Courses

Courses by semester

Courses for Spring 2022

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.
PHIL1620 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 entities 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. 

Full details for PHIL 1620 - Introduction to Cognitive Science

Spring, Summer.
PHIL1621 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. 

Full details for PHIL 1621 - WIM: Introduction to Cognitive Science

Spring.
PHIL1650 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.

Full details for PHIL 1650 - Philosophy of Race

Spring.
PHIL1918 Conversations in Moral Psychology Who gets to decide what is right and wrong? Are there any universal moral rules? Do moral norms benefit some more than others? What are the implications when age, gender, race, ethnicity, education, income, social status, and other individual differences interact with morality? This course is designed for students who are ready to dive to the core of morality. This format of the course is a series of guest talks and active discussions.

Full details for PHIL 1918 - Conversations in Moral Psychology

PHIL1920 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.

Full details for PHIL 1920 - Introduction to Political Theory

Spring.
PHIL2220 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.

Full details for PHIL 2220 - Modern Philosophy

Spring.
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.
PHIL2410 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?

Full details for PHIL 2410 - Ethics

Spring.
PHIL2420 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.

Full details for PHIL 2420 - Social and Political Philosophy

Spring.
PHIL2540 Introduction to Indian Philosophy This course will survey the rich and sophisticated tradition of Indian philosophical thought from its beginnings in the speculations of Upanishads, surveying debates between Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and materialistic philosophers about the existence and nature of God and of the human soul, the nature of knowledge, and the theory of language.

Full details for PHIL 2540 - Introduction to Indian Philosophy

Spring.
PHIL2830 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?).

Full details for PHIL 2830 - Introduction to Decision Theory

Spring.
PHIL2960 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?

Full details for PHIL 2960 - Ethics and the Environment

Spring.
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.
PHIL3203 Aristotle We will study several of Aristotle's major works, including the Categories, Physics, Posterior Analytics, Metaphysics, and Nicomachean Ethics. Topics include nature and change, form and matter, the nature of happiness, the nature of the soul, and knowledge and first principles.

Full details for PHIL 3203 - Aristotle

Spring.
PHIL3210 Medieval Philosophy A selective survey of Western philosophical thought from the fourth to the 14th century. Topics include the problem of universals, the theory of knowledge and truth, the nature of free choice and practical reasoning, and philosophical theology. Readings (in translation) include Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham. Some attention will be given to the development of ideas across the period and the influence of non-Western traditions on the West.

Full details for PHIL 3210 - Medieval Philosophy

Spring.
PHIL3231 Kant's Ethics This course introduces students to Kant's moral philosophy, focusing on his normative ethics. We will pay special attention to how Kant's emphasis on virtue in his later ethical writings enables a response to many of the historical and contemporary criticisms leveled against him. We will also discuss some remaining worries about his theory; for example, those stemming from his rigorism or his views on race and gender.

Full details for PHIL 3231 - Kant's Ethics

Spring.
PHIL3710 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.

Full details for PHIL 3710 - Philosophy of Language

Spring.
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.
PHIL3915 Moral Psychology in Action Moral Psychology in Action is an applied psychology course for students who want to make a difference in the world through ethical leadership and positive contributions in organizations, and who are drawn to scholarly work on psychology, ethics, and morality.

Full details for PHIL 3915 - Moral Psychology in Action

PHIL4002 Latin Philosophical Texts Reading and translation of Latin philosophical texts.

Full details for PHIL 4002 - Latin Philosophical Texts

Fall, Spring.
PHIL4110 Greek Philosophical Texts Reading and translation of Greek philosophical texts.

Full details for PHIL 4110 - Greek Philosophical Texts

Fall, Spring.
PHIL4220 Topics in Modern Philosophy Advanced discussion of topics or authors in "modern" Western philosophy (circa the 17th and 18th centuries).

Full details for PHIL 4220 - Topics in Modern Philosophy

Spring.
PHIL4311 Topics in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics Advanced discussion of a topic in logic or foundational mathematics.

Full details for PHIL 4311 - Topics in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics

Spring.
PHIL4490 Feminism and Philosophy Feminist approaches to questions in metaphysics, epistemology, language, and value theory.

Full details for PHIL 4490 - Feminism and Philosophy

Spring.
PHIL4610 Topics in Epistemology An intensive seminar on a special topic in epistemology to be determined by the instructor. Potential topics include: What are the limits of knowledge? What is the extent and nature of our knowledge of our own minds? How do we gain knowledge through particular sources such as perception, testimony, memory, or reasoning? Readings may be drawn from historical or contemporary sources.

Full details for PHIL 4610 - Topics in Epistemology

Spring.
PHIL4720 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.

Full details for PHIL 4720 - Pragmatics

Spring.
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.
PHIL6203 Aristotle We will study several of Aristotle's major works, including the Categories, Physics, Posterior Analytics, Metaphysics, and Nicomachean Ethics. Topics include nature and change, form and matter, the nature of happiness, the nature of the soul, and knowledge and first principles.

Full details for PHIL 6203 - Aristotle

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

Full details for PHIL 6210 - Topics in Medieval Philosophy

Fall, Spring.
PHIL6220 Topics in Modern Philosophy Advanced discussion of topics or authors in "modern" Western philosophy (circa the 17th and 18th centuries).

Full details for PHIL 6220 - Topics in Modern Philosophy

Spring.
PHIL6290 Proseminar in the History of Philosophy An introduction to current research in the history of philosophy primarily through engagement with a variety of presentations of such research by Cornell faculty, visiting scholars, and advanced graduate students doing dissertation-level work. Each seminar meeting will involve a viva voce presentation of a current paper or research project. Students in the course will be expected to engage in both critical discussion of the work presented and reflection on the practices and methodologies exemplified in that work. Advanced graduate students in the course will be expected to present work of their own. Exposure to a variety of scholars and their work and the opportunity for explicit reflection on scholarly practices will enable students to develop and refine their own research in the history of philosophy.

Full details for PHIL 6290 - Proseminar in the History of Philosophy

Fall or Spring.
PHIL6311 Topics in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics Advanced discussion of a topic in logic or foundational mathematics.

Full details for PHIL 6311 - Topics in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics

Spring.
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.
PHIL6450 Humor and Morality This course will be about the surprising and complicated ways that morality and humor bear on one another. The focus will be on interpersonal humor (banter, teasing, mockery, leg-pulling, etc.) that raises serious moral questions, as it may well involve deception, cruelty, or stereotyping. Humor can hurt, exclude, and divide. Considering its occasional immorality, should we continue to engage in it? This is, surprisingly, a new area of exploration. We will explore literature that can help us to start thinking about the topic on our own, literature that is at least in the general vicinity (what literature on humor there is is just about jokes). It comes from a variety of disciplines, including aesthetics, psychology, metaethics, linguistics, emotion theory, and normative ethics.

Full details for PHIL 6450 - Humor and Morality

Fall or Spring.
PHIL6490 Feminism and Philosophy Feminist approaches to questions in metaphysics, epistemology, language, and value theory.

Full details for PHIL 6490 - Feminism and Philosophy

Spring.
PHIL6610 Topics in Epistemology An intensive seminar on a special topic in epistemology to be determined by the instructor. Potential topics include: What are the limits of knowledge? What is the extent and nature of our knowledge of our own minds? How do we gain knowledge through particular sources such as perception, testimony, memory, or reasoning? Readings may be drawn from historical or contemporary sources.

Full details for PHIL 6610 - Topics in Epistemology

Spring.
PHIL6713 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.

Full details for PHIL 6713 - Philosophy of Language

Spring.
PHIL6720 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.

Full details for PHIL 6720 - Pragmatics

Spring.
PHIL6731 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.

Full details for PHIL 6731 - Semantics II

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

Full details for PHIL 7000 - Informal Study

Fall or Spring.
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