Autumn 2017 Courses

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

Autumn 2017 Courses at a Glance - Spreadsheet

Open to Undergraduates:

PHIL 23501. Philosophy of Mind. (=HIPS 20401) This is a survey of some of the central questions in the philosophy of mind. These questions include: What is consciousness? How can mental states represent things in the world? How do our minds relate to our bodies? Do we have free will? Can we blame someone for the beliefs or desires she has? What are the emotions? To help us with these questions, we will focus on 20th century analytic work (by Putnam, Nagel, Searle, Jackson, Dennett, Chalmers, Block, Dretske, and others), but we will also read important historical texts on the nature of the mind by Aristotle, Descartes, and Hume. B. Callard

PHIL 24800. Foucault & The History of Sexuality. (=GNSE 23100, HIPS 24300, CMLT 25001, FNDL 22001, KNOW 27002) 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. One prior philosophy course is strongly recommended. A. Davidson

PHIL 25000. History of Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy. (=CLCV 22700) 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. Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. Students who are not enrolled by the start of term but wish to enroll must (a) email the instructor before the course begins and (b) attend the first class. A. Callard

PHIL 25213. Cognitive Disability and Human Rights. (=HMRT 25213) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is intended as a list of rights the protection of which all human beings should enjoy. However, in its preamble, the Declaration mentions "reason" and "conscience" as universal attributes of human beings, thus expressing a certain conception of what a human being is. Does this conception serve well all human beings? What about cognitively or intellectually disabled persons? More specifically, when thinking about particular human rights, like the right to privacy, political participation or education - how are these rights supposed to be protected for cognitively and intellectually disabled persons? These are the questions we will consider in this class.

The course is structured around The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In each week we will focus on a theme from the Declaration and its relation to cognitively disabled persons. Several disciplines will bear on our discussion: philosophy, law, sociology, history and disability activism.

Among the questions we will ask:

  • How attuned is the human-rights discourse to the interests and needs of the cognitively disabled?
  • What, if any, paternalistic interventions are justified with regard to the cognitively disabled?
  • Should the cognitively disabled be allowed to vote?
  • Should decisions in health-care rationing be informed by the fact that a recipient is cognitively disabled?
  • To what extent should the choice and consent of a cognitively disabled person matter? Can a cognitively disabled person consent to sex? Can they consent to medical procedures and experiments? Can they consent to get married? To work?

Course Aims:
The field of disability studies is rapidly growing. By the end of the class, students will gain knowledge of one aspect of this emerging field, and will learn about an important subgroup of disabilities (the cognitive and intellectual disabilities). Students will become acquainted with central ethical questions that arise in relation to cognitive disability, and some of the central moves made in attempt to solve them.

Students whose main interest is disabilities will encounter the human-rights framework for asking and debating dilemmas about cognitive disability; those whose main interest is human rights will have an opportunity for a sustained contemplation of a problematic case for the human-rights discourse.

The questions we ask in this course are questions our society continues to debate. This course will give students the conceptual tools to enter this wider conversation as active participants. N. Lipshitz

PHIL 29200-01/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: The Skeptical Tradition In Philosophy. Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. In this course, we will explore Western philosophy's rich skeptical tradition with an eye toward answering two surprisingly difficult questions: 'What is philosophy?' and 'What is skepticism?' The guiding thought (which goes back to the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel) is that philosophy and skepticism are entwined to such an extent that the one can be properly understood only in relation to the other. We will endeavor to decide whether, or to what extent, this is true. Historical topics will include: the origins of philosophy, ancient skepticism, the reemergence of philosophy in medieval Europe, early-modern skepticism, and skepticism in Kant and post-Kantian German philosophy. Philosophical topics will include: fideism, relativity, disagreement, the Agrippan Trilemma, Cartesian skepticism, ethical skepticism, and sociopolitical skepticism. No prior familiarity with the history of skepticism - only a sense of wonder - will be assumed. R. Eichorn

PHIL 29601. Intensive Track Seminar. We will do a close reading of G.E.M. Anscombe's Intention and some of the related essays. Open only to third-year students who have been admitted to the intensive track program. M. Haase

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

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. B. Laurence

Open to Undergraduates and MAPH Students:

PHIL 22209. Philosophies of Environmentalism & Sustainability. (MAPH 32209, ENST 22209, GNSE 22204, HMRT 22201, PLSC 22202) Many of the toughest 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, pollution, 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 presented by 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 do the terms "nature" and "wilderness" mean, and can natural environments as such have moral and/or legal standing? What fundamental ethical and political perspectives inform such positions as ecofeminism, the "Land Ethic," political ecology, ecojustice, and deep ecology? And does the environmental crisis confronting the world today demand new forms of ethical and political philosophizing and practice? Are we in the Anthropocene? Is "adaptation" the best strategy at this historical juncture? Field trips, guest speakers, and special projects will help us philosophize about the fate of the earth by connecting the local and the global. (A) (B) B. Schultz

Open to Undergraduates and Graduates:

PHIL 20100/30000. Elementary Logic. (=CHSS 33500, HIPS 20700) 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. Course not for field credit. T. Pashby

PHIL 20116/30116. American Pragmatism. This course will survey some of the seminal writings of the early American Pragmatist tradition. We will focus primarily on works by the three most prominent figures in this tradition: C.S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Our aim in the course will be to extract from these writings the central ideas and principles which give shape to pragmatism as a coherent philosophical perspective, distinct from both empiricism and rationalism. (B) (II) A. Vasudevan

PHIL 21399/31399. Conceptual Foundations of the Modern State. (=SCTH 33401) The course will examine the evolution of western thinking about the modern concept of the state. The focus will be on Renaissance theories (Niccolò Machiavelli; Thomas More); theories of absolute sovereignty (especially Thomas Hobbes); theories about 'free states' (James Harrington, John Locke); and republican theories from the era of the Enlightenment. Open to undergraduates by consent of instructor. Q. Skinner

PHIL 21609/31609. Medical Ethics: Central Topics. (=BPRO 22612, BIOS 29314, HIPS 21609) Decisions about medical treatment, medical research, and medical policy often have profound moral implications. Taught by a philosopher, two physicians, and a medical lawyer, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, assisted suicide, kidney markets, abortion, and research ethics. Third or Fourth year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the Biological Sciences major. (A) D. Brudney; Staff

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. (B) (II) T. Pashby

PHIL 23015/33015. Darwin's "Origin of Species" and "Descent of Man." (=HIST 24905, HIPS 24901, FNDL 24905, HIST 34905, CHSS 38400) This lecture-discussion class will focus on a close reading of Darwin's two classic texts. An initial class or two will explore the state of biology prior to Darwin's Beagle voyage, and then consider the development of his theories before 1859. Then we will turn to his two books. Among the topics of central concern will be the logical, epistemological, and rhetorical status of Darwin's several theories, especially his evolutionary ethics; the religious foundations of his ideas and the religious reaction to them; and the social-political consequences of his accomplishment. The year 2009 was the two hundredth anniversary of Darwin's birth and the one hundred fiftieth of the publication of On the Origin of Species. (B) (II) (V) R. Richards

PHIL 24010/34010. Meaning and Reference. In this course we address one of the central and most fascinating philosophical questions about linguistic meaning: what is the relationship between meaning and reference? We will study a range of classical and contemporary theories about the semantics of referring expressions such as proper names, definite descriptions, and indexicals. Readings will include Frege, Russell, Strawson, Kripke, Donnellan, and Kaplan, among others. Throughout, we will try to reach of a better understanding of how questions about meaning and reference connect with a range of topics that are central to philosophical theorizing, including the connection between propositional attitudes and the explanation of action, the role of the principle of compositionality in formal semantics, the question of whether there is a level of mental experience that is epistemically transparent, the relation between thought and language, the nature of fictional and non-existent objects, and the interaction between semantics and pragmatics. Prior courses in philosophy are beneficial. Elementary Logic or equivalent recommended, but not required. (B) M. Willer

Open to Graduates:

PHIL 31414. MAPH Core Course: Contemporary Analytic Philosophy. (=MAPH 31414) The goal of this course is to have MAPH students explore the historical origins of analytic philosophy. Beginning with Bolzano and Frege, we will look at the development of analytic philosophy through the work of figures such as Russell, Wittgenstein and Carnap, looking also at the rise and fall of positivism. At the end of the course, MAPH students should have a more solid understanding of the central issues that have shaped modern American-European analytic philosophy, and some of the important ways in which this tradition diverges from contemporary continental philosophy. We will use Coffa's 'The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap: To the Vienna Station' as our main textbook, supplementing it with other materials when necessary. 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. K. Davey

PHIL 41001. Neo-Aristotelian Philosophical Anthropology. Neo-Aristotelian practical philosophy encompasses one of the three most important strands of work in contemporary ethics (the other two are neo-Kantian and neo-Humean lines of thought). Aristotelian approaches in practical philosophy generally treat humanity - human nature - as providing a foundation or framework for systematic work in practical philosophy. In this sense, philosophical anthropology is crucial to neo-Aristotelian ethics. In this seminar we will read, write, and think about work in philosophical anthropology meant to provide a framework for neo-Aristotelian practical philosophy. C. Vogler

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. K. Davey

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

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

PHIL 50107. Who was Flaubert? A reading of Sartre's Family Idiot. This course will be based on a cursive reading of Sartre's Family Idiot, which consists in an existential psychoanalysis of Flaubert. We will have to discover what motivates the elaboration of such new psychoanalysis, to establish, then, what are the main principles of it and in which way such principles become operative in Flaubert's case - what they can teach us about Flaubert that can be relevant for the understanding of his life, literary work and their connection. Our work will have to deal with Sartre's new conceptuality, which seems most of the time to contradict some of his prior main ideas on human reality. The fundamental break between Being and Nothingness and the Flaubert comes with the Critique of Dialectical Reason to which some of our sessions, then, will be devoted also. R. Moati

PHIL 51200. Law-Philosophy Workshop. (= LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512) Topic: Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics. About half of the sessions will discuss philosophical and legal issues related to animal rights, and the other half will discuss issues of environmental ethics, focusing on the ethics of climate change.

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.

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 by September 20. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.

Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit. M. Nussbaum

PHIL 51516. Henry Sidgwick. (=LAWS 53396, PLSC 51516, RETH 51516) The most philosophically explicit and rigorous of the British Utilitarians, Henry Sidgwick made important contributions to normative ethics, political philosophy, and metaethics. His work also has important implication for law. His great work The Methods of Ethics, which will be the primary focus of this seminar, has been greatly admired even by those who deeply disagree with it - for example John Rawls, for whom Sidgwick was important both as a source and as a foil, and Bernard Williams, who wrote about him with particular hostility. Sidgwick provides the best defense of Utilitarianism we have, allowing us to see what it really looks like as a normative ethical and social theory. Sidgwick was also a practical philosopher and activist, writing on many topics, but especially on women's higher education, which he did much to pioneer at Cambridge University, founding Newnham College with his wife Eleanor. A rationalist who helped to found the Society for Psychical Research, an ardent feminist who defended the ostracism of the "fallen woman," a closeted gay man who attempted to justify the proscriptions of Victorian morality, Sidgwick is a philosopher full of deep tensions and fascinating contradictions, which work their way into his arguments. So we will also read the work in the context of Sidgwick's contorted relationship with his era. An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation. This is a 500 level course. Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory may enroll without permission. Admission by permission of the instructor. Permission must be sought in writing by September 15, 2017. (I) (IV) M. Nussbaum

PHIL 51715. Plato and Aristotle on Craft and Wisdom. (=SCTH 51715) Plato and Aristotle both made extensive appeal to craft knowledge as a model for theorizing practical and political wisdom. In this seminar we will examine their conceptions of craft and its relation to wisdom. Readings will likely come from Plato's Ion, Gorgias, Republic, and Statesman and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Metaphysics. (IV) G. Richardson-Lear

PHIL 53501. Special Topics in Philosophy of Mind: Imagination. (=SCTH 53501) What is imagination, and what functions does our power of imagination have in our lives? The seminar will approach these general questions via more specific ones such as the following. What are the relations between imagining, perceiving, remembering, and dreaming? Does our capacity for imagination play a role in enabling us to perceive? Does imagining something involve forming a mental image or picture of that thing? If not, how should we conceive of the objects of imagination? What is the nature of our engagement with what we imagine, and how does this engagement explain our ability to feel emotions such as fear, pity, and sympathy for imaginary beings? What is the role of imagination or fantasy in structuring our understanding of ourselves and our relations to other persons? Is there such a thing as the virtuous state of the power of imagination? Readings will be drawn from various classic discussions of imagination - e.g., Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Freud, Wittgenstein, Sartre - and from some contemporary sources. Graduate students in Philosophy & Social Thought only, except with permission of instructor. (III) M. Boyle; J. Lear

PHIL 57201. Spinoza's Psychological Politics. (=SCTH 51401) Spinoza's philosophy is classical in conception, in that it aims to show us how to live wisely. But his ethical interpretation of wisdom is shaped by a psychological account of human affect and a firm sense of the empowering role of politics. To live wisely we have to understand our affects and use them to create co-operative ways of life. At the same time, we have to take account of the ways in which our affects are shaped by political circumstances and ideals.

This seminar will examine Spinoza's account of the shifting relations between these variables. Drawing on several of his writings (Ethics, Theologico-Political Treatise, Political Treatise, Correspondence) we shall examine his central conceptions of affect, imagination, understanding, power and politics. Our discussions will also address a sequence of questions. What constructive and destructive roles does imagination play in political life? How is social co-operation related to understanding? How far can Spinoza's conception of imagination help us to develop a compelling theory of ideology? Is politics, as Spinoza conceives it, fundamentally agonistic? What part does politics play in the blessed life envisioned at the end of the Ethics? What makes this way of life more empowering than any other? S. James

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. Boyle