Department of Philosophy

MSC 03 2140
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Physical Location:
Humanities (HUM)
513

Phone: (505) 277-2405
Fax: (505) 277-6362

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Fall 2017

101 - Introduction to Philosophy

101.003

Instructor: Marcel Lebow
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

The discipline of philosophy is given short shrift in our culture today. Considered just haphazard opining, philosophizing is thought at best to be a statement one gives at a dinner party. One tells of "their philosophy", which inevitably amounts to a series of platitudes dressed up in long pauses and distant gazing. Otherwise, philosophy, it is said, has no place in contemporary society, and was just a series of lucky guesses and wild speculation only those in the past considered – a mere stand-in for a kind of thinking that the sciences now occupy.

 Through a study of some of the classics of the Western philosophical tradition, this class aims to dispel such misconceptions and introduce one to the rigor and lasting relevance of the practice and study of philosophy. We will address questions that many of us wonder about at one time or another: Is there a god? What constitutes a good or evil act? Do we have souls? How do we know the external world exists? Does life have meaning?

 What we will find is that philosophy at its finest delimits a field of investigation that, while informed by the sciences and other disciplines, can only be approached systematically through a kind of thinking unique to philosophy itself. Rather than a matter of paltry conjecture, philosophy puts limits on what we can say and think legitimately, and reveals to us certain possibilities of philosophical conclusion, separating from itself idle chatter and the remarks better left for books found in Barnes & Noble's quirky gifts section which predicate philosophy with one's favorite television show or movie.

 Grades based on pop quizzes and a final exam.

 

101.004

Instructor: Michael Candelaria
Time/s: MWF 12:00-12:50

This course is an introduction to philosophy.  We will survey the fundamental areas of philosophy including the following: philosophy of religion, ethics, freedom of the will, personal identity, and philosophy of mind.  Our focus will be on arguments, their analysis and evaluation. Our approach will also be a historical one. We will begin with Greek philosophy, Plato and Aristotle, then we will consider medieval philosophy, Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas. Turning out attention to modern philosophy we will examine Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. We will discuss nineteenth century philosophy in Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. An examination of twentieth and twenty first century philosophy will round out the course.

101.005

Instructor: Idris Robinson
Time/s: TR 2:00-3:15

This class will address some of the major questions that have consistently reappeared throughout the history of philosophy.  How do we know what we know?  What is the nature of reality?  Is there anything beyond the physical world?  Above all, our investigations will be guided by the pressing ethical question of what is to be done?  

In addition to supplementary literature, students will read the original texts spanning from the origins of Greek philosophy with Plato and Epicurus, into the modern period beginning with Descartes and Spinoza, and contemporary thinkers such as Wittgenstein, Badiou, and Agamben. The students will also have an opportunity to critically assess and respond to these different philosophers in class discussions and writing assignments.  

Required Text:  Andrew Cutrofello & Paul Livingston, The Problems of Contemporary Philosophy: A Critical Guide for the Unaffiliated, Polity, 2015

101.006

Instructor: Mary Domski
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

In this course, we will survey several problems that continue to motivate philosophical discussion and philosophical worry. Such problems will include: the problem of evil, the nature of the human soul, the existence of God, the extent of moral responsibility, the possibility and extent of human knowledge, and perhaps most importantly, what it means to lead a good life. The goal of this course is to illuminate fruitful ways of engaging with these philosophical problems, which means we’ll wrestle with hard questions that rarely offer neat and tidy solutions. Be prepared to READ, REFLECT, and WRITE throughout the semester. On average, you should expect to dedicate roughly 4-5 hours each week to complete the required assignments for this course.

101.008

Instructor: David Liakos
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

The aim of this course is to provide a topical (as opposed to chronological) overview of philosophy. By means of an emphasis on classic as well as some contemporary texts from the history of Western philosophy, students will gain familiarity with several of the major authors, texts, and problems of Western philosophy. In studying the great questions that philosophers have sought to answer throughout history and up until the present, and some of the main attempts to answer or make sense of those questions, we will acquire various perspectives on the definition and task of philosophical inquiry. After a brief overview of the purpose and aim of philosophy, the course will proceed through topics in metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory, and conclude with consideration of philosophy's relationship to other intellectual domains such as the natural sciences and literature. Through quizzes, exams, and short writing assignments, students will also learn how to explain and assess philosophical arguments for themselves. All readings will be made available online.

101.011

Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

Proceeding historically through a few of the great works of Western philosophy, this course will introduce you to some deep and enduring philosophical questions, including:  What are the ultimate foundations of reality?  What is being?  What is love?  What does it mean to be human?  How should I live?  Can knowledge make me happy?  What is the good life?  What is the good death?  What is the relationship between being and time?  What is justice?  Which political arrangement is best?  What is enlightenment?  What effects are science and technology having on our world?  How should we understand the problem of nihilism or meaninglessness?  What does it mean to think?  What do autonomy, integrity, and authenticity mean and require?  What is freedom?  What are the necessary preconditions and consequences of freedom?  What is the meaning of life?  How have the answers to that question changed over the course of Western history?  What does it mean to read well, and how is that question connected to the good life?  The interconnected goals of the course include introducing you to the Western philosophical tradition, initiating you into the art of close philosophical reading, developing your skills in critical writing and argumentation, and, in all these ways, encouraging your thoughtful engagement with the world. 

 Course requirements:  This course will require you to read, understand, and come to terms with a variety of challenging philosophical texts and issues.  You should take careful notes and always bring the relevant books with you to class (see below).  To facilitate your digestion of some difficult material, I shall require course attendance (which will be enforced through a variety of in-class pop quizzes worth 10% of your grade, of which we will drop/excuse your lowest score), two thoughtful, high-quality philosophy papers (worth 30% of your grade each), and an open-book (but no other notes), comprehensive final exam (worth 30% of your grade).  Your papers and final exam should demonstrate your active engagement with and strong grasp of the issues presented and discussed in class.  (Paper topics will be handed out several weeks before the papers are due; I strongly encourage you to discuss your ideas with me or the TAs during our office hours.)  Be sure to TURN YOUR PAPERS IN ON TIME; late papers will be marked down 1 grade per day late (from A to B, B to C, etc.).  No incompletes (except in unavoidable circumstances beyond your control, with proper documentation).  Make sure to keep an extra copy of your papers.  Cheating, talking in class, coming in late, reading the newspaper, surfing the internet, emailing, texting, sleeping during class, and other ridiculously uncollegial behavior is distracting to your colleagues and disrespectful to me, and such incivilities will not be tolerated.  (If you must come late or leave early on a particular day then enter the class quietly by the back door and sit in the nearest open seat.)  All phones, tablets, laptops, and other screens must be turned off and stowed away during class.  (If you have an urgent matter that requires you to be on call on a particular day you must tell me that ahead of time and sit in the back row near the door.)  Students who repeatedly break any of these rules should expect to be disenrolled.  If you have any questions please feel free ask them in class, in our office hours, or by email. 

 Course texts: (and abbreviations used below; these are listed in the order we’ll read them together in class):  Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, 4th edition [RAG]; Thomson, Heidegger on Ontotheology:  Technology and the Politics of Education [HOTPE]; Kant, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays [PPO]; Nietzsche, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life [UM2]; Heidegger, Discourse on Thinking [DT]; and Sartre, Essays in Existentialism [EE]. 

101.013

Instructor: Carolyn Thomas
Time/s: ARR

This completely online section of “Introduction to Philosophy” will introduce you philosophic wonder, thought, and thinking. We’ll read, think, question, discuss, and write about persistent philosophical questions, such as those about life's meaning, the existence of God, death, virtue, knowledge and truth, personhood, emotion, race and gender, justice, freedom, and the philosophic life itself. Required weekly work includes readings, discussion thread posts, quizzes, one paper, midterm and final exam. Coursework will be due twice each week, at midnight on Thursday and Sunday nights. No textbook or text purchase required. You must have reliable Internet access, but no other special equipment is necessary.

101.656

Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

Proceeding historically through a few of the great works of Western philosophy, this course will introduce you to some deep and enduring philosophical questions, including:  What are the ultimate foundations of reality?  What is being?  What is love?  What does it mean to be human?  How should I live?  Can knowledge make me happy?  What is the good life?  What is the good death?  What is the relationship between being and time?  What is justice?  Which political arrangement is best?  What is enlightenment?  What effects are science and technology having on our world?  How should we understand the problem of nihilism or meaninglessness?  What does it mean to think?  What do autonomy, integrity, and authenticity mean and require?  What is freedom?  What are the necessary preconditions and consequences of freedom?  What is the meaning of life?  How have the answers to that question changed over the course of Western history?  What does it mean to read well, and how is that question connected to the good life?  The interconnected goals of the course include introducing you to the Western philosophical tradition, initiating you into the art of close philosophical reading, developing your skills in critical writing and argumentation, and, in all these ways, encouraging your thoughtful engagement with the world. 

 Course requirements:  This course will require you to read, understand, and come to terms with a variety of challenging philosophical texts and issues.  You should take careful notes and always bring the relevant books with you to class (see below).  To facilitate your digestion of some difficult material, I shall require course attendance (which will be enforced through a variety of in-class pop quizzes worth 10% of your grade, of which we will drop/excuse your lowest score), two thoughtful, high-quality philosophy papers (worth 30% of your grade each), and an open-book (but no other notes), comprehensive final exam (worth 30% of your grade).  Your papers and final exam should demonstrate your active engagement with and strong grasp of the issues presented and discussed in class.  (Paper topics will be handed out several weeks before the papers are due; I strongly encourage you to discuss your ideas with me or the TAs during our office hours.)  Be sure to TURN YOUR PAPERS IN ON TIME; late papers will be marked down 1 grade per day late (from A to B, B to C, etc.).  No incompletes (except in unavoidable circumstances beyond your control, with proper documentation).  Make sure to keep an extra copy of your papers.  Cheating, talking in class, coming in late, reading the newspaper, surfing the internet, emailing, texting, sleeping during class, and other ridiculously uncollegial behavior is distracting to your colleagues and disrespectful to me, and such incivilities will not be tolerated.  (If you must come late or leave early on a particular day then enter the class quietly by the back door and sit in the nearest open seat.)  All phones, tablets, laptops, and other screens must be turned off and stowed away during class.  (If you have an urgent matter that requires you to be on call on a particular day you must tell me that ahead of time and sit in the back row near the door.)  Students who repeatedly break any of these rules should expect to be disenrolled.  If you have any questions please feel free ask them in class, in our office hours, or by email. 

 Course texts: (and abbreviations used below; these are listed in the order we’ll read them together in class):  Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, 4th edition [RAG]; Thomson, Heidegger on Ontotheology:  Technology and the Politics of Education [HOTPE]; Kant, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays [PPO]; Nietzsche, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life [UM2]; Heidegger, Discourse on Thinking [DT]; and Sartre, Essays in Existentialism [EE]. 

156 - Reasoning & Critical Thinking

156.002

Instructor: Zac Turnbull
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

This course will introduce students to the rigorous analysis of arguments. In the first half of the course, we will learn the linguistic and conceptual skills necessary for recognizing, analyzing, and critically evaluating arguments, including deductive, inductive, moral, and fallacious arguments. Our focus at first will be on recognizing and critiquing poor arguments. Through reading and writing, we will learn what may make an argument sound or convincing. In the second half of the course, we will look at a variety of political philosophical texts with which to apply these concepts of reasoning. Texts may include selections from Locke, Kant, Rousseau, Mill, Goldman, Rawls, Korsgaard, Davis, and Geronimo.

The first and most important objective of the course is that we should develop the skills and tools to confront the arguments we encounter in academic life, daily life, and in public discourse. We will examine and reexamine what we think makes for a good argument, and what counts as a good reason for believing something. The second objective is that we should gain familiarity with some important political philosophy, as a means to better understand contemporary political and social life. We will explore the arguments made by political thinkers, and apply our learnt critical skills to them. In doing this, I hope we will together develop our ideas of what counts as 'justice' and how justice might best be achieved today.

156.003

Instructor: Michael Rubio
Time/s: MWF 10:00-10:50

The goal of this class is to foster a disposition to use critical thinking skills in the examination of information presented to the individual via the media (internet, television, radio, etc.), texts, and interpersonal encounters. We will focus on the central role of arguments in persuading individuals to accept claims about the world and other people. In our examination of arguments we will seek to distinguish between arguments that are strong or weak, arguments that employ fallacious reasoning versus non-fallacious reasoning, and arguments that employ deductive versus inductive reasoning to arrive at conclusions.  In addition, we will also explore the criteria of valid arguments, the credibility of sources, persuasive and cogent argumentative writing and critical reading skills, and informal fallacies. The class will mix lecture, discussion, and in-class activities. 

Required texts

1. William Hughes, Jonathan Lavery, and Katheryn Doran: Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th ed.) (Broadview Press, 2015). ISBN: 155481197X. Due to the cost, I recommend students rent this text.

2. Strunk, William and E.B. White. The Elements of Style (4th edition) (Pearson, 2000). ISBN: 978-0205313426. 

156.004

Instructor: Mariah Partida
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

This course will take up the following questions, among others: How do we determine whether an argument is good or bad, strong or weak? How can we apply argument analysis to our everyday lives? In the first half of the course, we will familiarize ourselves with three key aspects of argument analysis: First, what is an argument? What are the claims being made by that argument? What is the conclusion? Next, do the supporting claims actually give us good reason to think the conclusion is true? Finally, are the supporting claims true, or at least plausible? In the second half of the course, we will apply our newfound argument-analysis skills to various texts in applied ethics. In doing so, we will both evaluate the reasoning of the arguments being made by these authors and construct written responses to such arguments. Disclaimer: Keep in mind that, although we will focus on formal logic in a sense, this is not a symbolic logic class.

156.006

Instructor: Graham Bounds
Time/s: TR 2:00-3:15

In this course we will learn how to critically evaluate arguments. Since argumentation forms the cornerstone of any reasoned debate, well-formed position, or rational deliberation, examination of the quality of arguments is the central component of critical thinking. The course is divided into two parts. In the first, we will acquire the analytical skills necessary to assess the quality of an argument, as well as familiarize ourselves with some common fallacious forms of reasoning. The second part of the course will focus on applying these skills to a number of real-world debates on topics of contemporary interest. We will not only scrutinize the reasoning presented in these texts, but will construct our own argumentative responses. As such, this course is also designed with an eye to teaching students the skills necessary for writing intelligible, coherent, and effective argumentative essays.

Required texts: William Hughes, Jonathan Lavery, & Katheryn Doran. Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills, 7th Edition (Broadview Press).

156.010

Instructor: Maya Alapin
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

Required textbooks: Critical Thinking, Hughes and Lavery, 5/e (Broadview) and Strunk and White. There will be handouts provided on Learn as well. Through conversation, readings and group work, you will learn how to write a good college level paper. Our emphasis will be on how to make solid and convincing arguments. The vehicle by which you will develop these skills is philosophical language and concepts. If you want to strengthen your thinking and writing, enjoy talking about ideas and want to reading outside of your field/interests, this class is for you.

156.011

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: ARR

***First Half Course***

Most intellectual endeavors involve argumentation. From short letters to the editor to complex philosophical essays, from every day discussions to legal debates, argues are constantly created and invoked to support or criticize points of view. The purpose of the course is to help you learn how to analyze, critique, and construct arguments.

The course material is organized into two sections. In the first section, we will do an introductory survey of important logical concepts and tools that are needed for analyzing arguments. The second section is an in-depth examination of philosophical essays on cloning and genetic engineering.

            Required texts:

1.     Strunk and White, Elements of Style

2.     Morrow and Weston, A Workbook for Arguments

3.     Handouts and Essays posted on Learn

 

156.656

Instructor: Graham Bounds
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

In this course we will learn how to critically evaluate arguments. Since argumentation forms the cornerstone of any reasoned debate, well-formed position, or rational deliberation, examination of the quality of arguments is the central component of critical thinking. The course is divided into two parts. In the first, we will acquire the analytical skills necessary to assess the quality of an argument, as well as familiarize ourselves with some common fallacious forms of reasoning. The second part of the course will focus on applying these skills to a number of real-world debates on topics of contemporary interest. We will not only scrutinize the reasoning presented in these texts, but will construct our own argumentative responses. As such, this course is also designed with an eye to teaching students the skills necessary for writing intelligible, coherent, and effective argumentative essays.

Required texts: William Hughes, Jonathan Lavery, & Katheryn Doran. Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills, 7th Edition (Broadview Press).

201 - Greek Thought

201.001

Instructor: John Taber
Time/s: MW 4:30-7:00

***Second Half Course***

A survey of some of the themes of ancient Greek culture that have influenced the development of Western civilization. We shall read texts of Sophocles (the Oedipus cycle), Homer (the Iliad), Plato (Apology, Protagoras, Meno, Symposium), and Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics, Metaphysics). Study questions on the readings will be due weekly; reflection papers on films, when shown, will also be assigned. Final take-home exam.

NOTE: This is an eight-week course that will begin after Fall Break.

201.002

Instructor: Joachim Oberst
Time/s: MWF 1:00-1:50

In this course we undertake a radical transition in historical perspective (of some 2000 to 2600 years) back to the foundations of Western Philosophy. Students are expected to engage in the discovery and exploration of ancient texts whose language, composition, style and philosophical substance will at first contact appear unusual and even strange. In many cases the text will look like an incomplete puzzle (which in fact they often are). Making sense of these texts will take some devotion on the part of the student. Through serious study and consultation of the texts, some of their manifold messages will become apparent. It is the goal of this course to introduce students to the original sources of their own thinking and to discover the extent to which their own thinking is indebted to and imbedded in ancient Greek thought.

There is no prerequisite to this course. In addition to offering stimulation for intellectual development and personal enrichment through the philological treatment of texts, the course will prepare students to participate in other courses in philosophy and the humanities at large, especially in classics and the history of philosophy. The course can also be illuminating for students of the natural sciences. 

202 - Descartes to Kant

202.002

Instructor: Allan Hazlett
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

This course will introduce students to the history of European philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries, with an emphasis on metaphysics and epistemology in the work of four philosophers: René Descartes (1596 – 1650), Anne Conway (1631 – 1679), David Hume (1711 – 1776), and Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804).  We will read Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy (1641), Conway’s Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy (1692),  Hume’s Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748), and Kant’s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783), with the aim of understanding how these philosophers grappled with a central philosophical question (which was prompted for them by the rapid emergence of empirical science and its apparent monopoly on the generation of knowledge): how and to what extent is knowledge of the world possible?

Assessed work will comprise four 1,000-word take-home exams.  Students will need access to four books: Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 1996); Conway, The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 1996), Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (Hackett, 1993); Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (Hackett, 1977).

211 - Greek Philosophy

211.001

Instructor: Paul Livingston
Time/s: MWF 10:00-10:50

Philosophy in the western tradition begins with the ancient Greeks and there is no better introduction to philosophy than to study their thought and writing. In this course, we will attempt to develop an original path of questioning in critical dialogue with the Greeks, with the aim of locating ourselves and the problems of contemporary life more centrally within the problematics that they already pursued. Issues to be discussed include, among others: the nature of thought, reason and the soul; the structure of time and space; language, meaning, and truth; being, change and becoming; ethics and the good; life and death. Readings are from various Pre-Socratic philosophers, Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus.

Course requirements: weekly short reading responses, three short tests (open book, in class) and final examination (open book).

245 - Professional Ethics

245.005

Instructor: Carolyn Thomas
Time/s: ARR

This completely online course explores the challenging complexity of ethical issues in professional life. What distinguishes a profession from other jobs not considered to be professions? Is there more to professional practice or professionalism than following rules or a professional code? Do ‘professional’ demands and responsibilities override ‘normal’ or private moral duties, e.g. a lawyer keeping a murderer’s confidence, a nurse lying to ease a patient’s emotional distress, an advertiser obscuring a product’s flaws to win a corporate account, or a company engineer disregarding his discovery of a structural flaw? We’ll work to develop awareness of ethical concerns in a range of professions and to develop awareness of ethical theories, assumptions (including your own), and arguments in addressing ethical concerns in specific case studies. And we’ll aim to expand our individual senses of right, fairness, and compassion in our own professional (or future professional) roles.  Required weekly work includes readings, discussion thread posts, quizzes, case study paper, midterm and final exam. Coursework will be due twice each week, at midnight on Thursday and Sunday nights. You must have reliable Internet access, but no other special equipment is required. Textbook purchased required: Ethics Across the Professions, C. Martin, W. Vaught, R. Solomon, eds. (Oxford University Press, 2009.  ISBN: 978-0195326680)—available used on Amazon and new/used in the UNM Bookstore.

333 - Buddhist Philosophy

333.001

Instructor: Pierre-Julien Harter
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

This class will introduce students to Buddhist philosophy in India and Tibet by adopting both historical and conceptual approaches. It will emphasize the diversity within the Buddhist tradition to showcase the disagreements existing between schools and individual authors. What is the goal of Buddhist philosophy, nirvana? What view of existence (samsara) does Buddhism propound? How do we know, according to Buddhist philosophers? What is the world made of? How are we supposed to act in the world? The class will map out different areas of Buddhist philosophy: ontology, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and soteriology. We will read primary texts from the Pāli canon, Nāgārjuna, Vasubandhu, Candrakīrti, Kamalaśīla, Tsong Khapa and Gorampa. No prior knowledge is expected; only charitable and critical thinking is.

334 - Indian Philosophy

334.001

Instructor: John Taber
Time/s: TR 4:30-7:00

***Second Half Course***

This course is a survey of India’s diverse philosophical traditions. We will begin with the most ancient strata of Brahmanical (Hindu) thought, the Upanisads of the Veda. Then we will study the oldest philosophical system of the Brahmins, Samkhya, which will familiarize students with the basic elements of the Hindu world-view. We will move on to early Buddhism, followed by an examination of one of the earliest Buddhist systems – but by no means the easiest! – Madhyamaka (which presupposes an understanding of the development from so-called Hinayana to Mahayana Buddhism). We will then look at the Bhagavad Gita as the distillation of “epic” thought. Finally, after considering some of the metaphysical and epistemological controversies of the classical period (in relation to certain Nyaya texts), we will study the two most influential systems of Vedanta thought, Advaita and Visista Advaita.

Requirements: weekly response papers; mid-term and final exams.

336 - Chinese Philosophy

336.001

Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

This course surveys Chinese philosophy, with emphasis on the early (pre-Qin) period and Chinese Buddhism. We will examine early Chinese philosophical schools, including Confucianism, Daoism, Mohism, Legalism and Buddhism. Themes will include early Chinese understandings of human nature, virtue and goodness, sagehood, attitudes toward death and dying, political philosophy, and theories of knowledge.

341 - T: Knowledge FIrst

341.001

Instructor: Kelly Becker
Time/s: MWF 10:00-10:50

Traditionally, knowledge is thought to be conceptually composite, analyzable approximately as justified (evidentially or rationally grounded) true belief, perhaps with some further condition meant to account for Gettier cases.  Traditionally, knowledge is thought to be metaphysically composite, with mind (belief) and world (truth) as independent factors.  Timothy Williamson (2000) argued against both aspects of the tradition.  He thus takes knowledge to be conceptually prior to justified belief—knowledge comes first conceptually—and to be a prime, not composite, state of mind—knowledge is first metaphysically.  After 15 years of focused attention on Williamson’s arguments, knowledge first epistemology is flourishing.  This course is dedicated to an investigation of the knowledge first movement, with attention given to both positive developments and negative criticisms.

Requirements: Two short explicative papers (15% each); one midterm paper (30%); one final paper (40%).

Prerequisites: Philosophy 352

Readings: TBA.  A new volume devoted to KFE is set to come out soon.  If it isn’t available in time, I will acquire some of the papers in it for distribution to the class.

352 - Theory of Knowledge

352.001

Instructor: Barbara Hannan
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

What is knowledge? What can we know, and how can we know it? Philosophers have addressed these basic questions in many different ways. We will explore them in this course through readings in these areas: skepticism; the structure of knowledge and justification; analysis of the concept of knowledge; epistemic closure; theories of justification; virtue epistemology; naturalized epistemology; a priori knowledge; contextualism; testimony; memory; and perception. Text: Ernest Sosa, Jaegwon Kim, Jeremy Fantl, and Matthew McGrath, editors, Epistemology: An Anthology, second edition (Blackwell, 2008).

354 - Metaphysics

354.001

Instructor: Barbara Hannan
Time/s: MWF 1:00-1:50

A set of problems concerning existence (or reality, or the nature of things) has come to be called ‘metaphysics’ among philosophers. These problems are more abstract and general than scientific problems. They include: what kinds of things must exist to make all true sentences true? What is the difference between contingent truths and necessary truths? Do sentences about the future have truth-values? If so, does that imply fatalism (the future is fixed and unalterable)? Are past, present, and future equally real? Does time really “flow”? Why does anything at all exist rather than nothing? Why does this world exist, rather than some other? Is there a God? What is the nature of the connection between an individual thing and its properties? What is causation? What are laws of nature? Could the laws of nature have been different? How does natural necessity differ from logical necessity? What is the self or ego? Is there a soul? What is a person? What makes a person the same person through time and change? In general, what makes an object the same x through time and change? Do persons have free will, or is everything, including human actions, causally determined? We will explore some of these problems through readings and discussion. Text: Peter Van Inwagen and Dean W. Zimmerman, editors, Metaphysics: The Big Questions, second edition (Blackwell, 2008).

356 - Symbolic Logic

356.001

Instructor: Kelly Becker
Time/s: MWF 12:00-1:20

One great thing about the human mind is its ability to draw inferences.  Better still is to do this well.  In this course, you will learn two new languages developed to clarify the notion of logical entailment, which will help you understand the nature of valid inference.  The course is good preparation for further work in logic or mathematics, but you can also take the tools you will acquire into any academic or professional discipline that requires clarity of thought.  No prerequisites.  Text: Bergmann, Moor, and Nelson, The Logic Book 6/e (McGraw-Hill).  Consider renting the book.  It’s one of the best available, but the most recent addition has a significant number of typos and is quite expensive. 

358 - Ethical Theory

358.001

Instructor: Ann Murphy
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

This course introduces the student to the main moral frameworks in normative ethics:  utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics, via an analysis of texts by John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and Aristotle. We will also engage more contemporary literature that situates itself both critically and sympathetically in relation to these foundational historical texts.  While the main texts under examination will be largely historical, one guiding aim of the course is to understand the contemporary relevance of these authors through the application of their theories to topics such as free speech, friendship, forgiveness, truth-telling, and punishment.  The course aims to cultivate an awareness of the differences between the major theoretical paradigms in normative ethics, as well as an attunement to the contemporary relevance of these theories.

361 - Modern Christian Thought

361.001

Instructor: Joachim Oberst
Time/s: W 7:00-9:30

When the boundless optimism of Liberal Theology shattered under the catastrophe of World War I, theologians responded with new conceptions of the human-god relationship. Karl Barth re-envisioned god as “The Wholly Other” in his Dialectical Theology. Dietrich Bonhoeffer searched for a genuinely Christian response to the crimes of a terror regime and chose Christian resistance with the likely prospect of self-sacrifice (martyrdom) as the only act of faith possible in the wake of dictatorship and imperial wars. Rudolf Bultmann sought to bring the message of Christianity closer to its believers with his program of demythologization. Paul Tillich explores urgency and relevance of the Christian promise of a new being in a world of corruption and destruction. In the face of overwhelming suffering Dorothee Sölle explores the possibility of faith. In a world that is addicted to killing god, believing in god may only be possible atheistically. Thus, the Catholic priest Ernesto Cardenal, informed by the misery of his people, put into print their vision of faith in the words of The Gospel of the Peasants of Solentiname.

We will explore the tenets of the theologies of each of these and other thinkers in selections of their writings. The course is both an exegetical & philosophical reading of Scriptures that inform the religious philosophy of Systematic Theology as well as the religious-philosophical praxis of Christian believers advocating radical risks of faith. Consequently, students will have to plough their way through the intersection between Theology and Philosophy.

Curiosity, open-mindedness, a willingness to engage in exegetical reading, and readiness to engage in class discussions are prerequisites for this course.

363 - Environmental Ethics

363.001

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: MWF 12:00-12:50

This course explores some of the main issues in environmental ethics.  We will be looking at our relation with non-human nature and evaluating the underlying values of this relationship including aesthetic, intrinsic, utilitarian, ecological, and personal value. We explore how these values and an understanding of ecology shape our discussion of environmental issues such as climate change, species extinction, ecological restoration, and wilderness.

371 - Classical Social & Political Philosophy

371.001

Instructor: Anne Baril
Time/s: TR 2:00-3:15

In this course, we will engage in a close reading of Plato’s Republic and Hobbes’Leviathanalong with critical commentaries. We will consider these philosophers' answers to questions such as:  What makes institutions just? What is the basis of political authority?  What are the rights and duties of ruler and ruled?  Is civil disobedience ever justified?  Learning will be evaluated with in-class quizzes, take-home exercises, exams, and a final project, including a poster presentation.

422 - Wittgenstein

422.001

Instructor: Paul Livingston
Time/s: W 4:00-6:30

The thought and writing of Ludwig Wittgenstein poses deep and fundamental questions for philosophical thought about language, meaning, and the critical foundations of contemporary life and practice.  In this seminar, we will consider Wittgenstein’s philosophy in both its “early” and “late” periods, following a unitary guideline of investigation into the single problematic marked in the early Wittgenstein’s terminology of “logical form” and the later idea of “forms of life”, and attempting to draw out the significance of this problematic for the deepest and most pervasive problems of collective life today.  This semester, we will focus in particular on the relationship between Wittgenstein’s work and twentieth-century and contemporary “continental” philosophy.   To this end, we will read several of Wittgenstein’s texts and writings, including the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, the Philosophical Investigations, and parts of the Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, alongside relevant texts by “continental” philosophers including Badiou, Agamben, Lacan, and Heidegger, and parts of my 2012 book, The Politics of Logic: Badiou, Wittgenstein, and the Consequences of Formalism.   Time permitting; we will also examine some related contemporary interpretations of Wittgenstein by “analytic” authors such as Kripke, Cavell, Conant, and Diamond. 

423 - Later Heidegger

423.001

Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: TR 2:00-3:15

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is widely recognized as one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, yet many of the views at the heart of his “later” work remain shrouded in confusion and controversy.  Focusing on a few of the works Heidegger composed after Being and Time (1927), this seminar will seek to clarify, explain, and critique Heidegger’s views on the significance of art, poetry, and language; his understanding of metaphysics as ontotheology; his reading of Nietzsche and linked critique of technology as nihilism; his views on Plato and the future of education; the relation between his thought and politics; his famous response to Sartre and humanism—and, of course, we will address the issue of when exactly Heidegger’s “later” work begins and how best to characterize its most distinctive philosophical features.

This course is good (indeed, indispensable) preparation for understanding much subsequent work in continental philosophy and the other theoretical humanities, which often take Heidegger’s insights as their own point of philosophical departure.  For example, Heidegger’s later work decisively shaped the concepts and concerns of such major continental thinkers as Agamben, Arendt, Badiou, Baudrillard, Blanchot, Butler, Cavell, Deleuze, Derrida, Dreyfus, Foucault, Gadamer, Irigaray, Lacan, Levinas, Marcuse, Rancière, Rorty, Taylor, Vattimo, and Žižek—and this remains the case even where these thinkers approach Heidegger’s thought quite critically (as they all do, in their own distinctive and interesting ways).  One thus needs to understand Heidegger in order to see where these thinkers are coming from, even if his is a thinking they seek (more and less successfully) to move beyond.

Prerequisites:  Graduate standing, strong background in continental philosophy, or consent of instructor. 

Course Requirements:  This course will require a great deal of difficult and challenging reading.  As this is a class in the art of slow reading, you will be required to do the reading ahead of time and bring the appropriate books to every class; if necessary, there will be in-class pop-quizzes to test that preparedness, and anyone failing two quizzes will be dropped from the course (so do not take this course if you cannot do the work and attend every class).  Grades will be based on quizzes plus two high-quality philosophy papers (or, for graduate students, one polished research paper).

Required texts:  1). Heidegger, Pathmarks; 2).  Heidegger, Off the Beaten Track; 3).  Heidegger, Country Path Conversations; 4. Thomson, Heidegger on Ontotheology:  Technology and the Politics of Education; and 5) Thomson, Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity.

441 - Topics in Philosophy

441.001 - T: Philosophy of Race & Racism

Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

This class will explore the philosophical assumptions behind the category of race, racial identities, and racism. We will focus on questions such as: What is race? What is racial identity? How should we understand racial identity in our political, social, and ethical lives? Topics studied with include the nature of race and racial identity, conceptual analyses of racism, the phenomenology of racist oppression, the intersections of racist and other kinds of oppression (gender-based, class-based, etc.), white fragility and white ignorance, and visions for a multi-racial, multi-cultural society. This course will be taught as a seminar, which means it will be discussion-based and have a substantial writing component.

441.002 - T: Comparative Philosophy

Instructor: Pierre-Julien Harter
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

Metaphysics East and West

If philosophy has sometimes been considered in the history of Western philosophy as the “queen of all sciences,’’ one could argue that metaphysics has sometimes been viewed as the most important part of philosophy. Metaphysical questions were supposed to be about fundamental issues: why is there something rather than nothing? Where does everything come from? Can we make rational arguments proving the existence of God? What kind of thing am I? What is the world made of? We will follow some of these questions in Western philosophy and their equivalents in the Indian philosophical context: questions relative to being, universals and particulars, causality, the origin of the world, identity and self, transcendence, etc. Holding a comparative approach will be a way for us to test the universality of these questions, concepts, and claims held by philosophers, and thus a way to test the proper philosophical significance of these questions.

442 - Sem: Marx

442.001

Instructor: Adrian Johnston
Time/s: M 5:30-8:00

The most important achievement of Karl Marx’s sizable corpus is his development of the historical materialist critique of political economy, namely, his distinctive critical analysis of capitalism as a socio-economic system. Through a combination of philosophical-theoretical and empirical-historical approaches to capitalist economics, Marx painstakingly delineates the destructive and self-destructive structural tendencies inherent to capitalism. This critical analysis is crystallized in the crown jewels of Marx’s oeuvre: the three volumes of Capital and Theories of Surplus-Value (the latter being intended as the fourth volume of Capital). However, the foundations of das Kapital are laid in a set of notebooks dating from the late 1850s (1857-1858). Published well after Marx’s death (1883) in 1939 under the title Grundrisse—this title refers to the breaking of ground in the process of laying foundations—these notebooks were kept by Marx during his intensive intellectual labors preparatory to the composition of the multi-volume project of Capital. They sometimes are described as “Marx’s laboratory.” Indeed, the Grundrisse amount to the textual spaces of evidence-based thought experiments yielding results central to what subsequently becomes the hulking edifice of das Kapital. In the pages of these notebooks, one discovers all of the core elements of Capital’s critique of political economy: Marx’s account of social structures generally and capitalist social structures specifically; his ambivalent rapport with G.W.F. Hegel’s philosophy and its legacy; his reckonings with key 2 economic thinkers, especially Adam Smith and David Ricardo; his theories of money, value (as use-, exchange-, and surplus-values), labour, and capital’s circuits of production, distribution, exchange, and consumption; and, his reflections on the accumulation and self-valorization of capital. This seminar will involve a close reading of the entirety of Marx’s Grundrisse.

466 - Sem: Philosophy of Photography

466.001

Instructor: Allan Hazlett
Time/s: R 4:00-6:30

Since its emergence as a medium of documentation and of popular and fine art, in the late 19th and throughout the 20th century, photography – comprising both still photography (e.g. photographs) and motion photography (e.g. photographic movies) – has brought about sweeping and systematic changes in the lives of those with easy access to photographic pictures.  (Consider, for example, Daniel M’Naghten’s attempted assassination of British Prime Minster Robert Peel in 1843, which failed because M’Naghten did not know what Peel looked like.)  And nowhere was the impact of photography felt more than in the art world: the development of photography affected the work of artists, the experiences and practices of consumers of art, and the theories of art critics and philosophers of art.  (Consider, for example, the rise to prominence of impressionism in painting towards the end of the 19th century, which art historians often attribute, in part, to consumers’ relative ease of access to photographic technology for the purposes of portrait-making.)  Along with these changes brought about by the emergence of photography came a suite of related questions:

  • What is photography?  What is a photograph (as opposed to e.g. a painting)?
  • Does the existence of photography undermine the status of other art forms, such as painting (in favor of still photographs) or theater (in favor of photographic movies)? 
  • Can photographs or photographic movies be works of art?  Did the invention of photography create the possibility for a new form or new forms of art? 
  • Is photography an inherently realistic medium (by contrast with e.g. painting)?  Do photographs and photographic movies enable you to see their subjects (by contrast with e.g. painting)?   

This seminar will focus on these and other philosophical issues that arise specifically in connection with photography.  (We will mostly ignore generic issues in aesthetic and the philosophy of art (e.g. the nature of aesthetic judgment and the definition of art) and in the philosophy of fiction (e.g. the emotional response to fiction and the nature of interpretation).)  These issues include questions in aesthetics (e.g. the status of photography as an art form), metaphysics (e.g. the “transparency” of photographs), and epistemology (e.g. the status of photographs as evidence).  We will study writings by André Bazin, Stanley Cavell, Roger Scruton, Kendall Walton, Gregory Currie, Arthur Danto, and others.  

Assessed work will comprise three 1,000-word discussion papers and one 3,000-word final paper.  Students will need access to copies of André Bazin, What is Cinema?  Volume 1, second edition (University of California Press, 2004) (or the 1967 first edition) and Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, enlarged edition (Harvard University Press, 1979) (or the 1971 Viking Press edition). 

542 - Sem: Marx

542.001

Instructor: Adrian Johnston
Time/s: M 5:30-8:00

The most important achievement of Karl Marx’s sizable corpus is his development of the historical materialist critique of political economy, namely, his distinctive critical analysis of capitalism as a socio-economic system. Through a combination of philosophical-theoretical and empirical-historical approaches to capitalist economics, Marx painstakingly delineates the destructive and self-destructive structural tendencies inherent to capitalism. This critical analysis is crystallized in the crown jewels of Marx’s oeuvre: the three volumes of Capital and Theories of Surplus-Value (the latter being intended as the fourth volume of Capital). However, the foundations of das Kapital are laid in a set of notebooks dating from the late 1850s (1857-1858). Published well after Marx’s death (1883) in 1939 under the title Grundrisse—this title refers to the breaking of ground in the process of laying foundations—these notebooks were kept by Marx during his intensive intellectual labors preparatory to the composition of the multi-volume project of Capital. They sometimes are described as “Marx’s laboratory.” Indeed, the Grundrisse amount to the textual spaces of evidence-based thought experiments yielding results central to what subsequently becomes the hulking edifice of das Kapital. In the pages of these notebooks, one discovers all of the core elements of Capital’s critique of political economy: Marx’s account of social structures generally and capitalist social structures specifically; his ambivalent rapport with G.W.F. Hegel’s philosophy and its legacy; his reckonings with key 2 economic thinkers, especially Adam Smith and David Ricardo; his theories of money, value (as use-, exchange-, and surplus-values), labour, and capital’s circuits of production, distribution, exchange, and consumption; and, his reflections on the accumulation and self-valorization of capital. This seminar will involve a close reading of the entirety of Marx’s Grundrisse.

566 - Sem: Philosophy of Photography

566.001

Instructor: Allan Hazlett
Time/s: R 4:00-6:30

Since its emergence as a medium of documentation and of popular and fine art, in the late 19th and throughout the 20th century, photography – comprising both still photography (e.g. photographs) and motion photography (e.g. photographic movies) – has brought about sweeping and systematic changes in the lives of those with easy access to photographic pictures.  (Consider, for example, Daniel M’Naghten’s attempted assassination of British Prime Minster Robert Peel in 1843, which failed because M’Naghten did not know what Peel looked like.)  And nowhere was the impact of photography felt more than in the art world: the development of photography affected the work of artists, the experiences and practices of consumers of art, and the theories of art critics and philosophers of art.  (Consider, for example, the rise to prominence of impressionism in painting towards the end of the 19th century, which art historians often attribute, in part, to consumers’ relative ease of access to photographic technology for the purposes of portrait-making.)  Along with these changes brought about by the emergence of photography came a suite of related questions:

  • What is photography?  What is a photograph (as opposed to e.g. a painting)?
  • Does the existence of photography undermine the status of other art forms, such as painting (in favor of still photographs) or theater (in favor of photographic movies)? 
  • Can photographs or photographic movies be works of art?  Did the invention of photography create the possibility for a new form or new forms of art? 
  • Is photography an inherently realistic medium (by contrast with e.g. painting)?  Do photographs and photographic movies enable you to see their subjects (by contrast with e.g. painting)?   

This seminar will focus on these and other philosophical issues that arise specifically in connection with photography.  (We will mostly ignore generic issues in aesthetic and the philosophy of art (e.g. the nature of aesthetic judgment and the definition of art) and in the philosophy of fiction (e.g. the emotional response to fiction and the nature of interpretation).)  These issues include questions in aesthetics (e.g. the status of photography as an art form), metaphysics (e.g. the “transparency” of photographs), and epistemology (e.g. the status of photographs as evidence).  We will study writings by André Bazin, Stanley Cavell, Roger Scruton, Kendall Walton, Gregory Currie, Arthur Danto, and others.  

Assessed work will comprise three 1,000-word discussion papers and one 3,000-word final paper.  Students will need access to copies of André Bazin, What is Cinema?  Volume 1, second edition (University of California Press, 2004) (or the 1967 first edition) and Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, enlarged edition (Harvard University Press, 1979) (or the 1971 Viking Press edition). 

569 - Sem: Critical Phenomenology

569.001

Instructor: Ann Murphy
Time/s: T 4:00-6:30

Critical Phenomenology is a rapidly growing body of work in contemporary philosophy that employs the phenomenological method to address the experiential dimensions of race, gender, solitude, pregnancy, incarceration, love, hunger and illness (to name a few, in an enumeration that is not complete).  This class will consult primary texts by Emmanuel Levinas, Merleau-Ponty and Husserl alongside the more contemporary work of Lisa Guenther, Jill Stauffer, Matthew Ratcliffe, Rosalyn Diprose and others.  There are three main aims to this course: first, to rigorously examine the evolution of the phenomenological method over time; second, to consider phenomenology in its most contemporary instantiations; and finally to consider the tension between description and critique that historically grounds the phenomenological tradition and that continues to animate phenomenology today.