A general introduction to philosophical problems concerning knowledge, reality, and conduct.
An examination of several theories of the nature of self and its relation to society and to the world, techniques of thinking about the self and its identity crises.
A critical introduction to alternative theories of the good life, virtue and vice, right and wrong, and their application to perennial and contemporary moral problems.
A topical introduction to philosophy which surveys historical and current work in philosophy of mind and the study of cognition. The material revolves around the reasons we have to attribute minds to people. We explore several reasons for having a mind: the capacity for knowledge, innate representations, language, consciousness, agency, control over the body, freedom from natural causality. This course is particularly useful for those students interested in the cognitive studies program, a coordinate major.
A course that is intended to enhance the student's analytical reasoning skills. Emphasis is placed on the study of arguments and the development of techniques of informal logic for assessing their cogency.
This course concerns techniques of analyzing sentences and arguments by uncovering the formal structures and relations which underlie them. This involves translating ordinary language into the symbolic formulas of elementary logical systems and proving formalized arguments. This course satisfies the mathematics proficiency requirement.
This course provides students with an opportunity to explore an important philosophical topic: the question of the meaning of life, including the possibility that life does not have any “meaning”. Historically, a number of important philosophers have regarded this question as the most important and profound of human inquiries. This course will examine a number of different philosophical attempts, from Western and Eastern traditions, to answer the questions of the meaning of life.
A study of ancient Greek philosophy, focusing on the thought of the Pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle. Same as Classics 2010.
A study of early modern philosophy, focusing on the period from Descartes through Kant. Topics may include issues concerning scepticism and the possibility of knowledge, the distinction between appearance and reality, the relation between mind and body, arguments for the existence of God.
Introduction to philosophical issues in the study of mind and experience. Topics include: the place of mind in the natural world; mechanism and thought; computer intelligence;consciousness and the mind-body problem; mental causation and explanation
This course is devoted to a study of classical works of political philosophy in the Western tradition, primarily Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics. Same as Classics 2110.
This course is devoted to an examination and critical assessment of classical works of modern political philosophy in the Western tradition, focusing each term on the writings of approximately three or four of the following thinkers: Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Mill.
Scientific method will be analyzed as a process of stages and illustrated by historical examples. The philosophical presuppositions of science are examined in light of the historical shift from Aristotelian to modern science. Whether change in scientific theories is revolutionary or evolutionary is studied with reference to actual case histories.
A systematic survey of philosophical and foundational theories of mind and cognition of this century. The course begins with the philosophical legacy of earlier centuries (mind/body dualism, consciousness and privileged access, introspection, sense data, and phenomenology), considers the first scientific response to this legacy (behaviorism and the rise of scientific psychology), and then follows the major theoretical positions and debates of this century such as physicalism and reductionism, functionalism and the computer model of the mind, eliminative materialism and neurophilosophy, instrumentalism, and commonsense psychology.
A course in applied ethics concentrating on what is good and right in and to business, examining such topics as the values and justice of the free market system, the moral problems that pertain to the nature and conduct of business organizations, and the particular ethical issues that arise in the course of business activity.
Writing practicum. Fulfills the college writing requirement.
Examination of philosophical issues not typically covered in existing courses.
A study of major writings in the Western tradition dealing with basic issues of philosophy of religion and philosophical theology.
This course will be devoted to a reading of the Bible with a view to philosophic questions it raises that have been central to the tradition of Western thought. Selections from the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Job) and New Testament (Paul's Letter to the Romans) will be juxtaposed with philosophic reflections on the biblical texts or on issues at stake in those texts. These readings will be drawn from philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and Maimonides, Rousseau, Kant, and Kierkegaard.
A philosophical inquiry into the nature of art in its various forms, including poetry and literature, painting and sculpture, dance and music. Based on readings of classical and contemporary texts, we will address questions such as: What makes an object a work of art? How do different forms of art influence each other? How is art related to scientific inquiry and philosophy? What is the role of art in social and political life?
An introduction to and survey of the mathematical study of formalized logical systems.
A critical inquiry into the major issues of normative and critical ethics. Problems and positions concerning moral conduct and responsibility and the meaning and justification of ethical discourse are discussed in connection with readings from classical and contemporary sources.
A study of characteristic existentialistic themes as exemplified in the writings of thinkers like Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, or Sartre.
A study of major philosophical ideas and figures from Hegel through Nietzsche.
An examination of issues and ideas in 20th-century continental philosophy. Attention is given to the phenomenological movement with consideration of the transcendental phenomenology of Husserl and the existential phenomenologies of such thinkers as Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Ricoeur. Other topics which may be treated include Freudianism considered as a philosophical anthropology, structuralism, and postmodernism.
An introduction both to major figures in the analytic tradition such as Frege, Russell, and Quine, and to major problems such as meaning, reference, and truth.
American philosophy from 1630 to 1885. Readings in and discussion of representative thinkers in each period from the Puritans to the pragmatists.
Readings in American philosophy from the pragmatists to the present, including Peirce, James, Royce, Mead, Dewey, Santayana, Whitehead, and others.
Survey of main figures and movements in logical empiricism. Topics may include meaning and verification, the nature of philosophical inquiry, the unity of scientific discourse.
Prerequisite: 201 or permission of instructor. An in-depth reading of one or more of the Platonic dialogues. Same as Classics 307.
A study of the philosophical ideas of the middle ages, through the writings of the major figures in the Christian, Jewish and Islamic traditions (e.g., Augustine, Aquinas, Ockham, Maimonides, Avicenna, and Averroes). The focus is on metaphysics and epistemology. Representative topics: arguments concerning the existence of God, eternity and creation, divine foreknowledge and human freedom, the problem of universals, and skepticism.
Consideration of human problems in technological culture.
This course will compare the predominant Western conception of humanity's place in nature with alternative conceptions, including those held by non-Western thinkers.
An introduction to epistemology. Topics may include the problem of skepticism, theories of epistemic justification, the nature of empirical knowledge, a priori or mathematical knowledge, and our introspective knowledge of our mental states.
An introduction to one or more topics in metaphysics. Topics may include causality, identity, modality, existence, persons and minds, universals and particulars, space and time, and the nature and possibility of metaphysics itself.
An introduction to the study of meaning in natural languages. The central techniques involve extending the methods of logical semantics for formal languages. No prerequisites, but prior exposure either to generative grammar (e.g., ANTH 3590) or symbolic logic (e.g., PHIL 1210) would be helpful. Same as LING 3430.
This course examines the metaphysical, epistemological, religious, and psychological dimensions of Buddhism, while also tracing its development from India into Southeast Asia, China, Japan, and the West. This course has a lab component: regular mindfulness practice.
The historical development of philosophies concerning the good life, moral duty and right, choice and consequences, freedom and necessity in their personal and social nature.
A systematic and critical study of ethical problems in medicine concerning the physician-patient relationship, life and death, and social responsibility.
A study of the arguments and positions advanced by philosophers with regard to the need for and justification of social and political institutions and with regard to the character of human rights, justice, and the good society.
A critical examination of issues and arguments in the ethics of abortion relating to benefit and harm, rights, respect for persons, autonomy, homicide, privacy and other topics.
This course surveys the prominent ethical theories of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It considers both theories of meta ethics and normative ethics. Theories to be examined include: relativism, subjectivism, egoism, moral realism, utilitarianism, Kantianism, contractualism, virtue theory, and Existentialism.
Western culture has a double source, the Bible and Greek philosophy, or Jerusalem and Athens. Are the two traditions harmonious or do they stand in some essential tension with each other? This course will approach that question by examining the response of some important Jewish thinkers, Maimonides in particular, in their encounter with the teachings of Plato and Aristotle. Same as JWST 3590.
A study of the character and justification of law and legal systems. Legal realism, legal positivism, and natural law theories are explored as are such law-related issues as punishment, the enforcement of morals, and the grounds of legal responsibility. Same as PHIL 6040.
This course offers a critical examination of philosophical issues involving crime and punishment. In the first half, we will ask what forms of behavior, if any, the state is entitled to declare to be criminal, focusing on such issues as drug abuse, prostitution, blackmail, gambling, hate speech, suicide, pornography, ticket scalping, insider trading, and gun control. In the second half, we will ask what forms of punishment, if any, the state is entitled to impose on those who violate those laws, if any, which are permissible, focusing on such issues as capital punishment, corporal punishment, and competing justifications of punishment in general.
Anarchy is at the foundations of political philosophy. This course examines diverse treatments of anarchy, such as disputes about what conditions would or should obtain under anarchy, defenses of anarchism, justifications of states as solutions to anarchic problems, and arguments regarding the authority of states and our obligations to obey the law.
The questions this class addresses are the following: What is consciousness and why it matters? Why is consciousness puzzling if not mysterious? Is consciousness one phenomenon or many? The grand divide: the (so called) easy versus hard problems; function versus qualia, public facts versus private experiences. What mechanisms and competencies underpin consciousness? Where (brain location)? Who are the possessors of consciousness, phylogenetically and ontogenetically? Why consciousness: its rationale and functions? How does consciousness emerge from matter (if at all)?
An interdisciplinary examination of how cognitive systems, from the simplest to the most complex, perceive, form beliefs, and acquire knowledge.
This course provides a systematic introduction to the recent and very dynamic interdisciplinary research area in naïve psychology or theory of mind. The course begins with the philosophical debates about naïve or folk psychology and the key philosophical concepts that have shaped the research agenda, then surveys the main empirical data, key experiments and hypotheses about ape and child interpretation of minds, and concludes with a comparative analysis of several and much debated proposals about how the interpretation of minds is accomplished—through innate mechanisms (modules), by simulation or in terms of a naïve theory. Same as PSYC 3760.
An introduction to the philosophy of language and mental representation. Major topics: the explanation of the mental, models of mind, representation as computation, the language of thought, mental imagery, propositional attitudes, meaning and intentionality, the problem of consciousness.
An examination of terrorism and counter terrorism with emphasis on moral issues.
As any biological capacity, the mind must have evolved. Can evolution explain its design? The mind has many components, from perception to language and thinking. Are they all products of natural selection, of other evolutionary forces, or of no such forces at all? Can evolution explain the uniqueness of the human mind? What could be the factors that explain this uniqueness: tool making, language, social life? In attempting to answer these questions, the class brings an evolutionary perspective to some important topics in philosophy of mind and philosophical psychology and offers a multidisciplinary introduction to the emerging but rapidly developing field of evolutionary cognitive science.
Corequisite: three-credit departmental course. Prerequisite: successful completion of the First-Year Writing Requirement. Fulfills the college intensive-writing requirement.
Prerequisite: approval of department.
For senior honors candidates.
Prerequisite: at least one previous course in ethics or political philosophy. A study of the character and justification of law and legal systems. Legal realism, legal positivism, and natural law theories are explored as are such law-related issues as punishment, the enforcement of morals, and the grounds of legal responsibility.
Prerequisite: at least one previous course in ethics or political philosophy. An advanced critical inquiry into the major issues of normative and critical ethics. Problems and positions concerning moral conduct and responsibility and the meaning and justification of ethical discourse are discussed in connection with readings from classical and contemporary sources.
Prerequisite: PHIL 1210 or equivalent. Translation of propositions into quantified formulas with single-place and relational predicates. Deduction by quantification rules. Also, theorematic development of an axiomatic logistic system.
This course treats theory of computable (general recursive) functions, arithmetical coding of syntax, unprovability of consistency, and undefinability of truth. The course develops these topics and reflects on their philosophical significance. Instructor approval strongly recommended.
The scientific method as phases of forming hypotheses and verifying them. The logic and epistemology of scientific explanation. Metaphysical presuppositions underlying scientific knowledge.
Prerequisite: PHIL 1210 and 2020 or equivalent. A study of historical and contemporary skepticism about knowledge.
This course is a philosophical analysis of neuroscience, including its methods and theories. How does neuroscience attempt to explain human experience and behavior? Can neuroscience explain conscious experience? Will psychological concepts such as the 'self' be explained at the neuroscientific level, or must they be eliminated in favor of neuroscientific categories? Can human behavior be explained thoroughly by brain data? Other topics can include the relationship between neuroscience and ethics, the use of neuroscience in explaining mental disorder, and the application of neuroscience data to social categories such as 'art' and 'race'.
Prerequisites: PHIL 2010 and 2020, or equivalent. An examination of the basic problems of metaphysics (being, substance, process, universals, person, God) as treated by the main traditions in classical and contemporary thought.
This seminar offers students the opportunity to develop more deeply their understanding of theorigins and nature of moral attitudes and beliefs, and thus to probe more fully issues to whichthey had been introduced in previous courses in ethics.
Prerequisite: PHIL 2020 or equivalent. Free will is one of the main puzzles in philosophy. While human beings ordinarily think that their choices are free, it is difficult to see how this conception can go together with modern scientific conceptions of nature. The problem is not only to establish whether human beings have free will, but whether it is an intelligible conception at all. This course will examine major approaches put forward to solve this puzzle, drawn from contemporary as well as classical sources.
Prerequisite: approval of instructor. A systematic philosophical and interdisciplinary examination of major theories of perception.
Prerequisite: approval of instructor. A survey and evaluation of major theories of mental representation drawing on recent work in philosophy of mind, cognitive psychology, linguistics, semantics, and artificial intelligence. Major topics: linguistic representation, the language of thought, propositional attitudes, mental imagery, and innate representations.
Prerequisite: at least one previous course in philosophy of mind or metaphysics. The mind-body problem, knowledge of other minds, and problems about thought, action, and feelings are discussed in the light of readings from classical and contemporary sources.
Prerequisite: PHIL 2010 or PHIL 2110. An in-depth study of one or more of the Platonic dialogues, such as Symposium, Republic, Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman, Philebus, Timaeus, with reading and discussion of related dialogues as background.
Prerequisite: 2010 or 2110. An in-depth study of one or more of the Aristotelian treatises, such as Metaphysics, Physics, De anima, Ethics, Politics, Rhetoric or Poetics.
A detailed critical examination of the political philosophy of John Locke. Locke is arguably the pivotal figure in the development of modern individualist liberalism. Both historically and philosophically, the course examines Locke's doctrines of natural law, freedom, property rights, contractually grounded government, rights of resistance and rebellion, and the rights of toleration.
Prerequisite: PHIL 2020 or equivalent. Descartes, Spinoza, and/or Leibniz examined individually and as contributors to one of modern philosophyâ€™s historical developments.
Prerequisites: PHIL 2020 or equivalent. Locke, Berkeley and/or Hume examined both individually and as contributors to one of modern philosophy’s historical developments.
Prerequisite: PHIL 2020 or equivalent. An examination of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Topics include Kant's epistemology (e.g. his Copernican Revolution), as well as his metaphysics (e.g. freedom and the self).
Prerequisite: PHIL 2020, 2120, or equivalent. An examination of Kant's Groundwork and Critique of Practical Reason. Topics include Kant's view of the nature of morality, the role of the Categorical Imperative, as well as his views on worth, respect, dignity and autonomy.
Prerequisite: PHIL 2020, 2120, or equivalent. A close reading and critical examination of selected major works of Hegel.
Prerequisite: PHIL 2020, 2120, or equivalent. A close reading and critical examination of selected major works of Nietzsche.
Prerequisites: PHIL 2020 or 2120. A close reading and critical examination of selected major works of Heidegger.
A study of alternative conceptions of economic justice including the conceptions offered by utilitarians, contractarians, natural rights theorists, and Marxists. Other topics include the just distribution of natural resources and the choice between command and market economies.
An examination of ethical issues regarding treatment of nonhuman beings. Major topics include moral extentionism, as well as critiques of attempts to extend human-centered moral doctrines to nonhuman beings.
An examination of conceptions of gender in the history of philosophy and in contemporary philosophic discussions. Topics may include relations between gender and identity, ethics, law, and science.
Prerequisite: at least one previous course in ethics or political philosophy. A study of the justice of relations among nations and among individuals across national boundaries. Topics include international distributive justice, the ownership of global resources, the morality of secession, just war, and terrorism.
Prerequisite: approval of instructor. Central topics in philosophical logic are covered, including reference, predication, vagueness, logical form, counterfactuals, propositional attitudes, logical truth, paradoxes.
Prerequisite: at least one previous course in ethics or political philosophy. Analyzing contemporary approaches to normative concepts in politics, reviewing many writers, and concentrating on political philosophers such as Arendt, Marcuse, Oakeshott, Rawls, and Strauss.
This course introduces students to the utilitarian tradition and to the modern debate over whether some version of utilitarianism is likely to serve as the most adequate moral and political philosophy.
A study of the liberal moral and political philosophy of John Stuart Mill, including his utilitarian ethics, doctrine of individual liberty, theory of constitutional democracy, and analysis of capitalism versus socialism.
Corequisite: three-credit departmental course. Prerequisite: successful completion of the First-Year Writing Requirement. Fulfills the college intensive-writing requirement.
Prerequisites: two courses in philosophy and junior standing. For specific offering, see the Schedule of Classes. For description, consult department.