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Course Descriptions

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001: The Big Problems
Central philosophical questions, including those about truth and reality, knowledge and belief, value and meaning, mind and body, God and soul.

002: Individual and Society
Core questions and contemporary issues concerning human life in social and political contexts, including power, justice, government, violence, community, and identity.

003: The Ethical Life
Core questions and contemporary issues concerning ethical conduct, human values, character, wellbeing, freedom, responsibility, and reasoning about moral problems.

004: The Human Condition
Explores the significance and meaning of human life, selfhood, authenticity, and mortality.

005: Philosophy and Film
Explores philosophical questions through movies, and explores the nature of film, art, beauty, and aesthetic experience through philosophical analysis.

007: Asian Philosophy
Philosophical, moral, and aesthetic teachings of Asian traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism (including Zen), Taoism, Confucianism, and Shintoism.

008: Gender Matters
Feminism; questions of gender identity, inequality, oppression, especially in relation with other imbalances of power.

009: Race, Racism, and Diversity
Introduction to the concepts of race and racism and asks, with the tools of philosophy, why we think about them as we do and how we might think about them otherwise.

010: Critical Thinking
Discussion of the standards for good reasoning, argumentation, and language, and of common fallacies; informal logic; exploration of manipulative arguments and propaganda.

011: Science and Truth
Examines the nature of science, theory, interpretation, evidence, method, knowledge, objectivity, and truth.

012: Symbolic Logic
Formal logical structures of propositions and arguments; tests and proof techniques for logical truth and deductive validity.

013: Nature and Environment
Explores the human relationship with the natural and built environments and our possibilities for living in a sustainable and responsible way, drawing on influential historical and contemporary philosophical theories and current environmental debates.

014: Love and Sex
Explores Western theories and attitudes concerning human intimacy, and examines various ethical issues involving love and sex, focusing on the United States.

015H: How to Live
Reflections on ways of life, from diverse philosophical perspectives, with weekly practical components.

102: Existentialism
This course traces the efforts of existential thinkers to come to grips with the meaning of human finitude, including experiences of error, angst, faith, imagination, inequality, love, and consciousness itself.

103(w) Ethics
Historical and contemporary ethical theories, including conceptions of virtue, duty, autonomy, right action and the good life, the foundations of ethical norms, and their validity.

105: Philosophy of Law
Reflection on the nature of law, punishment, the Constitution, property, justice, legislation, adjudication, and responsibility.

106: Business Ethics
Studies philosophical issues in business practices such as advertising and market development, trade and competition, labor rules and relations, and environmental and social costs.

107: Philosophy of Technology
Considers what technology is, how it transforms the world and human values, and the ways in which humans drive and are driven by the invention of technology.

108(w): Social/Political Philosophy
Introduction to political authority, community, inequality, power, pluralism, rights, justice, and other contemporary social and political issues.

109: Aesthetics
Aesthetic experience of nature or of art, and its relation to beauty, value, truth, and culture.

110: Philosophy of Science
Examines science’s assumptions about explanation, knowledge, and reality; progress in science; the relation between the branches of science; and the relation between science and culture.

113: Philosophy of Literature
Examines philosophical ideas in literature, literary forms of philosophical expression, and the ways in which philosophers think about literature.

114: Feminist Philosophy
Examines feminist philosophy and the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class, and other dimensions of identity in relation to structures of power.

115: Philosophy of Education
Critically examines the nature, methods, and goals of education, the philosophical foundations of educational theories, and their economic, political, and cultural implications.

118: Environmental Ethics
Conceptual foundations of environmental ethics, the ethical value of nature and non-human species, the relation between economic and ethical evaluations, and problems of resource distribution and environmental justice. These perspectives are applied in the second half of the course to food production and climate change.

119: Ethical Leadership
Studies moral questions concerning leadership and the development of admirable and effective leadership qualities.

120N: Knowing Right from Wrong
The nature of moral ideas, beliefs, and behaviors in contemporary contexts.

123: Media Ethics
Moral problems connected to popular media, broadcast news, and social media, including issues of truth, evidence, balance, politics, propaganda, and journalistic ethics.

124H: Philosophy of Religion
Studies the idea and existence of God, religious experience and the rationality of religious belief, and religion in relation to science, morality, and society.

125H: Epistemology
Knowing something adds to my social importance, my authority and influence over others; when I am entitled to claim that I know something, when do I have the right to be sure, and to what extent am I obliged to respond to those who doubt that I do?

126: Metaphysics
The nature of being and reality, identity, causality, and time.

127: Philosophy of Mind
The nature of mind, including the relation between mind and brain, the nature of subjectivity and the self, consciousness, personal identity, and artificial intelligence.

132: Bioethics
Examines ethical problems surrounding the research and practice of medicine and biotechnology.  

133N: Ethics of Climate Change
The science, policy, and ethics of climate change, one of the great moral problems of our time.

136N: Art/Philosophy in Ancient Greece
The ideal of beauty in Ancient Greek art and thought.

200: Ancient Philosophy
The origins of the discipline in Ancient Greece, with attention to the Sophists, Socrates, and Plato, as well as related intellectual enterprises.

201: Medieval Philosophy
Key medieval philosophers, such as Aquinas, Avicenna, Al-Ghazali, Augustine, Averroes, Abelard and Duns Scotus, focusing on ethical issues.

202: Modern Philosophy: 1600–1800
A survey of metaphysics and epistemology in 17th and 18th centuries, with a focus on the takes on figures such Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke and Hume on issues concerning the mind/body distinction, the nature and source of knowledge, the existence and the role of God in a mechanistic universe.

203: 19th Century Philosophy
European philosophy from Kant to Nietzsche, highlighting the period’s critical and revolutionary character.

204: 20th Century Philosophy
Examines major movements, potentially including phenomenology, positivism and analytical philosophy, existentialism, pragmatism, critical theory, and feminism.

208: Contemporary Philosophy
Examines recent philosophical texts in light of current issues and intellectual trends.

402: European Philosophy [De Warren]
We will explore different philosophical understandings of dialogue as well as different understandings of philosophy as dialogue in the writings of Martin Buber, Mikhail Bakhtin, Hermann Cohen, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricouer, Simone Weil, and Knud Ejler Løgstrup. We shall also explore whether violence represents the end of dialogue or is itself a form dialogue as well as whether monologue is nothing other than regarding oneself as other, and hence, a form of dialogue itself.

405: Philosophy of Law [V. Miller]

416: Philosophy of Social Science [Christman]
We will investigate various philosophical issues concerning the methodologies, claims to objectivity, value commitments, and conceptions of human nature and motivation that function in the social sciences. Reading will focus both on contemporary writers and on critiques of social science arising in philosophy and social theory of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (for example, in work by Marx, Weber, Durkheim, DuBois and others). Specific topics will include the relation between social scientific analyses of social practices and social critique; the question of the possibility of detachment and objectivity in social science; the practice of “critical hermeneutics,” i.e., the problem of interpretation of social practices; and assumptions about human identity, rationality, motivation, and interests in these scientific traditions.  

432: Medical and Health Care Ethics [Lim]
This course provides a survey of distinctive ethical and political questions raised by the fields of medicine and healthcare. We will examine persistent and pressing real-world issues, including present inequalities in access to healthcare, the global right to healthcare, and the existence of markets in human organs and surrogacy. We will also evaluate the use of technology, both present and potential. For example, is it ever permissible to genetically engineer a “designer child”? May physicians provide end-of-life services for patients? At the same time, we will consider deeper questions about concepts that are often taken for granted: what is the best model of disability? What is informed consent and why is it so valuable? Using the tools of contemporary analytic philosophy, students will engage in rigorous analysis of these puzzles and gain familiarity with current bioethical debates.

438: Feminist Philosophy [Belle]
This course examines the central currents of feminist philosophy, selected problems and concepts regarding difference, gender and sex, identity, and political culture. The specific objective of this course is to examine feminist philosophies, especially women of color feminisms, through the lenses of intersectionality and multiplicity. We will explore seminal readings in intersectionality and multiplicity in the U.S. context and engage these themes in transnational and decolonial feminisms. Readings include: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981) edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa; All of the Women Are White, All of the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies (1982) edited by Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith; Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera (1987); Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (1991) edited by Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres; Guy-Sheftall’s Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought (1995), a collection of Black women’s scholarship spanning over one hundred and fifty years; Alma García, Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings (1997); Mariana Ortega, In-Between: Latina Feminist Phenomenology, Multiplicity, and the Self (2016); Maria Lugones (select articles); Kimberlé Crenshaw (select articles).

455: Topics in Modern Philosophy [Bowman]
On many obvious points of comparison, Spinoza and Hume represent polar opposites. To name a few, Spinoza’s rationalism, deism, substance-monism, and necessitarianism are a world away from Hume’s empiricism, atheism, pluralism, and his skeptical denial of an objectively real causal nexus. At second glance, some equally undeniable affinities come into focus, for instance their commitment to philosophical naturalism and their openly critical attitudes toward religion and religious conceptions of moral authority. The same substantive affinities are evident in their conception of philosophy’s method and its goal: In seeking out the “secret springs and principles by which the human mind is actuated” (Enquiry, sect. I), Hume aspires to a moral philosophy whose rigor and evidence would rival that of Newtonian physics, just as Spinoza resolves to “consider human actions and appetites just as if it were a question of [geometrical] lines, planes, and solids” (Ethics III). In this seminar we will explore how far these affinities reach, to discover what we can learn from their otherwise starkly divergent perspectives on the human mind.

456: Topics in 19th-century Philosophy [Scott]
Nietzsche’s writings are among the most influential in the 19th century. One of the reasons for that influence is found in his questions and critiques concerning the values and practices that dominate Western cultures in combination with his development of a genealogical approach in which he traces the complex development of those values and practices. In this course we will engage in close readings of Beyond Good and Evil and On the Genealogy of Morals. In Beyond Good and Evil we will thematize the elusive meaning of “beyond” and the ways Nietzsche rethinks the meaning of transcendence throughout the book. In On the Genealogy of Morals, in addition to careful analysis of his specific claims and the values imbedded in those claims, we will consider his conception of genealogy and the impact of ‘beyond’ in his conception of genealogical history and time. Over the course of this class we will have occasions to consider selected passages from other of Nietzsche’s works such as The Birth of Tragedy, Joyful Wisdom, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and a short essay, “The Dionysian Worldview,” that he wrote early in his career (1873).