Course Descriptions - Fall 2013

PHI 200 Q: PHENOMENOLOGY                                                                    
EL ALI                                                                                       
       TUES & THURS · 12:30 PM—1:45 PM

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.

MON, WED & FRI 10:10 AM—11:00 AM
Logic is the study of reasoning. This course is an introduction to the theory of deductive reasoning, including propositional logic (the logic of “and”, “or”, “not” and “if … then”) and predicate logic (the logic of “all”, “some” and “none”). You will learn how to clarify an argument by translating it into a symbolic language, and how to evaluate an argument for validity. These skills are applicable to any discipline, and crucial to the further study of philosophy.


TUES & THURS · 5:00 PM—6:15 PM
This course will cover the principles and techniques of logic applied to legal reasoning. Approximately the first half of the semester will be spent introducing students to basic deductive and inductive logic. We will also discuss the elements of logic involved in the LSAT exam, and practice applying these principles to LSAT logic games. The second half of the semester will be devoted to examining the role of deductive and inductive logic in the context of legal reasoning, including the application of legal rules (syllogistic reasoning) and the application of precedents (analogical reasoning). If time permits, we will also consider competing theories of legal reasoning. This course is ideal for students who plan to attend law school. It will explain the basic logic needed to succeed on the LSAT exam, as well as introduce students to the types of reasoning and argumentation encountered in the study of law.


TUES & THURS · 6:25 PM—7:40 PM
Feminist philosophers often argue that who we are is influenced by the body we inhabit and the way others treat it. Our body is an object that others relate to in the world, and it also conditions our own point of view on the world. Feminists also tend to argue that men and women live through their bodies in different ways. These claims imply that gender determines how one is viewed and treated by others, and how one views and interacts with the world. But is that right? We will investigate this general claim by examining three sets of issues. First, we will consider what it means to live through a body in a gendered way. What does it mean to say that one is not born, but becomes, a woman (or man)? How does one's body relate to one's self? To what extent, if at all, does gender create or influence the type of self that one comes to have?Second, we will consider whether gender and identity might influence knowledge. Does gender constrain what we can know? Or rather, is knowledge objective and thus independent of any particular gender?  Third, in light of the different takes on the first two sets of issues, what should the next step be? What should we strive for? Many theorists call for "gender equality." But what is that? Does the fair treatment of people require us to eliminate gender differences or, on the contrary, to emphasize and embrace them?


THEIXOS                                                                                              MON & WED · 6:25 PM—7:40 PM
This course will introduce students to Ancient Greek ideas by examining central philosophical themes, such as: Knowledge; Why Be Moral? Justice in the City/Justice in the Soul; Liberty and Social Engineering; Happiness; Friendship; Death.  We will use primary texts (in translation) by Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Augustine of Hippo, supplemented by some selections from the Greek historian Thucydides.  Some Greek vocabulary will be assigned. The final exam will consist of a 2-week-long role playing game, The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 B.C. (Developed by the Classics department at Barnard College, and a core component of Ancient Philosophy courses at UT Austin).  Students will be assigned different roles: Thrasybulus; a radical Democrat; an Oligarch; and a supporter of Socrates.


 PHI 330 S: ETHICS  
TUES & THURS · 3:30 PM—4:45 PM
This course will introduce students to ethical theory through its history. We will be reading Aristotle, Kant, Hume, the Utilitarian J. J. C. Smart, the feminist Carol Gilligan, and the contemporary ethical thinker Bernard Williams. All of these readings will be approached with an eye to how they cast light on contemporary issues in moral philosophy. But we will also be relating our discussion of Western thinkers to developments in other parts of the world, especially China.


PHI 334 O: BIOETHICS                 
                                                                                      TUES & THURS · 9:35 AM —10:45AM

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                  
MON, WED & FRI · 9:05AM—9:55AM

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                                                          
                                                         TUES & THURS · 2:30 PM—3:15 PM

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                   
MON, WED & FRI · 11:15AM—12:05PM

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.


TUES & THURS · 12:30 PM—1:45 PM

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.



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.    



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.



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.



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.



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.



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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