Philosophy Department

Professors: Giovanna Borradoriab, Jennifer Churcha, Mitchell Millerb, Michael Murray, Uma Narayan (Chair), Bryan Van Norden; Associate Professor: Douglas Winblad; Assistant Professors: Barry Lamb, Jeffrey Seidman, Jamie Kelly.

Philosophy as a discipline reflects both speculatively and critically on the world, our actions, and our claims to knowledge. The Department of Philosophy offers a variety of courses of study that not only introduce students to 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: The Philosophy major requires a total of 12 units.

100-level: Majors must take two of the 100 level courses one of which must be Philosophy 101 (History of Western Philosophy: Ancient) or Philosophy102 (History of Western Philosophy: Modern)

200-level: Majors must take Philosophy 230 (Logic). They must take one course from each of the following:

Cluster 1: Philosophy 220 (Metaphysics), 222 (Philosophy of Language), 224 (Philosophy of Mind), 226 (Philosophy of Science) and 228 (Epistemology).

Cluster 2: Philosophy 205 (Nineteenth Century Philosophy), 215 (Phenomenology and Existential Thought), 240 (Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics) and 260 (Philosophy and the Arts).

Cluster 3: Philosophy 210 (Neo-Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism), 234 (Ethics), 238 (Social and Political Philosophy), 250 (Feminist Theory) and 270 (Queer Theory).

300-level: Three 300-level seminars, two of which must be differently numbered; and 300-301 (senior thesis). The department will not entertain any requests to count a seminar under a number different from the one it is assigned in the curriculum.

NRO Policy: After the declaration of major, no required philosophy courses may be elected NRO.

Recommendations: Individual programs should be designed, in consultation with a faculty advisor, 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 or 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 and Ms. Church

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 101 or 106 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 and Mr. Seidman and Mr. Kelly.

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 and 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 230 and either 102 or 105; 2 units from Philosophy 220, 222, 224, 226, 228; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 310. Advisers: Ms. Church, Mr. Lam and Mr. Winblad

Correlate sequences may also be designed for certain other subfields in philosophy—for instance, philosophy and gender, philosophy of science, classical philosophy.

I. Introductory

No prerequisites; open to all classes. Any of these courses is suitable as a first course in philosophy.

101a. History of Western Philosophy - Ancient(1)

Philosophy from its origins in Greece to the Middle Ages. Mr. Miller, Mr. Murray and Mr. Seidman.

102b. History of Western Philosophy - Modern(1)

Modern philosophy from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance through Kant. Mr. Murray and Mr. Seidman.

105a and b. Problems of Philosophy(1)

An exploration of some central philosophical concerns, such as the role of feelings versus reason in determining values, the nature of knowledge and the limits of knowledge, the relation between mind and body, appropriate attitudes towards death and suffering, and the possibility of objectivity. Ms. Church, Mr. Van Norden and Mr. Lam.

106a. Philosophy and Contemporary Issues(1)

This course introduces students to the philosophical moral issues, focusing upon topics such as war, terrorism, our food choices, abortion and euthanasia. Mr. Kelly.

This course satisfies college requirements for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

106a. Philosophy and Contemporary Issues(1)

Philosophical 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. Ms. Narayan.

106b. Philosophy and Contemporary Issues(1)

This course will introduce students to the philosophical study of moral issues, focusing upon topics such as war, terrorism, our food choices, abortion and euthanasia. Mr. Kelly.

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.

II. Intermediate

Prerequisite for all 200-level courses unless otherwise specified: 1 unit of philosophy or permission of instructor.

205a. 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 students have the ability to tackle subtle issues in metaphysics, personal identity, and ethics. Mr. Van Norden.

Pre-requisite: a 100-level philosophy course.

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. Mr. Murray.

220a. Metaphysics(1)

A study of the nature of reality, including the nature of existence, essence, identity, and persistence of things. Mr. Winblad.

222b. Philosophy of Language(1)

An examination of truth, meaning, reference, intentions, conventions, speech acts, metaphors, and the relation between language and thought. Mr. Winblad.

224b. Philosophy of Mind(1)

An exploration of competing theories of the mind—including theories that equate the mind with the brain, theories that regard the mind as a social construction, and theories that define the mind by reference to its characteristic functions. The strengths and weaknesses of each of these theories are compared—especially with respect to their understandings of consciousness, self-knowledge, emotion and moral responsibility. Ms. Church.

[ 226b. 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.

Not offered in 2009/10.

228a. Epistemology(1)

A study of knowledge, belief, and justification, and of whether and how we can have knowledge or justified beliefs about the world. Mr. Lam.

230a and 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.

234b. Ethics(1)

An investigation of the nature of morality, the relation between morality and self-interest, the nature of happiness and its relation to a meaningful life. Readings include seminal texts in the Western tradition and writing by contemporary moral philosophers. Mr. Seidman.

238a. Social and Political Philosophy(1)

This course introduces students to both the history of political philosophy and to contemporary debates within it. Our focus is upon the relationship between justice and equality. Mr. Kelly.

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. Mr. Murray.

250b. Feminist Theory(1)

(Sames as Women's Studies 250b) 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 and b. Philosophy and the Arts ](1)

An examination of a specific art form and selected works within it from a philosophical perspective. May be repeated for credit when different art topics are studied.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 270a. Queer Theory: Choreographies 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.

Not offered in 2009/10.

290a and b. Field Work(1/2 or 1)

The department.

298a and b. Independent Work(1/2 or 1)

The department.

III. Advanced

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)

Year long 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 Problems(1)

An examination of recent work on the issue of whether some philosophical problems are unsolvable. Special attention is paid to the problem of why there is anything at all, the mind-body problem, skepticism, and freedom of the will. Mr. Winblad.

One 3-hour class.

[ 311b. Language and the Infinite Mind: The Source and Extent of Linguistic Structure in Cognition ](1)

(Same as Cognitive Science 311b.) A study of recursion in natural languages, poverty of the stimulus arguments for innate structures, the relationship between language and understanding other minds, and the relationship between language and other areas of cognition. Mr. Lam and Jan Andrews.

Prerequisite: special permission of instructor and Cognitive Science 100 and either one Cognitive Science 200-level course or Philosophy 226, Philosophy of Language.

Not offered in 2009/10.

320b. Seminar in the History of Philosophy: Wagner(1)

Richard Wagner, best known as a musician, was also a philosopher of the arts and a philosopher of ethics, politics and religion. His views on the relation between words and sounds, between past and future, between love and redemption, between men and women, and between materialism and myth are distinctive and influential—both in their own time and in ours. This course explores these topics primarily through the lens of Wagner's operas. Attention is also paid to philosophical influences (Spinoza, Feuerbach, Schopenhauer), Wagner's writings and their historical context, and subsequent philosophical writings about Wagner (Hanslick, Nietzsche, Adorno, Scruton, and others). Because Wagner's operas are the central texts, they are presented in a weekly required screening. No prior knowledge of music required; open to non-majors. Ms. Church.

One 3-hour class plus outside screenings.

[ 330a. Seminar in Ethics and Theory of Value: Capitalism, Globalization, Economic Justice and Human Rights ](1)

This seminar focuses on questions about capitalism, globalization, and economic justice. We address debates on private property and the division of labor, and examine the functions of states, markets, corporations, international institutions like the IMF and WTO, and development agencies in economic globalization and their roles in securing or undermining human rights. Texts include Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Antonio Negri, Peter Singer and Thomas Pogge. Ms. Narayan

One 3-hour class.

Not offered in 2009/10.

340b. Seminar in Continental Philosophy: "Marx and Marxisms"(1)

This course studies the philosophical legacy of Karl Marx. In addition to Marx's own writings, we study works from the Frankfurt School, Analytical Marxism and Italian Communism. Mr. Kelly.

One 3-hour class.

340b. Seminar in Continental Philosophy: Art and Poetry in Continental Thought(1)

This seminar examines the exceptional importance that Continental thinkers of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries assign to art and poetry. We begin the German phase with Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy in relation to Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, then turn to Heidegger's "Origin of the Work of Art" and his Elucidations of Holderlin's Poetry with its focus on Holderlin. Next we take up the French phase that begins with Foucault's The Order of Things with his interpretation of Valasquez' painting Las Meninas and then This is not a Pipe in relation to Magritte. Lastly we study Derrida's Memories of the Blind in relation to a selection of drawings from the Louvre and "This Strange Institution Called Literature" and "Ulysses Gramophone: Hear Say Yes in Joyce" in Acts of Literature. Mr. Murray.

One 3-hour class.

[ 350a. Seminar: Chinese Philosophy: Comparative Methodology ](1)

(Same as Chinese and Japanese 350) This course explores some of the methodical issues raised by the prospect of one culture understanding and making judgments about another. The effort to understand another culture raises fundamental issues about the nature of rationality, ethics, and truth. Consequently, this course is structured around the three major approaches to these issues in the contemporary world: Modernism, Postmodernism and Hermeneutics. Very roughly, these three approaches argue over whether rationality, truth, and ethics are universal (Modernism), incommensurable (Postmodernism) or historical and dialogical (Hermeneutics). Requirements include regular class participation that shows familiarity with the readings and many brief essays. Mr. Van Norden.

One 3-hour class.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 383b. Seminar in Philosophy and the Arts ](1)

Not offered in 2009/10.

384a. Seminar: Freedom, Agency, and Moral Responsibility(1)

Wittgenstein asked, "What is left over if I subtract the fact that my arm goes up from the fact that I raise my arm?" My arm going up is something that happens – an event, caused by and causing other events, that has my body as its locus. And indeed, it can happen without my doing anything – for instance, when I have an epileptic seizure. But raising my arm is not just something that happens in my body, it is something that I do. What is this "I" who does this, and what is it for me to do something? These are the questions we seek to answer. The questions matter, in part because we hold one another responsible, morally and legally, for things we do, but we do not usually hold one another responsible for bodily behavior of which we are not the agents. Readings by Davidson, Frankfurt, Watson, Bratman, Wallace, Velleman, and others. Mr. Seidman

One 3-hour class.

[ 396a.b. Philosophic Discussion ](1/2)

Discussion of selected essays on a variety of philosophical issues. Mr. Winblad.

Not offered in 2009/10.

399a.b. Senior Independent Work(1/2 or 1)

The department.