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Courses

Philosophy

5210. Special Topics in Philosophy  (3 s.h.)

Arranged each semester. Please consult the instructor.

5211. Intermediate Logic   (3 s.h.)

This course will go through the soundness and completeness proofs for a first-order deductive system (i.e., the kind used in intro logic). The main goal of the course will be to deepen the students' understanding of logic by acquainting them with these formal results. But we'll also try to spend a little time on some philosophical issues (e.g., what, if anything, does logic have to do with reasoning).

5216. Philosophy of Science   (3 s.h.)

Basic issues in the current philosophy of science, and particularly various accounts of such key notations of science as hypotheses, confirmation, laws, causation, explanation, and theories.

5217. Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science   (3 s.h.)

This course explores the effects of gender on scientific creativity, method and decision making. Thomas Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), was one of the first to show that political, social and psychological factors affect scientific change. Feminist criticisms of science, developed over the last thirty years, are one way in which his views have been developed. We will examine cases from a wide range of sciences to see where, and how, gender influences scientific practice. The complex relations between gender, race, class and nationality will also be discussed in relation to these issues. Central questions of the course will be: How pervasive is gender bias in science? Can gender bias be eliminated, and is it desirable to do so? Does the reduction of gender bias require an increased representation of women in science? Can the popular view that science is objective, truth-seeking and progressive be maintained in the face of findings of gender bias? We will read from the work of Evelyn Fox Keller, Donna Haraway, Sandra Harding, Helen Longino, Alison Wylie and others.

5220. Special Topics in Philosophy  (3 s.h.)

Arranged each semester. Please consult the instructor.

5221. Social & Political Philosophy  (3 s.h.)

Arranged each semester. Please consult the instructor.

5222. Contemporary Ethical Theory   (3 s.h.)

Issues in ethical theory that have come to prominence in the 20th century. Both meta-ethical issues (about the meaning and justification of ethical statements) and normative issues (about obligation, responsibility, and goodness) will be examined.

5223. Feminist Ethics and Political Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

An examination of feminism's contribution to ethics, political philosophy, and legal theory. Issues may include: the role of care versus that of justice in determining moral obligations; the nature and causes of women's oppression (including the difference between the sexual oppression experienced by white women and the additional forms of oppression to which women of color/third-world women are subject); pornography and prostitution; equality and difference; essentialism as it pertains to gender and race; feminist jurisprudence; postmodern feminism.

5226. Classics in Moral Philosophy  (3 s.h.)

The course will introduce students to Greek ethical thought through seminal texts in this genre.

5229. Philosophy in Literature   (3 s.h.)

Selected philosophical themes as they appear in classical and modern literature. Frequently the themes concern the "enlightenment project," "modernism," and their critics.

5230. Special Topics   (3 s.h.)

Arranged each semester. Please consult the instructor.

5232. History of Aesthetics   (3 s.h.)

A study of major works in the history of aesthetics selected from such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Dewey, Bell, Collingwood, Beardsley, Langer, Dickie, Danto, and contemporary figures.

5233. Problems in Aesthetics   (3 s.h.)

Philosophy and Tragedy. This course examines the influence of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy on the formation of modern philosophy. We will begin in January by looking at Sophocles Antigone, as well as Aristotle’s, Hegel’s, and Nietzsche’s approaches to Greek tragedy. On this background, we proceed to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and discuss issues such as: What is the relationship between Greek and Shakespearean tragedy? To what extent does Shakespeare introduce a new and intrinsically modern paradigm in literature? Seeing how Shakespearean drama is received within the intellectual landscape of post-Kantian philosophy  (Herder, the Schlegels, and Hegel, but also Benjamin and Cavell), we will investigate the role of tragedy in modernity, address the potential truth-claim and ethical relevance of art, as well as the problem of skepticism as staged in Shakespearean tragedy.

5234. Philosophy of Music   (3 s.h.)

An examination of philosophical issues concerning the nature and value of music, such as the nature of composition, performance, and appreciation of music, the varieties of musical meaning, the relation of music to the emotions, and the social importance of music.

5235. Classics in Moral Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

A study of the major works in the history of moral philosophy selected from among the writings of such philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, Moore.

5240. Special Topics   (3 s.h.)

Arranged each semester. Please consult the instructor.

5241. Theory of Knowledge  (3 s.h.)


An examination of knowledge and belief. The specific subtopics involving them include truth, perception, innate ideas, justification, induction, the priori, mathematical knowledge and rationalism versus empiricism.

5242. Metaphysics   (3 s.h.)

An examination of the most general features of the universe. Topics include the character of truth, the existence of abstract entities, the nature of persons, free will, the existence or non-existence of God, ontological commitment, the relation of philosophy to science, causation, modal properties, reality and appearance, and various forms of realism and anti-realism.

5243. Philosophy of Law   (3 s.h.)

An introduction to philosophical problems arising in the examination of legal statements, including questions and theories about the nature of law itself, about legal responsibility and legal punishment, and about standards of fairness in settling legal disputes.

5244. Philosophy of Mind   (3 s.h.)

An examination of the character of mental and psychological states. Specific issues may include the nature of persons, relations between natural and psychological sciences, action, mental content, and its relation to language.

5249. Ethics in Medicine   (3 s.h.)

Exploration of ethical issues generated by the application of scientific and technological advances to the preservation, destruction, and programming of human life. Topics may include: ethics of medical research, abortion, euthanasia, behavior control, allocation of scarce medical resources, and the ethics of patient-physician interaction.

5251. Philosophy of Language   (3 s.h.)

A study of a number of theories of meaning and reference that have played a role in current philosophizing.  Also, it is has been said that many perennial philosophical issues are at bottom linguistic ones. To better evaluate this sort of claim, I hope we are able to allot time to study a selection of linguistic approaches to a variety of philosophical claims in areas such as epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and ethics. We will approach these topics from number of influential writings, both historical and contemporary.

5253. Philosophy of History   (3 s.h.)

Problems of historical knowledge, e.g., problems about the historian's claim to explain historical events (causation in history, reasons for actions, challenges to the objectivity of history) and problems about historical interpretation (including global interpretations of the historical process, such as Augustine's, Kant's, and Hegel's.)

5268. Indian Philosophy: An Introduction   (3 s.h.)

Beginnings of Indian philosophical thinking in the hymns of Rig Veda and the upanishads and the major schools of Indian philosophy as they took shape during the next thousand years. The latter include samkhya, the Buddhist schools, the Vaiseskika, the Nyaya and the major schools of Vedanta. Issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and logic emphasized.

5269. Contemporary British and American Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

Selected important figures and topics, e.g., Moore, Russell, Wittgenstein, Quine, and Putnam; Logical Atomism, Logical Positivism, Linguistic Philosophy, Pragmatism, and Analytic Philosophy.

5271. Nineteenth-Century Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

Selected European philosophers from Hegel to Bradley.

5272. Philosophy of Culture   (3 s.h.)

The purpose of this course is to address central themes in philosophy of culture, such as philosophical problems raised by the notion of cultural conditions of possibility, the relation of mythic knowledge to scientific and philosophical knowledge, the role of signs and symbols in theories of culture, the philosophical significance of psychoanalysis, and the distinction between a philosophical anthropology and anthropological theory.  This course will be topical in nature, which means that it can be taken each year as different dimensions of the subject receive focus.

5273. Greek Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

Interpretation and critical examination of the dialogues of Plato and the works of Aristotle.

5274. Pragmatism and American Thought   (3 s.h.)

American pragmatism and naturalism, with emphasis on Emerson, James, Peirce, Mead, Dewey, and contemporary pragmatists.

5275. British Empiricism   (3 s.h.)

Selected topics in 17th- and 18th-century philosophers such as Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Reid.

5276. Contemporary Continental Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

Phenomenology and existentialism, with emphasis on such 20th century philosophers as Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Derrida, and other post-structuralists.

5277. Africana Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

Africana philosophy is an area of philosophy that focuses on philosophy as it emerges out of the African Diaspora.  As such, it encompasses African philosophy, Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Latin American philosophy, African-American philosophy, and Africana critical race theory. Each semester’s offering will be different. Sometimes the course will cover themes from just one or two of these areas, other times the instructor may choose to present a “survey” of the entire field.

5278. Continental Rationalism   (3 s.h.)

This course is devoted to selected topics in 17th- and 18th-century philosophers in the Rationalist tradition such as Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz.

5279. Kant   (3 s.h.)

In depth study of some of the major critical writings of Kant.

8601. Pro-Seminar in 20th-Century Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

The purpose of the pro-seminar is the acquaint students with philosophical methodology and reasoning from a variety of influential perspectives in the field. The Pro-Seminar is taught by different faculty each semester. Content and course material are at the instructors discretion.

8602. Seminar in 20th-Century Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

This course will examine Greek philosophical conceptions of pleasure and hedonism. We will begin with some Presocratic material, then move to Plato (selections from Gorgias, Protagoras, Republic). We will examine Plato's Philebus in its entirety. Thereafter, we will look at Aristotle's treatments in Nicomachean Ethics VII and X, including Eudoxus' arguments, as well as Rhetoric I. Finally, we will consider the hedonism of the Cyrenaics and Epicureans.

8611. Seminar in Continental Rationalism   (3 s.h.)

Selected topics in 17th- and 18th-century philosophers such as Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz.

8616. Seminar in British Empiricism   (3 s.h.)

Selected topics in 17th- and 18th-century philosophers such as Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Reid.

8621. Seminar in Kant   (3 s.h.)


8626. Seminar in Nineteenth-Century Philosophy   (3 s.h.)


8631. Seminar in Contemporary Continental Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

Gadamer and Post-Analytic Philosophy. In this seminar, we will be studying Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Truth and Method and some of the most important essays emerging in the wake of this work. We will be looking at Gadamer’s critique of post-Kantian aesthetics, his rejection of hermeneutic objectivism, and his philosophy of language, and discuss crucial notions such as the fusion of horizons, effective history, dialogue, and tradition. Although we will be dealing with Gadamer’s reading of Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger, the main focus will be on the reception of Gadamer’s philosophy within the works of Davidson, McDowell, Brandom, and others.

8636. Seminar in Contemporary British and American Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

8641. Seminar in American Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

Selected topics in the thought of American philosophers, especially the American pragmatists such as James, Dewey, and Pierce.

8666. Seminar in Philosophy of the Social Sciences   (3 s.h.)

8701. Seminar in Aesthetics   (3 s.h.)

The general plan of the seminar is to explore the master thinkers of continental aesthetics from an analytic vantage and against the dominant themes of Anglo-American aesthetics. I anticipate drawing on a good selection of continental authors and a specimen or two of a more sustained treatment. This would involve, for instance, a selection among the classic figures spanning Kant and Hegel, phenomenology, hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, and the Frankfurt-critical school at least. Proposals of topics or figures are welcome.

8704. Seminar in Philosophy of Literary Criticism   (3 s.h.)

Topics concern the critic's task of describing, interpreting, and judging literary works, e.g., the language of poetry, metaphor, style, form, symbolism, truth, evaluation, obscenity.

8712. Seminar in Ethics   (3 s.h.)


8721. Seminar in Social and Political Philosophy   (3 s.h.)

This seminar will examine three core approaches in contemporary political philosophy--Rawlsian contractarianism, Habermassian critical social theory, and feminist political theory--and will critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each through a study of their main exponents. Since recent controversies in social and political philosophy have tended to focus on global issues, some attention will be given to how these three approaches address questions of global justice, political ecology, and cooperation and solidarity across borders.  The seminar will proceed through a close study of key texts from each approach and will involve oral presentations by participants and an original research paper.  Readings will include John Rawls, Thomas Pogge, Jurgen Habermas, Iris Marion Young, Alison Jaggar, and Nancy Fraser.

8731. Seminar in Philosophy of Mind   (3 s.h.)

Examination of current views of such topics as materialistic accounts of mind, intentionality, the analysis of specific mental phenomena (e.g., belief, consciousness, emotion, desire), ascription of mental attributes to machines.

8741. Seminar in Epistemology   (3 s.h.)

For the most part, we will closely study disputes surrounding foundationalism. Originally a theory about justified belief, foundationalism has become a watchword in wider cultural wars. Because its wider use is not wholly unrelated to its original use in the theory of knowledge, it is certainly something on which we should try to achieve clarity. A recent anthology entitled Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, edited by Matthias Steup & Ernest Sosa contains essays, pro and con, on various aspects of this issue, written by a number of leading epistemologists, and with both defenses and critiques of each of the positions involved. The topics in the anthology cover, among other things, the nature of justification, a priori knowledge, perception, skepticism, the ethics of belief, truth, and context. The hope is that we can work through the 11 sections of this text to achieve a better grasp of the issues and their broader implications for our understanding.

8746. Seminar in Metaphysics   (3 s.h.)


8755. Seminar in Philosophy of Language   (3 s.h.)

This course is devoted to topics in the philosophy of language such as meaning, reference, metaphor, speech-act theory, and vagueness.

9682. Tutorial   (6 s.h.)

Independent study for graduates with a professor within the department, usually their advisor.

9782. Tutorial   (9 s.h.)

9882. Tutorial   (1-3 s.h.)

Independent study for graduates with a professor within the department, usually their advisor.

9982. Tutorial   (3 s.h.)

Independent study for graduates with a professor within the department, usually their advisor.

9994. Preliminary Exam Preparation   (1-6 s.h.)

9996. M.A. Thesis Research   (6 s.h.)

9998. Dissertation Preparation   (Variable s.h.)

9999. Dissertation Research   (Variable s.h.)