Courses - Spring 2020

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: Frances Fairbairn (fhf22)
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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: Alex Esposito (ave9)
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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: Frances Fairbairn (fhf22)
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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)
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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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Khena Swallow (kms424)
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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)
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PHIL 1920 Introduction to Political Theory

This course offers a survey of political theory in the West. We will examine some of the persistent dilemmas of politics and the attempts of several canonical political theorists to respond to them: Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and Nietzsche. In each case, we will attend to the particular crises these theorists addressed in their work—such as imperialism, the European wars of religion, the English Civil War, the French Revolution, and industrial capitalism—as well as the broader philosophical and political issues they continue to pose to us now. Our approach will be both historical and conceptual, providing students with an understanding of political theory as a distinctive form of political inquiry.

Distribution: (HA-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Patchen Markell (ppm48)
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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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Karolina Hubner (kh753)
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PHIL 2300 Puzzles and Paradoxes

This course will survey a number of famous paradoxes about the nature of time, identity, logic, science, belief, decision, and value. Some of these paradoxes have widely accepted answers, but many do not. Paradoxes include (but are not limited to) Zeno's paradoxes, the sorites paradox, the liar paradox, paradoxes of probability, the doomsday and simulation arguments, Newcomb's puzzle, and the trolley problem. These paradoxes will be used as a stepping stone to deeper philosophical questions. Some of the questions we'll tackle include: Is time real? What is a person? Is infinity coherent? How is science possible? What is knowledge? What is it to be rational? What should we do? Does God exist? And finally, why is death bad?

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Alexander Kocurek (awk78)
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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: Theodore Korzukhin (tk283)
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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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Julia Markovits (jm2476)
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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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shaun Nichols (sbn44)
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PHIL 2530 Religion and Reason

What must (or could) God be like, and what reasons do we have for thinking that a being of that sort actually exists? What difference would (or could) the existence of God make to our lives? Religion & Reason examines the idea, shared by several major world religions, that God must be an absolutely perfect being. What attributes must a perfect being have: must it have a mind, be a person, care for human beings? Is the concept of a perfect being coherent? Is the existence of a perfect being compatible with the presence of evil in the world, the existence of human freedom, the nature of the world as modern science understands it? Does what is morally right and wrong depend in any important way on the nature or will of a perfect being? Is a perfect being among the things that actually inhabit our universe? The course approaches these questions with the tools and methods of philosophical reason and through readings drawn from both classic texts and contemporary philosophical discussion.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
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PHIL 2945 Civil Disobedience

This course examines the political theory of civil disobedience. Do citizens have obligations to obey unjust laws? What makes disobedience civil rather than criminal? How do acts of protest influence public opinion and policy? Do disruptive protests endanger democracy or strengthen the rule of law? How is the distinction between violence and non-violence political constructed and contested? How has political dissent transformed in a digital era? We will study classical writings and contemporary scholarship in pursuit of answers to these questions and related debates concerning the rule of law, conscience, justice, violence and non-violence, whistleblowing, direct action, rioting, and hacktivism.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Alexander Livingston (pal229)
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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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Sara Pritchard (sbp65)
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PHIL 3180 Origins of 20th Century Philosophy

Philosophical writings from 1885 to 1915, by Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell, among others. Topics: metaphysics, semantics, epistemology, and value theory.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Harold Hodes (hth3)
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PHIL 3204 Hellenistic Philosophy

An examination of the doctrines of the Greek philosophers working in the three centuries after the death of Aristotle. Emphasis on Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Skepticism.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Charles Brittain (cfb9)
Full details for PHIL 3204 : Hellenistic Philosophy
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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Harold Hodes (hth3)
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PHIL 3475 Philosophy of Punishment
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Benjamin Yost (bsy9)
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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: Tad Brennan (trb64)
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PHIL 4002 Latin Philosophical Texts

Reading and translation of Latin philosophical texts.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
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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 4200 Topics in Ancient Philosophy

Advanced discussion of topics in ancient philosophy.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Tad Brennan (trb64)
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PHIL 4215 Topics in Medieval Philosophy

Advanced discussion of a topic in medieval philosophy.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
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PHIL 4220 Topics in Modern Philosophy

Advanced discussion of topics or authors in "modern" Western philosophy (circa the 17th and 18th centuries).

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Karolina Hubner (kh753)
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PHIL 4611 Topics in Action Theory
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Carlotta Pavese (cp645)
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PHIL 4620 Topics in Philosophy of Mind

Advanced discussion of a topic in Philosophy of Mind.

Distribution: (KCM-AS)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Shaun Nichols (sbn44)
Full details for PHIL 4620 : Topics in Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 4710 Topics in the Philosophy of Language

An investigation of varying topics in the philosophy of language including reference, meaning, the relationship between language and thought, communication, modality, logic and pragmatics.

Academic Career: UG Instructor: Alexander Kocurek (awk78)
William Starr (wbs56)
Full details for PHIL 4710 : Topics in the Philosophy of Language
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)
Academic Career: UG Instructor: Sarah Murray (sem269)
Full details for PHIL 4720 : Pragmatics
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: Tad Brennan (trb64)
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PHIL 6010 Greek Philosophical Texts

Reading and translation of Greek Philosophical texts.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Tad Brennan (trb64)
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PHIL 6020 Latin Philosophical Texts

Reading and translation of Latin philosophical texts.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Scott MacDonald (scm8)
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PHIL 6200 Topics in Ancient Philosophy

Advanced discussion of topics in ancient philosophy.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Tad Brennan (trb64)
Full details for PHIL 6200 : Topics in Ancient Philosophy
PHIL 6220 Topics in Modern Philosophy

Advanced discussion of topics or authors in "modern" Western philosophy (circa the 17th and 18th centuries).

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Karolina Hubner (kh753)
Full details for PHIL 6220 : Topics in Modern Philosophy
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)
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PHIL 6611 Topics in Action Theory
Academic Career: GR Instructor: Carlotta Pavese (cp645)
Full details for PHIL 6611 : Topics in Action Theory
PHIL 6620 Topics in Philosophy of Mind

Advanced discussion of a topic in Philosophy of Mind.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Shaun Nichols (sbn44)
Full details for PHIL 6620 : Topics in Philosophy of Mind
PHIL 6710 Topics in the Philosophy of Language

An investigation of varying topics in the philosophy of language including reference, meaning, the relationship between language and thought, communication, modality, logic and pragmatics.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Alexander Kocurek (awk78)
William Starr (wbs56)
Full details for PHIL 6710 : Topics in the Philosophy of Language
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: Sarah Murray (sem269)
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: Jon Ander Mendia (jm2732)
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PHIL 6740 Semantics Seminar

Addresses current theoretical and empirical issues in semantics.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Sarah Murray (sem269)
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PHIL 7000 Informal Study

Independent study for graduate students only.

Academic Career: GR Instructor: Tad Brennan (trb64)
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