Departmental Courses

See our searchable database below for Department of Philosophy courses from 2012-13 to 2019-20. 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 2019-20 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 21601 Introduction to Analytic Philosophy

This course is an exploration of the analytic tradition in philosophy. We will have three goals. First and foremost, we will philosophize in the analytic style. Second, we will try to get a sense of the history of the tradition, beginning with Frege, Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein, continuing through the logical positivist and ordinary language movements and the subsequent repudiation of these movements (by Strawson, Rawls, Searle, Nagel, Kripke, Lewis, and many others), and ending with a review of the current state of play. Third (and drawing on the history), we will try to answer these meta-questions: what is distinctive about analytic philosophy? How does it relate to the history of the subject? (Was Descartes an analytic philosopher? If not, why not?) What in the philosophy of Hegel, Bradley and others were Moore and Russell reacting to? What is the difference between analytic and continental philosophy? (Why was Husserl a continental philosopher while Frege--his interlocutor--was not?) (B)

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 22000 Introduction to Philosophy of Science

(HIPS 22000, HIST 25109)

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)

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 22209 Philosophies of Environmentalism and 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!

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Ethics
Philosophy of Science
Social/Political Philosophy

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.

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
German Idealism

PHIL 24800 Foucault and the History of Sexuality

(GNSE 23100, HIPS 24300, CMLT 25001, FNDL 22001, KNOW 27002, FREN 24801, RLST 24800 )

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.

2019-2020 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.

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 27380 The Ethics of Immigration

(HMRT 27380)

In this course we’ll investigate philosophical problems underlying contemporary political controversies about immigration. Together, we’ll discuss questions such as the following: What gives one group of people the right to forcibly exclude other people from coming to reside somewhere? Is there such a right at all? What moral authority do existing borders have? What role should the idea of “the nation” play in our thinking about immigration? Indeed, what exactly are nations? And is there a compelling case for the exclusion of immigrants that depends on a commitment to preserving a national culture? All of these questions touch on fundamental issues in political philosophy: the nature of citizenship and its relationship to culture, the source of legitimate authority, the justifiability of state coercion, the content and ground of human rights.

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

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

Topic: Austin in Context

Few works of 20th century philosophy have enjoyed as fruitful an afterlife as J.L. Austin’s How To Do Things With Words, which not only heralded in a new set of objects of scrutiny in the Philosophy of Language in the Anglo-American tradition, but also was taken up in that tradition’s many abroads – spawning debates in structuralist semantics on the continent, in social and political theory, in the methodological literature of the humanities, or in contemporary feminist philosophy and gender studies. In this class we shall (a) try to understand how key concepts such as ‘performative’, ‘illocutionary act’, or ‘felicity’ were coined in response to pressures arising from early 20th century philosophical debates about issues in epistemology and moral theory, and (b) try to track how the operating logic of such concepts changes when they are taking out of their native habitat and set to work in some of the radically different contexts mentioned above.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Autumn

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

Topic: The Development of the Mechanistic World-View

In this seminar, we will investigate the development of the mechanistic form of explanation – a crucial strand of the scientific revolution that profoundly shaped and still shapes how human beings see the world. This involves looking at how the mechanistic form of explanation was spelled out in René Descartes and tracing the problems with that and attempts at solutions in thinkers like Robert Boyle, Margaret Cavendish, John Locke, Damaris Cudworth, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Anne Conway, Isaac Newton and Immanuel Kant.

Besides getting to know how the mentioned philosophers thought about a central philosophical issue and seeing how problems in philosophy arise and are attempted to get solved, I want to mention two further points of focus of this seminar. One of these will be on the notion of explanation. That is, on the question when we consider to have explained something and when not. This is pertinent in e.g. the issue of whether the concept present in Newton of action-at-a-distance allows for understanding or not. This goes hand in hand with the question when a philosophical account of a phenomenon has been given and when not.

Another focus will be on the issue of conceptual change. For one, whether and if so how the concept of mechanism and concepts like inertia or force changed when discussed by a later thinker treated in this seminar. Understanding these issues is also important for trying to understanding the larger question of how the human conception of the world changed with the scientific revolution.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 29200-03/29300-03 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: Self-Knowledge and Self-Alienation

From its inception, Western philosophy has been concerned with self-knowledge. Socrates urged his interlocutors to adopt the Delphic imperative “Know Thyself” and famously claimed that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Nowadays, we tend to take the importance of self-knowledge for granted, but what really is self-knowledge? We are ordinarily able to ascribe mental states to ourselves (such as: I’m in pain, I believe you’ll come, I love him, I intend to leave, etc.) and we seem to do so without having to rely on evidence. As is often claimed, we seem to have a privileged access to, and a special kind of authority while speaking about, our own minds. Does that make self-knowledge a distinct form of knowledge? Is it different from the way we know worldly objects or other people’s psychological states of mind? If so, does the difference lie in the objects of self-knowledge, or rather in the manner in which we know them? Can we fail to know our own states of mind, or become alienated from them? If so, what do such failures amount to, and should we be blamed or held responsible for them? What could motivate us to be out of touch with our own mental states? We shall address these questions by examining selections from historical figures such as Descartes, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre. The main text of this class, however, is Richard Moran’s Authority and Estrangement – An Essay on Self-Knowledge, and we shall read it closely and consider different ways in which contemporary philosophers have responded to it.

 

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Autumn

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.

 

2019-2020 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.

2019-2020 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.

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 20100/30000 Elementary 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.

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Logic

PHIL 20116/30116 American Pragmatism

This course is a first introduction to American Pragmatism. We will examine some of the seminal philosophical works of the three most prominent figures in this tradition: Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Our main aim will be to extract from these writings the central ideas and principles which give shape to pragmatism as a coherent alternative to the two main schools of modern philosophical thought, empiricism and rationalism. (B) (III)

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
American Pragmatism

PHIL 20210/30210 Kant's Ethics

(FNDL 20210)

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

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Ethics

PHIL 21108/31108 Time After Physics

(HIPS 21108, KNOW 21108, CHSS 31108, KNOW 31108 )

This course provides a historical survey of the philosophy of time. We begin with the problems of change, being and becoming as formulated in Ancient Greece by Parmenides and Zeno, and Aristotle’s attempted resolution in the Physics by providing the first formal theory of time. The course then follows theories of time through developments in physics and philosophy up to the present day. Along the way we will take in Descartes’ theory of continuous creation, Newton’s Absolute Time, Leibniz’s and Mach’s relational theories, Russell’s relational theory, Broad’s growing block, Whitehead’s epochal theory, McTaggart’s A, B and C theories, Prior’s tense logic, Belnap’s branching time, Einstein’s relativity theory and theories of quantum gravity. (B) (II)

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Logic
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 31414 MAPH Core Course: Contemporary Analytic Philosophy

(MAPH 31414)

This course is designed to provide MAPH students with an introduction to some recent and ongoing debates between philosophers working in the analytic tradition. The course is, however, neither a history nor an overview of analytic philosophy. Instead, we will focus on three different debates, spending about three weeks on each, with topics selected from the general areas of epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics.

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.

2019-2020 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 should either be Philosophy majors or obtain the consent of the Professor.

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 25705/35705 On ‘Thinking and Being’

(SCTH 35707)

The class will be devoted to the themes and lines of philosophical thought set forth in the instructor’s recent book ‘Thinking and Being’ (HUP, 2018). We shall work through the Parmendian puzzles concerning falsehood and negation in trying to find what are the bearers of truth and falsehood, and what is philosophical logic. Readings will include texts by Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, Frege, Russell, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein. 

Irad Kimhi
2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 27500/37500 Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason

(HIPS 25001, FNDL 27800, CHSS 37901)

This will be a careful reading of what is widely regarded as the greatest work of modern philosophy, Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Our principal aims will be to understand the problems Kant seeks to address and the significance of his famous doctrine of "transcendental idealism". Topics will include: the role of mind in the constitution of experience; the nature of space and time; the relation between self-knowledge and knowledge of objects; how causal claims can be justified by experience; whether free will is possible; the relation between appearance and reality; the possibility of metaphysics. (B) (V)

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 49701 Topical Workshop

This is a workshop for 3rd year philosophy graduate students, in which students prepare and workshop materials for their Topical Exam.

A two-quarter (Autumn, Winter) workshop for all and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years.

 

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 50100 First-Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 50114 Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

This course will provide a close reading of Wittgenstein’s only published book. We will place the Tractatus in the context of Frege and Russell’s logical works, examining Wittgenstein’s debts to and critique of his predecessors. We will explore both the overall strategy of the book and the contemporary debate about how to read its mysterious, seemingly self-undermining conclusion, and the details of his views (e.g. the “picture theory” of language, the context principle and meaning, the nature of logic, the general form of proposition, the accounts of mathematics, science, and ethics). We will close with a brief discussion of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy in relation to the Tractatus. Secondary literature will include selections from Ramsey, Ryle, Anscombe, Geach, Hacker, Conant, Diamond, Goldfarb, Kremer, Ricketts, and Sullivan. (II)

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop

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

The theme for 2019-20 is “Migration and Citizenship.” Confirmed speakers as of 1/19 include David Miller, Joseph Carens, Ayelet Shachar, Adam Hosein, Adam Cox, Aziz Huq, and Seyla Benhabib, who will also be the Dewey Lecturer on January 15.

This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.

Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20. Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory and law students do not need permission.

Martha C. Nussbaum, Daniel Guillery
2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51822 Political French Liberalism

It is often said in contemporary literature that the difference between different types of democracies, like democratic Republic and Constitutional Monarchy, is a superficial one compared to the true relevant divide of modernity between democratic societies and non-democratic societies. The problem with such a divide is that it entails the reduction of Modern Constitutional Monarchies to decorative regimes - in other words to a variety of Republic. 

The goal of our seminar is to go back to the French post-revolutionary period in order to examine what has been called the « British moment » of the French Intellectual History because of its quest for the foundation of a Liberal and Constitutional Monarchy in France. 

That period deals with the difficult intellectual challenge for French thinkers to overcome Absolutism in favor of Democracy without rejecting Monarchy as such. 

The « British moment » of the French Intellectual History represents then a transitional - and mostly forgotten -moment between the old regime and the contemporary French Republic. Such a particular moment of French History can be decomposed into three main sub-moments and opens three main intellectual, historical and philosophical sequences: 1789 and the debates about the role of the Monarch in the context of « Popular Sovereignty ». The important thinkers of that period we are going to read are J. Necker and Madame de Staël (and some of Rousseau). 

Then 1814, when after Napoleon’s fall France restored the Monarchy through the form of a Constitutional Monarchy. France’s intellectual life will be divided between Conservative Monarchists like Bonald and Chateaubriand and Liberal Monarchists like Benjamin Constant and Alexis de Tocqueville whose thoughts are going to prepare the advent of the Liberal period of French Monarchy after 1830’s Revolution. The goal of our careful readings of Rousseau, Necker, Staël, Bonald Chateaubriand, Constant, Tocqueville and others will be to make sense of what became in current debates about democracy mostly incomprehensible: in which way the nature of the democratic regime makes a difference to the concept of democracy one speaks about.

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 53451 Perception and Self-Consciousness

In the first part of the course, we’ll be discussing an argument to the effect that: in order for radical skepticism about empirical knowledge not to be intellectually obligatory, we must understand ourselves as enjoying a very 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. (III)

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 55110 Reading Religion from a Philosophical Point of View

(DVPR 55110 )

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.

2019-2020 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 55912 Aristotle and Marx

In the preface to the first edition of Capital, Marx describes his theoretical standpoint as one from which “the development of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history.” With a view to understanding Marx’s theoretical standpoint we will “go back,” in Marx’s words, “to the great investigator who was the first to analyze the value-form, like so many other forms of thought, society and nature. I mean Aristotle.” Aristotle’s influence on Marx is well-known and frequently attested by Marx himself. We will explore that influence as it manifests itself in Marx’s views on a variety of topics—e.g. on human nature and history; on labor, leisure and the good life; on slavery and freedom; on value and exchange; on property and wealth; on justice; and on alienation.

2019-2020 Autumn

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.

2019-2020 Autumn

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 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. (A)

 

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Ethics
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 20107 Introduction to Sartre

(FNDL 20107)

This course will be devoted Jean-Paul Sartre as a philosopher, as a writer, as a literary essayist and as an existential psychoanalysis. Sartre exposed most of his « existentialist » philosophy, based on the discovery of the absolute freedom of the human being and of her being-thrown in an meaningless world, through philosophical dry treatises, but also in using more accessible literary forms, like novels and theaters plays. 

In exploring Sartre’s multiple ways of dealing with abstract philosophical thesis (contingency of being, throwness of the human being, absolute practical responsibility of individuals), we will raise with Sartre the question about the relation between the form mobilized and the metaphysical content deployed in each case and show in which way the first is never optional to the second. 

Another aspect of our exploration will be to make sense of Sartre's practice of the literary essay about other writers through the form of the portrait. That practice is related and works as exemplifications of what Sartre calls « Existential psychoanalysis ». The main idea of Sartre’s practice of the « portrait » is to discover « modes of phenomenalization » of the contingent thing-in-itself, specific to each individual. By that means, Sartre’s Existential psychoanalysis is supposed to lead us to the discovery of the main specific world of each other writers Sartre writes about in order to make sense of the hidden meaning of their literary works. We will see in which way each of them embodies essential features of the human condition described by existentialist philosophy, especially Baudelaire, Genet and Flaubert.

 

2019-2020 Winter

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)

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 21606 Justice at Work

(HMRT 22210)

Theories of justice in the workplace including the right to strike, the right to form a union, the right to leisure, workplace democracy, etc. (A)

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21619 What is Evil?

In this class we shall attempt to get to grips with various philosophical accounts of evil. This will partly involve getting in view how different ethical orientations—both contemporary and historical—entail different kinds of perspectives on what evil is. At the heart of the course will be an attempt to get to grips with two central tendencies in our thinking about evil: First, the idea of evil as somehow a positive force, something with its own distinctive character, and on the other hand, the idea of evil as a mere privation. (A)

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 24010 Meaning and Reference

In this course we address one of the central and most fascinating philosophical questions about linguistic meaning: what is the relationship between meaning and reference? We will study a range of classical and contemporary theories about the semantics of referring expressions such as proper names, definite descriptions, and indexicals. Readings will include Frege, Russell, Strawson, Kripke, Donnellan, and Kaplan, among others. Throughout, we will try to reach of a better understanding of how questions about meaning and reference connect with a range of topics that are central to philosophical theorizing, including the connection between propositional attitudes and the explanation of action, the role of the principle of compositionality in formal semantics, the question of whether there is a level of mental experience that is epistemically transparent, the relation between thought and language, the nature of fictional and non-existent objects, and the interaction between semantics and pragmatics. (B)

Elementary Logic recommended, but not required.

2019-2020 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)

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Ethics/Metaethics
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 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.

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Medieval Philosophy

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

Topic: Legal Positivism and Its Critics

The debate between legal positivists and their critics, sometimes called “natural law theorists,” occupies center stage in the philosophy of law. Roughly, legal positivists affirm, and natural lawyers deny, that what it is to be a law is independent of what it is to be a morally good law. In this course, we will survey the leading arguments in analytic jurisprudence on both sides of this debate. We will study the work of Julie Dickson, Ronald Dworkin, John Finnis, H.L.A. Hart, and Joseph Raz, among others.  The goals of the course are (1) to provide a framework in which to contextualize law school coursework, for students who go on to pursue a JD; and (2) to provide a foundation for specialized research in the philosophy of law, for students who go on to pursue a PhD.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 29200-03/29300-03 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: Pessimism and Compassion: Schopenhauer on Value

This course will consist in a close reading of Schopenhauer’s work on ethics. Discussion will center around Schopenhauer’s two most distinctive ethical claims: 1) that compassion, direct concern for the suffering of another, is the only genuine moral incentive; and 2) that human life is inevitably a life of suffering, and thus worse to have than to lack. The second half of Schopenhauer’s On the Basis of Morality and the fourth book of his The World as Will and Representation I will be our main texts. Relevant portions of Parerga and Paralipomena and The World as Will and Representation II will also be considered.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 29200-04/29300-04 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: Aristotelian Teleology

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 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.

2019-2020 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.

2019-2020 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.

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 50100 First-Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 20506/30506 Philosophy of History: Narrative and Explanation

(HIPS 25110, HIST 25110, CHSS 35110, HIST 35110, KNOW 31401)

This lecture-discussion course will focus on the nature of historical explanation and the role of narrative in providing an understanding of historical events. Among the authors discussed are Edward Gibbon, Immanuel Kant, R. G. Collingwood, Leopold von Ranke, Lord Acton, Fernand Braudel, Carl Gustav Hempel, Arthur Danto, and Hayden White. (III)

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 21214/31214 The Philosophy of Art

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of aesthetics, with a focus on art and art objects. With respect to art, our questions will include: What is art? What is the point of making art? What is it to appreciate art? (Does discursive knowledge (of the technique, the history of the painting or its subjects, the artist’s life, etc.) help or hinder this appreciation?) What is the metaphysical character of art objects (symphonies, paintings, novels, etc.)? What is the ethical status of art? (Were Plato’s ethical suspicions about art warranted?) With respect to aesthetics more generally, our questions will include: is beauty in the eye of the beholder? (What is it for something to be in the eye of the beholder?) Does beauty track (or even constitute) scientific truth? If so: why? If not, why have so many mathematicians, physicists, and biologists been preoccupied with the beauty of their theories?

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 21609/31609 Medical Ethics: Central Topics

(BPRO 22612, HIPS 21609, BIOS 29314, HLTH 21609 )

Decisions about medical treatment, medical research, and medical policy often have profound moral implications. Taught by a philosopher, two physicians, and a medical lawyer, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, assisted suicide, kidney markets, abortion, and research ethics. (A)

Third or fourth year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the Biological Sciences major.

 

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Ethics

PHIL 22401/32401 Modern Logic and the Structure of Knowledge

In this course, we will examine the various ways in which the concepts and techniques of modern mathematical logic can be utilized to investigate the structure of knowledge. Many of the most well-known results of mathematical logic, such as the incompleteness theorems of Gödel and the Löwenheim-Skolem theorem, illustrate the fundamental limitations of formal systems of logic to fully capture the structure of the semantic models in which truth and validity are assessed. Some philosophers have argued that these results have profound epistemological implications, for instance, that they can be used to ground skeptical claims to the effect that there must be truths that logic and mathematics are powerless to prove. One of the aims of this course is to assess the legitimacy of these epistemological claims. In addition, we will explore the extent to which the central results of mathematical logic can be extended so as to apply to systems of inductive logic, and examine what forms of inductive skepticism may emerge as a result. We will, for example, discuss the epistemological implications of Putnam's diagonalization argument, which shows that, for any Bayesian theory of confirmation based on a definable prior, there must exist hypotheses which, if true, can never be confirmed. (B) (II)

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 22961/32961 Social Epistemology

Traditionally, epistemologists have concerned themselves with the individual: What should I believe? What am I in a position to know? How should my beliefs guide my decision-making? But we can also ask each of these questions about groups. What should we -- the jury, the committee, the scientific community--believe? What can we know? How should our beliefs guide our decision-making? These are some of the questions of social epistemology Social epistemology also deals with the social dimensions of individual opinion:  How should I respond to disagreement with my peers? When should I defer to majority opinion? Are there distinctively epistemic forms of oppression and injustice?  If so, what are they like and how might we try to combat them? This class is a broad introduction to social epistemology. (B) 

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Epistemology
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 24266/34266 Habit, Skill and Virtue

(I)

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 35707 The Different Senses of Being

(SCTH 35706 )

Aristotle states that “being is said in many ways,” we shall seek to understand this statement and to study the history of its interpretations.                                  

Among the modern authors we shall discuss are Franz Brentano, Ernst Tugendhat, Charles Kahn, Aryeh Kosman, Stephen Menn, David Charles.

 

Undergrads by permission of instructor only.

Irad Kimhi
2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 29400/39600 Intermediate Logic

(HIPS 20500, CHSS 33600)

This course provides a first introduction to mathematical logic. In this course we will prove the soundness and completeness of deductive systems for both propositional and first-order predicate logic. (B) (II)

 Elementary Logic (PHIL 20100) or its equivalent.

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 40120 The Philosophical Investigations

A close reading of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. Topics include: meaning, explanation, understanding, inference, sensation, imagination, intentionality, and the nature of philosophy. Supplementary readings will be drawn from other later writings. (III)

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 49701 Topical Workshop

This is a workshop for 3rd year philosophy graduate students, in which students prepare and workshop materials for their Topical Exam.

 A two-quarter (Autumn, Winter) workshop for all and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years.

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop

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

The theme for 2019-20 is “Migration and Citizenship.” Confirmed speakers as of 1/19 include David Miller, Joseph Carens, Ayelet Shachar, Adam Hosein, Adam Cox, Aziz Huq, and Seyla Benhabib, who will also be the Dewey Lecturer on January 15.

This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.

Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20. Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory and law students do not need permission.

Martha C. Nussbaum, Daniel Guillery
2019-2020 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51210 Literature of the Shoah, Philosophy in the Shoah

(CMLT 51210, FREN 41201, ITAL 41201, DVPR 51210, HIJD 51210, RLVC 51210 )

This seminar will focus on three authors––Charlotte Delbo, Primo Levi, and Zalman Gradowski––each of whom wrote a literary masterpiece about their experiences in Auschwitz. All of their works also raise profound philosophical questions. Delbo, a member of the French Resistance, was deported to Auschwitz and wrote a truly remarkable trilogy, Auschwitz and After, that makes use of a variety of literary genres. Levi, deported as a Jew, wrote two classic prose works, If This is a Man and The Drowned and the Saved. Gradowski, the least well known of these authors, was assigned to the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz. Before being murdered, he wrote two extraordinary manuscripts and buried them under the ashes of Birkenau, where they were discovered after the war. Delbo and Levi both exist in English translation. However, there is not yet a complete translation of Gradowski into English. (His manuscripts were written in Yiddish). We will read the superb French translation of his manuscripts, which is accompanied by an important critical apparatus. Reading knowledge of French is therefore a prerequisite for this course.

A central concern of this seminar will be the relation between literary expression and philosophical insight. We will also take up the question of how the Shoah can be represented and what philosophy can say about it. Finally, we will consider writing as a form of ethical and political resistance. We will read these works from several perspectives––philosophical and theological, literary, and historical.

 

All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to jbarbaro@uchicago.edu by 12/13/2019. 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.

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 51816 How Do We Do Critical Political Philosophy?

Political philosophy is always of its time, yet many political philosophies have tried to be deeply critical of their times.  The seminar will investigate different ways to justify such criticism.  We will look first at Rousseau and the young Marx, and then turn to recent writers such as Rawls, Walzer, Anderson, Waldron, Horkheimer/Adorno and Jaeggi. (I)

 

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 57504 Kant’s Critique of Judgment

(SCTH 57504)

This will be a study of Kant’s third and final Critique, his Critique of Judgment.  We will attempt to survey they book as a whole, including Kant’s influential account of the nature of judgments of beauty and sublimity, as well as his theory of “teleological” judgment and its place in our understanding of the natural world.  We will also seek to comprehend and assess Kant’s claim that these studies constitute essential contributions to a critique of our cognitive power of judgment, a critique which is crucial to the completion of his larger “critical” project surveying the scope and limits of human cognition as a whole. (V) 

Graduate Students from Other Departments Must Have Instructor’s Consent to Enroll.

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 20109 Sartre’s Being and Nothingness

This will be an introduction to Jean-Paul Sartre’s great work Being and Nothingness, and to the philosophical outlook of “existentialism” it articulates.  We will examine Sartre’s account of consciousness, freedom, anguish, and bad faith, as well as his conception of our fundamental relations to other persons, as expressed in such phenomena as desire, shame, love, and sadism.  Time permitting, we will also consider some aspects of the development and critique of existentialist ideas in Simone de Beauvoir’s classic work of philosophical feminism, The Second Sex. (A)

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

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 21000 Introduction to Ethics

(HIPS 21000, FNDL 23107)

An exploration of some of the central questions in metaethics, moral theory, and applied ethics. These questions include the following: are there objective moral truths, as there are (as it seems) objective scientific truths? If so, how can we come to know these truths? Should we make the world as good as we can, or are there moral constraints on what we can do that are not a function of the consequences of our actions? Is the best life a maximally moral life? What distribution of goods in a society satisfies the demands of justice? Can beliefs and desires be immoral, or only actions? What is “moral luck”? What is courage? (A)

2019-2020 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. Most of the first half of the course will be devoted to a careful examination of how, building on Aristotle's distinction, Kant arrives at a systematic theory of the scope and nature of private law. We will focus, in particular, on his derivation of (what he takes to be) the three fundamental forms of private law — property, contract, and agency — as well as on his account of their place within an overall theory of the nature of right. In this connection, we will read the first half of Kant’s The Doctrine of Right, as well as some of the leading contemporary secondary literature on that text. The second half of the course will then be devoted to contemporary theories of private law — including various contemporary attempts to inherit, modify, or altogether repudiate Kant’s theory. We will explore in this connection the writings of Ronald Dworkin, Richard Posner, Arthur Ripstein, Martin Stone, and Ernst Weinrib, among others, focusing especially on issues in the philosophy of tort law.

 

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 21420 Introduction to the Problem of Free Will

The problem of free will stands at the crossroads of many of the central issues in philosophy, including the theory of reasons, causation, moral responsibility, the mind-body problem, and modality. In this course we will draw on ancient, early  modern, and current work to try to understand, and gather the materials of a solution to, the problem.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 21505 Wonder, Magic, and Skepticism

In the course of discussing how it is that a philosophical problem arises in the first place, Wittgenstein says, “The decisive movement in the conjuring trick has been made, and it was the very one that we thought quite innocent.” This isn’t the only place where Wittgenstein speaks as if being gripped by philosophical problems is a matter of succumbing to illusions--as if a philosophers are magicians who are taken in by their own tricks. In this course, we’ll discuss philosophy and magical performance, with the aim of coming to a deeper understanding of what both are about. We’ll be particularly concerned with Wittgenstein’s picture of what philosophy is and does. Another focus of the course will be the passion of wonder. In the Theatetus, Plato has Socrates say, “The sense of wonder is the mark of the philosopher. Philosophy indeed has no other origin.” And when magicians write about their aesthetic aims, they almost always describe themselves as trying to instill wonder in others. Does magic end where philosophy begins? And what becomes of wonder after philosophy is done with it? (B)

Either three college-level philosophy courses, or Philosophical Perspectives plus two philosophy courses, or permission of the instructor.

2019-2020 Spring

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)

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 23503 Issues in Philosophy of Mind: Consciousness and Self-Consciousness

The imagination of many contemporary intellectuals—including philosophers, physicists, and cognitive scientists of various stripes—is gripped by problems surrounding consciousness. Most notably, philosophers have been entirely stumped by the question of how something like conscious awareness arise in a material world. In this course we shall investigate the assumptions that lie behind this question, in order to penetrate the aura of mystery surrounding it. A central theme of the course shall be that, in order to tackle the puzzles surrounding consciousness, we shall need understand self-consciousness better. (B)

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Mind

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

Immanuel Kant's "critical" turn set off a revolution in 19th-century philosophy. We will trace its effects as well as the reactions against in the post-Kantian German Philosophy, in particular of Fichte, Hegel and Marx. Our focus will be conception of ethics and the philosophy of right.

The course will begin with the investigation of Kant's famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals that articulates the project to grounding all ethical obligations in the idea of freedom or autonomy. Then we will look at the beginnings Kant’s Doctrine of Right in his Metaphysics of Morals: his reflections on our relation to concrete other wills in space and time. Next will be the discussion of Fichte’s challenge in his Foundations of Natural Right. A proper philosophy of right, Fichte argues has to include an account of our original knowledge and relation to concrete other wills. The most radical and complete development of this thought we will discuss in Hegel's Philosophy of Right that seeks to derive from the idea of freedom not just formal constraints for action, but knowledge of the actuality of our community in he calls "ethical life". We will conclude with the Marx critique of the very idea of right. 

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

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

Topic: Generics: Language, Social Reality, and Social Knowledge

Generic statements—such as ‘tigers are striped’, ’basketball players are tall’, or, more controversially, ‘vaccines cause autism’ and ‘trans women are women’—are notoriously some of the most pervasive and puzzling statements that we make. In this course, we will take a philosophically oriented approach to the topic of generics. We will be particularly interested in what a normative theory of generics might look like. Should we use generics? Which ones? What principles might we adopt in identifying acceptable generics? What is their rightful role in our reasoning? Answers to these sorts of questions are interesting on their own. But they take on particular significance in social contexts, where generics seem so often to encode our biases, appear in hotly contested cultural debates, or are deployed in offensive and inflammatory ways. We will, throughout the course, pay special attention to issues surrounding our knowledge of generics and the complicated ways in which such knowledge is entangled with social reality and social perspectives. Authors to be discussed include Mill, Thompson, Leslie, Camp, Hacking, Haslanger, and Langton.  

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Spring

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

Topic: Aristotle’s On the Soul

Aristotle’s De Anima (On the Soul) contains his general account of soul, understood as the principle and cause of life. This text has been foundational to much of the philosophical and scientific reflections on life and the mind that have followed. Philosophers from Aquinas to Hegel have praised its richness and insight; contemporary psychologists, cognitive scientists, and biologists have found in it a predecessor to contemporary conceptions of mind, perception, and life. In reading De Anima, then, we can come face to face with the origins of our own conceptions of life. Yet it has also struck some modern readers as quite alien. De Anima’s scope doesn’t fit neatly within contemporary philosophy of mind, psychology, or biology; it instead offers an idiosyncratic ‘metaphysics of life’, which to some has appeared hopelessly antiquated in our post-Cartesian age.

In this class, we will engage in a close reading of the whole of De Anima. We will give particular attention to Aristotle’s greatest achievement in De Anima: his hylomorphic conception of soul, according to which the soul is ‘form’ and ‘actuality’, and the body is ‘matter’ and ‘potentiality’. We will use an understanding of this doctrine to address Aristotle’s most infamous and enigmatic claims in De Anima: that the soul and the body are one, that nutrition and reproduction are imitations of the divine, that perception is a reception of form, and that intellect is both nothing and everything. Our goal will be not only to understand Aristotle on his own terms, but also to see how modern philosophical problems about life and mindedness (e.g., AI, consciousness) look from an Aristotelian perspective.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 29200-03/29300-03 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: Loving Animals

In this course we will read and discuss texts in the contemporary philosophical literature on love, asking questions such as What is the nature of love? What is the relation between love and morality? Do we love for reasons? Who can love? and What are the possible objects of love? Our overarching theme, though, will be one that has been largely neglected in this literature: loving animals. Alongside the philosophical literature on love, we will read/watch and discuss (scientific and anecdotal) studies in the emotional lives of animals, memoirs of human-animal relationships, and documentary films focusing on bonds between humans and animals. Drawing on these materials, we will take a critical approach to the mainstream philosophy of love and ask: Is it possible to love an animal? Can animals love (you back)? and What can love tell us about animals?

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 29200-04/29300-04 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: Consciousness and Language

Contemporary philosophers of mind often speak of the “phenomenal character” of different sorts of conscious experiences. This phrase is meant to express “what it’s like” to have an experience of a particular sort. For instance, when you see something red—a tomato, say—there’s something that it’s like to have an experience of the sort that you’re having. Someone who is color blind from birth might know a lot of things about how color vision works, but they won't know what it’s like to see something red; that is, they won’t know what the phenomenal character of an experience of seeing something red is.

In this class, we will explore both a negative and a positive thesis about the relationship between this aspect of conscious experience and language. We will start by considering the negative thesis that the phenomenal character of a conscious experience is really “ineffable”—we cannot express it in public language. We will consider both strategies for trying to make sense of this idea and arguments, both belonging to and influenced by Ludwig Wittgenstein, to the effect that there is no way to make sense of it. We will then turn to the corresponding positive thesis that we cannot make sense of the phenomenal character of a conscious experience apart from our ability to express it in public language, focusing particularly on the development of this thesis by Wilfrid Sellars and those influenced by him in various ways. In addition to Wittgenstein and Sellars, readings will be from contemporary philosophers including, among others, Frank Jackson, Thomas Nagel, David Chalmers, Paul Horwich, Daniel Dennett, John McDowell, Susanna Schellenberg, Robert Brandom, David Rosenthal, and Paul Churchland.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 29200-05/29300-05 Junior/Senior Tutorial

Topic: Kant’s Transcendental Deduction of the Categories

The Transcendental Deduction of the Pure Concepts of Understanding is the focal point of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and one of the most fascinating, puzzling, and suggestive passages in the history of philosophy. In it, Kant attempts to show that the a priori concepts of any finite thinker – the pure concepts of the understanding or ‘categories’ – necessarily apply to, and describe, empirical objects. Along the way Kant provides fascinating insights into such philosophical topics as self-consciousness and the self, judgment, knowledge, laws of nature, objectivity and subjectivity, perception, space, and time.      

This course will be a close reading of the B-edition Transcendental Deduction, along with other portions of the Critique of Pure Reason necessary for understanding the Transcendental Deduction. The early weeks of the course will be devoted to getting Kant’s program and problem into view; the remainder of the course will be spent slowly working through the B-edition Transcendental Deduction. Students should come away from the course with an understanding of the problem of the Transcendental Deduction, a grasp of Kant’s argumentative strategy, and a sense of the Transcendental Deduction’s place in the book as a whole.   

 

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Prerequisite: Open only to philosophy majors. Intensive-Track Majors should reach out to the instructor to be enrolled manually. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 29411 Consequentialism from Bentham to Singer

(PLSC 29411, MAPH 39411)

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)

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Ethics
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.

2019-2020 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.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 30926 Wonder, Wonders, and Knowing

(HIST 25318, HIST 35318, SCTH 30926, CHSS 30936, KNOW 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, some background in intellectual history. Consent is required for both grads and undergrads. This course will be taught the first five weeks of the quarter.

Lorraine Daston
2019-2020 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)

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21509/31509 Practical Rationality

Humans are said to be rational animals. What does rationality, understood as a capacity, consist in? And what is practical rationality, understood as a qualified way of thinking, feeling, and acting? – In this course we are going to consider a roughly Aristotelian framework for answering these and related questions. The place of reason in human nature is characterized by a complex teleology: its employment is both purpose and instrument. To make use of reason is, centrally, to infer, i.e. to think and act for reasons. The roles of reasons are various: they validate, justify, prompt and guide, explain … To act on a reason is, typically, to do something for the sake of some end. This is so, in particular, in the context of more or less technical reasoning. But the most basic and ultimate reasons, the ones by heeding which we act justly or unjustly and, more generally, well or badly, seem not to be of this form. How then do they enter the constitution of a good human life?

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Ethics
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 21722/31722 Thomas Aquinas’s Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

(FNDL 21722)

We will read through and discuss the commentary, looking at it both as an interpretation of the Ethics and as a philosophical work in its own right. (A) (IV)

 

For the undergraduates, those who are not Philosophy or Fundamentals majors should seek permission to enroll.

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Ethics
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.

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 34109 John McDowell's Mind and World

This course will be an overview and introduction of some of the main themes of the Philosophy of John McDowell, orientated around his book Mind and Word. We will also read some of his writings on philosophy of perception and disjunctivism dating from before the book, as well as some of his later responses to critics of the book. The course will conclude with a brief glance at the subsequent development of his views, especially in philosophy of perception since Mind and Word. (B) (III)

One previous course in philosophy.

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Epistemology

PHIL 24799/34799 Same-Sex Sexuality: History, Philosophy, and Law

(GNSE 24799, GNSE 34799, CLCV 24719, CLAS 34719, PLSC 24799, PLSC 34799, RETH 34799)

This new course examines two important historical periods in Western thought during which same-sex conduct and attraction were extensively debated, both politically and philosophically: ancient Greece and Rome, and Victorian and post-Victorian Britain. We will examine the evidence for ancient Greek and Roman attitudes and practices and the normative arguments of the philosophers, especially Plato and the Greek Stoics. Then we leap forward to Victorian Britain, where a newly honest reading of the Greek evidence provided gay men with a rallying point against Christian laws (female same-sex acts were never illegal in Britain), and philosopher Jeremy Bentham provided eloquent arguments for the decriminalization of same-sex acts (fully published only in 2013). We then pause to study a literature that questions whether sexual orientation is a timeless category or a cultural artifact, and a related debate about alleged biological accounts of same-sex desire. Then we move on to the Wolfenden Commission Report of 1957 that recommended the decriminalization of same-sex acts in Britain (with the case of Alan Turing as a central example of what troubled the reformers), along with the related legal-philosophical debate between H. L. A. Hart and Lord Devlin debate (and its roots in the earlier debate about liberty between J. S. Mill and Fitzjames Stephen). We then shift to US law, discussing legal developments regarding sodomy laws, same-sex marriage, and the use of nuisance law to regulate sex clubs, including discussion of the legal notion of “privacy” and philosophical debate about its various confusions. We then examine the recent issues surrounding religious accommodation. We pause to study recent philosophical writings in "queer theory" by Michael Warner and David Halperin, as well as their target Andrew Sullivan, and the relevance of these arguments for legal debates. Finally, we turn outward to examine the history of the legal struggle against (Victorian British) sodomy laws in India, successful only in 2018, and current struggles of the gay rights movement in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. 

 

Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor. Graduate students (Ph.D. and MA) do not need permission. Assessment is by an 8 hour take home final exam, although Ph.D. students and law students may select a paper option.

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 37322 “Jerusalem and Athens” – on the Conflict between Revelation and Philosophy

(FNDL 27322, SCTH 37322, PLSC 37322 )

I shall discuss the subject on the basis of 4 lectures Leo Strauss gave on “Jerusalem and Athens” and “Reason and Revelation” in the period 1946-1967.

Open to undergrads by consent only. This course will be taught the first five weeks of the quarter.

Heinrich Meier
2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 28203/38203 Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

(FNDL 28204)
2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 49702 Revision Workshop

This is a workshop for 2nd year philosophy graduate students, in which students revise a piece of work to satisfy the PhD program requirements.

All and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 51200 Law-Philosophy Workshop

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

The theme for 2019-20 is “Migration and Citizenship.” Confirmed speakers as of 1/19 include David Miller, Joseph Carens, Ayelet Shachar, Adam Hosein, Adam Cox, Aziz Huq, and Seyla Benhabib, who will also be the Dewey Lecturer on January 15.

This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines. It admits approximately ten students. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance. The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors. Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement. Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.

Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail by September 20. Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory and law students do not need permission.

Martha C. Nussbaum, Daniel Guillery
2019-2020 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51489 The Philosophy of Elizabeth Anscombe

One of the most important English philosophers of her generation, G. E. M. Anscombe (1919-2001) was a colorful figure who drove her seven children around in a retired London taxi cab, wore a monocle, smoked cigars, and was fond of swearing in her famously mellifluous voice.  She brought Ludwig Wittgenstein to public knowledge with her translations of his later works—crucially, Philosophical Investigations (1953).  She almost single-handedly invented contemporary action theory with her 1957 monograph, Intention, and changed the course of 20th century Anglophone ethics with her seminal essay, "Modern Moral Philosophy" in 1958.   She made important, controversial contributions to a wide variety of topics in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of language.  In this seminar, we will read, talk, write, and think about Anscombe’s philosophical work.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 52961 Topics in Epistemology

This course will cover a variety of topics at the intersection of epistemology and the philosophy of language.  Some possible topics: the relationship partial belief and full belief; self-locating belief; what it is to believe (or know) that something might be the case or that something must be the case; probabilities of conditionals and conditional probabilities. (III)

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Epistemology

PHIL 53003 Explanation

(CHSS 53003, KNOW 53003 )

This course surveys recent work on explanation across philosophical disciplines. Beginning with classic accounts of scientific explanation we will proceed to consider recent work on mechanical explanation, mathematical explanation, causal explanation (particularly in the physical and social sciences), the relation between explanation and understanding, and metaphysical explanation (particularly the idea of explanation as ground). (II)

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Mathematics

PHIL 54602 The Analytic Tradition

This seminar will be a graduate survey course on the history of the first half of the analytic philosophical tradition. The course will aim to provide an overview of developments within this tradition, starting from the publication of Frege's Begriffsschrift in 1879 and reaching up to the publication of Ryle's The Concept of Mind in 1949 and the posthumous publication of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations in 1953. The course will focus on four aspects of this period in the history of analytic philosophy: (1) its initial founding phase, as inaugurated in the early seminal writings of Gottlob Frege, G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, as well as Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus; (2) the inheritance and reshaping of some of the central ideas of the founders of analytic philosophy at the hands of the members of the Vienna Circle and their critics, especially as developed in the writings of Otto Neurath, Rudolf Carnap, Moritz Schlick, and W. V. O. Quine, (3) the cross-fertilization of the analytic and Kantian traditions in philosophy and the resulting initiation of a new form of analytic Kantianism, as found in the work of some of the logical positivists, as well as in the writings of some of their main critics, such as C. I. Lewis; (4) the movement of Ordinary Language Philosophy and Oxford Analysis, with a special focus on the writings of Gilbert Ryle and the later Wittgenstein. (V)

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Epistemology
History of Analytic Philosophy

PHIL 55421 Plato’s Timaeus

The Timaeus is one of Plato’s most influential dialogues, and it is also unusual in several respects. The bulk of the work is taken up with a single speech about the origin of the cosmos and the place of human beings within it. The dialogue contains the only discussion in the entire Platonic corpus of numerous topics, including the structure of elemental bodies and the mechanics of sense perception. It is also an important source for understanding Platonic moral psychology, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophical methodology. In this course, we will study the dialogue closely, focusing on particular topics and sections of the dialogue each week. We will also aim of understand the structure and central argument of the dialogue as a whole.

 

Emily Fletcher
2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 55512 Readings from Freud

(SCTH 55511 )

This seminar will engage in a close reading of several works by Freud. The aim will be to gain an understanding of the human soul as it is disclosed in psychoanalytic practice. We shall read case histories as well as theoretical works, and ask how theoretical insight arises out of the details of life and speaking. We shall examine the literary forms of Freud’s writing. And we shall also inquire into the ethical significance of Freud’s work. This will be a small seminar that requires active participation.

Registration by permission of instructor.

2019-2020 Spring

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. (V)

200: History of PHIL II, or equivalent.

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Ethics

PHIL 58010 Philosophy of Language

(LING 58010)

A seminar on contemporary issues in philosophy of language and linguistics. The exact topic will be determined closer to the date and in light of students’ interests. The list of topics discussed in the past include indexicality, subjectivity, game theory, and conditionals. (II)

2019-2020 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 2020. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2019-2020 Spring