Summer 2012 Session A

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Scharding. MTuWTh 10-12, 229 Dwinelle.

What do we owe each other? What do we owe ourselves? What happens when these obligations conflict? An introduction to moral and political philosophy, the course considers some of the ethical controversies associated with our racially, economically, and culturally diverse contemporary societies, including: the ethics of multiculturalism, feminism, and affirmative action; the regulation of hate speech; how to meet the needs of extremely poor people; and the nature of tolerance. Readings are drawn from contemporary philosophy and include works by Peter Singer, Bernard Williams, T.M. Scanlon, G.A. Cohen, and Susan Wolf.

3  Nature of Mind. Winzeler. MTuWTh 12-2, 215 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.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Misenheimer. TuWTh 1-3:30, 100 Wheeler.

When you encounter (or assert) a conclusion that is supposed to follow from some premises, it is often helpful to know why (and whether) the conclusion really does follow from the premises—why (and whether) the argument with that conclusion and those premises is valid. In this course, you will develop the skills to tell, for many different arguments, why the conclusion does or does not follow from the premises. In particular, you will learn how to translate many arguments in English into a formal language (such as the Language of Sentential Logic or the Language of First-Order Logic), how to test whether some of those arguments are valid (for example, using truth tables for arguments in the Language of Sentential Logic), and how to demonstrate the validity (by constructing a proof in a natural deduction system) or invalidity (by constructing a counterexample) of any argument in one of our formal languages.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. de Harven. MTuWTh 10-12, 156 Dwinelle.

This course is designed as an introduction to philosophical thinking generally, and to ancient philosophy in particular. Those new to philosophy will learn the landscape by reading and writing about knowledge (epistemology), the nature of reality (metaphysics), psychology, philosophy of mind, politics, and ethics as the ancients saw it. Those with experience in philosophy will get acquainted both with the striking differences between ancient and modern thinkers and the very elements that make the Greeks foundational to Western philosophy. The ancient perspective is an excellent starting point for its accessibility to the newcomer and inextricable relation to ongoing philosophical debates. The course will focus on Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, with smaller selections from the presocratics and the Hellenistic era.

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

This course will survey the ideas of five important philosophers of the 17th and 18th century – Descartes, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume and Kant. We will consider how they pose and develop responses to important metaphysical and epistemological questions that form the basis of some of the main concerns of modern philosophy. These include questions about the nature of reality (Does God exist? What is the nature of the human mind? How does the mind relate to the body? Are there causal connections in the world?), as well as the relation between us and the world (What do we perceive? Can we come to know things about the world through perception? Are there things we can know to be true through reason alone? Are there limits on what we can know?) We will attempt to develop a historical understanding of the connections across the views we consider, as well as to philosophically engage with and respond to each in its own right.

128  Philosophy of Science. Skokowski. MTuTh 10-12:30, 174 Barrows.

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.

153  Chinese Philosophy. Tiwald. TuWTh 1-3:30, 229 Dwinelle.

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.

161  Aristotle. Corcilius. TuWTh 3:30-6, 100 Wheeler.

This course is an intermediate level introduction into Aristotle’s philosophy. The course consists of an examination of Aristotle’s main philosophical writings. It will cover parts of his logic, his philosophy of nature, his practical philosophy and his metaphysics, with an emphasis on his practical philosophy.

Required text: A New Aristotle Reader, ed. J. L. Ackrill, 1987. Recommended text: The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. J. Barnes 2 vol. 1984 (or later).