The Dennes Room

Summer 2011 1st 6wks

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Berkey. MTuWTh 12-2, 229 Dwinelle.

This course is an introduction to moral and political philosophy. We will consider a range of ethical issues regarding individual conduct as well as social arrangements, policies, and practices. We will begin by considering whether there are objective ethical truths, examining several arguments for the view that ethics is not objective as well as responses to those arguments. Next we will consider what, if anything, well-off individuals are obligated to do to aid the very poor. We will then examine the ethics of meat consumption, abortion, and euthanasia. Next we will look at two influential views of distributive justice, and consider whether equality is a moral ideal that we should endorse and seek to achieve. We will then examine the ethics of affirmative action, and the issues of free speech, tolerance, and multiculturalism. We will conclude by considering some ethical issues regarding war and terrorism.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Rieppel. TuWTh 1-3:30, 209 Dwinelle.

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 this notion is made formally precise in three systems of logic: sentential logic, monadic predicate logic, and full first order logic. We will learn how to represent the logical forms of English arguments in each of these systems, and then develop a semantics as well as a system of natural deduction in each system to assess 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.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. de Harven. MTuWTh 10-12, 229 Dwinelle.

This course is designed as an introduction to philosophical thinking generally, and ancient philosophy in particular. Those new to philosophy will learn the landscape by reading and writing about knowledge, the nature of reality, psychology, and ethics as the Greeks saw it. Those with experience in philosophy will see that the ancient perspective is an excellent starting point not just for its historical role in philosophy, but also for its contrast to many of our modern instincts and at the same time for its relevance to ongoing philosophical debates. We will get acquainted with the striking differences between ancient and modern thinkers, and with the very elements for which Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are considered the founders of Western philosophy.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Bruce. MTuWTh 12-2, 223 Dwinelle.

The course will survey some of the main metaphysical and epistemological positions of five important early modern philosophers: Descartes, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume and Kant. We will be concerned with their views regarding the structure of reality (the existence of God; the nature of the human mind and its relation to the body; the nature of bodies; causation) and with how we relate to the world around us (perception; the possibility of knowledge about the external world; induction). We will consider these views in light of the scientific developments of the 17th and 18th centuries, as reactions to Aristotelian doctrine, and in their own right.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Flanagan. TuWTh 10-12:30, 155 Barrows.

Humans, and possibly certain other creatures, are conscious. Life would have no personal meaning, it wouldn’t matter one bit (to each of us individually, at any rate), if it were not for consciousness. But what is consciousness? Does possession of consciousness require possession of a non-physical soul or does mind = brain in which case it will eventually be explained by neuroscience? Did some deity endow us with consciousness or is consciousness just one quirky outcome of the blind force of evolution by natural selection? Does my possession of a mind equip me with a free will that allows for personal responsibility, as well as blame and praise, for my actions? If my mind is just my brain then in what sense, am I free — the brain after all is just a 3 lb. piece of tissue and biology is thought to be governed by natural laws. Indeed, some have suggested that the idea of free will is an illusion.

The course will introduce students to the main problems in the philosophy of mind: the nature of consciousness, the mind-body relation, free-will vs. determinism, the nature of personal identity. Nothing less that the meaning of life and the nature of morality rest on our understanding of our minds. No prior background in philosophy is required. Students interested in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, medicine, religion, and law will find much to interest them.

153  Chinese Philosophy. Tiwald. TuWTh 1-3:30, TBA.

This course will introduce students to the major schools of philosophy in classical China, including Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, and Legalism. Although the course is meant primarily as a survey of the most important Chinese thinkers, a prominent theme will be their views on moral cultivation and moral agency. Philosophers of this era were greatly interested in the development of good character and the key features of proper moral knowledge and motivation. All Chinese texts will be in translation.

178  Kant. Mras. TuWTh 3:30-6, 215 Dwinelle.

The course will provide an examination of Kant’s critical philosophy. The first part will be devoted to the peculiarity of Kant’s Copernican Revolution, understanding transcendental idealism to be a necessary condition for empirical realism. In this part we will be primarily concerned with Kant’s his relationship to Leibniz and Wolff, his view of philosophy’s proper ‘method’, and the proof structure of the ‘transcendental deduction”. The readings will include in addition to sections from the Critique of Pure Reason and the Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics extracts from his dissertation. The second part of the course will deal with what is for Kant a condition for a subject to exhibit one’s freedom, i.e. his understanding of autonomy and its development from the lecture notes on moral philosophy by Kaehler via the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals to the Critique of Practical Reason. In the end of the course the relationship of these two critiques will be discussed and questions will be raised about the whole system that is supposed to be the outcome of the combination of Kant’s three critiques.