Departmental Courses

See our searchable database below for Department of Philosophy courses from 2012-13 to 2024-25. Feel free to browse the database by academic year, subfield category of course, level of course (graduate, undergraduate, crosslisted), quarter(s) of course, or instructor to find more specific information about our course offerings, including course descriptions.

As for levels of courses: 20000-level courses are for undergraduates only; courses with both 20000 and 30000 numbers can be taken by either undergraduates or graduates; and courses with 30000, 40000, or 50000 numbers are open only to graduate students, with very few exceptions. Current students should visit my.UChicago.edu to see up-to-date scheduling information for all University of Chicago undergraduate and graduate courses and to register for courses. The "Courses at a Glance" links on the right-hand column of this page will show you the Philosophy schedule as a whole for each quarter for the 2024-25 academic year.

Searchable Course Database

Click into the dropdowns to find the courses about which you want to learn and then hit "Apply." Descriptions for those courses will appear below! (Note: the default for the database shows the current year's courses.)

PHIL 20100-01 Introduction to Logic

(HIPS 20700, LING 20102)

An introduction to the concepts and principles of symbolic logic. We learn the syntax and semantics of truth-functional and first-order quantificational logic, and apply the resultant conceptual framework to the analysis of valid and invalid arguments, the structure of formal languages, and logical relations among sentences of ordinary discourse. Occasionally we will venture into topics in philosophy of language and philosophical logic, but our primary focus is on acquiring a facility with symbolic logic as such.

 

Students may count either PHIL 20100 or PHIL 20012, but not both, toward the credits required for graduation.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Logic

PHIL 21423 Introduction to Marx

(FNDL 21805)

This introduction to Marx’s thought will divide into three parts: in the first, we will consider Marx‘s theory of history; in the second, his account of capitalism; and in third, his conception of the state. (A)

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 22702 Abortion: Morality, Politics, Philosophy

(BPRO 22700, GNSE 22705, HIPS 22701, HLTH 22700, HMRT 22702)

Abortion is a complex and fraught topic. Morally, a very wide range of individual, familial, and social concerns converge upon it. Politically, longstanding controversies have been given new salience and urgency by the Dobbs decision and the ongoing moves by state legislatures to restrict access to abortion. In terms of moral philosophy, deep issues in ethics merge with equally deep questions about the nature of life, action, and the body. In terms of political philosophy, basic questions are raised about the relationship of religious and moral beliefs to the criminal law of a liberal state. We will seek to understand the topic in all of this complexity. Our approach will be thoroughly intra- and inter-disciplinary, drawing not only on our separate areas of philosophical expertise but on the contributions of a series of guest instructors in law, history, and medicine. (A)

Third or fourth-year standing.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

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.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 25503 My Favorite Readings in the History and Philosophy of Science

(HIPS 29800, HIST 25503)

This course introduces some of the most important and influential accounts of science to have been produced in modern times. It provides an opportunity to discover how philosophers, historians, anthropologists, and sociologists have grappled with the scientific enterprise, and to assess critically how successful their efforts have been. Authors likely include Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Robert Merton, Steven Shapin, and Bruno Latour. (B)

Robert Richards, Emily Kern
2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 29200-01/29300-01 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: Conceptions of Self

Who am I? How should we understand ‘the self’ and how do we understand ourselves? Is the self just an illusion? In this course, we will survey a variety of contemporary philosophical treatments of the concept of the self, including no-self theories, the self as a bodily manifestation, narrative accounts of the self, and alienated senses of self which occur in psychopathological cases. In exploring aspects of the self, we will ask: What grounds do we have to construct a notion of the self? How might facets of the self be constituted in experience, by our bodies, or through narratives? How might they be challenged by cases like the rubber hand illusion, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, and autism? Are there wrong ways of being a self or relating to oneself? What belongs within the boundaries of the self? In answering these questions, we will consider how the philosophical arguments we read fit with findings from psychology and psychiatry.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Open only to intensive-track and philosophy majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 29601 Intensive Track Seminar

Title: Philosophy and Fiction

In this course we will try to make sense of fiction using the techniques of philosophy. What is the ‘logic’ of fictional discourse? What makes a work, a work of fiction? (Is it the intentions of the author?) What is the metaphysical status of fictional characters? How does the making and consuming of fiction relate to other practices in human life—for example, playing games and lying? How can we be emotionally affected by fiction when we know it is fiction? We will read a variety of texts on these subjects, but the focus will be on work in the analytic tradition.

 

Open only to third-year students who have been admitted to the intensive track program.

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 29700 Reading and Research

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

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 29901 Senior Seminar I

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in the Autumn Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in the Winter Quarter. The Senior Seminar meets for two 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.

PHIL 20100-02/30000-02 Introduction to Logic

(HIPS 20700, LING 20102, CHSS 33500)

An introduction to the concepts and principles of symbolic logic. We learn the syntax and semantics of truth-functional and first-order quantificational logic, and apply the resultant conceptual framework to the analysis of valid and invalid arguments, the structure of formal languages, and logical relations among sentences of ordinary discourse. Occasionally we will venture into topics in philosophy of language and philosophical logic, but our primary focus is on acquiring a facility with symbolic logic as such.

Students may count either PHIL 20100 or PHIL 20012, but not both, toward the credits required for graduation.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Logic

PHIL 20012/30012 Accelerated Introduction to Logic

This course provides an introduction to logic for students of philosophy. It is aimed at students who possess more mathematical training than can be expected of typical philosophy majors, but who wish to study logic not just as a branch of mathematics but as a method for philosophical analysis. (II)

While no specific mathematical knowledge will be presupposed, some familiarity with the methods of mathematical reasoning and some prior practice writing prose that is precise enough to support mathematical proof will be useful.

Students may count either PHIL 20012 or PHIL 20100, but not both, toward the credits required for graduation.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Logic

PHIL 21002/31002 Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations

(HMRT 21002, HMRT 31002, HIST 29319, HIST 39319, INRE 31602, MAPH 42002)

In this class we explore the philosophical foundations of human rights, investigating theories of how our shared humanity in the context of an interdependent world gives rise to obligations of justice. Webegin by asking what rights are, how they are distinguished from other part of morality, and what role they play in our social and political life. But rights come in many varieties, and we are interested in human rights in particular. In later weeks, we will ask what makes something a human right, and how are human rights different from other kinds of rights. We will consider a number of contemporary philosophers (and one historian) who attempt to answer this question, including James Griffin, Joseph Raz, John Rawls, John Tasioulas, Samuel Moyn, Jiewuh Song, and Martha Nussbaum. Throughout we will be asking questions such as, "What makes something a human right?" "What role does human dignity play in grounding our human rights?" "Are human rights historical?" "What role does the nation and the individual play in our account of human rights?" "When can one nation legitimately intervene in the affairs of another nation?" "How can we respect the demands of justice while also respecting cultural difference?" "How do human rights relate to global inequality and markets?" (A) (I)

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 31414 MAPH Core Course: Contemporary Analytic Philosophy

(MAPH 31414)

This course is designed to provide MAPH students – especially those interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Philosophy – with an introduction to some recent debates between philosophers working in the analytic tradition. The course is, however, neither a history of analytic philosophy nor an overview of the discipline as it currently stands. The point of the course is primarily to introduce the distinctive style and method – or styles and methods – of philosophizing in the analytic tradition, through brief explorations of some currently hotly debated topics in the field.

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.

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 21723/31723 The Will: Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas

Aristotle’s approach to ethics is sometimes termed intellectualist, meaning that it has no room for a notion of the will, understood as a principle of human action distinct from intellect or reason. Such a notion, it is said, gained currency only centuries later, at least partly through influences alien to Greek philosophy. St Augustine is often cited as one of the thinkers most responsible for the notion’s becoming prevalent. St Thomas Aquinas, however, presents a highly articulated theory of human action that appears to integrate a robust conception of the will, and one heavily indebted to Augustine, into a largely Aristotelian framework. We will read and discuss substantial passages from these three authors bearing on the question of the will, in the hope that seeing them side by side can help to get at what they really mean and what the philosophical merits of their views are. (A) (IV)

Undergraduates who are not Philosophy majors must obtain the instructor’s consent.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 22709/32709 Introduction to Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics

(KNOW 22709, HIPS 22709, CHSS 32709)

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. (B) (II)

Prior knowledge of quantum mechanics is not required since we begin with an introduction to the formalism. Only familiarity with high school geometry is presupposed but expect to be introduced to other mathematical tools as needed.

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 23405/33405 History and Philosophy of Biology

(HIPS 25104, HIST 25104, HIST 35104, CHSS 37402, KNOW 37402)

This lecture-discussion course will consider the main figures in the history of biology, from the Hippocratics and Aristotle to Darwin and Mendel. The philosophic issues will be the kinds of explanations appropriate to biology versus the other physical sciences, the status of teleological considerations, and the moral consequences for human beings. (B) (II)

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 25605/35605 Life and A Life

(HIPS 25605, CHSS 35605)

This course is about the aims of human life. We address the question through two contrasting conceptions of life: 1) life in the sense of an ongoing activity—and its associated values of pleasure, enlightenment, and happiness, and 2) life in the sense of a biographical story—and its associated values of achievement, glory, meaning, and purpose. We will attempt to understand how these two conceptions of life are compatible, and if one or the other is prior. Readings include: Aristotle, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, William James, Bernard Williams, Iris Murdoch, and Jonathan Lear. (A)

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 25712/35712 Showing and Saying in the History of Philosophy

(SCTH 25712, SCTH 35712)

Wittgenstein describes the theory of what cannot be said by means of propositions but is only shown as ‘the cardinal problem of philosophy.’ We shall ask how can the notion of showing, which is not familiar from tradition, can be regarded as the cardinal concern of philosophy. We shall discuss traditional accounts of philosophical understanding (e.g., Plato’s theory of form of the Good, Aristotle’s account of the Nous of simples, Absolute Idealism) in light of ‘the theory of what cannot be said but shown.’

Background in philosophy and logic for Undergraduates.

Irad Kimhi
2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 25823/35823 Fascism

(GRMN 25823, GRMN 35823, HIST 22508, HIST 32508)

Developments in recent years have clearly shown a resurgent interest in “fascism”. While it designates a phenomenon which might concern everyone, it is also a term used more often in the manner of an insult than a precisely defined concept. One might even say it is what W.B. Gallie once called an essentially contested concept—not because many claim it for themselves today, but on the contrary, because virtually everyone denounces it in their own specific way. In this course, students will consider what “fascism” means by engaging with several influential explanations of it. We will read and discuss more contemporary philosophical views (Stanley, Eco), historical perspectives and documents (Paxton), but also classic perspectives from political theory (Arendt), philosophy (Burnham), and critical theory (Horkheimer, Adorno, Pollock), as well as political economy (Neumann, Sohn-Rethel, Gerschenkron, Fraenkel, Kalecki). With an eye to its historical and contemporary applications, our purpose throughout will be to reconstruct the arguments which we will consider in order to develop a rigorous concept of “fascism”.

This course will be offered in English. Its only prerequisite is a non-dogmatic approach to reading and discussion.

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 26520/36520 Mind, Brain and Meaning

(NSCI 22520, COGS 20001, LING 26520, PSYC 26520, LING 36520, PSYC 36520)

What is the relationship between physical processes in the brain and body and the processes of thought and consciousness that constitute our mental life? Philosophers and others have puzzled over this question for millennia. Many have concluded it to be intractable. In recent decades, the field of cognitive science--encompassing philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, computer science, linguistics, and other disciplines--has proposed a new form of answer. The driving idea is that the interaction of the mental and the physical may be understood via a third level of analysis: that of the computational. This course offers a critical introduction to the elements of this approach, and surveys some of the alternative models and theories that fall within it. Readings are drawn from a range of historical and contemporary sources in philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and computer science. (B) (II)

Jason Bridges, Leslie Kay, Chris Kennedy
2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 27379/37379 Reparations

(CRES 27379, RDIN 27379)

This course focuses on reparations for racialized slavery in the United States. As we’ll see, the debate over reparations raises a number of complex philosophical questions: what does it mean today to atone for hundreds of years of slavery, given that those who were enslaved, and those who enslaved other human beings, are now dead? Who today has an obligation to atone for it? What are they obligated to do? And, perhaps most importantly, who should have the authority to decide what successful atonement or reparation would look like? These questions arguably cannot be answered decisively without a precise accounting for the wrongs intrinsic to the institution of slavery, on the one hand, and an analysis of post-slavery racial oppression, on the other. Some of the authors we’ll read include: Bernard Boxill, Angela Davis, Fredrick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, C.L.R. James, Charles Mills, Robert Nozick and Jeremy Waldron. (A)

 

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 28202/38202 Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

(SCTH 28202, SCTH 38202)

A study of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and its topics, including knowledge, self-consciousness, desire, culture, morality, religion, art, and the character of phenomenological investigation. (B) (IV)

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Phenomenology

PHIL 27303/47303 The Principle of Sufficient Reason

(MAPH 47303)

The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) is the principle according to which every truth or fact can be explained. Appeals to explicability are pervasive in our everyday reasoning as well as in philosophy and the sciences – for example, the view that consciousness is grounded in physical features of the world is motivated by the thought that otherwise consciousness would be inexplicable. However, while the thought that phenomena admit of explanation motivates a great deal of philosophy, contemporary philosophers on the whole reject the PSR. Their reasons for doing so are partly because the PSR is thought to have the following surprising consequences: that God exists; that everything that could possibly be true is not only actually true, but necessarily true (also known as necessitarianism); and that only one thing exists (also known as monism). In this course we will read, write, and think about the philosophical tradition of metaphysical rationalism that is characterized by its embrace of the PSR. Our course will divide into three sections. First, we will study the ‘golden age’ of metaphysical rationalism in the 17th century through the writings of Spinoza and Leibniz. From there, we will turn to the recent resurgence of interest in metaphysical rationalism within analytic metaphysics, much of which has been influenced by scholars working in 17th century philosophy. In this second part of the course, we will discuss in a more systematic way the relation between the PSR and monism, necessitarianism, grounding, and metaphysical explanation. Finally, we will end by looking at Michael Della Rocca’s recent claims that the only consistent form of rationalism is a kind of radical monism, and that as such rationalism – and reason itself – may be self-undermining. Our aim in this course is to come to understand a historically important philosophical tradition that is undergoing a renaissance. It will serve as an introduction to work in the history of philosophy and contemporary metaphysics, and it will help students build the skills they need to continue engaging with both. (B)

Open to undergraduate and MA students, and all others with consent.

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 50002 Metaphysics of Action

This is a graduate seminar on the metaphysics of action. The course will be structured as an intensive overview of some of the basic questions in the area. We will briefly cover some fundamentals including the relationship between actions, agency, and agents, the range of action kinds, the distinction between basic and nonbasic action, and agent nihilism. We will then turn to the question of what kind of thing action is. Is it an event? A process? A causing? A sui generis kind of thing? After that, in hopes of coming to better understand the nature of action, we will look at how action relates to other phenomena such as reasons, causation, knowledge, control, and ethical practice. (II)

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Action

PHIL 50100 First-Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 50250 Greek Tragedy and Philosophy

(CLAS 42020, PLSC 42020, RETH 50250, LAWS 96303)

Ancient Greek tragedy has been of continuous interest to Western philosophers, whether they love it or hate it. But they do not agree about what it is and does, or about what insights it offers. This seminar will study the tragic festivals and a select number of tragedies, also consulting some modern studies of ancient Greek tragedy. Then we shall turn to philosophical accounts of the tragic genre, including those of Plato, Aristotle, the Greek and Roman Stoics (especially Seneca), Lessing, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Iris Murdoch, Sartre, and Bernard Williams. (III)

Method of evaluation: A seminar paper of 20-25 pages and an oral presentation preceded by a short paper of 5-7 pages. 

This class is offered on the Law School’s academic calendar. The first class will be Tuesday, September 26. Admission by permission of the instructor. Permission must be sought in writing by August 21 to martha_nussbaum@law.uchicago.edu.

An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation, plus my permission. This is a 500 level course. PhD students in Philosophy, Social Thought, Classics, and Political Theory may enroll. MA students need permission, and the MAPH and MAPSS programs discourage 500 level courses in a student’s first quarter. Law students with ample philosophical background are welcome to enroll but should ask Professor Nussbaum first. Undergraduates may not enroll. 

 

 

 

 

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 51002 Neo-Aristotelian Practical Philosophy

(SCTH 51002)

Neo-Aristotelianism marks philosophical views indebted to Aristotle.  In practical philosophy—ethics, political philosophy, accounts of practical reason, and so on—these views are distantly indebted to Aristotle’s views in metaphysics.  The 4 crucial aspects of Aristotle’s metaphysics, for our purposes are: 

I. His understanding of substances 

II. His understanding of causality 

III. His understanding of form and matter, and, relatedly,  

IV. His understanding of powers/ potentialities, and actuality  

Substances are unified, individual objects of a specific kind that can have accidental features like color and location in addition to natures or essences.  The paradigmatic instances of substances for Aristotle are individual living things—plants, animals, and human beings being three examples.  These things—organisms—come in specific kinds—the geranium, for example, or the honey badger.  The kinds are the substantial forms of the living things that are instances of those kinds.  Organisms are composite things—their matter is informed.  And the matter in question only counts as matter relative to the form it can take.  Organisms have characteristic powers—sight, for instance, or nutrition, or discursive reason—and these powers are actualized when exercised.

Aristotle identifies the substantial forms of living things as different kinds of souls—living things are animate things.  The ‘anima’ in ‘animate’ holds the word for soul—or source of life—for Aristotle.  And Aristotle’s principal teaching on the substantial forms of living things is, accordingly, the book that goes by the title De Anima—of the soul.  We will begin by reading passages from this work alongside mainstream Anglophone practical philosophy.

We will focus on rational animals—human beings—in focusing our attention on what makes a human being an exemplary one of its kind—virtue—and what makes for a sound human community.  In this work, we will pay special attention to Aristotle’s writings on ethics and politics, again read alongside philosophical work that is openly indebted to Aristotle. (I)

 

 

 

Permission of Instructors.

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 51200 Law and Philosophy Workshop

(LAWS 61512, PLSC 51512)

Theme: Advanced Topics in General Jurisprudence

The Workshop will explore in more depth issues touched upon in the basic course on “general jurisprudence” at the Law School.  General jurisprudence is 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.   Students who have taken Leiter’s “Jurisprudence I” course at the law school are welcome to enroll.  Students who have not taken Jurisprudence I must contact the Professor Leiter with information about their prior study of legal philosophy.   Detailed familiarity with Hart’s The Concept of Law and Dworkin’s criticisms of Hart is essential.   Scheduled speakers for the Workshop include Thomas Adams (Oxford), Mark Greenberg (UCLA), Giorgio Pino (Rome III), Louis Duarte D’Almeida (Lisbon), Daniel Wodak (Penn), and the Law & Philosophy Fellow Alma Diamond, among others.

Jurisprudence I, or instructor permission based on similar background in jurisprudence.

Alma Diamond; Brian Leiter
2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 57200 Spinoza’s Ethics

An in-depth study of Benedict Spinoza’s major work, the Ethics, supplemented by an investigation of some of his early writings and letters. Focus on Spinoza’s geometric method, the meaning of and arguments for his substance monism, his doctrine of parallelism, and his account of the good life. (IV)

2023-2024 Autumn
Category
Ethics

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 2023. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 70000 Advanced Study: Philosophy

Advanced Study: Philosophy

2023-2024 Autumn

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. (A)

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 21499 Philosophy and Philanthropy

(PLSC 21499, HMRT 21499, MAPH 31499)

Perhaps it is better to give than to receive, but exactly how much giving ought one to engage in and to whom or what?  Recent ethical and philosophical developments such as the effective altruism movement suggest that relatively affluent individuals are ethically bound to donate a very large percentage of their resources to worthy causes—for example, saving as many lives as they possibly can, wherever in the world those lives may be.  And charitable giving or philanthropy is not only a matter of individual giving, but also of giving by foundations, corporations, non-profits, non-governmental and various governmental agencies, and other organizational entities that play a very significant role in the modern world.  How, for example, does an institution like the University of Chicago engage in and justify its philanthropic activities?  Can one generalize about the various rationales for philanthropy, whether individual or institutional?  Why do individuals or organizations engage in philanthropy, and do they do so well or badly, for good reasons, bad reasons, or no coherent reasons?

This course will afford a broad, critical philosophical and historical overview of philanthropy, examining its various contexts and justifications, and contrasting charitable giving with other ethical demands, particularly the demands of justice. How do charity and justice relate to each other?  Would charity even be needed in a fully just world?  And does philanthropy in its current forms aid or hinder the pursuit of social justice, in both local and global contexts?  This course will feature a number of guest speakers and be developed in active conversation with the work of the UChicago Civic Knowledge Project and Office of Civic Engagement.  Students will also be presented with some practical opportunities to engage reflectively in deciding whether, why and how to donate a certain limited amount of (course provided) funding. (A)

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Ethics
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21506 Memory and Unity of a Person

In one of his most widely read pieces of writing—the chapter of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding called “Of Identity and Diversity”—John Locke writes: “[S]ince consciousness always accompanies thinking, and ‘tis that, that makes every one to be, what he calls self; and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things, in this alone consists personal Identity, i.e. the sameness of rational Being: And as far as this consciousness can be extended backwards to any past Action or Thought, so far reaches the Identity of that Person…” Locke’s account of personal identity has puzzled, annoyed, and inspired readers since it was published in the second edition of his Essay, in 1694. One of our aims in this course will be to find a coherent and attractive reading of it, a reading that takes account of influential objections to it offered by later writers. A related goal—one that will take us beyond the discussion of Locke and his commentators—will be to see what sense and what philosophical use we can make of Locke’s prima facie odd-sounding suggestion that an essential and distinctive feature of persons is a capacity to extend consciousness backwards in time. In pursuing the latter goal, we’ll read and discuss Sigmund Freud’s justly famous “Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through” as well as regions of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations in which the author remarks on the distinctive authority that is exhibited by (some) statements that take a first-person past tense form (e.g., “Last Thursday, I was furious with you”; “For a few months during my senior year of college, I intended to go to law school”; “I meant what I just said as a compliment”). Our aim throughout will be to understand the logical (or grammatical) features of, and relationships between, memory, consciousness, first-person authority, and personhood. (B)

One prior philosophy course.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 22202 Modern Social Contract Theory

Since the 17th century, the social contract has been a central metaphor to characterize the conditions under which political authority is legitimate.  However, the content of the social contract and its imagined mode of coming into being have varied widely.  In this course we will try to delineate the conditions that might make the concept of a social contract a plausible way to justify political authority.  We will read Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, and Rawls.  We will focus on these writers’ conceptions of the person, on their views of how such conceptions generate specific institutional arrangements, and on their accounts of the justification of state power. (A)

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 22819 Philosophy of Education

(PLSC 22819, CHDV 22819, EDSO 22819, MAPH 32819)

What are the aims of education? 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. (A)

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 23028 The Philosophy of Human-Animal Relationships

Intimate relationships – primarily relations of companionship – between humans and non-human animals are ubiquitous but not often the subject of philosophy. This is a shame, since such relationships are important and interesting, providing rich ground for philosophical reflection. In this course, we will philosophize about such relationships, drawing on memoir and film as well as academic philosophy. How, we will ask, are we to understand such relationships? What is their nature? How are they possible? And what do they demand of us? (A)

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 24098 Character and Commerce: Practical Wisdom in Economic Life

(ECON 12300)

Most of us seek to be reasonably good people leading what we take to be successful and satisfying lives. There is a mountain of evidence suggesting that most of us fail to live up to our own standards. Worse, we often fail to mark our own failures in ways that could help us improve ourselves. The context in which we try to live good lives is shaped by the vicissitudes of the global economy. The global economy is obviously of interest to those of us studying economics or planning on careers in business. Aspiring entrepreneurs or corporate leaders have clear stakes in understanding practical wisdom in the economic sphere. But anyone who relies upon her pay - or someone else's - to cover her living expenses has some interest in economic life.

In this course, we will bring work in neo-Aristotelian ethics and neo-classical economics into conversation with empirical work from behavioral economics and behavioral ethics, to read, write, talk, and think about cultivating wisdom in our economic dealings. While our focus will be on business, the kinds of problems we will consider, and the ways of addressing these, occur in ordinary life more generally - at home, in academic settings, and in our efforts to participate in the daily production and reproduction of sound modes of social interaction. (A)

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Ethics/Metaethics
Social/Political Philosophy

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, Nietszche, and Freud, as well as some recent texts. (B)

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 25405 Feminist Political Philosophy

(GNSE 20108, HIPS 25405)

This course is a survey of recent work in feminist political philosophy. We’ll focus on three interrelated themes: objectification; the relation of gender oppression to the economic structure of society; and the problem of “intersectionality,” that is, the problem of how to construct adequate theories of gender injustice given that gender “intersects” with other axes of oppression, e.g. race and class. Authors we’ll read include: Martha Nussbaum, Sandra Bartky, Angela Davis, Iris Marion Young, Nancy Fraser, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, and Serene Khader. (A)

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Feminist Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 26000 History of Philosophy II: Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy

(HIPS 26000, MDVL 26000)

A survey of the thought of some of the most important figures of the period from the fall of Rome to the Scottish Enlightenment. The course will begin with an examination of the medieval hylomorphism of Aquinas and Ockham and then consider its rejection and transformation in the early modern period. Three distinct early modern approaches to philosophy will be discussed in relation to their medieval antecedents: the method of doubt, the principle of sufficient reason, and empiricism. Figures covered may include Ockham, Aquinas, Descartes, Avicenna, Princess Elizabeth, Émilie du Châtelet, Spinoza, Leibniz, Abelard, Berkeley, Hume, and al-Ghazali.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities required; PHIL 25000 recommended.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 29700 Reading and Research

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

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 29902 Senior Seminar II

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in the Autumn Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in the Winter Quarter. The Senior Seminar meets for two 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.

PHIL 20100-01/02/30000-01/02 Introduction to Logic

(HIPS 20700, CHSS 33500)

An introduction to the concepts and principles of symbolic logic. We learn the syntax and semantics of truth-functional and first-order quantificational logic, and apply the resultant conceptual framework to the analysis of valid and invalid arguments, the structure of formal languages, and logical relations among sentences of ordinary discourse. Occasionally we will venture into topics in philosophy of language and philosophical logic, but our primary focus is on acquiring a facility with symbolic logic as such.

Students may count either PHIL 20100 or PHIL 20012, but not both, toward the credits required for graduation.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 21218/31218 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.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Ethics/Metaethics

PHIL 21702/31702 Moral Evil in German Idealism

In this class we explore the debate about moral evil in German Idealism. Kant teaches that the moral law is the law of freedom while also holding that immoral activity is entirely imputable to the subject and therefore free. How are the two claims compatible? We will reconstruct Kant’s own answer to this question as well as its discussion in Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. And we will trace connections between the debate among the German Idealists and certain developments in contemporary moral constitutivism. Special attention will be given to Kant’s doctrine of radical evil, according to which actual immorality is a condition of human freedom, our capacity for moral goodness. We will examine Kant’s case for this doctrine and its role in the moral philosophies of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. (A) (IV)

One prior course in practical philosophy.

Wolfram Gobsch
2023-2024 Winter
Category
German Idealism

PHIL 22100/32100 Space and Time

(HIPS 22100, CHSS 32100)

This course is an introduction to some traditional philosophical problems about space and time. The course will begin with a discussion of Zeno’s paradoxes. We will then look at the debate between Newton and Leibniz concerning the ontological status of space and time, and will examine reactions to this debate by physicists such as Mach. We will then go on to discuss the question of what sense is to be made of the claim that space is curved, looking at the work of Einstein. Students will be introduced to the basics of the special and general theories of relativity at a qualitative level. If time permits, we will also look at questions about the multiverse, and/or Boltzmann’s conception of the arrow of time. (B) (II)

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 22277/32277 The Philosophy of Thomas Kuhn

(HIPS 22277, CHSS 32277)

Thomas Kuhn was both an historian and a philosopher of science, with broader interests in philosophical issues pertaining to the nature of language, truth and knowledge — and, in particular, pertaining to questions concerning the possibility of communicability, commensurability, and inter-translatability across radically divergent conceptual schemes, theoretical frameworks, or grammatical/ linguistic structures. This course will be devoted to a close examination of the treatment of these topics in Kuhn’s work. For purposes of orientation, we will begin with several class meetings in which we read his classic work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, first published in 1962, along with some the central texts which figured in the controversies that book ignited in connection with the aforementioned topics. We will then examine some of the second thoughts Kuhn himself expressed concerning that work in scattered essays written between 1969 and 1977 (some of which are collected in The Essential Tension). The second half of the course will be on Kuhn’s work from 1978 until his death in 1996, starting with the essays collected in The Road Since “Structure", and further developed in The Presence of Science Past (his 1987 Shearman Lectures) and The Plurality of Worlds (his final unfinished magnum opus). (B) (II)

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 23022/33022 Agency and Virtual Reality: A Technophilosophical Exploration

This will be an exploratory course in philosophy of action focusing on how modern virtual reality technologies impact traditional debates within the metaphysics of action. Thus, we will engage in what David Chalmers calls “technophilosophy”: we will use new technologies to address old philosophical questions. In particular, we’ll be concerned with traditional metaphysical questions about agency such as what is action, what is distinctive about human action in particular, how do we exert control in action, what is the role of the body in agency, and to what extent does our agency manifest in the mind. But we will look at these questions keeping in close view that it may be only a matter of time before the vast majority of our lives are spent in virtual reality. To give sufficiently robust answers to these traditional questions---answers which are sensitive to a technologically changing world---we thus need to consider technophilosophical questions such as: could there be genuine virtual action? Can we make sense of genuine action without bodily movement? Are all actions in virtual reality simply mental actions? What are the limits of a human body, and could the human body extend into a virtual world? Are we responsible for what we do in virtual reality in the same way we are responsible for what we do in the real world?
A previous course in philosophy of action would be helpful but is not necessary. (B) (II)

At least one course in philosophy.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Action

PHIL 25713/35713 Wittgenstein’s Lecture on Ethics

(SCTH 25713, SCTH 35713)

This course will be devoted to Wittgenstein’s ‘Lecture on Ethics’ (1929.) We shall study the lecture in the context of Wittgenstein’s work on logic and the history of ethics.

Background in philosophy for Undergraduates. Consent required for Undergraduates.

Irad Kimhi
2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 26520/36520 Mind, Brain and Meaning

(NSCI 22520, COGS 20001, LING 26520, PSYC 26520, LING 36520, PSYC 36520)

What is the relationship between physical processes in the brain and body and the processes of thought and consciousness that constitute our mental life? Philosophers and others have puzzled over this question for millennia. Many have concluded it to be intractable. In recent decades, the field of cognitive science--encompassing philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, computer science, linguistics, and other disciplines--has proposed a new form of answer. The driving idea is that the interaction of the mental and the physical may be understood via a third level of analysis: that of the computational. This course offers a critical introduction to the elements of this approach, and surveys some of the alternative models and theories that fall within it. Readings are drawn from a range of historical and contemporary sources in philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and computer science. (B) (II)

Melinh Lai
2023-2024 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 27523/37523 Reading Kierkegaard

(FNDL 27523, SCTH 27523, SCTH 37523)

This will be a discussion-centered seminar that facilitates close readings some of Kierkegaard texts:

The Present Age, Fear and Trembling, Sickness Unto Death, and The Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air. Topics to be considered will include: living in clichés and self-satisfaction, despair, absolute requirements, the demands of ethical life, and becoming a human being. We shall also consider Kierkegaard's forms of writing and manners of persuasion. Students will be expected to write comments each week and to read the comments of others. Our reading each week will be determined by the pace of the group. (IV)                                 

 

 

 

This seminar is intended for undergraduate majors in Philosophy and Fundamentals and for graduate students in Social Thought and Philosophy. Permission of Instructor required.

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 28504/38504 Matter and Form

This course will investigate the metaphysical concept of “hylomorphism.” Hylomorphism is the idea that the unity and intelligibility of something can be understood principally through an analysis into form and matter, or into the actualization of a potentiality. The aim of the course will be to understand what philosophical questions and problems hylomorphism tries to answer, from its origins in Aristotle’s physics to Kant’s use of the concept in his discussions of cognition and action. (B)

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 29408/39408 Intuitionistic Logic

This course will be an introductory survey of the philosophical and mathematical foundations of intuitionistic logic, perhaps the most serious rival to classical logic. We will pay attention to its philosophical motivations, especially by examining some of the more philosophical works of Brouwer. The course will also involve a mathematically rigorous presentation of the metatheory of intuitionistic logic, using forcing and Kripke frames. (B) (II)

Students should have completed Elementary Logic, or a similar class in the mathematics department.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 29913/39913 Ancient Greek Philosophy of Race and Ethnicity

(CRES 22913, RDIN 29913, RDIN 39913)

This course will introduce students to race and ethnicity as topics of interest to ancient Greek philosophers, primarily Plato and Aristotle. We will look at the ways that Plato and Aristotle ask and address philosophical questions about human difference that approximate the modern concepts of race and ethnicity, such as the notion of a “barbarian”, mythologies of ancestry, the role of shared language, culture, and political forms versus genealogy, and the association of character traits and political capacities with groups of people. We will also consider relevant connections to other perceived forms of difference, such as gender, sexuality, and political status (e.g. slave, resident non-citizen). Since they are often relevant to how Plato and Aristotle address these issues, we will also consider relevant texts from the broader Greek intellectual world: medicine, drama, ethnography, and oratory. Finally, we will consider methodological issues, such as whether it is meaningful to talk about “race” in Greek antiquity, how it might differ from “ethnicity”, and how classicists, historians, and philosophers interested in this study can be misled by their own prejudices. (A) (III)

Some familiarity with ancient Greek philosophy is expected.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy
Philosophy of Race

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 50100 First-Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 20307/50307 Kant on Moral Meaning

(SCTH 20307, SCTH 50307)

Kant is known mostly as a moral theorist. In that capacity, he argued that morality was a matter of pure practical rationality and that we are unconditionally obligated to a moral law, the categorical imperative. But Kant also noted that we do not experience our moral lives in those theoretical terms, and in several texts, he explored the various ways in which our moral vocation is ordinarily experienced, what it means to us, and how it comes to matter to us. In that context, he discusses such topics as conscience, virtue and the formation of character, moral education, whether human beings are radically evil, how the claims of morality fit into a human life as a whole, and the possibility of a moral community. These themes will comprise the topics of this seminar. The texts will include sections from his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, his Doctrine of Virtue, his Lectures on Ethics, Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, and essays on the problems of casuistry. (A) (IV)

Everyone needs the Instructor's permission to register.

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 51200 Law and Philosophy Workshop

(LAWS 61512, PLSC 51512)

Theme: Advanced Topics in General Jurisprudence

The Workshop will explore in more depth issues touched upon in the basic course on “general jurisprudence” at the Law School.  General jurisprudence is 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.   Students who have taken Leiter’s “Jurisprudence I” course at the law school are welcome to enroll.  Students who have not taken Jurisprudence I must contact the Professor Leiter with information about their prior study of legal philosophy.   Detailed familiarity with Hart’s The Concept of Law and Dworkin’s criticisms of Hart is essential.   Scheduled speakers for the Workshop include Thomas Adams (Oxford), Mark Greenberg (UCLA), Giorgio Pino (Rome III), Louis Duarte D’Almeida (Lisbon), Daniel Wodak (Penn), and the Law & Philosophy Fellow Alma Diamond, among others.

Jurisprudence I, or instructor permission based on similar background in jurisprudence. Continuing Students Only.

Alma Diamond; Brian Leiter
2023-2024 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51312 Problems in the Philosophy of Emotion

This will be an exploratory seminar on some problems about what emotions are and what role they play in our lives.  We will consider questions about how to define the general category of emotions; about the intentionality of emotions; the relations between emotion, perception, and judgment; the connections of emotion with embodiment; the relation of emotions to time and to human sociality; and other topics as time permits.  We will give particular consideration to some emotions of which there has recently been interesting philosophical discussion, notably anger, shame, love, and grief. (I) and (II)

Permission of instructor required for graduate students not in Philosophy or Social Thought.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 51711 Aristotle’s Politics

(SCTH 56702)

Aristotle’s Politics argues for and then elaborates the claim that human beings are by nature political animals.  This claim, if it is true, has profound implications not only for our understanding of politics (e.g., of political authority), but also for our self-understanding as the individual human beings we are.  We will read the text closely, giving particular attention to Aristotle’s views about what a specifically political community is, how it relates to other kinds of community, and how the political nature of human beings inflects the virtues and happiness of individuals and societies.  We will try to decide whether and to what extent the Politics is illuminating, including whether it can be disentangled from his commitment to natural slavery and the subordination of women. (III)

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 51830 Advanced Topics in Moral, Political & Legal Philosophy: Nietzsche’s Theory of Value

(LAWS 53256)

The seminar will explore aspects of Nietzsche’s theory of value, especially regarding morality and aesthetics, in the context of two major intellectual 19th-century influences on his thought:  naturalism (especially through Schopenhauer and German Materialism) and Romanticism.  The first half of the seminar (led by Leiter) will emphasize naturalistic themes in his understanding of morality in On the Genealogy of Morality and excerpts from Beyond Good and Evil.  The second half (led by Forster) will examine the influence of Romanticism, including in The Birth of Tragedy and selections from later works.  

Instruction permission required for students outside the philosophy PhD program or the law school.

Michael Forster, Brian Leiter
2023-2024 Winter
Category
Aesthetics
Continental Philosophy
Ethics/Metaethics

PHIL 57502 Finite Knowledge in the Critique of Pure Reason

A consideration of the positive part of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason as the reflective investigation of the human capacity for empirical knowledge and as the advancement, under the title of transcendental idealism, of a conception of metaphysics as the science of the object of that capacity as such, with attention to alternative interpretive possibilities. (IV)

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 59903 Modern Indian Political and Legal Thought

(PLSC 59903, RETH 59903, LAWS 57014)

India has made important contributions to political and legal thought, most of which are too little-known in the West.  These contributions draw on ancient traditions, Hindu and Buddhist, but transform them, often radically, to fit the needs of an anti-imperial nation aspiring to inclusiveness and equality.  We will study the thought of Rabindranath Tagore (Nationalism, The Religion of Man, selected literary works); Mohandas Gandhi (Hind Swaraj (Indian Self-Rule), Autobiography, and selected speeches); B. R. Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian Constitution (The Annihilation of Caste, The Buddha and his Dhamma, and selected speeches and interventions in the Constituent Assembly); and, most recently, Amartya Sen, whose The Idea of Justice is rooted, as he describes, both in ancient Indian traditions and in the thought of Tagore. We will periodically contrast the thought of the founding generation with the ideas of the Hindu Right, dominant today.

This is a seminar open to all law students, and to others by permission. This class requires a major paper of 20-25 pages.

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 70000 Advanced Study: Philosophy

Advanced Study: Philosophy

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 20128 Mathematics in Plato

This course explores the role that mathematics plays in Plato's philosophy with a special focus on the concept of incommensurability. We will be reading Platonic dialogues in which mathematical practice figures prominently and our goal will be to inquire into the ways that mathematical practice is similar to philosophical practice and the ways it can serve as a useful exemplar. We will also inquire into the ways that mathematics falls short of philosophy, which will give us a better sense of what the philosophical goals are. Finally, we will consider the challenges presented by mathematical incommensurability and we will investigate the ways that this concept is appropriated by Plato for philosophical purposes.

Texts will include: Meno, Republic 5-7, Timaeus, Theaetetus, Statesman. We will read some secondary literature on Plato (e.g. S. Menn, H. Benson, T. Echterling) and on the mathematics of the time (W. Knorr, J. Klein) but not every time. (B)

No mathematical background required, no prior familiarity with Plato required, no Greek required.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Mathematics

PHIL 21000 Introduction to Ethics

(HIPS 21000, FNDL 23107)

In this course, we will read, write, think, and talk about moral philosophy, focusing on Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and work by John Stuart Mill. We will work through our texts with care. Neo-Kantianism is a prominent contemporary form of moral theory. We will use Kant to develop a critique of neo-Kantianism as we go along. We will look at influential criticisms of utilitarianism in the concluding weeks of the term, and we will need to ask ourselves whether either of them applies to the version of utilitarianism developed by John Stuart Mill. (A)

 

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Ethics
Ethics/Metaethics

PHIL 21204 Philosophy of Private Law

This course will be on the part of the law known as private law — the part that adjudicates disputes between private citizens where one person is alleged to have suffered harm through the wrongdoing of another. Among the questions with which we will be concerned are the following: What constitutes a legal harm in such a context? What, in the eyes of the law, counts as one person being the cause of another person’s suffering? What sort of redress or compensation may one justifiably seek for such suffering? Who has a right to decide such questions? What justifies the use of sanction or force — and when is it justified — in the enforcement of such legal decisions? The first half of this course will present a selective historical genealogy of our contemporary understanding of how to go about answering such questions. The second half of the course will be on contemporary theories of private law. The historical portion of the course will begin by examining the origins of the modern distinction between private and public law in Aristotle’s ancient distinction between corrective and distributive justice. Next we will briefly consider what private legal adjudication looks like in the absence of the state, first by reading an Icelandic Saga and then by watching John Ford’s classic western The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. (A)

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 21207 Ecocentrism and Environmental Racism

(HMRT 21207, PLSC 21207, ENST 21207, CRES 21207, CHST 21207, MAPH 31207)

The aim of this course is to explore the tensions and convergences between two of the most profoundly important areas of environmental philosophy. "Ecocentrism" is the view that holistic systems such as ecosystems can be ethically considerable or "count" in a way somewhat comparable to human persons, and such a philosophical perspective has been shared by many prominent forms of environmentalism, from Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic to Deep Ecology to the worldviews of many Native American and Indigenous peoples. For some prominent environmental philosophers, a commitment to ecocentrism is the defining test of whether one is truly an environmental philosopher. "Environmental Racism" is one of the defining elements of environmental injustice, the way in which environmental crises and existential threats often reflect systemic discrimination, oppression, and domination in their disproportionate adverse impact on peoples of color, women, the global poor, LGBTQ populations, and Indigenous Peoples. Although historically, some have claimed that ecocentric organizations such as Greenpeace have neglected the problems of environmental injustice and racism in their quest to, e.g., "save the whales," a deeper analysis reveals a far more complicated picture, with many affinities and alliances between ecocentrists and activists seeking environmental justice. (A)

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Ethics
Metaphysics
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21426 Marx’s Theory of Class

(GRMN 23425, PLSC 21426)

The topic of this course is Karl Marx's theory of socio-economic class. Its purpose is to gain insight into Marx's claim that understanding classes helps us understand politics. Though it is one of the topics for which his name is most remembered, his view of class is often misrepresented. For instance, it is often said that, for Marx, capitalist society consists of only two classes—the so-called proletariat (workers) and the bourgeoisie (capitalists). Like classical economists before him and heterodox economists after him, however, Marx believes that modern societies consist of at least three classes: workers, capitalists, and landlords or rentiers, as well as other marginalized groups. And he even disaggregates those classes into the smaller groups which constitute them (e.g., productive and unproductive labor; industrial, commercial, and financial capital, etc.). By examining selections from his mature political-economic writings, we will reconstruct Marx's theory of social classes and consider his application of that theory in some of his significant case studies, such as the American Civil War, as well as later developments of his theory by some influential successors. Themes which we will address include the relation between economy and politics, class, race, and gender, and agency and structure in historical development. We will also try to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of Marx's view with an eye to contemporary questions. (A)

Students might consider reading Marx's short essay, "Wage Labor and Capital," to prepare for this course.

 

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 22965 Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science

(GNSE 23171)

The topic of this class is feminist epistemology and philosophy of science. Questions we will consider include: Is rationality gendered? Are scientific conceptions of objectivity ‘masculine’? What could it mean to make such claims and how could they be justified? What should a feminist conception of knowledge look like? In addressing those questions we will explore the numerous ways that gender, gender roles, and gender identity influence the construction of knowledge and the representation of objectivity. We will investigate competing views about knowledge construction—specifically, empiricism, standpoint theory, and postmodernism—by considering, among other things, how they have informed empirical research in the social sciences, biology, and medicine. A few of the authors we will read are: Sandra Harding, Evelyn Fox Keller, Helen Longino, Louise Antony, Sally Haslanger, Donna Haraway,  Patricia Hill Collins, Catherine MacKinnon, Maria Lugones, and Oshadi Mangena. (B)

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Philosophy of Science

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)

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

PHIL 23001 Paradoxes

Paradoxes are conflicts in our own thought. Many of the most fundamental, frustrating, disturbing, and exciting concerns in philosophy and the sciences are to be found where paradoxes arise. In this course we will investigate paradoxes in logic, in metaphysics, in ethics, in action theory, in epistemology, and elsewhere. We will also try to understand the nature and sources of paradox—since the very possibility of paradoxes is, itself, a paradox. (B)

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 23540 Other Minds

This will be a course on the problem of other minds. We will try to understand what the problem is supposed to be by considering two formulations of it. One formulation is epistemological and has to do with how we can know (1) that there exist others like oneself, and (2) about those particular others. Another formulation is conceptual and concerns the question of where one gets the idea of another subject. Readings will be from philosophy addressing these topics.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 23728 Are We Forced to Work?: Force, Work, and Human Rights

(HMRT 23728)

Most of us, most of the time, must show up to work every day in order to get the money we need to survive. Although this fact seems commonplace, it raises important questions about human rights and human freedom. Are people under capitalism forced to labor? What about people who perform dangerous jobs out of economic desperation? And, if people are forced to work, is that in any sense a violation of their rights? On the one hand, some argue that egalitarian societies should recognize a right not to work. On the other, some argue that people should have a right to perform work, or at least work that is meaningful and freely chosen. In this class, we will read, write, and think about what contemporary philosophers have to say about each of these questions.

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 25407 Pregnancy and Motherhood

(GNSE 25408)

Pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood have been relatively neglected as topics for philosophical exploration, and yet they are ripe for philosophical inquiry from multiple angles, including metaphysics, epistemology, normative ethics, medical ethics, and social and political philosophy. Throughout our inquiry we will pay particular attention to the first-hand, embodied experiences of women. For example: What is it like to be pregnant? How can we make metaphysical sense of this experience? And how is it informed by the socio-political landscape? Moreover, what is the moral significance of giving birth, and what are the ethical and political requirements for a good birth? And finally, what does it mean to be a good mother, and how might this conception of motherhood play into women’s oppression? These are just a few of the questions we will explore, placing philosophical texts alongside memoir and film.

2023-2024 Spring

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 specifically on the influence of Kant’s contribution to moral philosophy and its lasting influence on discussions of ethics and political philosophy.  We will begin with a consideration of Kant's famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, in which he announces his project of grounding all ethical obligation in the very idea of a free will.  We will then consider Hegel's radicalization of this project in his Philosophy of Right, which seeks to derive from the idea of 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 some important challenges to the Kantian/Hegelian project in ethical and political theory: Karl Marx’s re-interpretation of the idea of freedom in the economic sphere; Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill’s radicalizations of the ideas of political liberty and equality; and the appropriation and critique of the Enlightenment rhetoric of freedom by writers on racial oppression including Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. DuBois, and Angela Davis.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

PHIL 28101 Appearance and Reality: Perspectives Across Philosophical Traditions

Is the world really as it appears to be in everyday experience, or is the world of everyday experience really a world of mere appearances, radically unlike the reality that lies behind it?  This is arguably the most fundamental philosophical question that one can ask, and it has occupied a central place in perhaps every philosophical tradition that has arisen across the globe.  In this class, we will consider how this question arises across two distinct philosophical traditions—Classical and Modern European Philosophy, on the one hand, and Classical Indian philosophy, on the other—seeking to compare and contrast the different philosophical impulses, approaches, and answers to this question across these traditions.  Historical readings will be from key figures in the different philosophical cannons, such Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant in Europe, and Vasubandu, Dharmakīrti, Nāgārjuna, Candrakīrti, and Śaṅkara in India.  Historical readings will be supplemented by works by contemporary philosophers. (B)

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 29200-01/29300-01 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript

Kierkegaard's pseudonym Johannes Climacus argues in the Concluding Unscientific Postscript that to be a true philosopher, one must be a uniquely subjective thinker. While subjectivity has traditionally been associated with a lack of objectivity (and thus a negative attribute), Kierkegaard aims to recover this concept. For him, rather, to be subjective is to be the sort of person who does not merely read or study philosophy, but to be someone who lives differently as a result of it. Thus, our aim in this course is to read the Postscript as Climacus would have it read. In asking about the nature of subjectivity, commitment, religion, and action, our goal will be ever on our own lives and how they ought to be lived.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Open only to intensive-track and philosophy majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Continental Philosophy

PHIL 29200-02/29300-02 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: The Meaning of Disability

What is disability? In what sense is disability a marker of human difference and in what sense is it a marker of misfortune? What is it to live well with disability in our care for ourselves and our care for one another? Aristotle offers, in his ethics, perhaps the richest framework we have for thinking about these questions. Yet his account of human flourishing is in apparent tension with much of contemporary thought about disability. This course will grapple with our Aristotelian inheritance around disability. What can Aristotle help us see clearly about disability? What modifications to his account are needed—or should we throw out his thinking altogether? The course will proceed in four parts. We will start by trying to get clear on Aristotle’s thinking about what it is for things to go well (or not) in a human life, and what this thinking means for traits we call disabilities. Next we will examine contemporary critiques of traditional approaches to disability, broadly from a disability rights perspective, drawing not just on academic writing but also on memoir and documentary film. We will then bring these two strands together by exploring neo-Aristotelian efforts to harmonize a Aristotelian spirit with contemporary commitments around disability. Finally, we will turn our attention to mourning and ask how it might matter in living well in our experiences with disability. Throughout, special attention will be given to intellectual and developmental disability.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Open only to intensive-track and philosophy majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 29700 Reading and Research

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

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 20114/30114 Dialectics: Kant and Hegel

Traditionally, contradiction is taken to be possible only as the disagreement between two judgments at least one of which is false. In the Transcendental Dialectic of the Critique of Pure Reason Kant claims to have discovered in us an ineliminable proclivity for holding contradictory metaphysical views. Hegel praises Kant for this discovery but criticizes him for locating the origin of this proclivity merely in us and not also in the things as they are in themselves. Breaking with tradition, Hegel thus holds that there are contradictions that are not merely subjectively, but also objectively necessary. In this class we reconstruct and discuss the arguments for each view. For both Kant and Hegel, the dialectic implies a certain conception of the unity of theoretical and practical reason; special attention will be given to this implication and to the difference between the Kantian and the Hegelian conception of this unity. (A) (B) (IV)

 

Introduction to Logic.

Wolfram Gobsch
2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 20926/30926 Wonder, Wonders, and Knowing

(HREL 30926, HIST 25318, RLST 28926, SCTH 20926, CHSS 30936, HIST 35318, KNOW 30926, SCTH 30926)

"In wonder is the beginning of philosophy," wrote Aristotle; Descartes also thought that those deficient in wonder were also deficient in knowledge. But the relationship between wonder and inquiry has always been an ambivalent one: too much wonder stupefies rather than stimulates investigation, according to Descartes; Aristotle explicitly excluded wonders as objects of inquiry from natural philosophy. Since the sixteenth century, scientists and scholars have both cultivated and repudiated the passion of wonder; ON the one hand, marvels (or even just anomalies) threaten to subvert the human and natural orders; on the other, the wonder they ignite fuels inquiry into their causes. Wonder is also a passion tinged with the numinous, and miracles have long stood for the inexplicable in religious contexts. This seminar will explore the long, vexed relationship between wonder, knowledge, and belief in the history of philosophy, science, and religion.

Reading knowledge of at least one language besides English would be helpful but not required. Consent is required for both grads and undergrads.

*This course will be taught the first five weeks of the quarter.

Lorraine Daston
2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 21511/31511 Forms 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. (B) (II)

This will be an advanced lecture course open to graduate students and undergraduates with a prior background in analytic philosophy.

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 21730/31730 Aristotle’s Metaphysics

Aristotle’s Metaphysics is one of the most difficult and rewarding texts in the philosophical tradition. It attempts to lay out the goals, methods, and primary results of a science Aristotle calls “first philosophy.” First philosophy is the study of beings just insofar as they are beings (as opposed to physics, which studies beings insofar as they come to be, pass away, or change), and if completed it would stand as the most fundamental and general science. Our aim will be to understand: if and how such a science is possible, what the principles of such a science are, what being is, which beings are primary, and what are the causes of being qua being. We will discuss the Metaphysics as a whole, but focus on A-B, Γ, Z, Η, Θ, and Λ. Our approach will be “forest,” rather than “tree” oriented, preferring in most cases a coherent overview to close reading. (B)

A background in ancient Greek philosophy (especially PHIL 25000: History of Philosophy I: Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy) is recommended but not required.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Ancient Philosophy
Metaphysics

PHIL 22000/32000 Introduction to Philosophy of Science

(HIPS 22000, HIST 25109, CHSS 33300, HIST 35109, KNOW 32000)

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)

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 22960/32960 Bayesian Epistemology

This course will be an introduction to Bayesian epistemology. (B) (II)

Introduction to Logic (PHIL 20100/30000) or its equivalent.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Epistemology

PHIL 33029 Justice for Animals in Ethics and Law

(PLSC 33029, RETH 33029, LAWS 48220)

Animals are in trouble all over the world.  Intelligent sentient beings suffer countless injustices at human hands: the cruelties of the factory farming industry, poaching and trophy hunting, assaults on the habitats of many creatures, and innumerable other instances of cruelty and neglect.  Human domination is everywhere: in the seas, where marine mammals die from ingesting plastic, from entanglement with fishing lines, and from lethal harpooning; in the skies, where migratory birds die in large numbers from air pollution and collisions with buildings; and, obviously, on the land, where the habitats of many large mammals have been destroyed almost beyond repair.  Addressing these large problems requires dedicated work and effort. But it also requires a good normative theory to direct our efforts. 

This class is theoretical and philosophical.  Because all good theorizing requires scientific knowledge, we will be reading a good deal of current science about animal abilities and animal lives.  But the focus will be on normative theory.  We will study four theories currently directing practical efforts in animal welfare: the anthropocentric theory of the Non-Human Rights Project; the Utilitarian theory of Jeremy Bentham, J. S. Mill, and Peter Singer; the Kantian theory of Christine Korsgaard; and an approach using the Capabilities Approach, recently developed by Martha Nussbaum.  We will then study legal implications and current legal problems, in both domestic and international law.

This is a new 1L elective, in connection with the Law School’s new program in Animal Law.  Law students and PhD students may register without permissionMA
students and undergrads need the instructor’s permission, and to receive permission they must be third or fourth-year Philosophy concentrator with a letter of recommendation from a faculty member in the Philosophy Department.  Because all assessment is by an eight-hour take-home exam at the end of the class, the letter should describe, among other things, the student’s ability in self-monitored disciplined preparation.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 23452/33452 Freedom and Self-Consciousness

Jonathan Lear writes, “Psychoanalysis…sets freedom rather than some specific image of human happiness as its goal.” This course, while not about psychoanalysis as such, is meant to be about a kind of freedom at which psychoanalysis aims—a freedom that is, one could say, internally related to (1) achieving a non-superficial, diachronic understanding of oneself and (2) learning to be true to oneself. What sort of understanding and what sort of truth are at issue here? I take the following to represent an obviously unsatisfactory approach toward answering this question: “What you must do in order to gain the relevant sort of freedom is, first, learn a lot of facts about the desires and values of an already fully realized self that is, at least partially, hidden from your inward gaze and, second, act in accordance with these desires and values.” But what might a satisfactory answer look like? In exploring this topic, we’ll read work by Jonathan Lear, Harry Frankfurt, Charles Taylor, Richard Moran, Sigmund Freud, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, among others. (A) (I)

In order to enroll in this course, you will need to have successfully completed two prior philosophy courses. 

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 26520/36520 Mind, Brain and Meaning

(NSCI 22520, COGS 20001, LING 26520, PSYC 26520, LING 36520, PSYC 36520)

What is the relationship between physical processes in the brain and body and the processes of thought and consciousness that constitute our mental life? Philosophers and others have puzzled over this question for millennia. Many have concluded it to be intractable. In recent decades, the field of cognitive science--encompassing philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, computer science, linguistics, and other disciplines--has proposed a new form of answer. The driving idea is that the interaction of the mental and the physical may be understood via a third level of analysis: that of the computational. This course offers a critical introduction to the elements of this approach, and surveys some of the alternative models and theories that fall within it. Readings are drawn from a range of historical and contemporary sources in philosophy, psychology, linguistics, and computer science. (B) (II)

Melinh Lai
2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 27326/37326 Leo Strauss' Philosophical “Autobiography”

(FNDL 27007, CLCV 27423, CLAS 37423, SCTH 27326, SCTH 37326)

Leo Strauss did not write an autobiography. However, he did mark out his path of thought through autobiographical reflections on the decisive challenges to which his oeuvre responded. The philosophically most demanding confrontation that Strauss presented on the question of how he became what he was is the so-called Autobiographical Preface of 1965, which he included in the American translation of his first book, “Spinoza’s Critique of Religion” (originally published in 1930). Two decades earlier, in the lecture The Living Issues of German Postwar Philosophy (1940), he made a first autobiographical attempt to publicly ascertain himself and determine his position. And in 1970 he published the concise retrospective A Giving of Accounts.

The seminar will make these writings – which illuminate the significance of Nietzsche and Heidegger for Strauss and address his early engagement with revealed religion and politics, in a constellation ranging from Hermann Cohen and Franz Rosenzweig to Karl Barth and Carl Schmitt – the subject of a close reading. Selected letters to Karl Löwith, Gershom Scholem and others will be used as supplementary texts.

Undergraduates need the Instructor's permission to register.

*This seminar will be taught the first five weeks of the quarter.

Heinrich Meier
2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 28203/38203 Hegel's Philosophy of Right

(FNDL 28204)

We will study Hegel’s Elements of Philosophy of Right. The book is an absolute classic of practical philosophy. Its ambition is nothing less than to provide a systematic treatment of the unity of action theory, ethics and political philosophy. Hegel’s theory is considered by many as the highpoint and completion of practical philosophy in the post-Kantian German Idealism. And it is essential for the development Marxism and Critical Theory. It is a crucial treatise to study – not only for those interested of the history of ethics and political theory, but for anyone reflecting on the logic and origins of the kind of society we live in. At the same time, the book is hardy an easy read. For one, the genre of text is quite peculiar: it was written for as a condensed “Leitfaden”  for the students listening Hegel’s lectures. Moreover, the range of topics discussed under the heading of the Philosophy of Right – as well the order in which they are presented – seems quite from a contemporary perspective.

Hegel’s guiding thought is that the power of practical reason and freedom can only be understood through its actuality. What stands at center of his treatise is thus the idea of practical reality, encapsulated in his famous slogan that “the rational is actual and the actual is rational.” Hegel’s point is that the domain of the practical is a stratum of being that is not a reality given to the mind, but one that reason apprehends as its own work in virtue of bringing it into being. This thesis has two sides: On the one hand, it means that there are aspects of reality whose very existence depends on our understanding of them as rational. On the other hand, it means that the norms of rationality cannot be understood independently of their realization in practice. Various features of our contemporary intellectual climate make it difficult for us to grasp this idea. Hegel’s slogan is often taken as a peculiar excess of Absolute Idealism that just reflects a conservative attitude towards the status quo. However, the central topics for a Marxist critique of right and western liberalism – such as alienation, exploitation and imperialism – can already be found in Hegel’s account on bourgeois society.

Literature:

G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of Philosophy of Right, ed. by A.W. Wood,, trans. by H.B. Nisbet, Cambridge University Press

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 26701/46701 Descartes

(MAPH 46701)

René Descartes is widely regarded as a (and perhaps the) foundational figure in modern philosophy, and he made seminal contributions to mathematics, natural science, and metaphysics. In this course we will work towards attaining a synoptic view of his thought. Our work together will be structured around a close, systematic reading of his Meditations on First Philosophy (i.e., on metaphysics), although we will read widely in the Cartesian corpus. Topics to be discussed include substance and mode; the nature of body; mind-body union; sensation; motion; causation; God and the infinite; and the will, among others. We will occasionally look to the medieval tradition to which Descartes was indebted, as well as to responses to his work by his contemporaries. Secondary sources will include writings by Lilli Alanen, Christia Mercer, Tad Schmaltz, Dan Garber, Anat Schechtman, Paul Hoffman, Marleen Rozemond, and John Carriero. (B)

Open to undergraduate and MA students, and all others with consent.

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 49702 Paper Revision and Publication Workshop

Preparing papers to submit to journals for review and revising papers in response to the feedback received from journal editors and referees is an essential part of professional academic life, and students applying for academic positions with no publications to their name are at a disadvantage in today’s highly competitive job market. The Department of Philosophy has therefore instituted the Paper Revision and Publication Workshop to provide our graduate students with support and assistance to prepare papers to submit for publication in academic philosophy journals. The workshop was designed with the following three aims in mind:

1. to provide students with a basic understanding of the various steps involved in publishing in academic journals and to create a forum in which students can solicit concrete advice from faculty members about the publishing process;

2. to direct and actively encourage students to submit at least one paper to a journal for review on a timeline that would allow accepted submissions to be listed as publications on a student’s CV by the time they go on the academic job market; and

3. to create and foster a departmental culture in which the continued revision of work with the ultimate aim of publication in academic journals is viewed as an essential aspect of the professional training of our graduate students and in which both faculty and students work together to establish more ambitious norms for publishing while in graduate school.

 

PhD students in Years 2-6, with approval by the DGS.

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 51200 Law and Philosophy Workshop

(LAWS 61512, PLSC 51512)

Theme: Advanced Topics in General Jurisprudence

The Workshop will explore in more depth issues touched upon in the basic course on “general jurisprudence” at the Law School.  General jurisprudence is 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.   Students who have taken Leiter’s “Jurisprudence I” course at the law school are welcome to enroll.  Students who have not taken Jurisprudence I must contact the Professor Leiter with information about their prior study of legal philosophy.   Detailed familiarity with Hart’s The Concept of Law and Dworkin’s criticisms of Hart is essential.   Scheduled speakers for the Workshop include Thomas Adams (Oxford), Mark Greenberg (UCLA), Giorgio Pino (Rome III), Louis Duarte D’Almeida (Lisbon), Daniel Wodak (Penn), and the Law & Philosophy Fellow Alma Diamond, among others.

Jurisprudence I, or instructor permission based on similar background in jurisprudence. Continuing Students Only.

Alma Diamond; Brian Leiter
2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51408 Philosophy of Action

The following claim will stand at the center of this seminar: Human action is the realization of thought in the world: the actualization of a conception of what is to be. This will lead us to consider answers to the following questions:  In what sense does thought come to be “actual” or “real” in the world? What role does such actualization play in our understanding of the world and of ourselves? And how does one have to conceive of judgment, inference, knowledge, and truth such that one can speak of realizing thought in the world? Against the background of these questions, we will study contemporary action theory, especially debates on practical inference and practical knowledge.

The seminar will be concerned critically to engage with certain influential approaches at the center of contemporary analytic action theory, especially those drawing inspiration from Elizabeth Anscombe and Gilbert Ryle. At the heart of the reception of Anscombe’s thought stands a dispute about what it is for an action to be intentional. The underlying assumption is that the word marks what is distinctive of human agency: we “act” in a different way than chemical substances, plants, or mere animals. When sub-rational animals are thought to belong within the domain of intentional agents, contemporary interest tends to move to a question that Ryle’s work made urgent: what it is for an action to be intelligent? The seminar will explore the consequences of the following thought: a crucial decision has already been made when one approaches the concept of human agency through the investigation of these two terms—intentionally or intelligently. While a lot of attention has been paid to how those adverbs are used in ordinary language, the verbs to which they are attached figure in the discussion as mere material for illustration to be ultimately replaced with the generic action concept variable “f.” The seminar will be concerned to advance the following criticism: contemporary philosophy of action thereby becomes meta-action theory. The differences in the kinds of things people do throughout the day turn out not really to matter to this form of theory. The seminar will explore the thought that understanding such differences – such as between moving somewhere, eating something, and making a thing – are crucial to a proper understanding of why practical knowledge is not just knowledge of action, but of the world and ourselves through action.

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Action

PHIL 51725 The Irreducibility of the Mind

(CHSS 51725)

Cognitive science, and much allied work in metaphysics and epistemology, adopts a ‘naturalistic’ orientation to the mind: they treat thought, perception, reasoning, intentional agency, and so on as phenomena tractable to natural-scientific explanation. On the other hand, some of the deepest ideas that emerged from 20th century philosophy stand in apparent opposition to this orientation. In various way, they suggest that a ‘naturalism’ of the mind does not make sense. In this seminar we will do our best to understand and adjudicate this dispute. (II)
 

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 55301 Plato’s Parmenides

The Parmenides is an important contribution to Plato’s thought in the areas of metaphysics, epistemology, language, and logic. It asks: are there problems with the Platonic “theory of forms”, at least in some version of the view? And it answers: yes, devastating problems, which can be overcome only through an elaborate and highly abstract training exercise. This exercise, which the dialogue enacts, involves a series of “deductions” or inferential chains regarding certain hypotheses and their negations. Naturally, this makes the Parmenides a difficult dialogue, challenging its reader both to follow complex logic and to read “beyond” the page to the deeper meaning. In this course, we will read the text in full, week by week. Topics will include: the metaphysics of forms, Parmenides’ methodology, the epistemology of paradox and contradiction, and how the dialogue develops a logical language. (III)

Some familiarity with Plato’s dialogues is expected.

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 58009 Disjunctivism and the Philosophy of Language

Disjunctivist accounts of human capacities always turn on some form of rejection of (what we will call in this course) a layer-cake assumption. One particularly widespread version of the latter sort of assumption, when asserted as a thesis about the nature of our cognitive faculties and their relation to one another, goes like this:  The natures of our sentient and rational capacities respectively are such that we could possess one of these capacities, as a form of cognition, without possessing the other. The underlying assumption is that at least one of these capacities is a self-standing cognitive capacity – one which could operate just as it presently does in us in isolation of the other. This course will begin by examining the counterpart assumption in the philosophy of language, when it is asserted as a thesis about the relation between the aspects of language we respectively apprehend through our power of sensory perception (for example, in recognizing signs) and through our power of intellectual comprehension (for example, in grasping a meaning). One tendency, for example, which we find in much contemporary philosophy of language is to conceive of the linguistic expression as a composite notion to be analyzed in terms of a kind of mere physical mark or acoustic noise to which something further — a meaning or use — is assigned or added in order to yield a fully linguistic expression. Some of the more penetrating philosophers of the past century have noticed that such a conception of language (once it is strictly thought through) appears to encounter insurmountable difficulties. This course will begin by looking at the work of some thinkers in the history of philosophy and linguistics who have challenged such a conception. We will then move on to considering further varieties of layer-cake assumptions and disjunctivist responses thereto that arise in the philosophy of language pertaining to the following further ten interrelated topics: (1) the relation between phonetics and phonology, (2) the relation between phonemes and morphemes, (3) between words and sentences, (4) between infant and adult forms of linguistic capacity, (5) between first and second language acquisition, (6) between orality and literacy in the cultural phases of the historical development of a single natural language, (7) between the pre- and post-punctuation phases in the historical development of the written form of a modern natural language, (8) between the written and spoken sign forms within a single modern natural language, (9) between a logically regimented artificial sign system and a living natural language, and (10) between diverse linguistic forms of speech and/or writing within a single cultural form of life marked by diglossia or heteroglossia. (II)

2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Language

PHIL 58012 Language, Evidence, and Mind

(LING 58012)

The observation that ordinary uses of predicates such as “tasty” and “beautiful” trigger an acquaintance inference—they suggest that the speaker has first-hand knowledge of the item under consideration—has received immense attention by philosophers as well as by linguists in recent years. The goal of this seminar is to arrive at a comprehensive and systematic understanding of this phenomenon. We will explore the significance of the acquaintance inference in semantics and philosophy of language (in particular for our understanding of the interaction between literal meaning and discourse pragmatics) but also for aesthetics and meta-ethics. From the linguistics side, we will explore intricate questions surrounding the projection properties of acquaintance inferences as well as issues surrounding “subjective” attitude verbs. The guiding hypothesis of this interdisciplinary seminar is that natural language predicate expressions lexically specify what it takes for their use to be properly ‘grounded’ in a speaker’s state of mind—what state of mind a speaker must be in for a predication to be in accordance with the norms governing assertion—and that these grounding constraints may compositionally interact with other other natural language expressions in interesting ways. (II)

Malte Willer, Chris Kennedy
2023-2024 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Language

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 2024. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 70000 Advanced Study: Philosophy

Advanced Study: Philosophy

2023-2024 Spring