Summer 2009 1st 6wks

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Berkey. MTuWTh 12-2, 215 Dwinelle.

This course is an introduction to moral and political philosophy. Rather than treating these as largely distinct areas of inquiry that answer fundamentally different questions, we will approach questions in this course in part by considering how our answers to some questions might impact our answers to others. After beginning by looking at several views about the nature of morality, we will examine various positions on the extent to which morality can make demands on individuals, including thinking about how morality?s demands might be limited by considerations of fairness, integrity, and the importance of personal projects. We will then consider two prominent views of justice, defended by Rawls and Nozick respectively, and look at how each argues against the view of justice defended by the other. We will conclude by examining the ways in which principles of justice and the demands of morality on individuals might intersect, and the ways in which our intuitions about different questions might lead us to hold views that are incompatible. Attempting to resolve this conflict and other similar conflicts will be a major theme of the course.

3  The Nature of Mind. Schnee. MTuWTh 10-12, 130 Wheeler.

This course is an introduction to the philosophical study of the mind. What is the mind? Are our mental states, like beliefs and desires, states of our brains? Are they states of some non-physical substance? Or are they nothing more than tendencies to behave in certain ways? Could a computer have a mind? What is consciousness? Is the nature of our conscious experiences entirely determined by our brain states? Why is the study of consciousness so difficult? Can there be a ?science? of consciousness? When you have a belief about the President, what makes it the case that your belief is about that particular person? Philosophers have argued for a variety of answers to these questions. We will examine and evaluate those answers and arguments, and attempt to gain an understanding of the relation between the physical world and our minds.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Rieppel. TuWTh 1-3:30, 174 Barrows.

What is it for an argument to be deductively valid? Intuitively, what’s required is that the conclusion “follow from” the premises, or that the truth of the premises “guarantee” the truth of the conclusion. In this course we will look at how to make this intuitive notion of validity more precise. We will learn how to represent the logical form of English arguments in increasingly more fine-grained ways, and how to use semantic and syntactic methods to demonstrate the validity of arguments given such formal representations. Upon completing the course, students can expect to be familiar with the basic concepts of symbolic logic and to be in a better position to formulate and evaluate arguments in natural languages like English.

Textbook: Modern Logic by Graeme Forbes, Oxford University Press, 1994.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Stazicker. MTuWTh 10-12, 215 Dwinelle.

This intensive 6-week course is an introduction to the philosophy of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, as well as an introduction to doing philosophy. Our aim will be to understand the views and arguments of these philosophers, and to engage critically with them. This will require close reading of the ancient texts, and thoughtful discussion of the issues they raise. Some of the ideas we discuss will be surprisingly familiar, some of them strikingly alien to our usual ways of thinking. In studying and assessing these ideas, we will be asking not only what, if anything, justifies the ancient philosophers’ views, but also what, if anything, justifies our own views. The questions we will discuss include: What is the difference between knowledge and belief? What are definitions? Must someone who understands a notion be able to define it? What is the connection between virtue and knowledge? How is it possible to be weak willed? Is breaking the law ever morally justifiable? What is the connection between morality and being human? Students will be required to write three short papers, contribute to in-class discussion, and sit a final exam.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Parrott. MTuWTh 12-2, 156 Dwinelle.

Philosophy during the 17th and 18th centuries was shaped largely in response to revolutionary new developments in the natural sciences–the so-called Scientific Revolution. The aim of this course is to give an introductory survey to some of the most important philosophical writings from this modern period. We will read texts by Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Leibniz, Hume and Kant. The philosophical topics to be covered include the nature of reality, the existence of God, the relation between mind and body, and the possibility of knowing anything about the world around us. The views offered by the philosophers we will be studying have strongly influenced all philosophical thinking to come after this period. Thus, in addition, to learning about the historical context of these works, we will also be critically engaging and assessing the plausibility of the philosophical arguments in their own right.

153  Chinese Philosophy. Loy. TuWTh 1-3:30, 223 Dwinelle.

This course offers an introduction to philosophical debate in the Warring States period of ancient China, the Classical Age of Chinese Philosophy and the seedbed from which grew all of the native currents of thought that survived from traditional China. We will focus on the competing conceptions of the Dao—the way for the individual to best live his life or for the community to conduct its affairs—associated with Confucius, Mozi, Yang Zhu, Mencius, Laozi, Zhuangzi and Xunzi. The approach of the course will be both historical and critical, and will attempt to both situate Classical Chinese philosophical discourse in its intellectual-historical context and to bring out its continuing relevance.

Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, 2nd Edition (Hackett, 2005) D. C. Lau, Confucius: The Analects (Penguin, 1979, 1998)

178  Kant. Ginsborg. TuWTh 2-4:30, 155 Kroeber.

We will discuss central themes in Kant’s metaphysics and epistemology, focussing mainly on the first half of the Critique of Pure Reason. Prerequisite: Philosophy 25B (History of Modern Philosophy) or equivalent.

188  Phenomenology. Moural. TuWTh 10-12:30, 155 Barrows.

Phenomenology was – besides analytic philosophy – one of the two great philosophical movements of the 20th century. It has been praised for addressing topics more relevant to real people’s life, but blamed for relatively lower standards of clarity and for non-delivering its over-ambitious goals. It has been more influential than analytic philosophy outside of academic philosophy (and is thus important in many areas of humanities and cultural studies). Within philosophy, there have been repeated attempts to merge life-relevance of phenomenology with clarity and modesty of analysis.

In this course, we shall focus on close reading and critical explanation of selections from three classical books of the movement, Edmund Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations (1929) and Crisis of European Sciences (1936) and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception (1945). The Cartesian Meditations are the best introduction to Husserl’s phenomenology, in the Crisis he adds influential material about the life-world, about science, and about history. In the Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty merges motives from Husserl and Heidegger with stuff from psychology and psychopathology and sketches his own conception of philosophy.