Courses - Spring 2021

PHIL 1100 Introduction to Philosophy

A general introduction to some of the main topics, texts, and methods of philosophy. Topics may include the existence of God, the nature of mind and its relation to the body, causation, free will, knowledge and skepticism, and justice and moral obligation. Readings may be drawn from the history of philosophy and contemporary philosophical literature.

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shaun Nichols (sbn44)
Full details for PHIL 1100 : Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 1111 FWS: Philosophical Problems

This First-Year Writing Seminar discusses problems in philosophy and gives the opportunity to write about them.  Topics vary by section.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Lyu Zhou (lz446)
Full details for PHIL 1111 : FWS: Philosophical Problems
PHIL 1112 FWS: Philosophical Conversations

This First-Year Writing Seminar offers the opportunity to discuss and write about philosophy.  Topics vary by section.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Dean Da Vee (dad356)
Full details for PHIL 1112 : FWS: Philosophical Conversations
PHIL 1650 Philosophy of Race

This course offers an introduction to the philosophy of race. It canvasses key debates in the field concerning the metaphysical status of race, the relationship between the concept of race and racism (and the nature of the latter), the first-person reality of race, and the connections and disconnections between racial, ethnic, and national identities.

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS, SCD-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Benjamin Yost (bsy9)
Full details for PHIL 1650 : Philosophy of Race
PHIL 1910 Introduction to Cognitive Science

This course provides an introduction to the science of the mind.  Everyone knows what it's like to think and perceive, but this subjective experience provides little insight into how minds emerge from physical intities like brains.  To address this issue, cognitive science integrates work from at least five disciplines: Psychology, Neuroscience, Computer Science, Linguistics, and Philosophy.  This course introduces students to the insights these disciplines offer into the workings of the mind by exploring visual perception, attention, memory, learning, problem solving, language, and consciousness. 

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Khena Swallow (kms424)
Full details for PHIL 1910 : Introduction to Cognitive Science
PHIL 1911 WIM: Introduction to Cognitive Science

This section is highly recommended for students who are interested in learning about the topics covered in the main course through writing and discussion. 

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Khena Swallow (kms424)
Full details for PHIL 1911 : WIM: Introduction to Cognitive Science
PHIL 1920 Introduction to Political Theory

This course introduces students to political theory as a distinctive mode of political inquiry. By surveying the wide range of forms through which political theory has been practiced—such as treatises, dialogues, plays, aphorisms, novels, manifestos, letters, speeches, illustrations, and films—we explore the ways in which political theory reflects upon, criticizes, and reshapes the basic concepts, habits of perception, and modes of feeling through which people make sense of the political world, from big events like wars and revolutions to everyday experiences of felt injustice or alienation. Our approach will be both historical and conceptual, attending to the force of each theoretical intervention in its context, while also drawing out the broader philosophical and political questions it continues to pose to us now.

Distribution: (HA-AS, SSC-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Patchen Markell (ppm48)
Full details for PHIL 1920 : Introduction to Political Theory
PHIL 1960 Law, Society, and Morality

An introduction to leading topics in legal theory and political philosophy such as: what the laws should be, how they shape and are shaped by society, how they are and should be interpreted, the proper role of ethical and religious outlooks in lawmaking, the obligation to obey the law, and the relationship between private life and public legislation.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Benjamin Yost (bsy9)
Full details for PHIL 1960 : Law, Society, and Morality
PHIL 2220 Modern Philosophy

A survey of Western philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries: Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. We focus largely on epistemology (ideas, skepticism, belief, knowledge, science) and metaphysics (bodies, minds, God, causation, natural laws, afterlife, and personal identity). Some of the ethical implications of these systems will also be mentioned in passing.

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS, HST-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Justin Steinberg (jds467)
Full details for PHIL 2220 : Modern Philosophy
PHIL 2310 Introduction to Deductive Logic

Covers sentential languages, the truth-functional connectives, and their logic; first-order languages, the quantifiers "every" and "some," and their logic.

Distribution: (MQR-AS, SMR-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Alexander Kocurek (awk78)
Full details for PHIL 2310 : Introduction to Deductive Logic
PHIL 2410 Ethics

This will be a lecture course on classic and contemporary work on central topics in ethics. The first third of the course will focus on metaethics: we will examine the meaning of moral claims and ask whether there is any sense in which moral principles are objectively valid. The second third of the course will focus on normative ethics: what makes our lives worth living, what makes our actions right or wrong, and what do we owe to others? The final third of the course will focus on moral character: what is moral praiseworthiness, and how important is it? Can we be held responsible for what we do? When and why?

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Kate Manne (kam468)
Full details for PHIL 2410 : Ethics
PHIL 2415 Introduction to Moral Psychology

This course is an introduction to the moral mind from philosophical and psychological perspectives. Many traditional philosophical problems about morality are being illuminated by current work in cognitive science. In this course, we will look at several of these problems. In each case, we will begin with a presentation of the philosophical problems, and we will proceed to examine recent empirical work on the topic. A wide range of topics will be covered, including moral judgment, agency, the self, and punishment.

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shaun Nichols (sbn44)
Full details for PHIL 2415 : Introduction to Moral Psychology
PHIL 2465 Philosophy of Applied Jurisprudence

This course examines a series of epistemic and metaphysical issues raised in modern applied jurisprudence. For example: What constitutes an actionable 'harm' and how can successful plaintiffs be 'made whole?' What kinds of evidence should juries consider in their deliberations, and how should they be guided in so doing? How does more or less speculative evidence from modern neuroscience complicate questions of culpability and mens rea? How do we justify punishment generally, and incarceration specifically? Does it make sense for juries to apply the 'reasonable person' standard in sexual harassment cases if we cannot conceive of a genderless person? We will examine these and other questions, applying philosophical rigor to modern jurisprudence.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Daniel Manne (dpm255)
Full details for PHIL 2465 : Philosophy of Applied Jurisprudence
PHIL 2621 Minds and Machines

Throughout history, metaphors drawn from technology of the time have been proposed to understand how the mind works. While Locke likened the newborn's mind to a blank slate, Freud compared the mind to hydraulic and electro-magnetic systems. More recently, many have endorsed Turing's proposal that the mind is a computer. Why is this idea attractive and what exactly is a computer? Is it at all plausible that the cells of your brain are computing? Could a computer ever really have a mind, beliefs, emotions and conscious experiences? What are these mysterious things anyway? Could a machine ever count as a person and make choices based on its own free will? Is it really so clear that we have this kind of free will?

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: William Starr (wbs56)
Full details for PHIL 2621 : Minds and Machines
PHIL 2960 Ethics and the Environment

Politicians, scientists, and citizens worldwide face many environmental issues today, but they are neither simple nor straightforward. Moreover, there are many ways to understand how we have, do, and could value the environment from animal rights and wise use to deep ecology and ecofeminism. This class acquaints students with some of the challenging moral issues that arise in the context of environmental management and policy-making, both in the past and the present. Environmental concerns also highlight important economic, epistemological, legal, political, and social issues in assessing our moral obligations to nature as well as other humans. This course examines various perspectives expressed in both contemporary and historical debates over environmental ethics by exploring four central questions: What is nature? Who counts in environmental ethics? How do we know nature? Whose nature?

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS, SSC-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Juno Parrenas (jsp324)
Full details for PHIL 2960 : Ethics and the Environment
PHIL 3202 Plato

We will study several of Plato's major dialogues, including the Apology, the Meno, Phaedo, and Republic. Topics include knowledge and reality; morality and happiness; and the nature of the soul.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tad Brennan (trb64)
Full details for PHIL 3202 : Plato
PHIL 3230 Kant

An intensive study of the metaphysical and epistemological doctrines of the Critique of Pure Reason. Some editions of the course may also consider Kant's ethical views as laid out in the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and related works.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Justin Steinberg (jds467)
Full details for PHIL 3230 : Kant
PHIL 3310 Deductive Logic

A mathematical study of the formal languages of standard first-order propositional and predicate logic, including their syntax, semantics, and deductive systems. The basic apparatus of model theory will be presented. Various formal results will be established, most importantly soundness and completeness.

Distribution: (MQR-AS, SMR-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Harold Hodes (hth3)
Full details for PHIL 3310 : Deductive Logic
PHIL 3460 Modern Political Philosophy

This course will primarily focus on studying and scrutinizing general conceptions of justice. Topics explored typically include liberty,economic equality, democracy, community, the general welfare, and toleration. We will also look at implications for particular political controversies such as abortion, welfare programs and pornography.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Rachana Kamtekar (rk579)
Full details for PHIL 3460 : Modern Political Philosophy
PHIL 3480 Philosophy of Law

This will be a class on various topics in the philosophy of law.  Some questions we'll be considering:  What is law?  Do laws have moral content?  What is the proper role of judges in interpreting the law?  What do alternatives to our legal system look like?  Is there an obligation to obey the law?  Might there sometimes be an obligation to disobey the law?  What, if anything, justifies punishment by the state? What counts has having an excuse for wrongdoing?  What counts as good evidence of guilt? What are the justifications for and limits of the right to free speech?  When, if ever, is paternalistic interference by the state into the lives of its citizens justified?  And what special ethical problems do practicing lawyers face?

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Julia Markovits (jm2476)
Full details for PHIL 3480 : Philosophy of Law
PHIL 3535 Moses to Modernity

This course is an introduction to Jewish philosophy – from Biblical texts to 20th century work. Our inquiries will span metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of religion, and political philosophy. We will reflect on questions such as the relation between philosophy or reason on the one hand, and religion and ethics on the other, on the possibility of knowledge of God, the ethics of human relations, the nature of suffering, and finally the nature of a tolerant and just society. We will read works by Maimonides, Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Marx, Buber, Rosenzweig, Cohen, Arendt, Levinas, and Butler, among others.

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Karolina Hubner (kh753)
Full details for PHIL 3535 : Moses to Modernity
PHIL 3900 Independent Study

To be taken only in exceptional circumstances. Must be arranged by the student with his or her advisor and the faculty member who has agreed to direct the study.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shaun Nichols (sbn44)
Full details for PHIL 3900 : Independent Study
PHIL 4002 Latin Philosophical Texts

Reading and translation of Latin philosophical texts.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Peter Osorio (pio3)
Full details for PHIL 4002 : Latin Philosophical Texts
PHIL 4110 Greek Philosophical Texts

Reading and translation of Greek philosophical texts.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tad Brennan (trb64)
Full details for PHIL 4110 : Greek Philosophical Texts
PHIL 4300 Set Theory

This course is a sequel to PHIL 3300 / MATH 3840 but is also open to students who have not had the latter. After a brief review of the central ideas from the latter course, it will cover the construction of the real numbers, cardinality, the ordinal numbers, the cardinal numbers, the axiom of choice, and time permitting, another topic or two.

Distribution: (MQR-AS, SMR-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Harold Hodes (hth3)
Full details for PHIL 4300 : Set Theory
PHIL 4490 Feminism and Philosophy

Feminist approaches to questions in metaphysics, epistemology, language, and value theory.

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS, SCD-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Kate Manne (kam468)
Full details for PHIL 4490 : Feminism and Philosophy
PHIL 4620 Topics in Philosophy of Mind

Advanced discussion of a topic in Philosophy of Mind.

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Nicholas Silins (ns338)
Full details for PHIL 4620 : Topics in Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 4640 Topics in Metaphysics

Advanced discussion of a topic in metaphysics.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Alexander Kocurek (awk78)
Full details for PHIL 4640 : Topics in Metaphysics
PHIL 4720 Pragmatics

What is the relationship between what words mean and how they are used? What is part of the grammar and what is a result of general reasoning? Pragmatics is often thought of as the study of how meaning depends on the context of utterance. However, it can be difficult to draw a line between pragmatics and semantics. In this course, we will investigate various topics that walk this line, including varieties of linguistic inference (including entailment, presupposition, and implicature), anaphora, indexicals, and speech acts.

Distribution: (KCM-AS, ETM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Dorit Abusch (da45)
Full details for PHIL 4720 : Pragmatics
PHIL 4900 Informal Study for Honors I

Majors in philosophy may choose to pursue honors in their senior year. Students undertake research leading to the writing of an honors essay by the end of the final semester. Prospective candidates should apply at the Department of Philosophy office, 218 Goldwin Smith Hall.

Academic Career: UG Full details for PHIL 4900 : Informal Study for Honors I
PHIL 4901 Informal Study for Honors II

Majors in philosophy may choose to pursue honors in their senior year. Students undertake research leading to the writing of an honors essay by the end of the final semester. Prospective candidates should apply at the Department of Philosophy office, 218 Goldwin Smith Hall.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Karolina Hubner (kh753)
Full details for PHIL 4901 : Informal Study for Honors II
PHIL 4909 Making Equality

This seminar inquires into the interrelations among three meanings of equality that initially appeared in the ancient world: equality of voice or participation, isegoria; equality before the law, isonomia; and equality of power, isokratia. Through legal, political theoretical, historical, philosophical, and poetic texts, we will explore how these different practices of equality circulate and interact in institutional settings marked by injustice, scarce resources, and asymmetries of wealth and power. For longer description and instructor bio visit The Society for the Humanities website.

Distribution: (KCM-AS, SCD-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jill Frank (jf725)
Full details for PHIL 4909 : Making Equality
PHIL 6010 Greek Philosophical Texts

Reading and translation of Greek Philosophical texts.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Tad Brennan (trb64)
Full details for PHIL 6010 : Greek Philosophical Texts
PHIL 6020 Latin Philosophical Texts

Reading and translation of Latin philosophical texts.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Peter Osorio (pio3)
Full details for PHIL 6020 : Latin Philosophical Texts
PHIL 6410 Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

Graduate seminar covering a topic in ethics and value theory.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Julia Markovits (jm2476)
Full details for PHIL 6410 : Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory
PHIL 6490 Feminism and Philosophy

Feminist approaches to questions in metaphysics, epistemology, language, and value theory.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Kate Manne (kam468)
Full details for PHIL 6490 : Feminism and Philosophy
PHIL 6620 Topics in Philosophy of Mind

Advanced discussion of a topic in Philosophy of Mind.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Nicholas Silins (ns338)
Full details for PHIL 6620 : Topics in Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 6640 Topics in Metaphysics

Graduate seminar covering a topic in Metaphysics.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Alexander Kocurek (awk78)
Full details for PHIL 6640 : Topics in Metaphysics
PHIL 6720 Pragmatics

What is the relationship between what words mean and how they are used?  What is part of the grammar and what is a result of general reasoning?  Pragmatics is often thought of as the study of how meaning depends on the context of utterance.  However, it can be difficult to draw a line between pragmatics and semantics.  In this course, we will investigate various topics that walk this line, including varieties of linguistic inference including entailment, presupposition, and implicature), anaphora, indexicals, and speech acts.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Dorit Abusch (da45)
Full details for PHIL 6720 : Pragmatics
PHIL 6731 Semantics II

Uses the techniques introduced in Semantics I to analyze linguistic phenomena, including quantifier scope, ellipsis, and referential pronouns. Temporal and possible worlds semantics are introduced and used in the analysis of modality, tense, and belief sentences. The phenomena of presupposition, indefinite descriptions, and anaphora are analyzed in a dynamic compositional framework that formalizes the idea that sentence meaning effects a change in an information state.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Mats Rooth (mr249)
Full details for PHIL 6731 : Semantics II
PHIL 6740 Semantics Seminar

Addresses current theoretical and empirical issues in semantics.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Jon Ander Mendia (jm2732)
Full details for PHIL 6740 : Semantics Seminar
PHIL 6909 Making Equality

This seminar inquires into the interrelations among three meanings of equality that initially appeared in the ancient world: equality of voice or participation, isegoria; equality before the law, isonomia; and equality of power, isokratia. Through legal, political theoretical, historical, philosophical, and poetic texts, we will explore how these different practices of equality circulate and interact in institutional settings marked by injustice, scarce resources, and asymmetries of wealth and power. For longer description and instructor bio visit The Society for the Humanities website.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Jill Frank (jf725)
Full details for PHIL 6909 : Making Equality
PHIL 6922 Foundations of the Social Sciences

Social science research almost always combines empirical observation (data), the construction of concepts (language), and the logical analysis of the relations between observations and concepts (statistics).  This course examines the relations between these three dimensions as the analyst moves from one to the other both as practice and in the crafting of a formal summary of findings and argument. We will be particularly interested in the foundational assumptions that underpin the connections between empirical reality, language, and statistical analysis. While these foundational assumptions are often taken for granted by social scientists, they vary dramatically between social science disciplines.  The implicit contradiction between that variance and their doxic acceptance within disciplines will be a primary focus of the course.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Richard Bensel (rfb2)
Full details for PHIL 6922 : Foundations of the Social Sciences
PHIL 6995 Female Acts: From Antiquity to Jelinek

Woman caring for the dead; women sacrificed; fatal female desire - these images have been constitutive for Western aesthetic and theoretical discourse. How is female agency, in word and deed, delimited in a world divided along the lines of public/private, state/family, visible/invisible, outside/inside, mind/body, culture/nature? How are knowledge and thought conditioned by positing gendered and racial others? Have investigations of "public feelings" (Cvetkovich, Berlant) changed the perspective on gendered affects (rage, revenge)?

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Elke Siegel (es744)
Full details for PHIL 6995 : Female Acts: From Antiquity to Jelinek
PHIL 7000 Informal Study

Independent study for graduate students only.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Tad Brennan (trb64)
Full details for PHIL 7000 : Informal Study