Philosophy Department

Professors: Jennifer Church, Jesse Kalin, Michael H. McCarthy (Chair), Mitchell Miller b, Michael E. Murray; Associate Professors: Giovanna Borradori, Uma Narayanab, Bryan Van Norden, Douglas Winblad; Assistant Professor: Herman Cappelen.

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.

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, including Philosophy of Architecture. Advisers: Ms. Borradori, Mr. Kalin, 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: Mr. Kalin, Mr. McCarthy, Ms. Narayan.

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. Advisers: Mr. McCarthy, 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. Cappelen, 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 I
Philosophy from its origins in Greece to the Middle Ages. Ms. Borradori, Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Miller, Mr. Murray.
102b. History of Western Philosophy II
Modern philosophy from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance through Kant. Ms. Borradori, Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Murray.
105a, b. Problems of Philosophy
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. Cappelen, Mr. Van Norden.
106a, b. Philosophy and Contemporary Issues
Philosophic investigation of a range of positions on current issues such as abortion, pornography, affirmative action, gay rights, the moral use of force, animal rights, technology, civil disobedience, and freedom of speech. Instructor to be announced.
110a. Early Chinese Philosophy
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 human conventions and institutions in human life. Mr. Van Norden.
125a, b. Symbolic Logic
A study of the concepts and methods of formal logic. Topics include truth functional and quantificational validity, soundness, and completeness. Mr. Winblad.

II. Intermediate

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

205a. Nineteenth Century Philosophy
The philosophies of such figures as Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx and Nietzsche, and of movements such as post-Kantian idealism, utilitarianism, and positivism. Ms. Borradori.
210b. Neo- Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism
Introduction to Neo-Confucianism, one of the most influential intellectual movements in China and all of East Asia. Also, 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.
215b. Phenomenology and Existential Thought
The major themes in existential and phenomenological thought as developed by such figures as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas. Ms. Borradori.
220b. Metaphysics and Epistemology
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. Cappelen.
222a. Philosophy of Language
An examination of truth, meaning, reference, intentions, conventions, speech acts, metaphors, and the relation between language and thought. Mr. Cappelen.
224a. Philosophy of Mind
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.
226b. Philosophy of Science
A study of the principles of scientific reasoning. Topics include explanation, justification, scientific rationality, realism versus instrumentalism, and laws. Mr. Winblad.
234a. Ethics
Philosophical accounts of the meaning and purpose of human life, covering thinkers from Plato to MacIntyre; readings include works of literature as well as philosophy; topics include the objectivity of moral judgments, our obligations to other persons, the complementarity of the right and the good. Instructor to be announced.
238b. Social and Political Philosophy
A philosophical examination of justice, legitimate government, authority and power, political liberty, civil equality, individual rights, and the merits and limitations of democracy. Instructor to be announced.
240b. Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics
Classical and modern theories of the nature of art, the experience of art, the creative process, and critical argument. Mr. Murray.
250a. Feminist Theory
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. Church.
       Prerequisite: 1 unit of philosophy or Women’s Studies 130.
[260. Philosophy and the Arts]
An examination of a specific art form and selected works within it from a philosophical perspective. May be repeated for credit when different arts are studied.
       Not offered in 2003/04.
270a. Queer Theory: Choreographics of Sex and Gender
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.
290a or b. Field Work
(1/2 or 1)
The department.
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)
The department.
299b. Philosophic Discussion
Discussion of selected essays on a variety of philosophical issues. Mr. Winblad.

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
The development of an extended philosophical essay in consultation with a faculty adviser.
302. Senior Thesis
By special permission only.
310a, b. Seminar in Analytic Philosophy: Philosophical Analysis
An examination of central issues and approaches in analytic philosophy. Mr. Cappelen, Mr. Winblad.
320b. Seminar in the History of Philosophy: Kant
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.
330a. Seminar in Ethics and Theory of Value
An examination of central issues and approaches in ethics and the theory of value. Instructor to be announced.
330b. Seminar in Ethics and Theory of Value: Theories of Human Nature
An exploration of philosophical anthropology from the ancient Greeks to postmodern theorists of authenticity. The close connection between human nature and the human good is emphasized. Readings include literary, scientific, philosophical and biblical texts. Mr. McCarthy.
340a. Seminar in Continental Philosophy: Deconstruction and Critical Theory in a Time of Terror
This seminar examines the contributions of Deconstruction and Critical Theory to understanding the event of September 11, of terror as a state of mind, and global terrorism as a social and political phenomenon. The key contributions of Derrida and Habermas are its focus, as formulated in the recent dialogues conducted by Ms. Borradori in Philosophy in a Time of Terror, and supplemented by selections from their social and political writings. We consider how the approaches of Deconstruction and Critical Theory conflict and complement one another, and what theoretical challenge and conceptual help they provide for understanding this event.
       Ms. Borradori, Mr. Murray.
350a. Seminar in Chinese Philosophy: Comparative Methodology
(Same as Asian Studies 350)
399a or b. Senior Independent Work.
(1/2 or 1)
The department.