Skip to main content

Fall 2018

NOTE: This data is offered for your convenience only. The schedule data is updated regularly and may not reflect recent changes to the Schedule of Classes. For full, up-to-date course information please visit the Office of the Registrar's website. Thank you.

101 - Introduction to Philosophy

101.002

Instructor: Marcel Lebow
Time/s: ARR

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.

This course will be reading intensive. All reading will be available online. Grades are based off of weekly quizzes, online discussions, and two exams. 

101.003

Instructor: Mariah Partida
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

In this course, we will examine a wide array of key figures and concepts in the history of philosophy. In particular, we will address the following questions: What is the good life? What is the good death? What is knowledge? What is truth? What is love? What is justice? What is beauty? What's the nature of reality? What’s the relationship between mind and body, self and other, free will and determinism, being and time? What's the meaning of life? Is there a God? What is nihilism, and how should we understand it? What does it mean to read well? In what ways can we apply philosophy to our everyday lives? Proceeding historically, we will read and reflect on texts by major Western and non-Western thinkers including Plato, Aristotle, Lao Tzu, Confucius, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Linda Alcoff. In the course of the semester, students taking PHIL 101 will cultivate their own philosophical voices and their ability to critically reflect on some of the most urgent ethical/political questions of our time.

101.004

Instructor: Idris Robinson
Time/s: MWF 3:00-3:50

This course 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?  

Considering both original texts and supplementary literature, our investigation into these age-old questions will begin at the origins of philosophy in ancient Greece.  In particular, the first half of the semester will be mainly devoted to Alain Badiou’s contemporary rendition of Plato’s Republic.  In the second half of the semester, we will attempt to move through the medieval, Renaissance, and modern periods to finally close with contemporary thinkers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Giorgio Agamben.

 In both class discussions and writing assignments, students will have the opportunity to try to untangle these thorny philosophical problems and critically assess some of their most widely renown theoretical responses.  

101.005

Instructor: Simon Walker
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

In this introduction to philosophy class we will focus on three main periods of western philosophical history.  We will start in Ancient Athens looking at the birth of Western Philosophy and how philosophical questions were first formulated.  Then we will move to the Enlightenment period and look at texts in classical liberalism, moving from Descartes, through Kant to J.S. Mills.   For the final section of the class we will turn to existentialism and its critique of this liberal tradition.  Here we will focus on writers such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

By focusing on these three main periods we will note specific styles of ways of questioning at precise moments in time but we will also look at how certain questions keep on returning through history.  Key questions that we will ask will be what a good human life is, what happiness is, what love is, how do we create a good society, how the individual is connected with the outside world, what can we know, and what can we know that we know.  Alongside this, by taking an historical approach we will aim to see how and where historical insights can speak to the world of today.  We will ask whether we can have a conversation with Plato about love or J.S. Mills about free speech in a way that bequeaths insight into or is still relevant for our life and society today.

101.006

Instructor: Kelly Becker
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

Can we know that God exists? If God exists, then why is there evil in the world?  What is the relation between mind and body?  I am not able to see or experience your thoughts, so how do I know that you have a mind?  Can science explain consciousness?  Can a computer be a mind?  What kind of thing is a person?  How am I the same person that ‘I’ was in my childhood?  (I don’t look or behave like that child.)  Does free will exist?  Is it compatible with a scientific view of the world?  Are there any grounds for morality? We’ll take this kind of topical approach to some of the most difficult and interesting questions in philosophy. 

Required Text TBA: Grades based on two papers (3-4 pp. and 4-5 pp.), two take-home exams, and pop quizzes. 

101.008

Instructor: Brian Gatsch
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

In this course, we will study some of the basic questions in philosophy. These will include issues such as the nature of reality and the self, the connection between mind and body, the nature of right and wrong, and the possibility of freewill. In this process, we will be reading both classic philosophical texts as well as writings from more contemporary philosophers. The goal of this course is to provide students with a broad understanding of the breadth of philosophy in addition to experience reading and interpreting major philosophical texts.

Required Texts: Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology, Steven M. Cahn, ed.

101.013

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: ARR

***Eight weeks 2H online***

 

This course is an exploration of some of the basic questions in philosophy such as what is reality, what is self, what is the connection between mind and body, whether are we free, and what is the nature of right and wrong. 

 

Robert C. Solomon, Introducing Philosophy

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Various essays and lectures on Learn

Film: The Matrix

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.  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.  All phones, tablets, laptops, and other screens must be turned off and stowed away during class (unless you have made official arrangements with me or with UNM, and they have notified me).  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. 

Required course texts (listed in the order we’ll read them together in class):  Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, 4th edition; Thomson, Heidegger on Ontotheology:  Technology and the Politics of Education; Kant, Perpetual Peace and Other Essays; Nietzsche, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life; Heidegger, Discourse on Thinking; and Sartre, Essays in Existentialism.  

156 - Reasoning & Critical Thinking

156.002

Instructor: Michael Rubio
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

The goal of this class is to introduce the student to critical thinking and argumentative skills. In addition to the forgoing skills the course will also challenge students to foster a critical disposition to analyze and question their own beliefs, including their most cherished beliefs e.g., religion and politics, how they have acquired these beliefs, and when and why certain beliefs should be abandoned or preserved.

As a means to mastering the skills of critical thinking and argumentation we shall explore the widespread phenomena of belief in conspiracy theories. We shall treat conspiracy theories as counter-arguments to prevailing explanations of such well known historical events as the JFK assassination, the 9/11 attacks, and the Roswell incident, among others. In examining these conspiracy theories our goal will be two-fold; one, to examine the human mind’s propensity to draw narratives and/or patterns and therefore give meaning to the world and two, to question the reasoning underlying conspiracy theories. Our goal will not be to prove whether particular conspiracy theories are true or false but to use them as empirical grounds to test and learn the critical thinking skills introduced in the course. In addition, examining conspiracy theories will show us the psychology behind belief formation and preservation. In doing so, the examination of conspiracy theories will lead us to grapple with the deep philosophical question: to what degree are humans rational and what are the limitations to rational argumentation?

The class will mix lecture, discussion, and in-class activities.

Required texts

1. Brotherton, Rob: Suspicious Minds: Why we Believe Conspiracy Theories (Bloomsbury Sigma, 2015). ISBN: 9781472915634.

2. Hughes, William, Jonathan Lavery, and Katheryn Doran: Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th ed.) (Broadview Press, 2015). ISBN: 155481197X.

3. Strunk, William and E.B. White. The Elements of Style (4th edition) (Pearson, 2000). ISBN: 978-0205313426. This text is fairly inexpensive at only 6.99 for a new copy on Amazon.com.

4. Recommended but not required: Hodapp, Christopher and Alice Von Kannon. Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for Dummies (Wiley, 2008). ISBN: 978-470184080. 


Requirements: 3 argumentative essays, 2 short midterms, quizzes and in-class assignments.

156.003

Instructor: Cara Greene
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

Reasoning & Critical Thinking is a class that will teach you how to argue better. In this class, you will learn how to identify, dissect, and critique arguments, and finally, how to construct strong arguments within an essay format. The first half of the course will present ideas and tools that will help you identify and assess arguments, such as the ideas of induction, deduction, validity, soundness, strength, fallacy, and grammatical form, among others. During the second half of the course, we will examine essays that deconstruct concepts like nature, art, history and philosophy, and then analyze the presentation and strength of the arguments contained in these accounts. This class will be comprised of lecture, discussion, and activities. Assignments will include two short papers, two exams, and a final paper.

Required text: Hughes, Lavery and Doran, Critical Thinking, An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th ed, Broadview Press).

156.004

Instructor: Graham Bounds
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

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).

156.005

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: ARR

***Second Half, 8-Week Online 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

156.008

Instructor: Brian Gatsch
Time/s: ARR

*** Second Half, 8-Week Course ***

How can you tell if an argument makes sense? What separates a good argument from a bad one? In this online course, students will learn the skills necessary to construct, analyze, and critically assess arguments.  Beginning with the basic principles of reason and logic, students will acquire the abilities necessary to extract arguments from philosophical texts, evaluate the strength of these arguments, and craft written responses to them.  We will also be analyzing classic philosophical texts that have profoundly influenced the structure and development of Western civilization.

Required texts: William Hughes, Jonathan Lavery, and Katheryn Doran, eds.. Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th ed.)

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

201.002

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

202.001

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

Required: Roger Ariew, ed. Modern Philosophy, 2nd Edition, Hackett Publications.

Strongly Recommended: Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, MacMillan Publishers; and, Lewis Vaughn, Writing Philosophy: A Students guide to Writing Philosophy Essays, Oxford University Press, 2006

202.002

Instructor: Barbara Hannan
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

This course covers the major metaphysical and epistemological works of the early modern Rationalists (Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza) and Empiricists (Locke, Berkeley, and Hume).  The course concludes with consideration of Kant’s critical philosophy.  Our textbook will be Ariew and Watkins, Modern Philosophy:  An Anthology of Primary Sources (Hackett), latest edition.

211 - Greek Philosophy

211.001

Instructor: Paul Livingston
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

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.

211.002

Instructor: Carolyn Thomas
Time/s: ARR

This completely online course is an introduction to the ancient Greek beginnings of philosophy in the western tradition. We’ll read the ancient Greek philosophers themselves—several Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus—and engage their fundamental questions and concerns, which today can still touch and interest every person. These questions include: What are nature and reality? What is justice? What is a good life? What are being, becoming, and change? What are reason, language, truth, and knowing? What are love and friendship? What is education? And, what is philosophy itself?

Required weekly work includes readings, written discussion posts, and reading quizzes. Additional required semester work includes two short writings (1-2 pages each), a midterm exam, and a final exam. Coursework is due at the end of each week, at midnight on Sunday nights. You must have reliable Internet access, but no other special equipment is required.

245 - Professional Ethics

245.005

Instructor: Brian Gatsch
Time/s: ARR

This online course focuses on some of the ethical issues that arise in the context of professional life.  Beginning with an overview of three major ethical theories, we will consider how these theories, which traditionally concern personal morality, apply to life in a professional setting.  We will also examine the roles and obligations associated with professional life. What is the relationship between personal and professional codes of conduct? What distinguishes professions from other occupations?  Through the lens of various professions, we will look at issues such as lying and truth-telling, whistleblowing, confidentiality, and the obligations of professionals toward the public.  Using a combination of readings, case studies, and online discussion groups, we will explore these ideas in a philosophical manner, looking to understand the ethical principles at work.  This course will give students a solid introduction to ethical reasoning and will help to develop the tools necessary to apply ethical principles to real-world settings.

Required Texts: Ethics Across the Professions, Clancy Martin, Wayne Vaught, and Robert C. Solomon, eds.

333 - Buddhist Philosophy

333.001

Instructor: Pierre-Julien Harter
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

This class will introduce students to Buddhist philosophy in India 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. Some of the questions we will address include: what is nirvana, the goal of Buddhist philosophy? 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, and Śāntideva. Thus the goal will be for students to get an overall, but nonetheless philosophical perspective on the Buddhist tradition. No prior knowledge is expected; only charitable and critical thinking is. Hence the class will also emphasize, like any other philosophy class, the development of critical thinking, close reading of texts, and writing skills.

341 - Topics in Philosophy

341.001 - T: Feminist Philosophy

Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

This course is an exploration of some of the major trends in historical and contemporary feminist philosophy. We will examine and analyze such concepts as patriarchy, oppression, misogyny, sexism, and feminism. We will explore issues of historical and contemporary significance for women, including the phenomenology of femininity and the psychology of oppression and resistance, gender identity, justice in the workplace and in the family, domestic violence, rape, marriage and motherhood, and multicultural and global feminisms. This course has two main objectives. First, this course aims to familiarize you with some of the influential texts in feminist philosophy. Second, this course aims to develop your critical and creative thinking skills, specifically with regard to questions regarding gender, race, sex, and sexism.

352 - Theory of Knowledge

352.001

Instructor: John Taber
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

Theory of knowledge or epistemology asks questions such as, What is knowledge? Is it possible to know anything? If so, then are there nevertheless certain limits to what we can know? Do we have any good reasons for thinking that our beliefs about the world are true or at least approximately true? We will explore these questions through the study of works from the history of philosophy and contemporary texts. Emphasis will be placed on the comprehension and analysis of the readings and critical reflection on the theories and arguments presented therein. Required texts: Ernest Sosa and Jaegwon Kim, Epistemology: An Anthology (Wiley), Plato’s Theaetetus (Hackett), and Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (Hackett). No e-texts, please! Assignments: two short papers and an in-class, short-essay final essay.

354 - Metaphysics

354.001

Instructor: Barbara Hannan
Time/s: TR 3:30-4:45

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, but are (or at least ought to be) of vital concern to scientists, since they lurk both at the periphery of science, and at science’s very heart.

We will begin with metaphysical questions of obvious interest: the nature of the self, and personal identity. What am I? Am I a biological organism? A soul? In general, what is a person? What makes me the same person through time and change?

Consideration of these issues will lead us into more abstract questions, such as the problem of meaning: if thoughts are brain states, how can brain states possess propositional content, and bear logical relationships to each other (such as entailment and justification)? It seems that there is an unbridgeable gap between what Wilfrid Sellars called “the space of reasons” (linguistically expressed propositions and the logical relationships among them) and “the space of causes” (physically described states of material entities, and the causal laws involved in their behavior.) Yet, the gap must be bridged if the non-physical soul envisaged by Plato and Descartes is a myth.

Other fascinating metaphysical questions concern language and its relationship to the world; the nature of time and space; the abstract and the concrete; human freedom; etc. 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”? What is the nature of the connection between an individual thing and its properties? What manner of existence is enjoyed by abstract things (“universals”) such as properties, relations, propositions, numbers, functions, etc.? What is causation? What are laws of nature? Could the laws of nature have been different? How does natural or causal necessity differ from logical necessity? Do persons have free will, or is everything, including human actions, causally determined or logically fated?

We will explore these problems through readings and discussion. Readings will be posted on UNM Learn (no textbook).

356 - Symbolic Logic

356.001

Instructor: Kelly Becker
Time/s: MWF 2:00-3:20

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: Brent Kalar
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

This course will be concerned with contemporary philosophical theories about the nature and foundation of ethical “values” (such as goodness and rightness), moral obligations and duties, justice, and ethical responsibility.  Some questions that we will consider include:  What is the ontological status of morality?  Are ethical values real and objective, or are they basically illusory and subjective?  Do they have a reality independent of the human mind, or are they mind-dependent?  Can moral judgments be true or false, or are they merely expressions of emotion? Is morality derived from reason or sensibility?  Is morality culturally relative? 

Why should I be moral?  What kind of authority does morality have over me, and where does it get its authority from?  Can I be obligated to sacrifice my self-interest?  Is God the foundation for ethical values and moral duties?  If there is no God, is everything ethically permitted?  What is the ultimate value? Can all value be reduced to pleasure?  Are we, at bottom, even capable of desiring anything besides some form of pleasure?  As natural creatures, are we ultimately determined by physical causes to desire what we desire?  If so, does it follow that no one is morally responsible for anything they do?  Is possession of free will necessary in order to be under moral obligations? 

What moral obligations do we have, anyway?  Do we have moral obligations to animals or the unborn?  Can all our moral obligations be encapsulated in a general rule or fundamental principle?  For instance, can all moral obligations be reduced to the demand to produce the best general outcome possible?  But if that is the case, am I allowed to violate the rights of another person just to produce the best outcome overall (or am I perhaps even obligated to do so)?  Or does something like the “Golden Rule” perhaps provide a better fundamental principle of moral obligation?  Or again, could morality be based upon an implicit social contract?  Instead of being derived from a rule or principle, is morality better thought of as based upon our shared idea of what an ethically excellent person would do?  Are there no such things as general moral rules, all ethical judgments being particular, in the sense of applying only to the specific situation? 

 Text: Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Ethical Theory: An Anthology, Second Edition (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)

Assignments: There will be several periodic short exams, two five-page essays, and a two-hour in-class final exam.  Regular attendance is expected.

365 - Philosophy of Religion

365.001

Instructor: Joachim Oberst
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

In this seminar we will examine conceptions of the divine that have marked the Western tradition. We shall use the historical and exegetical approach. Starting with the Greeks we will look at philosophers, theologians, mystics and secular free thinkers (among them atheists), who have poured their visions (and rejections) of the divine into religious, philosophical and political proclamations. As will become apparent, an integral part of the varying conceptions of the divine are the corresponding human self-conceptions. Any conception of the divinity of God(s) is also a reflection of the humanity of human being. Among the Greeks we shall consult Hesiod, the Presocratics, Plato and Aristotle; among the Judeo-Christians the Prophets, Job, Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and Augustine; among the atheists and anti-Christians, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ludwig Feuerbach, Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre. Students are given the option and opportunity to supplement their reading with works by Rationalists like Descartes, Voltaire and Kant as well as religious existentialists such as Søren Kierkegaard and spiritual free thinkers such as Martin Heidegger. That the (anti-)religious conception of God(s) can, does, and perhaps must speak with political force can be seen in the American tradition of Black Liberation Theology (Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King) as well as in philosophical atheists like Karl Marx. The purpose of these comparisons is not to befriend one conception over another, but to realize that any confining conception of the divine may end up in (religious) idolatry or (philosophical and political) ideology. The goal then of this seminar is to discover and develop the intellectual freedom necessary to confront any conception of the divine with honesty and integrity, which, as we will see, can then be coupled with the courage for critical self-examination.

365.002

Instructor: Michael Candelaria
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

This course examines important postmodernist texts to gain a fundamental grasp of the of the different styles, concepts, and arguments of the various types of postmodernism primarily in philosophy, sociology, art, and political economy. Our readings come from a rich variety of postmodernists: Lyotard, Jameson, Vattimo, Hassan, Baudrillard, Foucault, Jencks, Laclau, Gorz, Habermas, Nancy Frazer and Linda Nicholson. We will explore the differences between modernism and postmodernism in general. We will study the different styles, attitudes, and approaches of modernists and postmodernist to religion. We will consider the possibilities of postmodernist aspirations for liberative and transformative strategies for social reform and their implications for the future of religion in a postmodernist era.

371 - Classical Social & Political Philosophy

371.001

Instructor: Pierre-Julien Harter
Time/s: MWF 9:00-9:50

This class has two purposes: to survey political and social thought in ancient, medieval, and early modern thought by reading through the works of major philosophers, and thinking critically about their arguments to determine how relevant their analyses are for us. These two approaches, that we can call historical and philosophical, will support each other throughout the semester. We will consider the opposition between Plato’s political thought and Aristotle’s, the new perspectives offered by Stoic philosophers on the idea of “citizen of the world” (cosmopolitism), the reevaluation of Greek political thought by medieval authors in the Islamic world such as Al-Fārābi and Maimonides, and the new political thought starting to take shape with Machiavelli, Hobbes, and possibly Spinoza. Assignments will include weekly tests or study questions, exams, and short essays.

372 - Modern Social & Political Philosophy

372.002

Instructor: Carolyn Thomas
Time/s: TR 2:00-3:15

What is a modern state and citizen? What are liberty, rights, sovereignty, property? What is power—public, individual, economic/material, intellectual, technological—in political society? These questions will guide our course and introduction to modern social and political thinking of continental Europe and America. We’ll begin with classic modern thinkers: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, ‘Publius,’ Mill, Tocqueville, Marx. We’ll continue with later modern and contemporary thinkers, such as Adorno, Arendt, Rawls, Foucault, Habermas, Agamben. Course requirements and learning assessments include: class attendance and participation, thoughtful reading and study of assigned texts, quizzes, take-home short-essay exercises, and two or three exams. Expect to spend at least 4-6 hours each week on reading assignments.

Prerequisites: either PHIL 101 or PHIL 202 or PHIL 371 or permission of the instructor.

422 - Early Heidegger

422.001 - Heidegger's Being and Time

Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: W 5:30-8:00

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is widely considered one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20th century.  This seminar will focus primarily on his most famous and influential work, Being and Time (1927).  Here in his early magnum opus, Heidegger develops and deploys a phenomenological method in order to help us understand the ontological structure underlying intelligibility.  The result is a revolutionary reconceptualization of existence, selfhood, and being, one which challenges — and seeks to replace — central presuppositions philosophers have inherited from the tradition of Western metaphysics.  To begin to understand how and why Heidegger’s philosophical views shift after Being and Time, we will end the course by reading some of Heidegger’s later work, including his minor masterpiece “The Origin of the Work of Art.”  This course is good — indeed, indispensable — preparation for understanding much subsequent work in continental philosophy (and other theoretical work in the humanities and beyond), almost all of which takes Heidegger as a primary point of departure. 

Prerequisites:  Graduate standing, background in continental philosophy/existentialism, or consent of professor.  Course Requirements:  Grades will be based on two take home essay assignments (for undergraduates) or a single research paper (for graduate students).  Required texts (and abbreviations used below):  1. Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson (New York:  Harper, 2008; hereafter “B&T”); 2.  Thomson, Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity(Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2011); and 3. Heidegger, Off the Beaten Track (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2002).  Recommended Texts:  1.  M. Wrathall, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Being and Time (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2013); 2. Thomson, Heidegger on Ontotheology:  Technology and the Politics of the University (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); 3.  Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1993 [1927]); 4). Braver, ed., Division III of Heidegger's Being and Time: The Unanswered Question of Being (Cambridge, MA:  MIT, 2015); and 5).  Heidegger, Being and Time: A Translation of Sein und Zeit, J. Stambaugh, trans. (Albany:  SUNY, 1996) (we will be using the Macquarrie and Robinson translation in class, but it can often help to have another translation to compare).  

426 - Seminar in Asian Philosophers

426.001 - Sem: Buddhist Ethics

Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: T 1:00-3:30

This upper-level ethics seminar will survey some of the main ethical concepts in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy. We will focus on the function of moral emotions such as love and compassion, altruism and bodhicitta, Buddhist conceptions of moral agency, and the possibility of cultivating moral qualities through meditation. We will discuss questions such as “What does it mean to be good person and have a good life in Buddhist philosophical ethics?” “What is the connection between moral virtue and meditation?” “How do we understand moral psychology and negative emotions such as fear, envy, hatred, and anger in Buddhist ethics?” “How do we become better people? And what does that mean?” Towards the end of the class we will look at more contemporary applications of Buddhist ethical concepts to issues of injustice, particularly racism and sexism. The last two weeks of the class will be devoted in an in-class conference where students present and discuss their own work.

442 - Sem: Individual Philosophers

442.002 - Sem: Thoreau

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: TR 3:30-4:45

This course explores the rich and vibrant work of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). In his time, as in ours, Thoreau has been cast in dichotomies. He is criticized as a narcissist and misanthropist who cared little about his fellow humans. He is praised for this eloquence in articulating a philosophy of life as well as an exuberant relationship with nature. In this course, we will move beyond these dichotomies to explore the complex work of Thoreau-from his praise of deliberate living in Walden, to his radical experiment in his Journals in which he seeks to see nature, to his social activism as seen in his essays. We will investigate his influences, such Asian philosophy, as well as his influence.  In addition to Thoreau’s primary work, we will read Thoreau scholars such as Sharon Cameron and Stanley Cavell, social activists, such as Gandhi and King, who claim a debt to Thoreau, and environmentalists, such as Leopold and E.O. Wilson, who recognize Thoreau’s contributions.

444 - 19th Century Philosophy

444.001

Instructor: John Taber
Time/s: MWF 3:00-3:50

This course is an overview of nineteenth-century European philosophical thought. The emphasis will be on German thinkers such as Fichte, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche. Precise texts yet to be determined, but for background students may wish to read Continental Philosophy Since 1750: The Rise and Fall of the Self, by Robert C. Solomon (OUP 1988). There will be two take-home midterm writing assignments and a take-home final, all on assigned topics. A portion of the grade will also be based on class preparation and participation.

455* - Philosophy of Mind

455*.001

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

In this course we will examine the nature of the mind and its relationship to the brain and body. Is the mind the same as the brain, or are they different? How do we know about our own mental states and processes, and how do we know about the mental states and processes of others? Can we explain consciousness and selfhood in scientific terms? Could a computer or a robot actually think or be intelligent? For the first half of the course, we will consider the historical development of views of the nature of mind and its place in the world. In the second half of the course, we will turn to contemporary problems, culminating in the contemporary discussion of the "hard problem" of explaining consciousness and the prospects for a “naturalistic” account of intentionality.

Course requirements: weekly short reading responses, two short papers, one final paper.  

458 - Seminar in Moral & Political Philosophy

458.001 - Sem: Philosophies of Violence & Nonviolence

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

This course will be a concerned with several different questions:  What is violence? Where, when, and how is it justified?  What are the strongest philosophical arguments against violence?  How are we to understand harm?  How should we conceive the relationship between material, racial, sexual, linguistic, and symbolic violence?  Some of the authors under consideration will be: Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, Jean-Paul Sartre, Mahatma Ghandi, Talal Asad, Adriana Cavarero, Judith Butler, and Angela Davis.

A strong background in continental philosophy is recommended for enrollment in the course.

467* - Philosophy of Art & Aesthetics

467*.001

Instructor: Brent Kalar
Time/s: TR 2:00-3:15

This course will serve to introduce the main philosophical topics that have emerged through serious reflection on art and our experience of it in the history of Western Philosophy.  These include: aesthetic experience and the nature of the aesthetic; the standard of taste and aesthetic judgment; beauty; the definition of art; creativity; emotion and expression; interpretation and understanding (a.k.a. hermeneutics); knowledge, truth, and art; the roles of morality and politics in art.  Readings will be drawn from classical and more recent sources, including: Plato, Plotinus, Bonaventure, Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, Kant, Schelling, Schopenhauer, Tolstoy, Collingwood, Dewey, Langer, Benjamin, Heidegger, Adorno, Gadamer, Danto, Sibley, and Nehamas.

 Text: Steven M. Cahn and Aaron Meskin (eds.), Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology (Blackwell, 2008). 

Assignments:  There will be several periodic short exams, two five-page essays, and a two-hour in-class final exam.  Regular attendance is expected.

 

 

 

468 - Seminar in Psychoanalytic Theory & Continental Philosophy

468.001 - Sem: Marxism & Psychoanalysis

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

French hermeneutic philosopher Paul Ricoeur, with ample justification, characterizes Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud as two of the great thinkers of “suspicion.”  Although the unconscious is a concept most closely associated with Freudian psychoanalysis, one could say that Marxism too involves uncovering various forces and factors shaping human agents below the threshold of these agents’ self-awareness.  Marx’s historical materialist investigations raise suspicions about the economic and class determinants of societies and ideologies.  Freud’s metapsychological theories and clinical practices raise suspicions about libidinal and defensive processes governing subjects and their conscious experiences.  Succinctly and roughly put, Marxism focuses on a political-economic unconscious and psychoanalysis on a libidinal-economic one.  However, starting relatively early in the twentieth century during Freud’s own lifetime, others begin making efforts to synthesize Marx’s and Freud’s discoveries and frameworks.  By the middle of the twentieth century, various permutations of Freudo-Marxism form parts of the European intellectual landscape.  Beginning in the 1960s, attempts to forge a Lacano-Marxism, an interfacing of radical leftist political theory with Jacques Lacan’s version of analysis, have been ongoing and continue through today.  Such rapprochements between Marxism and psychoanalysis seek to address a range of questions.  What psychical and subjective elements might have contributed to social history after Marx’s death turning out differently than Marx anticipated?  Are critical masses of people libidinally and unconsciously invested in their own exploitation, oppression, and the like?  Is psychoanalysis a “class therapy” insidiously promoting conformity to bourgeois norms?  Can and/or should analysis be made into a means to the end of raising class consciousness and fostering revolutionary fervor?  How do socio-economic structures mediate psychical-libidinal ones, and vice versa?  How are social ideologies and subjective fantasies intertwined with each other?  What does Marxism indicate about the limits of psychoanalysis’s therapeutic powers?  Correlatively but conversely, what does psychoanalysis indicate about the limits of Marxism’s political ambitions and prospects?  This seminar will cover texts by the following figures:  Marx, Freud, Wilhelm Reich, Otto Fenichel, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Lacan, Frantz Fanon, Louis Althusser, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Alain Badiou, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek.

526 - Seminar in Asian Philosophers

526.001 - Sem: Buddhist Ethics

Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: T 1:00-3:30

This upper-level ethics seminar will survey some of the main ethical concepts in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy. We will focus on the function of moral emotions such as love and compassion, altruism and bodhicitta, Buddhist conceptions of moral agency, and the possibility of cultivating moral qualities through meditation. We will discuss questions such as “What does it mean to be good person and have a good life in Buddhist philosophical ethics?” “What is the connection between moral virtue and meditation?” “How do we understand moral psychology and negative emotions such as fear, envy, hatred, and anger in Buddhist ethics?” “How do we become better people? And what does that mean?” Towards the end of the class we will look at more contemporary applications of Buddhist ethical concepts to issues of injustice, particularly racism and sexism. The last two weeks of the class will be devoted in an in-class conference where students present and discuss their own work.

558 - Seminar in Moral & Political Philosophy

558.001 - Sem: Philosophies of Violence & Nonviolence

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

This course will be a concerned with several different questions:  What is violence? Where, when, and how is it justified?  What are the strongest philosophical arguments against violence?  How are we to understand harm?  How should we conceive the relationship between material, racial, sexual, linguistic, and symbolic violence?  Some of the authors under consideration will be: Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, Jean-Paul Sartre, Mahatma Ghandi, Talal Asad, Adriana Cavarero, Judith Butler, and Angela Davis.

 A strong background in continental philosophy is recommended for enrollment in the course.

568 - Seminar in Psychoanalytic Theory & Continental Philosophy

568.001 - Sem: Marxism & Psychoanalysis

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

French hermeneutic philosopher Paul Ricoeur, with ample justification, characterizes Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud as two of the great thinkers of “suspicion.”  Although the unconscious is a concept most closely associated with Freudian psychoanalysis, one could say that Marxism too involves uncovering various forces and factors shaping human agents below the threshold of these agents’ self-awareness.  Marx’s historical materialist investigations raise suspicions about the economic and class determinants of societies and ideologies.  Freud’s metapsychological theories and clinical practices raise suspicions about libidinal and defensive processes governing subjects and their conscious experiences.  Succinctly and roughly put, Marxism focuses on a political-economic unconscious and psychoanalysis on a libidinal-economic one.  However, starting relatively early in the twentieth century during Freud’s own lifetime, others begin making efforts to synthesize Marx’s and Freud’s discoveries and frameworks.  By the middle of the twentieth century, various permutations of Freudo-Marxism form parts of the European intellectual landscape.  Beginning in the 1960s, attempts to forge a Lacano-Marxism, an interfacing of radical leftist political theory with Jacques Lacan’s version of analysis, have been ongoing and continue through today.  Such rapprochements between Marxism and psychoanalysis seek to address a range of questions.  What psychical and subjective elements might have contributed to social history after Marx’s death turning out differently than Marx anticipated?  Are critical masses of people libidinally and unconsciously invested in their own exploitation, oppression, and the like?  Is psychoanalysis a “class therapy” insidiously promoting conformity to bourgeois norms?  Can and/or should analysis be made into a means to the end of raising class consciousness and fostering revolutionary fervor?  How do socio-economic structures mediate psychical-libidinal ones, and vice versa?  How are social ideologies and subjective fantasies intertwined with each other?  What does Marxism indicate about the limits of psychoanalysis’s therapeutic powers?  Correlatively but conversely, what does psychoanalysis indicate about the limits of Marxism’s political ambitions and prospects?  This seminar will cover texts by the following figures:  Marx, Freud, Wilhelm Reich, Otto Fenichel, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Lacan, Frantz Fanon, Louis Althusser, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Alain Badiou, Ernesto Laclau, and Slavoj Žižek.