Summer 2011 Session D

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Matthes. MTuWTh 12-2, 223 Dwinelle.

This class is an introduction to moral and political philosophy that will cover three general areas. First, we will examine Utilitarianism, a divisive theory of normative ethics that will provide us the opportunity to learn and practice techniques for constructing and evaluating moral theories. Through reading the work of proponents and detractors, we will investigate how to argue for or against a specific theory of what one ought to do, and we will briefly consider an alternative picture in the form of Kantianism. Second, we will turn to some questions about the foundations and objectivity of moral claims, what is usually called “meta-ethics.” Can moral claims be true? Are any moral claims true? True for whom? You, our country, everyone? What could make them true? In this part of the course, we will structure our investigation around a single sustained piece of philosophical writing that explores these very questions. Finally, we will attempt to apply what we have learned about foundations and theories in moral philosophy to a few specific issues that will move our discussion into the domain of the political. These issues will include the moral status of non-human animals, the permissibility of abortion, freedom of speech and expression, and justifications of partiality and nationalism.

3  The Nature of Mind. Winzeler. MTuWTh 10-12, 223 Dwinelle.

This course is an introduction to the philosophical study of the mind. We will start off by investigating the Mind-Body problem: that is, how exactly are the mind and body related to one another? Are they two wholly separate things? Or is the mind just identical to the brain? Alternatively, the mind might just be a computer program, with the implication that machines could be capable of thought and other mental states. We will study the strong and weak points of all of these theories: Dualism, Identity Theory, Behaviorism and Functionalism. We will go on to look at the phenomenon of consciousness. We will ask: what is consciousness? Can we describe it scientifically? What is special about the conscious states that we refer to as “emotions”? We will end the course by studying how we should regard the content of our mental states. In essence, we will try to see if content is internally or externally determined. How much does the environment in which we are placed get into our heads? Again, the overarching theme and goal of this question, as well as all the others, will be a deeper understanding of how our minds and the physical world around us are related.

6  Man, God & Society in Western Literature. Beeghly. MTuWTh 2-4, 215 Dwinelle.

What is justice?  Where do the mandates of justice come from and why do they have authority over us?  How do we know what is just?  When and how should wrongdoers be punished?  Is it better to be just than unjust?  A long line of philosophers have asked these questions.  Though they often disagree wildly, their exploration of the questions tends to take a similar form.  An author articulates a view, presents objections to that view, then defends the view.  Fiction, poetry, autobiography work differently.  In this course, we will consider classic works of Western literature, both fiction and non-fiction.  We will consider how these texts explore questions about justice, the answers that they offer us (if any), and how all of this relates to philosophical debates about justice.  As we go along, we will contrast texts from Ancient Greece, early and medieval Christianity, the Enlightenment, and more contemporary times.

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

In this introductory course in symbolic logic, students will acquire a working knowledge of Propositional and Predicate Logic. Students will learn how to translate natural language expressions into formal language, and then explore important semantic notions like logical consequence, consistency and tautology. Students will also learn natural deduction proof systems for both logics, and if time permits, some metatheoretical issues will be covered, such as the soundness and completeness of the propositional calculus.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Barnes. MTuWTh 10-12, 209 Dwinelle.

Ancient Greek philosophy unearthed a number of enduring philosophical problems. In this class we will look at some of those problems in their original context, with an eye to understanding not only what the problems are, and why they arose, but also why many of them persist.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Crawford. MTuWTh 12-2, 209 Dwinelle.

This course provides a survey of some of the works of six major figures central to the development of philosophical thought in the early modern period: Descartes, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. We will focus on these figures’ work in the areas of metaphysics and epistemology and trace the development of particular philosophical problems and ideas through each figure. Questions we will be examining include: What is the mind, and what is its relation to the body? What is God? What does perception reveal, and what are its limits? What can we know through the faculty of reason alone? We will consider these and other questions, and how they were approached, both within their historical contexts and as they stand on their own.

115  Political Philosophy. Grosser. TuWTh 10-12:30, 156 Dwinelle.

This introductory course will examine the works of four classical protagonists of Western political thought, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Hobbes, and John Rawls. It is meant to provide students with a basic understanding of paradigmatic ancient, modern, and contemporary political theories: An understanding of the respective metaphysical and ontological, rationalist and contractarian approaches that essentially inform these theories; of the underlying anthropological assumptions; of the relevance and specific meaning of concepts such as justice, freedom, security, and power; and, most importantly, of differing strategies of justifying the existence of the state philosophically. Thus, based on a careful reading of their politico-philosophical writings, it is to be considered how Plato and Aristotle, Hobbes and Rawls aim at finding a balance that resolves the tension that inescapably exists between (stately) authority and (individual) autonomy. Additionally, the course aims at identifying the concepts of the political that implicitly or explicitly organize the political theories discussed.

128  Philosophy of Science. Skokowski. TuWTh 1-3:30, TBA.

This course is an intermediate level introduction to problems in philosophy of science through readings of primary sources. We will examine several movements in recent philosophy of science ranging from logical positivism to realism and anti-realism about scientific theories and entities. We will also examine philosophical problems in specific sciences, including, for example, physics. A scientific or technical background is not required - just a philosophical curiosity about science.

181  Hegel. Mras. TuWTh 3:30-6, 209 Dwinelle.

This course will give an overview of Hegel’s philosophy in order to make students familiar with the significance of ‘absolute idealism’ in the philosophy of the 18th and 19th century. The major themes that will be discussed are: Hegel’s criticism of Empiricism as presented in the Phenomenology of Sprit, his account of experience in the Phenomenology of Sprit and the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, Hegel’s criticism of Kant and his pursuing the aim to show skepticism to be ultimately unintelligible; as it is argued for in the Logic of Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences and by the idea of a unity of the three volumes of the Encyclopedia. We shall be interested in reading closely the section on consciousness in the Phenomenology of Sprit, the ‘three attitudes of thought to objectivity’ in the Encyclopedia I and the section ‘subjective logic’ in the same work. This course will also cover essential ideas in Hegel’s thoughts about mind, nature and history in order to make understandable the relationship envisages of a philosophy of mind, logic and nature.

The course will presuppose no prior knowledge of Hegel.