Spring 2017 Courses

Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Spring 2017 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 Spring 2017 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 2017 Courses at a Glance - Spreadsheet

Open to Undergraduates:

PHIL 20616. Merleau-Ponty and the scientific view of the human. A major theme in modern philosophy is to try and understand the relationship between our view of ourselves as thinking, feeling creatures experiencing the world with our more scientific view of ourselves as mere biological creatures responding to environmental stimuli in accordance with the laws of physiology, physics and chemistry. Are these two views of human life at odds with each other? If not, why not? We will explore the views of the 20th century French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty on these and related questions, focusing on his seminal work, 'The Structure of Behavior.' Open to students who have been admitted to the Paris Humanities Program. This course will be taught at the Paris Humanities Program. K. Davey

PHIL 21506. Memory and Unity of a Person. In one of his most widely read pieces of writing—the chapter of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding called “Of Identity and Diversity”—John Locke writes: “[S]ince consciousness always accompanies thinking, and ‘tis that, that makes every one to be, what he calls self; and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things, in this alone consists personal Identity, i.e. the sameness of rational Being: And as far as this consciousness can be extended backwards to any past Action or Thought, so far reaches the Identity of that Person…” Locke’s theory of personal identity has puzzled, annoyed, and inspired readers since it was published in the second edition of his Essay, in 1694. The main aim of this course will be to arrive at a reading of it that (1) situates it in the context of earlier philosophers’ writings about selves and souls, (2) is informed by an understanding of Locke’s own views concerning consciousness and memory, among other things, and (3) carefully considers objections that later writers—most famously Butler and Reid—made to Locke’s theory. In this endeavor, we’ll be aided by two excellent recent books: Udo Theil’s The Early Modern Subject (2011) and Galen Strawson’s Locke on Personal Identity (2011). Along the way, we’ll devote some time to considering one or two recent neo-Lockean accounts of personal identity. (B) D. Finkelstein

PHIL 21600. Introduction to Political Philosophy. (=GNSE 21601, PLSC 22600, LLSO 22612) In this class we will investigate what it is for a society to be just. In what sense are the members of a just society equal? What freedoms does a just society protect? Must a just society be a democracy? What economic arrangements are compatible with justice? In the second portion of the class we will consider one pressing injustice in our society in light of our previous philosophical conclusions. Possible candidates include, but are not limited to, racial inequality, economic inequality, and gender hierarchy. Here our goal will be to combine our philosophical theories with empirical evidence in order to identify, diagnose, and effectively respond to actual injustice. (A) B. Laurence

PHIL 21601. Introduction to Analytic Philosophy. This course is an exploration of the analytic tradition in philosophy. We will have three goals. First and foremost, we will philosophize in the analytic style. Second, we will try to get a sense of the history of the tradition, beginning with Frege, Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein, continuing through the logical positivist and ordinary language movements and the subsequent repudiation of these movements (by Strawson, Rawls, Searle, Nagel, Kripke, Lewis, and many others), and ending with a review of the current state of play. Third (and drawing on the history), we will try to answer these meta-questions: what is distinctive about analytic philosophy? How does it relate to the history of the subject? (Was Descartes an analytic philosopher? If not, why not?) What in the philosophy of Hegel, Bradley and others were Moore and Russell reacting to? What is the difference between analytic and continental philosophy? (Why was Husserl a continental philosopher while Frege--his interlocutor--was not?) B. Callard

PHIL 21834. Self-Creation as a Philosophical and Literary Problem. (=SIGN 26001) This is a class addressing the possibility of self-directed ethical change. Can you make yourself into a different person from the person that you are? Some readings from hist. of phil (Kant/ Nietzsche) but mostly contemporary readings from autonomy/moral psychology literature. A. Callard

PHIL 22001. Teaching Precollegiate Philosophy. (=MAPH 32001) This course will consider the practices of philosophy through a critical examination of different approaches to teaching precollegiate philosophy. Philosophy at the precollegiate level is common outside of the U.S., and there is a growing movement in the U.S. to try to provide greater opportunities, in both public and private schools, for K12 students to experience the joys of philosophizing. But what are the different options for teaching precollegiate philosophy and which are best? That is the main question that this course will address. Students in this course will also have the opportunity to include an experiential learning component by participating in the UChicago Winning Words precollegiate philosophy program. (A) and (B) B. Schultz

PHIL 23307. The Philosophy of Play and Games. Play is a pervasive, and often underappreciated, feature of the lives of humans and many other animal species. It's also a lot of fun. In this course, we will consider the nature and significance of play, with a particular focus on the distinctively human form of play called games. The course will focus on three interrelated themes. (1) What are play and games? Drawing on thinkers like Johan Huizinga, Roger Caillois, and Bernard Suits, we will develop a vocabulary that allows us to tackle this question analytically, and to draw salient distinctions between kinds of play and games. We will also ask why humans and other animals play, and what form the answer to that question should take. (2) What is the value of playing? Sen and Nussbaum classify play as one of the basic human capabilities. Suits argues that playing games is central to the ideal human life. In investigating the significance of play to human life, we will also consider the ethics and aesthetics of playing. (3) How can thinking about play cast light on other human activities? Wittgenstein famously talks about linguistic activity in terms of games. Rawls uses games to think more generally about rule-governed institutions. And Huizinga argues that both artistic and religious activities are structurally indistinguishable from play. Could play be even more central to human experience than we suppose? D. Egan

PHIL 26200. Intensive History of Philosophy, Part II: Aristotle. In this class, we will read selections from Aristotle's major works in metaphysics, logic, psychology and ethics. We will attempt to understand the import of his distinct contributions in all of these central areas of philosophy, and we will also work towards a synoptic view of his system as a whole. There are three questions we will keep in mind and seek to answer as readers of his treatises: (1) What questions is this passage/chapter trying to answer? (2) What is Aristotle's answer? (3) What is his argument that his answer is the correct one?

This course, together with introduction to Plato (25200) in the Winter quarter, substitutes for and fulfills the Ancient Philosophy History requirement for the Autumn 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 27000. History of Philosophy III: Kant and the 19th Century. The philosophical ideas and methods of Immanuel Kant's "critical" philosophy set off a revolution that reverberated through 19th-century philosophy. We will trace the effects of this revolution and the responses to it, focusing in particular on the changing conception of what philosophical ethics might hope to achieve. We will begin with a consideration of Kant's famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, in which the project of grounding all ethical obligations in the very idea of rational freedom is announced. We will then consider Hegel's radicalization of this project in his Philosophy of Right, which seeks to derive from the idea of rational freedom, not just formal constraints on right action, but a determinate, positive conception of what Hegel calls "ethical life". We will conclude with an examination of three great critics of the Kantian/Hegelian project in ethical theory: Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche. Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. M. Boyle

29200-01/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: The Principle of Sufficient Reason: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives 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 Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) is the principle according to which nothing is without a ground or reason why it is, or alternately that every truth or fact is explicable. While the PSR was of central importance to figures in the history of philosophy (most notably Spinoza and Leibniz), it has fallen into philosophical disrepute, as it is alleged that the PSR has (at least) the following unhappy consequences: necessitarianism, modal plenitude, the existence of a self-caused being, and monism. Still, appeals to explicability are pervasive in contemporary philosophy. For example, the view that consciousness is grounded in physical or functional features of the world, or that modality can be understood in terms of existence or linguistic convention, are motivated by the idea that otherwise such phenomena would be inexplicable. However, philosophers today are often happy to make use of appeals to explicability without either accepting the PSR (and its associated baggage) or providing a principled account of what facts must be explicable and what can be inexplicable or merely brute. In this course we will read historical and contemporary work on the PSR, and hopefully say something about whether contemporary philosophy can have its cake and eat it too. We will begin with readings from Spinoza and Leibniz, and then continue into more systematic discussion concerning the relation between the PSR and necessitarianism, monism, and recent literature on grounding and metaphysical explanation. Finally, we will close with a brief discussion of Kant, focusing on the relation between Kant's restriction of legitimate uses of the PSR to objects in space and time and his famous claim that the objects we can know are mere appearances and not things in themselves. In addition to the historical figures mentioned above, we will read work by Robert Adams, Shamik Dasgupta, Michael Della Rocca, Samuel Levey, Martin Lin, Beatrice Longuenesse, Gideon Rosen, Jonathan Schaffer, Anat Schechtman, and Peter Van Inwagen. A. Pitel

29200-02/29300-02. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Knowledge in Plato's dialogues. 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. In this course, we will examine the discussions of knowledge (epistēmē in Greek) in Plato's dialogues. The course will center around a close reading of the Theaetetus, Plato's most sustained dialogue on the topic of knowledge, but we will also draw readings from the Meno, Charmides, Sophist, Republic, Phaedo and Protagoras. While knowledge will be our focus, we will find that Plato explores the topic of knowledge by examining a number of related cognitive states and processes, including insight, perception, understanding, inquiry, teaching and learning, justification and expertise. Following Plato, we will consider each of these concepts in turn by reflecting on their treatment in the dialogues. Some of the questions we will ask are: Does Plato defend a theory of knowledge as justified true belief? How is perception related to knowledge in Plato's Theaetetus? Why does Plato think there is a special problem about knowing negative statements? Why does Socrates in the Charmides identify self-knowledge with the virtue of temperance? How does Plato view the relationship between knowledge and understanding? What consequences does this view have for the nature of teaching and learning, and is this view of pedagogy attractive? If we have time, we will go on to look at the reception of some of these themes in Aristotle and the Stoics. We will also draw readings from contemporary epistemology where relevant. J. Mendelsohn

PHIL 29700. Reading and Research. Consent of Instructor & Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students are required to submit the college reading and research course form.

PHIL 29902. Senior Seminar II. 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. Consent of director of undergraduate studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program. A. Ford

Open to Undergraduates and Graduates:

PHIL 20212/30212. Ethics with Anscombe. Elizabeth Anscombe has deeply influenced moral philosophy ever since the publication of her book Intention and the article "Modern Moral Philosophy". The rise of contemporary Virtue Ethics is only one indication of this influence; and the important themes addressed in those writings are only some among a great many topics raised and absorbingly discussed in Anscombe's work on ethics and matters moral.
This class is intended to track and discuss the most central issues she brings to our attention in her uniquely original and searching way. It is to cover both questions in the area of "meta-ethics" and the discussion of basic moral standards, including such topics as: Teleological and psychological foundations; Kinds and sources of practical necessity; The importance of truth; Practical reasoning; Morally relevant action descriptions; Intention and consequence; "linguistically created" institutions; Knowledge and certainty in moral matters; Upbringing versus conscience; Sex and marriage; War and murder; Man's spiritual nature. (I) and (A) A. Mueller; C. Vogler

PHIL 20925/30925. The Humanities as a Way of Knowing. (= SCTH 30925) Despite intertwined histories and many shared practices, the contemporary humanities and sciences stand in relationships of contrast and opposition to one another. The perceived fissure between the "Two Cultures" has been deepened by the fact that the bulk of all history and philosophy of science has been devoted to the natural sciences. This seminar addresses the history and epistemology of what in the nineteenth century came to be called the "sciences" and the "humanities" since the Renaissance from an integrated perspective. The historical sources will focus on shared practices in, among others, philology, natural history, astronomy, and history. The philosophical source will develop an epistemology of the humanities: how humanists know what they know. Consent of instructor. L. Daston

PHIL 21002/31002. Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations. (= HMRT 21002, HMRT 31002, HIST 2XXX, HIST 3XXXX, INRE 3XXXX, LAWS 4XXXX, MAPH 4XXXX, LLSO 2XXXX) Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (I) and (A) B. Laurence

PHIL 21507/31507. Recognition in Ethics. The seminar investigates the role of interpersonal self-consciousness in ethics. We will begin with the reflection on the bipolar normative nexus of the rights and duties we have toward each other as persons and then inquire into its connection to the capacity to know other minds, the capacity for other forms of non-instrumental concern for others and the capacity for communicative interaction with others. What is the relation between the status of a person, a bearer of rights, the recognition of others as persons and the practice of addressing each other in speech? Readings will include texts by Stanley Cavell, Steven Darwall, Francis Kamm, Christine Korsgaard, Thomas Nagel, Christopher Peacocke and T.M. Scanlon. (I) and (III) M. Haase

PHIL 21901/31900. Feminist Philosophy. (= HMRT 31900, LAWS 47701, PLSC 51900, RETH 41000, GNSE 29600) The course is an introduction to the major varieties of philosophical feminism. After studying some key historical texts in the Western tradition (Wollstonecraft, Rousseau, J. S. Mill), we examine four types of contemporary philosophical feminism: Liberal Feminism (Susan Moller Okin, Martha Nussbaum), Radical Feminism (Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin), Difference Feminism (Carol Gilligan, Annette Baier, Nel Noddings), and Postmodern "Queer" Gender Theory (Judith Butler, Michael Warner). 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.

Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor. (I) M. Nussbaum

PHIL 24301/34301. Science and Aesthetics in the Eighteenth to the Twenty-First Centuries. (= CHSS 35506, HIPS 25506, HIST 25506, HIST 35506) One can distinguish four ways in which science and aesthetics are related during the period since the Renaissance. First, science has been the subject of artistic representation, in painting and photography, in poetry and novels (e.g., in Byron's poetry, for example). Second, science has been used to explain aesthetic effects (e.g., Helmholtz's work on the way painters achieve visual effects or musicians achieve tonal effects). Third, aesthetic means have been used to convey scientific conceptions (e.g., through illustrations in scientific volumes or through aesthetically affective and effective writing). Finally, philosophers have stepped back to consider the relationship between scientific knowing and aesthetic comprehension (e.g., Kant, Bas van Fraassen); much of the discussion of this latter will focus on the relation between images and what they represent. In this lecture-discussion course we will consider all of these aspects of the science-aesthetic connection. R. Richards

PHIL 25101/35101. Aquinas on Human nature. There is perhaps no better introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas's philosophy of human nature than his commentary on Aristotle's classic treatment of the fundamental principles of earthly life, the De anima. Of course Aquinas also had other sources, as well as some ideas of his own, but the De anima provides him with the basic philosophical terms and framework. His interpretations continue to engage readers of Aristotle; and without some grasp of them, his theological writings on man are hardly intelligible. This course will be a close reading and discussion of the commentary, with occasional references to other works and other thinkers. (I) and (A) S. Brock; C. Vogler

PHIL 27202/37202. Introduction to Spinoza's Ethics. (= SCTH 30105) As we read this work we will be concerned with its place in history of philosophy and we shall engage with some of its contemporary readers. Introduction to Spinoza's Ethics is for advanced undergraduate students with background in philosophy and for graduate students. I. Kimhi

PHIL 37320. Leo Strauss on the philosophic life. (=SCTH 37320) No philosopher before Leo Strauss stressed with similar emphasis that philosophy has to be conceived not as a discipline or a set of doctrines but as a way of life, and few have so sharply grasped the philosophic life and separated it from edifying trivializations or pious appropriations as Strauss did in the very same essay in which he introduced the concept for the first time: "The Law of Reason in the Kuzari." The seminar will focus on this text, which seems to deal with a rather remote historical subject. Originally published in 1943, it is one of Strauss's most intransigent essays. I shall also discuss "On Classical Political Philosophy" (1945), "The Spirit of Sparta or the Taste of Xenophon" (1939), and "Farabi's Plato" (1945). The seminar will take place in Foster 505 on Monday/Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. - 1:20 p.m.*, during the first five weeks of the term (March 27 - April 26, 2017). * The time may be changed after the first session to 10:00 a.m. - 12:50 p.m. H. Meier

PHIL 27500/37500. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. (=HIPS 25001, CHSS 37901, FNDL 27800) This will be a careful reading of what is widely regarded as the greatest work of modern philosophy, Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Our principal aims will be to understand the problems Kant seeks to address and the significance of his famous doctrine of "transcendental idealism". Topics will include: the role of mind in the constitution of experience; the nature of space and time; the relation between self-knowledge and knowledge of objects; how causal claims can be justified by experience; whether free will is possible; the relation between appearance and reality; the possibility of metaphysics. (V) and (B) M. Boyle

PHIL 28203/38203. Hegel's Philosophy of Right. (=SCTH 38004, FNDL 28204) In this course we shall seek to understand Hegel's 1821 book, Elements of the Philosophy of Right. This book is traditionally understood to contain Hegel's "political philosophy," but the book also proposes a metaphysics of human agency, claims about the relation of philosophy to its own historical time, a rejection of utopian political thinking, a theory of crime and punishment, and a theory of the relationship between individual and communal life that he says is based on his "speculative philosophy," and so is "dialectical." In Hegel's terms, the book should be understood as his theory of "objective spirit," and we shall attempt to understand what that subject matter might be. The course will be a seminar/discussion with restricted enrollment at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Prior work in philosophy, especially in practical philosophy, is highly recommended. (V) R. Pippin

PHIL 29425/39425. Logic for Philosophy. Key contemporary debates in the philosophical literature often rely on formal tools and techniques that go beyond the material taught in an introductory logic class. A robust understanding of these debates---and, accordingly, the ability to meaningfully engage with a good deal of contemporary philosophy---requires a basic grasp of extensions of standard logic such as modal logic, multi-valued logic, and supervaluations, as well as an appreciation of the key philosophical virtues and vices of these extensions. The goal of this course is to provide students with the required logic literacy. While some basic metalogical results will come into view as the quarter proceeds, the course will primarily focus on the scope (and, perhaps, the limits) of logic as an important tool for philosophical theorizing. Elementary Logic or equivalent. No field. (B) M. Willer

Open to Graduates:

PHIL 49700. Preliminary Essay Workshop. 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 . 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. D. Brudney

PHIL 49900. Reading and Research. Consent of Instructor.

PHIL 50116. Pragmatism. This course will begin by examining the central writings of the early American Pragmatists, C.S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. We will compare the early formulations of pragmatism that appear in these works, both against one another other, as well against more recent formulations of pragmatism, as put forward by such philosophers as Putnam, Davidson, and Rorty. (II) and (III) A. Vasudevan

PHIL 51200. Law-Philosophy Workshop. (= LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512) Topic: Current Issues in General Jurisprudence. The Workshop will expose students to cutting-edge work in "general jurisprudence," that part of philosophy of law concerned with the central questions about the nature of law, the relationship between law and morality, and the nature of legal reasoning. We will be particularly interested in the way in which work in philosophy of language, metaethics, metaphysics, and other cognate fields of philosophy has influenced recent scholarly debates that have arisen in the wake of H.L.A. Hart's seminal The Concept of Law (1961). Students who have taken Leiter's "Jurisprudence I" course at the law school are welcome to enroll. Students who have not taken Jurisprudence I need to understand that the several two-hour sessions of the Workshop in the early fall will be required; they will involve reading through and discussing Chapters 1-6 of Hart's The Concept of Law and some criticisms by Ronald Dworkin. This will give all students an adequate background for the remainder of the year. Students who have taken jurisprudence courses elsewhere may contact Prof. Leiter to see if they can be exempted from these sessions based on their prior study. After the prepatory sessions, we will generally meet for one hour the week prior to our outside speakers to go over their essay and to refine questions for the speaker. Confirmed speakers so far include Leslie Green, Stephen Perry, Frederick Schauer, Natalie Stojlar, Mark Murphy, and Kevin Toh.

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, divinity and law.

Students must enroll for all three quarters. M. Nussbaum; B. Leiter; M. Etchemendy

PHIL 54701. The Philosophy of Gilbert Ryle. Gilbert Ryle (1900-1976) was one of the leading figures of mid-20th century Oxford Philosophy. This course will focus on a close reading of his 1949 masterpiece, The Concept of Mind, with its attack on the "category-mistake" of the Cartesian "Myth of the Ghost in the Machine." Attention will be paid to Ryle's metaphilosophical writings and his views on language, his views on knowledge (and the distinction between knowledge-how and knowledge-that), his relation to behaviorism, and his impact on subsequent developments in the philosophy of mind including the token-token identity theory and functionalism. (III) M. Kremer

PHIL 55800. Actuality and Potentiality: Aristotle's Metaphysics È. Aristotle's investigation into the nature of primary being (or substance, ousia) in the middle books of his Metaphysics proceeds against the backdrop of two structural commitments: (i) categorialism; and (ii) the modalities of being, namely actuality and potentiality. Metaphysics È is given over in large measure to (ii), though it proceeds alert to the role of (i) as well. We will proceed in two phases. In the first phase, we will work minutely through every chapter save the last of Metaphysics È, attending closely to the text-elucidating, interpreting, and assessing. In the second phase, we will work through the same text again, now thematically, primarily with a view to understanding four interconnected issues: the natures of potentiality and actuality; the priority of actuality; the role of the modalities in the science of being qua being; and the broader relation between the modalities and categorialism. Naturally these sorts of questions will be in view in our first pass through the text, but we will largely hold them in abeyance until the second pass, we will also make freer use of the entire Aristotelian corpus in our discussions. No knowledge of Greek is required, though I will gladly arrange an informal reading group associated with the seminar for those participants interested in working through key passages in the original. C. Shields

PHIL 59950. Job Placement Workshop. Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter. This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2017. Approval of dissertation committee is required. M. Kremer