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Spring 2020 Courses



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

Upper-Level Undergraduate Courses

PHIL 3305: History of 18Th Century Phil (Class #24046)

Prof Morrison
MoWeFr 9:00AM - 10:00AM, Room: L 212L

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In this class, we will read works from Hume, Rousseau, and Kant in an attempt to come to a deeper understanding of the 18th century intellectual landscape. The focus of my approach will be on the social, ethical, and political thought of these three leading figures in the century of Enlightenment. This is not a broad survey course but rather a deep dive into the thinking of three very different figures as they contemplate questions concerning the origins and place of art, science, and religion in Western life.


PHIL 3334: Philosophy of Mind (Class #24070)

Prof. Garson
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM, Room: AH 2

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This course covers some of the deepest and most puzzling problems philosophy. What is consciousness and how is it possible that the brain (mere meat), is capable of bringing it into the world? Does conscious experience challenge a materialistic account of what there is? How do we know (if it is true) that anybody else has consciousness? Is Free Will possible, or even desirable? What is a Mind anyway? The course presumes that we can learn a great deal in philosophy by looking elsewhere. So material from neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and even science fiction and fantasy will provide important background for our discussion. The course will include weekly readings from a variety of sources, short reaction papers on the readings, two quizzes and a final..


PHIL 3354: Medical Ethics (Class #20762)

Prof. Coates
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM, Room: M 118

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No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 3354: Medical Ethics (Class #30227)

Hickey
TuTh 8:30AM - 10:00AM Room: AH 302

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No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 3358: Classics in the History of Ethics (Class #21997)

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

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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 two 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 writin..


PHIL 3383: History of Ancient Philosophy (Class #20784)

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

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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 3395: Philosophy of Biology (Class #24050)

Prof. Weisberg
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM, Room: GAR 116

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No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 3395: Philosophy of Film (Class #24051)

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

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Students should acquire from this course a solid understanding of the principal issues in contemporary analytic philosophy of film as well as how these issues intersect with a variety of disciplines outside of philosophy (e.g., film studies, art history, psychology and cognitive science). The course will be divided into three parts, each part will contain four week-long topic sections, and each topic section will contain an assigned reading and a film to be screened in class. Part One covers the following topics: Film as Art, Cinematography, Film & Sound, and The Screenplay. Part Two will cover Documentary, Animation, Film Narration, and Film & Imagination. Part Three will cover Film & Gender, Film & Race, LGBTQ Cinema, and Film as Philosophy. Grading will be based on six short reviews of assigned films to be screened outside of class on UH’s Kanopy. Some of the films we will be watching both in and out of class are L’Atalante (1934), Blow Out (1981), The Conformist (1970), The Naked City (1948), Rashomon (1950), My Winnipeg (2007), Close-Up (1990), Wanda (1970), Le Bonheur (1965), Do the Right Thing (1989), and Funeral Parade of Roses (1969). There is no textbook for this course. All reading materials will be made available electronically via Blackboard.


PHIL 3395: Philosophy of Deep Learning (Class #24052)

Prof. Buckner
Th 2:30PM - 5:30PM, Room: AH 512

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Deep learning neural networks have recently blown through anticipated upper limits on Artificial Intelligence (AI) performance. Though modern deep learning technology is only a few years old, they have already worked themselves into many aspects of our daily lives. They structure and label our search results, organize our shopping lists, recognize our faces, diagnose our diseases, may soon drive our cars, and already defeat us in games as complex as chess, go, and Starcraft II. Many also regard them as the best models of human perceptual judgments. They have also, however, manifested a variety of puzzling foibles, and attracted a number of influential detractors who worry that an overabundance of naïve enthusiasm will lead to another “AI Winter” when hopes for deep learning superintelligence fail to materialize. In this class, we will critically explore the explosion of deep learning, covering a wide spread of topics in this course so that there's something for everyone: different explanations for deep learning's success (esp. for computer vision, game playing, and medical diagnosis), standard criticisms of deep learning (esp. debates between "rationalists" in AI like Pearl and Marcus and "empiricists" like the Deep Mind group), relevant history of philosophy (esp. from Locke, Hume, Berkeley, and Kant), philosophy of science (esp. what kind of explanations deep learning can offer), adversarial examples, the black box/interpretability problem (esp. GDPR law and the XAI movement), the legal philosophy surrounding automated agents driven by deep learning, concerns about problematic bias in deep learning applications, DL as a model of cortical function in cognitive neuroscience, the use of Generative Adversarial Networks in aesthetics and art, and deep learning in scientific data analysis (to interpret fMRI data, discover new exoplanets around distant suns, or predict protein folds to discover new drugs).


PHIL 3395: Critical Theory & Globalization (Class #24092)

Prof. Carrera
Mo 5:30PM - 8:30PM, Room: AH 303

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No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 3395: Nihilism (Class #24971)

Prof. Zaretsky
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM, Room: AH 512

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No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 3395: War & Peace (Class #28864)

Dr. Luttrell
MoWeFr 9:00AM - 10:00AM, Room: M 117

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The class is a philosophical introduction to just war theory, the changing nature of war, and movements for peace. Topics covered include nationalism, pacifism, gender and war, humanitarianism, and human rights.


Graduate Courses

PHIL 6395: Seminar in Philosophical Problems (Class #24053)

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

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No further information is available at this time.


PHIL 6395: Temporal Asymmetries and Fixed Past/Open Future (Class #24054)

Prof. Loewenstein
Tu 2:30PM - 5:30PM, Room: AH 512

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Intuitively it seems clear that the past is "settled"/"fixed"/"closed" in a way in which the future is not. Unlike the past, how the future will go seems to depend on what happens now. The future can still be influenced. In contrast, it is too late to affect the past. How to make sense of this (apparent) asymmetry? Is it right? Is the past fixed and the future open? What, precisely, do we mean when we talk about past fixity and future openness? Does the truth of the claim that the past is fixed and the future open depend on whether determinism is true? (Many think the answer is “no”.) Does it depend on our metaphysics of time: e.g., on whether presentism, eternalism or the growing block theory is true? (Many think the answer here is 'no', too.) Is the past actually fixed and is the future actually open? And how does this apparent asymmetry relate to the other temporal asymmetries, e.g., that causes precede their effects, that the future seems to counterfactually depend on the past but not vice versa, that we have memories and other traces of the past but not of the future, etc.? We will read articles addressing these difficult and still unresolved questions. The first part of the seminar will focus on the temporal asymmetries in general, which will involve learning about, among other things, David Lewis's influential (but unsuccessful) attempt to account for the asymmetries with his classic semantics for counterfactuals, followed by David Albert's presently popular attempt to explain the asymmetries with the second law of thermodynamics (i.e., entropy increases) and the "Past Hypothesis" (the world began in a low-entropy state). In the second half of the course we will read articles which are more specifically about how to make sense of the notions of closed past/open future, and about whether the past is in fact fixed and the future open, in particular..


PHIL 6395: Philosophy of Deep Learning (Class #24057)

Prof. Buckner
Th 2:30PM - 5:30PM, Room: AH 512

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Deep learning neural networks have recently blown through anticipated upper limits on Artificial Intelligence (AI) performance. Though modern deep learning technology is only a few years old, they have already worked themselves into many aspects of our daily lives. They structure and label our search results, organize our shopping lists, recognize our faces, diagnose our diseases, may soon drive our cars, and already defeat us in games as complex as chess, go, and Starcraft II. Many also regard them as the best models of human perceptual judgments. They have also, however, manifested a variety of puzzling foibles, and attracted a number of influential detractors who worry that an overabundance of naïve enthusiasm will lead to another “AI Winter” when hopes for deep learning superintelligence fail to materialize. In this class, we will critically explore the explosion of deep learning, covering a wide spread of topics in this course so that there's something for everyone: different explanations for deep learning's success (esp. for computer vision, game playing, and medical diagnosis), standard criticisms of deep learning (esp. debates between "rationalists" in AI like Pearl and Marcus and "empiricists" like the Deep Mind group), relevant history of philosophy (esp. from Locke, Hume, Berkeley, and Kant), philosophy of science (esp. what kind of explanations deep learning can offer), adversarial examples, the black box/interpretability problem (esp. GDPR law and the XAI movement), the legal philosophy surrounding automated agents driven by deep learning, concerns about problematic bias in deep learning applications, DL as a model of cortical function in cognitive neuroscience, the use of Generative Adversarial Networks in aesthetics and art, and deep learning in scientific data analysis (to interpret fMRI data, discover new exoplanets around distant suns, or predict protein folds to discover new drugs).