Summer 2014 Session D

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Jonker. MTuWTh 10-12, 110 Wheeler.

This course is an introduction to practical philosophy, by means of selected topics in moral and political philosophy. We begin by considering two kinds of moral theory that have dominated the contemporary scene. We will then use these theoretical frameworks to investigate the morality of abortion, and the right to privacy. In the second half of the course we consider the relationship between citizen and state. In particular, we ask whether political authority is ever justified, and consider the special case of democratic authority. The justification of action by political authorities is thought to be especially problematic in societies where there is deep disagreement, and so we end by asking about the possibility and value of toleration in diverse societies like our own.

3  Nature of Mind. Hutchinson. MTuWTh 12-2, 210 Wheeler.

This course will serve as an introduction to the fundamental questions in the philosophy of mind, as well as to philosophical thinking in general.

We will be addressing such questions as: What is a mind, and what is it to have particular mental states, such as beliefs or conscious experiences? How do we know about our minds and the minds of others? What is the self, what it is to be the same person over time, and what importance does this question have? These questions will lead us to the question of how our minds relate to our bodies, and how scientific research in psychology and neuroscience should inform our thinking about ourselves.

Readings will include Descartes, Turing, Ryle, Searle, Dennett, Nagel, Smart, Jackson, Parfit, Strawson, and others.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Nowak. TuWTh 1-3:30, 20 Wheeler.

This is an elementary course on symbolic logic. We will cover a range of topics including symbolization, truth tables, the syntax and semantics of basic formal languages, and the construction of proofs. The course is a requirement for philosophy majors, but will be useful to anyone interested in the principles which underlie sound reasoning.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Lawrence. MTuWTh 10-12, 130 Wheeler.

This course is an introduction to the philosophical thought of ancient Greece. We will approach a broad range of philosophical questions by examining and writing about the philosophy of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and other ancient authors. Among the questions we will ask are: What does reality consist in, and how do we know about it? What is the nature of knowledge? What is the structure of the soul? What is virtue, and how does one acquire it? And what is required to lead a good life? We study these foundational questions of metaphysics, epistemology and ethics through the eyes of ancient philosophers because they were the first to ask these questions, and the first to devise methods for answering them which are continuous with our philosophical practice today. For this reason, the course serves as a good introduction to philosophical thought and method generally.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Sethi. MTuWTh 12-2, 200 Wheeler.

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.

115  Political Philosophy. Grosser. TuWTh 10-12:30, 220 Wheeler.

This introductory class will examine the works of four classical protagonists of Western political thought: Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. In focusing on early modern political philosophy and, in particular, on contractarian thought, it is meant to provide students with a basic understanding of paradigmatic politico-philosophical approaches: An understanding of the underlying metaphysical and ontological, historical and anthropological assumptions that essentially inform these approaches; of the relevance and specific meaning of concepts such as freedom, justice, citizenship, or power; and, most importantly, of differing argumentative strategies of justifying the existence as well as the authority of the state philosophically. Thus, based on a careful reading of their writings, it is to be considered how Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant attempt to find a balance that resolves the inescapable tension between (individual) autonomy and (stately) authority. Additionally, the course aims at identifying the concepts of the political that, implicitly or explicitly, organize the theories discussed.

119  Feminism & Philosophy. Madva. TuWTh 1-3:30, 220 Wheeler.

This class is an introduction to a range of historical and contemporary feminist issues. Is there an essential difference between women and men? If so, what is the nature of this difference and what are its moral, social, and political implications? If not, what explains the apparent differences? How do questions about gender intersect with questions about race, class, religion, and cross-cultural difference? Can a psychological account of how we tend to sort people into distinct social categories illuminate how we ought to understand these categories? Can assumptions about gender compromise scientific objectivity? This course introduces philosophy students to these and related questions in feminist thought, concluding with analyses of a few specific debates in contemporary feminist epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics.