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First Year Seminar: Paradoxes (PHIL 055)

Philosophy 55 is a course about paradoxes. Paradoxes have been a driving force in Philosophy since the 5th Century B.C. They force us to rethink old ideas and conceptions. Aristotle famously said that Philosophy begins in wonder – and he had in mind the kind of deep puzzlement that paradoxes generate.
In this seminar, we will study a wide range of paradoxes: Zeno’s paradoxes about space, time and motion, Sorites paradoxes about vagueness (like the paradox of the heap), paradoxes of rationality (Newcomb’s paradox and the Prisoner’s dilemma), paradoxes of belief (including paradoxes of confirmation, and the surprise examination paradox), logical paradoxes (Russell’s paradox about classes and the Liar paradox about truth), and paradoxes about time travel.
As we explore these paradoxes, we will wrestle with some central philosophical questions: What is the nature of space, time and motion? Is the world a fully determinate place? What is it to act rationally? When is a belief justified? What is the nature of truth?
The paradoxes are not just important – they are fun too. They encourage us to think creatively, in new and surprising ways. In this seminar, you will be given the opportunity to tackle the paradoxes yourselves, through group discussions, oral presentations, and frequent written assignments. Philosophy is best viewed as a practice, as something that one does. By actively engaging with the paradoxes, both orally and in your written work, you will develop the intellectual skills that make philosophical progress possible.
This seminar meets Thursday from 9:30-12:15PM.

First Year Seminar: Death (PHIL 078)

The aim of this course is to explore the nature and significance of death through classic and contemporary philosophical work, literature, and film.  We will address the following questions: (1) Do people have souls that survive bodily death? (2) What makes someone?s life go best? (3) Why is death bad for the person who dies? (4) Do our lives have meaning? (5) Does our mortality have any implications for the meaning of our lives?
This seminar meets Tuesdays from 9:30-11:50AM.

First Year Seminar: The Impact of Plato’s Symposium on Western Thought (PHIL 089H)

The goal of this course is to gain a detailed understanding of a philosophical and literary classic, Plato’s Symposium, and the ways in which it influenced the work of later writers and artists. The first part of the course will be devoted to gaining a detailed understanding of the Symposium. In the second part we will explore the ways in which the Symposium influenced Renaissance artists and writers through the publication of Marsilio Ficino’sCommentary on the Symposium on Love. In the third part we will explore the importance of the Platonic view of love and beauty for modern writers such as Keats, Shelley, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Mann, T.S. Eliot, and Virginia Woolf. In the second and third parts of the course student papers will provide the starting points for our discussions.
This seminar meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-1:45PM.

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

“Are there objective moral truths? Or is morality relative?”
“Do I have free will? If not, am I responsible for my actions?”
“Does God exist? Is God’s existence incompatible with the presence of evil in the world?”
“Who am I? What makes me the same person as that toddler in diapers twenty years ago?”
We will explore answers to these questions by studying the various solutions offered to them by both historical and contemporary philosophers. The course will also concentrate on philosophical methodology – the tools and strategies philosophers employ when grappling with these fundamental philosophical questions. This will facilitate the development of a number of philosophical skills, skills that are applicable to a number of academic fields as well as everyday life: understanding and drawing subtle distinctions; detecting, reconstructing, and evaluating arguments; identifying flaws in lines of reasoning; defending a claim against objections and criticisms. We will be learning how to read and write philosophy as a way to develop and sharpen these skills. Classwork will include: reading assignments, writing exercises, and tests.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00-9:15AM.

Introduction to Philosophy: Main Problems (PHIL 101, SECTION 003)

What makes some things right and others wrong, and how can we tell the difference? What can we know about the world? Do we have free will?
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-1:45PM.

Introduction to Philosophy: Main Problems (PHIL 101, SECTION 004)

This course will introduce students to philosophy by raising perennial philosophical questions, including “Is there a God?”, “What things can we know and how can we know them?”, and “What is in a person’s interest and what role should the pursuit of self-interest play in one’s life?” In each case we will consider competing positions as defended by historical and contemporary philosophers, and students will be asked to reach (and support) their own conclusions.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-1:45PM.

Introduction to Great Works–Honors– (PHIL 110H)

This course is an introduction to Western philosophy that examines a handful of extremely influential, historically significant philosophical books.  The books we read will be by philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Rene Descartes, and George Berkeley.
This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:00-9:50AM.

Introduction to Great Works (PHIL 110)

Philosophy is the love of wisdom. But what is wisdom? And what good does it do us to pursue wisdom? Can it improve our character?
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00-12:15AM.

Making Sense of Ourselves (PHIL 112, SECTION 001)

In this class, we try to make sense of who we are and the conditions under which we live. We will focus on four topics:
   1. Free Will. Are we free to choose our actions? Or are our choices fixed by external facts (e.g. socio-cultural facts, the laws of nature)?
   2. Personal Identity. What makes me today the same person as I was two years ago? And, ultimately, what am I?
   3. Morality. Why do we think that some things are wrong and others right? Are right and wrong (good and evil) objective categories? Or have they been invented for a particular purpose?
   4. Death. What significance does our mortality have for our lives? Is death an evil?
For each topic we will investigate to what extent our initial opinions (prejudices?)hold up to close rational scrutiny. The course offers both an introduction to each of these topics as well as an attempt to better understand human existence.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-10:45AM.

Making Sense of Ourselves (PHIL 112, SECTION 002)

In this course, we will attempt to:
(1) gain an understanding of ourselves, our relation to others and to the world, by examining the ideas of some of the most influential philosophers in history (including Plato, Rene Descartes, David Hume, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, and John Dewey)
(2) explore — and learn from the great thinkers — possible ways to investigate questions we raise about ourselves.
This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00-10:50AM.

Philosophy of Religion (PHIL 134, SECTION 001)

A philosophical inquiry into the problems of religious experience and belief, as expressed in philosophic, religious, and literary documents from traditional and contemporary sources.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-10:45AM.

Philosophy of Religion (PHIL 134, SECTION 951)

This course will survey a number of historically prominent issues in the philosophy of religion.  Our central concern will be arguments for the existence of God and criticisms of these arguments.  We will also consider a number of possible divine attributes, the possibility of miracles, the problem of evil, the relationship between God and morality, and the connection between reason and faith.
This course meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:15PM.

Introduction to Math Logic (PHIL 155, SECTION 001)

Introduces the theory of deductive reasoning, using a symbolic language to represent and evaluate patterns of reasoning.
This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:00-8:50AM.

Introduction to Math Logic (PHIL 155, SECTION 002)

This course will vigorously introduce you to the field of mathematical logic. We will cover a variety of logical topics, including classical and non-classical propositional, predicate, and modal logical systems, tree proofs, and natural deduction. Although we won’t spend much time on the philosophy of these systems, I will make it a point to cover logics of considerable philosophical importance. This course will most directly prepare you for further work in logic proper, but it will also prepare you for further work in philosophy, linguistics, computer science, and mathematics. No particular background is presupposed for this course, but comfort with mathematical reasoning will serve you well.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00-12:15AM.

Introduction to Ethics – Honors (PHIL 160H, SECTION 001)

This course is an Honors-level introduction to the elements of moral reasoning and deliberation.  What sorts of factors should I consider in making a moral decision? We will examine some of the classic theories of moral right and wrong, such as John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism and Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative.  Then we shall investigate a number of controversial moral issues, applying the classic theories and also seeing what they overlook.  The special topics will be chosen by the students collectively, but may well include abortion, capital punishment, or euthanasia. Since the course is Honors level, the emphasis will be on discussion. “Lecture” material will be distributed in advance in handout form.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-10:45AM.

Introduction to Ethics (PHIL 160, SECTION 001)

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 10:00 to 10:50AM, with Friday recitation sections.

Introduction to Ethics (PHIL 160, SECTION 002)

This course is an introduction to ethical theory.  We will begin by exploring questions about the nature of morality.  Are there moral facts?  If there are, how can we know them?  Is morality compatible with the sciences?  Or does morality require God?  Then we will explore and evaluate various theories about the nature of goodness and evil.  In doing so, we will read excerpts from such classic texts as Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism, and Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.
This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:00-8:50AM.

Introduction to Ethics (PHIL 160, SECTION 003)

Exploration of different philosophical perspectives about right and wrong, personal character, justice, moral reasoning, and moral conflicts. Readings drawn from classic or contemporary sources. Critical discussion emphasized.
This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:00-2:15PM.

Practical Ethics (PHIL 163, SECTION 002)

In this course, we shall study and discuss some of the various issues of practical ethics that arise in the course of our everyday lives. We will begin with a brief examination of prominent moral theories to provide a basic background from which we can arbitrate debates about practical ethics. We will then survey various topics including, but not limited to, euthanasia, abortion, free speech and pornography, homosexuality, and paternalism. Each topic shall be covered by examining opposing views from established philosophers. We shall try to determine the relative merits of the cases they present on the issues in order to come to a reflective, rationally supported verdict of our own.
This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:00-8:50AM.

Bioethics (PHIL 165, SECTION 001)

The practice of medicine and the development of health care policy raise ethical questions that are both theoretically challenging and practically important: Is abortion permissible?  When are doctors permitted to deceive their patients?  Should organ donors be allowed to sell transplantable organs?  What norms should guide our treatment of humans and animals in medical research?  Drawing on core work in moral theory, we will try to answer these and related questions.
This course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 to 10:50AM, with Friday recitation sections.

Social Ethics and Political Thought (PHIL 170)

We will explore various questions in social/political philosophy via an examination of historical writings.  The authors read include: Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Kant, J.S. Mill, Russell, and Rawls.  The questions considered include: Is there an overall best form of government?  If so, which is it?  What is justice?  What separates a just State from an unjust State?  What do citizens owe the State?  What does a State owe its citizens?  Under what conditions is resistance to the State (violent or nonviolent) legitimate?
This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00-10:50AM.

Social Ethics and Political Thought (PHIL 170)

This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 3:00-3:50PM.

Ancient Philosophy (PHIL 210)

In this course we will explore the development of Greek philosophical 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. The goal of the course is to become familiar with the main features of ancient Greek thought and the ways in which it helped to shape the philosophy, science, art, and literature of later centuries.
Required Text: Cohen, Curd, and Reeve, Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, 3rd edition. (Earlier editions have different contents and should not be purchased.)
Course format: Lecture and discussion. Requirements: one in-class exam, one substantial paper, and the final. Review questions handed out prior to each exam.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-12:15PM.

Ancient Philosophy (PHIL 210)

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 3:30-4:45PM.

Medieval Philosophy (PHIL 215)

A survey of medieval Latin philosophy from Augustine to Ockham. Topics: arguments about the existence and nature of God, faith and reason, the problem of evil, the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body, the nature of freedom, sin and its remedies, predestination and foreknowledge. Authors: Augustine, Anselm, Abelard, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Scotus, Ockham, and Julian of Norwich.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00-3:15PM.

Experience and Reality (PHIL 230)

Jason Bowers
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 8:00-9:15AM.

Experience and Reality – HONORS (PHIL 230H)

This course will explore the way we, as perceptual agents, experience reality, and how our experience affects our judgments about ourselves and the fundamental nature of the world. How do we perceptually engage with the world, and how is our conscious experience affected by our interaction with and perception of the world? How should this affect our interpretation of the subjectivity of experience? What is the difference between raw, uninterpreted experience and interpreted experience, and what is the philosophical significance of such a difference? How do the different sensory modalities (such as taste, touch and vision) affect our sense of ourselves as subjective agents? Readings will draw on philosophical as well as psychological work on perception, but will also draw, as appropriate, on work on the metaphysics of time, causation, and the nature of objects.
The course presupposes no background in philosophy.
This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays from 11:00-12:15PM.

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

The course will introduce students to some of the moral issues of war and peace. For example: Can war ever be morally justified? Can pacifism be morally justified? Can terrorism ever be morally justified? Can intervention ever be morally justified? Is there a moral duty to seek peace? Is the idea of a national interest a moral notion? What is Just War Theory, and what are its moral presuppositions? What are the moral rights of prisoners of war? Can it ever be morally justified to target civilians in war? Who has the moral and legal right to declare war? What are causes of war? What are the moral presuppositions of Realism and Liberalism in international affairs? Do the moral presuppositions of functioning democracies help to explain their alleged tendency not to fight one another? What are the ethical responsibilities of multinational corporations? What is the relation between global distributive justice and peace?
This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays from 11:00-11:50PM, with Friday recitations.

Philosophy of Social and Economic Justice (PHIL 273)

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

Philosophy of Law (PHIL 280)

This will be a course broadly in the philosophy of law, with particular emphasis on the work of Ronald Dworkin.  We may address such issues as the nature of laws (and in particular how they differ from conventions and social rules), how laws fit in to a just political system, why we have strong reason to obey the law, how judges should make decisions in so-called ‘hard cases’, along with more practical issues having to do with civil disobedience, punishment, and pornography.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30-1:45PM.

Philosophy of Physics (PHIL 351H)

A theory in physics (such as Newton’s theory of motion and gravity, or Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism, or Einstein’s special theory of relativity, or quantum mechanics) may succeed in making a bunch of accurate predictions regarding our observations. But then the theory must be interpreted: we must try to understand what the theory says the world is really like, in view of the theory’s accuracy in predicting our observations. This task leads to a host of classic metaphysical problems, some of which we will examine in this course. Problems we may take up include Zeno’s paradoxes, the meaning of instantaneous velocity, whether a cause must be local in space and time to its effect, whether electric and magnetic fields are real entities on a par with matter,  whether the universe is deterministic, whether the universe’s fundamental properties are dispositions, what it would mean for space to be “relational” (as Leibniz thought) or “absolute” (as Newton thought), what sort of thing is energy, what it means to say that mass and energy are “equivalent” (as Einstein’s special theory of relativity says), whether there are “spooky” actions at a distance (as quantum mechanics seems to suggest), and so forth. No specific background in physics is presupposed (though students who know some physics may find their background convenient). Equations from physics will occasionally appear, of course, but we will work through them carefully together. There will be some homework exercises (some regurgitative, others asking for creativity) as well as exams. A major emphasis in the course will be to demonstrate the lack of any sharp boundary between scientific and philosophical questions in interpreting theories in physics.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 to 10:45PM.

History of Ethics (PHIL 360)

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 11:00 to 12:15PM.

Environmental Ethics (PHIL 368)

This course will examine the nature of environmental values and their role in decisions and public policies involving environmental protection. Some of the questions we will address include: What is the relation between the environment and human health and well-being? Are there reasons other than human health and well-being for protecting the environment? How do we compare environmental values against other values in making reasonable decisions? What are the ethical issues involved in cost-benefit analysis? How do we make reasonable and ethical decisions in the face of uncertainty? What are our duties to future generations and non-human animals? What kind of ethical issues are raised by the prospects of global warming?
This course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays from 10:00 to 10:50AM.

Political Philosophy (PHIL 370)

Advanced discussion of competing philosophical approaches to questions of justice, authority, freedom, rights, and the like, including libertarianism, liberalism, communitarianism, Marxism, and feminism.
This course meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1:00-1:50PM.

Introduction to Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Phil 384)

This interdisciplinary gateway course provides an introduction to subjects and quantitative techniques used to analyze problems in philosophy, political science, and economics. This course explores a number of issues at the intersection of philosophy, political theory and economic theory.
Classes meet at UNC for the first half of the semester and the second at Duke.
This course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:35 to 5:50PM.

Philosophy of Natural Science (PHIL 450)

This course This course is designed for graduate students in philosophy.  It requires no particular background in science or philosophy of science, but I will assume a very strong background in analytic philosophy.
The course will be a survey of main issues in contemporary philosophy of science, with some attention to the history of the field over the past century.  The course will be organized under four main headings: Induction, evidence and confirmation; Scientific explanation; Reduction and reductionism; Scientific realism and anti-realism.
This course meets on Wednesdays from 1:00 to 3:30PM.

Symbolic Logic (PHIL 455)

Symbolic logic has proven to be extremely influential in a variety of 20th century disciplines, like philosophy, linguistics, the foundations of mathematics, and computer science. This course is an introduction to the main topics and results in formal logic. We will first cover the syntax and semantics of various formal languages and a selection of proof systems for them. Then, we will discuss and prove some of the central results in the meta-theory of first order logic: completeness, compactness, the Löwenheim-Skolem theorems, complete theories, notions inexpressible in first order logic, and some applications to first order mathematical theories, like non-standard models of arithmetic. Finally we will discuss the syntax and a variety of semantics for second order logic, the meta-theory of second order logic, and a selection of intentional systems, like modal logic.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 to 11:15AM.

American Political Philosophy (PHIL 473)

Prerequisites, junior/senior status and one course in the Department of Philosophy other than PHIL 155. The issue of unity and diversity in America is analyzed through the writings of Jefferson, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, Calhoun, MacKinnon, DuBois, and Rawls.
This course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30-4:15PM.

Ethics Bowl (PHIL 560)

Prerequisites, PHIL 160 or equivalent and one other ethics course above 300. Ethics Bowl provides a unique experiential opportunity for students to apply theory to practical global issues. Students will prepare cases to present locally and at Ethics Bowl competition.
This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30-4:45PM.