Courses

Courses by semester

Courses for Fall 2021

Complete Cornell University course descriptions are in the Courses of Study .

Course ID Title Offered
PHIL1100 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.

Full details for PHIL 1100 - Introduction to Philosophy

Fall, Spring, Summer.
PHIL1110 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.

Full details for PHIL 1110 - FWS: Philosophy in Practice

Fall, Spring.
PHIL1111 FWS: Philosophical Problems This First-Year Writing Seminar discusses problems in philosophy and gives the opportunity to write about them.  Topics vary by section.

Full details for PHIL 1111 - FWS: Philosophical Problems

Fall, Spring.
PHIL1112 FWS: Philosophical Conversations This First-Year Writing Seminar offers the opportunity to discuss and write about philosophy.  Topics vary by section.

Full details for PHIL 1112 - FWS: Philosophical Conversations

Fall, Spring.
PHIL1450 Contemporary Moral Issues An introduction to some of the main contemporary moral issues. Topics may, for example, include animal rights, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, sexual morality, genetic engineering, and questions of welfare and social justice.

Full details for PHIL 1450 - Contemporary Moral Issues

Fall, Summer.
PHIL1950 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.

Full details for PHIL 1950 - Controversies About Inequality

Fall.
PHIL1960 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.

Full details for PHIL 1960 - Law, Society, and Morality

Fall.
PHIL2200 Greek and Roman 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.

Full details for PHIL 2200 - Greek and Roman Philosophy

Fall.
PHIL2240 Nineteenth and Twentieth Century European Thought Survey of European social theory from Hegel to Foucault (via Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Weber, and the Frankfurt School).

Full details for PHIL 2240 - Nineteenth and Twentieth Century European Thought

Fall.
PHIL2310 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.

Full details for PHIL 2310 - Introduction to Deductive Logic

Fall, spring.
PHIL2415 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.

Full details for PHIL 2415 - Introduction to Moral Psychology

Fall.
PHIL2430 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.

Full details for PHIL 2430 - Moral Dilemmas in the Law

Fall.
PHIL2441 Ethics and Society: Aid and Its Consequences The course looks at the connection between ethics and society.  It does so by focusing on the issues raised by the phenomenon of aid, giving or receiving it, and how we understand and react to it.  We seek to make sense of aid and its place In society.  We explore the ethics of aid from the point of view of philosophy.  We move to working through the implications of aid for (1) the giver; (2) the receiver; (3) the society, local and global; (4) the relations between individuals in a given society with respect to aid and; (5) relations between one society and its members and another society when they engage in aid-related activities.

Full details for PHIL 2441 - Ethics and Society: Aid and Its Consequences

Fall.
PHIL2455 Introduction to Bioethics Bioethics is the study of ethical questions raised by advances in the medical field.  Questions we'll discuss will include:  Is it morally permissible to advance a patient's death, at his or her request, to reduce suffering?  Is there a moral difference between killing someone and letting someone die?  What ethical issues are raised by advance care planning?  What is it to die?  What forms of cognitive decline or physical change could you survive (and still be you)?  On the flip side, were you ever a fetus?  How should the rights of pregnant women be balanced against those of the fetus?  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?  What is it to be disabled?  How should scarce health care resources or costly therapies be allocated to those in need?  Should organ sales be permitted?  Should medical treatment (or health insurance!) ever be compulsory, or is mandating treatment unacceptably paternalistic?  Should doctors or hospitals be permitted to refuse to provide certain medical services that violate their consciences?

Full details for PHIL 2455 - Introduction to Bioethics

Fall.
PHIL2640 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.

Full details for PHIL 2640 - Introduction to Metaphysics

Fall.
PHIL2945 Civil Disobedience This course examines controversies in the theory and history of civil disobedience. Do citizens have obligations to obey unjust laws? Can law breaking ever be civil rather than criminal? Do disruptive protests endanger democracy or strengthen the rule of law? How do acts of protest influence public opinion and policy? How is the distinction between violence and nonviolence politically constructed and contested? We will study classical writings and contemporary scholarship in pursuit of answers to these questions and related debates concerning the rule of law, conscientious objection, the uses of civility and incivility, punishment and responsibility, as well as whistleblowing, direct action, strikes, sabotage, hacktivism, and rioting.

Full details for PHIL 2945 - Civil Disobedience

Fall.
PHIL2990 Foundations of Law and Society This course explores the meaning of Law and Society, which is an interdisciplinary study of the interactive nature of legal and social forces. A law and society perspective places law in its historical, social, and cultural context, studying the dynamic way in which law shapes social norms, policy, and institutions, and conversely, the way that social forces shape the law. This Foundations of Law and Society course is structured as a series of four modules, each taught by a faculty member from a different discipline. The modules will introduce students to a range of disciplinary methods and content related to the study of the interaction of law with social, political, and economic institutions and relationships.

Full details for PHIL 2990 - Foundations of Law and Society

Fall, Spring.
PHIL3180 Origins of 20th Century Philosophy This course in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of psychology investigates three important turn-of-the-20th-century movements: the foundations of German and French phenomenology, British and American Idealism, and American pragmatism. We will study influential 20th century classics, such as Martin Heidegger's Being and Time. We will also read works by Edmund Husserl, Franz Brentano, Edith Stein, William James, FH Bradley, Bertrand Russell, GE Moore, and Hilda Oakeley. Among the concepts we'll investigate are phenomena/appearances, reality, self, consciousness, intentionality, embodiment, emergence, monism, physicalism, idealism and panpsychism.

Full details for PHIL 3180 - Origins of 20th Century Philosophy

Fall.
PHIL3222 Early Modern Philosophy This course is an advanced study of a central concept, problem, or figure in 17-18th century philosophy.

Full details for PHIL 3222 - Early Modern Philosophy

Fall.
PHIL3310 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.

Full details for PHIL 3310 - Deductive Logic

Fall.
PHIL3475 Philosophy of Punishment This course addresses central debates in the philosophy of legal punishment. We will analyze the leading theories of punishment, including the familiar retributivist and deterrent alternatives, as well as lesser-known hybrid, self-defense, and rehabilitative accounts. We will ask whether each theory offers a general justification for establishing institutions of punishment, and whether each theory justifies specific acts of punishment. Other topics may include criminal responsibility, the legitimacy of collateral consequences (e.g., the denial of felons' voting rights), alternatives to punishment, etc.

Full details for PHIL 3475 - Philosophy of Punishment

Fall.
PHIL3535 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.

Full details for PHIL 3535 - Moses to Modernity

Fall.
PHIL3700 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.

Full details for PHIL 3700 - Problems in Semantics

Fall.
PHIL3900 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.

Full details for PHIL 3900 - Independent Study

Fall or Spring.
PHIL4003 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.

Full details for PHIL 4003 - German Philosophical Texts

Fall, Spring.
PHIL4210 Augustine Topic: Augustine's philosophy of mind in De Trinitate

Full details for PHIL 4210 - Augustine

Fall.
PHIL4410 Topics in Ethics and Value Theory Advanced seminar covering a topic in ethics and value theory.

Full details for PHIL 4410 - Topics in Ethics and Value Theory

Fall.
PHIL4620 Topics in Philosophy of Mind Advanced discussion of a topic in Philosophy of Mind.

Full details for PHIL 4620 - Topics in Philosophy of Mind

Fall.
PHIL4730 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.

Full details for PHIL 4730 - Semantics I

Fall.
PHIL4900 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.

Full details for PHIL 4900 - Informal Study for Honors I

Multi-semester course: (Fall, Spring).
PHIL4901 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.

Full details for PHIL 4901 - Informal Study for Honors II

Spring.
PHIL6010 Greek Philosophical Texts Reading and translation of Greek Philosophical texts.

Full details for PHIL 6010 - Greek Philosophical Texts

Fall, Spring.
PHIL6020 Latin Philosophical Texts Reading and translation of Latin philosophical texts.

Full details for PHIL 6020 - Latin Philosophical Texts

Fall, Spring.
PHIL6030 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.

Full details for PHIL 6030 - German Philosophical Texts

Fall, Spring.
PHIL6100 Pro Seminar in Philosophy Seminar for first year Philosophy graduate students.

Full details for PHIL 6100 - Pro Seminar in Philosophy

Fall.
PHIL6210 Topics in Medieval Philosophy Graduate seminar covering a topic in medieval philosophy.

Full details for PHIL 6210 - Topics in Medieval Philosophy

Fall, Spring.
PHIL6222 Early Modern Philosophy This course is an advanced study of a central concept, problem, or figure in 17-18th century philosophy.

Full details for PHIL 6222 - Early Modern Philosophy

Fall.
PHIL6310 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.

Full details for PHIL 6310 - Deductive Logic

Fall.
PHIL6410 Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory Graduate seminar covering a topic in ethics and value theory.

Full details for PHIL 6410 - Seminar in Ethics and Value Theory

Fall, Spring.
PHIL6430 Topics in Social and Political Philosophy Advanced discussion of a topic in social and political philosophy.

Full details for PHIL 6430 - Topics in Social and Political Philosophy

Fall.
PHIL6475 Philosophy of Punishment This course addresses central debates in the philosophy of legal punishment. We will analyze the leading theories of punishment, including the familiar retributivist and deterrent alternatives, as well as lesser-known hybrid, self-defense, and rehabilitative accounts. We will ask whether each theory offers a general justification for establishing institutions of punishment, and whether each theory justifies specific acts of punishment. Other topics may include criminal responsibility, the legitimacy of collateral consequences (e.g., the denial of felons' voting rights), alternatives to punishment, etc.

Full details for PHIL 6475 - Philosophy of Punishment

Fall.
PHIL6620 Topics in Philosophy of Mind Advanced discussion of a topic in Philosophy of Mind.

Full details for PHIL 6620 - Topics in Philosophy of Mind

Fall.
PHIL6700 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.

Full details for PHIL 6700 - Problems in Semantics

Fall.
PHIL6730 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.

Full details for PHIL 6730 - Semantics I

Fall.
PHIL6740 Semantics Seminar Addresses current theoretical and empirical issues in semantics.

Full details for PHIL 6740 - Semantics Seminar

Fall.
PHIL7000 Informal Study Independent study for graduate students only.

Full details for PHIL 7000 - Informal Study

Fall or Spring.
PHIL7900 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.

Full details for PHIL 7900 - Placement Seminar

Fall.
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