Spring 2019 Courses

Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Spring 2019 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.

Click to go directly to:

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 2019 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 2019 Courses at a Glance - Spreadsheet

Open to Undergraduates:

PHIL 20000. Introduction to Philosophy of Science. An introductory exploration of some of the central questions in the philosophy of science. These will include: what is (the definition of) a science--such that the natural, formal, and social sciences all count as sciences, but (for example) philosophy and literary criticism do not? How, in the natural sciences, do theory-building and observation relate to each other? Can some of the sciences be reduced to other sciences? (What is reduction of this kind supposed to involve?) What is evidence? What are the old and new problems of induction? What is a scientific (or indeed any other form of) explanation? What is a law of nature? Do the sciences make real progress? (B) B. Callard

PHIL 21203. Introduction to Philosophy of Law. This course will be an introduction to the philosophy of law. The first third will cover some historical classics: Plato's Crito, and selections from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Kant's Doctrine of Right, Hegel's Outline of the Philosophy of Right, and Austin's The Province of Jurisprudence Determined. The second third of the course will cover some classics of postwar Anglo-American jurisprudence, including selections from H.L.A. Hart, Ronald Dworkin, Richard Posner, and Ernest Weinrib. The final third of the course will explore in a little further detail philosophical problems that arise in the following areas: the philosophy of tort law, theories of constitutional interpretation, and feminist jurisprudence. L. Van Alstyne

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 21620. The Problem of Evil. (=RLST 23620) "Epicurus's old questions are yet unanswered. Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? whence then is evil?" (Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion)
This course will consider the challenge posed by the existence of evil to the rationality of traditional theistic belief. Drawing on both classic and contemporary readings, we will analyze atheistic arguments from evil, and attempts by theistic philosophers to construct "theodicies" and "defenses" in response to these arguments, including the "free-will defense," "soul-making theodicies," and "suffering God theodicies." We will also consider critiques of such theodicies as philosophically confused, morally depraved, or both; and we will discuss the problem of divinely commanded or enacted evil (for example the doctrine of hell). (A) M. Kremer

PHIL 21834. Self-Creation as a Literary and Philosophical Problem. (=SIGN 26001) Can we choose who to be? We tend to feel that we have some ability to influence the kind of people we will become; but the phenomenon of 'self-creation' is fraught with paradox: creation ex nihilo, vicious circularity, infinite regress. In this class, we will read philosophical texts addressing these paradoxes against novels offering illustrations of self-creation. 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 23711. Black Radical Political Thought. This course will introduce a tradition of black political thought concerning the relation between capitalism and racial oppression. We will read and discuss the writings of, among others, W. E. B. DuBois, C. L. R. James, Fanklin Fazier, Oliver Cromwell Cox, Frantz Fanon, Claudia Jones, Angela Davis and the Combahee River Collective. (A) A. Ford

PHIL 24599. Introduction to Frege. (=FNDL 24599) Gottlob Frege is often called the father of analytic philosophy, but the real reason to study him is not his historical significance, but, rather, that in his work one encounters a philosophical intelligence of the very first order. This course is an introductory survey of his most important ideas, in philosophy of mathematics, logic, philosophy of language, and metaphysics. To help us in our project of understanding and assessing these ideas we will read discussions of Frege by Michael Dummett, Tyler Burge, Joan Weiner, Nathan Salmon, Michael Resnik, Danielle Macbeth, Hans Sluga, Patricia Blanchette, John Searle, Crispin Wright, and others. (B) B. 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. Haase

PHIL 29200-01/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Race, Gender, and the Production of Knowledge. Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. This course explores the field of “social epistemology” with a special emphasis on gender and race. We will examine classical models of knowledge in contrast to contemporary models of epistemic interdependence, focusing on how the production of knowledge is impacted by group social structures and what social practices must be in place to ensure that voices of the marginalized are heard and believed. Looking at examples from literature and film, we will investigate how race and gender intersect with these issues, especially on the topics of testimony, White ignorance, and epistemic injustice. Finally we will explore the possibility of an ethical epistemic future, asking how we can redress wrongdoing and construct communities of epistemic resistance and epistemic justice. E. Dupree

PHIL 29411. Consequentialism from Bentham to Singer. (=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) B. Schultz

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 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 21901/31900. Feminist Philosophy. (=LAWS 47701, GNSE 29600, HMRT 31900, PLSC 51900, RETH 41000) 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 and trans femism (Judith Butler, Michael Warner and others). 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. (A) M. Nussbaum

PHIL 23701/33701. Varieties of Philosophical Skepticism. The aim of the course will be to consider some of the most influential treatments of skepticism in the post-war analytic philosophical tradition - in relation both to the broader history of philosophy and to current tendencies in contemporary analytic philosophy. The first part of the course will begin by distinguishing two broad varieties of skepticism - Cartesian and Kantian - and their evolution over the past two centuries (students without any prior familiarity with both Descartes and Kant will be at a significant disadvantage here), and will go on to isolate and explore some of the most significant variants of each of these varieties in recent analytic philosophy. The second part of the course will involve a close look at recent influential analytic treatments of skepticism. It will also involve a brief look at various versions of contextualism with regard to epistemological claims. We will carefully read and critically evaluate writings on skepticism by the following authors: J. L. Austin, Robert Brandom, Stanley Cavell, Thompson Clarke, Saul Kripke, C. I. Lewis, John McDowell, H. H. Price, Hilary Putnam, Barry Stroud, Charles Travis, Michael Williams, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. This will be an advanced lecture course open to graduate students and undergraduates with a prior background in analytic philosophy. (B) (III) J. Conant

PHIL 28006/38006. Philosophical Fiction: Proust's In Search of Lost Time. (=FNDL 28006, SCTH 38006) We will discuss all seven volumes of Proust's magisterial novel, In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927). In order to be able to do so in a ten week quarter, students must announce their intention to register for the course before the end of the Spring quarter of 2018, and pledge to have read the entire novel before the March, 2019 beginning of the seminar. (They can do so by emailing Robert Pippin at rbp1@uchicago.edu.)

The novel is well known for its treatment of a large number of philosophical issues: including self-identity over time, the nature of memory, social competition and snobbery, the nature of love, both romantic and familial, the role of fantasy in human life, the nature and prevalence of jealousy, the nature and value of art, the chief characteristics of bourgeois society, and the nature of lived temporality. Our interest will be not only in these issues but also in what could be meant by the notion of a novelistic "treatment" of the issues, and how such a treatment might bear on philosophy as traditionally understood.

We shall use the Modern Library boxed set of seven volumes for the English translation, and for those students with French, we will use the Folio Collection paperbacks of the seven volumes. (I) J. Landy; R. Pippin

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 51200. Law-Philosophy Workshop. (= LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512) The topic for 2018-19 will be "Enlightenment liberalism and its critics," the critics coming from both the left and the right. Enlightenment liberalism was marked by its belief in human freedom and the need for justifications on any infringements of that freedom; by its commitment to individual rights (for example, rights to expression or to property); and by its faith in the rational and self-governing capacities of persons and their basic moral equality. The Workshop will begin in the fall with several classes just for students to discuss foundational readings from liberal thinkers like Locke, Kant and Mill (we may also have some outside speakers taking up Kantian and Millian themes). In the Winter quarter, we will consider critics from the left, notably Marx and Frankfurt School theorists like Herbert Marcuse. In Spring, we will turn to critics from the "right" such as Nietzsche (who rejects the moral equality of persons) and Carl Schmitt. There will be sessions with the students discussing primary texts and then sessions with outside speakers sometimes interpreting the primary texts, sometimes criticizing the critics of liberalism, and sometimes developing their ideas. Open to PhD students in philosophy, and to J.D. students and other graduate students who submit an application to Prof. Leiter detailing their background in philosophy. B. Leiter, N. Lipshitz, M. Nussbaum

PHIL 55504. The Socratic Elenchus. Socrates found himself surrounded by people who took themselves to know things: about the Gods; about statesmanship; about how to educate the youth; about friendship and justice and human excellence, etc. Socrates was inclined to trust those around him - but also afraid that, by doing so, he would end up taking himself to know what he in fact did not. So went around testing all those claims, attempting to refute them. Over and over again, he proved that his interlocutor did not know what he took himself to know, thereby successfully protecting himself from the illusion of knowledge.

Along the way, however, he made an interesting discovery: as his interlocutor pressed some point, and as he resisted it, the two of them were doing something together. The interlocutor's need to believe that he had an account of the way things are, coupled with Socrates' commitment to rejecting falsity, taken together, amounted to a shared pursuit of knowledge. This class investigates that discovery - arguably, of philosophy itself - by way of a close reading of some Socratic dialogues: Euthydemus, Protagoras, Meno, Euthyphro, Charmides. 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. (IV) A. Callard

PHIL 55606. The Concept of Anxiety. (=SCTH 55606) Anxiety is discussed in modern philosophy as a mood or feeling which reveals 'nothing'. The class will be devoted to the modern philosophical discourse on "anxiety" and "nothing". Among the texts that we shall study are: Kierkegaard's 'The concept of Anxiety', Heidegger's 'Introduction to Metaphysics', and Sartre's 'Being and Nothingness'. We shall also compare the philosophical concern with anxiety/nothing with the discussion of anxiety in psychoanalysis, especially in Lacan's Seminar 'Anxiety' i.e., seminar 10. I. Kimhi

PHIL 56706. Conceptions of the Limits of Logic from Descartes to Wittgenstein. In what sense, if any, do the laws of logic express necessary truths? The course will consider four fateful junctures in the history of philosophy at which this question received influential treatment: (1) Descartes on the creation of the eternal truths, (2) Kant's re-conception of the nature of logic and introduction of the distinction between pure general and transcendental logic, (3) Frege's rejection of the possibility of logical aliens, and (4) Wittgenstein's early and later responses to Frege. We will closely read short selections from Descartes, Kant, Frege, and Wittgenstein, and ponder their significance for contemporary philosophical reflection by studying some classic pieces of secondary literature on these figures, along with related pieces of philosophical writing by Jocelyn Benoist, Matt Boyle, Cora Diamond, Peter Geach, John MacFarlane, Adrian Moore, Hilary Putnam, Thomas Ricketts, Sebastian Rödl, Richard Rorty, Peter Sullivan, Barry Stroud, Clinton Tolley, and Charles Travis. The course is open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students with prior background in philosophy. (V) 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 2019. Approval of dissertation committee is required. M. Willer