UNDERGRADUATE COURSES:
FALL 1997

 

A83.0001 Intro to Philosophy
Sec.001 M/W 08:30AM - 09:45AM STAFF
Sec.002 M/W 11:55AM- 01:10PM STAFF
Sec.003 T/R 09:55AM - 11:10AM STAFF

 

A83.0015-001 Ethics and Society
Staff
T/R 01:20 - 02:35

 

V83.0007-001 Minds and Machines
Prof. Block
M/W 02:50 - 04:05

The aim of the course is to examine conceptual issues in cognitive science, focusing on the conflict between computational and biological approaches to the mind. Topics covered include whether a machine could think, Searle's Chinese Room Argument, whether thinking could be a symbol crunching, the Turing Test, mental representation, the reduction of the mind to the brain, connectionism and neural nets, mental imagery, and whether consciousness can be explained materialistically.

Requirements
: One examination, four short papers.

 

V83.0010-001 Ethics
Staff
M/W 09:55 - 11:10

 

V83.0012-001 Logic
Staff
T/R 02:50 - 04:05

 

V83.0013-001 History of Ancient Philosophy
Prof. Gurland
T/R 11:55 - 01:10

The course will commence with a probe of the world of pre-philosophic man, examining its character and demise, in effect chronicling the movement from the mythical (mythos) to the rational (logos) modes of explanation and understanding. The course will then work through the early history of philosophy, commencing with the Ionian materialists, and on through the Pythagoreans, the Heraclitean-Parmenidean polemic, the Atomists, the Sophists, and Socrates, to focus, finally, upon the works of Plato and Aristotle. Their impact on the evolution of Western intellectual thought in general, and on the history of philosophy in particular, will consume the bulk of the course's attention.

 

V83.0037-001 Medical Ethics
Prof. Ruddick
T/R 11:55 - 01:10

Examines moral issues in medical practice and research. Topics include euthanasia, assisted suicide, and quality of life; physician paternalism and deception of patients; patient rights to refuse treatment and physicians' rights to refuse to treat; genes, sex, and gender; abortion fetal testing, and assisted reproduction; brain death, anencephaly, dementia, and personhood; just ways of containing medical costs and allocating medical services; random clinical testing of new treatments; moral issues in medical training and hospital hierarchies; professional codes, ethical principles, moral casuistry. There will be one longer and two shorter examinations, as well as frequent short written commentaries on the reading. There will also be an opportunity for collaborative research projects. Preference will be given to juniors and seniors.

 

V83.0040-001 Advanced Logic
Prof. Sorensen
M/W 01:20 - 2:35

*Prerequisite: V83.0012 or permission of instructor.

This course extends the system taught in "Logic" (first order predicate logic with identity) and reflects on the properties of formal systems in general. Most of these elaborations will be motivated by philosophical concerns rather than a pursuit of pure logic. Thus this is not a course in mathematical logic. For example, meta-theory will be studied but chiefly with an eye to philosophically interesting results such as Godel's incompleteness theorem. There will be speculative issues: Does Godel's theorem show a difference between minds and machines? Is a computer proof a real proof? Can a proof be infinitely long?

 

V83.0044-001 Metaphysics
Prof. Unger
M/W 01:20 - 02:35

*Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.

An especially rigorous course, instead of lightly providing an overview of the field this semester's Metaphysics course will examine intensively a few salient interrelated areas. When did you first come into existence? When there was first a certain fertilized egg? When a certain baby was born? At still some other time? And, under what conditions will you, or would you, cease to exist? Mainly working from a book treating these questions with a novel biological approach - Eric Olson's THE HUMAN ANIMAL: Identity Without Psychology, Oxford University Press, 1997, we will work hard to discover the main strengths of, and the main problems for, such a treatment of these issues. Toward orienting our exploration, we'll study some central sections of Professor Unger's IDENTITY, CONSCIOUSNESS & VALUES (OUP, 1990), where there's presented a more heavily psychological approach to the issues.

Requirements: Each student will write at least two short papers, writing several drafts of each paper. Though there will be no examinations, the course is meant only for students who are prepared to work hard on a few central philosophical questions.

 

V83.0050-001 20th Century Analytic Philosophy
Prof. Sorensen
M/W 02:50 - 04:05

* Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.

This course will deal chiefly with the history and methodology of the kind of philosophy that now dominates the English speaking world. We will begin with an account of analytic philosophy's origins as a reaction to Idealism. After reviewing its branching into logical positivism, logical atomism, and ordinary language philosophy, we will concentrate on recent trends. Special emphasis will be placed on the concept of a pseudo-problem. Contemporary philosophers are still fond of Wittgenstein's theme that philosophical problems should be dissolved rather than solved. Study of dissolutional techniques will be interwined with readings of classical articles in the analytic tradition. There will also be meta-philosophical discussion of the extent to which philosophy (and other fields) is composed of pseudo-problems.

 

V83.0068-001 War & Morality
Prof. Kamm
T/R 01:20 - 02:35

This class will begin by examining some problems in just war theory -- when it is morally permissible to begin war, in what ways it is morally permissible to conduct it, what we may do to avoid it. Specific topics may include the doctrine of proportionality in the use of force, the distinction between innocents and combatants, foreseeing versus intending harm, use of threats as deterrents, duties of soldiers. Then we will consider some particular moral problems raised by the Holocaust in World War II. Readings will be drawn from classical and contemporary sources.

Requirements: In-class study essay midterm and final exam, and a 10 page final paper.

 

V83.0072-001 Existentialism
Staff
M/W 11:55 - 01:10

* Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.

 

V83.0089-001 Philosophy of Language
Prof. Schiffer
T/R 01:20 - 02:35

*Prerequisite: One course in philosophy.

This will be a soup-to-nuts course that covers the major topics in twentieth-century philosophy of language. Among these topics are: Are there such things as meanings and, if so, what is their nature? What is it for marks or sounds to have meaning? What's the nature of communication and of "speech acts" generally? How is it that our words and thoughts succeed in being about objects in the external world (the problem of reference)? Are some sentences true by virtue of their meaning alone (the problem of the analytic/synthetic distinction)? What's the relation between language and thought - does thought come first and make language possible, or vice versa, or neither? Among the thinkers to be studied are Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolph Carnap, W.V.O. Quine, J. L. Austin, Paul Grice, Donald Davidson, Saul Kripke, and David Lewis.

Requirements: A 15-20 page paper, and some form of mid-term and final (e.g. take-home questions).

 

V83.0092-001 Topics in Language & Mind
Prof. Boghossian
T/R 02:50 - 04:05

* Prerequisite: One of the following: V83.0089, Philosophy of Language,
V83.0090, Philosophy of Mind, V83.0083, Belief, Truth & Knowledge,
or V83.0007, Minds & Machines.

We will look at three fundamental problems concerning the notion of objectivity. Is there such a thing as objective truth? Is there such a thing as objective knowledge? Is there such a thing as an objective category - for example, the `natural' as opposed to the `cultural'? Answering these questions will lead us to probe the concept of the objective, to explore recent philosophical suspicion of it, and to assess its role in inquiry in general and in science in particular. Readings will be drawn from philosophers like Putnam, Rorty, Quine, Kuhn, and others, as well as from such philosophical non-philosophers as Stanley Fish, Barbara Herrnstein-Smith, David Bloor, and others.

Requirements: Two medium-sized papers.

 

V83.0098-001 Topics in the History of Philosophy
Prof. Richardson
T/R 09:55 - 11:10

*Prerequisite: One course in history of philosophy.

Aristotle's biology lies at the center of his philosophical system, mediating between his metaphysics (since living things are his prime cases of substance) and his ethics (which grows out of his concept of the human as a specific type of animal). His biology has often been judged to be deeply flawed, especially in its insistence on teleological and `essentialist' explanations of organisms. which are often taken to have been refuted by Darwinism. Recently, however, there have been reassessments that cast doubt on this dismissal. I think this closer look at Aristotle's position can help illuminate live issues in evolutionary biology. This course will focus on Aristotle's biology, but as a means of access to both a) the structure of his philosophical system more generally, and b) issues in contemporary philosophy of biology (such as the analysis of functions, the unit of selection, the nature of species, and the prospects for sociobiology). Readings will be from Aristotle, his interpreters, and from the recent literature in evolutionary theory.

Requirements: Two 5-8 page papers and a final exam.

 

V83.0099-001 Honors Seminar
Prof. Field
To Be Arranged

 

V83.0997-001 Independent Study
Staff
To Be Arranged



TENTATIVE UNDERGRADUATE COURSES IN SPRING 1998


* Please note that this list is only tentative.


A83.0001 Introduction to Philosophy
A83.0015 Ethics and Society
V83.0010 Ethics
V83.0012 Logic
V83.0014 History of Modern Philosophy
V83.0019 Nature of Values
V83.0023 Kant
V83.0036 Life and Death
V83.0064 Philosophy of Law
V83.0066 Philosophy Perspectives on Feminism
V83.0083 Belief, Truth, and Knowledge
V83.0096 Topics in Metaphysics & Epistemology
V83.0097 Topics in Ethics & Political Philosophy
V83.0997 Honors Seminar