his deployment of regulative ideas in his theoretical philosophy?
-Are they compatible with the (practical) knowledge of or belief in God, freedom, and the immortal soul Kant affirms in the first Critique and elsewhere?
-Do they leave room for the concepts and claims that make up the apparatus of Kant’s ‘transcendental argument(s)’ to count as ‘meaningful’?
-If the answer to any of the last three questions is ‘no’, how might we need to modify our understanding of Kant’s strategy and method? Or is the Critique simply inconsistent (or, at least, incomplete)?
Pursuant to those aims, we shall spend more time with those parts of the text where Kant is characterizing his philosophical project (Aesthetic, Deduction, Phenomena and Noumena, Appendix to the Dialectic, Doctrine of Method) and less time on his particular arguments for and against specific metaphysical claims (the Analogies and the Paralogisms, Antinomies, and Ideal). S. Gurofsky.

PHIL 29601. Intensive Track Seminar: Language and Skepticism. In this course we will examine attempts to solve the problem of philosophical skepticism through reflection on the nature of linguistic meaning. We will focus on three such attempts: early 20th century logical empiricism, mid-20th century ordinary language philosophy, and the contemporary movement of epistemological contextualism. In each case, we will ask whether the claims advanced about the nature of language can be sustained, and whether they really do have the power to defeat the skeptical challenge. J. Bridges.

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 20700). Course not for field credit. An introduction to the techniques of modern logic. These include the representation of arguments in symbolic notation, and the systematic manipulation of these representations in order to show the validity of arguments. Regular homework assignments, in class test, and final examination. No prerequisites. M. Kremer.

PHIL 20120/30120 Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. (=SCTH 30100). We are going to read closely and discuss selected sections from Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, with an eye towards understanding the conception of philosophy whose practice Wittgenstein seeks to exemplify in the work. Some prior philosophical education is required: this should not be one’s first class in philosophy. (III) I. Kimhi.

PHIL 24025/34025. Reference and Description. The question how thought and speech refers, and in particular what role descriptions play in a comprehensive philosophical analysis of referring expressions, has played an outstanding role in 20th century philosophy and remains influential until today. In this class we will trace the discussion about the relation between reference and description from Fregean beginnings to the most recent two-dimensionalist attempts to overcome Kripke’s seminal arguments against descriptive analyses of referring expressions. Throughout, we will try to reach a better understanding of why questions about reference and description are of foundational importance for a range of topics that are central to philosophical theorizing, including the analysis of propositional attitudes such as belief and knowledge, the nature of possibility and necessity, the question of whether there is a level of mental experience that is epistemically transparent, the relation between thought and language, the role of the principle of compositionality in semantics, and the intersection between semantics and pragmatics. (B) M. Willer

PHIL 28010/38010. Introduction to the Philosophy of Language. An introduction to philosophical thought about the nature of language. The questions we will address include: What is meaning? What is truth? How does language relate to thought? How do languages relate to each other? What is metaphor? What is fiction? The focus will be on classic work in the analytic tradition (Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, Tarski, Quine, Austin, Grice, Davidson, Donnellan, Putnam, Searle, Kaplan, Kripke) but we will also read, and relate to this modern work, some current work in the philosophical literature and some seminal discussions of language in the writings of Plato and Aristotle.  (II). B. Callard.

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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. N. Koziolek.

PHIL 31620. Foundations of Human Rights. (=HMRT 30600).This seminar will provide graduate students with an advanced introduction to the study of human rights, covering key debates in history, law, philosophy, political science, international relations, social science, and critical theory. As a graduate seminar, this will be a small class (capped at 20 students), and a strong emphasis will be placed on in-class discussion and debate. The course will examine cutting-edge research on topics including: the origins of human rights (Section I); the concept of human dignity (Section II); the nature and grounds of human rights (Section III); the relationship between human rights morality and law (Section IV); the legality and morality of humanitarian intervention (Section V); the feasibility and claimability of human rights (Section VI); contemporary criticisms of human rights (Section VII); human rights and the accommodation of diversity (Section VIII); and the future of human rights (Section IX). A. Etinson.

PHIL 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. D. Brudney.

PHIL 49900. Reading and Research. PQ: Consent of Instructor. Staff.

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 51200. Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Free Speech and Its Critics.(=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. The Workshop will consider important philosophical defenses of free speech and critics of those rationales. Topics will include the idea of the "marketplace of ideas," autonomy interests in free speech, the harms of speech, and the problem of propaganda and other manipulative speech.  Note: 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. B. Leiter, M. Nussbaum, A. Green.

PHIL 51206. Utilitarian Ethics. (=RETH 51206, PLSC 51206, GNSE 51206). Admission by permission of the instructor.  Permission must be sought in writing by September 15.  Prerequisite: An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation.  The British Utilitarians were social radicals who questioned conventional morality as a basis for both personal and public choice and proposed an alternative that they believed to be both more scientific and more morally adequate.  In part because of the widespread acceptance of pieces of their views in economics and political science, the original subtlety and radical force of the views is often neglected.  This seminar, focusing on John Stuart Mill and Henry Sidgwick, aims to examine sympathetically what classical Utilitarianism may still offer to philosophical ethics, and to see how the strongest criticisms of Utilitarianism measure up to the texts of its founders.  Although it is hardly possible to study Utilitarianism as an ethical theory without attending to its political role, we shall focus for the most part on ethics, and on two works above all: Mill’s Utilitarianism and Sidgwick’s The Methods of Ethics, combining these with Mill’s The Subjection of Women, his Autobiography, and several key essays.  Along the way we shall be investigating the views of Bentham, Mill, and Sidgwick about animal suffering, women’s equality, and sexual orientation.  Among the critics of Utilitarianism, we shall consider writings of Bernard Williams, John Rawls, Amartya Sen, Jon Elster, Elizabeth Anderson, and John Harsanyi. M. Nussbaum.

PHIL 53357. Philosophy and Theology of Judaism. (=HIJD 53357, DVPR 53357, CMLT 43357) PQ: Reading knowledge of French is required. An examination of the works of some of the most significant twentieth-century philosophers of Judaism. In the first part of the seminar we will examine the philosophical, theological, and ethical foundations of Modern Orthodox Judaism. The principal readings will be Joseph B. Soloveitchik's The Emergence of Ethical Man and Aharon Lichtenstein's By His Light. The second part of the seminar will focus on the post World War II emergence of a new philosophy and theology of Judaism in France. Primary readings will come from Emmanuel Lévinas, Léon Askénazi, Alexandre Safran, and Henri Meschonnic. Special attention will be given to the relation between philosophical argument and analysis, and theological conception and method. A. Davidson.

PHIL 53358/25116. Philo of Alexandria on Prayer, Interpretation, and Soul Formation. (=SCTH 51413, BIBL 50505) PQ: Registration is by consent only. The writings of Philo of Alexandria are by far the largest extant remainder of Hellenistic Judaism: the mutually transformative encounter between Greek philosophy and ancient Judaism. Working with the Hebrew Bible’s Greek translation, Philo developed an allegorical approach that would become foundational for Neo-Platonists and for later Christian Jewish interpreters. This course focuses on the perfectionist dimension of Philo’s project. What role do reading interpretation and prayer play with respect to the perfection of the subject? What is the goal of this process, and what makes the Greek translation of the Bible capable of contributing toward this? What is the relationship between literal and allegorical layers of meaning? What is the relationship between the scriptural law of Moses and the unwritten law of nature, or between the particularity of Judaism and the universality of philosophy? How does prayer enable the transformation of the subject? Among the treatises from the Philonic corpus, we will read the following: The Contemplative Life; On Abraham; Life of Moses I and II; Who is The Heir; Confusion of Tongues; On the Sacrifice of Cain and Abel; On the Creation of the World; On the Decalogue; Special Laws I; Allegorical Interpretation II. J. Lear, H. Najman.

PHIL 54605. Subjectivity. (=LING 54605) Linguists and philosophers have traditionally examined the role of language and thought as a medium for (mis)representing objective facts about the world we are living in. However, language is also an important tool for sharing subjective perspectives with others, and clearly not all thoughts are objective. Taking subjectivity as a sui generis phenomenon that does not reduce to another instance of descriptive talk and thought has repercussions that go beyond the traditional distinction between linguistics and philosophy: it impacts philosophical attempts to understand the nature of normative thoughts no less than the way linguists tend to think to about the nature of linguistic meaning. This is the first in a two-course sequence that addresses the exciting resulting challenges in a systematic manner, to be offered jointly by Professors Chris Kennedy and Malte Willer. The first course will be taught by Malte Willer and focus on foundational philosophical issues surrounding subjectivity in language and thought, including issues pertaining to normativity and general considerations about the shape a theory of natural language meaning must have to take the phenomenon of subjectivity seriously. The second course will be taught by Chris Kennedy in the Winter Quarter, 2015 and focus on linguistic issues surrounding subjectivity, including a rich variety of empirical questions and the impact that treating subjectivity as a sui generis phenomenon has for theoretical linguistics.
Despite their slight differences in focus, both courses are interdisciplinary by design and will appeal to linguists and philosophers alike. Students may take either one of these courses for credit without taking the other for credit. The two-course seminar is also the launching event for a three-year interdisciplinary working group on the nature of subjectivity in language and thought, led by Chris Kennedy and Malte Willer and funded by the generous support of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. Anyone who is interested in participating in this working group is strongly encouraged to attend the seminar. (II) With C. Kennedy. M. Willer.

PHIL 56205. Radical Immanence. This course will be based on a direct confrontation between Sartre’s and Michel Henry’s phenomenological works. The main goal of this course will be to reintroduce the concept of immanence in a phenomenological sense beyond its critique by the philosophies of existence – of the so-called extatic dimension of human existence. The main goal of this course will be then to introduce two Sartre’s and Michel Henry’s phenomenological masterpieces (mainly Sartre’s The Transcendence of the Ego (la Transcendance de l’Ego) and Henry’s The Essence of Manifestation  (L’Essence de la manifestation)). Does the discovery of our intentional or existential openness to the world implies necessarily the renunciation to the notion of immanence or do we have to elaborate a phenomenological meaning for the concept of immanence in order to go further in the comprehension of the transcendent nature of our being? This will be the leading question of our seminar. R. Moati.

PHIL 59950: Job Placement Workshop. Graduate students planning to go on the job market in the fall of 2014.  Approval of dissertation committee is required. Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter. Pass/Fail. D. Finkelstein.

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