Spring 2009

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Course Descriptions


First Year Seminar: Ethics (PHIL 066)

Thomas Hill
This seminar aims to encourage students to think seriously and clearly about ethical problems by means of class discussion, group research projects, and examination of philosophical and literary works. Theoretical issues to be considered include relativism, utilitarianism, deontological ethics, and virtue ethics. Practical issues may include abortion, substance abuse, treatment of animals and the environment, and sex, love, and marriage.

This seminar meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:15.

First Year Seminar: Sports and Competition (PHIL 067)

Jeannette Boxill
What is involved in competition? Is there too much emphasis on winning? Are college sports getting out of hand? Do competitive athletics belong on campus? This seminar examines ethical issues, including Title IX, gender equality, racism, sexism, violence, and drug use.

This seminar meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:45.

Introduction to Philosophy: Main Problems (PHIL 101, SECTION 002)

Matthew Kotzen
This course will be a general introduction to the topics and methodology of philosophy.  No prior experience with or knowledge of philosophy will be presumed.  We will focus on three philosophical problems — the mind-body problem, personal identity, and the skeptical paradox — with an emphasis on learning to read and write philosophy papers.

This course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00 to 9:50, with Friday recitation sections.

Introduction to Philosophy: Main Problems (PHIL 101, SECTION 001)

Tyron Goldschmidt
This course introduces problems in philosophy of religion, ethics, and metaphysics. The questions addressed will include:

– Is there a God? Is there any good evidence for the existence of God? Is there any good evidence against the existence of God?
– What makes our actions morally obligatory or permissible or prohibited? Is an action obligatory or permissible or prohibited for us just because our society says so? Or are there universal, objective moral rules?
– What makes me the same person at different times? Am I identical to my body? Or do I have a soul? Could I survive survive a brain bisection?

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00-9:15AM.

Introduction to Philosophy: Main Problems (PHIL 101, SECTION 951)

Matthew Priselac
What is philosophy?  What do philosophers do and how do they do it?  To help you begin to answer these questions, this class we will look at some long standing questions in philosophy: what is freedom and why is it valuable? What is a mind?  How do minds relate to the world around them?  What is knowledge and what can we know?  We will explore some historical and contemporary attempts to answer to these questions (and maybe come up with some of our own!).  In studying these questions you will learn how to recognize and engage in philosophical argument.  By the end of this class you will be able to: (a) recognize and reconstruct philosophical arguments from texts; (b) evaluate those arguments; and (c) be familiar with some fundamental philosophical questions and some prominent attempts to answer those questions.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00-7:15PM.

Introduction to Great Works (PHIL 110)

Jason Bowers
This course will acquaint students with Plato’s best-known dialogues.  By the end of the semester, students should be able to engage in rigorous discussions about the nature and existence of the Forms, the Good, justice, love, and immortality.

This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2:00-2:50PM.

Making Sense of Ourselves (PHIL 112)

David Ripley
In this course, we’ll consider three closely related issues: 1) What makes a person at one time the same person as that person at another time? That is, what holds selves together? 2) What are our selves made of? Are there parts to our selves? What are those parts like, and how do they interact? 3) What is willpower? How is it possible to want to do something and want not to do it at the same time? Is self-control possible? Is it a good idea? All of our main readings will touch directly on at least one of these issues; many of them will involve two or all three.

This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11:00-11:50PM.

Philosophy of Religion (PHIL 134, SECTION 002)

Amber Ross
This course will contain two sections with two different aims.  The first section will discuss arguments for and against the existence of God, different conceptions of God and the problems that this religious pluralism brings, whether we can make sense of the notion of an eternal soul or the resurrection of the body. Relatedly, we will be asking whether there may be sources of moral authority other than God, or if right and wrong actually depend on the existence of a divine being.

Once we have a background understanding of these problems, we will investigate the role of religion in society.  For the past several years proponents of intelligent design have fought for ID to be treated as a scientific theory and to have it taught in the classroom.  What is the proper relationship between science and religion?  Religious fundamentalism brings its own set of problems to the table: How does an individual’s complete devotion to a God affect the value that she places on other people?  Could that devotion possibly legitimize what would otherwise be thought of heinous treatment of other people?

This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:00-1:50PM.

Philosophy of Religion (PHIL 134, SECTION 002)

Dean Pettit
This course will be concerned with a cluster of philosophical issues that arise about religion and religious belief, and will survey the Western tradition of philosophical thought about these issues. The central issue of the course will be whether there is any compelling reason to believe that the Judeo-Christian God exists. In pursuing this issue, we will confront a number of others. Is reason the appropriate basis for belief in God, or should we believe in God on the basis of something like faith? What is faith? Is the Judeo-Christian concept of God coherent? Can we consistently believe that God exists while acknowledging that there is evil in the world? Can we consistently believe that God exists and that we have free will? If God does not exist, can there be any basis for morality? This project will confront us with fundamental issues about the grounds for knowledge, the scope of reason, the nature of God, the nature of reality, the limits of possibility, and the foundation of morality. In short, the course will introduce students to the enterprise of Western philosophy. No previous exposure to either Western philosophy or religious studies will be presupposed.

This course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:15.

Philosophy of Science (PHIL 150)

Marc Lange
The discoveries that scientists make and the methods by which they make them raise a host of interesting philosophical questions, such as: Are scientific theories distinguished from pseudoscience by being testable against our observations? By what logic do our observations support our scientific theories? Can we prove our best scientific theories to be true? Or are they “merely theories”? Are we justified in making predictions about the future on the basis of observations drawn exclusively from the past? What does it mean for one event (for instance, the collision of the Earth with some large rocky body millions of years ago) to be responsible for causing another event (such as the extinction of the dinosaurs) to occur and for explaining why it occurred? What makes a given regular pattern that we might notice (such as the fact that every piece of copper is electrically conductive) not just a giant coincidence, but a law of nature? Do the wholesale revolutions in scientific thought that have occasionally occurred amount to rational and inevitable responses to overwhelming evidence? We will look at these and other questions, settling some of them and trying to make some progress on the others. This course presupposes no background in philosophy or in science.

This course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 to 10:50, with a Friday recitation sections.

Introduction to Math Logic (PHIL 155, SECTION 001)

Jamin Asay
This course is an introduction to symbolic logic. Logic is the science of good reasoning, and is best studied by learning a formalized, mathematical language. We will be learning one such language. We will learn how to translate between that language and English, learn techniques that will enable us to prove theorems, and learn how to apply those skills to evaluating arguments and good reasoning inside and out of the classroom. Students will finish the class better prepared to detect fallacies in others’ reasoning, able to construct valid arguments, and informed about philosophical issues involving logic.

This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:00-1:50PM.

Introduction to Math Logic (PHIL 155, SECTION 001)

Chris Smith
This is an introductory course in formal logic, sometimes called symbolic logic or mathematical logic.  Since the concepts and techniques of formal logic inform the thought of many contemporary philosophers, this course will both (i) expose students to an important aspect of the philosophical discipline and (ii) help to prepare students for future philosophy courses.  Knowledge of formal logic will also serve students in other disciplines, including mathematics, computer science, and linguistics.  As its name suggests, this course will feel like a math course.  All students should prepare to spend a significant amount of time studying and practicing homework problems outside of class, especially those students who tend to struggle with math.

This course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:45AM.

Introduction to Math Logic – Honors (PHIL 155H, SECTION 001)

William Lycan
Standard Philosophy 155, Introduction to Mathematical Logic, introduces the student to two systems of formal logic, the propositional calculus and, briefly, the predicate calculus.  (The course title is a bit misleading, as neither system involves numbers per se.)  The Honors version of the course will cover the two systems more quickly, in only half the semester.  The remaining class time will be devoted to the rudiments of more complicated logical systems that have applied uses in philosophy, such as modal logic, epistemic logic and deontic logic.  In addition, there will be philosophical discussion of the nature of symbolic logic itself, and a concluding unit on paradoxes.

This course meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00 to 10:15AM.

Introduction to Ethics (PHIL 160, SECTION 001)

Geoffrey Sayre-McCord
This course is an introduction to moral theory. We will be going straight to the classics — a few of the best books ever written on moral theory: Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals and Mill’s Utilitarianism. We will be concerned primarily with two questions: (1) What really matters? and (2) What is involved in answering (1)? In general, worries about the second question arise from worries about the first; and answers to the second usually commit us to answers to the first. In fact, the questions are really far more entangled than they are distinct. So we won’t be taking the questions in order; instead we will jump back and forth between the two. In coming to grips with these two very general questions we will focus on three fundamental, but slightly more specific, questions: (i) What does morality demand? (ii) Under what conditions are we responsible for our success or failure in living up to these demands? and (iii) What connection is there between our being moral and our living a good (satisfying, fulfilling) life? The first calls for a theory of morality, the second requires a theory of moral responsibility, and the third asks for an answer to an age old question: why should I be moral? We will, pretty much, be taking them in reverse order.

Initially, spaces in the course will be held for first year students. After they have had a chance to enroll, registration will be open to all.

This course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12:00 to 12:50, with Friday recitation sections.

Introduction to Ethics (PHIL 160, SECTION 002)

Bryan Weaver
This course is an introduction to ethics and the theory of morality.  Our main readings will be works by Plato, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant, and John Stuart Mill.  In addition, we will read essays on the ideas of these major figures by more recent thinkers, such as Philippa Foot, J. L. Mackie, Philip Pettit, and Bernard Williams (among others).  The course will be divided into four parts.  In the first part, we will discuss the motivation for morality.  Then in the second part, we will discuss what sort of people we ought to be.  In the third part, we will briefly revisit the motivation for morality before moving on to the fourth and final part in which we will discuss what makes an action right.

This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:00-1:50PM.

Introduction to Ethics (PHIL 160, SECTION 951)

Ben Bramble
This course is an introduction to moral theory. We will explore three core questions: (1) What does morality demand of us? (2) Under what conditions are we responsible for our success or failure in living up to these demands? And (3) What connection is there between our living morally and our being well-off? In examining these questions, we will read classic and contemporary texts.

This course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:00-7:15PM.

Practical Ethics (PHIL 163, SECTION 001)

Ben Riegel
This class focuses on practical issues that arise when making personal and collective decisions affecting the human and non-human environment.  Some of the questions that we will address include the following:  Where should we get our food from?  Is it morally okay to eat meat?  Do we have a moral obligation to protect endangered species or threatened ecosystems?  Should we preserve wild areas from development?  Does morality requires that we take into account the interests of future generations or people in other countries when deciding how to use our natural resources?  Do we, as Americans, consume too much?  Who should bear the costs of mitigating / adapting to global climate change?

This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:00-8:50AM.

Practical Ethics (PHIL 163, SECTION 002)

Margo Chiovoloni

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 1:45PM.

Bioethics (PHIL 165, SECTION 001)

Erica Roedder
This course is as a survey course.  We will focus on bioethics issues which arise in medicine.  First, we will cover basic moral theory. Then, we will consider the following topics: the provider-patient relationship (autonomy, truth-telling, confidentiality), end of life issues (morality of euthanasia, advance directives), abortion, justice in the allocation of scarce medical resources, limitations on cost-effectiveness analysis, and whether there is a right to health care.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 1:45PM.

Bioethics (PHIL 165, SECTION 002)

Erica Roedder
This course is as a survey course.  We will focus on bioethics issues which arise in medicine.  First, we will cover basic moral theory. Then, we will consider the following topics: the provider-patient relationship (autonomy, truth-telling, confidentiality), end of life issues (morality of euthanasia, advance directives), abortion, justice in the allocation of scarce medical resources, limitations on cost-effectiveness analysis, and whether there is a right to health care.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:45AM.

Bioethics (PHIL 165, SECTION 003)

Clair Morrissey
This course will be an introduction to the practice of philosophical inquiry through an exploration of the methods of ethics developed for addressing moral issues in the practice of health care. Methods addressed will include: casuistry, principlism, feminist bioethics, virtue ethics and narrative ethics. We will use these methods to address a host of topics of concern to those participating in health care institutions, either (directly) as providers or (somewhat less directly) as policy makers. Topics will include (but are not limited to): the conflict of religious and cultural values with values of health care providers, informed consent and autonomy, organ transplantation, procreation, trust and self-forgiveness. We will finish our course with an in-depth analysis of philosophical arguments about moral relativism. Emphasis will be placed on developing critical reading, reasoning and writing skills. To this end, course requirements will include (at least): 3 papers, a final exam and substantial class participation.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 to 9:15AM.

Ancient Philosophy (PHIL 210)

Greg Salmieri
This course surveys the essential content of the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle and considers more briefly some of the earlier thinkers whose ideas form the immediate context for their works. We will begin with the writings in which Plato depicts the ideas and methods of his predecessor Socrates and will focus on the ethical theses and standards for knowledge maintained in these works. We will then consider how these theses and standards, in combination with a set of ideas and problems that arose from other thinkers’ reflection on mathematics and on nature, lead Plato to develop the first philosophical system: an integrated set of ideas about the fundamental nature of reality, man, knowledge, and value. We then turn to Aristotle’s formulation of the principles of logic and the structure of a science and finally to his philosophical system, which is radically different from Plato’s, though it retains the Socratic commitments from which he began.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 3:15PM.

Ancient Philosophy-Honors (PHIL 210H)

James Lesher
Description: In this course we will explore the development of ancient Greek thought from its beginnings in the 6th century BCE down to the end of the classical period. The major figures studied will be the Presocratic philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. We will attempt to answer such questions as: ‘What factors may have helped to spark the onset of Western philosophy and science?’, ‘What were the most important contributions made by the major Presocratic philosophers (the Milesians, Xenophanes, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, and Parmenides)?’, ‘What difficulties do we face in determining the nature of Socrates’ philosophical ideas, and what, so far as we can tell, were his chief innovations?’ What were the main elements of Plato’s thought as they surface in dialogues such as the Meno, Republic, Symposium, and Parmenides?’ and ‘What were Aristotle’s chief contributions to Greek philosophy and science?’

Course requirements: A mid-term exam, a set of two 5-6 page papers, and the final exam, each counting for one-third of the semester grade. There will be some presentation of materials by the instructor but the emphasis will be placed on student presentations and discussions. Review questions will be provided in advance of each exam.

Required Text: Cohen, Curd, and Reeve, Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, 3rd edition. (Earlier editions have different contents and should not be purchased.)

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-10:45AM.

Modern Philosophy (PHIL 220)

Alan Nelson
Modern Philosophy  (roughly 1600-1780) is dominated by attempts to integrate traditional systems of theology and politics with the rapidly developing, revolutionary understanding of the natural world.  We’ll focus on Descartes, the philosopher and scientist who did the most to set the philosophical agenda for this period (and for a good deal of 21st century philosophy) and on Hume, whose philosophy is often regarded as the culmination of the period.  Briefer consideration will be given to how these thinkers are related to such other canonical figures as Locke, Berkeley, Spinoza, and Leibniz.  Topics include Mind, Matter, God, and the nature of human knowledge of these things.

There will be two take-home examinations consisting of short essays and mandatory discussion on Blackboard.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-10:45AM.

Experience and Reality (PHIL 230)

Emily Given
This course will be an introduction to epistemology, or the theory of knowledge. We will focus on four central questions: What is knowledge? What is to be justified in believing something? Under what conditions is it ethically permissible to believe something? And, are sex and gender relevant to what we know?

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-1:45AM.

Experience and Reality (PHIL 230)

Katie Elliott
Questions pertaining to what the world is like and how we can know of it are some of the most fundamental questions one can puzzle over, and are at the core of the philosophical study of metaphysics and epistemology.  Metaphysics is the study of the ultimate nature of reality and Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge.  This course is an introduction to some of the issues in these two areas that aims to familiarize you (not to mention frustrate and hopefully fascinated you) with metaphysical and epistemological concepts and arguments.

No background in philosophy is presupposed.

This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:00-1:50PM.

Ethics of Peace, War, & Defense (PHIL 272)

Jamaal Pitt
In this course we will discuss various positions concerning the morality of war, including just war theory, realism, and pacifism.  Our main focus will be on just war theory and we will examine this theory in relation to rival theories as well as applying it to wars that are currently ongoing.  Moreover, our discussion of the morality of war will touch on other topics, such as the structure of political communities as well as relationships between political communities on the international scene.

This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 2:00-2:50PM.

Social and Economic Justice (PHIL 273, SECTION 001)

Michael Moehler
This course provides an introduction to the major theories of justice of the Western philosophical tradition, such as utilitarianism, liberalism, egalitarianism, and libertarianism. The most prominent figures that we will discuss are David Hume, Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin, Amartya Sen, and Robert Nozick. The main questions that we will address in this course are: What is the nature of (social and economic) justice? What does justice require of us? Why be just? What is the relationship between justice and self-interest?

After a close analysis of the major theories of justice, we will discuss some of their practical implications. In particular, we will examine the feasibility of a just society, the conception of a universal basic income, and the justification and scope of the state. We will assess arguments for and against the minimal state, and a possible defense of the welfare state.

The final part of the course deals with the debate on global justice. Traditionally, theories of justice have considered the territorial state as the relevant context for justice. But what is the appropriate framework for justice in an interdependent, pluralistic, and global world? What does justice require of us on the international level? In order to find at least some tentative answers to these questions, we will discuss David Miller’s nationalist position, as well as the cosmopolitan views of Charles Beitz, Peter Singer, and Thomas Pogge.

This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00-9:50AM.

Social and Economic Justice (PHIL 273, SECTION 002)

Eric Mandelbaum
No one enjoys bureaucracies. But if everyone hates them why do they continue to exist? Are they a necessary part of social progress? Are they endemic to social structure? In this course we will examine the nature of order and chaos in social structures. We will be concerned with seeing how much power needs to be centralized in order to have a functioning and just state.  Towards this end we will be reading defenses and attacks on the nature of anarchism. We will also peruse the psychological foundations of our intuitions on justice, fairness, and punishment. The ultimate aim of this course is to see the ways that centralized power interacts with our psychology.

The course will be structured into roughly four parts. We will begin the course by reading some canonical essays on what justice is. With this background in hand, we will then analyze both the nature of and arguments for anarchism. This analysis of anarchism will cover the second part of our course. Towards the end of the anarchism section we will investigate how mechanisms of authority work in political institutions and in our individual psychology. This investigation will be tied to questions of punishment, particularly the question of what types of punishment, if any, are just. In the final part of the course we will be analyzing the nature of propaganda. The two main topics we will concern ourselves with are the role of propaganda in our psychology and the role of propaganda in certain social and economic systems.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00-12:15.

African American Political Philosophy (PHIL 274)

Bernard Boxill

In this course we will present African American political thought as an extended response to Thomas Jefferson’s legacy to African Americans, on the one hand in the Declaration of Independence appearing ready to endorse their inclusion in the new republic; and on the other hand in Query 14 of his Notes on the State of Virginia appearing forever opposed to their inclusion. After studying these texts we will read the African American response in some of the main works of David Walker, Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, and Booker T. Washington.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:15.

Philosophical Issues: Femininism – Honors (PHIL 275H)

Susan Wolf
Through the work of a variety of feminist theorists, the course will explore philosophical issues that arise both in the formulation of general feminist principles and in the evaluation of concrete issues in which women’s welfare is at stake. In the former category are such questions as What is feminism? What is oppression? What is sexism? What is involved in treating people equally who are in dissimilar situations? Is gender equality compatible with a conventional division of labor? Does the legality of pornography harm women? Are standards of female beauty in conflict with feminist principles?

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00-3:15PM.

Philosophical Issues: Gender (PHIL 275)

Amy Glaser
This course will examine gender from many different angles. Some questions we will consider are: What are biological sex and gender and how are they related? How do we distinguish between genders and how is this related to the oppression of women by men? How is sexism related to other forms of oppression? In addition, we will learn to think philosophically about a few concrete ethical issues that centrally involve gender, including sex, marriage, and social pressures on our bodies.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00-9:15AM.

Morality and Law (PHIL 280)

Graham Hubbs
This course will examine the philosophical underpinnings of several parts of the Constitution of the United States. We will investigate the theories of equality, justice, human nature, and the good life that the Constitution presupposes, and we will probe the legitimacy of these various theories.  The course will be divided into two parts. In the first part, we will develop an analytic framework for approaching the Constitution. We will develop this framework by reading canonical works in political philosophy by Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  By studying the similarities and differences between Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, we will equip ourselves with three distinct viewpoints for analyzing the Constitution.  In the second part of the course, we will apply the framework we will have developed to specific aspects of the Constitution. Each class session in this part of the course will focus narrowly on a single Constitutional issue. Often, the issue will concern a particular right that seems to be guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Other issues will include the way in which the government is organized by the Constitution and rights that are not guaranteed by the Constitution but are part of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In each case, we will examine arguments that can be given both for and against adopting a particular right or organizational feature of the government. By doing this, we may hope to reveal some of the philosophical presuppositions that underlie the Constitution.

Section 1 meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:45PM.
Section 2 meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 1:45PM.

Morality and Philosophy of Education (PHIL 285)

Warren Nord
Moral and Philosophical Problems in Education.  The course will explore a number of ideas and issues that arise at the intersection of liberal education, the humanities, philosophy, morality, and religion.  It will provide historical context for understanding these issues, though the primary focus would be on contemporary controversies.  What does it mean to be well educated, or liberally educated (as opposed to socialized or trained or indoctrinated)?  Should education have a moral aim, or a moral structure?  What role, if any, should religion have in a liberal education, or in moral education?  Is there a conflict between the humanities and the sciences?  And how does all of this fit into the politics of our culture wars?  The readings will present a wide variety of views; while we will read a few classic texts, most of the readings will be by contemporary philosophers, theologians, and educational theorists.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 3:15PM.

Metaphysics (PHIL 330)

Thomas Hofweber
This course is an introduction to metaphysics for undergraduates. We will discuss a selection of metaphysical problems, including personal identity, the nature of time, free will and determinism, the question why there is anything at all, the existence of abstract objects, and others.

This course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:45.

Theory of Knowledge (PHIL 335)

Greg Salmieri
Given that it is possible for us to make mistakes—to think we know something when we do not, what standards can we use to determine when we really do have knowledge, and what methods can we use to acquire it? These are the questions with which we will be concerned in this class. We will begin by considering several early modern thinkers (principally Descartes and Locke) who asked these questions and framed influential answers to them. We will then consider more recent alternative answers to their questions and challenges to the questions themselves.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00-12:15.

Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 340)

Dorit Bar-On
This advanced undergraduate course in the philosophy of mind will begin by discussing a variety of porblems in contemporary philosophy of mind, gradually narrowing our focus to study personal identity and memory.  The course will involve a research component, sponsored by the Office of Undergrad Research.  A Graduate Research Counselor (GRC) will help guide students through the writing of a research paper on memory.

This course meets on Mondays from 10:00 to 12:30.

Meaning and Reference (PHIL 345)

Dean Pettit
Language is a physical phenomenon. It is constituted by certain sounds we make, marks we make paper, and so on. Yet language seems to be a distinctive kind of physical phenomenon in at least two important respects. First, unlike many non-linguistic sounds (e.g., the wind blowing), language has meaning. This fact about language seems to be essential to its utility: it is because language is meaningful that can represent the world and thereby can be used to communicate about the world. The second distinctive fact about language is that words seem to refer to things (at least certain kinds of words). For example, the name ‘Bill Clinton’ refers to a certain former president, whereas a nonsense word like “Bkookeht’ does not. This course will be concerned with  theories about meaning and reference, theories that attempt to account for these distinctively linguistic phenomena. We will confront the following sorts of issues about meaning and reference. What is it for language to be meaningful? What makes some sounds meaningful and others not? What is it for a word to refer to something? How do certain marks on a page come to stand in this relationship to a person or thing in a way that some arbitrary string of marks does not?

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 3:15PM.

Philosophy of Cognitive Science (PHIL 353H)

Josh Knobe
Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field that aims to understand the mind using tools from philosophy, psychology, linguistics and variety of other disciplines. This course provides an introduction to cognitive science from a philosophical perspective.  We will begin by exploring some of the most basic foundational questions of the field.  (What is the role of consciousness in human thought?  Have human beings evolved to have certain kinds of innate knowledge?)  We then turn to specific applications of cognitive science, including questions about the nature of human morality and religion.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 3:15PM.

History of Ethics (PHIL 360)

Thomas Hill
This course examines selections from the works of influential moral philosophers from ancient, medieval, and modern times, including Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hume, Kant, and Mill. The aim is to understand and discuss critically their views on such questions as these: What is the ultimate good for human beings, and how does being virtuous contribute to our possibility of achieving it? Are there basic universal moral standards, accessible to everyone with reason, that can guide our moral decisions? Are moral judgments based on sentiment or reason, or both? Is there a comprehensive moral principle that should guide and constrain all moral decisions? If so, does it tell us always to promote the best consequences or to avoid certain acts “whatever the consequences?” For advanced or upper division students who have had one or more of the lower division philosophy courses, preferably an introductory course in ethics or political philosophy.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 to 3:15PM.

Contemporary Ethical Theory (PHIL 362)

Adam Cureton
This will be a course in metaethics.  We will take as our starting point G. E. Moore’s suggestion that moral claims are true in virtue of ethical properties, which are fundamentally different from all other things that scientists study.  We will consider some problems with this way of thinking about moral facts and then consider some proposals for how we can make sense of ethical practice without appealing to such strange entities.  After discussing some problems with alternative views that regard moral judgments as mere expressions of our emotions or sentiments we will conclude by investigating some recent approaches that conceives of morality as a human construction.   Questions to be considered include the following:  Are there any moral facts, and if so what are they like?  Do moral judgments express beliefs that can be true or false or are they just expressions of our emotions or our sentiments?  What are reasons and in virtue of what are facts reasons?  Is morality ‘constructed’ and if so, in what sense?  We will focus mostly on the work of some of the best philosophers of this and the last century along with selections from classical philosophers including Plato, Hume and Kant.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:15.

Introduction to Philosophy, Politics & Economics (PHIL 384)

Michael Moehler
This course explores a number of issues at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics and serves as an introduction to the quantitative techniques used by these three academic disciplines. The course clarifies the similarities and differences among the philosophical, political, and economic approaches, and the limitations of each when considered individually.

This gateway course in philosophy, politics, and economics is a core module of the PPE Program that is offered at both UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University. Classes meet at UNC for the first half of the semester and at Duke after spring break.

This course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:35 to 5:50PM.

Colloquium for Philosophy Majors (PHIL 397)

Keith Simmons
The focus of the Colloquium for Majors (Phil 397) will be Saul Kripke’s book, Naming and Necessity (Harvard 1980).  Kripke’s book is an enormously influential modern classic.  It covers philosophy of language, metaphysics and the philosophy of mind.  We will also read articles that relate to Kripke’s work by other philosophers, including Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Searle, Lewis, Smart, Nagel, and Jackson.

This course meets on Wednesdays from 4:00 to 6:30PM.

Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 440)

William Lycan
What are minds and how are they related to bodies? We shall examine four solutions to the mind-body problem, the standard competing theories of mind: Dualism, Behaviorism, the Identity Theory, and Functionalism. Then we shall take up some special topics: problems of the aboutness of mental states, their having distinctive objects or contents; and problems of consciousness, subjectivity, and the qualitative character of sensory experience.

Students who have taken Philosophy 340 (formerly 76) from Professor Lycan should not enroll in this course. Students who have taken 340 from a different instructor should consult with Professor Lycan before enrolling in 440.

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:45.

Philosophy of Psychology (PHIL 453)

Josh Knobe
Recent years have seen the emergence of a new field of ‘moral psychology’ that has philosophers and psychologists working together to solve a common set of problems.  The course will provide an introduction to this new field, with a focus on questions about the philosophical significance of psychological findings.  Topics will include: the role of emotion in moral judgment, the significance of character traits in virtue ethics and personality psychology, the reliability of intuitions and the psychological processes that underlie them.

This course meets on Tuesdays from 4:00 to 6:30PM.

Advanced Logic (PHIL 456)

Thomas Hofweber
This course is an advanced course in logic, and presupposes Phil 455 or equivalent. The topic for this semester is set theory. We will discuss the standard axiomatization of set theory, models of set theoy, ordinals and cardinals, large cardinals, the continuum hypothesis, and other issues

This course meets on Tuesdays from 1:00 to 3:30.

Contemporary Moral Philosophy (PHIL 462)

Ryan Preson
This course focuses on the following question: Given that we could devote our entire lives to fighting social injustice, meeting people’s basic needs, and so on, to what extent are we permitted to carve out space for ourselves and for the people and projects that we care about?  For example, are we permitted to eat at a fancy restaurant, take an exotic trip, or send our children to an elite private school, even if we could adopt a less expensive, and less satisfying, alternative and use the remaining resources to meet strangers? dire needs?  In addition to considering various ways of answering this question, we will read related work on what it means to care about something and on the relation between being morally virtuous and living a good life.  Readings will include work by Harry Frankfurt, Frances Kamm, Thomas Nagel, T.M. Scanlon, Bernard Williams, Samuel Scheffler, and Peter Unger.  There is a prerequisite of at least one college-level philosophy course.  The course is designed for graduate as well as undergraduate students.

This course meets on Wednesdays from 1:00-3:30PM.

Political Philosophy: from Hobbes to Rousseau (PHIL 470)

Bernard Boxill
The social contract theories of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the subject of this course. All three philosophers agreed that legitimate society must be based on a social contract. But they also held different views about what this contract ought to be like. Their agreement stemmed from their common view that human beings are or should be free. Their disagreement stemmed from their different views of human nature, Natural law, and freedom. Their work had concrete consequences. The American revolutionaries justified their actions by appealing to Locke, and Rousseau inspired the French and Haitian revolutions. Although all three wrote some centuries ago their work continues to underlie much current theorizing about the nature of the legitimate society. Reference will be made to this theorizing. Our texts are: Thomas Hobbes Leviathan; John Locke Second Treatise on Civil Government; Jean-Jacques Rousseau The Social Contract and Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (aka The Second Discourse). The best reference works are: for Hobbes Gregory Kavka Hobbesian Social and Political Thought; for Locke John Simmons The Lockean Theory of Rights; for Rousseau there is nothing equally satisfactory, but many books and articles have useful insights. Further references for all three authors will be set out in the syllabus. Participation and two papers, one short and one long are required.

This course meets on Thursdays from 1:00-3:30PM.

Philosophy of Law (PHIL 480)

Michael Corrado
This seminar will tackle the issue of rationality, what it means in economics, what it means in philosophy, and the implications of those meanings for the study of law and legal institutions. The seminar is aimed at law students and philosophy and economics graduate students and upper class undergraduates. Grade will be based upon a seminar paper.

This course meets on Wednesdays from 3:20-5:50PM.

Philosophy, Politics, & Economics Capstone Seminar (PHIL 698)

Geoffrey Brennan
Working to integrate the approaches of philosophy, political science, and economics it will address foundational issues related to: Taxation, Human Nature, Globalization, and Time and Decision making.

As with the PPE Gateway course, it will meet for half the semester at UNC and for the other half at Duke. Seniors who would like to get the minor can ask permission to waive the Gateway Course requirement and, as long as they have the various other distribution requirements satisfied, take this Capstone course and receive a minor. For information about the PPE minor go to: philosophy.unc.edu/ppe

This course meets on Wednesdays from 3:10-6:00PM.