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This course permits senior students, under the direction of faculty members, to pursue their interest in areas not covered, or not covered in depth, by other courses through a program of independent study. [Note 1: Permission of the Department/Program Advisor. Students must obtain consent of an instructor who is willing to be a supervisor and must register for the course prior to the last day for change of registration in the term during which the course is being taken. Note 2: A program on Independent Study cannot duplicate subject matter covered through regular course offerings. Note 3: Students may register for PHIL 4950/51 more than once, provided the subject matter differs.] (Format: Independent Study)
Three themes will be interwoven during the course of the term. The first originates in the Nicomachean Ethics’ discussions of happiness and fortune, naturalism in ethics, action theory, practical wisdom, weakness of will, friendship, etc. Some of these discussions will be pursued in the contemporary secondary literature on the Ethics (Ackrill, Heinaman, Olfert, Müller, etc.). The second is constituted by the historical responses to Aristotle’s virtue ethics from Stoicism, Hume, Kant and contemporary neo-Platonism (Chappell). The third involves contemporary discussions of virtue ethics on issues such as naturalism and egoism (Anscombe and Annas), the nature of character-based virtue ethics (Hursthouse, Zagzebski, etc.), other varieties of virtue ethics (such as Hurka’s consequentialist version); the application of virtue ethics in areas such as bioethics, legal theory and environmental ethics (Oakely, Cimino and Hursthouse); and the limits of virtue ethics in relation to one’s life (Goldie and Wolfe).
This course is an historical and topical introduction to the major figures and trends in the analytic philosophical tradition from its inception to the present day, with special attention to the various ways philosophy comes to be characterized and practiced. From British Empiricism and Idealism we examine G.E. Moore’s method of philosophical analysis, Bertrand Russell’s logicist programme, the American pragmatisms of William James and John Dewey, and the anti-metaphysical and anti-ethical logical empiricism of the Vienna Circle. We track Quine’s influential attack on analyticity and his pragmatic naturalized epistemology. We move to Wilfrid Sellars’s characterization of philosophy as a quest to reconcile science and other modes of knowing, and we then look at the some of the most influential work responsible for the revitalization of ethics and metaphysics, Elizabeth Anscombe, Iris Murdoch (1919-99), Philippa Foot, Mary Midgely, and Donald Davidson. We discuss Richard Rorty’s position about the nature of philosophy after its analytic stage, and the consequences of the analytic, pragmatic, and democratic traditions. We return to grand system-building in the work of Rorty’s student Robert Brandom, before considering topics in epistemology, ethics, and meta-philosophy we find in more contemporary thinkers: Sally Haslanger, Alex Rosenberg, Timothy Williamson, and Kristie Dotson. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) [Students may register for PHIL 3991 more than once, provided the subject matter differs.] Monday and Wednesday 1:30 to 2:50PM Barclay 115.
Using the Bhagavad Gītā as the guide to our narrative, we will undertake an extensive examination of Indian Philosophy that predates it and to which it is responding (roughly to 800 BC), as well as much that is at least in part inspired by it (to about 1000 AD). This will involve studying some of the framing considerations of the Indian tradition (such as the four ends of life), the origins of the orthodox, Brahmanical tradition in the Vedas and Upaniṣads, the heterodox response to them from the atheistic Buddhist, Jain and Charvaka, the epistemology and logic of the Nyaya school, the broadly monistic metaphysics of some of the Vedanta schools, and the dualism of the Saṁkhya school. Since almost all the Indian traditions take the practice of Yoga as essential to the practice of philosophy, the course will include a set of 6 (optional) sessions with Dr. Sandala, who is an experienced teacher and practitioner of Yoga.
This course provides an overview of the philosophical revolution that followed in the wake of Kant, often referred to as Germany's counterpart to the French Revolution. This strain of philosophy challenged the traditional understanding of the relationship of mind and world and the nature of reality itself. The course begins with J.G. Fichte's late eighteenth-century attempt to carry on the spirit of Kantian critical philosophy by grounding it in the radical freedom of the 'I' before considering such figures as the early German Romantics, Schelling, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 to 11:20AM Sir James Dunn Building 406.
This course either focuses on topics not covered by the current course offerings in a department or program or offers the opportunity to pilot a course that is being considered for inclusion in the regular program. [Note 1: Prerequisite set by Department/Program when the topic and level are announced. Note 2: When a Department or Program intends to offer a course under this designation, it must submit course information, normally at least three months in advance, to the Dean. Note 3: Students may register for PHIL 2991 more than once, provided the subject matter differs.] (Format: Variable) Wednesday 6:00 to 8:50PM Avard Dixon 120.
An introduction to the history and philosophical problems of ethics in the western tradition. This will acquaint the student with a number of received traditions based on metaphysical, religious, rational, and pragmatic grounds, as well as introduce certain fundamental perennial problems of moral decision-making. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) Monday Wednesday and Friday 11:30 to 12:20PM Avard Dixon 111.
This course is an introduction to formal logic. Logic is the study of inferences in our reasoning. To distinguish good or proper reasoning from poor or improper reasoning we are concerned with rules for making inferences. A system of these rules is called ‘formal’ because our attention is given to the abstract character, structure or form of the rules and not (often) with the content or meaning of the sentences that we subject to these rules. In this course, students are introduced to key concepts in classical and modern logic and the analysis of various kinds of argument, including categorical syllogisms, Venn diagramming, truth table analysis, natural deduction proofs, predicate logic and informal reasoning. Students will develop a facility with logical form, applying rules of reasoning to arguments in natural language. Because we will learn and follow rules that lead to knowledge, our study of logic is a science. Because these rules of reasoning are at the same time skills that can be habituated and mastered, our study of logic is also an art. Because logic is thus approached as both a science and an art, it holds something of a special place in human understanding. Since every domain of study is answerable to standards of good reasoning, mediaeval philosophers revered logic as ‘ars artium’: ‘the art of arts’. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) (Distribution: Natural Science-a) (Exclusion: Any version of PHIL 2611 previously offered with a different title; PHIL 2621) Monday Wednesday and Friday 10:30 to 11:20AM Sir James Dunn Building 108.
This course explores competing philosophical explanations of scientific theory and practice. Based on historical and contemporary cases, it compares philosophical theories including logical positivism, scientific realism, scientific pluralism, sociology of scientific knowledge, and the most recent critiques from social constructivism and feminism. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) Tuesday and Thursday 4:00 to 5:20PM Sir James Dunn Building 106.
This course introduces the study of philosophy by looking at some major thinkers in the Western philosophical tradition as well as the fundamental and enduring questions they raise about human beings and the world. Specific topics may include the nature of knowledge, desire, goodness, human flourishing, and free will. Students explore these themes to discover the relations between reason, the will, and the world. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) (Distribution: Humanities-a) (Exclusion: Any version of PHIL 1991 previously offered with the title The Story of Reason) Monday and Wednesday 1:30 to 2:50PM Barclay 02.
This course investigates ideas about the self in the western philosophical tradition, including work in contemporary philosophy. Issues may include freedom and responsibility, otherness, the relationship between mind and body, the relationship between humans and animals, the impact of trauma, suffering or oppression on self- identity, and the existence or non-existence of the soul. (Format: Lecture 3 Hours) (Distribution: Humanities-a) (Exclusion: Any version of PHIL 1611 previously offered with a different title) Tuesday and Thursday 1:00 to 2:20PM Sir James Dunn Building 113.