Professors: Giovanna Borradori, Jennifer Church, Mitchell Miller (Chair), Michael E. Murray, Uma Narayanb; Associate Professors: Bryan Van Norden, Douglas Winbladb; Assistant Professor: Jeffrey Seidman; Adjunct Professor: Jesse Kalin.
b Absent on leave, second semester.
Philosophy as a discipline reflects both speculatively and critically on the world, our actions, and our claims to knowledge. It pays special attention to questions and problems that other fields neglect or may be unable to resolve. The Department of Philosophy offers a variety of courses of study that not only familiarize students with the great philosophical achievements of the past and present but also aim to teach them how to think, write, and speak philosophically themselves.
Requirements for Concentration: 12 units including Philosophy 101, 102, 125, two of the following four: Philosophy 220, 222, 224, 226, either 234 or 238, 300-301, and three differently numbered 300-level seminars (not including Philosophy 396).
Senior-Year Requirement: Philosophy 300-301
Recommendations: Individual programs should be designed, in consultation with a faculty adviser, to give the student a representative acquaintance with major traditions in philosophy, competence in the skills of philosophic investigation and argument, and opportunities for exploration in areas of special interest. Students considering a concentration in philosophy are advised to take Philosophy 101 and 102 early in their careers. German, French, and Greek are languages of particular importance in Western philosophy; Chinese will be of special interest to those taking Philosophy 110, 210, or 350.
Advisers: The department.
Correlate Sequences in Philosophy: The philosophy department offers six different correlate sequences. In each sequence a total of 6 units is required. The required 300-level seminar may be taken twice if the topics differ; students may also petition to count an appropriate Philosophy 280 as equivalent to a 300-level seminar.
Correlate Sequence in Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art: Philosophy 101 or 102; Philosophy 240, 260; one of 205, 215 or an appropriate 280; two appropriate 300-level seminars. Advisers: Ms. Borradori, Mr. Murray.
Correlate Sequence in Comparative Philosophy: Philosophy 110 and one of 101 or 102; Philosophy 210 and 234; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 350. Adviser: Mr. Van Norden.
Correlate Sequence in Ethics and Social and Political Philosophy: 1 unit at the introductory level, either Philosophy 106 or 101 or 110; 3 units at the intermediate level, including Philosophy 234 and one of 238 or 250; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 330. Advisers: Ms. Narayan, Mr. Seidman.
Correlate Sequence in Continental Philosophy: Philosophy 101 or 102; 205, 215, and one of Philosophy 240 or 260; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 340. Advisers: Ms. Borradori, Mr. Murray.
Correlate Sequence in the History of Western Philosophy: Philosophy 101 and 102; Philosophy 205 and 215; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 320. Adviser: Mr. Miller.
Correlate Sequence in Analytic Philosophy: Philosophy 125 and either 105 or 102; 2 units of Philosophy 220, 222, 224, or 226; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 310. Advisers: Ms. Church, Mr. Winblad.
Correlate sequences may also be designed for certain other subfields in philosophy—for instance, philosophy and gender, philosophy of science, classical philosophy.
No prerequisites; open to all classes. Any of these courses is suitable as a first course in philosophy.
101a. History of Western Philosophy I (1)
Philosophy from its origins in Greece to the Middle Ages. Mr. Borradori, Mr. Miller, Mr. Murray, Mr. Seidman.
102b. History of Western Philosophy II (1)
Modern philosophy from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance through Kant. Ms. Borradori, Mr. Murray, Mr. Seidman.
105a, b. Problems of Philosophy (1)
An examination of various philosophical problems, such as the nature of reality, the limits of human knowledge, the relation between mind and body, and the basis of moral values. Ms. Church, Mr. Van Norden, instructor to be announced.
106a, b. Philosophy and Contemporary Issues (1)
Philosophic investigation of a range of positions on current issues such as abortion, pornography, affirmative action, gay rights, distributive justice, animal rights, and freedom of speech. Instructor to be announced.
110a. Early Chinese Philosophy (1)
An introduction to Chinese philosophy in the period between (roughly) 500 and 221 b.c., covering Confucians, Taoists and others. Among the topics discussed by these philosophers are human nature, methods of ethical education and self-cultivation, virtues and vices, and the role of conventions and institutions in human life. Mr. Van Norden.
125a, b. Symbolic Logic (1)
A study of the concepts and methods of formal logic. Topics include truth functional and quantificational validity, soundness, and completeness. Mr. Winblad, instructor to be announced.
Prerequisite for all 200-level courses unless otherwise specified: 1 unit of philosophy or permission of instructor.
Prerequisite for all 200-level courses unless otherwise specified: 1 unit of philosophy or permission of instructor.
205b. Nineteenth Century Philosophy (1)
The philosophies of such figures as Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx and Nietzsche, and of movements such as post-Kantian idealism, utilitarianism, and positivism. Mr. Miller.
210b. Neo- Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism (1)
Introduction to Neo-Confucianism, one of the most influential intellectual movements in China and all of East Asia. Some discussion of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. No familiarity with Chinese culture is assumed, but a previous 100-level course in philosophy is a prerequisite because this course assumes you have the ability to tackle subtle issues in metaphysics, personal identity, and ethics. Mr. Van Norden.
215a. Phenomenology and Existential Thought (1)
The major themes in existential and phenomenological thought as developed by such figures as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas. Ms. Borradori.
220a. Metaphysics and Epistemology (1)
A study of fundamental questions pertaining to the nature of reality and our knowledge of it, with special attention to realism, relativism, and skepticism. Mr. Winblad.
222a. Philosophy of Language (1)
An examination of truth, meaning, reference, intentions, conventions, speech acts, metaphors, and the relation between language and thought. Instructor to be announced.
224b. Philosophy of Mind (1)
An exploration of what sort of thing the mind is, what is special about first-person knowledge, what constitutes consciousness, and why consciousness matters. Ms. Church.
[226a. Philosophy of Science] (1)
(Same as Science, Technology and Society 226) A study of the principles of scientific reasoning. Topics include explanation, justification, scientific rationality, realism versus instrumentalism, and laws. Mr. Winblad.
Not offered in 2006/07.
234a. Ethics (1)
Why be moral? What is the relation between morality and self-interest? What is happiness? What is the relation between a happy life and a meaningful life? Are there objective answers to ethical questions, or are whatever answers we give no more than the expressions of our subjective attitudes? If ethical propositions can be true or false, what makes them true or false? These are some of the questions this course seeks to address. We proceed by reading seminal texts in the Western moral philosophical tradition alongside writings by contemporary moral philosophers. Mr. Seidman.
238b. Social and Political Philosophy (1)
A philosophical examination of justice, legitimate government, authority and power, political liberty, civic equality, individual rights, and the merits and limitations of democracy. Instructor to be announced.
240b. Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics (1)
Classical and modern theories of the nature of art, the experience of art, the creative process, and critical argument. Ms. Borradori.
250a. Feminist Theory (1)
Examination of the theoretical sources and commitments of different feminist perspectives (including liberal, socialist, radical, psychoanalytic, and postmodern) and their bearing on such topics as the body, mothering, sexuality, racism, relations among First- and Third-World women. Ms. Narayan.
Prerequisite: 1 unit of philosophy or Women’s Studies 130.
260a. Philosophy and the Arts: Censorship in the Arts (1)
Acts of censorship—political, religious, social—base themselves upon certain truth claims and are reactions to rival truth claims made by the arts. This course examines the role that censorship and truth play in the arts, with cases drawn chiefly from twentieth century literature, painting, and photography. Mr. Murray.
270b. Queer Theory: Choreographics of Sex and Gender (1)
This course examines contemporary theoretical work on the meaning of gender and sexuality with special reference to gay and lesbian studies. We consider questions such as the identity and multiplication of gender and sexes, forms of erotic desire, the performativity of gender norms, styles of life, marriage, and their relationship to medical, psychiatric, legal and criminological discourses. Mr. Murray.
[280a or b. Special Topics in Philosophy] (1)
Special topics in philosophy, e.g. philosophy and psychoanalysis, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, philosophy of history, etc.
Not offered in 2006/07.
290a or b. Field Work ( 1/2 or 1)
296a or b. Translation of Philosophical Texts ( 1/2 or 1)
Translation of a chosen philosophical text under the supervision of a member of the department. The department.
Prerequisite: two years or equivalent in the language.
298a or b. Independent Work ( 1/2 or 1)
Prerequisite for all 300-level courses unless otherwise specified: 1 unit of philosophy at the 200-level or permission of the instructor.
300a-301b. Senior Thesis ( 1/2)
The development of an extended philosophical essay in consultation with a faculty adviser.
302. Senior Thesis (1)
By special permission only.
This one semester course may be substituted for 300a-301b only by special permission.
310a. Seminar in Analytic Philosophy: Philosophical Analysis (1)
An examination of some central issues or topics within analytic philosophy. Instructor to be announced.
310b. Seminar in Analytic Philosophy: Philosophical Analysis (1)
A consideration of the possibility of perceiving reasons—in science, in logic, in morality, and in art. The nature of perception and the nature of reasons will be explored in depth. Ms. Church.
320a. Seminar in the History of Philosophy: Kant (1)
A careful reading of major Kantian texts: The Critique of Pure Reason, The Critique of Practical Reason, and The Critique of Judgment. Recent adaptations of Kantian thought are also considered. Ms. Church.
320b. Seminar in the History of Philosophy: Plato (1)
An intensive reading of selected Platonic texts with special attention to the provocative function of dialogue form. Topics explored include friendship and eros; participation, forms, and the Good; the interplay of unity, limit, and continuum in the various orders of soul, community, and cosmos. Mr. Miller.
330a. Seminar in Ethics and Theory of Value: Capitalism, Globalization, Economic Justice and Human Rights (1)
This seminar focuses on a number of connected questions about capitalism and economic justice. Some possible questions addressed are: what are the distinctive features of capitalism as an economic system, and what concerns of economic justice do these features raise?; has capitalism been a “global system” from the start, and in what ways is its contemporary form “more global?”; what, if anything, is problematic about contemporary economic globalization, what roles can and should nation-states play in regulating an increasingly “international” global economy, and do nation-states have obligations of economic justice to those who are non-citizens within their borders, or inhabitants of other nation-states?; what roles should non-state institutions, such as the World Bank, NGOs, and international human rights regimes play in ensuring congruence between development and economic justice? We read a large number of philosophers from the nineteenth century to the present who have grappled with the nature of capitalism and economic justice, such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Rawls, Antonio Negri, Peter Singer, and Thomas Pogge. We also read work by historians, economists, and scholars who write about international law and economic human rights.
330b. Seminar in Ethics: Practical Reasons and Practical Reasoning (1)
Hume argued that we can reason about what means will conduce to our ends but that we cannot reason about what our ends ought to be. This Humean view has attained the status of orthodoxy in economics and the social sciences, and near-orthodoxy within philosophy. In this seminar, we explore philosophical attempts to overcome this orthodoxy and to make sense of the idea that we can reason about ends. Mr. Seidman.
340b. Seminar in Continental Philosophy: Deconstruction and (1)
Critical Theory in a Time of Terror
This seminar examines the contributions of Deconstruction and Critical Theory to the understanding of September 11 and our present geo-political situation. We will focus on terror as a state of mind, on the question of whether “global terrorism” is a meaningful expression, and on the threat that the use of such an expression may pose to the workings of liberal democracy. We will discuss the key interventions of Derrida and Habermas on terrorism, as formulated in the dialogues conducted by Ms. Borradori in Philosophy in a Time of Terror, and on the ways in which the approaches of Deconstruction and Critical Theory conflict and complement one another. These will be supplemented by further selections from Derrida’s and Habermas’ social and political writings, as well as by writings of other thinkers on global justice, religious fundamentalism, and theory of war. Ms. Borradori, Mr. Murray.
350a. Seminar in Chinese Philosophy: Comparative Methodology (1)
(Same as Chinese and Japanese 350) Mr. Van Norden.
396b. Philosophic Discussion ( 1/2)
Discussion of selected essays on a variety of philosophical issues. Mr. Winblad.
399a or b. Senior Independent Work. ( 1/2 or 1)