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Fall 2016 Courses

Find information about upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses within the Philosophy Department on this page.

Upper-Level Undergraduate Courses

PHIL 3304: History of 17th Century Philosophy (Class #11179)

Prof. Brown
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM, Room: SW 219

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An examination of the central metaphysical and epistemological issues in 17th-century philosophy. The works of some of the major philosophical figures of the century will be systematically discussed. These figures include Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, and Leibniz.

 There will be two essay examinations: a midterm and a final. Students will also be required to submit a 12-15 page term paper (20-25 pages for graduate students) on a topic determined in consultation with the instructor.

PHIL 3332: Philosophy of Language (Class #23961)

Prof. Buckner
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM, Room: AH 302

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This course is an introduction to the philosophy of language. This is a large area that encompasses many topics, including meaning, truth, the relationship between logic and language, and the distinctions between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. In the first half of the course, we will review some classics in this area by Frege, Russell, Tarski, Quine, Wittgenstein, Austin, Grice, Kripke, Putnam, Davidson, and Evans. We will consider how these issues intersect in some of the central "problems" of philosophy of language, such as vagueness and language learning. In the final section of the course, we will explore more recent interdisciplinary work on the way that language evolved from the protolinguistic communication systems of non-human animals, including views such as that of Dorit Bar-On, Joëlle Proust, and Tecumseh Fitch.

PHIL 3354: Medical Ethics (Class #23966)

Jacob Mills
TuTh 4:00PM - 5:30PM Room: CV N106

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No further information is available at this time.

PHIL 3358: Classics in the History of Ethics (Class #20817)

Prof. Phillips
MoWe 1:00PM - 2:30PM, Room: AH 7

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In this course we will read and discuss the most important ethical works of four central figures in the modern history of ethics: John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900), G.E. Moore (1873-1958) and W.D. Ross (1877-1971). There will be three pieces of written work for the course: a take home midterm and a take home final, both consisting of two questions each requiring about 4-5 pages of writing, and a 7-8 page paper.

PHIL 3383: Ancient Philosophy (Class #19943)

Prof. Hattab
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM, Room: MH 129

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In this course we will study the origins of Western Philosophy, beginning with the earliest surviving fragments of Ancient Greek philosophical texts by the Presocratic philosophers, dating back to the early sixth century BC.  The Presocratics were mostly concerned with explaining the origins and nature of the universe, and its parts.  Through our study of their theories you will become familiar with the branches of philosophy known as Metaphysics and Epistemology.  Metaphysical questions concern the nature of reality, which can include the nature of divine beings and the soul as well as physical beings. Epistemological questions concern the possibility, nature and extent of our knowledge of these beings.  In the second part of the course we will not only encounter a different kind of philosophical answer to these questions, but we will also encounter a different kind of philosophical question.  Socrates (469-399BC), and his student Plato (c.427-347BC), were not just interested in figuring out where things came from and what their ultimate natures were.  It is fair to say that they were more interested in figuring out what human beings should do in order to successfully live.  This involved posing and attempting to answer questions such as:  “What kind of life is a good life?”  “What is the good?”  “What is justice?” and “What kind of a state best promotes the good and just life?”  The first three questions fall under the branch of philosophy called Ethics, and the last two come under Political Philosophy.  In the third part of the course we will study the philosophy of Plato’s student, Aristotle (384-322BC).  Aristotle, who was arguably the most influential philosopher in the history of Western thought, addressed all these questions in a systematic manner and developed new areas of philosophical study such as Logic, History of Philosophy and Philosophy of Science.  Finally, we will conclude the course with one post-Aristotelian school of Philosophy.  Through Epictetus’ Handbook we will learn about the Stoic approach to the good life.

PHIL 3388: History of 20th Century Philosophy (Class #22354)

Prof. Morrison
MoWeFr 9:00AM - 10:00AM, Room: AH 302

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In this class we will explore the 20th century response to the diagnosis of nihilism that Nietzsche levels at Western Civilization at the end of the 19th century. We will read three thinkers – Camus, Adorno and Murdoch – who are very different in their concerns but who can be read in terms of their response to the challenge of nihilism. What are the possible solutions each offers and how do these solutions relate to each other? 

PHIL 3395: The Good Life (Class #24463)

Prof. Coates
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM, Room: TBA

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No further information is available at this time.

Graduate Courses

PHIL 6304: History of 17th Century Philosophy (Class #11180)

Prof. Brown
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM, Room: SW 219

See/hide more information about this course »

An examination of the central metaphysical and epistemological issues in 17th-century philosophy. The works of some of the major philosophical figures of the century will be systematically discussed. These figures include Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, and Leibniz.

There will be two essay examinations: a midterm and a final. Students will also be required to submit a 12-15 page term paper (20-25 pages for graduate students) on a topic determined in consultation with the instructor.

PHIL 6332: Philosophy of Language (Class #23962)

Prof. Buckner
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM, Room: AH 302

See/hide more information about this course »

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of language. This is a large area that encompasses many topics, including meaning, truth, the relationship between logic and language, and the distinctions between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. In the first half of the course, we will review some classics in this area by Frege, Russell, Tarski, Quine, Wittgenstein, Austin, Grice, Kripke, Putnam, Davidson, and Evans. We will consider how these issues intersect in some of the central "problems" of philosophy of language, such as vagueness and language learning. In the final section of the course, we will explore more recent interdisciplinary work on the way that language evolved from the protolinguistic communication systems of non-human animals, including views such as that of Dorit Bar-On, Joëlle Proust, and Tecumseh Fitch.

PHIL 6358: Classics in the History of Ethics (Class #20818)

Prof. Phillips
MoWe 1:00PM - 2:30PM, Room: AH 7

See/hide more information about this course »

In this course we will read and discuss the most important ethical works of four central figures in the modern history of ethics: John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900), G.E. Moore (1873-1958) and W.D. Ross (1877-1971). There will be three pieces of written work for the course: a take home midterm and a take home final, both consisting of two questions each requiring about 4-5 pages of writing, and a 7-8 page paper.

PHIL 6383: Ancient Philosophy (Class #19943)

Prof. Hattab
TuTh 1:00PM - 2:30PM, Room: MH 129

See/hide more information about this course »

In this course we will study the origins of Western Philosophy, beginning with the earliest surviving fragments of Ancient Greek philosophical texts by the Presocratic philosophers, dating back to the early sixth century BC.  The Presocratics were mostly concerned with explaining the origins and nature of the universe, and its parts.  Through our study of their theories you will become familiar with the branches of philosophy known as Metaphysics and Epistemology.  Metaphysical questions concern the nature of reality, which can include the nature of divine beings and the soul as well as physical beings. Epistemological questions concern the possibility, nature and extent of our knowledge of these beings.  In the second part of the course we will not only encounter a different kind of philosophical answer to these questions, but we will also encounter a different kind of philosophical question.  Socrates (469-399BC), and his student Plato (c.427-347BC), were not just interested in figuring out where things came from and what their ultimate natures were.  It is fair to say that they were more interested in figuring out what human beings should do in order to successfully live.  This involved posing and attempting to answer questions such as:  “What kind of life is a good life?”  “What is the good?”  “What is justice?” and “What kind of a state best promotes the good and just life?”  The first three questions fall under the branch of philosophy called Ethics, and the last two come under Political Philosophy.  In the third part of the course we will study the philosophy of Plato’s student, Aristotle (384-322BC).  Aristotle, who was arguably the most influential philosopher in the history of Western thought, addressed all these questions in a systematic manner and developed new areas of philosophical study such as Logic, History of Philosophy and Philosophy of Science.  Finally, we will conclude the course with one post-Aristotelian school of Philosophy.  Through Epictetus’ Handbook we will learn about the Stoic approach to the good life.

PHIL 6395: Retribution and Punishment (Class #23696)

Prof. Sommers
Mo 2:30PM - 5:30PM, Room: AH 512

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No further information is available at this time.

PHIL 6395: Consciousness Debunked (Class #23970)

Prof. Weisberg
Tu 2:30PM - 5:30PM, Room: TBA

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This seminar will develop a debunking response to the so-called “hard problem of consciousness” (Chalmers 1996).  The hard problem claims that even if we knew all the functional and physical facts about a creature we’d still be unable to determine in principle if the creature is conscious.  The main line of support for this claim lies in the way consciousness appears to us from the first-person perspective.  A debunking claim challenges this line of evidence by providing an alternative explanation of how consciousness appears to us, one compatible with physicalism.             

In the seminar, we’ll first develop a clear statement of the hard problem and then sketch the general debunking approach, considering parallel arguments in moral theory and philosophy of religion.  Next, we’ll review a range of debunking-style claims in consciousness studies from Derk Pereboom, Daniel Dennett, Paul Churchland, and others.  Then we’ll introduce a novel version of the debunking approach, one that builds on previous views, but hopefully avoids their difficulties.  We’ll close by considering what empirical evidence might be relevant to establishing the debunking claim, looking at evidence from the psychology of expertise, automaticity, and confabulation, among others.

The seminar deals with contemporary issues in philosophy of mind and metaphysics, epistemology (particularly first-person knowledge), and in cognitive science.  Students will be required to write one seminar paper on a topic approved by the professor.

PHIL 6395: Aesthetics (Class #23971)

Prof. Mag Uidhir
Th 4:00PM - 7:00PM, Room: AH 512

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No further information is available at this time.

PHIL 6397: History of 20th Century Philosophy (Class #22354)

Prof. Morrison
MoWeFr 9:00AM - 10:00AM, Room: AH 302

See/hide more information about this course »

In this class we will explore the 20th century response to the diagnosis of nihilism that Nietzsche levels at Western Civilization at the end of the 19th century. We will read three thinkers – Camus, Adorno and Murdoch – who are very different in their concerns but who can be read in terms of their response to the challenge of nihilism. What are the possible solutions each offers and how do these solutions relate to each other?