Departmental Courses

See our searchable database below for Department of Philosophy courses from 2012-13 to 2018-19. 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 2018-19 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 21720 Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

(FNDL 21908)

This course will offer a close reading of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, one of the great works of ethics. Among the topics to be considered are: What is a good life? What is ethics? What is the relation between ethics and having a good life? What is it for reason to be practical? What is human excellence? What is the non-rational part of the human psyche like? How does it ever come to listen to reason? What is human happiness? What is the place of thought and of action in the happy life? (A)

This course is intended for Philosophy majors and for Fundamentals majors. Otherwise please seek permission to enroll.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 22209 Philosophies of Environmentalism & Sustainability

(ENST 22209, GNSE 22204, HMRT 22201, PLSC 22202)

Many of the toughest ethical and political challenges confronting the world today are related to environmental issues: for example, climate change, loss of biodiversity, the unsustainable use of natural resources, pollution, and other threats to the well-being of both present and future generations.  Using both classic and contemporary works, this course will highlight some of the fundamental and unavoidable philosophical questions presented by such environmental issues.  What do the terms “nature” and “wilderness” even mean, and can “natural” environments as such have ethical and/or legal standing?  Does the environmental crisis demand radically new forms of ethical and political philosophizing and practice?  Must an environmental ethic reject anthropocentrism?  If so, what are the most plausible non-anthropocentric alternatives?  What counts as the proper ethical treatment of non-human animals, living organisms, or ecosystems?  What fundamental ethical and political perspectives inform such approaches as the “Land Ethic,” ecofeminism, and deep ecology?  Is there a plausible account of justice for future generations?  Are we now in the Anthropocene?  Is “adaptation” the best strategy at this historical juncture?  How can the wild, the rural, and the urban all contribute to a better future for Planet Earth? (A)

Field trips, guest speakers, and special projects will help us philosophize about the fate of the earth by connecting the local and the global.  Please be patient with the flexible course organization!  Some rescheduling may be necessary in order to accommodate guest speakers and the weather!

 

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Ethics
Social/Political Philosophy

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)

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Metaphysics
Epistemology

PHIL 24100 Consciousness

In the first third of the course, we'll be discussing an argument to the effect that, in order for empirical knowledge to be so much as possible (so: in order for radical skepticism not be intellectually obligatory), we must enjoy a particular kind of self-consciousness. In the remainder of the course, we'll be trying to get into view what an adequate account of that sort of self-consciousness might look like. (B)

Either two courses in the Department of Philosophy, or Philosophical Perspectives plus one course in the Department of Philosophy.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 24400 Heidegger's Being and Time Division I

(FNDL 24406)

We propose a cursive reading of the section I of the masterpiece of Heidegger Being and Time looking for the very connection, as our very leading question, between the idea of being in general and the discovery of the being of human being named by Heidegger - Dasein.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
German Idealism

PHIL 24800 Foucault and the History of Sexuality

(GNSE 23100, HIPS 24300, CMLT 25001, FNDL 22001, KNOW 27002)

This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed.

One prior philosophy course is strongly recommended.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Continental Philosophy
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.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 29601 Intensive Track Seminar

This seminar will explore an advanced topic in philosophy. It is required as part of the intensive track of the Philosophy Major.

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

2018-2019 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.

Staff
2018-2019 Autumn

PHIL 29901 Senior Seminar I

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2018-2019 Autumn

PHIL 20100/30000 Elementary Logic

(CHSS 33500, HIPS 20700)

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.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Logic

PHIL 31414 MAPH Core Course: Contemporary Analytic Philosophy

(MAPH 31414)

The goal of this course is to have MAPH students explore the historical origins of analytic philosophy. Beginning with Frege, we will look at the development of analytic philosophy through the work of figures such as Russell, Wittgenstein, looking also at the rise and fall of positivism and the philosophical traditions that emerged afterwards with figures such as Quine, Kripke, Putnam and beyond. At the end of the course, MAPH students should have a more solid understanding of the central issues that have shaped modern American-European analytic philosophy, and some of the important ways in which this tradition diverges from contemporary continental philosophy.

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.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
History of Analytic Philosophy

PHIL 21717/31717 Socrates, Plato & Aristotle on Courage

(CLCV 21718, CLAS 31718)

What is courage? Is it: doing what you should do, even when you are afraid? Can you be courageous without being afraid? Can you be couragoues and know that you are doing the right thing? Can you be courageous if you are not in fact doing the right thing? Can you have precisely the correct amount of fear and still fail to be courageous? Could you be courageous if you weren't afraid to die? Courage is, arguably, the queen of the virtues. In this class, we will use some Socratic dialogues (Laches, Protagoras, Republic, Phaedo) and some Aristotelian treatises (Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics) as partners in inquiry into the answers to the questions listed above. (A)

Students who are not enrolled by the start of term but wish to enroll must (a) email the instructor before the course begins and (b) attend the first class.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 24098/34098 Character and Commerce: Practical Wisdom in Economic Life

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)

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Ethics/Metaethics
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 49700 Preliminary Essay Workshop

The workshop involves discussion of general issues in writing the essay and student presentations of their work. Although students do not register for the Summer quarter, they are expected to make significant progress on their preliminary essay over the summer.

All and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years. A two-quarter (Spring, Autumn) workshop on the preliminary essay required for all doctoral students in the Spring of their second year and the Autumn of their third year.

2018-2019 Autumn

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

Staff
2018-2019 Autumn

PHIL 50100 First Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2018-2019 Autumn

PHIL 50106 Sartre and Philosophy of Mind

It's been ten years that a growing interest for Phenomenology is manifest in the field of the contemporary philosophy of mind, especially amongst others phenomenologists, for Sartre. We will try to discuss most of the contemporary approaches of Sartre and try to understand what could be an actual and sustainable sartrean position today in the debates turning around the notion of self-consciousness.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Continental Philosophy
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop

(LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512)

The topic for 2018-19 will be "Enlightenment liberalism and its critics," the critics coming from both the left and the right. Enlightenment liberalism was marked by its belief in human freedom and the need for justifications on any infringements of that freedom; by its commitment to individual rights (for example, rights to expression or to property); and by its faith in the rational and self-governing capacities of persons and their basic moral equality. The Workshop will begin in the fall with several classes just for students to discuss foundational readings from liberal thinkers like Locke, Kant and Mill (we may also have some outside speakers taking up Kantian and Millian themes). In the Winter quarter, we will consider critics from the left, notably Marx and Frankfurt School theorists like Herbert Marcuse. In Spring, we will turn to critics from the "right" such as Nietzsche (who rejects the moral equality of persons) and Carl Schmitt. There will be sessions with the students discussing primary texts and then sessions with outside speakers sometimes interpreting the primary texts, sometimes criticizing the critics of liberalism, and sometimes developing their ideas.

Open to PhD students in philosophy, and to J.D. students and other graduate students who submit an application to Prof. Leiter detailing their background in philosophy. This class will require a major paper (20-25 pages).

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51225 Sources of Critical Theory

(ENGL 51225)

This course is designed to give students a broad and rapid introduction to the philosophical and other sources that inform contemporary literary and critical theory. We will cover a lot of ground very quickly. The variety of humanism at issue in our work will be the sort that informs common sense or, as one of our authors might put it, ordinary understanding of the things that strike many of us as obvious about ourselves and other people. The critique will not make anything stop seeming obvious. But it will provide some tools for thinking differently about contemporary commonsense understandings of human life. We will conclude by seeing the way this material shapes work by two prominent recent critics, Slavoj Žižek and Lauren Berlant.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Continental Philosophy

PHIL 51821 Political Liberalism and Social Pathologies

The exercise of state power is supposed to pass a test of "legitimacy." However, it has been difficult to find a legitimacy criterion that is both compelling and satisfiable. In Political Liberalism John Rawls proposes a criterion of legitimacy that he thinks will be compelling, satisfiable, and, crucially, acceptable to a wide range of citizens' (reasonable) fundamental beliefs (or, as he calls them, "comprehensive doctrines"). Rawls's proposal has been criticized in many ways. In the seminar we will go through and try to understand the structure and content of Rawls's political liberal view. We will then examine several challenges to his criterion of legitimacy. Finally, we will look at a challenge that stems from work by recent writers of the Frankfurt School. This challenge says (i) Rawls's legitimacy criterion does not preclude significant "social pathologies" associated with a capitalist economy, and (ii) no criterion of legitimacy that could preclude these pathologies would be consistent with the basic agenda of political liberalism. The seminar will read work by Rawls, Colin Bird, Corey Brettschneider, Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth and Rahel Jaeggi. (I)

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 53020 Agency and Action

Human or rational agency is the power to change objects in the world according to one’s conception of what is to be. Accordingly, a philosophical account of human agency requires an investigation of the notions power and change, and the way in which they are specified by idea that the respective exercise of the power to affect change proceeds from a concept or conception of what is to be. According to the Aristotlelian tradition that has been taken up by G.E.M. Anscombe and the recent literature following her, this task can only be accomplished by making space for the idea of a specifically practical species of genus inference and knowledge: a kind of inferring that concludes in action and a kind of knowledge that is productive of its object.

We will study Anscombe’s Intention and recent work on the following topics: What is a causal power? What is a process? What kind of power or capacity is know how or skill such that its exercise is an intentional action? What kind of inference is the practical syllogism such that it concludes in action? What is for knowledge to be practical? And above all: What is the logical grammar of the ‘I do’ and how is it related to the ‘I think’?

We will discuss texts by G.E.M. Anscombe; Maria Alvarez; Donald Davidson; Jonathan Dancy; Jennifer Hornsby; John Hyman; Sebastian Rödl; Kieran Setiya; Michael Thompson; David Velleman et al. (III)



 

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Action

PHIL 55100 The Development of Whitehead's Philosophy of Nature

(CHSS 55100, KNOW 55100)

In this course we will read Whitehead with the aim of understanding how he arrived at his mature views, i.e., the "philosophy of organism" expressed in Process and Reality (1929). The development of Whitehead's philosophy can be traced back to a planned fourth volume of Principia Mathematica (never completed) on space and time. This course will examine how these concerns with natural philosophy led Whitehead to develop his philosophy of organism. Beginning in the late 1910s, we will read over 10 years of published work by Whitehead, supplemented by recently discovered notes from his Harvard seminars 1924/25 and selected commentaries. (II)

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Mathematics
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 55818 Hellenistic Ethics

(CLAS 45818, LAWS 43206, PLSC 55818, RETH 55818)

The three leading schools of the Hellenistic era (starting in Greece in the late fourth century B. C. E. and extending through the second century C. E. in Rome) - Epicureans, Skeptics, and Stoics - produced philosophical work of lasting value, frequently neglected because of the fragmentary nature of the Greek evidence and people's (unjustified) contempt for Roman philosophy. We will study in a detailed and philosophically careful way the major ethical arguments of all three schools. Topics to be addressed include: the nature and role of pleasure; the role of the fear of death in human life; other sources of disturbance (such as having definite ethical beliefs?); the nature of the emotions and their role in a moral life; the nature of appropriate action; the meaning of the injunction to "live in accordance with nature". If time permits we will say something about Stoic political philosophy and its idea of global duty. Major sources (read in English) will include the three surviving letters of Epicurus and other fragments; the skeptical writings of Sextus Empiricus; the presentation of Stoic ideas in the Greek biographer Diogenes Laertius and the Roman philosophers Cicero and Seneca. This course complements the Latin course on Stoic Ethics in the Winter quarter, and many will enjoy doing both. (IV)

Admission by permission of the instructor. Permission must be sought in writing by September 15. An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation, plus my permission. This is a 500 level course. Ph.D. students in Philosophy, Classics, and Political Theory may enroll without permission.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy
Ethics/Metaethics

PHIL 59950 Job Placement Workshop

Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter.

This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2018. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2018-2019 Autumn

PHIL 21000 Introduction to Ethics

(HIPS 21000, FNDL 23107)

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

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Ethics/Metaethics

PHIL 21499 Philosophy and Philanthropy

(MAPH 31499, PLSC 21499, HMRT 21499)

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 wealth 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?  Readings will include such works as Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save and David Callahan’s The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age, and there will be a number of special guest speakers. The course will be developed in active conversation with the work of the UChicago Civic Knowledge Project and Office of Civic Engagement, and students will 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.

 

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 22821 Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality

(MAPH 32830)

The class will focus on a careful reading of Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morality. We will consider what 'genealogy' means to Nietzsche, and what form of argument it enables him to make. We will also consider the various different modes of 'reading' that Nietzsche's text invites, and think critically about what this means for philosophical scholarship on Nietzsche's work. 

Open to MAPH students and 3rd and 4th years in the College.

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 23021 Reason and Agency

In this course we shall investigate the kind of rationality that is distinctive of human agency: practical rationality. We shall consider what (if anything) sets practical reasoning apart from theoretical reasoning as a special form of rationality, as well as the relation between the kind of rationality distinctive of agents and the moral character of action. Some of the questions we shall consider are:  What makes an action rational or irrational? Is it irrational to act immorally? If so, what kind of failure of rationality does that involve? Is instrumental reasoning exhaustive of practical reasoning? Is instrumental reasoning itself an ‘amoral’ activity?  We shall read selections from: Bernard Williams, Philippa Foot, Christine Korsgaard, Kieran Setiya, Warren Quinn, David Enoch, Elizabeth Anscombe and others.

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 23205 Introduction to Phenomenology

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

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Phenomenology

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 this period, including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

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

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 29200-02 Junior Tutorial

Topic: Marx and Philosophy.  Karl Marx is at once an incisive philosophical thinker, and a powerful critic of the whole enterprise of philosophy. In this course, we will investigate Marx's critique of philosophy. In particular, we will do so with an eye to the implications such a critique may have for philosophy as it exists today. That is, we will ask what conclusions can be drawn within philosophy, and about philosophy, from Marxian premises. This will require careful examination of key works by Marx, as well as by Hegel, Feuerbach, and Engels. It will also involve reflection on central disputes in contemporary theoretical philosophy, including the mind-body problem, the problem of knowledge, and the naturalism/anti-naturalism dispute.

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

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 29300-02 Senior Tutorial

Topic: Marx and Philosophy. Karl Marx is at once an incisive philosophical thinker, and a powerful critic of the whole enterprise of philosophy. In this course, we will investigate Marx's critique of philosophy. In particular, we will do so with an eye to the implications such a critique may have for philosophy as it exists today. That is, we will ask what conclusions can be drawn within philosophy, and about philosophy, from Marxian premises. This will require careful examination of key works by Marx, as well as by Hegel, Feuerbach, and Engels. It will also involve reflection on central disputes in contemporary theoretical philosophy, including the mind-body problem, the problem of knowledge, and the naturalism/anti-naturalism dispute.

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

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 29700 Reading and Research

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

Staff
2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 29901 Senior Seminar I

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 29902 Senior Seminar II

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 20102/30102 Changing, Resting, Living: Aristotle's Natural Philosophy

(CLCV 20118, CLAS 30118)

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

Students who are not enrolled by the start of term but wish to enroll must (a) email the instructor before the course begins and (b) attend the first class.

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 22709/32709 Introduction to Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics

(CHSS 32709, HIPS 22709, KNOW 22709)

In this class we examine some of the conceptual problems associated with quantum mechanics. We will critically discuss some common interpretations of quantum mechanics, such as the Copenhagen interpretation, the many-worlds interpretation and Bohmian mechanics. We will also examine some implications of results in the foundations of quantum theory concerning non-locality, contextuality and realism. (B)

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.

 

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 23920/33920 Later Wittgenstein

(MAPH 34265)

This course is meant as an introduction to Wittgenstein's later work.  Our primary focus will be a close reading of Philosophical Investigations, with supplementary readings drawn from other writings.  Topics covered will include: meaning and understanding, sensation and privacy, imagination and intentionality, and the nature of philosophy. 

This will be a writing- and discussion-intensive class intended for 3rd and 4th year undergraduates and MA students.  Enrollment will be limited, and instructor consent is required.

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 25818/35818 Stoic Ethics Through Roman Eyes

(CLCV 25818, CLAS 35818, LAWS 97121, PLSC 25818, PLSC 35818, RETH 35818)

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

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

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 28114/38114 Film and Philosophy: Issues in Melodrama

(SCTH 28114, SCTH 38114, GRMN 35550, CMST 28114, CMST 38114)

The general question to be addressed: might film (fictional narratives or “movies”) be a reflective form of thought, and if so, might that form of reflection be considered a philosophical one? The genre to be interrogated with this question in mind will be melodramas, narratives of great suffering and extreme emotional experiences, the best of which explore how we might make sense of such suffering. A prominent question: the difference between tragedy and melodrama, and the bearing of that difference on the general question. Another: might such films be a form of collective self-knowledge at a time? Another: might such films be a unique way to explore the problems philosophers call “moral psychology,” and what difference should it make to philosophers if the psychological subjects in such an inquiry are women? We shall watch nine films in connection with these questions: Stella Dallas (1937); Now Voyager (1942); Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948); Caught (1949); Rebel Without a Cause (1955); All That Heaven Allows (1955); Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974); Written on the Wind (1956); and  Imitation of Life (1959); Readings will include Stanley Cavell's Contesting Tears, and essays by Linda Williams, Laura Mulvey, George Wilson, Christine Gledhill; Victor Perkins, Rainer Fassbinder, Thomas Elsaesser, and others. (A) (I)

 

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Aesthetics

PHIL 42961 Social Epistemology

This course will introduce some main themes of Social Epistemology, that is the study of knowledge in relation to social institutions and relationships. The course will focus on four topics: epistemic authority; testimony as a source of knowledge; peer disagreement and epistemic conflict; and epistemic justice and injustice. (III)

The course is exploratory: the instructor is relatively new to this field and will be learning the material with the students.

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy
Epistemology

PHIL 43113 Causation and Necessity

We examine attempts to achieve a satisfactory philosophical understanding of causation, of necessity, and of their interconnection. One organizing theme of our reflections is the contribution of these categories to the idea of 'the natural world'; another is their bearing on the idea of the will. Readings are both historical and recent, drawn from Aristotle, Cicero, Aquinas, Hobbes, Leibniz, Wittgenstein, Davidson, Anscombe, D. Lewis, and J. Woodward. (II)

 

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

Staff
2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 50007 Michel Foucault: "Les aveux de la chair"

(DVPR 50007, FREN 40007, CMLT 50007)

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

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

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Continental Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 50100 First Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2018-2019 Winter

PHIL 50616 Merleau-Ponty and the Scientific Image

This course will be a reading of Merleau-Ponty's 'Structure of Behavior'. In this book, Merleau-Ponty critiques many of the scientific paradigms of the time concerning the nature of perception and behavior, proposing his own anti-Cartesian paradigm. Where appropriate, we will read some of the scientific texts to which Merleau-Ponty was responding, such as the work of the Gestalt Psychologists, Goldstein, Pavlov, and Peiron, as well as older texts such as Descartes' Optics. At stake in Merleau-Ponty's book is the question of the extent to which our conception of ourselves as mere biological creatures responding to environmental stimuli in accordance with the laws of physiology, and our conception of ourselves as thinking, feeling creatures experiencing the world are at odds with one another, and this question will loom large in our reading. The course will touch on important issues in general philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and phenomenology. (II)

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop

(LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512)

The topic for 2018-19 will be "Enlightenment liberalism and its critics," the critics coming from both the left and the right. Enlightenment liberalism was marked by its belief in human freedom and the need for justifications on any infringements of that freedom; by its commitment to individual rights (for example, rights to expression or to property); and by its faith in the rational and self-governing capacities of persons and their basic moral equality. The Workshop will begin in the fall with several classes just for students to discuss foundational readings from liberal thinkers like Locke, Kant and Mill (we may also have some outside speakers taking up Kantian and Millian themes). In the Winter quarter, we will consider critics from the left, notably Marx and Frankfurt School theorists like Herbert Marcuse. In Spring, we will turn to critics from the "right" such as Nietzsche (who rejects the moral equality of persons) and Carl Schmitt. There will be sessions with the students discussing primary texts and then sessions with outside speakers sometimes interpreting the primary texts, sometimes criticizing the critics of liberalism, and sometimes developing their ideas.

Open to PhD students in philosophy, and to J.D. students and other graduate students who submit an application to Prof. Leiter detailing their background in philosophy. This class will require a major paper (20-25 pages). Only continuing students from Autumn will be registered.

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51404 Global Inequality

(LAWS 53294, PLSC 51404, RETH 51404)

Global income and wealth are highly concentrated. The richest 2% of the population own about half of the global assets. Per capita income in the United States is around $47,000 and in Europe it is around $30,500, while in India it is $3,400 and in Congo, it is $329. There are equally unsettling inequalities in longevity, health, and education. In this interdisciplinary seminar, we ask what duties nations and individuals have to address these inequalities and what are the best strategies for doing so. What role must each country play in helping itself? What is the role of international agreements and agencies, of NGOs, of political institutions, and of corporations in addressing global poverty? How do we weigh policies that emphasize growth against policies that emphasize within-country equality, health, or education? In seeking answers to these questions, the class will combine readings on the law and economics of global development with readings on the philosophy of global justice. A particular focus will be on the role that legal institutions, both domestic and international, play in discharging these duties. For, example, we might focus on how a nation with natural resources can design legal institutions to ensure they are exploited for the benefit of the citizens of the country.

Students will be expected to write a paper, which may qualify for substantial writing credit. This is a seminar scheduled through the Law School, but happy to admit by permission about ten non-law students.

Martha C. Nussbaum, D. Weisbach
2018-2019 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 51830 Topics in Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy: Nietzsche on Morality, Suffering, and the Value of Life

(LAWS 53256)

Nietzsche objects to Judeo-Christian morality (and its ‘ascetic’ analogues in non-Western traditions) because he argues it is a fatal obstacle to certain kinds of human flourishing and cultural excellence. This is closely connected to his opposition to Schopenhauer’s pessimistic view that the inescapable fact of suffering renders life without value (a life without human excellence would, on Nietzsche’s view, lack value). These issues (and others, e.g., the nature of philosophy and tragedy, the conception of Dionysus) have antecedents in his early work as a scholar of antiquity and the influence of his Basel colleague, the important historian Jacob Burckhardt. Roughly the first five sessions will be devoted to reconstructing the “mature” Nietzsche’s view, as represented by the Genealogy, but also excerpts from Daybreak, Beyond Good and Evil, Twilight of the Idols, and Ecce Homo. The remaining four sessions of the seminar will explore the historical background, in Greek literature and philosophy, the reception of Greek culture in German philosophy, and in the seminal work of his colleague Burckhardt. The ultimate goal is to reconstruct Nietzsche’s view from a philosophical point of view and, as importantly, in light of the historical context. (I)

Open to philosophy PhD students without permission and to others with permission; those seeking permission should e-mail Leiter with a resume and a detailed description of their background in philosophy (not necessarily in the study of Nietzsche). In the event of demand, preference will be given to J.D. students with the requisite philosophy background.

Michael Forster, B. Leiter
2018-2019 Winter
Category
German Idealism
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 53021 Knowledge of Agency

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

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Action
Epistemology

PHIL 55111 Reading Religion Philosophically

(DVPR 55111)

We will examine the question of what it means to read religious texts and practices from a philosophical point of view.

Enrollment requires the consent of the instructor and the course is only open to advanced graduate students who are writing a thesis or preparing comprehensive exams. For more information contact the instructor.

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 20000 Introduction to Philosophy of Science

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

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 21203 Introduction to Philosophy of Law

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

L. Van Alstyne
2018-2019 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 21600 Introduction to Political Philosophy

(GNSE 21601, PLSC 22600, LLSO 22612)

In this class we will investigate what it is for a society to be just. In what sense are the members of a just society equal? What freedoms does a just society protect? Must a just society be a democracy? What economic arrangements are compatible with justice? In the second portion of the class we will consider one pressing injustice in our society in light of our previous philosophical conclusions. Possible candidates include, but are not limited to, racial inequality, economic inequality, and gender hierarchy. Here our goal will be to combine our philosophical theories with empirical evidence in order to identify, diagnose, and effectively respond to actual injustice. (A)

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21620 The Problem of Evil

(RLST 23620)

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

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Ethics/Metaethics
Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 21834 Self-Creation as a Literary and Philosophical Problem

(SIGN 26001)

Can we choose who to be? We tend to feel that we have some ability to influence the kind of people we will become; but the phenomenon of 'self-creation' is fraught with paradox: creation ex nihilo, vicious circularity, infinite regress. In this class, we will read philosophical texts addressing these paradoxes against novels offering illustrations of self-creation.

Students who are not enrolled by the start of term but wish to enroll must (a) email the instructor before the course begins and (b) attend the first class.

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Action

PHIL 24004 Language, Meaning, and the Skeptical Denial of Human Knowledge

We will explore the connection between two abiding concerns of Western philosophy, and French philosophy in particular: the nature of linguistic meaning and skeptical worries about the possibility of knowledge.

20th century philosophers had an especially keen interest in language. This orientation was of a piece with the broader intellectual and aesthetic current of “modernism”, in which the means through which human beings engage in communicative and expressive activity becomes the subject matter of that very activity.

In much of the arts and humanities, the modernist drive to scrutinize communicative and expressive media was motivated by misgivings about traditional modes of representing the world and the self, and suspicion of the longstanding cultural confidence in the accuracy and power of these modes. But philosophy was a different case. For philosophy had already been struggling for millennia with doubts about the possibility of accurate representation, just as it had been struggling for that long with puzzles about the possibility of knowledge, and the objectivity of truth, and even the intelligibility of existence itself. Against the backdrop of this difficult history, the message of modernism seemed one of promise. Philosophers thought that attention to the means of human expression, especially to language, could prove the key to dissolving the skeptical puzzles that had heretofore dogged their attempts to achieve a satisfactory understanding of our place in the world as knowers, thinkers, and agents.

We will take as our test case one such skeptical puzzle, perhaps the most famous one. This is the argument of ‘external-world skepticism’, according to which we can know nothing at all about the world around us. Some of the most famous and influential presentations of external-world skepticism are due to two French writers of the early modern period—Montaigne and Descartes—and we will begin by examining their texts.

In the remainder of the course, we will look at three attempts to solve the problem of external-world skepticism through reflection on the nature of language. The first is logical empiricism, which aimed to show that purported statements of skepticism or of other sweeping philosophical doctrines are meaningless. The second is ordinary-language philosophy, according to which arguments for skepticism depend upon distortions of our ordinary practices of offering and assessing claims of knowledge. The third is the contemporary movement of contextualism, which traces the skeptical threat to a failure to grasp the pervasive context-sensitivity of meaning. We will ask in each case whether the claims made about the nature of language can be sustained, and whether they really do have the power to defeat the skeptical challenge.

No philosophical background is presupposed. The texts we read will be challenging (in addition to Montaigne and Descartes, they include Carnap, Quine, Wittgenstein, Austin, Cavell and Laugier), but we will talk carefully through the basic ideas needed to begin to appreciate what these writers might be after. (B)

 

Open to students who have been admitted to the Paris Humanities Program. This course will be taught at the Paris Humanities Program.

 

2018-2019 Spring

PHIL 24260 Ethical Knowledge

What sort of knowledge do we have when know what we ought to do—where ‘what we ought to do’ is the ethical or moral thing to do? In this course we shall look at different contemporary attempts to answer this question, as well as some of their historical influences. This will involve reading some philosophers who doubt that there is any such thing as ethical knowledge, some who think ethical knowledge is akin to less controversial examples of knowledge, and some who take it to constitute a special form of knowledge. Along the way, we shall aim to get in view both the appeal and the difficulty of the ancient idea that morality can be understood in terms of knowledge. Readings will include: J.L Mackie, John McDowell, Christine Korsgaard, Peter Railton, Peter Geach and others.

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Ethics

PHIL 24599 Introduction to Frege

(FNDL 24599)

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

2018-2019 Spring
Category
History of Analytic Philosophy

PHIL 27000 History of Philosophy III: Kant and the 19th Century

The philosophical ideas and methods of Immanuel Kant's "critical" philosophy set off a revolution that reverberated through 19th-century philosophy. We will trace the effects of this revolution and the responses to it, focusing in particular on the changing conception of what philosophical ethics might hope to achieve. We will begin with a consideration of Kant's famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, in which the project of grounding all ethical obligations in the very idea of rational freedom is announced. We will then consider Hegel's radicalization of this project in his Philosophy of Right, which seeks to derive from the idea of rational freedom, not just formal constraints on right action, but a determinate, positive conception of what Hegel calls "ethical life". We will conclude with an examination of three great critics of the Kantian/Hegelian project in ethical theory: Karl Marx, Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

PHIL 29200-01 Junior Tutorial

Topic: Race, Gender, and the Production of Knowledge. This course explores the field of “social epistemology” with a special emphasis on gender and race. We will examine classical models of knowledge in contrast to contemporary models of epistemic interdependence, focusing on how the production of knowledge is impacted by group social structures and what social practices must be in place to ensure that voices of the marginalized are heard and believed. Looking at examples from literature and film, we will investigate how race and gender intersect with these issues, especially on the topics of testimony, White ignorance, and epistemic injustice. Finally we will explore the possibility of an ethical epistemic future, asking how we can redress wrongdoing and construct communities of epistemic resistance and epistemic justice.

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

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 29300-01 Senior Tutorial

Topic: Race, Gender, and the Production of Knowledge. This course explores the field of “social epistemology” with a special emphasis on gender and race. We will examine classical models of knowledge in contrast to contemporary models of epistemic interdependence, focusing on how the production of knowledge is impacted by group social structures and what social practices must be in place to ensure that voices of the marginalized are heard and believed. Looking at examples from literature and film, we will investigate how race and gender intersect with these issues, especially on the topics of testimony, White ignorance, and epistemic injustice. Finally we will explore the possibility of an ethical epistemic future, asking how we can redress wrongdoing and construct communities of epistemic resistance and epistemic justice.

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

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 29411 Consequentialism from Bentham to Singer

(PLSC 29411)

Are some acts wrong "whatever the consequences"? Do consequences matter when acting for the sake of duty, or virtue, or what is right? How do "consequentialist" ethical theories, such as utilitarianism, address such issues? This course will address these questions by critically examining some of the most provocative defenses of consequentialism in the history of philosophy, from the work of the classical utilitarians Bentham, Mill, and Sidgwick to that of Peter Singer, one of the world's most influential living philosophers and the founder of the animal liberation and effective altruism movements. Does consequentialism lend itself to the Panoptical nightmares of the surveillance state, or can it be a force for a genuinely emancipatory ethics and politics? (A)

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Ethics

PHIL 29700 Reading and Research

Consent of director of undergraduate studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

Staff
2018-2019 Spring

PHIL 29902 Senior Seminar II

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter). The Senior Seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

Consent of Director of Undergraduate Studies. Required and only open to fourth-year students who have been accepted into the BA essay program.

2018-2019 Spring

PHIL 20215/30215 The End of Life

(SCTH 30215)

Aristotle taught that happiness, or eudaimonia, is the end of human life, in the sense that it is what we should strive for. But, in another sense, death is the end of life. This course will explore how these two “ends” – happiness and death – are related to each other. But it will do so in the context of a wider set of concerns. For, it is not only our individual lives that come to an end: ways of life, cultural traditions, civilizations and epochs of human history end. We now live with the fear that human life on earth might end. How are we to think about, and live well in relation to, ends such as these? Readings from Aristotle, Marx, Engels, Freud, Heidegger, and Arendt.

 

Graduates: By permission of instructor.

2018-2019 Spring

PHIL 21002/31002 Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations

(HMRT 21002, HMRT 31002, HIST 29319, HIST 39319, LLSO 21002, INRE 31602, MAPH 42002, LAWS 97119)

Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I)

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21901/31900 Feminist Philosophy

(LAWS 47701, GNSE 29600, HMRT 31900, PLSC 51900, RETH 41000)

The course is an introduction to the major varieties of philosophical feminism. After studying some key historical texts in the Western tradition (Wollstonecraft, Rousseau, J. S. Mill), we examine four types of contemporary philosophical feminism: Liberal Feminism (Susan Moller Okin, Martha Nussbaum), Radical Feminism (Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin), Difference Feminism (Carol Gilligan, Annette Baier, Nel Noddings), and Postmodern "Queer" Gender Theory and trans femism (Judith Butler, Michael Warner and others). After studying each of these approaches, we will focus on political and ethical problems of contemporary international feminism, asking how well each of the approaches addresses these problems. (A)

Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor.

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Feminist Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 23701/33701 Varieties of Philosophical Skepticism

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

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

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Epistemology

PHIL 28006/38006 Philosophical Fiction: Proust's In Search of Lost Time

(FNDL 28006, SCTH 38006)

We will discuss all seven volumes of Proust's magisterial novel, In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927). In order to be able to do so in a ten week quarter, students must announce their intention to register for the course before the end of the Spring quarter of 2018, and pledge to have read the entire novel before the March, 2019 beginning of the seminar. (They can do so by emailing Robert Pippin at rbp1@uchicago.edu.) The novel is well known for its treatment of a large number of philosophical issues: including self-identity over time, the nature of memory, social competition and snobbery, the nature of love, both romantic and familial, the role of fantasy in human life, the nature and prevalence of jealousy, the nature and value of art, the chief characteristics of bourgeois society, and the nature of lived temporality. Our interest will be not only in these issues but also in what could be meant by the notion of a novelistic "treatment" of the issues, and how such a treatment might bear on philosophy as traditionally understood. We shall use the Modern Library boxed set of seven volumes for the English translation, and for those students with French, we will use the Folio Collection paperbacks of the seven volumes. (I)

Robert Pippin, J. Landy
2018-2019 Spring
Category
Aesthetics

PHIL 49700 Preliminary Essay Workshop

The workshop involves discussion of general issues in writing the essay and student presentations of their work. Although students do not register for the Summer quarter, they are expected to make significant progress on their preliminary essay over the summer.

All and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years. A two-quarter (Spring, Autumn) workshop on the preliminary essay required for all doctoral students in the Spring of their second year and the Autumn of their third year.

2018-2019 Spring

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

Staff
2018-2019 Spring

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop

(LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, GNSE 50101, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512)

The topic for 2018-19 will be "Enlightenment liberalism and its critics," the critics coming from both the left and the right. Enlightenment liberalism was marked by its belief in human freedom and the need for justifications on any infringements of that freedom; by its commitment to individual rights (for example, rights to expression or to property); and by its faith in the rational and self-governing capacities of persons and their basic moral equality. The Workshop will begin in the fall with several classes just for students to discuss foundational readings from liberal thinkers like Locke, Kant and Mill (we may also have some outside speakers taking up Kantian and Millian themes). In the Winter quarter, we will consider critics from the left, notably Marx and Frankfurt School theorists like Herbert Marcuse. In Spring, we will turn to critics from the "right" such as Nietzsche (who rejects the moral equality of persons) and Carl Schmitt. There will be sessions with the students discussing primary texts and then sessions with outside speakers sometimes interpreting the primary texts, sometimes criticizing the critics of liberalism, and sometimes developing their ideas.

Open to PhD students in philosophy, and to J.D. students and other graduate students who submit an application to Prof. Leiter detailing their background in philosophy. This class will require a major paper (20-25 pages). Only continuing students from Autumn/Winter will be registered.

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 55504 The Socratic Elenchus

Socrates found himself surrounded by people who took themselves to know things: about the Gods; about statesmanship; about how to educate the youth; about friendship and justice and human excellence, etc. Socrates was inclined to trust those around him - but also afraid that, by doing so, he would end up taking himself to know what he in fact did not. So went around testing all those claims, attempting to refute them. Over and over again, he proved that his interlocutor did not know what he took himself to know, thereby successfully protecting himself from the illusion of knowledge. Along the way, however, he made an interesting discovery: as his interlocutor pressed some point, and as he resisted it, the two of them were doing something together. The interlocutor's need to believe that he had an account of the way things are, coupled with Socrates' commitment to rejecting falsity, taken together, amounted to a shared pursuit of knowledge. This class investigates that discovery - arguably, of philosophy itself - by way of a close reading of some Socratic dialogues: Euthydemus, Protagoras, Meno, Euthyphro, Charmides. (IV)

Students who are not enrolled by the start of term but wish to enroll must (a) email the instructor before the course begins and (b) attend the first class.

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 55606 The Concept of Anxiety

(SCTH 55606)

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

I. Kimhi
2018-2019 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 56706 Conceptions of the Limits of Logic from Descartes to Wittgenstein

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

The course is open to advanced undergraduates and graduate students with prior background in philosophy.

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics
Logic

PHIL 59950 Job Placement Workshop

Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter.

This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2019. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2018-2019 Spring