Winter 2019 Courses

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

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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 Winter 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.

Winter 2019 Courses at a Glance - Spreadsheet

Open to Undergraduates:

PHIL 21000. Introduction to Ethics. (=HIPS 21000, FNDL 23107) In this course, we will read, write, and think about philosophical work meant to provide a systematic and foundational account of ethics. We will focus on close reading of two books, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism, along with a handful of more recent essays. Throughout, our aim will be to engage in serious thought about good and bad in our lives. (A) C. Vogler

PHIL 22709. Introduction to Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics. (=HIPS 22709, KNOW 22709) In this class we examine some of the conceptual problems associated with quantum mechanics. We will critically discuss some common interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as the Copenhagen interpretation, the many-worlds interpretation and Bohmian mechanics. We will also examine some implications of results in the foundations of quantum theory concerning non-locality, contextuality and realism. Prior knowledge of quantum mechanics is not required since we begin with an introduction to the formalism, but familiarity with matrices, freshman calculus and high school geometry will be presupposed. T. Pashby

PHIL 23205. Introduction to Phenomenology. This course will be devoted to the exploration of one of the most important philosophical movements of the Twentieth Century: Phenomenology. Our exploration will take as guideline the following question that we will have to clarify and to answer during the quarter: is there a trans-phenomenality of being? We will see that Husserl and Heidegger's answer to that question is negative whereas Sartre's answer is positive. The orientation of the quarter will be defined by the attempt to defend Sartre's position concerning this philosophical issue and to raise then a second question entailed by our answer to the first: does the discovery of the trans-phenomenality of being imply to give up the phenomenological method coming from Husserl and Heidegger or to redefine it? R. Moati

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. B. Callard

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

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

Open to Undergraduates and Graduates:

PHIL 20102/30102. Changing, Resting, Living: Aristotle's Natural Philosophy. (=CLAS 20118, CLCV 20118) How can many things be one thing? Aristotle's answer to this question treats living things - plants and animals - as the paradigm cases of unified multiplicities. In this class, we will investigate how such things are held together, and what makes it possible for them to change over time. Readings will be from Aristotle's Physics, Metaphysics, De Anima, Parts of Animals, On Generation and Corruption and De Motu Animalium. 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. (B) A. Callard

PHIL 20210/30210. Kant's Ethics. (=FNDL 20210) In this course we will read, write, and think about Kant's ethics. After giving careful attention to the arguments in the Second Critique, portions of the Third Critique, the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, the Metaphysics of Morals, and several other primary texts, we will conclude by working through some contemporary neo-Kantian moral philosophy, paying close attention to work by Christine Korsgaard, David Velleman, Stephen Engstrom, and others. (A) (V) B. Laurence

PHIL 25818/35818. Stoic Ethics Through Roman Eyes. (=CLCV 25818, CLAS 35818, LAWS 97121, PLSC 25818, PLSC 35818, RETH 35818) The major ideas of the Stoic school about virtue, appropriate action, emotion, and how to live in harmony with the rational structure of the universe are preserved in Greek only in fragmentary texts and incomplete summaries. But the Roman philosophers give us much more, and we will study closely a group of key texts from Cicero and Seneca, including Cicero's De Finibus book III, his Tusculan Disputations book IV, a group of Seneca's letters, and, finally, a short extract from Cicero's De Officiis, to get a sense of Stoic political thought. For fun we will also read a few letters of Cicero's where he makes it clear that he is unable to follow the Stoics in the crises of his own life. We will try to understand why Stoicism had such deep and wide influence at Rome, influencing statesmen, poets, and many others, and becoming so to speak the religion of the Roman world.

Prerequisite: Ability to read the material in Latin at a sufficiently high level, usually about two-three years at the college level. Assignment will usually be about 8 Oxford Classical Text pages per week, and in-class translation will be the norm. M. Nussbaum

Open to Graduates:

PHIL 42961. Social Epistemology. This course will introduce some main themes of Social Epistemology, that is the study of knowledge in relation to social institutions and relationships. The course will focus on four topics: epistemic authority; testimony as a source of knowledge; peer disagreement and epistemic conflict; and epistemic justice and injustice. The course is exploratory: the instructor is relatively new to this field and will be learning the material with the students. (III) M. Kremer

PHIL 43112. Sensation. An examination of the difficulties philosophers have faced in achieving a satisfactory view of sensation - and of the roles they have wanted sensation to play in grounding larger accounts of the nature of the 'mind' or 'soul'. Readings will be partly historical and partly contemporary, with attention to both thematic continuities and discontinuities between them. Authors include: Aristotle, Hobbes, Descartes, Wittgenstein, Ryle, Putnam, Lewis, and Kriegel. (III) J. Bridges

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

PHIL 50007. Michel Foucault: "Les aveux de la chair". (=DVPR 50007, FREN 40007, CMLT 50007) The last volume of Foucault's history of sexuality has finally been published after more than a 30 year wait. In this volume Foucault moves from his previous focus on Greco-Roman culture to early Christianity, and his account culminates in an extensive discussion of Saint Augustine. This seminar will consist of a close reading of "Les Aveux de la chair", supplemented by a few other texts from the later Foucault. We will also try to draw some general methodological and philosophical conclusions from our reading.

Prerequisites: Good reading knowledge of French and familiarity with the previous volumes of Foucault's "Histoire de la sexualité". All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to by 12/14/2018. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee. Applicants should briefly describe their background and explain their interest in, and their reasons for applying to, this course. A. Davidson

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

PHIL 50616. Merleau-Ponty and the Scientific Image. (II) K. Davey

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 51404. Global Inequality. (=LAWS 53294, PLSC 51404, RETH 51404) 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. This is a seminar scheduled through the Law School, but happy to admit by permission about ten non-law students. M. Nussbaum; D. Weisbach

PHIL 51830. Topics in Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy: Nietzsche on Morality, Suffering, and the Value of Life. (=LAWS 53256) Nietzsche objects to Judeo-Christian morality (and its ‘ascetic’ analogues in non-Western traditions) because he argues it is a fatal obstacle to certain kinds of human flourishing and cultural excellence. This is closely connected to his opposition to Schopenhauer’s pessimistic view that the inescapable fact of suffering renders life without value (a life without human excellence would, on Nietzsche’s view, lack value). These issues (and others, e.g., the nature of philosophy and tragedy, the conception of Dionysus) have antecedents in his early work as a scholar of antiquity and the influence of his Basel colleague, the important historian Jacob Burckhardt. Roughly the first five sessions will be devoted to reconstructing the “mature” Nietzsche’s view, as represented by the Genealogy, but also excerpts from Daybreak, Beyond Good and Evil, Twilight of the Idols, and Ecce Homo. The remaining four sessions of the seminar will explore the historical background, in Greek literature and philosophy, the reception of Greek culture in German philosophy, and in the seminal work of his colleague Burckhardt. The ultimate goal is to reconstruct Nietzsche’s view from a philosophical point of view and, as importantly, in light of the historical context. Open to philosophy PhD students without permission and to others with permission; those seeking permission should e-mail Leiter with a resume and a detailed description of their background in philosophy (not necessarily in the study of Nietzsche). In the event of demand, preference will be given to J.D. students with the requisite philosophy background. (I) and (III) M. Forster; B. Leiter

PHIL 53021. Knowledge of Agency. The title of this course is ambiguous. It might be thought to refer, either, to the knowledge of which the agent is the object, or, alternatively, to the knowledge of which the agent is the subject. This course will consider how these two forms of knowledge are related to each other. Its guiding conjecture will be that the knowledge of which the agent is the subject is prior in the order of understanding to that of which the agent is the object. After considering Ryle's account of "knowledge-how" and Anscombe's investigation of the reason-requesting question "Why?", we will widen our focus to consider the general tendency of analytic philosophers to theorize human agency in terms of the way that agency is explained, rather than from the standpoint of the agent in the midst of action. This research seminar will presuppose some familiarity with the philosophy of action. (III) A. Ford

PHIL 53308. Language and Probability. (=LING 53308) Recent years have seen an increased interest in the role of probability for philosophy of language and linguistics. The goal of this class is to explore some of the most important development in this area from a philosophical and linguistic perspective, focusing on issues in natural language semantics and pragmatics. It will discuss classical as well as recent work on the semantics and pragmatics of the language of uncertainty (probably, likely, and so on) but also try to arrive a better understanding of the scope (as well as the limits) of probability theory as a general tool for addressing central issues in natural language semantics and pragmatics. (II) M. Willer

PHIL 54102. Kierkegaard, Ethical Themes. (=SCTH 55509) A careful reading of Concluding Scientific Postscript in the context of which we shall consider such topics as truthfulness, living in the midst of illusion, subjectivity, ethical commitment, irony and humor. In relation to these topics we shall also read contemporary authors such as Cora Diamond, Alasdair MacIntyre, Bernard Williams and myself. Open to Ph.D. students in Committee on Social Thought and Philosophy. Others by permission of instructor. (I) (V) J. Lear

PHIL 55111. Reading Religion Philosophically. (=DVPR 55111) We will examine the question of what it means to read religious texts and practices from a philosophical point of view. Enrollment requires the consent of the instructor and the course is only open to advanced graduate students who are writing a thesis or preparing comprehensive exams. For more information contact the instructor. A. Davidson

PHIL 55392. Beauty. (=SCTH XXXXX) (I) (IV) G. Richardson Lear

PHIL 55550. Film and Philosophy: Issues in Melodrama. (=GRMN 35550, GRMN 45550, SCTH XXXXX) The general question to be addressed: might film (realist fictional narratives especially) be a reflective form of thought, and if so, might that form of reflection be considered a philosophical one? The genre to be interrogated with this question in mind will be melodramas, narratives of great suffering and extreme emotional experiences, the best of which explore how we might make sense of such suffering. A prominent question: the difference between tragedy and melodrama, and the bearing of that difference on the general question. We shall watch several films in connection with these questions, including Max Ophuls's Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), King Vidor's Stella Dallas (1937), Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life (1959), Written on the Wind (1956), and Rainer Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972). We shall also explore different cinematic treatments of a common melodramatic plot, and consider together Sirk's All that Heaven Allows (1955), Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), and Todd Haynes's Far from Heaven (2002), the last two of which are variations on Sirk's plot. Readings will include Stanley Cavell's The World Viewed and Contesting Tears, essays by André Bazin, work by Peter Brooks, Fassbinder, and Thomas Elsaesser, and selected essays on the films. (I) R. Pippin; D. Wellbery