Spring 2018 Courses

Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Spring 2018 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 2018 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 2018 Courses at a Glance - Spreadsheet

Open to Undergraduates:

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 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

PHIL 24602. The Analytic Tradition: From Frege to Ryle. 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 publication of Ryle's The Concept of Mind in 1949 and 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 25120. Introduction to Philosophy of Religion. This course explores the Western philosophical tradition of reasoned reflection on religious belief. Our questions will include: what are the most important arguments for, and against, belief in God? How does religious belief relate to the deliverances of the sciences, in particular to evolutionary theory? How can we reconcile religious belief with the existence of evil? What is the relationship between religion and morality? In attempting to answer these questions we will read work by Plato, Augustine, Anselm, Hume, Nietzsche, and Freud, as well as 20th century discussions in the 20th Century analytic tradition. (B) B. 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. N. Lipshitz

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

PHIL 29200-01/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: The Immorality of Art. Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. Can art lead us to virtue-and, if so, can it also lead us to vice? Should art be in the service of morality and the greater good of society, or should the artist pursue only "art for art's sake"? Can a work of art be morally bad but still artistically good? To investigate these and related questions, we'll begin at the beginning, with Plato's famous attacks on art and artists, and then look at several key texts from the history of the philosophy of art, focusing on the question of the relationship between art and morality as it is explored in these works. Towards the end of the course, we will start to relate our findings to issues in our contemporary culture, studying some feminist critiques of the aesthetic concept of beauty, as well as aesthetic developments driven by oppressed groups striving for emancipation through art. Throughout the course, we shall be looking at various artworks-including examples of painting, sculpture, literature, music, film, and photography-that connect up to the themes that we discuss. C. Kirwin

PHIL 29200-02/29300-02. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: On Freedom and Its Absence. Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. The aim of this course is to explore the idea of freedom in political philosophy. The course is divided into three parts. In the first part, we will try to determine the relations between freedom, choice, desire, and the good by examining empiricist, existentialist, rationalist, and capability-based approaches to the definition of freedom. In the second part, we will ask what kinds of obstacles constitute constraints on freedom. Is freedom simply the absence of human interference, or the absence of domination, or can we be unfree even if we are not interfered with or dominated? In the third part, we will deploy what we have learned so far in an investigation of specific questions about freedom or unfreedom in relation to labor. Does the value of freedom impose restrictions on what work should be like? Do workers under capitalism enter the labor-contract unfreely? Is leisure necessary for freedom? This investigation will deepen our understanding of the various philosophical conceptions of freedom and unfreedom. P. Brixel

PHIL 29200-03/29300-03. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Freedom, Determinism and Fatalism. Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the major contemporary positions in the debate about free will and causal determinism and to investigate these in relation to selected historical discussions of this topic. What is 'free will' and 'determinism' and are there different ways of conceiving of these concepts? Does the contemporary debate differ importantly from the historical discussions? What is at stake in these debates? In this course we will pay special attention to the concept of 'determinism' and what is required in order to hold a deterministic view of the universe. We will discuss some of the contemporary views on causal laws and scientific explanation in the context of the determinism vs. free will debate in relation Nietzsche's rejection of free will, God and the laws of nature. T. Hash

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 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. B. Laurence

Open to Undergraduates and MAPH Students:

PHIL 21515. Ethics of the Enlightenment. (=MAPH 31515) This course provides an introduction to the major ethical positions from the Enlightenment era, with primary focus give to Hume, Smith, Rousseau, and Kant. These positions have shaped our popular thinking about ethics, moral psychology, and moral education. They also continue to directly inform dominant views in contemporary philosophy. As we read through selections from major works, we will be guided by questions about the foundations of morality and the nature of moral motivation. For example, what is the source of our distinction between good and bad? Is our moral judgment grounded in reason or the senses? How can we make sense of motivation to do the right thing, sometimes even at great personal cost? As we will see, the answers to these questions are directly tied to the larger question of how to understand human nature and the relationship between our capacity to reason and our capacity to feel. J. Tizzard

PHIL 22819. Philosophy of Education. What are the aims of education? (=MAPH 32819, PLSC 22819, CHDV 22819) Are they what they should be, for purposes of cultivating flourishing citizens of a liberal democracy? What are the biggest challenges - philosophical, political, cultural, and ethical - confronting educators today, in the U.S. and across the globe? How can philosophy help address these? In dealing with such questions, this course will provide an introductory overview of both the philosophy of education and various educational programs in philosophy, critically surveying a few of the leading ways in which philosophers past and present have framed the aims of education and the educational significance of philosophy. From Plato to the present, philosophers have contributed to articulating the aims of education and developing curricula to be used in various educational contexts, for diverse groups and educational levels. This course will draw on both classic and contemporary works, but considerable attention will be devoted to the work and legacy of philosopher/educator John Dewey, a founding figure at the University of Chicago and a crucial resource for educators concerned with cultivating critical thinking, creativity, character, and ethical reflection. The course will also feature field trips, distinguished guest speakers, and opportunities for experiential learning. B. Schultz

Open to Undergraduates and Graduates:

PHIL 21002/31002. Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations. (=HMRT 21002, HMRT 31002, HIST 29319, HIST 39319, LLSO 21002, INRE 31602, MAPH 42002, LAWS 97119) 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. (A) (I) B. Laurence

PHIL 21102/31102. Opera As Idea and As Performance. (=MUSI 24416, MUSI 30716, LAWS 43264) Is opera an archaic and exotic pageant for fanciers of overweight canaries, or a relevant art form of great subtlety and complexity that has the power to be revelatory? In this course of eight sessions, jointly taught by Professor Martha Nussbaum and Anthony Freud, General Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, we explore the multi-disciplinary nature of this elusive and much-maligned art form, with its four hundred-year-old European roots, discussing both historic and philosophical contexts and the practicalities of interpretation and production in a very un-European, twenty-first century city. Anchoring each session around a different opera, we will be joined by a variety of guest experts, including a director, conductor, designer and singer, to enable us to explore different perspectives. The tentative list of operas to be discussed include Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Rossini's La Cenerentola, Verdi's Don Carlos, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Wagner's Ring, Strauss's Elektra, and Britten's Billy Budd. Students do not need to be able to read music, but some antecedent familiarity with opera would be extremely helpful. CD's and DVD's of the operas will be placed on reserve. (A) (I) A. Freud; M. Nussbaum

PHIL 21504/31504. The Nature of Practical Reason. Practical reason can be distinguished from theoretical or speculative reason in many ways. Traditionally, some philosophers have distinguished the two by urging that speculative or theoretical reason aims at truth, whereas practical aims at good. More recently, some have urged that the two are best known by their fruits. The theoretical exercise of reason yields beliefs, or knowledge, or understanding whereas the practical exercise of reason yields action, or an intention to do something, or a decision about which action to choose or which policy to adopt. In this course, we will focus on practical reason, looking at dominant accounts of practical reason, discussions of the distinction between practical and theoretical reasons, accounts of rationality in general and with respect to practical reason, and related topics. At least one course in philosophy. A. Mueller; C. Vogler

PHIL 22199/32199. Cognition. (=LING 26520) That we think, that we remember past events, that we perceive objects in the world around us, that we feel pain and other sensations, that we have emotions, that we formulate plans and work to put them into action - these are among the most quotidian, undeniable realities of human life as we know it and experience it. And yet philosophers and scientists have long struggled to find a place for such "mental" phenomena within a conception of the world as natural and un-mysterious. In recent decades, the interdisciplinary field of cognitive science has proposed a new form of solution to this age-old quandary. We will explore foundational questions raised by the cognitive-scientific approach. Readings are drawn from a range of historical and contemporary sources in philosophy and psychology. J. Bridges; L. Kay; C. Kennedy

PHIL 25209/35209. Emotion, Reason, and Law. (=GNSE 28210, GNSE 38300, RETH 32900, PLSC 49301, LAWS 43273) Emotions figure in many areas of the law, and many legal doctrines (from reasonable provocation in homicide to mercy in criminal sentencing) invite us to think about emotions and their relationship to reason. In addition, some prominent theories of the limits of law make reference to emotions: thus Lord Devlin and, more recently, Leon Kass have argued that the disgust of the average member of society is a sufficient reason for rendering a practice illegal, even though it does no harm to others. Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied closely, with the result that both theory and doctrine are often confused. The first part of this course will study major theories of emotion, asking about the relationship between emotion and cognition, focusing on philosophical accounts, but also learning from anthropology and psychology. We will ask how far emotions embody cognitions, and of what type, and then we will ask whether there is reason to consider some or all emotions "irrational" in a normative sense. We then turn to the criminal law, asking how specific emotions figure in doctrine and theory: anger, fear, compassion, disgust, guilt, and shame. Legal areas considered will include self-defense, reasonable provocation, mercy, victim impact statements, sodomy laws, sexual harassment, shame-based punishments. Next, we turn to the role played by emotions in constitutional law and in thought about just institutions - a topic that seems initially unpromising, but one that will turn out to be full of interest. Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor. (A) (I) M. Nussbaum

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. K. Davey

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

PHIL 50218. The Problem of Induction. (II) A. Vasudevan

PHIL 50305. Oedipus and Hamlet: On the Philosophy of Tragedy. (=GRMN 40305, SCTH 40305, TAPS 40305) In this class we will consider closely attempts to understand tragedy philosophically. Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Shakespeare's Hamlet, two texts that have particularly attracted philosophical attention will serve as constant reference points, but other paradigmatic tragedies (Euripides Bacchae, Goethe's Faust, Beckett's Endgame) will also be considered. Among the philosophical contributions to be considered are works by Aristotle, Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Scheler, Schmitt, Benjamin, Murdoch, and Menke. Major issues to be dealt with: the structure of tragic plot; the tragic affects; catharsis; ancient and modern tragedy; tragedy and the tragic; the aesthetics of tragedy; tragedy and society; tragedy and the sacred. R. Pippin; D. Wellbery

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; N. Delon

PHIL 54101. Consciousness. When we try to make sense of unconscious states of mind we run into some of the same difficulties that we encounter when we think about the minds of young children and non-linguistic animals. Unconscious attitudes can seem to sit awkwardly between the conceptual and the non-conceptual, between the personal and the subpersonal, and between the mental and the non-mental. Relatedly, when a person acts on an unconscious desire, we are inclined to think of her as not-quite-responsible for the activity, but not entirely free of responsibility either. In this seminar, we'll be exploring the connections between consciousness, agency, concepts, and mindedness as such. We'll (probably) read work by Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Donald Davidson, Richard Rorty, Jonathan Lear, Sebastian Gardiner, Marcia Cavell, Daniel Dennett, John McDowell, and Richard Moran. (III) D. Finkelstein

PHIL 54260. Recent Ethical Theory. We will discuss recent publications in contemporary ethics focusing on second personal relations. Literature will include texts by Jay Wallace, Michael Thompson, Jennifer Whiting. (I) M. Haase

PHIL 55803. Aristotle's Metaphysics M-N. In the last two books of his Metaphysics (M-N), Aristotle critiques his predecessors' and contemporaries' views about mathematical objects and first principles. He also gives his own account of the nature of mathematical objects. There is much that should be of great interest here; yet M and N are under-examined and under-appreciated. This neglect is not without reason, as the text is exceedingly dense and appears to be quite disorganized, and in many cases it is unclear what view Aristotle is targeting. We will undertake a close reading of M-N, with the aim of finding structure where we can, making the best possible sense of the arguments, identifying likely targets, and seeing what light Aristotle's criticisms can shed on his own mathematical and metaphysical views. While knowledge of Greek is not required for this course, we will discuss the Greek (as inclusively as possible) whenever it bears on a matter of philosophical interpretation. E. Katz

PHIL 56909. Kant's Transcendental Deduction and Its Contemporary Reception. This seminar will be devoted to a close reading and discussion of certain portions of Kant's First Critique, focusing especially on the Transcendental Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding. We will explore a handful of proposals for how to understand the project of the First Critique that turn especially on an interpretation the Transcendental Deduction, including especially those put forward by Henrich, Kern, Rödl, Sellars, Strawson, Stroud, and McDowell. The aim of the course is both to use certain central texts of recent Kant commentary and contemporary analytic Kantian philosophy to illuminate some the central aspirations of Kant's theoretical philosophy and to use certain central Kantian texts in which those aspirations were first pursued to illuminate some recent developments in recent epistemology and the philosophy of mind. J. Conant

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 2018. Approval of dissertation committee is required. M. Boyle