Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Winter 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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PHIL 21000. Introduction to Ethics. (=HIPS 21000, FNDL 23107) In this course, we will read, write, and think about central issues in moral philosophy. This survey course is designed to give a rapid introduction to philosophical ethics (largely in the Anglo-North American tradition (although not entirely as a product of Anglo-North American philosophers). We will begin with work by Immanuel Kant and Henry Sidgwick and conclude with important twentieth century work in metaethics and normative ethics (one thing that we will consider is the distinctions between metaethics, normative ethics, and the various fields united under the rubric 'applied ethics'). This course is intended as an introductory course in moral philosophy. Some prior work in philosophy is helpful, but not required. (A) C. Vogler
PHIL 22209. Philosophies of Environmentalism & Sustainability. (ENST 22209, GNSE 22204, HMRT 22201, MAPH 32209, PLSC 22202) Some of the greatest ethical and political challenges confronting the world today are related to environmental issues: for example, climate change, loss of biodiversity, the unsustainable use of natural resources, and other threats to the well-being of both present and future generations. Using both classic and contemporary works, this course will highlight some of the fundamental and unavoidable philosophical questions informing such environmental issues. Can a plausible philosophical account of justice for future generations be developed? What counts as the ethical treatment of non-human animals? What does the term "natural" mean, and can natural environments as such have moral standing? (A) and (B) B. Schultz
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.
This course, together with introduction to Aristotle (26200) in the Spring 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 26000. History of Philosophy II: Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy. (=HIPS 26000) A survey of the thought of some of the most important figures of this period, including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Completion of the general education requirement in humanities required; PHIL 25000 recommended. (V) B. Callard
PHIL 27201. Spinoza. (=FNDL 27201) Seventeenth-century philosopher Benedict de Spinoza was expelled from his Jewish community at the age of twenty-three, and has been publicly reviled for much of the last 350 years. But how could a philosopher—let alone one who is famous, more than anything else, for his metaphysics—provoke such a visceral reaction? In this course, we’ll examine many of Spinoza’s metaphysical doctrines which caused such controversy, as well as their impact on our understanding of religion and human nature. Topics to be discussed include: revelation and miracles as natural events; pantheism; substance monism; necessitarianism; mind and body as “one and the same thing”; and teleology. A. Silverman
29200-01/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Self-Consciousness in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit. 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 chapter 'Self-Consciousness' is one of the most widely discussed sections of the Phenomenology of Spirit and contains some of the most famous passages of Hegel's entire corpus. Indeed this portion of Hegel's text has been interpreted by scholars to be the source of a wide variety of issues that are pertinent to social and political philosophy, philosophy of mind, action theory and philosophy of religion. This course consists in a close reading of this chapter of the Phenomenology and considers the relevance of some of these wide-ranging philosophical topics to what Hegel declares is the distinctively epistemological aim of his project: "an investigation into the truth of knowledge." We begin by considering the epistemological project of the work as a whole, looking to the introduction and how Hegel's phenomenological method is a response to skepticism. Then we will turn to the three main topics of the Self-Consciousness chapter. The first is what is considered to be the "practical turn" of the Phenomenology in which knowledge is taken to be an ends-directed activity, something that Hegel thinks is realized immediately in the organic unity of living things. The second topic is recognition and its attempted realization in the infamous "Master-Slave Dialectic." The third topic is alienation and Christianity as it relates to Hegel's "Unhappy Consciousness." Our question with respect to all three topics will be: How does Hegel find his treatment of these topics to be part of a progression toward understanding knowledge? Along the way we will consider authors that influenced Hegel, such as Kant, and authors that were influenced by Hegel, such as Marx. In addition we will read secondary literature from authors such as Kojčve, Siep, Brandom, Honneth, Neuhouser, Pippin and Lukács. T. Schulte
29200-02/29300-02. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Moral Enhancement and Responsibility. 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. Our aim will be to examine how we would and should hold responsible — i.e., praise and blame (but, especially praise) — persons whose actions and attitudes are partly products of biotechnological intervention/enhancement. It is widely held that agents are morally assessable for behavior expressive of their "quality of will," largely in independence of the will's formative circumstances. Does it matter to us, however, whether the quality of one's — including one's own — will is 'passively' improved through external means? (What if the improvement is permanent?) After situating our topic within a larger and slightly older discussion about "human enhancement", we will consider central questions in the debate over the ethics of moral enhancement, drawing from closely related literature on affective, cognitive, and empathic, enhancement. We will evaluate several proposals of what "moral enhancement" is, and examine arguments for the view that we have obligations to enhance ourselves morally. Next, we'll consider various skeptical challenges, some of which question the very coherence of the idea of "moral enhancement", others of which question its permissibility and desirability (e.g., from considerations of "authentic" selfhood). On the basis of our conclusions about the conceptual and ethical issues discussed, we will be better equipped to produce a picture of the "reactive attitudes" that we might, and perhaps should, adopt towards a range of "morally enhanced agents". Our readings will be drawn from the work of a variety of moral philosophers and bioethicists, including: Neil Levy, Farah Focquaert, Nicholas Agar, Birgit Beck, Guy Kahane, Emma Gordon, Erik Parens, Thomas Douglas, Charles Taylor, Adrienne Martin, Kelly Sorensen, David Wassernman, Julian Salvulescu, Ingmar Persson, Sarah Chan, John Harris, and Robert Sparrow. D. Telech
PHIL 29411. Consequentialism from Bentham to Singer. (=MAPH 39411, PLSC 29411) Are some acts wrong "whatever the consequences"? Do consequences matter when acting for the sake of duty, or virtue, or what is right? How do "consequentialist" ethical theories, such as utilitarianism, address such issues? This course will address these questions by critically examining some of the most provocative defenses of consequentialism in the history of philosophy, from the work of the classical utilitarians Bentham, Mill, and Sidgwick to that of Peter Singer, one of the world's most influential living philosophers and the founder of the animal liberation and effective altruism movements. Does consequentialism lend itself to the Panoptical nightmares of the surveillance state, or can it be a force for a genuinely emancipatory ethics and politics? (A) and (B) B. Schultz
PHIL 29622. HiPSS Tutorial: The Quarrel Between Logic and Psychology. (=HIPS 29622) Logic, traditionally conceived, aims to study the laws of thought. This makes it seem as though logicians share a concern with psychologists; but in fact, the proposal that logical laws can be studied empirically - also known as psychologism - came under attack by philosophers throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The idea that logic is presupposed by all thinking was taken to disallow its empirical study, and to render the methods of psychology irrelevant to logic. For most of the 20th century, this philosophical position made sense to psychologists; at the very least, they did not seriously raise the question whether thinkers are actually rational in the sense prescribed by logic. This assumption has gradually been rejected; since the 70s, human rationality has become a central object of study for psychologists, with a focus on the defective logical patterns of thought that humans tend to exhibit. At the same time, in philosophy, the collapse of the analytic-synthetic distinction and the naturalistic turn gave way to a new conception of the relation between logic and psychology. Nowadays several fruitful research programs in the psychological study of reasoning and rationality exist side by side, and alongside them, many philosophers and logicians make room for psychological considerations. In reaction to the new sciences of rationality and to the new psychologism in logic, new forms of antipsychologism have also emerged; we will evaluate several such arguments and ask how psychologists and psychologically minded philosophers cope with them. We will conclude our inquiry with a look at the contemporary debate regarding the normative status of logic and its relation to thought. G. Nir
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 29901. Senior Seminar I. 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
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
PHIL 20710/30710. Roman Philosophers on the Fear of Death. (=LAWS 96305, CLCV 24716, CLAS 34716, RETH 30710, PLSC 22210, PLSC 32210) All human beings fear death, and it seems plausible to think that a lot of our actions are motivated by it. But is it reasonable to fear death? And does this fear do good (motivating creative projects) or harm (motivating greedy accumulation, war, and too much deference to religious leaders)? Hellenistic philosophers, both Greek and Roman, were preoccupied with these questions and debated them with a depth and intensity that makes them still highly influential in modern philosophical debate about the same issues (the only issue on which one will be likely find discussion of Lucretius in the pages of The Journal of Philosophy). The course will focus on several major Latin writings on the topic: Lucretius De Rerum Natura Book III, and extracts from Cicero and Seneca. We will study the philosophical arguments in their literary setting and ask about connections between argument and its rhetorical expression. In translation we will read pertinent material from Plato, Epicurus, Plutarch, and a few modern authors such as Thomas Nagel, John Fischer, and Bernard Williams. Ability to read the material in Latin at a sufficiently high level, usually about two years at the college level. (IV) M. Nussbaum
PHIL 21112/31112. Rawls Before the Political Turn -- From A Theory of Justice to "Kantian Constructivism": Themes, Critiques, Changes. (I) D. Brudney
PHIL 21113/31113. The Children of Parmenides. (=SCTH 30108) Plato honors Parmenides with the title "father Parmenides", presumably for being the founder of philosophy as the "logical" study of being and thinking. In this course we shall discuss the struggle of ancient and modern philosophers to come to terms with this powerful heritage — in particular, we shall focus on the elaboration, reception and criticism of Parmenides' theses that being and thinking are the same, and that talk of negation or falsity is incoherent or empty. Among the philosophers whose work we shall discuss are Plato, Aristotle, Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein. I. Kimhi
PHIL 21502/31502. Racial Injustice. (I) and (A) A. Ford; B. Laurence
PHIL 22000/32000. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. (=CHSS 33300, HIPS 22000, HIST 25109, HIST 35109) We will begin by trying to explicate the manner in which science is a rational response to observational facts. This will involve a discussion of inductivism, Popper's deductivism, Lakatos and Kuhn. After this, we will briefly survey some other important topics in the philosophy of science, including underdetermination, theories of evidence, Bayesianism, the problem of induction, explanation, and laws of nature. (II) and (B) T. Pashby
PHIL 23005/33005. Metaphysics and Ethics of Death. What is death, and what is its significance for our lives and how we lead them? In this course we will tack back and forth between the metaphysics of death (What is nonexistence? Are death and pre-birth metaphysically symmetrical?) and the ethical questions raised by death (Is death a misfortune-something we should fear or lament? Should we be glad not to be immortal? How should we understand the ethics of abortion and capital punishment?) Our exploration of these issues will take us through the work of many figures in the Western philosophical tradition (Plato, Augustine, Descartes, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger), but we will be concentrating on the recent and dramatic flowering of work on the subject. B. Callard
PHIL 29400/39600. Intermediate Logic. (=CHSS 33600, HIPS 20500) In this course, we will prove the soundness and completeness of 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. (II) and (B) A. Vasudevan
PHIL 43001. Bernard Williams' Practical Philosophy. Bernard Williams (1929-2003) was one of the most influential Anglophone philosophers working on questions about ethics, reasons for acting, character, moral psychology, and the shape of a human life. He drew from ancient Greek philosophy, from Descartes, from Nietzsche, and from a solid core of good sense and good taste in mounting his challenges to philosophers who tried to develop systematic moral theory along either of the two lines most common in the last half of the 20th century-utilitarianism or Kantianism. His work is peppered with sharp criticisms of mainstream Anglophone ethics and astute observation of the complexities of life. Focus on his work in practical philosophy-in ethics, in moral psychology, and in political and social philosophy-will give us a glimpse into the nature of the questions and problems he helped to formulate and make acute, many of which continue to haunt analytic practical philosophy. (I) C. Vogler
PHIL 43011. Reason and Religion. (=CDIN 40201, KNOW 40201, CLAS 46616, HIST 66606, CHSS 40201, DVPR 46616) The quarrel between reason and faith has a long history. The birth of Christianity was in the crucible of rationality. The ancient Greeks privileged this human capacity above all others, finding in reason the quality wherein man was closest to the gods, while the early Christians found this viewpoint antithetical to religious humility. As religion and its place in society have evolved throughout history, so have the standing of, and philosophical justification for, non-belief on rational grounds. This course will examine the intellectual and cultural history of arguments against religion in Western thought from antiquity to the present. Along the way, of course, we will also examine the assumptions bound up in the binary terms "religion" and "reason."Course requirements: 12-page research paper (40%), class report (30%), active participation (15%), book review (15%) Consent required: Email firstname.lastname@example.org a few sentences describing your background and what you hope to get out of this seminar. R. Richards; S. Bartsch
PHIL 49900. Reading and Research. Consent of Instructor.
PHIL 50100. First Year Seminar. This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters. Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students. D. Finkelstein
PHIL 50101. Love, Reasons, and Reasoning. We will consider the nature of love, and the relationship among love, reasons, and reasoning. We will ask after the reasons that we have to love, the reasons that we have to act out of love and the relationship between these. We will investigate some familiar worries about the idea that love is responsive to reasons, conceived as arising from properties or features of the beloved. If it were, would it make sense to stop loving someone who lost the features in question? Would it make sense to "trade up," abandoning the person whom one loves for someone who better exemplifies these features? We will also consider the implications of the fact that love itself does not seem to be an attitude to which we could reason. In combination with the idea that it makes sense to act out of love, this seems to cause trouble for attempts to understood practical reasons reductively in terms of practical reasoning. So we will ask about what love tells us about the relationship between explicit practical reasoning and the reasons that we have to act. Does making sense of love require us to expand our conception of practical thinking beyond explicit reasoning? What implications, if any, does this have for moral thinking and reasoning? K. Ebels-Duggan
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 51216. Being and Goodness: Varieties of Constitutivism. In contemporary meta-ethics, Constitutivism figures as an alternative to the familiar opposition between Realism and Non-Cognitivism. The fundamental norms to which we are subject in acting are not independent of our agency. Yet they are the objects of knowledge. They are internal to what we are. We will look at the recent debate on how such a view is to be spelled out and whether it provides viable alternative to Realism and Non-Cognitivism. Which characterization of us allows the derivation of substantive normative principles: the abstract concept of an agent or the concrete concept of a human being? What is the logical grammar of the relevant sortal concept? And how does our knowledge of our kind enter into its characterization? Readings will include texts by David Enoch, Christine Korsgaard, David Velleman, Phillippa Foot, Michael Smith, Judy Thompson and Michael Thompson. (I) and (III) M. Haase
PHIL 51404. Global Inequality. (= PLSC 51404, RETH 51404, 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 interdisciplinary seminar, 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, of political institutions, 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.
Non-law students are welcome but need permission of the instructors, since space is limited. (I) M. Nussbaum; D. Weisbach
PHIL 51714. Wisdom and other virtues of the intellect. Heidegger's commentary on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics Book 6. (=SCTH 41607) This seminar will do a careful reading and investigation of Heidegger's interpretation of Aristotle on the intellectual virtues, in particular phronesis and sophia. We shall consider how the intellectual virtues differ from the ethical virtues. We shall do a careful reading of Heidegger's discussion of this material in his book Plato's Sophist and we shall compare it closely with Aristotle's own discussion in Book 6 of the Nicomachean Ethics. I. Kimhi; J. Lear
PHIL 51830. Topics in Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy. The topic for Winter 2017 is "Freedom and Responsibility, Contemporary and Historical." We will begin by canvassing the major philosophical positions in the Anglophone literature on free will and moral responsibility over the past half-century, with readings drawn from some or all of P.F. Strawson, G. Strawson, H. Frankfurt, G. Watson, D. Velleman and others. In the second half of the seminar we will step back to look at the treatment of these same issues by major figures in the history of philosophy, including M. Frede's A Free Will: Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought, as well as primary texts by Hume, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Sartre. The seminar is open to philosophy PhD students without permission; to J.D. students with instructor permission; and to others with instructor permission. (I) and (III) M. Forster; B. Leiter.
PHIL 51903. On Aesthetic Form. (= SCTH 50605, GRMN 51917) This seminar is part of a joint research project (The Idealist Project: Self-Determining Form and the Foundation of the Humanities) sponsored by the Neubauer Collegium. The focus of the year's activities is the topic of aesthetic form. There will be two conferences on this topic with the participation of leading international scholars in Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017, with the conference participants returning for seminar sessions devoted to readings of their work. Particular (but not exclusive) attention will be paid to the theory of tragedy. Important points of reference are works by Goethe, Schelling, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Benjamin, and Cavell. (I) R. Pippin; D. Wellbery
PHIL 53106. Topics in the Philosophy of Mathematics. This course will broadly be about the concept of mathematical proof, focusing on the case of geometry, and more specifically, focusing on the works of Euclid. While many mathematicians think of Euclid as the pioneer of the modern axiomatic method, this way of thinking seems somewhat anachronistic. How then should we think of Euclidean proofs? What does a Euclidean proof accomplish, how does it accomplish it, and what does this tell us about the nature of mathematical proof more generally? This course will look both at ancient sources and modern sources as a way of tackling these questions. (II) K. Davey
PHIL 55503. Plato's Statesman. In this dialogue, Plato depicts an attempt to describe the nature of expert political knowledge and to distinguish it from demagoguery and charlatanism. Most of the dialogue proceeds by the method of dialectic and so, in addition to fascinating discussions of the role of law, forms of government, and the relation of political ideals to the imperfection of human life, this dialogue is also an important source for understanding Plato's epistemology and conception of the philosophical life. We will work our way through the text week by week. (IV) G. Richardson-Lear