Departmental Courses

See our searchable database below for Department of Philosophy courses from 2012-13 to 2021-22. 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 2021-22 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 21206 Philosophy of Race and Racism

(CRES 21206)

The idea that there exist different “races” of human beings is something that many—perhaps even most—people in the United States today take for granted. And yet modern notions of “race” and “racial difference” raise deep philosophical problems: What exactly is race? Is race a natural kind (like water) or a social kind (like citizenship)? If race is a social kind—i.e. something human beings have constructed—are there any good reasons to keep using it? According to many philosophers, these questions cannot be properly analyzed in abstraction from the history of modern racism and the liberation struggles racial oppression has given rise to. Together, we’ll read classic and contemporary texts on these themes by authors such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis, Charles Mills, Naomi Zack, Chike Jeffers, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Lucius Outlaw. (A)

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Race
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21207 Ecocentrism and Environmental Racism

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

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

2021-2022 Autumn

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)

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 22002 Introduction to Philosophy

Topic: What Is the Human Being?

The philosopher Immanuel Kant claims (famously) that philosophy boils down to three questions: What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope? He also suggests, however, that these three questions reduce, at bottom, to a fourth: What is the human being? Philosophy, then, is the study of what it is to be a human being. In this general introduction to philosophy, we will examine a variety of efforts made by philosophers, both contemporary and historical, to answer Kant’s three questions: What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope? We will do this always with an eye to how these efforts contribute to answering Kant’s broader question: What is the human being? Possible topics of discussion include the nature of knowledge, the limits of science, whether there are objective moral truths, whether we are free, the nature of artistic beauty, whether we should trust our gut instincts, and whether there is progress in culture.

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 22503 Truth and Ideology

There has been significant concern, in recent years, about the threat of "fake news" and "disinformation." Most of this discussion has concerned deliberate lies told for political reasons. Those who spread fake news, however, rarely do so deliberately; many believe what they say, however obvious the falsehood of their claims may seem to outsiders. Beliefs of this sort are ideological in nature. Philosophers have studied the social phenomenon of ideology for hundreds of years. In this course, we will examine a number of historical (e.g. Marx, Engels, Lenin, Adorno, Gramsci, Althusser) and contemporary (e.g. Haslanger, Stanley, Honneth, Jaeggi, Railton, Leiter) accounts of ideology. In doing so, we will try to come to terms with the reality of ideology: What is it? How does it relate to truth? Can it be avoided? If so, how? All texts will be read in English translation. (A)

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 23951 Introduction to Eastern Philosophy

This course will be an overview of Eastern philosophy, focusing on the historical development of Buddhist and Confucian ideas from their early Indian origins to the present day. (A)

2021-2022 Autumn

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.

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 25102 Aquinas on Justice

(FNDL 24304)

Aquinas regards justice as the preeminent moral virtue, and in the Summa theologiae he devotes more Questions to it than to any other virtue (II-II, qq. 57-79). With occasional help from other passages of his, and with an eye to his sources (especially Aristotle) and to later thinkers, we will first work through his general accounts of the object of justice (ius—the just or the right), justice as a virtue, the nature of injustice, and the distinction between distributive and commutative justice. Then, as time permits, we will discuss selected texts on more specific topics such as judicature, restitution, partiality, murder, theft, verbal injuries, fraud, and usury. (A)

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. 

2021-2022 Autumn

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

(HIST 25503, HIPS 29800)

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

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 27601 The Aftermath of Wrongdoing

What does it mean to say that some action was wrong? And what are we supposed to do about it? This course takes a closer look at wrongdoing and what comes next, whether it’s morally permissible or abhorrent. We will explore topics in theories of punishment, moral repair, restorative justice, forgiveness, and revenge in order to map out the normative terrain we face as moral agents living in a world with wrongdoing. Emphasis will be placed on first-personal accounts of these phenomena, including memoirs written after the Holocaust, accounts of colonialism, and testimony from within the U.S. prison industrial complex. We will explore these phenomena using theoretical frameworks from philosophers including Kant, Mill, Margaret Walker, Angela Davis, Jean Hampton, Martha Nussbaum, and Simone de Beauvoir. (A)

2021-2022 Autumn

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

Topic: Practical Reasoning

This course explores the nature of practical reason by examining practical reasoning, its activity. We will examine some accounts that philosophers have given of deliberation and of the so-called practical syllogism or inference; we will consider the relationship between the two and ask what they tell us about practical rationality. In the second half of the course, we will consider the perennial question of whether practical rationality requires acting well, that is, ethically or morally.

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

2021-2022 Autumn

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

Topic: Trust

Trust plays a crucial role in our interpersonal relationships and our ability to undertake complex activities with others. This class, broken into three parts, will survey some recent literature devoted to this topic. In the first we will investigate the metaphysical nature of trust. Is it a belief, an attitude, an emotion, or something else? We will ask what the relationship is between trust and trustworthiness; whether trust can be willed; and how trust interacts with individual agency. In the second we will investigate the rationality of trust. In particular we will consider how it is that trust or trusting relationships can provide, on the one hand, a valid reason for belief and, on the other, a valid reason to perform some action. In the third part we will draw on some of the insights hopefully gained in the first two to think about some related ethical issues such as epistemic injustice, forgiveness, and collective action. Authors may include: Richard Holton, Pamela Hieronymi, P.F. Strawson, and Annette Baier.

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

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 29601 Intensive Track Seminar

Title: Philosophy and Fiction

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

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

2021-2022 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.

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 29901 Senior Seminar I

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in the Autumn Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in the Winter Quarter. The Senior Seminar meets for two quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

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

PHIL 20100/30000 Elementary Logic

(HIPS 20700, LING 20102, CHSS 33500)

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

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Logic

PHIL 21002/31002 Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations

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

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

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 31414 MAPH Core Course: Contemporary Analytic Philosophy

(MAPH 31414)

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

This course is open only to MAPH students. MAPH students who wish to apply to Ph.D. programs in Philosophy are strongly urged to take this course.

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 22964/32964 Advanced Introduction to Epistemology

This course will be a broad introduction to epistemology—the study of knowledge and rationality. Here are some of the main questions we will discuss:

What is knowledge
What is the best way to acquire knowledge?
How can you be sure that you aren’t dreaming?
What makes a belief rational?
How should you revise your beliefs when you get new evidence? (B) (III)

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

PHIL 23405/33405 History and Philosophy of Biology

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

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

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Science

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
2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 29110/39110 Plato on Knowledge

This course will examine Plato’s theory of knowledge in his “late” dialogues—especially Plato’s ideas about the philosopher’s pursuit of knowledge in the Sophist, Statesman, and Philebus. We will focus on the method of “dialectic” and its connection to the so-called method of “collection and division” as essential philosophical tools in Plato’s late writing. Topics will include natural kinds, the relationship between natural and social science, and the metaphysical views that form the backdrop of Plato’s methodological writings.  We will also spend some time discussing related dialogues, such as the Theaetetus, Phaedrus, and Timaeus, as well as contemporary work on natural kinds. (B) (IV)

 

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 29905/39905 17th Century Political Philosophy: Hobbes and Spinoza

(FNDL 24305)

An examination of the political philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and Benedict Spinoza. Each thinker, responding to contemporary political crises, developed theories of the absolute right of states, and connected this absolute right to the absolute power of a state. This course will examine these theories in relation to popular sovereignty, and explore whether either thinker has room for the possibility of radical democracy. Primary literature will focus on Hobbes’s Leviathan and Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise and Political Treatise. Secondary literature will look at the reception of these thinkers around the world, including work by Richard Tuck, Alexandre Matheron, Antonio Negri, and Sandra Leonie Field. (A) (V)

2021-2022 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.

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 52002 C.S. Peirce: Logic and Metaphysics

This course will undertake a critical review of the some of the seminal logical and metaphysical writings of the American pragmatist philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce. Peirce made numerous original contributions to the field of mathematical logic, particularly to the fields of relational and quantificational logic, and, in the first part of the course, we will carefully examine some of Peirce's most important writings on the subject. In the second half of the course, we will examine some of Peirce's most characteristic metaphysical doctrines. These include: triadism - the view that all experience may be classified within a tripartite scheme consisting of the categories of "firstness," "secondness," and "thirdness;" tychism - the view that objective chance is an operative feature of the cosmos; haecceitism - the view that individual substances have an essence de re and not merely de dicta; and synechism - the view that the cosmos is fundamentally a continuum, no part of which is fully separate or determinate. (II)

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
American Pragmatism
Logic

PHIL 53025 Philosophy of Animal Rights

(PLSC 53025, RETH 53025, LAWS 53128)

A close study of some recent philosophical classics about animal ethics and animal rights, including Christine Korsgaard’s Fellow Creatures, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka’s Zoopolis, and a manuscript of my own, Justice for Animals, that is due at the end of 2021.  We will also read some of the recent work by scientists such as Frans De Waal, Mark Bekoff, and Victoria Braithwaite on animal cognition.

 

This course meets the CS Committee distribution requirement for Divinity students.

Admission by permission of the instructor.  Permission must be sought in writing at least ten days before the beginning of Law School classes, Monday, September 20.  The class will be offered on the Law School calendar. 

An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation.  Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory may enroll without permission.

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 55701 The Ethics and Poetics of Mimesis

(SCTH 55701)

In this seminar we will examine the concept of mimesis as a way of thinking about poetry and the arts and also as a way of thinking about human life more generally.  Our focus will be Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Poetics, though we will consider relevant passages from other dialogues and treatises.  What should we make of the fact that Socrates figures both the unjust person and the philosopher-ruler as a mimetic artist? In what way is his critique of mimesis ontological, psychological, and political?  Are there differing explanations of the influence of mimetic speech, sound, and sights? Why do Plato and Aristotle believe that poetic mimesis is a necessary element of moral education?  How does Aristotle’s different, more dynamic account of poetic mimesis reflect a different understanding of the nature poetry and its place in human life?  If time permits, we will briefly consider Epictetus’s idea that we should think of ourselves as actors playing a role in the cosmic drama. (IV)

 

Preference will be given to PhD students.  MA students require permission of the instructor.

 

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy
Medieval Philosophy

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 2021. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 20216 Philosophy of Life and Death

The focus of this course will be how philosophy arises in response to problems in the conditions of human life, especially our mortality and the prevalence of social injustice. Every one of us will die one day; and every one of us suffers from and/or helps perpetuate some form of injustice. These can be sources of alienation, suffering, and bad choices; they can also be sources of conviction, bravery, and wisdom. We will aim to understand how philosophy fits into this picture, and especially how a person can use philosophy to find meaning for their life in relation to both death and injustice. Topics will include Plato’s Socrates, the Buddha, and social injustice in a US context. (A)

 

2021-2022 Winter

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)

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Ethics
Ethics/Metaethics

PHIL 21400 Happiness

(HUMA 24900, PLSC 22700)

From Plato to the present, notions of happiness have been at the core of heated debates in ethics and politics.  What is happiness?  Is it subjective or objective?  Is it a matter of pleasure or enjoyment?  Of getting what one most wants?  Of flourishing through the development of one’s human capabilities?  Of being satisfied with how one’s life is going overall?  Is happiness the ultimate good for human beings, the essence of the good life and tied up with virtue, or is morality somehow prior to it?  Can it be achieved by all, or only by a fortunate few?  Can it be measured, and perhaps made the basis of a science?  Should it be the aim of education?  What causes happiness?  Does the wrong notion of happiness lend itself to a politics of manipulation and surveillance?  What critical perspectives pose the deepest challenges to the idea that happiness matters?  These are some of the questions that this course addresses, with the help of both classic and contemporary texts from philosophy, literature, and the social sciences.  The approach will involve a lot of more or less Socratic questioning, which may or may not contribute your personal happiness. (A)

 

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Ethics

PHIL 22002 Introduction to Philosophy

What is philosophy? And how can it help us understand and occasionally answer questions as wide-ranging as those in ethics, politics, moral psychology, language, feminism, and metaphysics? In this course, we will explore ideas in the history of philosophy in order to acquaint ourselves with the range of topics that can be the proper object of philosophical attention. Using the distinctive features of the discipline, including slow, reflective engagement with ideas, critical attention to argument, and precise analysis of the concepts underlying ordinary thought, we will ask ordinary questions about the world and discover that philosophy is the practice of answering them with a level of rigor and depth that gives us a greater grasp on the world and ourselves. Some of the questions we will explore during the quarter are: Can my goodness be a matter of luck? Why are some bodies declared “normal,” some “broken,” and some food? What is gender? And is there anything philosophical we can say about the pandemic? 

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 22003 Einstein for Everyone

(FNDL 24307, HIPS 22003)

Einstein’s revolutions in physics led to fundamental changes in how we understand the universe. Among other things, we seem to have learned from Einstein about the existence of black holes and gravitational waves, that time is not absolute but relative, that the universe is expanding, that gravity is not a force. But how is someone who doesn't know much physics to figure out if this or that moral really is vindicated by Einstein's work? This course covers just enough of Einstein's work at an elementary level to help answer such questions. High school math is required but we will provide an understanding of special and general relativity at a conceptual level, without calculations or problem sets. (B)

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 23413 An Introduction to Martin Heidegger's Sein and Zeit

(FNDL 24308)

Though unfinished, Martin Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit is one of the most influential contributions to 20th century philosophy. In it, Heidegger proposes nothing less than an exposition (in fact, a restatement) of the question of Being --- a question whose subject matter is inherently intertwined with the concerns and affairs of the inquirer. Systematizing and indeed radicalizing ideas from Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Husserl, Sein und Zeit is at the same a critique of the Western philosophical tradition’s neglect of the Seinsfrage. In this course we will proceed systematically through Sein und Zeit, seeking to understand its basic moves, motivations, and key arguments. (B)

Students do not need to be able to read German.

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 23502 Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind

What is a mind? How does the mind relate to one’s brain and body? In what sense can nonhuman animals or computers think? How does our subjective experience relate to the objective world? Versions of these questions have been the focus of reflections on the mind since the beginning of philosophy, which have been grouped under the banner of ‘philosophy of mind’. In this class we will examine central questions in the philosophy of mind, looking to theories that contemporary philosophers have given about the nature of the mind, and their relationship to the increasingly detailed accounts of the natural world that physical and biological sciences provide. Key topics to be investigated are the mind-body problem, as well as its implications for our understanding of consciousness, intentionality, mental content, and personal identity. (B)

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 24096 Philosophy of Economics

This course introduces students to philosophical debates about the foundations and methodology of economics as a field of study. Together we’ll examine questions such as the following: What exactly is economics and what are its aims? Is the field defined by its subject matter or its methodology? Should positive economics be regarded as a value-neutral enterprise? Or does it inevitably need to make value-laden assumptions—about, for instance, rationality, well-being, distributive justice, etc.—that stand in need of justification? Should there be limits to what can be bought and sold on markets—and, if so, what should those limits be? Readings will include works by philosophers and economists. (A)

 

 

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 25510 Know How

What is it to know how to do something? And how, if at all, is it different from knowing that something is the case? The now-familiar distinction between "knowing-how" and "knowing-that" was first discussed by Gilbert Ryle in his 1949 book, The Concept of Mind. Though it soon became a standard piece of philosophical equipment, the Rylean distinction has recently come under vigorous attack. As time permits the course will examine (i) Ryle's original treatment of the topic and its development by Kenny and others; (ii) the recent critical discussion of this; and (iii) some ancient and modern sources of the idea that there is a kind of productive power—exemplified by, say, the "art" of medicine, or the "craft" of carpentry—that is not, or not simply, a knowledge of facts, but that nevertheless deserves to be called knowledge. (A)

 

2021-2022 Winter

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

(HIPS 26000, MDVL 26000)

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

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

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 27543 Black and/or Human: On Humanism and Racialized Being

(CRES 27543)

This course explores the relation between racialized being and humanity, with a focus on blackness. The histories of enslavement and colonization have been understood, fundamentally, as processes of dehumanization. The course seeks to address questions such as these: What is the conceptual basis of dehumanization, i.e. what (metaphysical, ethical, psychological, historical) conceptions of “human” act as the standards by which to measure the human deficiency of Black racialized peoples? What are the different meanings of the view that Blackness lacks being, when said by colonialists and when said an anti-racist intellectuals? What, in each case, is the exact argument? Is such an argument descriptive or also prescriptive? If the former, does it describe a mutable sociopolitical situation or a metaphysical truth? If the latter, what forms of conduct does the argument call for? What is an adequate response to dehumanization? Should one claim the status of the human, transform it, or reject it altogether? There are different answers to any of the questions in the literature. This course is a short survey of that literature.

 

Prior coursework on Critical Race Theory or consent of instructor.

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 28710 Introduction to Nietzsche

In this course, we will examine the philosophical writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, with the aim of arriving at a cursory overview of his thought. We will take as our guiding thread a paradox concerning the value of truth that arises in the course of Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morality: when, as in scientific inquiry, we take it as a rule that we should always seek the truth, we presuppose that we are the kind of creatures to whom rules can apply (i.e. morally responsible persons); but scientific inquiry, in its tendency to disenchant the world and subvert our traditional self-understanding, threatens to undermine this idea. What if truth-seeking drives us to the conclusion that we are not, in fact, morally responsible persons? What then of truth? All texts will be read in English translation.

 

2021-2022 Winter

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

Topic: The First Person Perspective

It is often remarked that one occupies a unique perspective on oneself, that, paradigmatically, one relates to oneself in a very different manner than one does to others. There are various ways of bringing out what is unique about this perspective. We will explore two in particular in this course. The first involves the idea of ‘first person authority’; the second involves the idea of ‘immunity to error through misidentification’. We will examine a number of philosophical debates surrounding these themes. Some questions to be explored: 

Are first-personally authoritative self-ascriptions (e.g. ‘I think it will rain tomorrow’) to be understood as cases of self-knowledge? If so, how are we to account for such knowledge? If not, what alternatives do we have for accounting for these self-ascriptions and the authority with which they are made? 

Does ‘I’ refer? If so, to what does it refer, and how does it manage to refer to it? 

How does the first person perspective differ from, and how is it related to, both the second and the third person perspectives? 

Readings will include selections from: Anscombe, Bar-On, McDowell, Moran, Rödl, Strawson, and Wittgenstein.

 

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

2021-2022 Winter

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

Topic: Plato's Sophist and the Problem of Being

We will confront ‘the problem of being’ through an intensive study of Plato’s Sophist. This problem has several guises, but we will be principally concerned to understand whether there is something that all beings (entities, things) have in common, insofar as they are beings. What makes something real as opposed to merely apparent or entirely non-existent? Major themes of the course will include: the difference between beings and their being; being and existence; the nature of truth and falsehood; the structure of assertion; and negation. We will also consider influential 20th century treatments of Plato’s Sophist and the concept of ‘being’ in Greek philosophy. Readings will include works by John McDowell, Charles Kahn, and Martin Heidegger. 

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

2021-2022 Winter

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

Topic: The Representation of Thought

This course will provide a selective introduction to problems with the representation of thought in the third person---meaning, problems with assertions concerning what what others think, believe, and know. Readings will be centered around Gottlob Frege's 'On sense and reference', Rudolf Carnap's 'Meaning and necessity', and assorted papers by Alonzo Church. 

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

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 29642 The Science and Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence

(HIPS 29642)

This course will focus on the history and science of the development of AI from the cybernetics movement, to logic and expert systems GOFI period, recommender systems and deep neural networks (both in their initial and contemporary manifestations). Students will learn how these systems actually work, what tasks they were envisioned to be useful for, and what a study of these systems was and is thought to tell us about cognition, intelligence, and the world. In parallel, students will engage with literature in the philosophy of AI that seeks to interpret and challenge the science and rationale of these systems as well as ask and attempt to answer novel questions concerning the epistemology of deep neural networks. Students will also engage directly and philosophically with actual scientific literature that uses artificial intelligence.

2021-2022 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.

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 29902 Senior Seminar II

Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in the Autumn Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in the Winter Quarter. The Senior Seminar meets for two quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout.

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

PHIL 29910 Ancient Greek and Roman Conceptions of Soul

(CLCV 29921)

This course traces a central thread in ancient Greek and Roman thought—the nature of the soul (psuchê). Standing far from what we now associate with the word ‘soul,’ psuchê was treated as the distinguishing mark of life, and the subject of activities like perceiving, feeling emotions, and thinking. Yet the notion also went through radical transformations: from the soul’s mythical beginnings in the Homeric epics, to its immortalization in the Platonic dialogues, to its scientific treatment in Aristotelian biology, to its materialist character in Stoic and Epicurean philosophy. These changes reflected evolving answers to a variety of fundamental questions, such as: what is the relation of soul to body? What is the nature of human reason and thought? Do nonhuman organisms have souls? Is the soul immortal? We will explore these changes, seeing how they were symptomatic of diverging explanations of the natural world, life, the gods, the human good, and immortality. We will also explore how these conceptions foreshadow or depart from contemporary theories of mind, life, and personal identity. (B)

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 20100/30000 Elementary Logic

(HIPS 20700, LING 20102, CHSS 33500)

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

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 20506/30506 Philosophy of History: Narrative and Explanation

(HIPS 25110, HIST 25110, HIST 35110, CHSS 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 figures considered are Gibbon, Kant, Humboldt, Ranke, Collingwood, Acton, Fraudel, Furet, Hempel, Danto. (B) (III)

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

PHIL 21491/31491 Anscombe’s Intention

G. E. M. Anscombe’s 1957 monograph, Intention, inaugurated the discipline known as the philosophy of action. We will study that work with occasional reference to the secondary literature. (A)

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 21508/31508 Enslavement and Recognition

A reading of Hegel’s discussion of the master-slave dialectic against the background of the history of philosophical discussion of slavery. (A) (I)

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 22000/32000 Introduction to Philosophy of Science

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

We will begin by trying to explicate the manner in which science is a rational response to observational facts. This will involve a discussion of inductivism, Popper's deductivism, Lakatos and Kuhn. After this, we will briefly survey some other important topics in the philosophy of science, including underdetermination, theories of evidence, Bayesianism, the problem of induction, explanation, and laws of nature. (B) (II)

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 23106/33106 Topics in the Philosophy of Mathematics

In this course, we examine the modern incarnation of the idea that the foundations of mathematics should be understood from the point of view of type theory rather than set theory. We will carefully work through the central ideas of the Curry-Howard correspondence and Martin-L of type theory with a view to understanding some of the central issues involved therein. (B) (II)

 

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Mathematics

PHIL 23210/33210 The Chicago School

Before there was a “Chicago School” of neo-classical economics, the School of Chicago referred to a wide-ranging set of philosophical, psychological, and pedagogical doctrines produced, in collaboration, by such prominent members of the University’s faculty as the philosophers John Dewey and George Herbert Mead, and the psychologist and educator James Angell.  In a 1904 entry in the Psychological Bulletin, William James announced the entrance of the Chicago School onto the American intellectual scene, proclaiming: “Chicago has a School of Thought! a school of thought which, it is safe to predict, will figure in literature as the School of Chicago for years to come… Professor John Dewey, and at least ten of his disciples, have collectively put into the world a statement, homogeneous in spite of so many cooperating minds, of a view of the world, both theoretical and practical, which is so simple, massive, and positive that, in spite of the fact that many parts of it yet need to be worked out, it deserves the title of a new system of philosophy.”

At the core of this system was the simple idea that all thinking, in even its most theoretical guise, must ultimately be viewed a form of practical activity. The abstract theories that are the end products of such thought, are, accordingly, nothing more than cognitive tools deriving their significance entirely from the instrumental role that they play in addressing the concrete needs for which they were devised. Behind this simple conceit lay a more elaborate conception of functionalist psychology and the logic of inquiry, according to which theory and practice, thinking and doing, are not to be viewed as separate spheres of human life. Each is instead to be understood with reference to the service it renders the other so as to effect a “continuous, uninterrupted, free, and fluid passage from ordinary experience to abstract thinking… [One in which] observation passes into development of hypothesis; deductive methods pass to use in description of the particular; inference passes into action with no sense of difficulty save those found in the particular task in question.” Upon such psychological and philosophical foundations, the theorists of the Chicago School attempted to erect a far-reaching  campaign of educational reform, in which the purpose of a university education was not to be conceived as the transmission of knowledge to students, but rather as the sharing of communal social experiences through which young people could be successfully integrated into a deliberative democratic society. 

In this course, we will undertake a critical examination of the psychological, philosophical, and pedagogical writings comprising the work of the Chicago School. The central text for the course will be Studies in Logical Theory, originally published in 1903, which collects together a number essays written by the original members of the faculty of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. (B)

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 24201/34201 The Philosophy of Donald Davidson

This course investigates the philosophical views of one of the most prominent philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century, Donald Davidson.  We will focus on his later work, which is not so widely discussed as his earlier work, and which revolves around the articulation and defence of his triangulation argument, an argument that purports to shed light on the nature and possibility of language and thought.  We will discuss and assess the plausibility of various interpretations of the argument, exploring its implications for how we conceive of the relationship between mind and world.  Readings will include papers by Davidson and responses by his critics. (B) (III)

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

PHIL 24751/34751 Advanced Topics in the Philosophy of Human Rights

(HMRT 24751, HMRT 34751)

In this course we will explore new and cutting edge philosophy of human rights. We will focus on three new books: Allen Buchanon’s The Heart of Human Rights, Andrea Sangiovanni Human Rights without Dignity, and Pablo Gilabert’s Human Rights and Human Dignity. Using these texts we will explore debates about questions like the following: does human dignity really provide the foundation for human rights? What is the relationship of human rights to equality and egalitarianism? What is the role of international human rights law in setting the agenda for the philosophy of human rights? How contextual are human rights norms? How does the theory of human rights relate to the practice of human rights?

Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations.

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 35710 The Essence of Human Freedom

(SCTH 35710)

The essence of freedom, Heidegger claims, is originally not connected with the will or even with the causality of human willing.  Human freedom, therefore, cannot be construed as autonomy. We shall read Heidegger’s seminar “The Essence of Human Freedom” and his essay “On the Essence of Ground” in which these ideas are developed.

Undergrads by permission of instructor only.

Irad Kimhi
2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 28202/38202 Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

(FNDL 23410, SCTH 38003)

Our goal in this course will be to read through and understand the most important chapters of Hegel’s revolutionary book. Main topics will include Hegel’s new conception of philosophy and philosophical methodology, his agreements and disagreements with Kant, the nature of self-consciousness and human mindedness in general, individuality and sociality, and the relation between philosophy and history. (V)

Undergraduates should have some background in philosophy; a knowledge of Kant would be especially helpful.

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 43114 Foundations of the Philosophy of Action

In this seminar we will explore a set of interrelated topics in the philosophy of action. These include: the purposive structure of practical reason, the nature of the relationship between means and ends, the idea of ‘practical inference’, and the place of causation in the understanding of intentional agency. Course readings comprise a manuscript by the course instructor in conjunction with a constellation of primarily contemporary writings on these topics. (III)

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

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.

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 51830 Advanced Topics in Moral, Political & Legal Philosophy: Nietzsche and the Hermeneutic Tradition

(LAWS 53256)

Hermeneutics, or the theory of interpretation, was developed in its modern form in Germany in the 18th- and early 19th-centuries by authors like Herder, F. Schlegel and Schleiermacher.  Later in the 19th-century, there emerged what Ricouer subsequently dubbed a “hermeneutics of suspicion”—an attempt to reveal the hidden meanings beneath the surface meanings people express—in figures like Marx, Nietzsche and Freud.  In the first half of the seminar, we will give a close reading of Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality as an exercise in the hermeneutics of suspicion, as well as consider in some detail Nietzsche’s remarks on perspectivism and interpretation.  In the second half of the seminar, we will then consider the historical background to this hermeneutics of suspicion in Romantic hermeneutics.  We will also give particular attention to the development of legal hermeneutics in Savigny and then, much later, through the work of Gadamer.   We will conclude by returning to the hermeneutics of suspicion, especially as illustrated by Marx. (I)

Open to philosophy Ph.D. students without permission and to others with permission. Those seeking permission should e-mail Professor 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, Brian Leiter
2021-2022 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Law
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 53506 Non-Deductive Inference

(CHSS 53506)

This course will examine modern non-Bayesian ways of understanding non-deductive inference. Topics include the problem of induction, Pierce’s theory of abduction, inference to the best explanation, and the general connection between explanation and non-deductive inference. (III)

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

PHIL 55420 Plato’s Philebus

Often considered one of Plato’s most challenging dialogues, the Philebus records some of Plato’s most sophisticated writings on topics in ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. This course will focus on close analysis of the dialogue and contextualizing it in related “late” Platonic dialogues. Topics will include Plato’s metaphysics and epistemology of craft, philosophical dialectic, Plato’s critique of hedonism, and the nature of the good. (IV)

 

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 56101 The Philosophical Interpretation of Scripture in the Middle Ages: The Problem of Evil and the Book of Job

(BIBL 56101, DVPR 56101 )

One of the major genres of philosophical writing during the Middle Ages was the commentary, both on Aristotle and other canonical philosophers and on Scripture.  This course will examine philosophical discussions of the problem of evil by three medieval philosophers through close reading and analysis of both their discursive expositions of the problem of evil and providence and their commentaries on the Book of Job. The three philosophers will be Saadia Gaon, Moses Maimonides, and Thomas Aquinas. Apart from close analysis of their different conceptions of the problem, their theodicies, and accounts of providence, we will also be concerned with ways in which the thinkers’ ‘straight’ philosophical discursive expositions differ from their commentaries, the sense in which Scripture might be a philosophical text that deserves philosophical commentary, and how the scriptural context influences the philosophy by which it is interpreted? (IV)

This course meets the HS or CS Committee distribution requirement for Divinity students.

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Epistemology
Medieval Philosophy
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 59903 Modern Indian Political and Legal Thought

(PLSC 59903, RETH 59903)

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

This course meets the CS Committee distribution requirement for Divinity students.

Students not from Law or Philosophy need instructor's permission.  Undergraduates are not eligible.

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 20119 Introduction to Wittgenstein

(FNDL 24311)

This course is an introduction to the central ideas of Wittgenstein--in philosophy of language, philosophy of mathematics and logic, philosophy of mind, epistemology, philosophy of religion, metaphilosophy, and other areas of the subject. We will attempt to understand, and to evaluate, these ideas. As part of this attempt, we will explore Wittgenstein’s relation to various others figures—among them Hume, Schopenhauer, Frege, and the logical positivists.

2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 20217 Pessimism

Pessimism is often seen more as an attitude than a philosophy. It is the disposition of the complainer, the one who fails to appreciate life’s silver linings. In this course, we will consider the work of several thinkers who saw pessimism quite differently. For these thinkers, pessimism was a serious philosophical problem, perhaps even the most serious philosophical problem of all: namely, the problem of life’s value to the one who lives it. Our discussion will focus on Schopenhauer, Mill, Camus, Unamuno, and their contemporary successors. Each of these thinkers confronted a different set of worries about life’s value. We will try to understand and assess these worries. In the process, we will develop tools to productively think about what makes life worth living. (A)

2021-2022 Spring

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.

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 21499 Philosophy and Philanthropy

(PLSC 21499, HMRT 21499, MAPH 31499)

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

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

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Ethics
Social/Political Philosophy

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.

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Action

PHIL 22002 Introduction to Philosophy

Topic: Through Film

Film has been and is perhaps our central artistic medium, influencing and reflecting the values of our time, while also exploring perennial aspects of the human condition. Movies then present powerful avenues through which to engage with our deepest and most enduring philosophical questions. This course serves as a general introduction to philosophy, using films to explore the practice of thinking philosophically, as well as the broad range of questions and themes with which philosophers have concerned themselves for over 3,000 years, such as: How can we be free if we are subject to the laws of nature? How can we know or perceive anything with certainty? What is a just political community? Can we ever determine the right answer to ethical dilemmas? To explore these questions, we will discuss a wide selection of films, from The Third Man to Office Space to Blade Runner; we will examine how philosophers themselves have engaged directly with those films; and we will study philosophical texts, both historical and contemporary, that address questions raised by those films. (A)

2021-2022 Spring

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)

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

PHIL 25406 Race, Gender, and the Production of Knowledge

(GNSE 25406)

To what extent does “what we know” have to do with who we are? This advanced undergraduate seminar 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 our ordinary lives, 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.

Third-year and above philosophy or fundamentals major.

2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 25819 Stoic and Epicurean Ethics

In this course we will devote roughly equal time to these profoundly influential, appealing, and often dueling, philosophical schools.  Our focus will be on their theories of nature, and especially of human nature; their views of pleasure, fear, and their role in human life; their accounts of virtue and of friendship; and, above all, their arguments for their differing conceptions of the human good: pleasure (according to the Epicureans) or “living in agreement with nature” (according to the Stoics).  Readings will include selections from Epicurus, Lucretius, Cicero, and Epictetus. (A)

Humanities Core.

2021-2022 Spring

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

The philosophical ideas and methods of Immanuel Kant's “critical” philosophy set off a revolution that reverberated through 19th-century philosophy.  We will trace the effects of this revolution and the responses to it, focusing 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 substantive conception of the proper organization of our social and political lives.  We will conclude by examining some important critics of the Kantian/Hegelian project in ethical theory: Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Frederick Douglass, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

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

Topic: Animal Minds in Early Modern Philosophy

Do non-human animals have minds? If they do, in what ways do their minds differ from ours? – Are they conscious? Can they think? Do they have feelings and emotions? How we think about animal mentality has deep consequences for how we treat animals, how we see the world we share with them, and how we understand our own minds. This course will trace the origin of the modern debate on animal mentality through an interdisciplinary lens: we will consider how the question of animal minds in modernity has been shaped by not only philosophers but also artists and experimental scientists in Europe between 1600-1800. Throughout the course, we will attempt to develop an understanding of how philosophy, artistic creation, and scientific discovery have historically been entwined, and how an interdisciplinary method of inquiry may be fruitfully applied to the study of the history of ideas and of culture more broadly. Authors will include Descartes, Henry More, Leibniz, Cavendish, La Mettrie, Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia, Locke, and Condillac. Along with philosophical literature, we will read and discuss scholarship from the fields of cultural history, art history, and history of science.

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

2021-2022 Spring

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

Topic: Self and Other

In this course we consider three questions about other minds in relation to the self. First, we will try to understand the threat of solipsism--what does entertaining the thought of being the only minded being in existence amount to? How must one think of oneself and the kind of mind one has if there are no other minds? Second, we consider the question of how it is possible to have thought about other minds; or, what the difference is between thought about, for instance, inanimate objects, and thought about other human beings. What explains that our ability to distinguish these doesn't seem to be something learned? What does that tell us about the kind of mind we have? Third, we examine the basis for saying that others have certain beliefs, desires, and emotions. How do we go about making these psychological ascriptions to others? Are these attributions limited by our own experiences? How might one's understanding of others' attitudes contribute to one's self-conception? Through these three topics we will investigate what reflection on our understanding of other minds means for our understanding of ourselves.

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

2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 29700 Reading and Research

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

2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 20115/30115 Freedom, Morality, and the Social World: Kant, Hegel, Marx

This course will provide an advanced introduction to the moral, social, and political philosophies of Kant, Hegel, and Marx. Our guiding theme will be freedom. We will ask: What kind of freedom is required for morality? In what sense, if any, are moral laws self-legislated or laws that we give ourselves? What is the relation between our freedom as individuals and the social world around us? Under what social and psychological conditions are we free, exactly, and under what conditions are we unfree? Are workers in a capitalist society free, for example? And why should we value freedom, anyway? Our main text for the course will be Hegel's Philosophy of Right. (A) (V)

One prior course in ethics, social philosophy, and/or the history of philosophy.

Nicolas Garcia Mills
2021-2022 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21901/31900 Feminist Philosophy

(GNSE 29600, GNSE 39600, HMRT 31900, RETH 41000, LAWS 47701, PLSC 51900)

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 (Judith Butler, Michael Warner), and recent writing on trans feminism.  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)

This course meets the CS Committee distribution requirement for Divinity students.

Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor.  Only junior or senior philosophy concentrators are eligible, and you will need a letter of recommendation from a faculty member in the Philosophy department who has taught you.

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Feminist Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 25101/35101 Aristotle’s De Anima with Aquinas’s Commentary

(FNDL 24309)

There is perhaps no better introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas's philosophy of human nature than his commentary on Aristotle's classic treatment of the fundamental principles of earthly life, the De anima. Of course Aquinas also had other sources, as well as some ideas of his own, but the De anima provides him with the basic philosophical terms and framework. His interpretations continue to engage readers of Aristotle; and without some grasp of them, his theological writings on man are hardly intelligible. This course will be a close reading and discussion of the commentary, with occasional references to other works and other thinkers. (B) (IV)

Undergraduates should either be Philosophy majors or obtain the consent of the Professor.

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 26520/36520 Mind, Brain and Meaning

(LING 26520, LING 36520)

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

Jason Bridges, Leslie Kay, Chris Kennedy
2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 37324 Philosophy and Comedy: Leo Strauss's "Socrates and Aristophanes"

(SCTH 37324, CLAS 37521, PLSC 37324)

Leo Strauss's Socrates and Aristophanes (1966) discusses not only the most important and most influential of all comedies, The Clouds, but also all the other comedies by Aristophanes that have come down to us. The book is the only writing of Strauss's that deals with the whole corpus of a philosopher or poet. And it is the most intense and most demanding interpretation of Aristophanes a philosopher has presented up to now.

In Socrates and Aristophanes Strauss carries on a dialogue with Aristophanes on the wisdom of the poet, on the just and unjust speech, on philosophy and politics, on the diversity of human natures, and on an œuvre that asks the question: quid est deus? what is a god?

 

Open to undergraduates with instructor consent. This course will be taught during the first five weeks of the quarter. 

Heinrich Meier
2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 38100 Whitehead’s Process and Reality

(DVPR 38100)

A close reading of Alfred North Whitehead's seminal work.

Undergraduates must petition to enroll.

Thomas Pashby, Daniel Arnold
2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 28115/38115 Contemplative Cinema and Poetic Thinking

(SCTH 38115)

A close study of four films by Robert Bresson, two by Yasujiro Ozu, and two by Terence Malick. The main question to be investigated: how might cinematic tone, pacing, editing, and framing suggest philosophical issues that cannot be effectively raised and discussed in the normal discursive forms of philosophy.

2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 29425/39425 Logic for Philosophy

Key contemporary debates in the philosophical literature often rely on formal tools and techniques that go beyond the material taught in an introductory logic class. A robust understanding of these debates---and, accordingly, the ability to meaningfully engage with a good deal of contemporary philosophy---requires a basic grasp of extensions of standard logic such as modal logic, multi-valued logic, and supervaluations, as well as an appreciation of the key philosophical virtues and vices of these extensions. The goal of this course is to provide students with the required logic literacy. While some basic metalogical results will come into view as the quarter proceeds, the course will primarily focus on the scope (and, perhaps, the limits) of logic as an important tool for philosophical theorizing. (B)

Elementary Logic or equivalent.

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Logic

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.

2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 50124 Wittgenstein’s Treatment of Rule Following in Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics and Philosophical Investigations

This course will involve a close reading of the sections devoted to the topic of rule following in two of Wittgenstein’s best known later writings, Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics and Philosophical Investigations, as well an examination of some of the most influential secondary literature on those sections, including texts by Brandom, Bridges, Diamond, Dummett, Finkelstein, Floyd, Goldfarb, Kripke, McDowell, Stroud, and Wright. (III)

Open only to graduate students.

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

PHIL 53022 Agency and Alienation

A discussion of contemporary action theory and constitutivism against the background of Hegel's and Marx's reflections on alienation. In the class Thompson and neo-Aristotelian naturalism will come up. (I) (III)

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

PHIL 57351 Locke, Consciousness, and Personal Identity

In one of his most widely read pieces of writing—the chapter of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding called “Of Identity and Diversity”—John Locke writes: “[S]ince consciousness always accompanies thinking, and ‘tis that, that makes every one to be, what he calls self; and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things, in this alone consists personal Identity, i.e. the sameness of rational Being: And as far as this consciousness can be extended backwards to any past Action or Thought, so far reaches the Identity of that Person…”  Locke’s account of personal identity has puzzled, annoyed, and inspired readers since it was published in the second edition of his Essay, in 1694. One aim of this course will be to find a coherent reading of it, one that considers objections that later writers—most famously Butler and Reid—made to it as well as some recent readings of it. Part of the point of this endeavor will be to see what, if anything, we still can learn from Locke concerning what a person is. A second aim of the course will be to arrive at an understanding of consciousness that makes sense in light of what we’ve learned about persons and personal identity from Locke. (III)

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

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 2022. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2021-2022 Spring