Philosophy Department

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.

Philosophy Major Advisors: The Faculty

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art Correlate Sequence Advisers: Ms. Borradori and Ms. Church

Comparative Philosophy Correlate Sequence Adviser: Mr. Van Norden

Ethics and Social and Political Philosophy Correlate Sequence Advisers: Ms. Narayan, Mr. Seidman and Mr. Kelly

Continental Philosophy Correlate Sequence Advisers: Ms. Borradori

History of Western Philosophy Correlate Sequence Adviser: Mr. Raymond

Analytic Philosophy Correlate Sequence Advisers: Ms. Church, Mr. Lam and Mr. Winblad

Programs

Major

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 PHIL 280 as equivalent to a 300-level seminar.

Correlate sequences may be designed for other subfields in philosophy; for example, philosophy and gender, philosophy of science, and classical philosophy. However, students must obtain approval from the department for any correlate or alternative correlate sequence prior to the beginning of their senior year.

Courses

Philosophy: I. Introductory

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

101a: This course provides an introduction to Western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the Stoics of the Roman Empire. Our focus will be the ancient conception of philosophy as an art of living, and on different views of eudaimonia, or happiness - the ultimate goal of a human life. Our principal texts will include Plato's Socratic dialogues, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, the letters of Epicurus, and Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. Mr. Raymond.

101a: The course will concentrate on the ethical and metaphysical thought of Plato and Aristotle.  We will consider their answers to two questions that both see as intimately connected: What is a good life for a human being?  And: what is it for something to exist? Mr. Seidman.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

102b: Descartes inaugurated modern philosophy by turning philosophical attention away from questions about what the world is like and directing it onto the question: how is it possible for us to know what the world is like? He made this question urgent by offering arguments that suggest that we cannot know what the world is like -- arguments suggesting that there is an unbridgeable gap between the mind and the material world. We will carefully examine the ways in which Descartes himself, Hume, and, finally, Kant, seek to answer these arguments and bridge the gap that Descartes' arguments open up. We will see how their various approaches to this task shape and are shaped by their conceptions of the human mind, the material world, the relation of the mind to the human body, and the nature of the 'self.' No pre-requisites. Mr. Seidman.

102b: We will study the epistemology and metaphysics of the 17th and 18th century from Descartes through Kant. Advancements in sciences during this period made many philosophers question existing preconceptions of how knowledge ought to be acquired and how the material world was intelligible to humans. The advancements also revealed deep insecurities about the role of God in the world. We will look at how some central philosophers of the period responded to these controversies, including Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Mr. Lam.

PHIL 101 is not a necessary prerequisite for the course.

Two 75-minute periods.

105a and b. Philosophical Questions (1)

105a: What is the significance of the different attitudes that we adopt towards other people, towards our surroundings, and towards ourselves? Trust, resentment, forgiveness, love, sentimentality, horror, irony, and awe can shape our lives in profound ways, but their roles are often puzzling. A close consideration of these attitudes serves as an introduction to some fundamental philosophical problems concerning the nature and limits of knowledge, morality, art, and truth. Ms. Church.

105b. Democracies. The word "democracy" is invoked widely today to refer to vastly differently forms of politics. From local, participatory movements to global banking institutions, from the invasion of Iraq to the revolts of the Arab Spring, democracy is more widespread and perhaps more ambiguous than ever today, which makes an investigation of it all the more pressing. This course will explore several of the philosophical questions that underlie these inherently different democracies, including participation, representation, law, human rights, forms of equality, globalization, securitization, and militarization. Mr. Holloway.

Two 75-minute periods.

106a and b. Philosophy and Contemporary Issues (1)

Topic for 2015/16a: Just War Theory. This course will explore the contemporary philosophical literature on Just War Theory. The past decade has seen an explosion of philosophical work on war, with important consequences for our thinking about both the ethics and law of armed conflict. We will examine classical formulations of the just war doctrine, as well as the challenge posed by revisionist just war theorists. Readings will include Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars and Jeff McMahan's Killing in War. Mr. Kelly.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies the college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Topic for 2015/16a: Democracy. This course explores democracy in the 21st Century as a philosophical question. We consider recent movements like the idignados in Spain, public spaces like Tahrir Square in Eygpt, and hashtags like #iranelection and #Jan25 against the backdrop of the invention of democracy in ancient Athens. We then think about democracy more philosophically as a desire to act and speak in public space, and we question whether modern representative governments allow for a sufficient sense of equal political participation. Finally, we reflect on what it means to be unable to participate in politics or, in more dire cases, to be excluded from any form of political life. Readings include works from Hannah Arendt, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Rancière, Miguel Abensour, Étienne Balibar, Giorgio Agamben, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, among others. Mr. Holloway.

Topic for 2015/16b: This course introduces students to the philosophical study of moral issues, focusing upon topics such as war, terrorism, our food choices, abortion, and euthanasia. Emphasis throughout will be placed upon argumentative rigor, clarity, and precision. Mr. Kelly.

Two 75-minute periods.

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.

Two 75-minute periods.

150a. The Limits of the Universe and the Limits of Understanding (1)

(Same as PHYS 150) This course allows students to combine their interests in physics and in philosophy, recognizing common concerns and actively engaging in joint difficulties. The guiding questions of this course can be formulated as follows: In what ways, and to what extent, do recent developments in physics (e.g. the notion of space that is both infinite and bounded because curved) either solve or bypass traditional philosophical paradoxes concerning space and time, causality, and objectivity? In what ways, and to what extent, do traditional philosophical worries (e.g. worries about incoherence, worries about theories that cannot be falsified, or worries about concepts whose application cannot be imagined) cast doubt on the accuracy or the methodology of current physics? Readings are from physics and philosophy. Ms. Church, Ms. Schwarz.

May not count towards a physics concentration.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

Philosophy: II. Intermediate

205a. Nineteenth Century Philosophy (1)

After a brief overview of Kant's "critical revolution" and its immediate aftermath, we will study the thought of four major European thinkers: Hegel, Marx, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. Themes will include the sense of alienation felt in the wake of the Enlightenment; the critique of modern morality; philosophical pessimism; and the hope that art can fill the spiritual void left by the collapse of the Christian worldview. Mr. Raymond.

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2015/16.

Two 75-minute periods.

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. Neo-Confucianism combines a profound metaphysics with a subtle theory of ethical cultivation. There will also be some discussion of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism whose views of the self and ethics are the primary targets of the Neo-Confucian critique. 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.

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy, Chinese-Japanese, or Religious Studies, or permission of the instructor.

215a. Phenomenology and Existential Thought (1)

Since the ancient Greeks, philosophy has interpreted the drama of human life in terms of knowledge rather than will, truth rather than passion. During the 20th century, phenomenology and existentialism offer the most radical critique of this "intellectualist" view of both philosophy and the self. A new cognitive value is attributed to moods, beliefs, and states of consciousness as well as to some spheres of human interaction such as authenticity, temporality, and intentionality. In this course, we shall explore the great arch of existential and phenomenological thought as developed by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas. Ms. Borradori.

Prerequisite: one unit of Philosophy or permission of the instructor.

220a. Metaphysics (1)

This course examines a number of interlocking metaphysical topics, among them the relationship between reality and the mind, the nature of consciousness, the apparent tension between free will and causal necessitation, personal identity, the reality of time, and the problem of why anything at all exists. Questions about the status of metaphysical inquiry itself will also be addressed. Mr. Winblad.


 

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

222b. Philosophy of Language (1)

Topic for 2015/16b: Language is our primary means of expressing our thoughts. Language is also one of our primary means of representing the world. As a result, philosophers in the analytic tradition have attempted to gain a better understanding of standard philosophical issues through the study of how we understand and use language to express our thoughts, communicate, and represent the world. We will look at the philosophical study of meaning and truth as well as the philosophical problems that such studies purport to illuminate, solve, or dissolve. We will discuss theories of meaning that seek to identify meanings as items in the world, as abstract concepts, as psychological ideas, as social rules of interaction, and we will link these theories to metaphysical and epistemological questions. Mr. Lam.
 

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy.

Two 75-minute periods.

224b. Philosophy of Mind (1)

An exploration of competing theories of the mind: theories that regard the mind as something non-physical, theories that equate mind and brain, theories that offer functional analyses of the mind, theories that view the mind as a narrative construction, and theories that question the ultimate reality of the mind. The strengths and weaknesses of each of these theories are compared -- especially with respect to their understandings of consciousness, self-knowledge, emotion, moral responsibility, and the minds of non-humans. Ms. Church.

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy.

Not offered in 2015/16.

226b. Philosophy of Science (1)

(Same as STS 226) This course explores general questions about the nature of scientific inquiry, such as whether science is fully rational, and whether even our best scientific theories really provide us with accurate depictions of the natural order.  The course also treats philosophical issues that arise in relation to specific scientific theories. These include whether life originated in a series of unlikely accidents, whether human cognition may be understood in purely computational terms, and whether we should embrace the existence of multiple universes and abandon the requirement that scientific theories be testable. Mr. Winblad.

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy.

Two 75-minute periods.

228b. Epistemology (1)

Epistemology is the study of knowledge, justification, and rationality. The theories we will study in this course will be understood as responses to increasingly radical skeptical arguments. We will begin with the problem of induction, which claims that we can never justifiably infer generalizations from particular cases, infer beliefs about the future from ones about the past, and infer from observable patterns to unobservable explanations. We will uncover various paradoxes about such inferences, and attempt to respond to them. We will then look at skeptical arguments that we do not know anything on the basis of sense perception, and the various theories of knowledge and justification that are built in response to such arguments. Of particular interest will be the Gettier problem, externalism versus internalism about knowledge and justification, foundationalism versus coherentism about justification, and contextualism. Mr. Lam.

Not offered in 2015/16.

230a and b. Symbolic Logic (1)

Topic for 2015/16a and b: One of the traditional branches of philosophy, logic is concerned with understanding valid inference.  It rests on the idea that what makes premises imply conclusions can be clarified by abstracting to some extent from their content, concentrating instead on their formal features. This course examines the modern approach to making these features more transparent, focusing on the construction and application of formal languages, interpretations, and inferential rules. Employing a metalogical perspective, it also addresses the adequacy of these methods. Mr. Winblad.

Two 75-minute periods.

233a. T.M. Scanlon's What We Owe To Each Other (0.5)

T.M. Scanlon's What We Owe To Each Other is a landmark contribution to contemporary moral philosophy. Scanlon's book aims to explain what we are arguing about when we debate whether an action is morally wrong. In the course of answering this question, Scanlon offers original approaches to a number of central philosophical topics, including the nature of reason and rationality, of value, and of individual wellbeing. We engage in a careful reading of this important book, as well as some philosophical responses to it. Mr. Seidman.

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy.

Second six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods.

234a. Ethics (1)

Why be moral? What does morality ask of us? 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? 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.

Prerequisite: at least one 100-level course in Philosophy.

235b. Stephen Darwall's The Second-Person Standpoint (0.5)

Stephen Darwall's The Second-Person Standpoint is a landmark contribution to contemporary moral philosophy. Darwall's book aims to explain how moral obligation is possible, by grounding it in the relations between individuals. Darwall argues that fundamental ethical concepts, including the concept of a person itself, along with the concepts of human rights and human dignity, presuppose that we have the authority to make claims on those toward whom we stand in a second-person relation. We engage in a careful reading of this important book, as well as some philosophical responses to it. Mr. Seidman.

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy.

Second six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods.

236b. Philosophy of Law (1)

This course introduces students to the philosophical analysis of law and legal institutions. Topics may include natural law theories, legal positivism, formalism, and realism, as well as questions about constitutional interpretation and the obligation to obey the law. Mr. Kelly.

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy.

Not offered in 2015/16.

238b. a.and b. Social and Political Philosophy (1)

This course will introduce students to the history of and to contemporary debates within political philosophy. Our focus will be upon the relationship between justice and equality. Mr. Kelly.
 

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy.

Two 75-minute periods.

240a. Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics (1)

The course studies the philosophical debate on art both historically and thematically. We will contrast ancient and medieval conceptions of art with our contemporary intuitions about what constitutes originality and creativity. We will discover that the roots of such intuitions are in the 18th century, when aesthetics is born as the study of the reasons that make some sensory experiences distinctly artistic, beautiful or sublime. However, the idea that art may be an autonomous field of human expression is soon called into question by thinkers such as Hegel and Schopenhauer. We shall follow the legacy of their attempt to de-aestheticize art into the 20th century, in the context of both philosophy's debate on the nature of metropolis and the modernist revolution in all the arts, but especially in architecture. In the last portion of the course, we shall explore the most radical dismantling of the aesthetic edifice in the work of artists and theorists, including Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Zaha Hadid, and Peter Eisenman. Ms. Borradori.

Prerequisite: one 100-level course in Philosophy.

Two 75-minute periods.

242a. The Philosophy of Music (1)

Music is an important part of our experience -- familiar and yet strange, releasing us from thinking but also revealing new ways of thinking. This course addresses philosophical themes as they appear in music, providing a more visceral sense of alternative perspectives on the world, and expanding our appreciation what music has to offer. We will listen to many different types of music -- old and new, classical and popular, with discussion focused around topics such as the difference between music and sound, the 'space' of music, the expression of emotion in music, the significance of repetition, historical versus ahistorical interpretations, time and timelessness.  Readings will be drawn from a variety of philosophers, including Levinson, Scruton, Deleuze, Schopenhauer, Langer, Adorno, Kivy, Nussbaum and Walton. Ms. Church.

Prerequisite: one course in Philosophy or one course on music theory or music culture.

Two 75-minute periods.

250a. Feminist Theory (1)

(Same as WMST 250) The central purpose of the course is to understand a variety of theoretical perspectives in feminism - including liberal, radical, socialist, psychoanalytic and postmodern perspectives. We explore how each of these feminist perspectives is indebted to more 'mainstream' theoretical frameworks (for example, to liberal political theory, Marxism, and psychoanalysis). We also examine the ways in which each version of feminist theory raises new questions and challenges for these 'mainstream' theories. We attempt to understand the theoretical resources that each of these perspectives provides the projects of feminism, how they highlight different aspects of women's oppression and offer a variety of different solutions. We look at the ways in which issues of race, class and sexuality figure in various theoretical feminist perspectives and consider the divergent takes that different theoretical perspectives offer on issues such as domestic violence, pornography, housework and childcare, economic equality, and respect for cultural differences. Ms. Narayan.

Prerequisite: one unit of Philosophy or Women's Studies.

Two 75-minute periods.

280b. Spaces of Exception: Migration, Asylum-Seeking, and Statelessness Today (1)

(Same as AFRS 280, INTL 280, and POLI 280) The totalitarian disregard for human life and the treatment of human beings as superfluous entities began, for Hannah Arendt, in imperial projects and was extended to spaces where entire populations were rendered stateless and denied the right to have rights. In this course, we are going to start from Arendt's seminal analysis of statelessness and her concept of the right to have rights to study aspects of today's "migratory condition." This is a peculiar condition by which inclusion in the political community is possible only by mechanisms of exclusion or intensified precarity. Mapping these mechanisms of identification through exclusion, abandonment, and dispossession will reveal that, like the stateless person, the contemporary migrant is increasingly being included in the political community only under the banner of illegality and/or criminality, unreturnability, suspension, detention, and externalization. This fact pushes millions of people to exist in "islands of exception," camps and camp-cities on the shores of Malta, Cyprus, or Lampedusa in the Mediterranean, Manus/ Nauru in the Pacific, and Guantanamo in the Americas. Through a critical engagement with the migrant condition, this course examines a range of biopolitical practices, extra-territorial formations, and technologies of encampment (externalization, dispersion, biometric virtualization). The engagement with the physical and metaphysical conditions of these 'spaces of exception' where migrants land, are detained, measured, and sometimes drown, calls attention to lives at the outskirts of political legibility while interrogating the regimes of legibility through which migrant lives are apprehended. Besides Arendt, we will discuss novels and texts by Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Zadie Smith, Eyal Weizman, Emmanuel Levinas, Achille Mbembe, Michel Foucault, Suvendrini Perera, V.Y. Mudimbe, Jacques Derrida, and Julia Kristeva. Ms. Borradori and Mr. Opondo.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

281b. Confucius (0.5)

This first-six-week course is an introduction to the sayings and dialogues of Confucius and his immediate disciples as recorded in the Analects. We shall examine the historical context of Confucius, and his views on the virtues, human nature, ethical cultivation and his Way for living and organizing society. Requirements include faithful attendance and weekly response essays.  Mr. Van Norden.

First six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods.

282b. Taoism (0.5)

This first-six-week course is an introduction to the two seminal texts of ancient Taoism. We shall examine the historical context of these works, their critiques of conventional ethics, and their distinctive mystical visions. Requirements include faithful attendance and weekly reaction essays.  Mr. Van Norden.

First six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods.

283b. French Philosophy in the 1960s (1)

Many of the foundations for contemporary European philosophy can be traced to a rare confluence of original thinkers who were active in France at the same time. The philosophical methods of post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and philosophical archeology were developed in Paris throughout the 1960s, and seminal philosophical works were written by Emmanuel Levinas, Roland Barthes, Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Pierre Vernant, and Julia Kristeva, among others. Forming an unlikely canon of mostly immigrants, homosexuals, women, Jewish thinkers, and thinkers from colonized nations, these French and French-speaking philosophers introduced new ways of thinking about the unconscious, history, language, politics, and excluded or marginalized "others." After Foucault, who encouraged us to think about philosophy in terms of brief, historical, intellectual periods, this course will consider French thought in the 1960s. Mr. Holloway.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a and b. Field Work (0.5to1)

Supervised by the department faculty.

298a and b. Independent Work (0.5to1)

Supervised by the department faculty.

Philosophy: III. Advanced

300a. Senior Thesis (0.5)

Yearlong development of an extended philosophical essay in consultation with a faculty adviser. Advisors: All Faculty.

Students must register for 300 for (a) term and PHIL 301 for (b) term.

Full year course.

301b. Senior Thesis (0.5)

Yearlong development of an extended philosophical essay in consultation with a faculty adviser.

Advisors: All Faculty.

Students must register for PHIL 300 for (a) term and 301 for (b) term.

Full year course.

302a or b. Senior Thesis (1)

By special permission only. This one semester course may be substituted for PHIL 300-PHIL 301 after consultation with your advisor.

310a and b. Seminar in Analytic Philosophy (1)

Topic for 2015/16a: Philosophy of the Ordinary. In this seminar, we examine an approach to philosophy that seeks, not to solve philosophical problems, but to dissolve them, returning us to a relationship with ourselves and the world that more traditional philosophical methods may obscure. It is sometimes said that this approach, devised by Wittgenstein and developed further by Austin and Strawson, aims at revealing the extraordinary in the ordinary. We study key texts by these thinkers, as well as works by contemporary representatives of this distinctive philosophical perspective. Mr. Winblad.

Prerequisite: 200-level philosophy course or permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Topic for 2015/16b: Advanced Philosophy of Language: Vagueness, Context-Sensitivity, Genericity.  In this course, we will study very specific kinds of constructions of natural language that pose difficult questions for theories of meaning, mind, and metaphysics. These constructions include vague words, or words that make it difficult for us to draw a line between items to which the word does or does not apply, like "bald," "tall," or "old." We will also look at context-sensitive words that appear to apply to different things depending on the context, like "yesterday," and "every bottle of beer." Finally, we will look at generic constructions like "Ducks lay eggs", "Vassar students like art" and "The tiger migrated from Africa to India a long time ago." These constructions appear to make general claims that can be true or false, but it is unclear how many of a population must have the property to make the claim true or false. The seminar will be primarily geared toward students who have focused interest on the complex workings of linguistic meaning. Mr. Lam.

Prerequisite: Philosophy 222 or 230, or permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

311a and b. Seminar in Cognitive Science (1)

(Same as COGS 311) The topic of the seminar varies regularly, but is always focused on some aspect of thought, language, perception, or action considered from the unique, synthetic perspective of cognitive science. The seminar is team-taught by faculty members in the program. May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

One 3-hour period.

320a. Seminar in the History of Philosophy (1)

Topic for 2015/16a: Kant. In-depth reading and discussion of Kant's three great Critiques: Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, and Critique of Judgment -- dealing with epistemology, metaphysics, morality, and aesthetics.  Students will gain an understanding of Kant's central arguments and some important relations between these arguments. Ms. Church.

Topic for 2015/16a: Plato's Erotic Dialogues. This seminar is devoted to a careful study of several Platonic dialogues-notably CharmidesSymposium, and Phaedrus-that make eros ("love" or "erotic desire") a central theme. Our aim will be to understand how Plato inherits and transforms Greek cultural attitudes toward homosexuality and pederasty, beauty and desire, body and soul, and moral education in constructing Socrates' "erotic art" of philosophy. Since our readings include some of Plato's most impressive artistic achievements, we will want to ask how the aesthetic features of the dialogues relate to the explorations of eros contained within them. Mr. Raymond.

Prerequisite: upper level philosophy courses or permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

330a and b. Seminar: Ethics & Theory of Value (1)

A seminar offering an in-depth exploration of a chosen topic in Ethics and Theory of Value. 

Topic for 2015/16a: Capitalism, Globalization, Economic Justice and Human Rights. This seminar focuses on questions about capitalism, globalization, and economic justice. A central project of this course is to understand the different ways in which capitalism is conceptualized by various thinkers and philosophical perspectives. We will critically evaluate the benefits and problems attributed to capitalism as a global economic system. 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. Readings will include the works by figures such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Karl Polanyi, Peter Singer, Thomas Pogge, Antonio Negri, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Zygmunt Bauman. Ms. Narayan. 

Topic for 2015/16a: Capital, Volume One. This seminar conducts an in-depth study of the first volume of Karl Marx's Capital. Mr. Kelly.

Prerequisites: at least three courses in Philosophy.

Topic for 2015/16b:  Free Will and Moral Responsibility. If the world is causally determined, does it make sense to think of human beings as free to do as we choose? Does it make sense to hold us morally responsible for our actions? What would the world have to be like, for human freedom or responsibility to make sense? Readings by Nomy Arpaly, R. Jay Wallace, T.M. Scanlon, Helen Steward, and others. Mr. Seidman.

Prerequisites: two 200-level courses in Philosophy.

One 3-hour period.

340b. Seminar in Continental Philosophy (1)

Topic for 2015/16b: Frames of the Invisible. Politics of Photography. The transformation of textual into visual culture and the retooling of the cellular phone as a camera have given photography a new political role. From the self-immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia that unleashed the Arab Spring to the images of police brutality in the United States, photographs have mobilized grass root movements of political resistance against atrocity and oppression. The thesis of this seminar is that our visual culture is governed by a "regime of visibility" that regulates the background of what is represented. The snapshots and the photographs taken by ordinary people possess the unique power of eluding this "staging apparatus." We shall discuss these images as performative statements of moral outrage and appreciate how they expose both patterns of dispossession and the uneven distribution of human suffering across world populations. This will enable us to question whether the ethics of photography, and especially of photographs of human rights abuses, should not be directed at what is shown within the photographic frame but rather at the active and unmarked delimitation that lies beyond it, which limits what we see and what we are able, and unable, to recognize. Ms. Borradori. 

Texts by Walter Benjamin, Merleau-Ponty, Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes, Vilem Flusser, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva, Edward Said, and Jacques Derrida, and images by Sebastiao Salgado, Gilles Peres, and Sophie Ristelhueber.

One 2-hour period.

350b. Seminar in Comparative Methodology (1)

Topic for 2015/16b: Modernism, Post Modernism, and Hermeneutics. The Modernism/Postmodernism/Hermeneutic divide stretches across many different disciplines, including philosophy, literary theory, history, religious studies, political science, anthropology and others. Roughly, these approaches argue over whether rationality, truth, and ethics are culturally and historically universal (Modernism), incommensurable (postmodernism) or dialogical (Hermeneutics). This course explores these approaches with an emphasis on how they apply in the context of one culture trying to understand another. Requirements include regular class participation that shows familiarity with the the readings and many brief essays. Mr. Van Norden.

Prerequisite: courses in Philosophy at the 200-level.

One 2-hour period.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (0.5to1)

The department.