Course Descriptions - Fall 2013
PHI 200 Q: PHENOMENOLOGY
The Phenomenological Movement, which began with a focus on how objectivity is possible from a subjective point of view, is one of the central philosophical movements of the 20th century, and the origin of many later developments in European thought. In 1894, Gottlob Frege, one of the founding fathers of Analytic philosophy, criticized an early work by Edmund Husserl. In response, Husserl took a path different from Frege’s, and developed the phenomenological method. Philosophy, Husserl thought, should be the detailed analysis of the structures of conscious experience. Later phenomenologists then deepened, expanded, and criticized Husserl’s method. This class will explore that method with a focus on its application to two old questions which phenomenology radically transformed:1-how is knowledge of the external world possible? and 2- how is knowledge of other minds possible? We will look at these issues through the works of Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone De Beavoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and finally Emmanuel Levinas. No prerequisites needed.
PHI 215 T: LOGIC & LAW
PHI 236 U: FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY
MON & WED
· 6:25 PM—7:40 PM
330 S: ETHICS
PHI 334 O: BIOETHICS
Bioethics is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of law, medicine and philosophy. Philosophical approaches are concerned with the moral analysis of the professional practice of medicine and of public policy issues in health care. The subject matter ranges from euthanasia to biotechnological enhancement, from triaging mass casualty emergencies to genetic privacy. In addition to questions arising from the clinical practice of medicine, we will also consider the larger social justice concerns as they relate to health care. The objectives of this course are: to introduce philosophical approaches to ethical analysis, to provide a broad introduction to clinical and social ethical issues in medicine and health care, and to acquire or polish the basic skills of analysis and argument used in bioethics and other applied philosophical fields.
PHI 340 B THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE
Philosophical works on the theory of knowledge aim to address questions like these: Can we be certain of anything? Must I be able to prove something before it is rational for me to believe it? How does perception put us into contact with the world around us? Is science reliable? In this course we will discuss classic and contemporary readings that address these and other
questions. Topics will include: skepticism, the analysis of knowledge, the nature and structure of justified belief, perception, scientific reasoning, and the intellect.
PHI 343 R PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
Philosophy of Science: The course deals with scientific revolutions, the distinction between science and pseudo-science, laws of nature, the nature of evidence, scientific explanation, and Scientific Realism
PHI 344 D PHILOSOPHY OF MIND
Works in the philosophy of mind aim to address questions such as these: How do mental states relate to states of the brain? Could a computer ever think? Are our minds separable from our environment? What is consciousness? In this course we will discus classic and contemporary readings that address these and other questions. Topics will include: behaviorism, artificial intelligence, psychological explanation, mental representation, and consciousness.
PHI 346 Q: PHILOSOPHY OF MATHEMATICS
Mathematical truths—like 5+7 =12—can seem very simple. However, when we think more deeply about them, they appear anything but simple. Does the truth of ‘5+7=12’ require that in addition to ordinary objects (tables, chairs, etc.) there objects of a special kind, called ‘numbers’? If so, how do come to know about them? Can we know mathematics merely through logical deduction, or do we need some other mode of access to its objects? Do mathematical truths simply depend upon our mathematical concepts, and, if so, how? What is the relation between mathematcial truth and mathematical proof? Could there be mathematical truths that no one could ever prove (even in principle)? What is a mathematical proof? We will begin by reading Gottlob Frege’s Foundations of Arithemetic and then we will cover three famous positions from the early part of the 20th century: Logicism, Intuitionism, and Formalism. We will end the course by looking at a few modern views and concerns, touching on nominalism, structuralism, and Crispin Wright's neo-logicism. Prerequisite: Philosophy 210 (this can be taken concurrently) or equivalent mathematical background, and one previous philosophy course. Note: we will not presupose any familiarity with mathematics beyond the pre-calculus level, but a mathematical background will be helpful.
PHI 381 P: EXISTENTIALISM
ROWLANDS TUES & THURS · 11:00 AM—12:15 PM
Existentialism is not so much a unified philosophical movement as a collection of related ideas – ideas associated with figures such as Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Albert Camus, among others. However, perhaps the most sophisticated presentation of existentialism’s key themes and crucial ideas is to be found in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. These include: the ontology of consciousness and its relation to being (the distinction between being for-itself and being in-itself), nothingness, freedom and transcendence, bad faith, anguish, shame, facticity, the body and the ‘other’. This course examines these themes and ideas through the medium of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness.
PHI 533 R: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
STANG/COKELET TUES & THURS · 2:30 PM—3:15 PM
This course is an advanced survey of the Critical Theory tradition in social and political philosophy. Critical Theory was founded in 1920s by a group of German philosophers who were interested in developing and applying Marx's ideas of alienation and ideology critique. Their main aim was to understand and critique people's support of Nazism and other forms of totalitarianism. As the critical theory tradition developed, its thinkers raised more general questions about how social, cultural, and economic forces can facilitate or undercut our ability to achieve free, rational, and humane forms of life. Having moved to the US, many of them worried, for example, that the forces of modern technology and capitalism can "colonize" our ways of thinking and acting and thereby block us from realizing our full human potential. They worried that even if these forces were not as bad as Nazism, they might still be bad for us and threaten the legitimacy of modern liberal democratic states. Our study of this tradition will begin by reading Kant on enlightenment and Marx on alienation and objectification. We will then skip ahead to examine in detail some classic writers of the ‘Frankfurt School’ and other 20th century critical theorists, including Lukacs, Horkheimer, Habermas, Foucault, and Honneth.
PHI 540 T: EPISTEMOLOGY
HILPINEN TUES & THURS · 5:00 PM—6:15 PM
A survey of some main topics and problems in recent epistemology. The questions to be discussed are related to following topics: (1) the analysis of the concept of knowledge and knowledge ascriptions; (2) the view that knowledge is good or epistemically perfect belief (cognition) and the “good-making’ properties of beliefs; (3) the structure of epistemic justification and the empirical basis of knowledge; (4) skeptical arguments and the responses to various forms of skepticism in recent epistemology; and (5) arguments and paradoxes involving the concepts of knowledge, belief, and reasoning.
PHI 543 E: INDUCTION, PROBABILITY & SCIENTIFIC METHOD
LEWIS MON, WED & FRI · 12:20 PM– 1:10PM
The notion of probability enters into science in at least two ways. First, scientific arguments are inductive; the evidence is usually (though by no means universally) regarded as conferring a certain probability on the hypothesis under test. Second, the hypothesis under test may itself be probabilistic; e.g. “Smoking increases the chance of developing lung cancer”. But what does it mean to attach a probability to a scientific hypothesis, or to developing lung cancer? The notion of probability is notoriously difficult to analyze, and we will canvas the advantages and drawbacks of various interpretations. What’s more, the analysis of probability is closely connected with issues in the methodology of science. Typically (but not always), working scientists regard probabilities as long-run frequencies, and use classical (Neyman-Pearson) methods for reasoning about hypotheses, whereas philosophers of science regard probability as a measure of subjective degree of belief, and prefer Bayesian methods. We will examine the arguments in favor of each methodology, and look at the difference this choice makes in the actual practice of scientific research.
PHI 581 1J: PRAGMATISM
HAACK MON · 5:00 PM—7:30 PM
Pragmatism—an American tradition originating in the early 1870s—is an exceptionally rich source of ideas in just about every area of philosophy: logic, epistemology, philosophy of science, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics, aesthetics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of law, etc. This course will cover the work of Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, the founders of pragmatism; of John Dewey and George Herbert Mead, who carried the tradition forward; and of Oliver Wendell Holmes, who offers a distinctively pragmatist legal philosophy; and will also explore the radical versions of pragmatism developed in England by F. C. S. Schiller and in Italy by Giovanni Papini, as well as by recent “kidnappers” of pragmatism, such as Richard Rorty.
PHI 601 01: PROSEMINAR
HILPINEN MON · 2:00 PM—4:30 PM
A study of some main developments in analytic philosophy from the 1950’s to the present. Discussion on selected topics and problems in epistemology and philosophy of science, ethics, metaphysics, philosophical logic, philosophy of action, and philosophy of language and mind.
PHI 640 01: EPISTEMOLOGY
CHUDNOFF WED · 2:00 PM—4:30 PM
Traditionally philosophers have distinguished two types of knowledge: there is a posteriori knowledge about our immediate environment, its inner constitution, and the surrounding cosmos; and there is a priori knowledge about abstract reality, such as mathematics, metaphysics, and morality. The focus of this seminar will be a priori knowledge and its explanation. Topics will include: the nature of the a priori/a posteriori distinction, conceptual and analytic truth, worries about the cognitive inaccessibility of abstract reality, the similarities and differences between sensing and thinking, and the explanatory role of norms. We will cover background issues in epistemology, e.g. the internalism/externalism debate, as needed.
ROWLANDS TUES & THURS · 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM
This course examines central topics, questions, issues and problems in the philosophy of mind, including: the hallmark(s) of the mental, prospects for naturalizing the mind, intentionality, consciousness, the location of mental processes, memory, cognition, and mental representation. Assessment will be based on two essays and one class presentation.
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