Summer 2013 Session A

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Berkey. MTuWTh 12-2, 166 Barrows.

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.

3  The Nature of Mind. Andrews. MTuWTh 10-12, 170 Barrows.

We digest, we scrape our knees, our toenails grow. From this perspective we seem to be physical creatures in a physical world. But we also see the red of the tomato, we feel the pangs of longing, our humor is stoked by the nice delivery of a joke. We have a conscious mental life the variety and quality of which is difficult to put into words. From this perspective it may seem very difficult to see ourselves are merely physical organisms. So the problem is this: can both of these perspectives be accounted for within a coherent and broadly natural theory of the mind?

Towards an answer to this question we will study the mind from a philosophical point of view. Our primary question will be: what is the relation between the mind and the physical world? Is the mind part of the physical world? Is our mental life just another physical processes like digestion? Or is it rather that the mind is non-physical in nature and hence that it cannot be accounted for in physical terms?

The study of these questions will involve us with dualism, physicalism, the identity theory, behaviorism, functionalism, the problem of consciousness, personal identity, the neural correlates of consciousness and other related issues. We will read Putnam, Descartes, Hume, Chalmers, Smart, Turing, Nagel, Jackson and others.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Bledin. TuWTh 1-3:30, 156 Dwinelle.

This course is a gentle introduction to symbolic logic. Most generally, we’ll be investigating the concept of logical consequence, roughly, the notion that certain claims follow from certain other ones in virtue of their logical form. To try to sharpen our understanding of this concept and various related ones, we’ll learn a new formal language—the language of first-order logic—in stages. At each stage, we’ll make sense of logical concepts in terms of the truth values of sentences in the new language. In addition, we’ll learn a useful method for demonstrating that sentences in the language are logical consequences of others: natural deduction proofs in a Fitch-style system.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. McLeod. MTuWTh 12-2, 170 Barrows.

This course will provide an introduction to the history of philosophy and to philosophical thinking in general. Students new to the subject will acquire a crucial foundation for further study in philosophy or related subjects, while students with more experience will develop a sense of different approaches to familiar problems. We will examine the beginnings of philosophy in ancient Greece and trace some of its developments over the course of antiquity. At the same time, we will try to understand what ancient Greeks took to be philosophical problems in areas ranging from the nature of what exists and the knowledge of it to questions of how each person should live and how people should live together. We will also explore how those problems resonate with concerns of modern philosophers. The course will begin with early Greek philosophy, then focus primarily on Plato and Aristotle, and conclude with a brief treatment of the philosophical schools that grew up after Aristotle.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Crockett. MTuWTh 10-12, 102 Wurster.

In this course we will study the philosophical views of the most important and influential thinkers in early modern philosophy (roughly, the 17th and 18th centuries). This period in western thought was nothing short of extraordinary in that it saw the overthrow of a philosophical and scientific worldview that had dominated the west for over one thousand years. Prior to the 17th century, philosophy had been a blend of church doctrine and classical philosophy, and its methodology had been quite narrowly defined. The unfortunate effect of both the church’s influence on scholarly endeavors and the strictly defined methodology was that philosophical and scientific creativity was largely stifled.

By the 17th century, however, the medieval worldview was beginning to crumble due in large part to a variety of subversive scientific discoveries. Advances in physics, astronomy and chemistry undermined central assumptions of classical science, which resulted in the wholesale abandonment of medieval philosophy more generally. Thus the scientific revolution of the 17th century set off an explosion of inspiration and creativity in the world of philosophy. It forced thinkers to make a new start in answering fundamental questions about the world such as: What is the nature of mind? What are the limits of human knowledge? What is a person? What is the basic stuff in the world?

These thinkers were the radicals of their day, and their views have shaped the way we practice contemporary philosophy. In fact, many of the philosophical questions we ask today could not have been formulated before these thinkers began to challenge philosophical orthodoxy. For that reason, studying the moderns is of central importance for understanding contemporary philosophy, and for understanding the nature of philosophical revolutions more generally.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Skokowski. MThF 10-12:30, 9 Evans.

What is the mind? Is the mind just the brain, or is it something different altogether? Can we know anything about other minds? How does the mind represent the world? What is the nature of conscious experience? In this course we will examine historical as well as contemporary approaches to these problems. Our goal will be to determine whether mind can be accounted for in a physical universe.

153  Chinese Philosophy. Tiwald. TuWTh 1-3:30, 534 Davis.

This course will introduce students to the major schools of philosophy in classical China, including Confucianism, Mohism and Daoism. 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, 56 Barrows.

We will examine Aristotle’s main philosophical writings covering parts of his logic, philosophy of nature, metaphysics and practical philosophy.