Departmental Courses

See our searchable database below for Department of Philosophy courses from 2012-13 to 2022-23. 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 2022-23 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 21207 Ecocentrism and Environmental Racism

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

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

 

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Ethics
Metaphysics
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21403 Locke and Rousseau

(FNDL 20205)

John Locke’s political philosophy contributed mightily to the English and American constitutions.  It is still a significant force in modern debates about rights and the criteria of political legitimacy.  We begin the course with Locke’s Second Treatise of Government and go on to read his important “A Letter Concerning Toleration.”  Issues to be addressed include Locke’s conception of the state of nature, his explanation of the need for a political society, and his justifications of economic inequality and the right of revolution.

We then turn to a very different writer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  Rousseau has been read as defending, among other things, liberalism, totalitarianism, civic republicanism, and communism.  We will read his First and Second Discourses, On the Social Contract, and parts of the short essay On the Government of Poland.  Issues to be addressed include Rousseau’s account of developmental psychology, his conception of the initial political agreement, the nature of the General Will, the role of the Legislator, and what is meant by his infamous claim that citizens can be “forced to be free.”  Our goal is to grasp Locke and Rousseau in their historical and intellectual contexts but also to determine what is true and vital in their views. (A)

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 21802 The Philosophy of Film

Film has arguably become the central artistic medium of our time. It is not surprising, then, that philosophers have turned to movies as a fruitful subject for philosophy. But how have and should philosophers interact with film? In this course, we will try to answer this question. In the first part, we will explore how philosophers have reflected on the nature of film, exploring questions such as: is film “art”? Do films have authors? What is the metaphysical and epistemological status of films or the worlds that they depict? Do movies tell the truth or represent reality? Why do we watch horror movies if they disgust us? In the second part, we will examine the relationship between philosophy and film. Can films do philosophy? Can they express complex thoughts, or even arguments? Can films corrupt or improve us morally? Can movies perform social critique? To answer all of these questions, we will both read philosopher’s written reflections on film and watch philosophy rich films. (A)

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 22822 Nietzsche’s Gay Science

(FNDL 22822)

Nietzsche describes The Gay Science as a distinctively affirmative work. Although still offering sharp challenges to rival views, the book also introduces many of Nietzsche’s own ideas about how life can be embraced. We will read the Gay Science from beginning to end, giving special attention to the affirmative aspects of Nietzsche’s thought. (A)

 

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 23026 Topics in Animal Ethics

To what extent, and in what ways, do the fates of non-human animals matter morally, and why? And what implications does this have for how we ought to behave toward them, or in matters concerning them? In this course we will consider and evaluate a variety of philosophical perspectives on the moral status of animals, aided with up-to-date research on animal behavior, emotion, and cognition. We will apply this philosophical thought to pressing issues in animal ethics, such as: factory farming; the use of animals in research; the ethics of keeping pets; and the legal and political status of animals. Readings will include works by Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Cora Diamond, Martha Nussbaum, Christine Korsgaard, Frans de Waal, Marc Bekoff, Gary Francione, Elisa Aaltola, Barbara Smutts, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka. (A)

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Ethics

PHIL 23401 Philosophy and Science Fiction

How do we know whether our perceptual experiences really are of a real world outside of us? What determines the identity of a person over time? What does it take to be conscious, and how can we tell whether someone or something is? Could radically different languages lead to radically different forms of experience and thought? These are key questions in the philosophical fields of epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, and Philosophy of Language. In this course, we’ll explore these questions (and more) as they arise in works of science fiction and consider the main philosophical proposals for tackling them with an eye to these works. The main works with which we’ll engage will be the films “The Matrix,” “Moon,” “Ex Machina,” and “Arrival,” though there will be many supplementary works of science fiction. Philosophical readings will be drawn from both historical and contemporary sources. (B)

2022-2023 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)

2022-2023 Autumn

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)

2022-2023 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.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 25200 Intensive History of Philosophy, Part I: Plato

In this class, we will read a number of Platonic dialogues and use them to investigate the questions with which Socrates and Plato opened the door to the practice of philosophy. Here are some examples: What does a definition consist in? What is knowledge and how can it be acquired? Why do people sometimes do and want what is bad? Is the world we sense with our five senses the real world? What is courage and how is it connected to fear? Is the soul immortal? We will devote much of our time to clearly laying out the premises of Socrates' various arguments in order to evaluate the arguments for validity.

(a) If students wish to use Intensive History of Plato/Aristotle to fulfill history requirement, they must take BOTH Plato and Aristotle, and those will count only for ONE quarter of the history requirement (though they will count for 2 philosophy courses as far as the major is concerned, e.g. as electives).

(b) Students are not intending to use the courses to fulfill the history requirement, they may take Plato without Aristotle or vice versa.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

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)

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 28010 Introduction to Philosophy of Language

An introduction to philosophical thought about the nature of language. The questions we will address include: What is meaning? What is truth? How does language relate to thought? How do languages relate to each other? What is metaphor? What is fiction? The focus will be on classic work in the analytic tradition (Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, Tarski, Quine, Austin, Grice, Davidson, Donnellan, Putnam, Searle, Kaplan, Kripke) but we will also read, and relate to this modern work, some current work in the philosophical literature and some seminal discussions of language in the writings of Plato and Aristotle.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Language

PHIL 28011 Gut Feelings and Fake News

In this course, we will examine the psychological bases of knowledge and inquire into their wider epistemological significance. Our guiding aim is to understand
some of the ways in which our reliance on intuition, heuristics, and gut feelings shape our attitudes toward “fake news”—or deliberate misinformation and manipulation—in its many guises. Three questions will guide our investigation. First, how should insights about the rationality (or lack thereof) of gut feelings inform the way we think about fundamental issues in epistemology? We will consider, for example, justification, the nature of evidence, the reliability of testimony, and intellectual virtues and
vices. Second, might some of the reasoning biases that are typically deemed irrational be, at least in some contexts, rational? Third, insofar as our gut feelings do produce irrational behavior, what lessons should we draw about our own thinking and the ways in which we evaluate and engage in discourse? What normative principles might we adopt that both (a) give due place to our deep dependence upon gut feelings and (b) help mitigate their potentially pernicious effects? (B)

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Epistemology

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

Topic: The Ontological Argument

This course will cover the history of the ontological argument for the existence of God. We will find that there is in fact no single ‘ontological argument,’ but many arguments that share in common an underlying set of concerns, all of them attempting to demonstrate the existence of a divine mind through reflection upon the activity of thinking. This subject is of interest not only for the philosophy of religion, but also for metaphysics and epistemology more broadly, because it seeks to vindicate the objectivity of thought through analysis of the structure and conditions of thought itself. Assigned readings for the course will include works by Plato, Sts. Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas and Bonaventure, Bl. Duns Scotus, Descartes, Kant, and Hegel, among others.

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.

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 29601 Intensive Track Seminar

In this seminar we engage in an in-depth examination of a focused philosophical topic—in a manner akin to that of a graduate seminar. Readings are challenging, but there is no presumption of prior expertise in the course topic.

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

2022-2023 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.

2022-2023 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 Introduction to Logic

(HIPS 20700, LING 20102, CHSS 33500)

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

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Logic

PHIL 20012/30012 Accelerated Introduction to Logic

This course provides a first introduction to formal logic. In this course, we will introduce proof systems for both propositional and first-order predicate logic and prove their soundness and completeness. (B) (II)

This course satisfies the Department of Philosophy’s logic requirement for the philosophy major. It is intended as an introduction to logic for students of philosophy with some background in mathematics. While no specific mathematical knowledge will be presupposed, some familiarity with the methods of mathematical reasoning and some prior practice writing prose that is precise enough to support mathematical proof will be required.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Logic

PHIL 20098/30098 Medieval Metaphysics: Universals from Boethius to Ockham

Any language contains terms that apply truly, and in the same sense, to indefinitely many things; for instance, species- or genus-terms, such as hippopotamus or animal. How things admit of such “universal” terms has engaged philosophers ever since Plato, who proposed participation in the forms. In the third century, the Neoplatonist Porphyry wrote an introduction to Aristotle’s Categories, in which he raised, but did not even try to answer, three metaphysical questions: whether genera and species are real or only posited in thoughts; whether, if real, they are bodies or incorporeal; and whether, if real, they are separate entities or belong to sensible things. At the beginning of the medieval period, another Neoplatonic thinker, Boethius, took up Porphyry’s questions. He offered a strict definition of universals, explained the difficulty of the questions, and proposed (without fully subscribing to) what he took to be Aristotle’s way of answering them. Boethius’s treatment oriented the approach to universals by philosophers up through the 12th century. The tools at their disposal, however, were mostly those provided by ancient logical works; and perhaps for this reason, the discussion reached a kind of impasse. But then there appeared translations of numerous hitherto unknown writings of Aristotle and Arab thinkers. Aristotle’s hylomorphism and his doctrine of (what came to be called) abstraction, together with the notion of “common nature” proposed by Avicenna (also a Neoplatonist), seemed to show a way out of the impasse. But they also raised new questions of their own—partly because of their sheer difficulty, and partly because of theological pressures, in the late 1200s, against the standard Aristotelian account of individuation by “matter.” The topic of universals thus tracks various other prominent themes in medieval metaphysics. We will look at background passages in Aristotle and Porphyry, and study texts of some of the most important authors, including Boethius, Abelard, Avicenna, Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham. (B) (III)

 

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

 

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 20121/30121 The Philosophy of Language of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

This course examines the conception of language of the early Wittgenstein though the lens of six common distinctions in the philosophy of language: (1) meaningful sentences vs. meaningful words; (2) semantic content vs. syntactical form; (3) meaningful signs vs. signs; (4) act vs. content; (5) forceful vs. forceless content; and (6) language vs. thought. We will see that the Tractatus challenges familiar ways of construing these distinctions. Specifically, it rejects the view that the second term of each distinction is the conceptually more basic case, while the first term is a composite phenomenon obtained by adding some extra ingredient to the second term. Rather, the second term of each pair, insofar as it is a genuine phenomenon, presupposes in various different ways the other term (sometimes because it is only an abstraction, sometimes because it is a derivative phenomenon, and sometimes because its specification involves derivative notions), or has instead exactly the same status (as in the case, arguably, of language and inner thought). This means that the Tractatus opposes the idea that the full-blown phenomenon of language (that is, language used by some speaker to say something that makes sense) can be reconstructed from a number of more fundamental ingredients. Rather, the full-blown phenomenon of language is the starting point in terms of which each of the aforementioned distinctions, if at all defensible, can be properly vindicated. (B) (IV)

There are no prerequisites for this course, but some previous exposure to the philosophy of language or the history of analytic philosophy is recommended.

Silver Bronzo
2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Language

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.

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 23015/33015 Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" and "The Descent of Man"

(FNDL 24905, HIST 24905, HIST 34905, HIPS 24901, CHSS 38400)

This lecture-discussion class will focus on a close reading of Darwin's two classic texts. An initial class or two will explore the state of biology prior to Darwin's Beagle voyage, and then consider the development of his theories before 1859. Then we will turn to his two books. Among the topics of central concern will be the logical, epistemological, and rhetorical status of Darwin's several theories, especially his evolutionary ethics; the religious foundations of his ideas and the religious reaction to them; and the social-political consequences of his accomplishment. The year 2019 was the 210th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 160th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. (B) (IV)

Assignments: several short papers and one long paper.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 23451/33451 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. (B) (II)

Two prior philosophy courses.

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 26520/36520 Mind, Brain and Meaning

(LING 26520, PSYC 26520, LING 36520, PSYC 36520)

What is the relationship between physical processes in the brain and body and the processes of thought and consciousness that constitute our mental life? Philosophers and others have puzzled over this question for 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) (II)

 

Jason Bridges, Leslie Kay, Chris Kennedy
2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 27522/37522 Aristotle's Ethics

(SCTH 37522)

The seminar will combine a careful reading of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics with philosophical considerations of fundamental problems involved in being human discussed in the text: happiness, virtue, courage, friendship, decision, political and contemplative life. (III)

Consent required for graduates and undergraduates.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Ethics

PHIL 29110/39110 Plato on Knowledge

(FNDL 29110)

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) (III)

Third-year undergraduates and above.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 29904/39904 Ethics in the Digital Age

(MAAD 12904, SIGN 26071)

An investigation of the applied ethics of technology in the 21st century. Fundamental debates in applied ethics are paired with recent technological case studies. Topics covered include moral dilemmas, privacy, consent, human enhancement, distributed responsibility, and technological risks. Case studies include self-driving cars, geo-engineering, Internet privacy, genetic enhancement, Twitter, autonomous warfare, nuclear war, and the Matrix. (A) (I)

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Ethics

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.

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 50100 First-Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 50128 Logic-Mathematical vs. Logico-Philosophical Conceptions of Logic

(SCTH 50128)

The history of philosophy, from antiquity to the early twentieth century, is littered with classic works bearing titles such as The Principles of Logic, The Foundations of Logic, A Theory of Logic, and so on. Most of the major philosophers in this tradition – Aristotle, Avicenna, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, etc. – devote at least one whole treatise to Logic, and in most cases several. These works are, like their other writings, composed of sentences – sentences of Greek, Arabic, Latin or German prose. The object of such works is to elucidate notions such as thought, judgment, negation, inference, and inquiry. Starting in the late 19th- and early 20th century a new kind of work in the theory of logic appeared – published by authors such as Boole, Peano, Frege, Russell, Hilbert, etc. These works contained comparatively little prose and a great many quasi-mathematical symbols in which formulae, axioms, theorems, proofs, etc. were set forward. The latter sorts of work had an enormous influence on how the nature of the discipline of logic itself came to be understood and how its relation, on the hand, to mathematics, and, on the other, to the rest of philosophy, came to be re-conceived. This, in turn, led – through the work of authors such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, Gilbert Ryle, Peter Strawson, etc. – to a series of efforts to challenge the ascendancy of the logico-mathematical conception of logic. The seminar will explore the relation between these two different conceptions of logic. We will be interested in ways in which these conceptions, at least in the hands of some authors, were carved out in a manner that allowed them at least to appear to coincide with one another, as well as ways in which they either tacitly diverged or openly conflicted with one another. The ideas set forth in two works by Wittgenstein – his early Tractatus and his later Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics – will shape our approach to these issues. The readings for the course will include canonical texts from the classic tradition of thought about logic from Aristotle through Kant and beyond, as well as targeted selections from those of Wittgenstein’s contemporaries whom he is most concerned to criticize (especially Frege, Russell, and Hilbert). The seminar will also feature various sidelong glances at parallel developments in the Continental tradition in authors such as Husserl, Heidegger, Jakob Klein, and others. (III)

Philosophy graduate students: no pre-reqs; all others: permission of the instructor.

James Conant, Irad Kimhi
2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 51200 Law and Philosophy Workshop

(LAWS 61512, PLSC 51512)

Theme: Political Realism

The Workshop will introduce and asses "political realism," both its history (in figures like Thucydides and Machiavelli) and its contemporary manifestation (in writers like Bernard Williams and Raymond Geuss), often framed in reaction to the approach to political philosophy associated with John Rawls. Alison McQueen (who will be speaking at the Workshop) characterizes political realism in terms of four central ideas : (1) politics is a distinct realm, with its own norms; it is not simply applied moral philosophy; (2) "politics is agnostic or conflictual," a fact that arises from various possible causes: "human nature and the limits of rationality, competing identities and interests, and value pluralism"; (3) "the requirements of order and stability" take priority "over the demands of justice," precisely because the former cannot be taken for granted and are difficult to maintain; and (4) realists reject approaches to politics that "fail to take seriously the psychological, sociological, and institutional constraints on political action." Workshop sessions will explore and complicate this picture of political realism, as well as try to assess the merits of this as a position in theorizing about politics; connections with legal realism in jurisprudence will also be discussed. Speakers will include Alison McQueen, William Galston, Matt Sleat, Enzo Rossi, Alex Worsnip, and the instructors, among others.

This class requires a major paper (6000-7500 words). Participation may be considered in final grading. Note: Students interested in the Workshop should send Professor Leiter bleiter@uchicago.edu their resume and a description of their prior work in philosophy and/or political theory.

Carlo Burelli; Brian Leiter
2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51814 Hume’s Theoretical Philosophy

An advanced study of the theoretical philosophy of the 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume. The focus of this course will be a careful reading of Book 1 of the Treatise on Human Nature and the Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Some topics of the course include: Hume’s empiricism(s), Hume on abstract objects, existence and negation, Hume’s theory of causation, Hume’s theory of belief, and Hume’s relation to skepticism. (IV)

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 55818 Hellenistic Ethics

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

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

*This class will begin on Tuesday, September 27 (one day before the rest of the Law classes begin).  Attendance for the class is required.

This class requires a 20-25 page paper and an in-class presentation.

Admission by permission of the instructor.  Permission must be sought in writing by September 15.  The class meets on the law school calendar and therefore begins the week of September 19.  PhD students in Philosophy, Classics, and Political theory do not need permission to enroll.

Prerequisite for others: An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation, comparable to that of first-year PhD students, plus my permission.  This is a 500 level course. 

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy
Ethics/Metaethics

PHIL 59950 Job Placement Workshop

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

This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2022. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 21201 The Ethics of John Stuart Mill

According to John Stuart Mill, utilitarianism has two essential parts: a moral claim and a “theory of life”. The moral claim tells us that happiness must be promoted. The “theory of life” tells us what happiness is like. In this class, we will discuss both Mill’s defense of utilitarian morality, and his distinctive account of the happiness this morality asks us to promote. (A)

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ethics

PHIL 21411 Love and Personhood

Is love, in the deepest sense of the word, something that occurs only between “persons”? Contemporary philosophers often think so. And they tend to understand “personhood”, moreover, in terms of the possession of the special psychological capacity for self-reflective reasoning. But this conception of personhood notably excludes some cognitively disabled humans, infant humans, and non-human animals from the category of “persons”. This raises the questions: who can love, and who can be loved? To answer these questions, we will put some influential philosophical conceptions of love and “personhood” into conversation with other contemporary philosophical work, as well as personal memoirs, literature, and film, that speak to the possibility of loving “non-persons”: infants, neonates, and fetuses; the severely cognitively disabled; and non-human animals. (A)

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 21512 Practical Anarchism

(CRES 21512)

The history of anarchism, or cooperative politics without leaders, is itself anarchic, coming in a rich diversity of forms and contexts.  But from Bakunin’s anarchist critique of Marx and Kropotkin’s re-reading of evolutionary cooperation, through the Haymarket martyrs, Voltairine de Cleyre, Emma Goldman, and Helen Keller, down to Colin Ward, Bertrand Russell, Noam Chomsky, Ursula La Guin, and David Graeber, anarchism has repeatedly generated electrifying forms of political critique and mobilization, with political and ethical imaginaries that proved visionary.  This course will explore the rich legacy of anarchist movements and philosophies, emphasizing how relevant they are to addressing the global political crises of the world today, particularly in the form of Green and Eco-anarchism, crucial forces in the movements for environmental justice and animal liberation. (A)

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 21609 Topics in Medical Ethics

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

Decisions about medical treatment and medical policy often have profound moral implications. Taught by three philosophers, a physician, and a medical lawyer, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, informed consent, assisted suicide, abortion, organ markets, distributive justice in health care, and pandemic ethics. (A)

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ethics

PHIL 21620 The Problem of Evil

(RLST 23620)

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

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ethics/Metaethics
Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 21726 The Mind/Body Problem

What are minds, what are bodies, and what is the relation between minds and bodies? The reason these questions represent a problem is that a. the questions are of fundamental significance but that b. no answer to them is easy to defend. In this course we will try to understand this problem, and to arrive at some answers. To help us toward this goal we will read important philosophical work on the subject--some older writings (Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume), but with a focus on work in the last eighty years (including Wittgenstein, Ryle, Anscombe, Davidson, Smart, Place, Armstrong, Kripke, Putnam, Searle, Lewis, Nagel, Dennett, Dretske, The Churchlands, Jackson, McGinn, Block, Kim, Chalmers).

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 23027 Philosophy of Animal Minds

How did minds evolve? How unique is the human mind in nature? Are humans the only species on this planet capable of thinking? What does this even mean? How could we tell? Can other species form beliefs and concepts about the world? Do some animals possess the capacity for language? Do other species have a rudimentary sense of morality? If so, what challenges would this raise toward traditional notions of “human nature”? Furthermore, what might these questions tell us about our moral obligations to other species? This class offers a detailed look into contemporary debates in the philosophy of animal minds. These debates are inherently multi-disciplinary, ranging from questions in evolutionary biology, cognitive science, developmental psychology, the philosophy of mind, and even questions about the future of artificial intelligence. 

 

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 23104 Doing Things with Words

Words, it might seem, are for saying things, communicating bits of information. And, of course, they are for that. However, there all sorts of things that we can do with the use of language that go beyond simply saying things. We can, for instance, make a promise, forbid someone from doing something, or exclude someone from our community. These are all different kinds of “speech acts” we might perform, and they form the topic of speech act theory. This class, a venture into speech act theory, will look at these different types of speech acts while seeking to develop a unified framework for thinking about them based on the thought, variously spelled out by the theorists we’ll read, that speech acts work by shifting the norms to which speakers take themselves to be bound. We will start with the philosophical foundations of speech act theory, starting with the pioneering work of Ludwig Wittgenstein before turning to J.L. Austin’s seminal How to Do Things with Words. We will then turn to contemporary developments of speech act theory, focusing on one area where it has been most fruitfully applied and developed in recent years: social, and especially feminist, philosophy. Specific topics in this latter part of the course will include silencing and other forms of discursive injustice, consent and other kinds of sexual negotiation, derogatory, exclusionary, and oppressive speech, acts of protest, and expressions of solidarity, with work from Rae Langton, Jennifer Hornsby, Jennifer Saul, Quill Kukla, Mary Kate McGowan, Cassie Herbert, Matthew Chrisman, Graham Hubbs, and Mark Lance among others.

2022-2023 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)

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ethics/Metaethics
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 25201 Ancient Philosophies as Ways of Life

Contemporary philosophy is often seen as one academic discipline among many. But throughout much of its history, philosophy was not conceived of as narrow discipline, but as an all-encompassing “way of life”—even the most abstract theoretical contemplation was embedded within concrete, practical concerns and a view of the good life. We will explore this alternative conception of philosophy by examining central ancient Greek and Roman philosophical traditions, seeing how those philosophers saw their thinking as describing, instantiating, and guiding entire ways of living. Thinkers to be discussed include Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Marcus Aurelius, and Sextus Empiricus. We will also look to interpreters of the ancient tradition that seek to revitalize this alternative conception, such as Pierre Hadot, John Cooper, and Michel Foucault. In doing so, we will not only survey ancient Greek and Roman thought, but assess whether this alternative conception of philosophy remains viable and how one might live an examined, philosophical life. (A)

2022-2023 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.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 26200 Intensive History of Philosophy, Part II: Aristotle

In this class, we will read selections from Aristotle's major works in metaphysics, logic, psychology and ethics. We will attempt to understand the import of his distinct contributions in all of these central areas of philosophy, and we will also work towards a synoptic view of his system as a whole. There are three questions we will keep in mind and seek to answer as readers of his treatises: (1) What questions is this passage/chapter trying to answer? (2) What is Aristotle's answer? (3) What is his argument that his answer is the correct one?

(a) If students wish to use Intensive History of Plato/Aristotle to fulfill history requirement, they must take BOTH Plato and Aristotle, and those will count only for ONE quarter of the history requirement (though they will count for 2 philosophy courses as far as the major is concerned, e.g. as electives).

(b) Students are not intending to use the courses to fulfill the history requirement, they may take Plato without Aristotle or vice versa.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy

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)

2022-2023 Winter

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

Topic: The Philosophy of Games

In this course we will investigate two main questions. What characteristics make a certain activity a game? And what is the value of playing games? Along the way, we will consider several further questions about the place of games in our practical lives. How does game playing relate to consumption of fiction, and how should we make sense of works that are both fictions and games? Are there moral or epistemic hazards of game playing under certain circumstances, or of ‘gamifying’ certain activities? What can a philosophical investigation into games teach us about the shape of our practical agency more generally? Readings will include portions of Bernard Suits’ classic work on games, The Grasshopper, as well as more recent writings by C. Thi Nguyen and other philosophers currently working on games. This course will involve readings in several areas of philosophy as they apply to an investigation of the nature of games, including metaphysics, the philosophy of action, ethics, and aesthetics/the philosophy of art.

Meets with Jr/Sr section. Priority will be given to intensive-track and philosophy majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. Email avstone@uchicago.edu if interested in enrolling.

2022-2023 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.

2022-2023 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 29912 Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy of Science and Religion

This is a survey of the philosophy of science and religion in ancient Greek and Roman texts. We start with early Greek religion and an emerging intellectual analysis of nature and divinity. Authors include Hesiod, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Hippocrates, and selected “Sophists” such as Critias and Antiphon. We then turn to Plato and Aristotle and the development of teleological natural science and theology—the idea that nature is an organized and craft-like system, which in some sense reflects divine intelligence. Texts include Plato’s Phaedo, Timaeus, and Republic, and Aristotle’s Physics, Metaphysics, and De Anima. In the final weeks of the course, we turn to later Greek and Roman cosmology—the study of the universe as such—in Stoic and Epicurean thinkers, such as Lucretius and Cicero, who extend and develop the previous tradition. (B)

Fulfillment of Core requirement.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 20610/30610 Goethe: Literature, Science, Philosophy

(FNDL 25315, HIST 25304, HIST 35304, GRMN 25304, GRMN 35304, HIPS 26701, CHSS 31202, KNOW 31302)

This lecture-discussion course will examine Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's intellectual development, from the time he wrote Sorrows of Young Werther through the final states of Faust. Along the way, we will read a selection of Goethe's plays, poetry, and travel literature. We will also examine his scientific work, especially his theory of color and his morphological theories. On the philosophical side, we will discuss Goethe's coming to terms with Kant (especially the latter's third Critique) and his adoption of Schelling's transcendental idealism. The theme uniting the exploration of the various works of Goethe will be unity of the artistic and scientific understanding of nature, especially as he exemplified that unity in "the eternal feminine." (B) (IV)

German would be helpful, but it is not required. Assignments: four papers (5–8 pages each).

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 20625/30625 Sign and Symbol

The tendency in contemporary philosophy is to conceive of a linguistic sign as a composite notion to be analyzed in terms of kind of mere physical mark or acoustic noise to which something further — a meaning or use — is assigned or added in order yield a meaningful linguistic symbol. This course will explore figures in the history of philosophy and linguistics who opposed such a conception – figures, that is, who thought that the capacity to recognize linguistic signs presupposes some prior comprehension of their real possibilities of use. Readings will be from Frege, Hilbert, early and later Wittgenstein, Franz Boas, Roman Jacobson, Morris Halle, David Kaplan, Sylvan Bromberger, and others. (B) (I)

 

One previous course in philosophy.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Language

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)

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21008/31008 The Philosophy of Civic Engagement

(CRES 21008, CRES 31008)

What is “civic engagement” and why should colleges, universities, and other educational institutions practice and encourage it? How, for example, does the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement define the theory and practice of civic engagement, fitting it within the University’s core mission and valorizing certain approaches to it for students, faculty, staff, and the University as a whole? What alternative models might be available? And what are the limitations of such institutionalized efforts, as highlighted in efforts to “decolonize” institutions of higher education? When, in short, does such institutionalized civic engagement conflict with efforts to move beyond the discourses of diversity and civic education to embrace more critical perspectives on the settler colonial ideologies informing educational institutions in current neoliberal societies? This course will be developed in active collaboration with the UChicago Civic Knowledge Project, which for two decades has explored alternatives visions of civic friendship on Chicago’s South Side. (A) (I) (IV)

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ethics
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21505/31505 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 Theaetetus, 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) (IV)

Two prior philosophy courses.

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 22211/32211 Economic Justice and the Environment

This course critically examines contemporary theories of justice from an ecological perspective. We will begin by examining work in ecological economics that situates the economy in nature and challenges contemporary approaches to capitalist development. We will then consider the extent to which theories of justice can address problems related to resource depletion, sustainability, and economic growth. Readings include texts by Rawls, Armstrong, Kolers, and Stilz. In the final section of the course, we will consider approaches that seek to chart a new way forward for thinking about economic justice, including theories of degrowth and movements to revive the commons. (A) (I)

 

Nicole Whalen
2022-2023 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 22951/32951 Egalitarianism and its Critics

This course introduces students to contemporary debates among political philosophers about the value of equality. We begin with arguments for and against distributive equality, the view that justice demands that everyone possess equal amounts of some good or bundle of goods. We then examine arguments for and against relational egalitarianism, the view that our relationships to one another ought ideally to be free of hierarchy. (A) (I)

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 23113/33113 Causation and Contact in Ancient Greek Physics

We will survey ancient theories of causation, and the associated relationships of contact, mixture, and interpenetration. Our aim is also to understand how these theories guided the development of physics, metaphysics, and ethics more broadly. We will focus in particular on the works of Plato, Aristotle, Chrysippus and Epicurus. Towards the end of the course, we will examine how the ancient conversation about causation and contact set the stage for the development of early modern physics and philosophy, with particular attention to the development of Hume’s famous critique of causation as an empty concept. (B) (III)

 

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 23410/33410 Heidegger’s Being and Time

(SCTH 20303, SCTH 50303)

In 1927 Heidegger published a partial version of this book in a German journal and it quickly became a sensation, challenging the deepest assumptions of the entire Western philosophical tradition. Heidegger claimed that philosophy in this tradition had “forgotten” the most important question in philosophy, the “meaning of being,” and he proposed to begin to raise this question anew by a preliminary attention to the meaning of human being. This began what came to be known as “existentialism” and it revolutionized philosophical anthropology, literary and art criticism, theology, as well as numerous areas in philosophy, especially the study of the history of philosophy. (B) (IV)

This will be a lecture/discussion course devoted to a close reading of all of Being and Time. Exposure to philosophy, especially to ancient philosophy and Kant, is recommended. Enrollment is by permission of the instructor upon application.

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 23504/33504 Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind

In the class, we will study Hegel’s the first part of Philosophy of Mind: the account of “subjective spirit.” In the introduction, Hegel says that Aristotle’s books on the soul are the only work of speculative interest on the topic. We will consider the relation to De Anima where Aristotle considers three kinds of life or soul: vegetative, perceptive, and thinking soul. For this purpose, we will look at the end of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature and then study the three sections of “subjective spirit”: the account of anthropology, phenomenology, and psychology. Topics will include the role of habit or second nature in human life, the relation between self-consciousness and recognition, and the unity of theoretical and practical reason. (IV)

Literature:

G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Mind, A revised version of the Wallace and Miller translation. ed. by Michael Inwood, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2010

For the first meeting, please read Hegel’s short introduction to his Philosophy of Mind.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 24603/34603 History of Analytic Philosophy

This course will be an introduction to the history of analytic philosophy from its beginnings in the development of modern logic, and the realist reactions to British idealism, through philosophies of logical and metaphysical analysis, to logical positivism and ordinary language philosophy. We will read “canonical figures but also more neglected authors who helped to shape the tradition. Figures to be discussed will include Gottlob Frege, F H Bradley, G E Moore, Bertand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein (early and late), Susan Stebbing, Moritz Schlick, Rudolf Carnap, Margaret MacDonald, and Gilbert Ryle. Readings will be from primary sources. (B) (IV)

Recommend at least one of History II or History III for undergraduates.

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 25711/35711 Genesis: Philosophical, Midrashic, and Mystical Readings

(SCTH 35711)

In this introductory class, we shall explore the Jewish tradition of interpreting the first chapters of genesis: We will read from the Midrash Bereshit Rabba, the mystical midrash of the Zohar, the great medieval commentators (Rashi, Nachmanides), and the philosophical commentaries of Maimonides. 

 

Irad Kimhi
2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 27500/37500 Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason

(FNDL 27800, HIPS 25001, 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) (IV)

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 29405/39405 Advanced Logic

(HIPS 20905, CHSS 39405)

This class will explore dependent type theory, with a focus on the identity relation. Different ways of thinking of the identity relation will be examined, culminating in a presentation of the Univalence axiom and a discussion of its role as a potential foundation for mathematics. (B) (II)

Although background material will be discussed in the first lectures, students will be expected to have some familiarity with the lambda calculus and the theory of types. Interested students without this background should contact the instructor in advance to discuss possible material to read to help prepare for the course.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Logic

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.

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 50100 First-Year Seminar

This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 51200 Law and Philosophy Workshop

(LAWS 61512, PLSC 51512)

Theme: Political Realism

The Workshop will introduce and asses "political realism," both its history (in figures like Thucydides and Machiavelli) and its contemporary manifestation (in writers like Bernard Williams and Raymond Geuss), often framed in reaction to the approach to political philosophy associated with John Rawls. Alison McQueen (who will be speaking at the Workshop) characterizes political realism in terms of four central ideas : (1) politics is a distinct realm, with its own norms; it is not simply applied moral philosophy; (2) "politics is agnostic or conflictual," a fact that arises from various possible causes: "human nature and the limits of rationality, competing identities and interests, and value pluralism"; (3) "the requirements of order and stability" take priority "over the demands of justice," precisely because the former cannot be taken for granted and are difficult to maintain; and (4) realists reject approaches to politics that "fail to take seriously the psychological, sociological, and institutional constraints on political action." Workshop sessions will explore and complicate this picture of political realism, as well as try to assess the merits of this as a position in theorizing about politics; connections with legal realism in jurisprudence will also be discussed. Speakers will include Alison McQueen, William Galston, Matt Sleat, Enzo Rossi, Alex Worsnip, and the instructors, among others.

This class requires a major paper (6000-7500 words). Participation may be considered in final grading. Continuing Students Only.

 

Carlo Burelli; Brian Leiter
2022-2023 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 51404 Global Inequality

(LAWS 53294, PLSC 51404, RETH 51404)

Global income and wealth are highly concentrated. The richest 2% of the population own about half of the global assets. Per capita income in the United States is around $47,000 and in Europe it is around $30,500, while in India it is $3,400 and in Congo, it is $329. There are equally unsettling inequalities in longevity, health, and education.

In this interdisciplinary seminar, we ask what duties nations and individuals have to address these inequalities and what are the best strategies for doing so. What role must each country play in helping itself? What is the role of international agreements and agencies, of NGOs, of political institutions, and of corporations in addressing global poverty? How do we weigh policies that emphasize growth against policies that emphasize within-country equality, health, or education?

In seeking answers to these questions, the class will combine readings on the law and economics of global development with readings on the philosophy of global justice. A particular focus will be on the role that legal institutions, both domestic and international, play in discharging these duties. For, example, we might focus on how a nation with natural resources can design legal institutions to ensure they are exploited for the benefit of the citizens of the country. (I)

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

Martha C. Nussbaum, David Weisbach
2022-2023 Winter
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 51830 Advanced Topics in Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy: Marx’s Philosophy and its 20th-Century Development

(LAWS 53256)

The first half of the seminar will introduce major themes of Marx's philosophy-historical materialism, aspects of his economics relevant to his critique of capitalism, Marx's early theory of human nature and flourishing, and the theory of ideology (especially as applied to morality and law)-while the second half will consider the reception and development of Marx's ideas in 20th-century Continental European thought, with a particular focus on the theory of ideology (e.g., Lukacs, Gramsci, Sartre, Althusser) and the application of that theory to art and aesthetics (e.g., Adorno, Benjamin, Lifshits). (IV)

Open to philosophy PhD students without permission and to others with permission; those seeking permission should e-mail Leiter with a resume and a detailed description of their background in philosophy (not necessarily in the study of Marx or Marxist philosophy). In the event of demand, preference will be given to J.D. students with the requisite philosophy background. This class requires a major paper of (6000-7500 words). For SRP credit students will have to do additional work in consultation with the instructors.

Michael Forster, Brian Leiter
2022-2023 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Law
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 52503 Ideology, Knowledge, and Nature in Plato and Aristotle

Plato and Aristotle are paradigms of the intellectual attempt to know reality in some objective sense. They are also entangled in their social and material circumstances as historical individuals. The primary aim of this class is to survey a series of topics in which these two strands come together: how Plato and Aristotle’s pursuit of authoritative knowledge both challenges and reproduces their social and material circumstances. Topics include leisure and freedom in Plato’s epistemology; Plato’s philosophical engagement with sex and gender, and racial and ethnic difference; Aristotle’s application of natural teleology to social hierarchy, and his philosophical engagement with reproduction and sexual difference. We will also read from related Greek intellectual texts (such as the Hippocratic Airs, Waters, Places), social histories of ancient Greece, and contemporary epistemology. (III)

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 56701 Plato’s Phaedrus

(SCTH 56701)

A close reading of this literary and philosophical masterpiece.  This dialogue addresses the nature of the soul, love, lust, political persuasion, philosophical dialectic, poetic myth, the forms, and the difference between written and spoken discourse.  What emerges in its dramatic action and explicit argumentation is a picture of human beings as speaking animals and of what a good life for animals like us might be. (III)

Permission of instructor required.

 

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 20005 Thomas Aquinas’s Philosophy of Love

Thomas Aquinas is sometimes labeled an “intellectualist,” because of the priority that he assigns to intellect or reason in human life. Nevertheless he treats love as a fundamental principle, not only of human life but of absolutely all life and even all reality, and he thought and wrote extensively about it.  In this course we will read and discuss sizeable passages, from several of his works, concerning the nature of love in general, its various kinds, its causes and effects, how it exists in different subjects — human, angelic, divine, and even non-rational — and what it has to do with morality, virtue, and happiness. As regards the history of the topic, the we shall especially want to consider how Aquinas’s thought on love relates to that of Aristotle and to the Platonic tradition. (A)

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities is required.

2022-2023 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)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Ethics
Ethics/Metaethics

PHIL 21203 Introduction to Philosophy of Law

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 21214 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?

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 21413 Political Realism

In this course, we will discuss works that belong to the tradition of so-called political realism. Many great works of political philosophy begin by asking questions such as: what is justice? What is just action? Or how should society ideally be arranged so that it is just? Political realists proceed very differently. As Raymond Geuss puts it, they are “concerned in the first instance… with the way the social, economic, political, etc. institutions actually operate in some society at some given time, and what really does move human beings to act in given circumstances.” Some themes which we will address in this course include the roles of power, instrumental reasoning, and ethical commitments in politics. And some questions which we will ask along the way concern the motivation, coherence, tenability, and desirability of a realist approach. Readings will include selections from a broad range of historical periods and political perspectives, including Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, von Clausewitz, Weber, Schmitt, Lenin, and Geuss. (A)

Some experience with philosophy would be helpful.

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21517 Compassion: For and Against

Compassion, direct concern for the suffering of another, was the subject of a lively debate in German philosophy. In this course, we will engage with two of compassion’s sharpest critics and one of its greatest defenders. We will begin with a close reading of Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, considering his claim that actions only have moral worth when motivated by respect for the moral law. We will then turn to the critique of Kant developed in Schopenhauer’s On the Basis of Morality, a text which argues that actions only have moral worth when motivated by compassion. Finally, we will discuss the critique of Schopenhauer developed by Nietzsche, working through a variety of texts where Nietzsche argues that compassion makes it harder to value our lives. (A)

 

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 21606 Justice at Work

(HMRT 22210)

This course combines economic theory (the theory of the firm), legal theory (labor law), and labor history, with political philosophy to examine questions of justice for workers that are often ignored in academic political philosophy. The course begins by considering very basic questions from economic theory, including what markets are, and why production in the economy is organized through firms, and what economists have to say about why firms are arranged so hierarchically. Given this background, we next turns to consider injustices at the work, including worker domination, exploitation, and the casualization of employment. We consider responses including universal basic income that decouples access to goods from work; worker organization and resistance through the labor movement and tools such as collective bargaining; and finally, the reorganization of the economy to foster either shared control over firms or worker cooperatives. Along the way we consider the right to strike, the connection of race and labor, and different visions of a more just future for workers. (A)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 21725 Dividing the Mind: A History

We often readily accept the thought that a person (or their mind, soul, or self) can be divided. We find it natural to speak of a self as made up of distinct parts (“a part of me wants that doughnut, even though I know it’s unhealthy”). Versions of this idea have been embraced throughout the history of philosophy, psychology, and biology. In this course, we will trace and examine the history of this idea. In doing so, we will come to see how differently, and in such different contexts, the idea of a divided mind or self has been employed. In the first half of the course, we will examine the origin of the notion as it emerged in Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, especially in the works of Plato and Aristotle. In the second half, we will observe how these themes were later recycled for new problems, or how they were rejected as views of the mind and nature changed, up until contemporary philosophy, psychology, and cognitive science, in thinkers like Du Bois, Freud, Fodor, and Davidson. (B)

2022-2023 Spring

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? 

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 23508 Pascal’s Pensees in Context

(FNDL 23508)

This course will center on a close reading of significant parts of Blaise Pascal’s Pensées, a famous set of meditations on knowledge, faith, and human nature, culminating in his famous “wager” for Christian religious faith. In the first half of the course, we will begin by providing some intellectual context, with selections from Montaigne’s essays (“That to philosophize is to learn how to die,” “Of physiognomy,” and excerpts from “Apology for Raymond Sebond”) and Descartes’s Discourse on Method (Parts 1-4). We will also briefly consider the writings of Pascal’s sister Jacqueline (“On the Mystery of the Death of our Lord Jesus Christ”) together with Pascal’s “Memorial” to understand Pascal’s own religious conversion, followed by a discussion of his “Discussion with Monsieur Saucy” and “The Art of Persuasion” to contrast his method in philosophy with that of Descartes. The second half of the course will then be devoted to a close reading of selections from the Pensées, chosen to emphasize the themes most important for a proper critical understanding of the wager argument.

 

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

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 25405 Feminist Political Philosophy

(GNSE 20108)

Feminist political philosophy has a two-fold history: both as a persistent critique of canonical political philosophy, as well as generative of new models of justice altogether. This course will be an exploration of the two sides of the history of feminist political philosophy. We will begin with a survey of feminist critiques of the canon, including from liberal feminism, Black feminist philosophy, and Marxist feminist philosophy. We will then move on to the positive accounts that have come out of this tradition, asking whether new models of the state, of the person, and of gender are required in order to construct theories that adequately represent what justice requires in a world with gender-based oppression. We will read philosophers such as Rousseau, Marx, Engels, John Rawls, Susan Okin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Catherine Mackinnon, and Christine Delphy. (A)

At least one prior philosophy course.

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Feminist Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy

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

The philosophical ideas and methods of Immanuel Kant's “critical” philosophy set off a revolution that reverberated through 19th-century philosophy. We will trace its effects and the responses to it, focusing on the changing conception of philosophical ethics. Kant's famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals rejects any appeal to nature or religious authority grounding all ethical obligations in the very idea of freedom or autonomy conceived as something that is for everyone. At the same time, Kant’s own work and much of the tradition that follows seems deeply shaped by racism, sexism, and elitism. We will investigate this tension in the tradition that led inter alia to the modern university. We will discuss works by Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Frederick Douglass, G.W.F. Hegel, Harriet Taylor Mill, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

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

Topic: The Representation of Thought

This course will serve both as an introduction to some traditional logical questions presented by statements about what people think, believe, or judge to be true (e.g. “Tom thinks the weather is fine for walking”, “Frege believed that numbers are objects”), and as a venue for thinking through and trying to answer those questions on our own. To that end we will closely read a small number of mostly classic texts, in three units. In the first unit we will examine the notion of intensionality—of certain sentential contexts, for our purposes especially the content-clauses of statements about belief—within which familiar logical laws appear to fail to preserve truth. The second unit will connect these traditional logical problems of intensionality with traditional philosophical-psychological problems of intentionality, through attention to Elizabeth Anscombe and Anthony Kenny’s attempts to address the problems of the first unit by use of the concepts intentional subject, intentional act/state, and intentional object. The third unit will introduce the need to represent the self-consciousness of a thinking, believing subject, and the logical rigors of doing so adequately, focusing on Hector-Neri Castañeda’s often-cited but rarely read ‘He’.

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.

2022-2023 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.

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 20011/30011 Obligation as an Ethical Notion

Whereas philosophers of Antiquity and the Middle Ages generally hold that good conduct is required for happiness, modern moral philosophy conceives of it as required by law-like obligation. Anscombe has famously argued that such a conception makes no sense independently of belief in a divine law-giver. Is she right? Or should philosophy rather take seriously the experience of “feeling duty-bound” to keep promises, help people in need, work conscientiously etc. and conclude that there is such a thing as moral obligation independently of a legislating authority? What does the Natural Law tradition say about this? What is actually involved in the idea of a moral Ought? Can there be absolute practical necessities? or unconditional obligations without sanction? Would we have reason to comply? How can the content of a “moral law” be known? Are happiness-oriented ethics definitely incompatible with ideas of such a law? (A) (I)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Ethics

PHIL 21102/31102 Opera as Idea and As Performance

(MUSI 24416, MUSI 30716, LAWS 43264)

Is opera an archaic and exotic pageant for fanciers of overweight canaries, or a relevant art form of great subtlety and complexity that has the power to be revelatory? In this course of eight sessions, jointly taught by Professor Martha Nussbaum and Anthony Freud, General Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, we explore the multi-disciplinary nature of this elusive and much-maligned art form, with its four hundred-year-old European roots, discussing both historic and philosophical contexts and the practicalities of interpretation and production in a very un-European, twenty-first century city.

Anchoring each session around a different opera, we will be joined by a variety of guest experts, one each week, including a director, a conductor, a designer and two singers, to enable us to explore different perspectives.

The list of operas to be discussed include Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppaea, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Verdi's Don Carlos, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Wagner's Die Meistersinger, Strauss's Elektra, and Britten's Billy Budd. (A) (I)

REMARK: Students do not need to be able to read music, but some antecedent familiarity with opera in performance or through recordings would be extremely helpful.

ASSIGNMENTS: In general, for each week we will require you to listen carefully to the opera of that week. Multiple copies of the recommended recordings will be available in the library. But you should feel free to use your own recordings, or to buy them if you prefer. There will also be brief written materials assigned, and posted on the course canvas site. No books are required for purchase. Because listening is the main thing, we will try to keep readings brief and to make recommendations for further reading should you want to do more.

CLASS STRUCTURE: In general we will each make remarks for about twenty minutes each, then interview the guest of the week, with ample room for discussion.

REQUIREMENTS: Ph.D. students and law students will write one long paper at the end (20-25 pages), based on a prospectus submitted earlier. Other students will write one shorter paper (5-7 pages) and one longer paper (12-15 pages), the former due in week 4 and the latter during reading period.

NOTE: Ph.D. students in the Philosophy Department and the Music Department and all law students (both J. D. and LL.M.) may enroll without permission. All other students will be selected by lottery up to the number feasible given CA arrangements.

Martha C. Nussbaum, Anthony Freud
2022-2023 Spring
Category
Aesthetics

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)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Logic
Metaphysics
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 21225/31225 Critique of Humanism

(ENGL 12002, ENGL 34407)

This course will provide a rapid-fire survey of the philosophical sources of contemporary literary and critical theory.  We will begin with a brief discussion of the sort of humanism at issue in the critique—accounts of human life and thought that treat the individual human being as the primary unit for work in the humanities and the humanistic social sciences.  This kind of humanism is at the core of contemporary common sense.  It is, to that extent, indispensable in our understanding of how to move around in the world and get along with one another.  That is why we will conduct critique, rather than plain criticism, in this course: in critique, one remains indebted to the system under critical scrutiny, even while working to understand its failings and limitations.  Our tour of thought produced in the service of critique will involve work by Hegel, Marx, Gramsci, Freud, Fanon, Lacan, and Althusser. We will conclude with a couple of pieces of recent work that draws from these sources.  The aim of the course is to provide students with an opportunity to engage with some extraordinarily influential work that continues to inform humanistic inquiry. (A)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Continental Philosophy

PHIL 21708/31708 Being And Thought in Aristotle

“You cannot know what is not—that is impossible—nor utter it; for to be thought and to be are the same.” Beginning with Parmenides, a deep but poorly understood current in ancient Greek philosophy is the idea that, in some sense, a being and the thought of that being are identical. This class will examine the identity of thought and being in Aristotle’s metaphysical and psychological texts. We will focus on three main issues: the law of non-contradiction as both a law of being and of thought (Metaphysics Γ), the possibility of knowledge as grounds for the identity of being and thought (Metaphysics Z, De Anima 3), and the notion that thought itself is a primary kind of being (Metaphysics Λ). (B)

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 21724/31724 Virtues of Citizenship

(SCTH 31724)

What are the qualities of character that enable us to be valuable members of our political communities, the institutions that employ us, and any other groups of which we are a part?  Do the right answers to these questions depend on where you are situated in the community or on the form of political constitution in question?  Do they harmonize with each other? And are these the same as the qualities that make us morally good human beings?  These are questions that the Ancient Greek philosophers thought hard about and we will take the works of those thinkers as our starting point and constant companions.  But we will consider some moderns as well, and our goal will be to enrich our reflection about the kinds of people we ourselves would like to be.  Virtues we may discuss include: civic friendship, justice, forthrightness in public speech (parrhesia), courage, and (for lack of a better term) effectiveness. (A)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Ancient Philosophy

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)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 22960/32960 Bayesian Epistemology

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

 

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Epistemology

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) (II) 

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 25314/35314 Agents of Change

(HMRT 25314)

This course explores how the theory of justice relates to political practice and change. We will examine different theories about the relationship of theory to practice, including utopianism, system failure analysis, and pragmatism. We will consider what role both the idea of a just society and an analysis of the unjust status quo plays in our theorizing about justice. Among topics to be explored include the role of the utopian horizon in practice; how to be a realist without being a cynic; whether the addressee of political philosophy is universal or particular; what the role of the oppressed is in both theorizing and bringing change; and how the political philosopher relates to agents of change. Along the way we will engage with thinkers such as Erik Olin Wright, G.A. Cohen, Elizabeth Anderson, Tommie Shelby, David Estlund, and Pablo Gilabert. Time permitting we may also examine a few historical texts that engage directly with these questions, including Aristotle, Kant, Marx, and Lukács. (A) (I)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 25701/35701 Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman

Theaetetus, Sophist, and Statesman constitute a trilogy which describe Socrates’ last days before his fatal trial. These dialogues represent some of Plato’s most mature and sophisticated reflection on knowledge, sense-experience, his theory of forms, and the nature of philosophy. We will read all three dialogues in their entirety, focusing on questions of overall structure and argument, rather than on close readings of individual passages. (B) (III)

PHIL 25000: History of Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 27319/37319 Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil. Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future

(FNDL 25703)

This course will be a seminar/discussion course devoted to a close reading of Nietzsche's 1886 book, Beyond Good and Evil, generally considered his most comprehensive statement on philosophy, morality, religion, and modern culture and politics. (IV)

By permission of the instructor, upon receipt of applications to enroll.

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 27506/37506 The Second Person: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives

The ‘I think’ traditionally stands at the center of philosophical reflection. Yet there is a minority strand in the history of philosophy which has advocated that the second person pronoun is no less central. Human beings are social creatures. For this reason, addressing another as ‘you’ in communication is no less fundamental to human rationality than giving expression to oneself through saying ‘I.’ A guiding idea of the proposed seminar will be that, properly conceived, self-consciousness and recognition of another are two sides of one and the same phenomenon. In seeking to make out this claim, the seminar will explore the different aspects of the role of address in human life. It will take its point of departure from two guiding ideas: (1) the second-person present indicative form of interpersonal nexus is no less important for understanding human thought and action and logically no less fundamental than the corresponding first-person form, and (2) what is logically peculiar to the former form of thought is best brought to the fore if one examines what second-person thought in both its theoretical and practical guises have in common. The plan for the seminar is to alternate between examining problems in theoretical philosophy whose proper solution requires attention to the role of the second person and counterpart sorts of problem in practical philosophy. Under the first heading, we will explore the role of address and joint consciousness in speech act theory, the topic of shared understanding in the philosophy of language acquisition, and the problem of the apprehension of another human being as it arises in the epistemology of other minds. Interpolated between these topics, we will weave in and out of counterpart forms of philosophical difficulty arising out of reflection upon the place of the second-person in practical philosophy: in understanding the human striving for honor, in relations of justice, as well as in friendship and love. (I) (II)

 

At least one course in philosophy.

2022-2023 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)

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

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Logic

PHIL 49900 Reading and Research

Consent of Instructor.

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 50113 The Concept of World and Its Vulnerability

(SCTH 50113)

We will be interested in the special and problematic notion of an attitude toward the world as a whole, and in some questions that arise in contexts where people face what they experience as the end of their world or its vulnerability to destruction.  Readings will include texts from Freud, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein, as well as more contemporary readings from Cora Diamond, Jonathan Lear, Brian O’Shaughnessy, and others.

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

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 50208 Kant’s Ethics

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. (IV)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Ethics

PHIL 50212 Late Wittgenstein: The Absolute Basics for The Confused, Skeptical, and Ignorant

(IV)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
History of Analytic Philosophy

PHIL 51200 Law and Philosophy Workshop

(LAWS 61512, PLSC 51512)

Theme: Political Realism

The Workshop will introduce and asses "political realism," both its history (in figures like Thucydides and Machiavelli) and its contemporary manifestation (in writers like Bernard Williams and Raymond Geuss), often framed in reaction to the approach to political philosophy associated with John Rawls. Alison McQueen (who will be speaking at the Workshop) characterizes political realism in terms of four central ideas : (1) politics is a distinct realm, with its own norms; it is not simply applied moral philosophy; (2) "politics is agnostic or conflictual," a fact that arises from various possible causes: "human nature and the limits of rationality, competing identities and interests, and value pluralism"; (3) "the requirements of order and stability" take priority "over the demands of justice," precisely because the former cannot be taken for granted and are difficult to maintain; and (4) realists reject approaches to politics that "fail to take seriously the psychological, sociological, and institutional constraints on political action." Workshop sessions will explore and complicate this picture of political realism, as well as try to assess the merits of this as a position in theorizing about politics; connections with legal realism in jurisprudence will also be discussed. Speakers will include Alison McQueen, William Galston, Matt Sleat, Enzo Rossi, Alex Worsnip, and the instructors, among others.

This class requires a major paper (6000-7500 words). Participation may be considered in final grading. Continuing Students Only.

 

Carlo Burelli; Brian Leiter
2022-2023 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Law

PHIL 59950 Job Placement Workshop

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

This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2023. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2022-2023 Spring