Historical-cultural introduction to philosophy. Considers a broad range of philosophical problems in relation to the major historical and cultural conditions which have influenced their formulations and proposed solutions. Topics: the principles of rational inquiry; the nature of knowledge; the metaphysics of mind, world, and God; and the sources and authority of morality.
Critical survey of current issues and the role of philosophy in attempts to resolve them. Recent topics: sexual morality, pornography and the law, capital punishment, sexism and racism, extraordinary treatment for the terminally ill, abortion, church and state, and nuclear war and disarmament.
Introduction to the principles of correct reasoning and their application. Emphasis on improving skills of thinking and reading critically, analyzing and evaluating arguments objectively, and constructing sound arguments based on relevant evidence.
Introduction to philosophical issues about the nature and justification of religious belief. Issues include the conception of God in Judaism and Christianity; the role of faith, reason, and religious experience in religious belief; the traditional arguments for the existence of God; the problem of evil; the idea of immortality; the relations between religion and science and religion and morality.
Introduction to symbolic logic. The semantics and syntax of sentential and predicate logic. Translating into and from formal languages, determining the validity or invalidity of arguments, and constructing proofs within formal systems.
Philosophical study of moral problems in modern medicine, exploring such issues as the allocation of scarce medical resources, patients rights, research on human subjects, abortion, the care of seriously impaired newborns, and socialized medicine and the right to health care.
Exploration of a number of topics to which both psychological research and philosophical reflection are relevant. Includes two kinds of cases: where psychological findings bear on the resolution of some traditional philosophical issues and where philosophical analysis and criticism can be helpful in understanding or assessing a psychological theory or finding.
Wide range of basic issues in ethical theory, typically including: the nature of justice; the objectivity of moral values; the source of moral obligation; and the conditions of the good life. Each issue approached through historically important texts such as Aristotle's Niocomachean Ethics, Kant's Groundwork, and Mill's Utilitarianism.
Nature and grounds of historical knowledge; objectivity vs. subjectivity in the writing of history; historical explanation; and patterns in human history. Primary sources include Hegel, Marx, and Toynbee.
Ethical dimensions in human relations to the environment. What is the nature of moral value generally, and what are the range of things that are morally valuable? Are there things that are fundamentally morally valuable beyond humans or human happiness (i.e., sentient creatures, ecosystems, and species)? What is the right thing to do given various answers to such value questions?
Philosophical problems of the law and of legal systems. Includes legal reasoning, judicial interpretation, legal language and definition, legal obligation, law and morality, and legal paternalism. Concepts of law, constitutionality, legislative intent, fair trial, criminal responsibility, punishment, fault, and strict liability. Applications to social issues of individual freedom, human rights, privacy, discrimination, and justice.
Introduction to the philosophical understanding of religion. Includes a number of views on the nature of God, on the possibility of knowledge of God's existence through either argumentation or religious experience, and on the relation between religion and morality.
Introduction to some major problems of epistemology, with emphasis on the understanding and evaluation of the problems, rather than on learning what various philosophers have said about them. Treats such questions as the nature and scope of knowledge; the sources of knowledge in perception, memory, and reasoning; the nature of evidence and its relation to knowledge; the possibility of knowledge of the mental lives of others; the nature and justification of inductive reasoning; and the concept of causality and its relation to explanation.
Introduction to some main problems, and some central concepts, of metaphysics. Focuses on the nature of being and existence, and on various questions concerning the relations between different kinds of entities: minds and bodies, causes and effects, universals and particulars, etc.
Major problems in the philosophy of mind: the relation between the mental and the physical; the role of mental concepts in explaining human actions; the possibility of life after death; the concept of a person; the structure of character and personality; and the analysis of various important mental concepts, such as thought, belief, desire, emotion, sensation, and pleasure.
Critical analysis of the philosophical foundations of the sciences. Nature of theories, observation in science, the interpretation of theories, the scientific method, explanation, interfield relations, patterns of scientific development, and the role of philosophy in science studies in general.
Critical exposition of the main classical and contemporary theories of art: Expressionist, Formalist, and Representationalist. Theories considered in definition of art, of aesthetic judgment, of art criticism, and of aesthetic value. Examples drawn from painting, literature, music, and movies.
Philosophy of Spinoza, focusing on his principal work, the Ethics. Various metaphysical and epistemological aspects of Spinoza's thought, including his ideas on the nature and existence of God, the relation between mind and body, and relations between language, truth and reason.
An examination of the more important philosophical systems and dominant intellectual trends of the nineteenth century. Representative works of philosophers such as Fiche, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Marx, Nietzsche, and Mill will be studied.
Development of 20th century philosophy in the English speaking world. Realism, skepticism, reference, and representation. Figures include Frege, Moore, Russell, Wittgenstein, Lewis, and Ryle. Developments in each of the major fields of philosophy, including ethics.
Recent developments in continental philosophy, in particular of different forms of social criticism which it has generated. Includes discussion of Marxists, Foucault and other philosophers influenced by Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, the existentialists, and Derrida. The language of social science; the controversy between problems of the issue the ethics of and the relation.
Development of American Pragmatism from 1870's to the present. Essential writings of C. S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey; other currents in American thought such as Critical Realism and Idealism; and contemporary philosophic views that continue the spirit of pragmatism.
Modern European Jewish Philosophy LINKCrosslisted as JUDS 345
3 hrs PHIL.
Survey of Jewish philosophy from the eighteenth century to the present. Works of Moses Mendelssohn, Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, Emanuel Levinas, and others in relation to broad European intellectual movements such as existentialism and phenomenology.
Intensive study of basic problems in the Theory of Knowledge: the nature of knowledge, the analysis of perception and memory, the justification of induction, the problem of how one knows other minds, and the analysis of a prior knowledge. Readings from recent work.
The main metalogical results of the twentieth century. Completeness, compactness and undecidability of first-order logic; the Löwenheim-Skolem Theorem; axiomatic set theory; the Gödel incompleteness theorems; and non-classical logics.
Intensive study of main problems in metaphysics, especially universals and particulars, the relation of mind and matter, the categories of the real, criteria of identity, and existential propositions. Readings from recent philosophers.
The epistemological character of the social sciences. Character and explanatory role of social scientific generalizations, various explanatory strategies for social matters, the continuity or discontinuity of the social sciences with the special sciences, the importance of interpretation, and the place of rationality.
Critical study of leading theories in ethics, with close attention to major works, chiefly modern and contemporary. Includes naturalism, intuitionism, emotivism, utilitarianism, Neo-Kantian ethics, and various current positions.
Critical study of main problems and leading theories in social and political philosophy. Origin and justification of political obligation, with emphasis on social contact theories; the nature and foundation of individual rights and the strength of these rights when they conflict with each other and with concern for the common good; the principles of social justice and the obligation to protect the welfare of others; and the concepts of personal autonomy, liberty, equality, and freedom. Readings from a combination of historical and recent work, and emphasis on relating the various issues to current problems in society.
Seminar for beginning graduate students whose primary goal is the development of basic philosophical skills such as the analysis of primary texts, the writing of philosophical papers, and sustained oral discussion. Readings include a significant number of important works drawn from diverse areas of philosophical inquiry. Class meetings devoted primarily to student presentations of reading materials and their own written work. Effective oral discussion on the part of the student required.
Critical examination of some concepts and problems involved in the philosophical study of language, e.g., truth, meaning, reference, grammaticality, speech acts, language acquisition, the relation of language to other symbol systems, and the use of language in literature.
Intensive study of some main problems in the philosophy of science: explanation and prediction in the sciences, the nature of scientific laws, functional explanations in the biological and social sciences, the structure of scientific theories, the ontological status of theoretical entities, the reduction of scientific theories, the confirmation of scientific hypotheses, and value judgments in the acceptance of scientific hypotheses.
Intensive discussion of one or more of the main problems of social and political philosophy. Variable content. Possible topics are: political obligation, the concept of political authority, natural rights, the public interest, the aims of the state, and distributive justice.