Course Offerings Spring 2021


Spring 2021 Course Poster

Descriptions for Spring 2021 Philosophy Courses

PHIL 101A – Introduction to Philosophy (Humanities Core)
Prof. Beardsley:  MoWeFr 10:00AM – 10:50AM
Representative philosophical topics, such as mind and body, the grounds of knowledge, the existence of God, moral obligation, political equality, and human freedom, are discussed in connection with contemporary philosophers and figures in the history of philosophy.

PHIL 220A – 17th & 18th Century Philosophy (Science, Technology and Society Major/Minor)
Prof. Beardsley:   MoWeFr 3:00PM – 3:50PM
European philosophers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries struggled to make sense of ordinary perceptual experience in light of the emerging mathematical physics that culminated in Newton. This new physics presented a picture of the world according to which things in space and time are not as they appear to the senses, and thus overturned the Aristotelian world-view endorsed by the Church since the Middle Ages. The philosophical issues of this period concern the nature of knowledge of the world and how it is acquired. Also included are various accounts of the mind and of its intellectual and sensory capacities.

PHIL 240A – Formal Logic (Math Minor, Math Core)
Prof. Liao: MWF 2:00 - 2:50PM AND one discussion section Th(AA) 5:00 – 5:50PM OR Th(AB) 6:00 – 6:50PM
Formal logic is the science of reasoning and argumentation. It uses mathematical structures to establish a formal language to express thoughts and evaluate the coherence of series of thoughts. Students learn about and work with two logical systems in this course: truth-functional logic and first-order logic. Students are expected to acquire technical skills in three aspects of logical systems: symbolization (representing thoughts in the formal language); interpretation (using a mathematical structure to interpret the formal language); and deduction (working with sets of rules that govern series of expressions in the formal language). As students explore these two logical systems, they will inevitably consider meta-logical and philosophical questions about logical concepts and the systems themselves, such as ones that concern their expressive power, limitations, and potential alternatives.

PHIL 292A / BIOE 292B – Basics of Bioethics (Bioethics Emphasis)
Prof. Liao:  MoWe  3:30PM– 4:50PM
This course is an examination of Western philosophical understandings of moral issues brought on by advances in health care, science, and technology. In this course, students learn the "Principles Approach" to bioethics, as well as other ethical approaches to the difficult moral issues raised by contemporary medical science and its clinical applications.

PHIL 333A – Philosophy of Emotions
Prof. Protasi:  We  5:00PM – 7:40PM
Anger, fear, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise, envy, pride, jealousy, love, grief… without emotions our experience of the world would be flat and grey, void of the upheavals, accelerations, and turns that make the journey of life so exciting. But what are emotions? What kind of mental state are they? Are there universal emotions, or are all emotions culturally-relative? What does it mean to feel fear--as opposed to think that something is scary? How can we know that someone is envious? Is disgust always bad? Can joy be inappropriate? In this course students explore these and many other questions concerning the metaphysics, epistemology, phenomenology, value, and rationality of emotions. Readings are drawn from a variety of sources: classical philosophical texts, contemporary articles in philosophy and psychology, popular culture, and literature.

PHIL 340A – Philosophy of Cognitive Science (STS Major/Minor and Neuroscience Minor)
Prof. Liao:  Tu 5:00PM – 7:40PM
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of the mind, which involves the cooperation of philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, anthropology, computer science, and more. This course reviews the foundational methodological questions of cognitive science from a philosophical perspective. To do so, the course offers a historical overview of the development of cognitive science, from classical representationalist responses to behaviorism to contemporary anti-representationalist approaches—with a special focus on embodied, embedded, enactive, and extended (4E) cognition.

PHIL 430A – Topics in Knowledge and Reality
Prof. Beardsley:  TuTh 2:00PM – 3:20PM
Conducted as an advanced seminar, the course addresses topics from metaphysics and epistemology, understood to include the philosophy of mind. Each student writes and presents a substantial seminar paper related to the course. Representative course topics include human freedom and the causal order, conceivability and possibility, number and other abstractions, the infinite, a priori knowledge, relativism and truth, knowledge of the self, intentionality, mental causation, and the nature of consciousness.
Pre-requisites: Two courses from PHIL 230, 240, 330, 331, 332, and 336, or permission of the instructor;

Other Courses Taught by Philosophy Professors:

SSI2 146A and 146B – The Good Life (Seminar in Scholarly Inquiry 2)
Prof. Protasi:  TuTh(A) 2:00PM – 3:20PM  OR  TuTh(B) 3:30PM – 4:50PM
What is happiness and how can human beings achieve it? Can a bad person be truly happy or is moral virtue required for happiness? Is suffering valuable, and if so, should we pursue suffering? Is it better to be detached and invulnerable from loss, or are love and attachments always worth the risk? Do emotions give us any knowledge? What does it mean when cognitive scientists talk about "the divided mind"? What is implicit bias and how can we fight it? What does it mean that race or gender or disability are a "social construct"? These are questions concerning human flourishing that both philosophers and scientists have contributed to answer, or to attempt to answer. In this course, students are invited to engage in a variety of debates concerning happiness, morality and identity. Readings range from ancient primary philosophical texts to contemporary cognitive science articles.