Summer 2024 Session A

Undergraduate courses

3  The Nature of Mind. Dolan. TuWTh 1-3:30, Dwinelle 254.

We use the concept of the mental in our everyday thought and talk; we take ourselves and others to have mental states like thoughts, feelings, perceptions, desires. But what exactly are we talking about when we talk about our minds? What’s the relationship between our minds and our bodies? How does mentality fit into the rest of the natural world, and how can it be studied scientifically? We’ll investigate these questions from a variety of different angles, looking at how they’ve been treated in the past, and evaluating them by our own lights.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Gonzalez. TuWTh 10-12:30, Wheeler 204.

In this course, we will cover the syntax, semantics, and proof theory of propositional logic, basic syllogistic logic, and predicate logic. Throughout the course, we will look at the mathematical underpinnings of logic as well as its applications to mathematics, philosophy, and everyday reasoning.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Gooding. MTuWTh 12-2, Wheeler 220.

This course is an introduction to Ancient Greek philosophy, focusing especially on Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, with briefer glances at the Presocratic philosophers, as well the main Hellenistic schools (the Epicureans, Stoics, and Skeptics).

The ancient Greeks formulated many of the problems that continue to occupy philosophers, and so the course will provide an introduction to philosophical thinking in general. But the study of ancient philosophers is exciting not only because we share many of their philosophical concerns: We will be attempting to understand a way of thinking that is, in some respects, deeply alien to our own. By doing so, we can come to see our own philosophical assumptions and prejudices in a new light.

Some of the questions that ancients asked and which we will consider include: How should we understand the fundamental structure or nature or reality? What kinds of beings can be said to truly exist? What is it to possess knowledge, as opposed to mere opinion? What kind of life should I live and what kind of person should I aspire to be? What does justice require of us, individually and collectively?

25B  Modern Philosophy. Crockett. TuWTh 10-12:30, Wheeler 120.

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.

108  Contemporary Ethical Issues. Crockett. TuWTh 1-3:30, Dwinelle 228.

This course will be devoted to in-depth discussion of a variety of problems in moral philosophy raised by real-life questions of individual conduct and social policy. Its contents will vary from occasion to occasion. Possible topics include philosophical problems posed by affirmative action, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, terrorism, war, poverty, and climate change.

Note: As taught this semester, Philosophy 108 will satisfy the Ethics requirement.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Dolan. TuWTh 10-12:30, Wheeler 30.

This course will cover major issues in the philosophy of mind. In particular, it will examine the relationship between the individual’s mind and the objective world beyond it. Topics may include: (1) The metaphysics of color: Is color just a feature of our experience that we project onto things in the world, or is it a physical feature in its own right? If the latter, then what feature is it? (2) Self-knowledge and the “problem of other minds”: Is there a special way of knowing about the contents of one’s own mind? Are mental states in some way “private” to the person who has them? (3) Action and intention: What is the difference between mere behavior and action? If the difference is that the latter is done intentionally, what is it to have an intention, and what relationship does the mental state of intention have to what ends up happening in the world?