Summer 2009 2nd 6wks

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Engen. MTuWTh 10-12, 156 Dwinelle.

This course serves as an introduction to philosophy through a number of central issues in moral philosophy. We will consider whether moral claims are objectively true in the sense that individual people can be mistaken about what is morally right and wrong. We will also analyze a few prominent views of what makes actions right and wrong. In light of these views, we will take up some questions in political philosophy, such as whether the state is justified in punishing its citizens and how resources should be distributed in society. Readings for the course will be drawn from both classic and contemporary sources.

3  The Nature of Mind. Bezsylko. MTuWTh 2-4, 209 Dwinelle.

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to philosophy by doing philosophy of mind. We will begin by taking up the traditional question: What kind of thing is the mind? In connection with this question, we will engage with philosophers who think of the contents of the mind, things such as ideas, perceptions, beliefs, dreams, and imaginings, as something like pictures. We will focus on dreams in particular. From there, we will move on to an enormous question in the philosophy of mind which brings together a number of fascinating issues: Are human beings free? And if so, to what extent are they free and in what areas of our mental life does our freedom lie? In connection with this question, we will look at some writings in psychoanalysis and spend some time thinking about one particularly important domain of our freedom, namely: love. Throughout the course, we will learn how to read, think, speak, and write critically and with great precision and rigor.

4  Knowledge & Its Limits. Chen. MTuWTh 12-2, 223 Dwinelle.

We will begin this introductory course in epistemology with the question of whether we really know what we ordinarily think we know, and the worrisome view that we really do not: skepticism. We will focus in this regard on the following questions. The skeptic seems to demand from us some kind of explanation of how we know the things we think we know. What kind of demand is this and how does the skeptic raise it? Is it a reasonable demand – must we meet it? And even if we don’t need to, how does one say what is so compelling about such a demand? We may also touch on further, but related questions about the relation between belief, truth, and justification, and about how we ought to go about believing things.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Beattie. TuWTh 10-12:30, 136 Barrows.

This course is an introduction to the basic concepts and techniques of deductive logic. Students will learn how to symbolize English-language sentences precisely and then use formal methods to establish key relations between them (e.g. one sentence implying another or being equivalent to another). This will permit us to demonstrate that certain arguments or inferences are good ones, in the sense that the truth of their assumptions or premises would guarantee the truth of their conclusions.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Gelber. MTuWTh 12-2, 229 Dwinelle.

This course is an introduction to some of the main figures and problems in Ancient Greek Philosophy. We will read texts spanning from the Pre-Socratic through Hellenistic philosophers, but the majority of our attention will be given to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Our goal will be to understand not only what the views these thinkers held were, but why they held them and how they argued for them.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Schwenkler. MTuWTh 2-4, 156 Dwinelle.

An examination of central issues in early modern philosophy by way of texts by Rene Descartes, John Locke, Julien Offray de La Mettrie, George Berkeley, David Hume, Thomas Reid, and (very briefly) Immanuel Kant. Topics covered will include: skepticism and knowledge; matter and the soul; perception, thought, and personal identity; and the nature of moral judgment. Of particular interest will be the rise of philosophical naturalism, and the question of how the modern scientific understanding of nature impacts philosophers’ treatments of the above subjects.

107  Moral Psychology. Flanagan. TuWTh 10-12:30, 180 Tan.

Do humans possess an innate moral faculty that evolved to meet certain adaptive challenges? Is the innate equipment a single faculty or does the moral mind consist of several distinct modules, e.g., one for compassion, one for justice, and so on? Is the moral mind well-designed to meet the adaptive challenges modern people face? We will examine two distinct literatures to answer this question: (1) comparative work in philosophical anthropology, examining Greek, Chinese, Buddhist ethics; (2) recent work at the intersection of moral philosophy, psychology, and evolutionary biology.

Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics (Hackett) P. J. Ivanhoe & Brian Van Norden (eds) Readings from Classical Chinese Philosophy (Hackett) Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed) Moral Psychology vol. 1 (MIT Press)

176  Hume. Moural. TuWTh 1-3:30, 136 Barrows.

The focus of the course is on David Hume’s (1711-1776) epistemology, metaphysics, and metaphilosophy (arguably the core of his philosophical project). We shall examine the relation between the early and the mature version of his views, studying closely A Treatise of Human Nature, book I (1739), An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748) and the transitional texts.