Summer 2017 Session D

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Haddow. MTuWTh 10-12, Barrows 140.

In this course, we will address the basic questions of ethics. How should we live? What is a good human being like, and what kind of life so they lead? We’ll address these big questions by focusing on some slightly smaller ones: by what standard are some actions right and other wrong? Is a moral life (necessarily) a free and authentic one? Or does morality present some kind of threat to our freedom or authenticity? To what extent is living an ethical life under our control? What kinds of emotions and desires do ethical people have, and what role do they play in their lives? Throughout the class, we will connect our discussion of these general questions to contemporary ethical issues concerning race and gender. Our readings will be drawn from a wide variety of philosophical traditions: among others, we will read Simon de Beauvoir, John Stuart Mill, Iris Murdoch, Aristotle, Marth Nussbaum, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Confucius.

3  The Nature of Mind. Suarez. MTuWTh 12-2, Dwinelle 182.

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of mind. We’ll read texts that address the following questions: What is the mind? Is the mind an immaterial soul? How are our minds and bodies related? How do we know about other people’s minds? Is the mind the same as the brain? Is the brain a computer? Is the mind a program? What is consciousness? Can we explain consciousness scientifically? Is it possible for our minds to switch bodies? Should we worry about whether our bodies survive, or whether our memories do? What is the self? Is there really a self? What is free will? Do we have free will?

12A  Introduction to Logic. Rudolph. TuWTh 1-3:30, GPBB 103.

This course is an introduction to the tools of formal logic, with the goal of using them to evaluate arguments. We will cover the syntax and semantics of sentential and first-order logic, and develop proof systems for both. This will give us the tools to symbolize natural language arguments in both formal languages, assess arguments for validity, and give deductive proofs. Overall, we will be developing resources to think precisely about what makes for good and bad reasoning, in both everyday and philosophical contexts.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Gibson. MTuWTh 10-12, GPBB 107.

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. It provides an overview of the classical currents of ancient Greek philosophical thinking from its pre-Socratic beginnings through the works of Aristotle. The course will be divided in to four sections: We will read, discuss, and write about the views of [1] an important group of pre-Socratic thinkers, [2] Socrates (469 – 399 BC), [3] Plato (427-347 BC), and [4] Aristotle (384-322 BC) on a wide variety of topics including: the nature of the universe, how to investigate reality, the nature of knowledge, the structure of the soul, the nature of virtue, and what is required to lead a good life. Since these issues are foundational for the Western philosophical tradition, the course may also serve as an introduction to philosophical thinking generally. This course is required for the philosophy major, but has no prerequisites, and no prior philosophical experience will be presupposed.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Hutchinson. TuWTh 1-3:30, GPBB 107.

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.

110  Aesthetics. Noë. TuWTh 1-3:30, Barrows 155.

This course will explore topics in the philosophy of art. What is art? What makes art valuable? Is art really valuable? What is a picture? Why are some pictures works of art, but not others? What is performance? What makes performance art? What does art reveal about human nature? What does art tell us about the mind? We will seek to answer these and other questions. We will read writings on these and related topics by a range of philosophers (mostly from the 20th century). Many of the readings for this course will come from an anthology entitled Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology, published by Blackwells and edited by Cahn et al.

125  Metaphysics. Yalcin. TuWTh 3:30-6, Dwinelle 229 .

What is reality like in itself, considered independently from our thought or experience of it? Questions of this sort arise for specific domains. For instance: does mind-independent reality fix the truths of morality? Or is morality really some sort of projection of our attitudes, or some kind of human invention? Do things have colors independently of us, or do we “gild or stain all natural objects with the colours, borrowed from internal sentiment”, as Hume put it? Is causation a real thing, or does it merely seem to be, owing to the way we happen to apprehend the world? Do things have necessary or essential properties independently of our modes of thinking and talking about them? What even are properties — how do they fit into reality? And what about familiar entities of everyday life, like persons and material objects — can we arrive at a conception of their nature entirely in abstraction from our ways of thinking and perceiving such things? Metaphysics is characterized by a special preoccupation with questions like these — and with the meta-question of whether such questions can even be answered.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Noë. TuWTh 10-12:30, Dwinelle 215.

This is a course on the nature of mind. The central question we ask: Can we give make sense of mind as a natural phenomenon? We will read widely in philosophy and cognitive science as we seek to answer this fundamental question. Among the topics we will cover: the nature of perception and consciousness, the possibility of machine minds, neuroscience as the basic science of human experience, our knowledge of each other.