Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

41440 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm BEL 328
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What are we essentially? Are we merely sophisticated machines: brains and bodies composed of matter? Maybe our bodies are dispensable so that with the right technology we might one day be able to survive with our brains alone. (Think here of Futurama and all those talking heads in vats). Some think we don’t need either our bodies or our brains to survive because each of us has a soul. Souls aren’t physical things, so plausibly they can survive without a body or a brain. Returning now to the first suggestion, if we are just sophisticated machines, then maybe someday we can “invent” creatures like us—androids with machine intelligence. Would such creatures (ourselves included) have free will? What if one of them went on a murderous rampage? Would it be morally responsible for its actions? But wait a minute. I began with the question, “What are we?” Perhaps that was premature. How do you know you are anything at all? What if your entire existence has been nothing more than a grand illusion? Answers to these and other mind-blowing questions will comprise the subject matter of this course.

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm GAR 0.102
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This course introduces students philosophy itself, as well as to the philosophical treatment of significant issues. Such issues include: - What is philosophy, and why should anyone do it? - What is good, and why? - What is knowledge? How can we get it? - Does God exist? Can we prove it? - What is it to have a mind? What is it to be conscious? - What is it to be me? We will get acquainted with philosophy by trying to understand what some of the great philosophers have said about some of these questions.

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm GAR 0.102
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A survey of principal topics and problems in areas such as ethics, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of religion. 

PHL 301K • Ancient Philosophy

41455 • Koons, Robert C
Meets TTH 930am-1100am WAG 308
(also listed as C C 304C, CTI 310)
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An introduction to the political ideas and theories of the ancient Greeks and Romans. We will focus on primary texts by Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and Augustine of Hippo, supplemented by some selections from the Greek historian Thucydides and the political school of thought known as the “Sophists”. About one-third of the course will be devoted to role-playing game, The Threshold of Democracy: Athens in 403 B.C.  This game is part of a “Reacting to the Past” method developed at Barnard College. Students will be assigned different roles, e.g. Thrasybulus, a radical Democrat, Oligarch, Supporter of Socrates, Rich Athlete--derived from the historical setting, each role being defined largely by its game objective-exonerate Socrates, banish Socrates, condemn him to death. Students will determine on their own, however, how best to attain their goals, though they will receive guidance from important texts in the history of ideas.

The heart of each game is persuasion. For nearly every role to which you will be assigned, you must persuade others that your views make more sense than those of your opponents. Your views will be informed by the texts cited in your game objectives, and the more you draw upon these texts and the more cleverly you draw upon them, the better. You have two ways of expressing your views: orally and in writing. Both will be graded.

PHL 301K • Ancient Philosophy

41457 • Hankinson, Robert J
Meets TTH 930am-1100am WEL 3.402
(also listed as C C 304C)
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A.N.Whitehead remarked, about a hundred years ago, that “all of Western Philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato”. That is an exaggeration, but a pardonable one. Plato is the earliest European philosopher of whom complete texts survive. He was enormously influential not only in the Ancient World, but also in the early Christian tradition as well as the Renaissance. Even today his work is studied as part of a living tradition and not just as a historical document. For these (and other) reasons, it makes sense to orient a very basic introduction to Ancient Philosophy around his work, and that is what we are going to do. The primary focus of this class will be on argument, the practice of giving reasons for complex and abstract philosophical positions. We will be considering and assessing, among other things, Plato’s account of the nature of goodness and virtue; his theory of knowledge; his commitment to the existence of abstract objects (‘Forms’) in terms of which the ordinary properties of ordinary objects in the world around us can be (allegedly)  understood; his arguments for the soul’s immortality, and its general nature.


PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

41460 • Dunlop, Katherine Laura
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm WAG 302
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An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, concentrating on such figures as Descartes, Hume, and Kant. 

PHL 303M • Mind And Body

41470-41472 • Tye, Michael
Meets TTH 1100am-1200pm WAG 201
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This course examines the relationship of the mind to the body. Topics covered include whether a machine could think, the Turing Test for intelligence, the reduction of the mind to the brain, whether consciousness can be captured materialistically, and the nature of persons and personal identity.We'll be thinking about immaterial spirits, futuristic computers and robots, Martians who behave like us but who have an internal structure very different from ours, brains in vats. We will consider whether these strange characters have thoughts and feelings. The point is not to consider bizarre cases just for the sake of it, but to see what light we can shed on our own nature as beings with mental lives.

PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41475-41500 • Krecz, Charles A.
Meets MW 1000am-1100am WAG 101
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An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of a number of contemporary moral problems, including problems of abortion, sexual morality, capital punishment, pornography and hate speech.

PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41505-41530 • Krecz, Charles A.
Meets MW 1100am-1200pm WAG 101
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An introduction to ethics by way of an examination of a number of contemporary moral problems, including problems of abortion, sexual morality, capital punishment, pornography and hate speech.

PHL 304 • Contemporary Moral Problems

41535 • Hyska, Megan
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm WEL 2.246
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In this class we will look at three topics around which many pressing ethical questions are clustered: 1) punishment and the American justice system, 2) reproductive rights and regulation, and 3) animal ethics. This course will feature readings that take a variety of positions on practical and theoretical issues associated with these topics, and will encourage student debate and discussion. In addition to coming away with an enhanced understanding of the empirical issues relevant to ethical assessment in these areas and an introduction to the discipline of applied ethics, students will acquire new capacities for rigorously evaluating and constructing arguments. These skills will serve students well in further coursework across many disciplines, as well as helping them prepare for examinations associated with many graduate and professional programs (e.g. the GRE, GMAT, or LSAT).

PHL 305 • Intro To Philos Of Religion

41540 • Martinich, Al
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm WAG 214
(also listed as R S 305)
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This course investigates four different attitudes that have been held about the relation of humans to God. First is an ancient view according to which God's existence is presupposed and all events are interpreted as expressions of God's will. Second is a medieval view according to which the existence of God and his various attributes are suitable subjects for proof and argument. Third is a modern view according to which God exists but little is known about him through reasoning. Fourth is a contemporary view according to which God is assumed not to exist, and it is asked whether anything has any value and whether human life has a meaning. Although the course is divided historically, our goal will be to identify what is true or false, rational or not rational about the views expressed in each.

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41550-41560 • Sainsbury, Richard M
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm WAG 302
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We will study two classic texts written about a century apart: Descartes’ Meditations and Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. The mains themes are: knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.

Hume’s Enquiry is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his discussion of miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil.

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41565-41575 • Proops, Ian N
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm WAG 214
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We will study two classic texts written about a century apart: Descartes’ Meditations and Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. The mains themes are: knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.

Hume’s Enquiry is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his discussion of miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil.

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41580-41590 • Woodruff, Paul B
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm PAR 1
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A continuation of Philosophy 610QA, this course will carry the class discussion from ethics to knowledge and metaphysics.  We will start with Nietzsche’s criticism of the ethical tradition in Europe, and then move back to Plato’s route to metaphysics—by way of his theory of erotic love. From Plato, onward to skepticism in ancient philosophy.  Then we leap forward to the modern era, where we join the debate between the advocates of reason (such as Descartes) and the team of passion and experience (Hume).   We will see how these teams handle proofs for the existence of God (with a brief look back into the middle ages). After that, we turn to questions about the self and the mind, reading classical Buddhist texts before we leap forward to discuss contemporary issues about the mind and brain.

PHL 311 • Argument

Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm JES A303A
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Everyday we process loads of information. We evaluate sentences for their meanings and for their truth. We assess other's emotional states from their facial expressions. We try and figure out which presidential candidate's platform will be best for our country. Most of this processing is done effortlessly and automatically: sentences just seem true or false to us immediately upon hearing them, we can tell that someone is annoyed with us from just the slightest changes to his expression, and some presidential candidate just looks like the leader that can make America great again. However, sometimes we slow down and think carefully and deliberately. 

  Arguments are just a tool for thinking slowly and deliberately. In this class, we'll learn a little bit about arguments, and we'll learn a great deal about when we need to use an argument to slow down and think carefully. In general we need to do this in situations when our automatic processing is unreliable, that is, in situations where we possess a cognitive bias. Thus, we'll spend the lion share of the semester identifying and illuminating cognitive biases, so that we'll know when we need to switch from automatic processing to thinking carefully using arguments. 

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

Meets TTH 930am-1100am WAG 302
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This course is an introduction to the basic concepts, methods, and applications of logic. The course will cover (i) logical properties like validity, consistency, and logical truth; (ii) two formal languages (sentential logic and predicate logic); and (iii) various methods––both formal and informal––used to determine whether sentences and sets of sentences in these languages have various logical properties. 

Topics include, but are not limited to, translations, arguments, validity, consistency, logical truth, logical falsehood, logical equivalence, counterexamples, truth tables, truth trees, rules of inference, rules of interpretation, rules of formation, informal proof, predicates, names, quantifiers, variables, and the identity predicate.

PHL 312 • Introduction To Logic

Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm WAG 302
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This is a course in the basic principles of logic. The student will come out of this course with an understanding of deductive inference and of argument generally, as wells as the notions of logical consequence, validity, soundness, and logical truth. Specifically, we will be looking at sentential logic (which treats the inferential relations among simple sentences) and predicate logic. Predicate logic is distinguished from sentential logic by its use of quantifiers.

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 201
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This course serves as an introduction to the symbolic logic used in academic analytic philosophy. We will translate sentences and arguments from English into the formal languages SL and QL, and use those languages to test those sentences and arguments for various important logical properties. Topics covered include, but may not be limited to: (i) logical properties like validity, soundness, etc; (Ii) translations; (iIi) truth-functional connectives; (iv) truth tables for SL; (v) natural deduction for SL; (vi) metasemantic properties of SL; (vii) quantifiers and predicates; (viii) interpretations in QL; (ix) identity; (x) natural deduction for QL.

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

Meets MWF 900am-1000am WAG 302
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“The business of art lies just in this: to make that understood and felt which, in the form of an argument, might be incomprehensible and inaccessible.”  -Leo Tolstoy, What Is Art?

 “It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident.”

            -Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory

 In this course we will investigate three fundamental questions in the philosophy of art: What is art?, How should we interpret art?, and What is the value of art?  These questions correspond, roughly, to the three traditional branches of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory, respectively.  Topics will include: art and morality, aesthetic realism and irrealism, meaning and creativity, forgeries and multiply-instantiated works of art, aesthetics and evolutionary psychology, popular and mass art, and machine learning in aesthetics.

The purpose of this course is twofold: (1) to develop widely applicable critical reasoning skills through the close examination of an intrinsically interesting subject, and (2) to develop an appreciation for the ways in which artistic experience can contribute to human flourishing.

Ludwig Wittgenstein once remarked, “A philosopher who is not taking part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring.”  Students will be encouraged to discuss issues with each other both inside and outside lecture.  Willingness to speak up in class will be crucial to success.  Careful reading of the assigned texts and regular attendance will be mandatory.  Above all, students must be prepared to ask hard questions; to challenge themselves; to be confused, perplexed, and bewildered; to feel stupid; and to simultaneously adopt a position of intellectual humility and intellectual ambition.

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

41630 • LUPO, JEREMY
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm JGB 2.324
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This course offers an introduction to many of the central problems and thinkers in aesthetics and the philosophy of art. Among the questions we will investigate are: What is a work of art? Why do human beings create and value art? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? Are judgments of taste merely subjective? In addition, we will explore questions relating to particular forms of art: What is a musical work? Does a literary work mean what the author intends it to mean? Why do we feel fear in a horror film? Although you will study what a number of influential historical and contemporary thinkers have said about these questions, my goal is for you to learn how to approach them for yourselves. A substantial portion of each class will be devoted to discussion. Another basic goal of the course is to develop our abilities to reason, converse, and write about foundational topics.

PHL 317K • Intro To Philos Of The Arts

Meets TTH 200pm-330pm BUR 130
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We will start from famous philosophical texts about what is art and how art is supposed to be different from other human endeavors. Previous contact with philosophy in general is welcomed but not required. The course is intended to make room for discussion and debate about the main questions surrounding art and its theory: What is the purpose of a work of art? Does it have to have a purpose? What is the place of artist's intention in art? Does the work of art have to have a meaning (i.e. to "tell" us something)? Do we have criteria to distinguish something that is art from something that is not? Does reason have place in art or is art a domain of emotion? The main topicof the course is art, however, the main instruments employed during the course will be argument and reasoning, as one of the goals of the course is to develop abilities to reason and argue about matters that are said to be of mere taste.

PHL 318 • Introduction To Ethics

41635 • Smith, Nicole
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm WAG 201
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What sort of life should I live? What kind of person should I be? What sort of actions am I obligated to perform? Such questions are in the province of ethics. They ask not how you have lived, or who you are, or what you have done, but how you ought to live, what sort of person you should be, and what actions you are obligated to perform. Normative (or ethical) theory—the topic of this course—attempts to provide systematic answers to these questions. You may be wondering why we need such theories when the answers may initially seem obvious. Perhaps you feel as though you should bring about as much happiness for yourself as possible even if it means ignoring the happiness of others. But this would be to neglect the very things that make one happy; namely, friendship and other valuable relationships that require for their existence and maintenance caring about others and their interests, as well as acting on their behalf even when it is difficult or inconvenient to do so. Thus, in ethics we often find that what looks like an easy question to answer, raises puzzles instead. Normative theorists set out to resolve these puzzles. They also offer comprehensive ethical theories that, when applied to specific cases, specify a verdict about what one ought to do in that situation. In this course, we will critically evaluate competing theories, as well as asking questions about the nature of ethics itself.

PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

41640 • Dogramaci, Sinan
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WAG 210
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We’ll read about, discuss, and aim to critically evaluate arguments for different positions on some major debates concerning knowledge and rational belief. Topics will include:

(Skepticism)  A paradox is created by the existence of apparently strong arguments that we have little to no genuine knowledge. Since we surely do have knowledge, the argument must be have a false assumption, but there is a big debate over exactly which assumption is the false one. We'll study paradoxes concerning our knowledge of what we can perceive, and of what we can infer about the future.

(Probability Theory and Paradoxes from the Philosophy of Science) We'll spend a good fraction of the course studying the basics of mathematical probability theory. This topic will involve a problem-set as a homework assignment. This part of the course requires no special mathematical background at all---I'll teach it all as painlessly as possible. Our purpose in studying probability will be to apply our mathematical tools to some puzzles and paradoxes concerning the relationship between observational evidence and the scientific theories that evidence is supposed to support.

(Relativism and Contextualism about Truth and Knowledge)  What does it mean to say that truth, or knowledge, is relative? The position risks quickly turning out to be incoherent or self-defeating. How can it be defended by a compelling argument? Is relativism, or so-called contextualism, best understood as a thesis about how the world is constructed, or rather as a thesis about the functioning of our language?

(Education—or Indoctrination?—in Childhood and Early Life)  Sometimes we can trace the origins of one or another lifelong belief to various contingencies of our upbringing. When, if ever, does such reflection on the origins of a belief undermine the rationality of maintaining that belief? We’ll examine arguments for and against the ability of such reflections to undermine beliefs.

Assignments: one problem set on probability theory, and three essays.

PHL 323K • Metaphysics

41650 • Montague, Michelle
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm CLA 1.102
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This course considers many of the central questions in metaphysics. Some of the questions we will discuss include the following. Does God exist? Are we free? What is the mind? Is value objective? What is space?

PHL 323M • Philosophy Of Mind

41655 • Strawson, Galen
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm GDC 2.502
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This course is an introduction to some of the central issues in the philosophy of mind. The fundamental question is simple: What is mind? Among the more specific questions that will be considered are the following: What is consciousness? Is mind-body dualism defensible? Is physicalism (everything is physical) defensible? Is panpsychism (everything is mental) defensible? Are ‘behaviorist’ or ‘functionalist’ theories of mind defensible? What is the relation between consciousness and matter (mind and body)? What is it to be a subject of experience? Is there such a thing as ‘the self’? What is a person (what makes a person the same person at different times)? What sort of knowledge do we have of other minds? (Is seeing the color red the same for all of us, and can we know this?) What sort of knowledge do we have of our own minds? To what extent are we subject to cognitive biases and illusions? What is the will? Do we have free will? How can mental states be about things? What are memory, perception, imagination, intentional action, ‘intentionality’?

PHL 325C • Environmental Ethics

41660-41670 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WAG 302
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This is a course on environmental philosophy with a focus on environmental ethics but also treating epistemological issues. Much of the course will be a survey of major problem areas including intrinsic and instrumental value of environmental features, decision analysis, animal rights, biodiversity, restoration, sustainability, environmental justice, and climate change. The emphasis will be on using locally pertinent case studies to analyze philosophical problems arising from environmental concerns.

PHL 325K • Ethical Theories-Phl Majors

41675 • Dancy, Jonathan
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 206
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This course will consider three classic moral theories, those of J. S. Mill, W. D. Ross and I. Kant – otherwise known as Utilitarianism, Intuitionism and Kantianism. We will do this by studying one classic text by each author in detail.

PHL 325M • Medicine, Ethics, And Society

41680 • Leon, Jeffrey C.
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm GAR 0.102
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The application of ethical theory to medical practice is an important part of modern medicine and public policy. We look at several approaches to ethics and several areas of medicine to gain insights into medical ethics. This course carries the ethics and leadership flag. Consequently, a substantial portion of the grade will involve ethical issues and reasoning.

PHL 327 • Contmp Christian Philosophy

41685 • Koons, Robert C
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CLA 0.106
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We will examine recent work in philosophy that is written from a Christian point of view or that examines philosophical questions that arise within the framework of the Christian faith. The issues to be covered include the relationship between faith and reason, the possibility of demonstrating the existence of God, the problem of evil, the problem of reconciling divine foreknowledge and sovereignty with human responsibility, and the relation of God to time. Special emphasis will be placed on the relevance of Christian philosophy to foundational questions concerning reality, knowledge and ethics.

PHL 327 • Interpretation And Meaning

41690 • Martinich, Al
Meets MW 200pm-330pm JES A218A
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Communication consists of two aspects: what the speaker means by her utterance and what the audience understands by it. While most philosophers of language have concentrated on the speaker's side, there is increasing interest in the audience's side. This seminar focuses on understanding or interpretation, especially on the interpretation of texts. Since interpretation is the attempted identification of meaning, the nature of meaning will also be discussed.

Our main goal will be to figure out what interpretation is and what properties a good interpretation has. This goal requires that we understand what people bring to texts and what means they have to understand them. 

Our views about meaning and interpretation will be tested against various texts, some simple and some complex, in various genres: literary, religious, historical, political, legal, and philosophical. Principles of interpretation will be evaluated according to how useful they are in understanding these texts.

Readings include works by Donald Davidson, H. P. Grice, W. V. Quine, and John Searle. 


PHL 329K • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

41695-41700 • White, Stephen A
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 302
(also listed as C C 348)
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This course examines some central issues and ideas in ancient Greek philosophy. We’ll first look at some pioneering figures known as Presocratics. The rest of the semester we’ll focus on three thinkers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; and we’ll study their views and arguments on some enduring questions about human conduct, the natural world, and our knowledge of each. The emphasis throughout will be on analyzing what these thinkers say and their reasons for saying it. The main goal is to develop a critical understanding of some problems and arguments that remain very much alive today.

PHL 329L • Early Mod Phl: Descartes-Kant

41710-41715 • Leon, Jeffrey C.
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am ART 1.110
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New developments in modern philosophy were part of the modern revolution in western thought in general, from science to politics and beyond. This course is a study of some of the most influential philosophical works from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. We will also read excerpts from Galileo and Newton.

PHL 329M • Kant's Critiq Of Pure Reason

41725 • Dunlop, Katherine Laura
Meets W 1000am-100pm WAG 210
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This seminar-style course will be an intensive study of Immanuel Kant's classic Critique of Pure Reason.  We will discuss the significance of Kant's work for contemporary philosophy as well as its historical background.  Additional readings from source works that influenced Kant as well as commentary and criticism.

PHL 332 • Philosophy Of Language

41730 • Buchanan, L. Ray
Meets MW 1000am-1130am WAG 302
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The course focuses on various philosophical issues concerning language. Topics to be discussed include, but are not limited to, the following: speaker-meaning, conversational implicature, sentence/expression-meaning, reference, modality, and propositional attitude ascriptions. 

PHL 334K • Kierkegaard And Existentialism

41735 • Holm, Jakob
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm PHR 2.114
(also listed as C L 323, CTI 375, EUS 347, GSD 360)
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Soren Kierkegaard is one of the most influential thinkers from the 19th century and widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He has exerted an enormous influence on Western culture during the last 150 years and has inspired numerous writers, artists, and filmmakers, who have found new perspectives in his philosophy and theology.

Kierkegaard wrote about a wide range of topics, e.g. organized religion, Christianity, ethics, and psychology, and he explored our emotional responses when we are faced with life choices. In that way, much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a unique individual in a concrete human reality. In his texts, he is displaying an almost postmodern fondness for metaphor, irony and parables, and he made use of various pseudonyms, which he used to present different viewpoints.

In this course we will explore excerpts from a number of Kierkegaard’s key texts such as Either/or, Fear and Trembling, The Concept of Anxiety, Stages on Life’s Way, The Sickness unto Death and Works of Love. It will give us a thorough understanding of his concepts and ideas which we will apply on a wide-ranging number of authors, among others Friedrich Nietzsche, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Franz Kafka as well as the two most well-known writers connected with existentialism, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. We will also watch movies from the heyday of existentialism, the mid-20th century, by directors such as Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini and Akira Kurosawa, and look at the influence of Kierkegaard and existentialism within theater as well. In that way, the course will examine the scope and range of Kierkegaard’s ideas in the 20th century and up till today where his ideas seem more relevant and inspiring than ever.

The course aims at increasing your ability to think and work analytically – and ponder some of the most important questions you’ll face in your life. Furthermore, you will in this course develop the ability to read and analyze literary and non-literary texts, to present your ideas through coherent argumentation, to formulate good questions and to communicate your discoveries to others. This Kierkegaard course is an opportunity to explore one of the most pivotal philosophical directions within the last 150 years – and in that process explore yourself.

The course will meet the Writing Flag and the Global Cultures Flag Criteria



Essays: 30%

Final essay: 20%

Quizzes: 20%

Midterm: 10%

Participation: 20%

PHL 342 • Natural Law Theory

41740 • Budziszewski, J.
Meets MW 430pm-600pm MEZ 1.210
(also listed as GOV 335M)
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 GOV 335M / PHL 342: 


Professor J. Budziszewski 

Unique numbers: Gov unique number 37870, Phl unique number 41740 

Class meets: MW 4:30-6:00pm in Mezes 1.210 

Prof's office hours: MW 2:30-4:00pm in Mezes 3.106 

Prof’s email: 

Prof’s office phone: 232-7229; phone does not record messages; email strongly preferred 

Course website: Canvas 

Prof’s website: The Underground Thomist, 

Course policies: See the FAQ at the “Other Things My Students May Need” section of the Teaching page at my personal website. 



The course can be taken as either GOV 335M or PHL 342. It carries a writing flag and fulfills part of the basic education requirement in writing. If taken as a government course, enrollment requires six semester hours of lower-division government. The subfield is Political Theory / Political Philosophy. 



“Natural law” refers to moral law – in particular, the fundamental moral principles that are built into the design of human nature and lie at the roots of conscience. Natural law thinking is the spine of the Western tradition of jurisprudence. Historically, it has provided the basis for talking about all of the 'hot button' issues in past and present culture wars; if you wanted to talk about war, slavery, political liberty, or relations between men and women, you talked about natural law. The distinctive mark of natural law thinking is that it begins from what the mind can know about these things by reasoning alone, rather than by the authority of revelation. This in no ways denies revelation, for although the earliest natural law thinkers were pagans, the most influential natural law thinkers have been Christians who held that reason and revelation work together. 

The founders of the American republic believed in the natural law -- in universal and "self-evident" principles of justice and morality which the Declaration of Independence called "the laws of Nature and of Nature's God." For generations afterward, most Americans took the reality of natural law for granted. The Declaration of Independence had appealed to it to justify independence; Abraham Lincoln appealed to it to criticize slavery; Martin Luther King appealed to it to criticize racial discrimination. You would hardly guess any of this from the present day, because belief in natural law has come to be viewed as "politically incorrect." Nevertheless, the tradition of natural law is experiencing a modest renaissance. 

Is there really a natural law? What difference does it make to society and politics if there is? 2 


Is it really "natural"? Is it really "law"? To consider these questions, we will read a variety of influential works on natural law from the middle ages to the present. Probably, most of your liberal arts education has implicitly rejected the whole idea, but in this course, for a change, you have an opportunity to hear the other side. 

Unit 1: The Classical Synthesis 

Unit 2: The American Reception of Natural Law Tradition 

Unit 3: Contemporary Writing by Natural Law Theorists 

Unit 4: Natural Law in Broader Perspective 



For Unit 1, a required analytical outline (20%). For Units 2, 3, and 4, take-home essays (20% apiece). Short-answer quizzes (20%). Extra credit for analytical outlines for Units 2, 3, and 4 (up to 8 points per unit, added to exam grades). Analytical outlines may also be used during quizzes. I do use plusses and minuses. Attendance and participation significantly affect the final course grade. 



Even if you prefer to use the reserves room or read online, you must bring copies of the readings to class, even if only photocopies or printouts. 


J. Budziszewski, Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Treatise on Law. On reserve at Perry-Castaneda Library. Can be purchased online if you want to have a personal copy. 

J. Budziszewski, Companion to the Commentary. Free online resource available at 

J. Budziszewski, What We Can't Not Know: A Guide. On reserve at the Perry-Castaneda Library. Can be purchased online if you want to have a personal copy. 


Thomas Aquinas, Treatise on Law. Available online at (scroll down to LAW, and read Questions 90-97, entire, and 105, Article 1 only). 

Readings packet. Available for purchase at the UT Copy Center, McCombs 3.136, phone: 471-8281. McCombs is the Business School building, right behind Mezes Hall. 3 


Additional online readings listed on the Contents page of the readings packet. 

C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man. On reserve at the Perry-Castaneda Library. Also online at .

PHL 344K • Intermediate Symbolic Logic

41745 • Litland, Jon E.
Meets TTH 930am-1100am GAR 2.112
show description

This course focuses on some of the most important results in 20th century metalogic: the study of logical systems, their powers and limitations. We will prove the completeness of classical predicate logic, the undecidability of the halting problem, the undecidability of classical predicate logic, the undefinability of truth,  the incompleteness of arithmetic and the unprovability of consistency. 

While knowledge of particular mathematical results will not be presupposed the course is technically demanding and the students are well advised to have some familiarity with mathematical proofs.

PHL 346K • Aesthetics

41747 • Woodruff, Paul B
Meets TTH 930am-1100am GDC 4.304
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A broad introduction to philosophy of the arts, starting with Plato’s criticism of poetry and moving through Aristotle’s Poetics to a set of modern theories.  We will focus on the experience of art, especially with regard to the emotions.

After the first few weeks, you will be working, alone or with a team, on developing own philosophy for the kind of art that you love the most. 

Plato’s attack on poetry gives us a target:  How can we answer Plato’s type of criticism for any art form?

Aristotle’s account of tragic poetry gives us the classic example of a definition in our field. 

Each student will choose a form of art and ask certain questions about it.  The reading will be variable; students will read about the art form that interests them, focusing on these questions (if they are appropriate):

1.  How should your art form be defined? 

2.  When your kind of art is good, what makes it good?

3.  How does your kind of art affect our emotions?

4.  Can we live human lives without your art?

Art forms include architecture, painting, cartoons, pottery, furniture design, poetry, theater, novels, music (of all kinds), dance, and more.


List of Proposed Texts /Readings :

We will use a reader with texts from these authors:


Plato’s Ion and selections from Republic, Book 10.

Aristotle’s Poetics

Selection from Tolstoy’s What is Art?

Oscar Wilde’s “The Decay of Lying”

Selections from Paul Woodruff, The Necessity of Theater

O.K. Bouwsma’s “The Expression Theory of Art”

PHL 347 • Philosophy Of Law

41750 • Leon, Jeffrey C.
Meets MWF 200pm-300pm BUR 136
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What is Law? What is the relationship between law, politics, and ethics? We will address these questions and elucidate some of their implications for issues in such areas as legal reasoning, civil disobedience, rights, and justice.

PHL 363L • Philosphy Of Biology

41755 • Sarkar, Sahotra
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm WAG 302
show description

This is an introduction to the philosophy of biology with a heavy focus on molecular biology, genetics, and evolution, and what they say about the living world including humans in light of recent advances in biology, in particular, in genomics and related areas in the wake of the Human Genome Project and other sequencing efforts. The course starts with a conceptual analysis of classical and molecular genetics followed by the innovations introduced by genomics, proteomics, and systems biology. It goes on to explore how evolutionary biology interprets the phenomena of life and what molecular biology says about evolution. It turns to controversial questions at the forefront of biological research including the possibility that human behavior is genetically determined and evolutionarily selected. Traditional philosophical problems that are illuminated by modern biology include reductionism, teleology, functional and informational explanation.

PHL 365 • Leadership And Ethics

41760 • Teets, Captain Brian
Meets TTH 930am-1100am CLA 5.402
(also listed as N S 330)
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Topic 2: Introduction to Cognitive Science

Topic 5: Contemporary American Social Theory

Topic 6: Process Philosophy and Pragmatism

PHL 365 • Intro To Cognitive Science

41765 • Beaver, David I
Meets MWF 1200pm-100pm CLA 0.112
(also listed as CGS 360, LIN 373)
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This course is an introduction to the modern study of how the mind works. We will explore how humans perceive the world, how they acquire and represent knowledge, and how they reason, understand language and make decisions. Central to the course will be the computational theory of mind and the embodiment of thought and consciousness in a few pounds of grey meat. All these topics are central to the inter-disciplinary field of Cognitive Science, an area in which UT boasts enormous strength. The course will incorporate presentations and small panel discussions from faculty across Computer Science, Linguistics, Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Psychology.

PHL 365 • Process Phil And Pragmatism

41770 • Krecz, Charles A.
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm WAG 210
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An examination of process philosophy, one of the major metaphysical movements of the twentieth century, including philosophers such as James, Dewey, and Whitehead.

PHL 375M • Philosophy And Feminism

41780 • Higgins, Kathleen M
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 308
(also listed as WGS 345)
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This course will critically examine the social implications of feminism. Topics to be considered include: the legacy of historical philosophical understandings of women; the concept of gender; and relationship between sexism and racism; the possiblitiy and desirability of feminist approaches toward traditional areas of philosophy (such as ethics, aesthetics, epistemology and ontology); the diversity of feminisms and their various social and polictical agendas; and the viability of particular institutional changes advocated by feminists (in connection with such arenas as weomen's rights, chil-rearing, the interaction of the sexes, work, etc).