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Spring 2017 Course Descriptions

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


Instructor: Allan Hazlett
Time/s: MWF 9:00-9:50

“The object of this essay,” John Stuart Mill wrote in his 1859 treatise On Liberty, “is to assert one very simple principle”: that “the only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”  Mill’s “harm principle,” and its implied conception of the scope and limits of the power of the state and society over the individual, have been controversial ever since.  If it were put into practice, the harm principle – which seems to ground many familiar rights such as freedom of speech and the right to bear arms – would arguably require the end of recreational drug prohibitions, the legalization of polygamy, the lifting of tariffs and other trade restrictions, and the elimination of closed national borders.  In any event, the ideas presented in On Liberty have been hugely influential in shaping our contemporary conceptions of legitimate social and political power, and the questions that it raises are alive today, among other places, in controversies about gun safety, gendered bathrooms, and immigration.  

This course will provide an introduction to philosophy through a study of On Liberty and the questions that it raises, including not only the questions about individual liberty suggested above, but also questions raised in Mill’s wide-ranging defense of the harm principle concerning the legitimacy of the state (e.g. whether we have a duty to obey the law), the scope of human knowledge (e.g. whether we can know anything with certainty), the nature of happiness (e.g. whether happiness is the same as pleasure), and the foundations of morality (e.g. whether moral rules are objectively true).  

In addition to On Liberty (Hackett Publishing, 1978) (a copy of which you will need to buy), we will read works (to be provided electronically) by Martin Luther King, Jr., Plato, Rae Langton, Susan Wolf, David Hume, Bernard Williams, and others.   


Instructor: David Liakos
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

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, two exams, and two short writing assignments, students will also learn how to explain and assess philosophical arguments for themselves. Readings will be made available via a course reader.


Instructor: Dimitry Shevchenko
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

This class aims to introduce students to some of the major issues in the history of philosophy. Does God exist? What is the self? What are right and wrong? What is the ideal kind of society? Do our senses provide reliable knowledge about reality, and if not, how can the nature of reality be known? What is the meaning of life?

Students will read the original texts of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Nietzsche, and other representatives of Western philosophical traditions, but will also become familiar with some of non-Western philosophers from Indian, Chinese, and other traditions such as Laozi, the Buddha, Vātsyāyana etc. The students will also have an opportunity to critically assess and respond to these different philosophers - in class discussions and in writing assignments. 

Required Text:  Robert C. Solomon, Kathleen M. Higgins & Clancy Martin, Introducing Philosophy: A Text with Integrated Readings, 10th edition, Oxford University Press, 2012


Robert C. Solomon, Kathleen M. Higgins & Clancy Martin, Introducing Philosophy: A Text with Integrated Readings, 11th edition, Oxford University Press, 2012


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

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.


Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

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


Instructor: Krupa Patel
Time/s: TR 3:30-4:45

This course provides students with a study of some of the core areas of philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and social/political philosophy.  These fields will be addressed by studying some of the major philosophical topics, such as those concerning the nature of reality, the soul, free will, the nature of knowledge, what determines how we should live, and what is it to be a human being.


Instructor: Krupa Patel
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

This course provides students with a study of some of the core areas of philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and social/political philosophy.  These fields will be addressed by studying some of the major philosophical topics, such as those concerning the nature of reality, the soul, free will, the nature of knowledge, what determines how we should live, and what is it to be a human being.


Instructor: Joachim Oberst
Time/s: MWF 12:00-12:50

This course takes an historical and topical approach to the basic questions of philosophy. Some of the classic texts of philosophy will guide us to examine fundamental questions that stake out the field of philosophy: ontology and metaphysics, epistemology and phenomenology, ethics and morality, religion and politics, science and theology. Among the basic questions we will discuss are the most obvious and most illusive, to which everyone deems to have an answer, but, when pressed, no definite solution. What is philosophy? … truth? … knowledge? … the divine? … (the meaning of) being? … justice? … freedom? … (meaning of) life? … (meaning of) death? … reality? If we find the puzzlement of such fundamental questions intriguing, then we have discovered our philosophic mind that is willing and ready to tackle those questions.

Much of the learning in this course happens in the classroom. Students are therefore required to come prepared and equipped with the daily and weekly readings in mind and hand to be examined in discussions and regular quizzes.

The main purpose of the course is the serious engagement with the ideas promoted in those texts, i.e. training in exegetical reading and participation in group and class discussions.


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

The ancient philosopher Aristotle once said that philosophy begins in wonder. While many disciplines are aimed at answering questions of interest mostly only for researchers in their fields, philosophy seeks to answer the big questions that in many ways define the human condition. What can be known and what cannot? What are these things called minds, and how are they related to bodies? What, if anything, is moral and immoral? Does God exist? Do we have free will?

In this course, students will be introduced to some attempts by philosophers throughout history to answer these questions and others. The course will emphasize development of critical thinking skills, reading comprehension through close examination of complicated texts, and clear, thoughtful argumentative writing.


Instructor: Carolyn Thomas

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, rights and duties, 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.

156 - Reasoning & Critical Thinking


Instructor: Michael Rubio
Time/s: MWF 9:00-9:50

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 begin with an examination of 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, informal fallacies and cognitive bias. The class will mix lecture, discussion, and in-class activities. 

After completing this course students will have a core set of skills that will allow them to be autonomous evaluators of arguments and information encountered in everyday life in order to come to their own conclusions. In addition, they will be able to communicate their reasons for their judgments in a clear and cogent manner.

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. This text is fairly inexpensive at only 6.99 for a new copy on 

All other required readings will be posted on UNM Learn.


Instructor: Mariah Partida
Time/s: MWF 10:00-10:50

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 doing so, we will both evaluate the reasoning of the arguments being made by these authors and construct written responses to those arguments. Disclaimer: Keep in mind that, although we will focus on formal logic in a sense, this is not a symbolic logic class.

Required Text:  Pine, Ronald C. Essential Logic: Basic Reasoning Skills for the Twenty-First Century (1st edition).


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

In the first half of the course, students will learn to identify, construct, and critically assess arguments. Through a rigorous examination of the basic principles of reason, students will come to acquire the analytic skills necessary to both develop and evaluate the quality of an argument. The second half of the semester will be devoted to applying these skills in response to Alain Badiou’s contemporary rendition of Plato’s Republic. In Badiou’s hyper-translation, timeless themes, such as truth, justice, and knowledge, are refashioned in a colorful, modern garb: present-day allusions to iPods, soft-drinks, and sports-cars replace all of the Republic’s outdated ancient Greek references; and even Plato’s famous “cave allegory” is converted into a movie theater. While these aspects of Badiou’s version of the classic dialogue undoubtedly make it an enjoyable read, critical analysis and reasoning will allow us to determine whether Plato’s arguments can stand the test of time.

Texts: (1) William Hughes, Jonathan Lavery, & Katheryn Doran, Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills (6th edition); (2) Alain Badiou, Plato’s Republic: A Dialogue in 16 Chapters.


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

Clear thought, logical argumentation, and the ability to articulate ourselves with precision are essential for developing a deeper relationship to the social world that we are imbedded in. Through developing these abilities we learn to present ourselves clearly both in written and spoken form, and these are skills that are pertinent to all aspects of life.

This course will introduce the main aspects of critical thought. We will start by looking at the basic concepts of argumentation and our use of language and grammar. After this, we will apply these skills attained by analyzing the coherence and validity of various essays in contemporary moral and political philosophy, with specific focus on environmental ethics, global inequality, and animal rights.

By the end of the class students will have a basic knowledge of argumentative structures and also a firm grasp of how to express themselves clearly. They will also be able to apply these skills to problems they encounter in their everyday lives.

Required texts: TBA


Instructor: Jim Bodington
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

This course will introduce students to the fundamental skills of critical thinking and argument analysis, as well as the application of these skills via critical engagement with important contemporary social and political issues. The course begins with an exploration of the tools and concepts of informal logic and linguistic analysis. We will investigate, among other things, theories of meaning, the structures of arguments, various fallacies, criteria for evaluating arguments, and the differences between different types of reasoning (how, for instance, is a moral argument different from a scientific argument?). In the second half of the course we will apply these skills by engaging with contemporary social and political issues. We will cover and argumentatively respond to texts that address questions of economic and social justice (How should resources be distributed? What is the most just form of government? Is political violence ever justified?)


Instructor: Zac Turnbull
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

This course will introduce students to the analysis of arguments and their structure, and of texts in which arguments figure. In the first half of the course, we will learn the 'building block' skills necessary for recognizing, analyzing, and evaluating arguments, including linguistic skills to help build academic literacy. We will look at what makes for good versus poor argument, and then study particular argument types (e.g., deductive versus inductive arguments).
In the course's second half, we will study a series of argumentative texts. This semester we will look at general and philosophical texts all concerned with the theme of 'justice and injustice'. Authors may include Emma Goldman, Angela Davis, Margaret Thatcher, John Rawls, Jeremy Bentham, Niccolo Machiavelli, Geronimo, and Arlo Guthrie. I aim to achieve some ideological, gender, and ethnic balance with these selections, although (clearly) with a North American slant.
By the course's end, students should be better equipped to rationally evaluate both academic and public discourse - an important skill not just at university, but for life.


Instructor: Marcel Lebow
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

What does it mean to reason well? We possess the ability to reason, to argue, and to analyze, but this does not mean we reason, argue, and analyze properly and consistently. In this course we will refine these tools of thought and develop our critical thinking skills. We will study the formal structures of argumentation and learn to identify the quality of arguments. Additionally, through a close examination of our language, we will see what it takes to convey our thoughts clearly and accurately.

In the second half of this course, we will apply these skills through a close reading and critical assessment of Thomas Ligotti's Conspiracy Against the Human Race. Ligotti, a pessimist and nihilist, presents several compelling arguments against a claim most of us take for granted: "Being alive is all right." By virtue of being alive ourselves we cannot help but affirm our existence, and yet such an affirmation is challenged by Ligotti. By engaging with this text, we will be forced to think critically about likely our most cherished and unthought belief.


Instructor: Brian Gatsch
Time/s: ONLINE

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: Critical Thinking, An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th Edition), by William Hughes, Jonathan Lavery, Katheryn Doran (Broadview Press).   Elements of Style (4th Edition), by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, (Pearson)

201 - Greek Thought


Instructor: Joachim Oberst
Time/s: MWF 10:00-10:50

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, 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.


After a quick glance at Hesiod’s mythological worldview, we will literally start with the "first philosophers" known as the "Presocratics" and look at some of the fragments of their rich works that have survived more than two millennia. We will then move to the literary works of Plato and read a selection of his earlier and middle dialogues (on death and love). In Aristotle we will discover an encyclopedic mind who devoted his philosophical research to all aspects of human life and beyond. We will look at selections of his philosophical lectures on nature, language, physics and metaphysics. To conclude the course we will take a brief excursion into the Hellenistic world where we shall encounter the Epicureans, the Stoics and the Skeptics as well as special cases of the Cynics, with their theological, epistemological and ethical worldviews. During the course of the semester we will also get a taste of Greek Theatre and study some of the works of the comedy writer Aristophanes (The Clouds, Lysistrata) and the tragedian Euripides (Medea).


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


Instructor: Brent Kalar
Time/s: MWF 9:00-9:50

This course will be an introduction to the main texts of early modern philosophy in the context of the Scientific Revolution.  The main intellectual problem of the Modern Era (roughly, the period from 1600 to the present) has been described as the need to reconcile our everyday view of the world with the authoritative pronouncements of modern science that often contradict it.  By addressing this issue, our aim will be to provide the student with a solid foundation, not only for future work in philosophy, but also for understanding the last few centuries of Western civilization.  We will begin with an examination of the major source of modern philosophy, Rene Descartes’ Meditations.  Here we find for the first time together the major elements of the break with the earlier tradition-bound approach to philosophy: the characteristically modern emphasis on the primacy of the thinking subject, the obsession with finding the proper “method” to guarantee certainty in the sciences, and the attempt to re-conceive nature according to a purely mathematical model.  Next, we will study the fascinating and boldly ambitious metaphysical systems of Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz.  Here our main concern will be to chart how these so-called “rationalist” systems were created out of an effort to deal with unresolved problems left by Descartes’ radical re-conception of the subject and nature.  At the same time as rationalism was developing, a new mode of thinking about philosophy and its relation to science was coming onto the stage in Britain: so-called “empiricism.”  John Locke conceived of philosophy as a more humble “under-labourer” to science, whose main aim was to clear away the confusion caused by metaphysics, rather than to construct a foundational system on its own.  We will see how Locke’s seemingly modest and commonsensical theories about experience, knowledge, substance, and personhood lead to radically counterintuitive and skeptical conclusions when they are developed more consistently in the philosophies of his major successors George Berkeley and David Hume.  Finally, the course will culminate in a systematic exposition of the metaphysical and epistemological thought of Immanuel Kant – arguably the central figure of modern philosophy (and, some would argue, of philosophy as a whole).  We will examine Kant’s critique of both rationalism and empiricism, and his alternative views of substance, natural change, and the soul.  Our aim will be to show how Kant tried to reconcile the key insights of rationalism and empiricism, and blend them into a coherent whole.

Text: Ariew and Watkins (eds.), Modern Philosophy  (Hackett)

Assignments: There will be five quizzes, two essays, and a final exam.


Instructor: Mary Domski
Time/s: TR 8:00-9:15

The philosophies that emerged during the early modern period can be seen as a response to a two-fold challenge: 1) the skeptical challenge to human knowledge and 2) the challenge to find a scientific method appropriate for study of the natural world. The first few weeks of the course will be dedicated to a close examination of Descartes’s influential attempt to address both these challenges, as found in his Meditations on First Philosophy (1641).  We’ll then turn to the proposals of other early modern thinkers, including Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.  We’ll pay special attention to the key innovations in the works of these writers and try to get a handle on how they modified and replaced key elements of Descartes’s philosophy in their attempts to explain the nature and extent of human knowledge.  Our general goal throughout the semester will be to gain a solid understanding of how several early modern thinkers married their views of human knowledge with claims regarding the existence and nature of God, the grounds of moral responsibility, and our ability to establish true claims about the natural world.  

211 - Greek Philosophy


Instructor: Phillip Schoenberg
Time/s: ONLINE

This course in ancient Greek philosophy will familiarize students with the very beginnings of philosophy in the West. We will read translations of several works by a few of the most influential and representative thinkers who wrote philosophy in the Greek language (philosophy's mother tongue). Although we will consider Greek thought primarily as "a way of life," which is how the ancient Greeks conceived of it (which I think is correct), we will also take the time to look at these ancient thinkers from the perspective of contemporary philosophy as it is relevant to the subsequent history of philosophy. The majority of the course will focus on Plato and Aristotle, but we will also read the presocratics, Xenophon, and a play by Aristophanes.

241 - Topics

241.001 - Philosophy of Food

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

This course is an appetizer platter of the most interesting questions about the philosophy of food. Our inquiry revolves around a fundamental facet of our lives. We eat for sustenance, for entertainment, for pleasure. We explore fundamental philosophical questions about food. What is food? Should we consider Cheetos to be food? What of lentils, protein bars, or lobster? How should we evaluate junk-food tax created by the Navajo Nation? How do we make aesthetic judgments about food and the experience of food? How is eating connected to our fundamental human experience and the good life? How should we evaluate food choice both individually and socially? To analyze these questions we will explore food movements and food choices. There is a range of sophisticated discussion on organic food, fair-trade food, locavore movements, slow food movements, vegetarianism, and hunting. We will do a systematic analysis of where our food comes from and how it affects the environment. In considering issues of sustainability, we will analyze the production of food, the transportation of food, the consumption of food, and the waste of food.



David Kaplan, The Philosophy of Food

Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Wendell Berry, Bring it to the Table

Collection of essays in the Learn course room

245 - Professional Ethics


Instructor: Carolyn Thomas

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, 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.

341 - Skepticism


Instructor: Allan Hazlett
Time/s: MWF 12:00-12:50

In European history, “skepticism” has been understood in many different ways: as a way of life characterized by suspension of judgment, as an immoral and dangerous threat to religion and morality, as an essential antidote to dogmatism and intellectual arrogance, and as a theoretical foil against which to oppose philosophical theories of the nature and scope of human knowledge.  This course will provide an introduction to skepticism in philosophy through an examination of this history.  Many are familiar with René Descartes’ influential articulation, in his Meditations of 1641, of the problem of how we can know anything about the external world.  We will both trace these skeptical doubts back to their origins, in the Pyrrhonian and Academic skepticisms of Ancient Greece and Rome, and follow their development forward, to debates about the nature possibility of knowledge in 20th century epistemology and to a conception of skepticism – suggested by the writings of several authors, including David Hume, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Bertrand Russell – as grounding political moderation and anti-factionalism. 

For this course you will need to buy copies of Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Scepticism, trans. J. Annas and J. Barnes (Cambridge University Press, 2000), Cicero, On Academic Scepticism, trans. C. Brittain (Hackett Publishing, 2006), and Allan Hazlett, A Critical Introduction to Skepticism (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014).  All else will be made available electronically. 

352 - Theory of Knowledge


Instructor: Kelly Becker
Time/s: TR 2:00-3:15

‘Philosophy’ literally means love of wisdom.  Thus the nature and status of knowledge itself is of fundamental importance to philosophers.  We will begin with the skeptical claim that we can know almost nothing at all.  We will then turn to the problematic traditional analysis of knowledge as justified true belief.  After discussing a famous refutation of this account and assessing new ones, we will inquire into the nature of justified belief.  When does a true belief constitute knowledge?  When it is based upon firm foundations?  When it coheres with my other true beliefs?  When it is caused in a reliable way?  Finally, with the time remaining, we’ll explore related questions about knowledge, such as the value of knowledge, the ethics of belief, and whether what counts as knowledge is relative to subjects or their communities.  Text: Sosa, Kim, et al. eds., Epistemology: An Anthology, 2/e (Wiley-Blackwell). 

354 - Metaphysics


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

A set of problems concerning existence (or reality, or the nature of things) has come to be called ‘metaphysics’ among philosophers.  These problems are all curiously interconnected.  If you start thinking seriously about any one of them, you will soon find yourself thinking about most, or all, of the others.  These problems include:  how can a thing change over time and yet remain the same thing?  What is a thing?  How can things come into existence and go out of existence?  What is time?  What is change?   If nothing changed, would time pass? Does time flow, or is the flow of time an illusion?  In what ways is time like space, and in what ways is it different?  Are sentences about the future true or false now?  If so, this implies fatalism:  the future is set, and there is nothing we can do now to change it.  But this conflicts with our ordinary, nearly unshakeable belief that we have free will.  We must assume, for practical purposes, that we can choose to do things that will make our futures better than they would otherwise be.  Science, however, theorizes that we persons are complex physical objects (organisms) and that our thoughts and feelings are electrochemical states of our brains.  If thoughts are physical states of our brains, then their content (what they mean) is somehow encoded or represented physically.  How could electrochemical states have content or meaning?  What is meaning? If science is correct, then our brain-states are caused to be as they are by prior physical states and events.  This causal chain goes all the way back to the Big Bang (if there was a Big Bang.) So, whether you have rational thoughts and compassionate feelings that lead you to do good things, or you have evil thoughts and anti-social feelings that lead you to do bad things, none of that is up to you; you are not responsible.  But we all feel that we are responsible for our own actions, when no legitimate excusing condition applies.  What is responsibility?  When we are talking about morality, what in the world are we talking about?  Could science be mistaken that we are just complex blobs of matter?  Perhaps we are souls, or spirits, or monads: immaterial substances.  If we were, would that enable us to escape the causal nexus and be genuinely free and responsible? How?  How could a state of an immaterial substance have content or meaning? Again, what is meaning?  What is causality?  Could there, perhaps, be no physical stuff, no matter, at all?  Could the entire physical world be merely a phenomenal world that exists only for minds or souls? What is a law of nature? What is the difference between a contingent truth and a necessary truth?  Which sentences are true because of the nature of things, and which are true because of human conventions? Which kinds are the natural kinds? Do natural kinds have essences? Do I have an essence? Which things about me could be different without making me another person? Could my essence possibly survive the death of my body, or inhabit a body different from my own?

Texts:  Metaphysics:  The Big Questions, latest edition, edited by Peter van Inwagen and Dean W. Zimmerman (Blackwell);  Riddles of Existence:  A Guided Tour of Metaphysics, latest edition, by Earl Conee and Theodore Sider (Oxford, 2014). 

356 - Symbolic Logic


Instructor: Kelly Becker
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:40

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. 


Instructor: Barbara Hannan
Time/s: MWF 1:00-2:20

In this course we will learn two formal languages, SL (sentential logic) and PL (predicate logic).  These formal languages enable us to symbolize natural language sentences and arguments, and to prove that the symbolized sentences and arguments have various interesting logical properties, such as logical truth, logical falsehood, deductive validity, and so forth.  Techniques covered include semantic methods such as truth-tables and truth-trees, and syntactic methods such as derivation-rule systems for both sentential and predicate logic.  Text:  Bergmann, Moor, and Nelson, The Logic Book, 6th edition (McGraw-Hill). 

358 - Ethical Theory


Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

This philosophy course aims to provide you with a firm philosophical foundation in some of the influential classics in Western and Eastern moral philosophy.  We will read some of the classic historical texts in-depth, with a focus both on engaged interpretation and critical analysis. This course also aims to increase your facility with dense philosophical texts and hone your critical and creative thinking skills, particularly with regard to ethical issues.



Instructor: Phillip Schoenberg
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

This course is an introduction to moral theory.  Students will not only become familiar with representative selections from classics of ethical theory, including works by Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill, but will also read selections from more recent and contemporary philosophers, including Derek Parfit, Bernard Williams, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Charles Taylor.  While the core of the course will be focused on the traditional categories of Virtue Ethics, Deontology and Utilitarianism, we will also briefly consider problems with relativism and egoism, and the relationship between morality and religion.
It is important to note that this is an ethical theory course, and not a course in applied ethics, or moral issues.
The goal of the course is to familiarize students with both the classical ethical theories, as well as the living philosophical tradition with the hope that by the end of the class they will have made a good beginning at tackling philosophy's most important question, "how should I live?"

372 - Modern Social & Political Philosophy


Instructor: Adrian Johnston
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

Karl Marx’s famous eleventh thesis on Feuerbach declares, in 1845, that, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways;  the point is to change it.”  He thus not only indicts philosophers of the past for describing socio-political phenomena from the sidelines of ineffective contemplation—he inaugurates a new mode of engaged political theorizing in which theory and practice are drawn into close dialectical connections with each other.  Moreover, nobody credibly can deny that Marx’s ideas managed, at least for a time, to change the world (not even those who believe the popular journalistic wisdom in the late-capitalist press according to which a supposed something named “Marxism” died and was buried with the wheezing collapses of the sclerotic nomenklatura bureaucratic state apparatuses of Yugoslavia and the Eastern bloc started with the falling of the initial dominoes in 1989).  Additionally, especially in relation to the European philosophical orientations of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Marx and his successors have been enormously influential, shaping a plethora of stillongoing discussions and debates in so-called “Continental philosophy.”  This course will spend the first half of the semester on the texts of Marx and Engels.  The second half of the semester will involve examinations of writings by a number of Marxist and post-Marxist political thinkers/practitioners:  Engels, Lenin, Lukács, Gramsci, Mao, Benjamin, Sartre, Althusser, and Balibar.  A range of issues will be discussed:  the structure of collective history, the various influences of the economy, the dynamics of revolutionary changes, the shape of social justice, the nature and function of ideologies… up to and including the status of philosophy itself in light of the Marxist conception of socio-political reality as a whole.  In the process, questions will be asked about where we stand today, in our present circumstances, apropos the arguments and theories developed within the Marxist tradition.

381 - Philosophy of Law


Instructor: Ann Murphy
Time/s: TR 8:00-9:15

 This course is intended as an upper-level introduction to the philosophy of law.  The aim of the course is to give students a sense of the scope and application of the most central theories and problems in the philosophy of law.  Topics under consideration will be: the nature of law’s authority, the nature of punishment, the nature of the relationship between law and morality, and race, gender and the law.   PHIL 371 aims to give students a sense of the historical evolution of the philosophy of law as well as its most important contemporary theories and problems.  We will cover ancient philosophical texts as well as work by contemporary authors.  Lastly, the course will address the significance of what it means to approach the law philosophically.

390 - Latin American Thought


Instructor: Michael Candelaria
Time/s: MWF 1:00-1:50

In this course, we will explore the blurring of the distinction between reality and unreality, fantasy and truth, and fact and fiction in Latin American Thought focusing primarily on the fantastic short stories of Jorge Luis Borges as well as his non-fiction essays. Additionally, we will examine the philosophical revolt against positivism by Mexican thinkers on the cusp of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. This course will also discuss Latin American Liberation Theology. 

411 - Hegel


Instructor: Adrian Johnston
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

Hegel’s very first published work of 1798 is his translation and commentary on a set of antiaristocratic public letters written by a Swiss lawyer living in exile in Paris, Jean Jacques Cart, about injustice and oppression in Cart’s native land (where Hegel himself resided from 1793 to 1796).  Hegel’s very last published work of 1831, written shortly before his death, is an essay warning of the demagogic and populist dangers of the then-impending reform of England’s Parliamentary electoral system.  Profoundly influenced by the experience of the French

Revolution in particular—all the German idealists, including Immanuel Kant, J.G. Fichte, and F.W.J. Schelling, were deeply affected by this late-eighteenth-century event—Hegel is seriously concerned throughout his philosophical career, from start to finish, with intertwined social, political, economic, and historical matters.  One of his several magnum opera is 1821’s Elements of the Philosophy of Right, a now-canonical text in the history of Western political thought.  Moreover, Hegel’s philosophy subsequently influences the development of Marxism, among many other orientations and movements.  Hegel, throughout his repeated reflections on societies and states, is preoccupied first and foremost with the problem of striking balances between the individual and the collective—that is, between, on the one hand, the rights demanded in connection with modernity’s idea of the freedom of the private person and, on the other hand, the perennial claims for the common good of the greater social whole.  Moreover, Hegel asks probing questions about the challenges of rising inequality in the early capitalist socio-economic systems of his time, prophetically hinting at the difficulties and upheavals this might bring about.  This course will survey Hegel’s political writings from 1798 to 1831, with special attention paid to Elements of the Philosophy of Right

415 - History & Philosophy of Mathematics


Instructor: Paul Livingston
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

Philosophy *415: Philosophy and History of Mathematics:  Introduction to formal structures, mathematical logic and philosophical meta-logic in a philosophical and historical context.  We will pursue the implications of twentieth-century formal thought for longstanding questions of philosophy by means of an interplay of formal proof, informal argument, and digressive elucidation.  After an introduction to elementary set theory, we will discuss transfinite sets and the nature of infinity, formal paradoxes, model theory, computability theory and Turing machines, and conclude with a proof sketch of Gödel’s two incompleteness theorems.  We shall also explore some recent provocative applications of formal structures and results to problems in the history of philosophy, philosophy of mind, and political philosophy in texts by authors such as Wittgenstein, Putnam, Priest, and Badiou.  All theories and results will be developed in a manner intended to be maximally non-technical and discursively accessible to non-mathematicians, while nevertheless preserving the integral conceptuality of the results themselves.

Prerequisite: a course in symbolic logic or the equivalent (please contact Prof. Livingston if you have questions about equivalence).      

421 - Early Heidegger


Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: T 4:00-6:30

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.  In 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). 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:  1. Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson (New York:  Harper, 2008); 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 help you to have another translation with which to compare it).  

466 - Seminar: Beauty


Instructor: Brent Kalar
Time/s: MW 6:00-7:15

Long lauded as a divine and transcendent quality, beauty fell into cultural disfavor in the twentieth century, as modernist and postmodernist aesthetic ideals came to the fore.  In recent decades, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in beauty.  This course will attempt to survey some of the more recent attempts at giving a philosophical account of beauty (preceded by a brief look at the major historical theories, such as those of Plato, Aquinas, and Kant).  We will be particularly interested in the question of whether a useful definition of beauty can be given that covers all the intuitive cases, and the question of the ontological status of beauty.  In addition, we will examine the relationship of beauty and moral goodness.  Lastly, we will examine the question of whether beauty "is truth."  There will be no textbook; all readings will be individual chapters or articles made available on UNM Learn.  Assignments will include a short midterm paper and a longer term paper.  There may be opportunities for student presentations, depending upon participant interest.

480 - Philosophy and Literature


Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: MW 4:30-5:45

We will begin this course by seeking to understand the role popular works of literary art can play historically in shaping and transforming humanity’s most basic sense of what is and what matters.  Once that post-Heideggerian background is in place, we will turn to read a handful of the popular contemporary literary texts that focus centrally on the fundamental existential question of how to understand the relation between life and death and the role of love therein.  We will read both esoteric and apparently exoteric texts, including some of the most wildly popular works of the last decade, but we will be reading these popular works in ways that look beyond their surface appeal and seek to disclose their deeper, more esoteric philosophical contents.  Our goal will be to better comprehend the contributions these popular works of literary art make to humanity’s contemporary thinking about the meaning of life, death, and love. Course Requirements:  This course will require a great deal of sometimes difficult and challenging reading.  To facilitate your digestions of these works, attendance is required.  Grades will be based on attendance and two take-home essays (for undergraduates) or a single research paper (for graduate students). Required Texts:  1).  J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Levine books, 2007); 2). Cormac McCarthy, The Road (Vintage, 2006); 3). Don Delillo, Zero K (Scribner, 2016); 4). Thomson, Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity (Cambridge, 2011); 5). Neil Stephenson, Anathem (William Morrow, 2008); 6). Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen (DC Comics, 2014); and 7). Hamilton:  The Revolution! (Grand Central Publishing, 2016). 

557 - Sem: The One & The Many


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

In this seminar, we will consider the ancient problem of the existence and unity of the cosmological whole of the world, or of the totality of all that is or exists, from a perspective framed by contemporary logic, mathematics, and philosophy of language.  We will also consider the relationship of metaphysical positions on this whole within the history of philosophy to formal considerations drawn from contemporary logic and mathematics about unity, plurality, finitude, and the infinite.  The first half of the course will focus on the problem of the One and the Many as developed in Plato’s texts, including centrally his Parmenides, as well as late dialogues such as the Sophist and Philebus.  In the second half of the course, we will consider modern and contemporary approaches, beginning with Kant’s cosmological antinomies, and continuing through Cantor’s transfinite set theory, Frege’s logicism and Russell’s paradox.  We shall then consider a number of recent and contemporary treatments drawn from both recent analytic and “continental” philosophy, including those of Martin Heidegger, Gilles Deleuze, and Graham Priest.    

566 - Seminar: Beauty


Instructor: Brent Kalar
Time/s: MW 6:00-7:15

Long lauded as a divine and transcendent quality, beauty fell into cultural disfavor in the twentieth century, as modernist and postmodernist aesthetic ideals came to the fore.  In recent decades, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in beauty.  This course will attempt to survey some of the more recent attempts at giving a philosophical account of beauty (preceded by a brief look at the major historical theories, such as those of Plato, Aquinas, and Kant).  We will be particularly interested in the question of whether a useful definition of beauty can be given that covers all the intuitive cases, and the question of the ontological status of beauty.  In addition, we will examine the relationship of beauty and moral goodness.  Lastly, we will examine the question of whether beauty "is truth."  There will be no textbook; all readings will be individual chapters or articles made available on UNM Learn.  Assignments will include a short midterm paper and a longer term paper.  There may be opportunities for student presentations, depending upon participant interest.