The Dennes Room

Summer 2016 1st 6wks

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Murray. MTuWTh 12-2, 209 Dwinelle.

What is the right thing to do? In this class, we’ll explore some of the most pressing contemporary questions in ethics and political philosophy. In the first part of the class, we’ll discuss whether we’re morally required to donate to charity, whether (assisted) suicide, abortion, and eating meat are ever permissible, and when self-defense is justified. In the second half of the class, we’ll discuss questions of a more political nature: the ethics of punishment, killing in war, terrorism, whether and to what extent we’re required to be tolerant of others’ views (e.g., must we be tolerant even of the intolerant?), and whether living in a society that treats one unjustly licenses acting in ways that would otherwise be impermissible. Our goal in this class is not so much to settle any of these questions than to see how to think about them philosophically, highlighting some of the major themes of ethics and political philosophy as we do so, such as the longstanding debate between utilitarian and deontological ethical theories.

3  The Nature of Mind. Kerr. MTuWTh 10-12, 209 Dwinelle.

What is it like to be a roomba, humming across the floor? Nothing. Of course, the little vacuum cleaner detects things—walls, for example. And it reacts accordingly—by turning, for example. This is, to be sure, a cute dance. But there is nothing it is like to be the dancer. The roomba doesn’t, for example, feel itself bump against the wall, or see itself turn away from it. (Go ahead and try to put yourself in the roomba’s shoes—try to imagine what it is like to be the roomba. There is nothing there to be imagined.)

What is it like to be you? Here there is more to say. Of course, like the roomba, you detect things and react accordingly. But, unlike the roomba, you also experience what’s around—you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. What’s more, you have a rich inner life, full of thoughts, moods, and bodily sensations. You are, in short, conscious. The roomba is not.

This difference between conscious and unconscious things seems deep and important. But how does it arise? What exactly is it about you that makes you conscious? And what’s missing in unconscious things, like the roomba?

In this course, you will grapple with these and related questions about consciousness, and learn about philosophical (and some scientific) attempts to answer them. Along the way, you will learn how to read and write philosophy. This is an introductory course, with no prerequisites.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Ahmed-Buehler. TuWTh 10-12:30, B1 Hearst.

An introduction to the use and study of deductive logic with particular emphasis on foundational concepts and formal competence. The primary project of the course will be a full, modern development of first-order logic alongside discussion of its relationship to intuitive ideas of proof, truth, and implication. While a requirement for philosophy majors, this course is appropriate for anyone interested in proper reasoning, especially those intending to pursue computer science or mathematics.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Vlasits. MTuWTh 10-12, 223 Dwinelle.

In this course, we will survey the beginnings of philosophy in the Western tradition with special attention to Socrates (469-399), Plato (427-347), Aristotle (384-322), and the Epicurean, Stoic, and Skeptical schools that flourished in the subsequent centuries. In particular, we will discuss their approaches to scientific knowledge, the structure of the world, and the good human life. Since the ancient Greeks identified many of the philosophical problems (and models for their resolution) we are still concerned with today, the course also serves as an introduction to philosophical thinking generally.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Crockett. TuWTh 1-3:30, 242 Dwinelle.

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.

128  Philosophy of Science. Skokowski. MTuW 10-12:30, 3105 Etcheverry.

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.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Winzeler. TuWTh 1-3:30, 136 Barrows.

This is an upper-level philosophy course focused on the mind. Science tells us that the world is made up of physical particles that follow natural laws. But how can the mind –and consciousness – fit into such a worldview? We will begin by looking at purported solutions to the mind-body problem (Dualism, Identity Theory, Behaviorism, Functionalism), noting how some of these theories have been influenced by fields like neurobiology and cognitive science. We will go on to discuss Intentionality (the mind’s ability to represent) and the related internalism-externalism debate about mental contents. Our next topic will be the epistemic puzzles related to the mind: whether there is an explanatory gap between the mental and the physical, and the problem of whether we can know anything about other minds. We will go on to talk about theories of consciousness, and we will end with a look at specific problems in the philosophy of mind: mental disorders, animal minds, and the strangeness of quantum mechanical interpretations of the mind.

160  Plato. Corcilius. TuWTh 3:30-6, 109 Dwinelle.

This course is an introduction into the main currents within Plato’s philosophy. This will include his conceptions of philosophy, the good life, the soul, causes and explanation, the hypothesis of the Forms, his account of human knowledge and some of the developments and revisions of these conceptions. Towards the second half of the semester the discussion will focus largely on Plato’s moral psychology. Important secondary literature will be made available on bspace. No previous knowledge of Plato required. Students are expected to actively participate and to occasionally give presentations. Required text: Plato. Complete Works. Ed. J. M. Cooper Indianapolis 1997. Hackett Publishing Company. ISBN 0–87220–349–2.