Course Descriptions

PHI 200. Philosophy and the Modern Mind

An introduction to modern philosophy, from the Renaissance to the present, with careful study of works by Descartes, Hume, Kant, and others. Emphasis is placed upon the complex relations of philosophy to the development of modern science, the social and political history of the West, and man's continuing attempt to achieve a satisfactory worldview.

PHI 201. Introductory Logic

A study of reasoning and its role in science and everyday life, with special attention to the development of a system of symbolic logic, to probabilistic reasoning, and to problems in decision theory.

PHI 202. Introduction to Moral Philosophy (also CHV 202)

An introductory survey of ethical thought, covering such topics as the demands that morality makes, the justification of these demands, and our reasons for obeying them. Readings from both the historical and contemporary philosophical literature.

PHI 203. Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology

An introduction to some of the central questions of pure philosophy through their treatment by traditional and contemporary writers: questions concerning mind and matter; causation and free will; space and time; meaning, truth, and reality; knowledge, perception, belief, and thought.

PHI 204. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

An inquiry into the form and function of concepts, laws, and theories, and into the character of explanation and prediction, in the natural and the social sciences; and an examination of some philosophical problems concerning scientific method and scientific knowledge. Two lectures, one preceptorial.

PHI 205. Introduction to Ancient Philosophy (also CLA 205)

Designed to introduce the student to the Greek contribution to the philosophical and scientific ideas of the Western world through study of works of Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Lucretius in English translation. Topics in moral and political philosophy, as well as epistemology and metaphysics, will be included. Attention will be focused on the quality of the arguments presented by the philosophers.

PHI 218. Learning Theory and Epistemology (also ELE 218)

An accessible introduction for all students to recent results by logicians, computer scientists, psychologists, engineers, and statisticians concerning the nature and limits of learning. Topics include truth and underdetermination, induction, computability, language learning, pattern recognition, neural networks, and the role of simplicity in theory choice.

PHI 237. The Psychology and Philosophy of Rationality (see PSY 237)

PHI 300. Plato and His Predecessors

Readings in translation from pre-Socratic philosophers and from Plato's dialogues, to provide a broad history of Greek philosophy through Plato. Topics covered will include: Socrates' method of dialectic, his conceptions of moral virtue and human knowledge; Plato's theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and moral and political philosophy.

PHI 301. Aristotle and His Successors

Aristotle's most important contributions in the areas of logic, scientific method, philosophy of nature, metaphysics, psychology, ethics, and politics. Several of his major works will be read in translation. Aristotle's successors in the Greco-Roman period will be studied briefly.

PHI 302. British Empiricism

A critical study of the metaphysical and epistemological doctrines of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Two lectures, one preceptorial.

PHI 303. Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz

Readings in continental philosophy of the early modern period, with intensive study of the works of Descartes,Spinoza, and Leibniz. Topics to be specially considered include: knowledge, understanding, and sense-perception; existence and necessity; the nature of the self and its relation to the physical world.

PHI 304. The Philosophy of Kant

Analysis of the Critique of Pure Reason, with some attention to other aspects of Kant's philosophy, such as his views on ethics, aesthetics, and teleological judgment.

PHI 305. German Idealism

Readings from the works of Hegel, with special attention to Hegel's criticism of Kant's moral philosophy, and to his theory of subjectivity, ethical life, and history. Readings might also include criticisms of German idealism in such figures as Kierkegaard, Feuerbach, and the early Marx.

PHI 306. Nietzsche

An examination of various issues raised in, and by, Nietzsche's writings. Apart from discussing views like the eternal recurrence, the overman, and the will to power, this course considers Nietzsche's ambiguous relationship with philosophy, the literary status of his work, and his influence on contemporary thought. Prerequisite: one philosophy course or equivalent preparation in the history of modern thought or literature.

PHI 307. Systematic Ethics (also CHV 311)

A study of important ethical theories with special reference to the problem of the objectivity of morality and to the relation between moral reasoning and reasoning about other subjects.

PHI 309. Political Philosophy (also CHV 309)

A systematic study of problems and concepts connected with political institutions: sovereignty, law, liberty, and political obligation. Topics may include representation, citizenship, power and authority, revolution, civil disobedience, totalitarianism, and legal and political rights.

PHI 312. Intermediate Logic

A development of logic from the mathematical viewpoint, including propositional and predicate calculus, consequence and deduction, truth and satisfaction, the Gödel completeness theorem, the Löwenheim-Skolem theorem, and applications to Boolean algebra, axiomatic theories, and the theory of models as time permits.

PHI 313. Theory of Knowledge

A critical study of important concepts and problems involved in the characterization, analysis, and appraisal of certain types of human knowledge. Such topics as sense perception, knowledge and belief, necessity, memory, and truth will be treated. Writings of contemporary analytic philosophers will be read and discussed.

PHI 314. Philosophy of Mathematics

A study of the nature of mathematics based on a logical and philosophical examination of its fundamental concepts and methods. Two lectures, one preceptorial. Some previous work in mathematics or logic at the college level is highly desirable, but no one particular branch of mathematics is presupposed in the course.

PHI 315. Philosophy of Mind

Investigation of some of the following (or similar) topics: the mind-body problem, personal identity, the unity of consciousness, the unconscious, the problem of other minds, action, intention, and the will. Readings primarily from recent sources.

PHI 317. Philosophy of Language

An examination of the nature of language through the study of such topics as truth, reference, meaning, linguistic structure, how language differs from other symbol systems, relations between thought and language and language and the world, the use of language, and the relevance of theories concerning these to selected philosophical issues.

PHI 318. Metaphysics

An intensive treatment of some of the central problems of metaphysics, such as substance, universals, space and time, causality, and freedom of the will.

PHI 319. Normative Ethics (also CHV 319)

A detailed examination of different theories concerning how we should live our lives. Special emphasis will be placed on the conflict between consequentialist theories (for example, utilitarianism) and nonconse- quentialist theories (for example, common sense morality).

PHI 320. Philosophy and Literature

A critical study of works of literature in conjunction with philosophical essays, concentrating on two or three philosophical themes, such as the will, self-identity, self-deception, freedom, and time.

PHI 321. Philosophy of Science

An intensive examination of selected problems in the methodological and philosophical foundations of the sciences. Topics covered may include scientific explanation, the role of theories in science, and probability and induction.

PHI 322. Philosophy of the Cognitive Sciences

An examination of philosophical problems arising out of the scientific study of cognition. Possible topics include methodological issues in the cognitive sciences; the nature of theories of reasoning, perception, memory, and language; and the philosophical implications of such theories.

PHI 323. Advanced Logic (also MAT 313)

This course deals with topics chosen from recursion theory, proof theory, and model theory. In recent years the course has most often given an introduction to recursion theory with applications to formal systems. Two 90-minute classes.

PHI 325. Philosophy of Religion

Critical discussion of religious and antireligious interpretations of experience and the world, the grounds and nature of religious beliefs, and of a variety of theistic and atheistic arguments. Readings from contemporary analytical philosophy of religion, and from historical sources in the Western tradition. Two 90-minute classes.

PHI 326. Philosophy of Art

An examination of concepts involved in the interpretation and evaluation of works of art. Emphasis will be placed on sensuous quality, structure, and expression as aesthetic categories. Illustrative material from music, painting, and literature.

PHI 327. Philosophy of Physics

A discussion of philosophical problems raised by modern physics. Topics will be chosen from the philosophy of relativity theory or more often, quantum mechanics.

PHI 332. Early Modern Philosophy

Detailed study of important concerns shared by some modern pre-Kantian philosophers of different schools. Topics may include identity and distinctness, the theory of ideas, substance, the mind/body problem, time, and causation. Philosophers may include Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Hume, or others.

PHI 333. Recent Continental Philosophy

Analysis of some representative 20th-century works drawn from the French and German traditions. The specific content of the course will vary from year to year, but in each case there will be some attempt to contrast differing philosophical approaches. Figures to be treated might include Sartre, Gadamer, Habermas, and Foucault.

PHI 335. Greek Ethical Theory

The development of moral philosophy in Greece. Intensive study of the moral theories of such philosophers as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, the early Stoics, and Sextus Empiricus.

PHI 337. Relativism

An examination of the alleged threat posed by relativism to the idea that our practices are legitimate. Issues raised will include realism, objectivity, and the place of value in a world of facts. The forms of relativism considered may include relativism about value, scientific theorizing, color, and personal identity.

PHI 338. Philosophical Analysis from 1900 to 1950

An introduction to classics of philosophical analysis from the first half of the twentieth century. Topics include early paradigms of Moore and Russell, logical atomism in Russell and early Wittgenstein, and logical positivism. Changes are traced both in metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical views and in analysis as a philosophical method.

PHI 339. Philosophical Analysis since 1950

A study of philosophical analysis in the second half of the twentieth century. Topics include the later Wittgenstein, the ordinary language school of philosophy, Quine's naturalism in semantics, Davidson's views on truth, and Kripke's reconceptualization of semantic and metaphysical categories.

PHI 340. Philosophical Logic   Fall EC

An introduction to modal and many-valued logics, with emphasis on philosophical motivation through a study of applications and paradoxes.

PHI 380. Explaining Values

The course will consider what types of explanations are possible of ordinary moral views. Students will look at philosophical, scientific, and historical explanations and consider how plausible they are, what sort of evidence might be relevant to them, and what their normative implications might be.

PHI 385. Practical Ethics (see CHV 310)

PHI 490. Perspectives on the Nature and Development of Science  (see HIS 490)