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.
This course covers a range of philosophic problems centering on issues of personhood and rational agency. Readings are drawn from both classic and contemporary sources and address such topics as freedom of the will, personal identity, knowledge of the self, weakness of will and self-deception.
The course assesses the reasonableness of various forms of religious belief and of irreligion. Noted historical and contemporary authors are read. Students attempt to develop personal views on the truth of religion and its place in life.
Existentialism describes an influential set of views that gained prominence in Europe following World War II, stressing radical human freedom and possibility, as well as concomitant responsibility and anxiety, in a world bereft of transcendent significance. This course examines the nineteenth-century philosophical roots of such views, their leading twentieth-century philosophical and theological expression, and a few of their most compelling incarnations in literature.
This course examines the ethical, political, and philosophical questions raised by some of the new forms of human enhancement made available by breakthroughs in science and technology, from fields like neuroscience and genetic engineering. For example: Should parents be allowed to use genetic screening or modification to create "designer children," either for the purpose of avoiding diseases and other ailments or to select desired traits such as their child's intelligence, athletic ability, or good looks? Should humans pursue immortality or, failing that, radically extended lifespans? Is there any important ethical difference between artificial and natural intelligence, and will the former soon surpass the latter? What justification is there, if any, for regarding the use of steroids in athletics as a form of cheating while regarding the use of weight training regimens as fair game? Is the goal of human enhancement compatible with the pursuit of social equality? What constitutes the self, as opposed to the tools or pieces of technology that a self uses?
This course investigates the ways in which power relations--such as racism, sexism, and ableism--structure two significant areas of individual and collective behavior: language and knowledge. It shows the necessity of philosophizing in critical engagement with the world by connecting social phenomena with social scientific theories. It also shows philosophy's strength in making fundamental inquiries and bridging academic disciplines by drawing on diverse types of empirical evidence.
A survey of the origins of Western philosophy in Ancient Greece, beginning with the Presocratics and covering Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Hellenistic philosophy. In this course students are introduced to the answers some of the most influential ancient philosophers have given to the question: "How can we be happy?" In addition to learning what these philosophers thought, students are stimulated to think about these questions from their own modern perspective, and reflect on the extent to which their modern viewpoint differs. Finally, but not least importantly, students learn to read and interpret texts that were written millennia ago. In the process, they encounter argumentative techniques that are still as current as the theses defended through them.
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.
This course introduces central issues in the philosophy of mind, especially the relation between mind and body - the brain, in particular - and the nature of consciousness. Other topics may include the possibility of artificial intelligence, the nature of psychological explanation, self-knowledge, psychopathology and psychopharmacology, psychoanalysis, and the concept of a person. Course materials reflect scientific developments in such fields as psychology, neurobiology, medicine, linguistics, and computer engineering.
This course consists of a philosophical examination of science. The course examines attempts to describe what is distinctive about science, including views concerning scientific methodology. The course also examines the character of scientific change, asking how one should understand the history of science. This examination leads to a discussion of the nature of scientific knowledge, including whether scientific entities should be considered real and what role values play in the development of science. Issues that arise from particular sciences also may be discussed.
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.
This course examines a number of ethical theories - theories attempting to provide a systematic account of our beliefs about what is right and wrong, good and bad. The course examines a range of answers to questions like the following: What makes for a good life? What, if anything, is of value? What does morality require? Should we care about moral requirements and, if so, why? Is there a connection between morality and freedom? In addition to a careful study of various classic views, we will consider recent defenses and critiques of these views.
This course focuses on ethical issues that arise in the context of human relationships to nature and to non-human living things. The course explores questions such as the following: What is nature? Is nature intrinsically valuable? Should wilderness be preserved? What is biodiversity and should it be promoted? What are our moral obligations to non-human animals and to future generations? What ethical considerations arise in facing global poverty and overpopulation?
This course focuses on social, economic, legal, and ethical issues that arise from the collection, analysis, and use of large data sets, especially when these processes are automated or embedded within artificial intelligence systems. The course explores the design of ethical algorithms by considering questions like the following: what kinds of biases are ethically problematic and how can they be avoided? what are the effects of automation on jobs and inequality? what are the privacy considerations that arise when collecting and using data? what is the ethical significance of transparency in automation? who owns data sets and who has the right to access information? who is responsible for actions that result from artificial intelligence systems? In thinking about these complex questions, students consider specific case studies of controversial uses of data and algorithms in fields such as medicine, biotechnology, military, advertising, social media, finance, transportation, and criminal justice, among others. In addition to relevant ethical theories, students are introduced to philosophical, legal, and scientific theories that play a central role in debates regarding the ethics of data and artificial intelligence. Readings are drawn from a number of classic and contemporary texts in philosophy, science and technology studies, law, public policy, and the emerging fields of "data ethics" and "robot ethics".
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 will 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. Cross-listed as BIOE/PHIL 292.
This course is a moderately comprehensive and systematic treatment of Aristotle, including method, metaphysics, psychology, ethics, and politics. It considers Aristotle's criticism of Plato's theory of forms and his own views about what is real, the relation of form and matter, the nature of the soul, the highest human good, and the relation of the individual and the community.
This course introduces students to influential philosophical questions in early Chinese thought. And it exposes students to central philosophical texts such as Lunyu, Daodejing, Mozi, Zhuangzi, Mengzi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi. It is both a course in history of philosophy and a course in comparative philosophy. Hence, students are expected to both develop skills for making historically-informed interpretations of these thinkers' responses to the influential philosophical questions, and to consider their ideas' relevance to practical and philosophical discourses today.
This course introduces students to philosophy from Latin America -- broadly construed to include Indigenous philosophy -- and to Latinx philosophy in the United States. The course focuses on issues of identity in Latin American and Latinx Philosophy including: 1) Latin American philosophers' self-conscious discussion about whether there is such a thing as a Latin American Philosophy; 2) alternative conceptions of self, other, and community in selected indigenous conceptions of the world; 3) discussions about gender, race, class, and ethnic and political identity in Latin American anti-colonial and independence philosophy, liberation philosophy, and Latinx philosophy in the United States.
This seminar examines the metaphysical and epistemological theories of the British Empiricists of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries through close readings of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Berkeley's The Principles of Human Knowledge, and Hume's A Treatise of Human Nature. It considers such issues as realism, idealism and skepticism, the nature and scope of scientific knowledge, the nature of the self and self-knowledge, and personal identity. Special consideration is paid to the development of empiricism in the context of scientific and religious controversies in seventeenth and eighteenth century Britain. Readings in recent secondary literature is also required.
This course consists of a careful reading of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, designed to provide a thorough introduction to the epistemological aspect of Kant's critical philosophy. Philosophical issues discussed include the nature of the human mind, the possibility and extent of human knowledge, the reality of space and time, the basis of mathematics and logic, self and personal identity, the foundations of natural science, matter and substance, force and causation, the origin and composition of the universe, freedom of the will, the existence and properties of God, teleology, and the basis of morality.
This course is an introduction to philosophical systems of Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, J.S. Mill, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Topics include the nature of history and historical change, the extent of human freedom, the relation between individuals and their cultures, the historical and psychological importance of religious, moral, and philosophical consciousness, and the nature of truth.
Epistemology, otherwise known as the theory of knowledge, addresses issues about the nature of knowledge, justification, and truth, issues that arise from questions such as "How do you know?" and "Can you be sure?" It has been an especially lively area of philosophy in English in recent decades; many currents in the humanities appeal to epistemological notions - such currents as post-modernism, relativism, social constructionism, feminism, and situated knowing. This course answers both developments. It introduces such disciplinary concerns as foundationalism, virtue epistemology, internalism and externalism, naturalism, reliabilism, and the Gettier problem. It also engages such wider concerns as relativism about truth and reason and the role of social institutions and social structures, power and privilege, in constituting knowledge.
This course is a survey of some of the central issues in contemporary metaphysics, the area of philosophy devoted to understanding the fundamental level of reality. Topics of the course may include existence and nonexistence, identity, personal identity, possibility and necessity, time and persistence, realism and antirealism, and free will. Featured philosophers may include W.V.O. Quine, Saul Kripke, David Lewis, Judith Jarvis Thomson, and Derek Parfit.
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.
Philosophers have long regarded language as the essential intermediary between thought and the world. Accordingly, this course studies philosophically important theories about language and more general philosophical conclusions drawn from considerations about language. Central topics concern meaning, reference, inference, existence, and truth. In addition to discursive language, some attention is devoted to systems of notation and of pictorial representation.
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.
This course is focused on the interconnection between value judgments and a scientific perspective on the world and human psychology. Drawing on philosophical work that connects to and draws implications from attempts to study human behavior scientifically, the course explores answers to questions like: What motivates ethical action -- is it emotions, reasoning, or something else? What is the connection between a person's values and their behavior? As students explore various answers to these questions, they will draw connections and look at the implications of those answers for epistemological and metaphysical issues connected to ethics, such as whether morality is objective or subjective; whether morality can be universal or whether it is relative to a person, to some aspect of a person's psychology, or to a community; whether ethical language is an expression of a person's feelings or a statement of some fact (be it a fact about the community or the psychology of the speaker, or a non-natural fact); and whether moral responsibility requires freedom of choice.
This course surveys some of the fundamental philosophical questions that arise from the performing arts in general, and cinema in particular. What is a film? What does it have in common and how does it differ from other performing arts? How do these in turn differ from the other arts? What challenges do they pose to the traditional understanding of art? How do cinema and television differ? Other topics covered may include: the problem of identifying authorship in a collective enterprise such as a film or a theater production; the reasons and nature of our emotional engagement with movies or plays; the relation between film and society.
Aesthetics This course is a critical examination of the problems that arise in trying to understand the creation, nature, interpretation, evaluation, and appreciation of works of art. Art is viewed in its relation to other aspects of culture such as morality, economics, and ecology. A variety of classical and contemporary perspectives are examined.
This course explores some of the central questions in Social and Political Philosophy as well as some well-developed attempts to answer these questions: What makes a government legitimate? What should the goal of government be? Is it to maximize justice, to maximize liberty, to provide common defense, or something else? What is justice? What is liberty? Readings are drawn from prominent historical and contemporary thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Mill, Rawls, Nozick, Cohen, Okin.
This course is concerned with the nature of law and the relationship between law and morality. The course is centered on questions like the following: What is the connection between law and morality? Is it morally wrong to break the law? Is breaking the law sometimes morally permissible or even morally required? Should morality be legally enforced? To what extent, if at all, should legal decisions be influenced by moral beliefs? What are the relationships between legal, constitutional, moral, and political rights? How can legal punishment be morally justified? While pursuing answers to these questions through the work of leading legal philosophers, students read a number of actual court cases and discuss specific issues like hate speech, homosexuality, and capital punishment, among others. Crosslisted as PHIL 378 / PG 348
The construct of race is omnipresent in the way people think, the way society is structured, and even in the materials that people use. Despite its omnipresence, race remains difficult to discuss, if it is discussed at all, because of its theoretical complexity, contested social history, and emotional triggers. This course challenges students to engage in courageous conversations about the nature of race and its relations to mind, language, and aesthetics. Students will confront difficult questions such as: What is race? How does race influence human cognition? How does race structure human communication? How does race shape human aesthetic preferences and artistic endeavors? Students use tools developed in different areas of philosophy and its cognate disciplines to construct answers to these difficult questions about race. At the same time, students learn that these difficult questions about race can challenge and extend common conceptions of analytic philosophy.
This course is a study of a number of philosophical and political questions related to gender and with the relation between these two types of questions. The course will be concerned first, with metaphysical issues concerning gender: What is gender? How many genders are there? Is there an essence of womanhood or manhood that goes beyond certain physical characteristics? Are 'woman' and 'man' purely natural categories or are they to some extent socially constructed? Is gender a social/political concept? Second, with epistemological issues that relate to gender difference: Do women, for example, see the world differently from men? What kind of implications does this have for scientific and philosophical knowledge? Are there, for example, specifically female ways of thinking or reasoning? If so, to what extent are they marginalized? Do gender related values or political aims affect scientific knowledge? Finally, with ethical issues related to gender: What is gender oppression? What is sexism and heterosexism? Granted that everyone has an equal right to flourishing regardless of gender, is a woman's flourishing, for example, different from a man's? Are there specifically gendered roles for men and women? To what extent are we culturally biased when we think that women or those who don't conform to gender norms living in other cultures are oppressed? Cross-listed as PG/PHIL 390.
Conducted as an advanced seminar, the course addresses topics from the history of philosophy, typically concentrating on a major philosopher or philosophical movement. Each student writes and presents a substantial seminar paper related to the course. Representative course topics include Plato, the Stoics, Ancient and Modern Skepticism, Aquinas, Rationalism, Hume, Idealism, Nietzsche, the Pragmatists, and Russell and Wittgenstein.
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.
Conducted as an advanced seminar, the course addresses topics from value theory, understood to include ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics, and philosophy of religion. Each student writes and presents a substantial seminar paper related to the course. Representative course topics include sources of normativity, virtues of character and moral rules, personal identity and moral responsibility, objectivity and moral relativism, the role of reason in ethics, critical theory, ethics and psychoanalysis, and religious commitment and civil liberties.
Independent study is available to those students who wish to continue their learning in an area after completing the regularly offered courses in that area.
Independent study is available to those students who wish to continue their learning in an area after completing the regularly offered courses in that area.
This course invites students to go beyond the traditional classroom, and bring the ideas and practices of academic philosophy to a public audience. For example, Students may coorganize an undergraduate conference, in which they peer review submission from students across the country, construct a conference program, and provide commentaries on presentations. Or, students may coach ethics bowl, which is a competition aimed at solving ethical dilemmas, to local high school students on a weekly basis. The process of bringing the ideas and practices of academic philosophy to a public audience demands students to utilize flexible and sophisticated problem-solving skills to address unscripted problems. To build on these direct experiences, students must reflect on how the experiences have shaped the students' academic growth and understanding of self, others, or the world.
This scheduled weekly interdisciplinary seminar provides the context to reflect on concrete experiences at an off-campus internship site and to link these experiences to academic study relating to the political, psychological, social, economic and intellectual forces that shape our views on work and its meaning. The aim is to integrate study in the liberal arts with issues and themes surrounding the pursuit of a creative, productive, and satisfying professional life. Students receive 1.0 unit of academic credit for the academic work that augments their concurrent internship fieldwork. This course is not applicable to the Upper-Division Graduation Requirement. Only 1.0 unit may be assigned to an individual internship and no more than 2.0 units of internship credit, or internship credit in combination with co-operative education credit, may be applied to an und
This course provides students with a unique opportunity to practice applying ethical theories to controversial ethical problems. An Ethics Bowl is a collaborative yet competitive event in which teams analyze a series of wide-ranging ethical dilemmas. Throughout the semester, students research and discuss case studies dealing with complex ethical issues in a number of practical contexts and possibly compete in an Ethics Bowl. Cases concern ethical problems on wide ranging topics, such as personal relationships (e.g. dating, friendship), professional ethics (e.g. cases in engineering, law, medicine), social and political ethics (e.g. free speech, gun control, health care, discrimination), technology (e.g. autonomous cars, carebots), and global issues (e.g. the impact of globalization, global warming, biodiversity).