Course Descriptions

Course Catalog for PHILOSOPHY
PHIL 101
Introduction to Philosophy
An introduction to fundamental topics and concepts in the history of philosophy, e.g., rationality, wisdom, knowledge, the good life, the just society, and the nature of language. This course is especially appropriate for first-year students or students beginning the college-level study of philosophy. Students contemplating majoring in philosophy are strongly urged to make this their first philosophy course.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 102
Introduction to Political Philosophy
This course will consider some of the foundational issues of political philosophy such as the conflict between individual liberty and social welfare, the criteria for just distribution of wealth, the concept of equality, and the ideal forms of social cooperation. We will read from the works of some of the major political philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Machiavelli, Rousseau, Hegel, and Marx.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 103
An introductory study of values, virtues, and right action. Major concepts of ethical theory (goodness, responsibility, freedom, respect for persons, and morals) will be examined through a study of Aristotle, Kant, and Mill. The course is not primarily a historical survey, but rather attempts to clarify in systematic fashion both moral concepts and moral action.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 105
Critical Thinking
An intensive study of effective reasoning in academic and practical contexts. The course covers analytical techniques for understanding and improving concepts and arguments, and creative techniques for solving problems. Required work for the course includes a wide variety of writing, much of it designed to help you improve your reasoning in other courses, and a few hours a week of community service, designed to enhance your ability to understand and work with other people.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 106
Survey of Western Philosophy I
A survey of western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the end of the 16th century. The course is appropriate for any student interested in a general introduction to one aspect of western civilization, and for the student who wishes to pursue the study of Philosophy.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 107
Survey of Western Philosophy II
A survey of western philosophy from the 17th century to the end of the 19th century. The course is designed as a continuation of Philosophy 106, though it may be taken as a first course in Philosophy.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 205
Symbolic Logic
An introduction to the use of symbols in reasoning. Prepositional calculus and quantification theory will be studied. This background knowledge will prepare the student to look at the relation of logic to linguistics, computer science, mathematics, and philosophy. Students cannot receive credit for this course and Philosophy 255, Philosophy of Logic.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 210
American Philosophy
A study of some of the major themes of American intellectual history from colonial times to the early 20th century. The course will culminate in study of American pragmatism as exemplified primarily in the writings of James and Dewey.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 212
Philosophy of Religion
A discussion of some of the philosophical problems that arise out of reflection on religion; the nature of religion and its relation to science, art, and morality; the nature of religious and theological language, the concept of God; the problem of evil; and the justification of religious belief.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 213
Philosophy of Sport
This is an introductory course designed to exhibit the Socratic thesis that the material for philosophic reflection is present in our everyday experiences, even in activities which we may consider nonintellectual. Accordingly, we shall take up the related themes of sport, athletics, and play, in order to show that an adequate understanding of them requires, and is indeed inseparable from, philosophic understanding. Topics will include social significance of sport, ethical issues in sport and race, mind and body in sport, sport and aesthetics, and the connection of sport and philosophy. The connection of sport and gender will be a guiding theme throughout.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 214
Philosophy of Art
“Art,” one writer has said, “is not a copy of the real world. One of the damn things is enough.” But then, what is art, and what is its relation to the world, to our experience, to the symbolic systems with which we create it? By consulting selected aesthetic texts of important philosophers, these and other questions will be posed to help us understand some of the traditional philosophical perplexities about art.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 215
Medical Ethics
This course will take up ethical, political, and legal issues relevant to the medical profession and patient population. Topics will include: death with dignity, treatment with dignity, abortion, mercy-killing, patient consent, the nature of physical versus mental illness, medical experimentation, and the socially conscious distribution of medical resources.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 216
Philosophy of Law
This course will consider perennial topics in philosophy of law, primarily from the standpoint of the most important recent writings in the field. We will discuss such topics as the concept of law, positivism and naturalism, the nature of judicial and legislative decision-making, the justification of legal constraint, the nature of rights, the relation of morality and law, utilitarianism and law, and criminal responsibility.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 217
Philosophy and Literature
We shall study a number of philosophic works with literary significance and a number of literary works with philosophic content in order to raise the question of what the difference is between the two. This course may be used to fulfill the Literature and Psychology minor requirements.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 220
Introduction to Cognitive Science
A survey of the new sciences of the mind. We will discuss the nature of representation, perception, and cognition, and the prospects for an empirical science of the human mind. Disciplines illuminating these issues include philosophy, cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, and neuroscience.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 221
Science, Reality and Rationality
Much of modern philosophy has focused on efforts to understand the rise of physical science since the 16th century. This course will focus on 20th-century efforts by philosophers to characterize science, explain its effectiveness, and interpret its findings.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 222
A study of the philosophical background of existentialism and of a number of principal existentialistic texts by such writers as Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Camus, and Sartre.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 223
African Philosophy
What is African philosophy? Currently, among the scholars addressing this question, no single answer prevails. Some hold that philosophy, by its nature, transcends race, ethnicity, and region and hence that terms such as “African philosophy,” “European philosophy,”and “Asian philosophy,” are all rooted in misunderstanding what philosophy fundamentally is. Some argue that prior to the very recent work of African scholars trained in formal (often European) departments of philosophy, African philosophy did not (and could not) exist. Others argue that while (many of) the peoples of Africa have little or no tradition of formal (written) philosophizing, the differing worldviews embodied in the myths, religions, rituals, and other cultural practices of ethnic Africans constitute genuine African philosophy. Yet others find African philosophy in the critical musings of indigenous African (so-called) wise men or sages. In this course we will critically examine the variety of possibilities, forms, and practices in Africa and elsewhere that might be referred to appropriately as “African philosophy” and attempt to understand why the notion of “African philosophy” is so especially contentious. (May be counted toward African Studies.)
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 224
Theory of Knowledge
“Everyone by nature desires to know,” said Aristotle. But before and since, many thinkers have wondered whether this desire can be satisfied. We shall examine a number of important questions, such as “What are the conditions of knowledge?” “What are the roles of memory, perception, evidence, and belief?”
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 225
Politics, Power, and Rights: Engaging Women of Color in Hartford
This course is designed to bring to bear philosophical feminist issues to the concrete concerns of urban women of color in Hartford. The goal of the course is to make philosophical thinking relevant to both urban women of color and Trinity students interested in the ways philosophical thinking can and cannot address urban issues. We will explore arguments around political agency for minority women, the question of relevancy in identifying concerns as feminist as opposed to class or racism in urban contexts, and link theoretical discourses to prominent and concrete agendas of voting, housing, and employment. Students will be expected to share a discursive space with women of color in Hartford both on and off campus in the exploration of these topics.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 226
Neuroscience, Ethics, and Agency
In this course, we will consider whether and how recent findings in neuroscience should inform our answers to traditional questions in metaethics concerning the nature and origins of morality, as well as our concepts of freedom, moral motivation, moral agency, and moral responsibility.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 227
Environmental Philosophy
How we treat nature is, in some measure, a function of how we conceive it. Should we be concerned with protection of the natural environment because we are dependent upon it for the quality of our lives? Or, does nature merit respect and protection for its own inherent value quite apart from its utility to human beings? Are human beings, in some relevant sense, the rightful rulers of nature and thereby entitled to use it in any manner that serves their ends? Or, is the natural environment more appropriately viewed as the property of all creatures that live within it, as something that human beings have an obligation to share with their nonhuman counterparts? Is life limited to the individuals that constitute the organic world, the world of plants and animals? Or, can we sensibly regard ecosystems, including the entire planet, as living entities in their own right (as in the so-called Gaia hypothesis)? Efforts to answer these and a wide range of related questions form the subject matter of this course.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 228
Who’s the Animal, Here? Animal Rights, Human Responsibilities
Who is the animal? In an effort to explore this and related questions this course will serve as a philosophical investigation into the essence of non-human animals. Major philosophical and political theories regarding the status, value, and autonomy of non-human animals will be explored. Additional efforts will be made to address the discourse of animal rights, animal husbandry, and animal suffering, as well as broader issues of human rights insofar as they relate to and affect the non-human animal. Through a philosophical inquiry into the nature of animality, we will see that our understanding of animals bears immediately upon our understanding of the human being and of human rights. Thus, the question ‘who is the animal’ will lead us directly into the most pressing of philosophical questions – who is the human being?
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 230
Philosophies of Human Nature
Explanations of human nature take several forms. Some philosophers ask, what is the nature of man, implying that there is a single human nature e.g., man is a rational animal shared by all men (and women). Others ask what the nature of man and woman are, taking gender as essential to human nature (or natures). Men and women may differ genetically, hormonally, or socially. Most recently, questions of human nature focus on intelligence as the supreme mark of humanity; here gender, race and class are all relevant issues. We may be rational animals, but some of us are more rational than others. In this course, we shall explore a variety of issues. Can there be a model of human nature which is neutral to gender? Do men and women have different natures if so, what is the evidence for their difference(s)? Is intelligence the highest mark of humanity and, if so, can it be measured without cultural bias? This course will include readings such as: Plato, Republic; Aristotle, Politics; Locke, Essay On Human Understanding; Rousseau, Emilie; J.S. Mill, On the Subjection of Women; Marx, The German Ideology; S. de Beauvoir, The Second Sex; A. Fausto-Sterling, Myths of Gender; and S.J. Gould, The Mismeasure of Man. (May be counted toward Women, Gender, and Sexuality major and minor.)
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 231
The Holocaust
Beginning with the historical causes and development of the “Final Solution,” the systematic destruction of European Jewry between 1933 and 1945, this course considers such issues as the nature of genocide, the concept (and history) of evil, corporate and individual moral responsibility, and the implementation of justice in the aftermath of radical evil. These issues are examined both in the context of the Holocaust and as general moral and religious problems. They are also viewed through “imaginative” literary representations, which introduces the question of what difference a subject makes to the form of its representation, and thus, more specifically, what can or cannot (and should or should not) be said about the Holocaust. (Same as College Course 231.)
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 232
Fate, Freedom, and Necessity
This course will examine ancient accounts of the individual in the context of both the city and the cosmos. We shall consider the writings of Hesiod, Aeschylus, and Plato insofar as they take up the themes of fate, freedom and necessity, especially as they affect political relations between the gods and mortals, men and women, parents and children. (May be counted toward Classics and Political Science.)
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 234
Philosophy and Evolution
An inquiry into the diverse ways in which the theory of evolution has influenced philosophy. The course will begin with a brief history of the idea of evolution. Subsequent topics will include a comparison of chimpanzee and human behavior, evolutionary ethics, the notion of a self-organizing, self-reproducing system, the concepts of evolutionary game theory and programming, the transformation of our understanding of language, disease, war, sexuality, altruism, and other concepts when given evolutionary explanations.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 237
Representations of Death in 20th-Century Philosophy, Literature, and Art
This course surveys different philosophical, literary, and artistic representations and conceptions of death in the 20th century. Our material will be drawn from different disciplines and cultural contexts.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 238
Media Philosophy
In the wake of the increasing significance of media technologies in all realms of society, media theory has moved to the center of discussion within the humanities. This course will introduce philosophical theories and texts that take a broad approach to the new media and communication technologies.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 239
African-American Feminism
This course is a historical survey of the writings of African-American women as they have historically attempted to negotiate fundamental philosophical questions of the "race problem" and the "woman problem." To this extent, we will be inserting black women's voices into the philosophical canon of both race and feminism. Along with exploring and contextualizing the responses and dialogues of women writers, like Anna Julia Cooper with their more famous male contemporaries such as Du Bois, up to more contemporary articulations of black women's voices in what is known as hip-hop feminism, we will ask the question of whether there is a particular black feminist thought, epistemology, and thus philosophy.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 240
Introduction to Feminist Philosophy
In the last several decades, feminist philosophy has developed with new vitality. It has influenced such diverse areas of philosophy as ethics, politics, and epistemology. Its contributors represent both Anglo-American and European philosophical traditions. This course will introduce students both to some of the major contributors and to the ways in which they have influenced various areas of philosophy. (May be counted toward Women, Gender, and Sexuality major and minor.)
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 241
Race, Racism, and Philosophy
An intensive examination of some philosophical discussions of race and racism. Topics include the origins of European racism, the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic racism, the conceptual connections between racist thinking and certain canonized philosophical positions (e.g., Locke’s nominalism), the relationship between racism and our notions of personal identity, the use of traditional philosophical thought (e.g., the history of philosophy) to characterize and explain differences between European and black African cultures, the possible connections between racism and Pan-Africanism, the nature of anti-Semitism, and recent attempts to conceptualize race and racism as social constructions.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 242
From Neo-Marxism to Post-Marxism
This course will provide a survey of 20th-century neo-Marxist and post-Marxist theories that have constituted a break with central aspects of “classical” Marxism (of the 2nd and 3rd International), while attempting to remain faithful to the Marxist project in other aspects. We will examine the neo-Marxist and post-Marxist critiques of Marxist reductionism (economic determinism and class reductionism); their critiques of the Marxist concept of totality, as well a their critiques of the Marxist concept of revolution. We will also trace the neo-Marxist and post-Marxist displacement from economy to politics, from “society” to the concepts of the “political” and the “cultural."
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 243
Philosophy and the City
What is a city? What is a just city? Are there ideals and values that are distinctive of the city? Does the city tell us anything important about human nature? What is the role of the city in human flourishing? How does the city differ from other forms of social and political organization, such as the state? How ought the city relate to other forms of social and political organization? How might philosophy help us to better understand the city? How might the city contribute (or continue to contribute) to philosophy's own development as a discipline? These are among the questions taken up in this course. Readings will be drawn from philosophical writings ranging from the beginnings of Western philosophy to texts by contemporary authors.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 244
The Music of Thought
What is music? What is thought? Could these concepts be usefully combined? In philosophy and cognitive science, language and thinking are perennially linked. But language is not the only deeply human cognitive capacity; music is equally universal across cultures. This course will examine the philosophical concept of music along with some ideas from cognitive musicology, exploring whether these ideas can apply to consciousness in general and whether a form of “mind music” can be empirically discovered in the dynamics of the brain. The course is offered without prerequisites, nor is prior training in musicianship required.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 246
Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations, Issues, and Debates
This course will survey and critically assess arguments in favor of the existence of human rights, arguments about the legitimate scope of such rights (who has human rights and against whom such rights can legitimately be claimed), and arguments about which rights ought to be included in any complete account of human rights. Specific topics will include (but not necessarily be limited to) the philosophical history of human rights discourse, cultural relativist attacks on the universality of human rights, debates concerning the rights of cultural minorities to self-determination, and controversies concerning whether human rights should include economic and social rights.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 247
Latin American Social and Political Thought
An historical survey of important Latin American social and political thinkers. Thinkers covered may include las Casas, Sepulveda, Bolivar, Sarmiento, Marti, Mariategui, Vasconcelos, Jose Gracia, Enrique Dussel, Linda Alcoff, and Ofelia Schutte among others. No knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is required. All texts are available translated into English.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 248
Rousseau's Political Philosophy
Rousseau is a pivotal figure in the philosophical tradition, standing between the proto-modern authors and the turn toward “history,” German Idealism, Romanticism, “stream of consciousness” in the modern novel, and on and on. We will approach Rousseau’s philosophical corpus through a reading of the Discourses, The Social Contract, Emile, and the Reveries.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 249
Philosophy and Film
Both American and European philosophers have recently turned their attention to the medium of film. This course will document this development. We will examine general philosophical considerations regarding an “aesthetics of film” or an “ontology of film”; and we will explore philosophical studies of film that locate the role of film within the framework of a social, political and psychoanalytic theory of mass culture. In addition, we will study philosophical readings of particular films and film genres from the perspective of different contemporary philosophical schools of thought (such as critical theory, Derridean deconstruction, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and post-analytic neo-pragmatism).
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 254
Shakespeare as Philosopher
Was Shakespeare a philosopher? The practice of philosophy entails sustained argument surrounding propositions of universal importance. We will examine selected plays and poetry of Shakespeare in search of coherent philosophical discourse, considering specifically Shakespearean treatments of themes in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. This seminar is open to students in all disciplines, with no prerequisites. Background knowledge about Shakespeare or Elizabethan literature is not presupposed, however students should be capable of close reading of the original texts.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 255
Philosophy of Logic
This course will introduce students to propositional and (first order) predicate logic, while engaging in philosophical reflection on a range of issues related to modern formal logic. In particular students will first study techniques for representing and analyzing arguments using the symbolism of each formal system. We will then consider some of the many philosophical issues surrounding formal logic, such as the nature of truth and inference, semantic paradoxes, and the attempt by Russell and others to use advances in formal logic to resolve traditional problems in metaphysics and epistemology. Students cannot receive credit for both this course and Philosophy 205, Symbolic Logic.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 281
Ancient Greek Philosophy
This course looks at the origins of western philosophy in the Presocratics, Plato, and Aristotle. Students will see how philosophy arose as a comprehensive search for wisdom, then developed into the “areas” of philosophy such as metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy. This course fulfills part two of the writing intensive (WI) requirement for the Philosophy major.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 282
Medieval Philosophy
A study of representative thinkers of the medieval period. Discussion will focus on such major issues as the existence of God, the problem of evil, the nature of universals, the relation between philosophical reason and religious faith. Attention will also be paid to the cultural, historical and religious climates which helped influence the unique scholastic doctrines under discussion. (Students enrolling in Philosophy 282 must also enroll in Philosophy 290-01L.) Enrollment limited.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 283
Early Modern Philosophy
The history of Western philosophy from approximately 1600 to 1750, with major attention given to Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley and Hume. This course fulfills part two of the writing intensive (WI) requirement for the Philosophy major.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 284
Late Modern Philosophy
A history of Western philosophy from approximately 1820 to 1900, with emphasis on Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx and Nietzsche.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 285
20th-Century Analytic Philosophy
Philosophy, said Wittgenstein, is the "bewitchment of the intelligence by means of language," and in his later work he sought to counter the thralldom of language by investigating its many uses. So have other writers from Russell, Ayer, and Ryle to the American philosophers Quine and Goodman. Their approach to philosophy, influenced by spectacular developments in logic and science, was largely "analytic," but their aims were traditional: to limn the prospect of human knowledge and release human intelligence from confusion and superstition. We will study their writings to understand their approach and to assess what it is to do philosophy in the 20th century.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 286
20th-Century Philosophy
"What are poets for in a destitute time?" asks Heidegger's favorite poet, Holderlin. We add, "And what are philosophers for?" The tradition of 20th-century Continental philosophy has responded, "Certainly not just to analyze language!" We shall follow some of the leading figures and themes of this rich tradition from its roots in Nietzsche through the transformations of phenomenology, to existentialism and beyond. Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Derrida will be studied among others.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 287
17th-Century Rationalism
An examination of the three thinkers whose systems are the foremost representations of rationalism, the theory of knowledge which is opposed to empiricism. The rationalists believed that a priori reason (making no recourse to sensory input or induction) was both necessary and (in the case of Spinoza and Leibniz) also sufficient for knowledge of the world. We will examine the epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical views of these three thinkers, assessing their challenge to empiricism, always bearing in mind their relation to one another and to the great conceptual revolutions of the 12th-century, most notably the emergence of modern physics in the figures of Galileo and Isaac Newton.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 288
Modern Philosophy
This course will provide a survey of 18th century European philosophy; to be more precise, we will examine texts by representatives of both French and German Enlightenment thought. The first section of the course will focus on Rousseau's and Diderot's contributions to political and aesthetic thought; the second section will be concerned with Kant's epistemology and with some of his shorter texts on political and aesthetic thought. The goal of this course consists in both defining Enlightenment thought and unearthing the fateful dialectic at its very heart. Methodologically, this course will employ an approach owed to the tradition of Critical Theory. This course fulfills part two of the writing intensive (WI) requirement for the Philosophy major.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 304
20th-Century African-American Philosophical Thought
Only during the last century have African Americans been allowed and enabled to contribute to professional philosophy (or philosophically oriented discourses) to any significant degree. This course is a broad yet intensive study and assessment of some of the theories, ideas, and arguments produced by these 20th-century writers. Not surprisingly, much of the philosophical attention of these thinkers has focused upon analysis and interpretation of the meaning(s) of being a member of a stigmatized racial group, particularly in the context of United States history. Among the thinkers to be covered are Alain Locke, W.E.B Du Bois, Derek Bell, Bernard Boxill, Anthony Appiah, Angela Davis, Cornel West, Charles Mills, Laurence Thomas, Leonard Harris, Luscious Outlaw, Lewis Gordon, Tommy Lott, Anita Allen, Michelle Moody-Adams, Naomi Zack, and Patricia Williams.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 305
20th-Century Analytic Philosophy
Philosophy, said Wittgenstein, is the "bewitchment of the intelligence by means of language," and in his later work he sought to counter the thralldom of language by investigating its many uses. So have other writers from Russell, Ayer, and Ryle to the American philosophers Quine and Goodman. Their approach to philosophy, influenced by spectacular developments in logic and science, was largely "analytic," but their aims were traditional: to limn the prospect of human knowledge and release human intelligence from confusion and superstition. We will study their writings to understand their approach and to assess what it is to do philosophy in the 20th century.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 306
20th-Century Continental Philosophy
What are poets for in a destitute time?” asks Heidegger’s favorite poet, Holderlin. We add, “and what are philosophers for?” The tradition of 20th-century continental philosophy has responded, “certainly not just to analyze language!” We shall follow some of the leading figures and themes of this rich tradition from its roots in Nietzsche through the transformations of phenomenology, to existentialism and beyond. Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Derrida will be studied among others.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 307
A study of one or more important dialogues of Plato. Careful attention will be paid to the dramatic form which Plato employs and its connection to the philosophic ideas that develop.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 308
This course will intensively study selected works of Aristotle, emphasizing his place both in Ancient Greek philosophy and the subsequent history of philosophy.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 310
Question of Justice
This course will be centered on the question: “What is justice?” The majority of the semester will be devoted to a historical survey of the different philosophical conceptions of justice from Plato to 20th-century political theorists like Rawls, Nozick, and Kelsen. In the final weeks of the course, we will turn our attention to the “crime against humanity,” which is arguably the greatest challenge to contemporary formulations of justice. Specifically, we will analyze the morality and political viability of recent truth commissions (like those in South Africa, Chile, Uganda, Haiti, and Argentina) and international criminal tribunals (like those set up by the United Nations for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia). We will also consider the theoretical and practical value of the discourses surrounding “restorative justice” and “transitional justice” over and against more traditional frameworks.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 312
A study of the main philosophical writings of Rene Descartes, and of some of the recent critical work of Descartes. Special attention will be paid to those aspects of Cartesianism that are still alive and well (representationalism, dualism, direct access to mental contents).
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 315
This course will intensively study of selected works of the 17th- century philosopher, Benedict Spinoza, emphasizing both the influences on his work and the influence of his work on subsequent philosophy.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 316
Hume and the Limits of Reason
David Hume was one of the greatest and most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Yet he was also one of its most idiosyncratic. Driven by an uncompromising empiricism, Hume raised profound skeptical worries concerning causation, the external world, the existence of an enduring self and even reason itself. Hume was an equally trenchant critic of moral objectivism and the pretensions of both natural and revealed religion. Yet Hume’s philosophy does not end with this negative assessment of human reason. Rather, Hume attempts to construct a more positive vision of human nature and society, developing an ethical system based on benevolence and utility, and a vision of society freed from its dependence on religious belief. In this course we will look at both sides of Hume’s thought.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 318
Into Kant’s work flowed most of the ideas of 17th- and early 18th-century European thought. Out of it, as from a crucible, came a new alloy of philosophical conceptions that were the source of virtually all later developments; idealism; positivism; phenomenology, and analytic philosophy. Our reading of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason will enable us to see modern philosophical heritage in the making.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 320
Hegel's most famous work, The Phenomenology of Spirit, will be studied in depth. Attention will be paid to the significance of the work on our subsequent tradition, both philosophical and cultural.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 320
A great deal of philosophical study has been devoted to the views of Karl Marx, yet much disagreement remains concerning what Marx actually thought. This course will examine some contemporary interpretations of Marx’s work against the background of some of his more important writings. Though we cannot realistically hope to arrive at the “correct” interpretation of Marx’s views, we can at least assess the merits of some of the contending accounts.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 320
Ludwig Wittgenstein is one of the most seminal thinkers of the 20th Century. In this course we will engage in an in-depth study of Wittgenstein’s “early” masterpiece, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Topics will include logical atomism, the picture theory of meaning, saying and showing, and mysticism.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 321
A great deal of philosophical study has been devoted to the views of Karl Marx, yet much disagreement remains concerning what Marx actually thought. This course will examine some contemporary interpretations of Marx's work against the background of some of his more important writings. Though we cannot realistically hope to arrive at the "correct" interpretation of Marx's views, we can at least assess the merits of some of the contending accounts.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 322
Jean Paul Sartre is one of the major intellectual figures of the 20th century. In this course we will look at Sartre’s early philosophical writings, focusing on his phenomenological account of consciousness that culminates in the existentialist conception of the human being presented in Being and Nothingness. Texts to be discussed will include Transcendence of the Ego, Imagination, The Emotions, and Being and Nothingness.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 323
Along with Martin Heidegger, Theodor W. Adorno is one of the most important German philosophers of the 20th century. In order to appreciate the extraordinary breadth of Adorno’s thought, we shall examine his work from his early lectures on historical figures, to his productive engagement with phenomenology, to his significant contributions in Dialectic of Enlightenment, to his late works, including Negative Dialectic and Aesthetic Theory.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 324
Sartre's Political Thought
This course will explore the political thought and essays of Jean-Paul Sartre. We will look at Sartre’s writings on Communism, colonialism, race, and racism, Sartre’s turn to materialism and his debate with fellow existentialist, Merleau-Ponty. The aim of this class is to examine the theoretical continuity, if there is any, between Sartre’s existential texts and his political thought as well as his activism.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 325
Nietzsche is one of those thinkers whose influence on our culture has been far wider than the number of people who have actually read him. Through a careful study of this 19th-century thinker’s major works we shall examine his own claim of thinking the most challenging thoughts of the next century.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 326
Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt remains one of the 20th century’s most provocative political philosophers. This course will survey some of Arendt’s most controversial political works, including The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil, and Reflections on Little Rock. The aim of this course is to provide students with a broad understanding of Arendt’s concerns regarding the possibilities for real political action in the modern world.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 327
A close examination of some of the central works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and relevant critical commentary. Though less well-known than his sometimes colleague and friend, J.P. Sartre, Merleau-Ponty has been described by Paul Ricoeur as "the greatest of the French phenomenologists." Although difficult to summarize, his philosophical efforts were aimed primarily at developing a radical re-description of embodied experience (focusing upon studies of perception) while avoiding the tendency of the philosophical tradition to drift between two flawed and equally unsatisfactory alternatives: empiricism and, what he called, intellectualism. His work continues to have relevance for fields as diverse as cognitive science, medical ethics, ecology, sociology, psychology, feminism, and race theory.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 328
This seminar will concentrate on the works of Sigmund Freud. We will begin with Freud’s psychological writings, then move on to his more anthropological writings. Our aim will be to see how Freud’s psychological theories inform is arguments about religion and culture.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 329
Contemporary philosophy of mind, cognitive science, philosophy of evolution, and even philosophy of religion have all been usefully and creatively rocked by the thought of Daniel Dennett. This course will explore selected writings of Dennett and critical responses.
Prerequisite: C- or better in at least one course at the 200-level or above in Philosophy, Neuroscience, or Psychology.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 333
German Idealism
This course will provide a survey of the philosophical developments arising out of certain aporias of Kantian philosophy. The focus will be on the principal representatives of German Idealism (Fichte, Schelling, Hegel), as well as on certain "minor," but nonetheless significant philosophical figures.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 334
The Frankfurt School
This seminar will provide a survey of the major texts and figures of the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse etc.). We will pay particular attention to their interrogations of philosophy and politics, philosophy and psychoanalysis, and philosophy and art.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 335
Martin Heidegger is arguably the most important philosopher of the 20th century. Yet because of the myopia of the Anglo-American philosophic tradition, he has only recently begun to receive the attention he deserves in the English-speaking world. This seminar will make a careful study of Heidegger’s magnum opus, Being and Time. In addition to our reflection on the intrinsic meaning and merit of this book, we shall consider some of its important roots in the tradition and some of the ways in which it prepares the way both for Heidegger’s own radically transformed later thought and for the most recent trends in contemporary continental philosophy.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 336
Michel Foucault was one of the most influential European thinkers of the 20th century. Using a selection of his writings, we shall examine some of his main contributions, seeking to understand both the philosophical and cultural influences that led Foucault to his positions, as well as the wide-spread influence he has had on subsequent philosophy and political, historical and cultural theory.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 337
Art and Technology
The seminar will interrogate the complex interrelationship between art and technology in 20th and 21st century philosophic thought. To what extent has technology brought to fruition the “end of art” predicted by Hegel in the 19th century, and to what extent has technology brought about a reconfiguration of art? We shall examine such seminal figures in this controversy as Hegel, Heidegger, Adorno, Benjamin, and Vattimo.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 341
Philosophy and Revolution
This seminar will examine the relation between thought and politics in light of several historical revolutionary constellations, such as the American, French, Russian, Chinese, and Algerian revolutions. Figures interrogated include—but are not limited to—Jefferson, Robespierre, Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, and Fanon.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 345
Colonialism and Neocolonialism
This seminar will examine major theories of colonialism and neocolonialism. A historical-chronological approach will explore both Marxist, liberal, existentialist, and culturalist accounts. Authors to be discussed will include Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Hannah Arendt, Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, and Edward Said.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 346
Philosophy of Love and Sexuality
Questions to be considered will include: Is there any specific kind of knowledge about the world that love can give us? Is erotic love by its very nature irrational and should it therefore be excluded from, or at least minimized within, the life of reason? Do we have different ethical obligations toward the ones we love? Is there an ethics of right and wrong peculiar to sexuality? Does the concept of sexual perversion have any objective validity? Readings from Plato, St. Augustine, the Marquis de Sade, Kierkegaard, Sarte, Alan Bloom, Thomas Nagel, Robert Nozick, Martha Nussbaum, and others.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 347
An examination of the writings of the founders of American Pragmatism-Charles Pierce, William James, Santayana, and John Dewey.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 347
Classical American Philosophy
A survey of American Philosophy of the classic period: Peirce, James, Royce, Santayana, Dewey, and Mead. Selections from their works and interpretive essays.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 351
This course will provide both a survey and close readings of some of the most significant thinkers in the tradition of philosophical aesthetics. Its scope will include 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century positions in aesthetics; moreover, texts interrogated in the course will engage different artistic fields such as literature, painting, music, cinema, and new media.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 351
Situated Knowledges: Knowledge in Perspective
Many philosophical studies of knowledge use a conception of a knower that is believed to transcend one’s social identity and embodied perspective. There are ever increasing challenges to this way of studying knowledge. This class will explore ‘alternative epistemologies’ that attempt to theorize about knowledge without presuming an asocial, disembodied knower. We will read selections from feminist epistemology, Native American epistemology, African American epistemology, and philosophy of technology to outline several ways traditional epistemology has been challenged for its questionable assumptions about the make-up of knowers.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 353
Philosophy of History
What is history? This question will be considered by asking what sort of things historical events are, such that they can be known, and what sort of thing historical knowledge is, such that it constrains our understanding of the past. Topics include the ontological status of past events, causation in history, the nature of evidence, objectivity and narrative structure. This course will also include the writing of a historical monograph based on primary sources.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 354
Ethics and International Community
It is generally agreed that a nation and its citizens have moral rights and obligations with respect to one another. But do these rights and obligations extend beyond national boundaries? Does a wealthy nation have an obligation to provide aid to starving citizens of other nations? Do wealthy individuals have an obligation to alleviate the suffering of persons with whom they do not share nationality? This course seeks to assist students in formulating and evaluating answers to these and other questions concerning international relations.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 355
Moral Theory and Public Policy
The purpose of this course is to assist students in acquiring the skill in ethical reasoning and analysis needed for mature participation in society’s continuing debates over moral issues of public concern. The course will begin by examining some types of ethical theories and will proceed to consider a number of controversial social issues. Abortion, euthanasia, racial and sexual discrimination, world hunger, treatment of animals, and capital punishment are among the topics to be considered.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 356
Philosophical Foundations of Environmental Law and Policy
Environmental law and policy regulate and constrain our interactions with and use of the natural environment. These regulations and constraints presuppose, at least implicitly, notions of the value of the natural environment and its components and what that value means for our obligations to our fellow humans, to non-humans, and to inanimate features of nature. The course will examine the ethical underpinnings of current environmental law and policy in light of these presuppositions and involve students in an effort to develop an adequate and systematic ethical basis for environmental law and policy.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 357
Issues in Cognitive Science
This seminar, the culmination of the Cognitive Science minor, will examine selected issues in cognitive science in depth, with a different issue selected for each offering of the course. Possible topics may include: vision and consciousness; the origins of language; the philosophy and psychology of knowledge; animal mentation.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 361
What is a person? What makes you the same person as your past and future selves? Are some human actions free? What is the nature of time? Is the passage of time an objective feature of reality or only a product of our subjective experience? What does it mean to say that something that did not happen might have happened? In this course we shall consider some of the central metaphysical puzzles in contemporary western philosophy, such as the nature of time, freedom and determinism, personal identity and theories of possible worlds.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 362
Moral Philosophy
A study of the foundation of ethics including such topics as the justification of moral beliefs, moral relativism, the nature of moral language (cognitivism, emotivism, naturalism), the relation of interests to ideals and theories of moral judgment and exemplarism. Students will be given the opportunity to work through a number of personal and social issues in an attempt to test theories in the context of practical decision-making.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 369
Concepts of Body
Physical body seems immediately given in ordinary experience. Yet it has been explained in a remarkable number of ways, for example as mathematical (insofar as it consists of dimension, length, breadth and depth, and can be measured) or as material and so unavailable to mathematical analysis; it can be explained as an intellectual or as a merely psychological construct produced when we experience sensible change. In this course, we shall consider several important concepts of body in themselves and as they relate to other problems, particularly the problem of mind.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 371
Minds and Brains Laboratory
Recent advances in neuroscience are transforming the study of the mind into the study of the brain. In this laboratory sequence to accompany Philosophy 374, Minds and Brains, students will learn the techniques of "brain reading" employed in contemporary cognitive neuroscience. The laboratory sequence especially emphasizes functional neuroimaging, working with data collected at the nearby Olin Neuropsychiatric Research Center. Students may also volunteer to participate in brain scanning experiments; in this case, data in the lab may originate in one's own brain, adding new meaning to the philosopher's maxim, "know thyself."
0.25 units, Laboratory
PHIL 374
Minds and Brains
The neurosciences have made striking progress in recent years toward understanding the brains of animals and human beings. Through readings in philosophy and science we will consider what contribution this explosion of neuroscientific data can make to our understanding of the mind.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 378
Philosophy of Mind
In this course we will investigate classical and contemporary theories of mind, such as dualism, logical behaviorism, materialism, and functionalism. Among the issues we will consider are what is the nature of the mental? Is the mind identical with or distinct from the body? What is the nature of consciousness? Is the mind a genuine cause? What, if anything, do contemporary investigations in cognitive science and artificial intelligence have to teach us about the nature of the mind?
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 379
Prostitution and Pornography: Rights, Responsibilities, and the Sex-Industry
This course examines the philosophical issues underpinning debates about prostitution and pornography, exploring the adequacy of liberalism for addressing possible harms caused by the two institutions. In examining the range of arguments for and against prohibitions on prostitution and pornography, we are faced with a set of fundamental philosophical questions: What is a person? What are the boundaries of a person? Does a person have the right/obligation to control/police those boundaries? Are there some kinds of violations of these boundaries that are/should be disallowed? As we try to address these questions, however, we keep returning to the question of whether or not sex is some sort of special case. And if it is, is the sale of sex involved in prostitution different from the sale of sex involved in pornography? Judging by our legal practices, we seem to think it is. But why might this be so? In order to answer this tough question, we’ll listen to what people involved in the two industries have to say about what they do, and how this differs from what gets said in various political and academic debates about the subject.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 383
If the past no longer exists, and the future is not yet, then what is time? This seminar will consider time and temporality as issues in philosophy of science, phenomenology, and cognitive science. Authors include Augustine, James, Husserl, and Einstein, with the thought-experimental contributions of Proust, Borges, and others.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 385
A systematic study of one of the most important and influential philosophical movements of the 20th century. Phenomenology concerns itself with the objects of experience and the structures of experience as they are lived, and this perspective and methodology has played an essential role in the developments of existentialism, hermeneutics, and even psychotherapy. Much attention will be given to Edmund Husserl’s work; other figures considered could include Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Ricoeur.
1.00 units, Seminar
PHIL 390
Advanced Logic
An investigation of various methods of logic. Certain related topics in epistemology and the philosophy of mathematics will be considered.
1.00 units, Lecture
PHIL 399
Independent Study
Independent, intensive study in a field of special interest requiring a wide range of reading and resulting in an extended paper. Normally there will be only a few meetings with the supervisor during the course of the semester. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
PHIL 460
An in-depth study of a topic of mutual special interest to the student and teacher. Frequent periodic meetings (usually weekly) will provide an opportunity for extensive and detailed discussions on a one-to-one basis. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
PHIL 466
Teaching Assistantship
Work conducted in close consultation with the instructor of a single course and participation in teaching that course. Duties for a teaching assistant may include, for example, holding review sessions, reading papers, or assisting in class work. In addition, a paper may be required from the teaching assistant. This course may count as one of the 11 total required for the major, but will not count as one of the six required “upper-level” (300 and above) courses. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
PHIL 497
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required .
1.00 units, Independent Study
PHIL 498
Senior Thesis Part 1
A two-credit course culminating in an extended paper to be read by two or more members of the department. It may be organized like a tutorial or independent study. This is a required course for all students who wish to graduate with honors in philosophy. To be eligible for this course a student must have an A- average in the major or must successfully petition the department for an exemption. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for each semester of this yearlong thesis. (2 course credits are considered pending the first semester, and two course credits will be awarded for completion in the second semester.)
2.00 units, Independent Study
PHIL 499
Senior Thesis Part 2
A two-credit course culminating in an extended paper to be read by two or more members of the department. It may be organized like a tutorial or independent study. This is a required course for all students who wish to graduate with honors in philosophy. In order to be eligible for this course a student must have an A- average in the major or must successfully petition the department for an exemption. Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for each semester of this yearlong thesis.
2.00 units, Independent Study