Courses - Fall 2019

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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shaun Nichols (sbn44)
Full details for PHIL 1100 : Introduction to Philosophy
PHIL 1110 FWS: Philosophy in Practice

This First-Year Writing Seminar is about using philosophy and everyday life and provides the opportunity to write extensively about these issues.  Topics vary by section.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Alexander Boeglin (arb374)
Full details for PHIL 1110 : FWS: Philosophy in Practice
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: Matthew Paskell (mrp233)
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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Benjamin Yost (bsy9)
Full details for PHIL 1650 : Philosophy of Race
PHIL 1901 Discussions of Justice

This course will address questions of justice posed by current political controversies, for example, controversies over immigration, economic inequality, American nationalism, the government's role in healthcare and the environment, racial inequality, the political power of elites, populism, authoritarianism, globalization, and the proper use of America's global power. Brief readings in political philosophy and social science will be starting points for informal discussion and mutual learning among diverse perspectives.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Avi Appel (aa2263)
Full details for PHIL 1901 : Discussions of Justice
PHIL 1902 Social Media: Theory and Practice

From marketing, to sharing our life experiences, to getting the news, social media permeates our lives. In the process, it raises important challenges regarding the self, corporate responsibility, and privacy. In this course, we will investigate these questions through practical and theoretical approaches. First, we will run the various social media accounts of Carl Becker House on West Campus. Second, we will read philosophical and sociological work on the moral and social issues raised by social media. Finally, we will hear from speakers on both the practical aspects (e.g., how to be a social media influencer) and the theoretical (what is privacy?).

Academic Career: UG Instructor: August Faller (avf22)
Neema Kudva (nk78)
Full details for PHIL 1902 : Social Media: Theory and Practice
PHIL 1950 Controversies About Inequality

In recent years, poverty and inequality have become increasingly common topics of public debate, as academics, journalists, and politicians attempt to come to terms with growing income inequality, with the increasing visibility of inter-country differences in wealth and income, and with the persistence of racial, ethnic, and gender stratification. This course introduces students to ongoing social scientific debates about the sources and consequences of inequality, as well as the types of public policy that might appropriately be pursued to reduce (or increase) inequality. These topics will be addressed in related units, some of which include guest lectures by faculty from other universities (funded by the Center for the Study of Inequality). Each unit culminates with a highly spirited class discussion and debate.

Distribution: (SBA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Cristobal Young (cy469)
Full details for PHIL 1950 : Controversies About Inequality
PHIL 2200 Ancient Philosophy

An introductory survey of ancient Greek philosophy from the so-called Presocratics (6th century BCE) through the Hellenistic period (1st century BCE) with special emphasis on the thought of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tad Brennan (trb64)
Full details for PHIL 2200 : Ancient 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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Harold Hodes (hth3)
Full details for PHIL 2310 : Introduction to Deductive Logic
PHIL 2420 Social and Political Philosophy

This course will examine key issues in social and political philosophy. Topics may include the legitimacy of the state, political obligation, the nature and demands of justice, equality, liberty, and autonomy. Selected readings may be drawn from historical as well as contemporary sources.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Benjamin Yost (bsy9)
Full details for PHIL 2420 : Social and Political Philosophy
PHIL 2430 Moral Dilemmas in the Law

The course concerns the principles and philosophical arguments underlying conflicts and moral dilemmas of central and ongoing concern to society as they arise within legal contexts. We consider questions such as what justifies using state power to punish people for wrongdoing, what kinds of conduct are rightly criminalized, what justifies the Supreme Court's power to strike down Congressional legislation, what justifies the right to private property and its boundaries, what is the right to privacy and why it is important, what are human rights, and what is the morality and law of war. Throughout we will be reading legal cases and philosophical commentaries that engage with the deep issues that the cases pose.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Andrei Marmor (am2773)
Full details for PHIL 2430 : Moral Dilemmas in the Law
PHIL 2455 Introduction to Bioethics

Bioethics is the study of ethical problems brought about by advances in the medical field.  Questions we'll discuss may include:  Is it morally permissible to advance a patient's death, at his or her request, to reduce suffering?  Is there a moral dilemma between killing someone and letting someone die?  What ethical issues are raised by advance care planning?  How should the rights of pregnant women be balanced against those of the fetus?  What constitutes informed consent?  Should medical treatment ever be compulsory?  Should parents be given control over the genetic make-up of their children?  Are some forms of human enhancement morally troubling?  Should we aim to be better than well?  How should scarce health care resources or costly therapies be allocated to those in need?  Should organ sales be permitted?  Should doctors or hospitals be permitted to refuse to provide certain medical services that violate their consciences?

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Julia Markovits (jm2476)
Full details for PHIL 2455 : Introduction to Bioethics
PHIL 2510 Philosophy of the Arts

This course is an introduction to philosophy of the arts, with emphasis on contemporary visual art, and on recent theorizing about art. We will investigate questions such as: What is art? What is good art, and who decides? What is art about, and who decides? What is the relationship between art and politics? Between art and thought? Art and nature? Art and ordinary experience? What is the nature of aesthetic experience?  

Distribution: (LA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Karolina Hubner (kh753)
Full details for PHIL 2510 : Philosophy of the Arts
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 2640 Introduction to Metaphysics

This course is an introduction to some of the central questions in metaphysics--the study of what there is and how it works. Possible topics include persistence through change, freedom of the will, the nature of time (and the possibility of time travel), causation, properties, and necessity.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Alexander Kocurek (awk78)
Full details for PHIL 2640 : Introduction to Metaphysics
PHIL 2830 Introduction to Decision Theory

This course is an introduction to decision theory. Decision theory aims to answer a fundamental normative question: what ought one to do, given what one believes and values. Modern decision theory is a work in progress, with many outstanding issues, so our focus will be on what are sometimes called the philosophical 'foundations' of decision theory. Our discussion will be driven by some concrete problems (Newcomb, Death in Damascus, Sleeping Beauty), and by some general questions (what does practical irrationality consist in? how can one argue in favor of one decision theory or another?).

Distribution: (MQR-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Theodore Korzukhin (tk283)
Full details for PHIL 2830 : Introduction to Decision Theory
PHIL 3222 Early Modern Philosophy

This course is an advanced study of a central concept, problem, or figure in 17-18th century philosophy.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Karolina Hubner (kh753)
Full details for PHIL 3222 : Early Modern Philosophy
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: Derk Pereboom (dp346)
Full details for PHIL 3230 : Kant
PHIL 3340 Modal Logic

Modal logic is a general logical framework for systematizing reasoning about qualified and relativized truth. It has been used to study the logic of possibility, time, knowledge, obligation, provability, and much more. This course will explore both the theoretical foundations and the various philosophical applications of modal logic. On the theoretical side, we will cover basic metatheory, including Kripke semantics, soundness and completeness, correspondence theory, and expressive power. On the applied side, we will examine temporal logic, epistemic logic, deontic logic, counterfactuals, two-dimensional logics, and quantified modal logic. 

Distribution: (MQR-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Alexander Kocurek (awk78)
Full details for PHIL 3340 : Modal Logic
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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Julia Markovits (jm2476)
Full details for PHIL 3480 : Philosophy of Law
PHIL 3610 Epistemology

This course will be an advanced introduction to some contemporary debates in epistemology.  We will start by considering skeptical arguments that we cannot really know whether the world is the way it appears to us.  We will look at different strategies to respond to such skeptical arguments, in particular contextualism, and explore questions concerning the nature of knowledge and the relation between knowledge and other epistemologically significant concepts, such as certainty, justification, and evidence. We will also look at Bayesian epistemology and its theoretical underpinnings, at knowledge-first approaches to epistemology, at the relation between knowledge and action, and at the compatibility of traditional epistemology with formal epistemology.  Also will explore the notion of common knowledge, and issues in social epistemology.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Carlotta Pavese (cp645)
Full details for PHIL 3610 : Epistemology
PHIL 3700 Problems in Semantics

In this class we will discuss the properties of truth-conditional semantics, with a focus on those phenomena that have been used to question the adequacy of such systems. The course starts of by discussing the fundamental (formal) properties of truth-conditional semantics, and the notion of interpretation relative to a model. Then, we will explore different aspects of the grammar of natural languages that have been invoked against such semantic systems, such as vagueness and degree expressions, presuppositional content, indexicals and lexical semantics, a.o.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Jon Ander Mendia (jm2732)
Full details for PHIL 3700 : Problems in Semantics
PHIL 3710 Philosophy of Language

An introduction to some of the main issues in the philosophy of language. Topics may include names, definite descriptions, belief ascriptions, truth-conditional theories of meaning, pragmatics, and metaphor. Both historical and contemporary readings are considered.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: William Starr (wbs56)
Full details for PHIL 3710 : Philosophy of Language
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: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
Full details for PHIL 4002 : Latin Philosophical Texts
PHIL 4003 German Philosophical Texts

Reading, translation, and English-language discussion of important texts in the German philosophical tradition. Readings for a given term are chosen in consultation with students.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: M. Kosch (mak229)
Full details for PHIL 4003 : German 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 4215 Topics in Medieval Philosophy

Advanced discussion of a topic in medieval philosophy.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
Full details for PHIL 4215 : Topics in Medieval Philosophy
PHIL 4261 Topics in 20th C. Philosophy

Topic:  Simone de Beauvoir & Moral Philosophy.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: M. Kosch (mak229)
Full details for PHIL 4261 : Topics in 20th C. Philosophy
PHIL 4311 Topics in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics

After reviewing some material on standard logics (classical and intuitionistic), and covering Tarskian consequence relations, we will focus on logics for monadic operators (especially for necessity and possibility, for which the logics are called modal).  Time permitting, we will also consider dyadic operators (especially conditionals). Logics will be considered proof-theoretically and model-theoretically. A background in logic is required.

Distribution: (MQR-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Harold Hodes (hth3)
Full details for PHIL 4311 : Topics in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics
PHIL 4730 Semantics I

Introduces methods for theorizing about meaning within generative grammar. These techniques allow the creation of grammars that pair syntactic structures with meanings. Students look at several empirical areas in detail, among them complementation (combining heads with their arguments), modification, conjunction, definite descriptions, relative clauses, traces, bound pronouns, and quantification. An introduction to logical and mathematical concepts used in linguistic semantics (e.g., set theory, functions and their types, and the lambda notation for naming linguistic meanings) is included in the course.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Dorit Abusch (da45)
Full details for PHIL 4730 : Semantics I
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 Instructor: Shaun Nichols (sbn44)
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 Full details for PHIL 4901 : Informal Study for Honors II
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: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
Full details for PHIL 6020 : Latin Philosophical Texts
PHIL 6030 German Philosophical Texts

Reading, translation, and English-language discussion of important texts in the German philosophical tradition. Readings for a given term are chosen in consultation with students.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: M. Kosch (mak229)
Full details for PHIL 6030 : German Philosophical Texts
PHIL 6100 Pro Seminar in Philosophy

Seminar for first year Philosophy graduate students.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Nicholas Silins (ns338)
Full details for PHIL 6100 : Pro Seminar in Philosophy
PHIL 6210 Topics in Medieval Philosophy

Graduate seminar covering a topic in medieval philosophy.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
Full details for PHIL 6210 : Topics in Medieval Philosophy
PHIL 6260 Topics in 20th C. Philosophy

Topic: Simone de Beauvoir & Moral Philosophy.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: M. Kosch (mak229)
Full details for PHIL 6260 : Topics in 20th C. Philosophy
PHIL 6410 Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

Graduate seminar covering a topic in ethics and value theory.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Andrei Marmor (am2773)
Full details for PHIL 6410 : Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory
PHIL 6415 Law and Philosophy Colloquium
Academic Career: GR Instructor: Emad Atiq (eha47)
Andrei Marmor (am2773)
Full details for PHIL 6415 : Law and Philosophy Colloquium
PHIL 6700 Problems in Semantics

In this class we will discuss the properties of truth-conditional semantics, with a focus on those phenomena that have been used to question the adequacy of such systems. The course starts of by discussing the fundamental (formal) properties of truth-conditional semantics, and the notion of interpretation relative to a model. Then, we will explore different aspects of the grammar of natural languages that have been invoked against such semantic systems, such as vagueness and degree expressions, presuppositional content, indexicals and lexical semantics, a.o.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Jon Ander Mendia (jm2732)
Full details for PHIL 6700 : Problems in Semantics
PHIL 6730 Semantics I

Introduces methods for theorizing about meaning within generative grammar. These techniques allow the creation of grammars that pair syntactic structures with meanings. Students look at several empirical areas in detail, among them complementation (combining heads with their arguments), modification, conjunction, definite descriptions, relative clauses, traces, bound pronouns, and quantification. An introduction to logical and mathematical concepts used in linguistic semantics (e.g., set theory, functions and their types, and the lambda notation for naming linguistic meanings) is included in the course.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Dorit Abusch (da45)
Full details for PHIL 6730 : Semantics I
PHIL 6740 Semantics Seminar

Addresses current theoretical and empirical issues in semantics.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Dorit Abusch (da45)
Mats Rooth (mr249)
Full details for PHIL 6740 : Semantics Seminar
PHIL 7000 Informal Study

Independent study for graduate students only.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Richard Boyd (rnb1)
Full details for PHIL 7000 : Informal Study
PHIL 7900 Placement Seminar

This course is designed to help prepare Philosophy graduate students for the academic job market. Though students will study sample materials from successful job applicants, much of the seminar will function as a workshop, providing them with in-depth feedback on multiple drafts of their job materials. Interview skills will be practiced in every seminar meeting. The seminar meetings will be supplemented with individual conferences with the placement mentor, and students should also share copies of their job materials with their dissertation committees.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
Full details for PHIL 7900 : Placement Seminar