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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Philosophy Courses: Spring 2020

Undergraduate and Graduate

Spring 2020

PHI 107: Theories of Knowledge and Reality
MW 11:40-12:35 Dowell

This course is an introduction to important areas of inquiry in the history of analytic philosophy. These areas include addressing the questions - What can we know and how can we know it? What is the nature of the mind? How is the mind related to the body? Is the mind identical to the body or distinct from it? What makes me, me and you, you? Can we survive the destruction of our bodies? Do we have free will? What is the relationship between free will and moral responsibility?

PHI 109: Intro. to Philosophy (Honors)
TTH 9:30-10:50 Tignor

This is an introductory philosophy course that will cover four general areas of inquiry: (1) Free Will & Determinism, (2) Morality, (3) Knowledge, Skepticism, & the Mind, and (4) Meaning & Life. We will focus on accomplishing three learning objectives: (1) how to read and understand difficult philosophical text, (2) how to write clearly and make revisions in response to notes, (3) how to utilize group discussion as a means to understanding one’s self and others.

PHI/PSC 125: Political Theory
MW 10:35-11:30 Rasmussen

This course will examine some of the most important thinkers and concepts of modern political philosophy, including the rejection of ancient political philosophy and the rise of liberalism (Hobbes, Locke, Mill, and a brief look at the American founding) as well as critiques of the liberal outlook in the name of nature and virtue (Rousseau), tradition and custom (Burke), equality and liberation (Marx), and creativity and greatness (Nietzsche). In addition to exploring the various conceptions of nature, human nature, justice, freedom, history, and the good life in the works of these thinkers, we will also use their arguments to reflect on the health or illness of liberal democracy in today’s world.

PHI 175: Social & Political Philosophy
TTH 12:30-1:50 Sethi

Social and political philosophy is concerned with issues such as the justification of the state, the limits of the coercive power of the state, the relationship between justice and equality, what rights individuals should have, and concerns regarding exploitation. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to several major theoretical issues in social and political philosophy through an examination of the relationships among individuals, groups, and institutions in civil societies.

PHI 175: Social & Political Philosophy
MW 12:45-2:05 Ryan

Classical and contemporary readings on basic topics in social and political philosophy; political obligation and authority, justice and basic rights, liberty and equality, the justification of democracy.

PHI 175: Social & Political Philosophy
TTH 2:00-3:20 Bruno-Nino

This class is a survey of classic and contemporary problems in social and political philosophy. We will explore philosophical issues about the justification of the state, who has the authority to rule, distributive justice, freedom of speech, prison reform and immigration and the refugee regime.

PHI 192: Intro. to Moral Theory
MW 10:35-11:30 Ryan

Classical and contemporary readings on basic topics in moral philosophy.

PHI 197: Human Nature
TTH 12:30-1:25 Richardson

In this course, we will first examine some canonical theories of human nature and how to live a good human life. We will then consider the existentialist view that these theories must be rejected if we are to become individuals and lead authentic lives. In the first part of the course, we will read selections from the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Elisabeth of Bohemia and Kant, as well as interpretive essays by Christine Korsgaard and Sally Sedgwick. In the second part of the course, we will read selections from the writings of Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Sartre, Beauvoir and Fanon.

PHI 251: Logic
MW 2:15-3:10 Rieppel

In a good deductive argument the conclusion follows from the premises. But what exactly does this involve? Logic aims to answer that question by giving a mathematically precise account of the relation of logical consequence. In this course we will begin by first studying Truth-Functional Logic, and then move on to the more complex system of First-Order Logic. We will learn how to formally represent the logical structure of English arguments in each system, and develop a semantics as well as a system of natural deduction to determine the validity of arguments given such formal representations. Upon completing the course students will be familiar with basic model- and proof-theoretic concepts and techniques, and be able to apply them to analyze and evaluate natural language arguments.

PHI 293: Ethics & Medial Professions
TTH 5:00-5:55 Prescott

Ethics and the Media Professions is an introduction to the ethical issues raised by the entertainment media, including television, radio, film, music, graphics, and photography. The goal of the course is to provide students with the resources and background required to recognize, navigate, and constructively respond to the ethical challenges confronted by entertainment media professionals.

PHI 308: Classic Islam Philosophy
TTH 3:30-4:50 Richardson

An introduction to philosophy in the classical period of Islamic thought (9th-12th centuries). Topics will include the relationship between philosophy and religion; nature, chance and luck; the soul and its powers; existence, necessity and contingency; and action and freedom. Authors

PHI 317/PSC 373: Social Contract Tradition
TTH 11:00-12:20 Baynes

This course will explore the idea of the social contract (or “free consent”) as a basis for political obligation and political authority as well as various criticisms of that view. Readings will include both classic and contemporary texts, including Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, John Simmons, Carole Pateman, Charles Mills, Jean Hampton, and David Gauthier. This term we’ll also explore the idea of representation in a democracy—who is, “We, the People” and how can they be represented? Finally, we examine the idea of liberal toleration as it has appeared in the social contract tradition since (at least) Locke: is it a coherent ideal? Locke, the great liberal theorist, thought we should not tolerate atheists—and he was uncertain about Catholics! If (as I assume) Locke was mistaken about this, what are appropriate limits on toleration?

PHI 325: Existentialism
TTH 2:00-3:20 Lambert

Foregoing the 19th Century literary and philosophical predecessors (Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Kafka) in this course we will define Existentialism primarily in response to the early phenomenological writings of Martin Heidegger by post-war French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre.

PHI/PSC 363: Ethics & Int’l Relations
TTH 6:30-7:50 Morgan

We will pursue the topic of ethics and international relations in the context of a variety of practical political issues, including: (i) war; (ii) terrorism; (iii) human rights, and (iv) global inequality. An enduring theme will be the challenge posed by so-called “realists”—or advocates of “realpolitik”—who hold that morality has no place in the regulation of a state’s foreign policy. We will begin the class, however, with a detailed study of a number of the great texts of classical realism,” including Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, Machiavelli’s The Prince, and Max Weber’s “Politics as a Vocation.”

PHI 377: Philosophy of Psychology
TTH 12:30-1:50 Edwards

This course is about issues in the philosophical foundations of psychology (mostly cognitive psychology). Part of the course will cover some philosophical background, including some history of relevant philosophical ideas. We will then move on to discussing some specific topics. These topics may include, but are not limited to, mental representation, different approaches to mental processes, the Language of Thought hypothesis, nativism, color, extended cognition. We will also spend time at various points in the semester talking about philosophical approaches and methods.

PHI 378: Minds and Machines
TTH 11:00-12:20 Van Gulick

An investigation of philosophical issues arising within and with respect to work in Artificial Intelligence and the Computational Theory of Mind. Much of the course will be devoted to trying to understand and answer the question, "Can machines think?" This will require us to define what we mean by a machine and figuring out what is involved in being able to think. Can machines reason, understand, be conscious, be self-aware, learn, be creative, have emotions, and use natural language? We will ask these questions both about man-made computers and also with regard to the hypothesis that the mental properties of the human mind are best understood by treating the brain as a kind of computer. Most readings will be by philosophers, but some will be by workers in Artificial Intelligence. Latter part of course will focus on social, political and moral/ethical aspects of AI technology.

PHI 381: Metaphysics
TTH 9:30-10:50 Javier-Castellanos

The course divides into three parts. In the first part, we consider questions about material objects, such as tables and chairs. Can two objects be at the same place at the same time? Are any objects made up of smaller parts? If so, what does it take for a collection of objects to make up a larger object? Some of these questions may seem to admit of obvious answers, but as we shall see, matters are not as straightforward. In the second part, we consider questions about time and possibility. Are all existing objects in the present, or are present objects merely a subset of all existing objects? Are there past objects like dinosaurs, and future objects like my great grandchildren? What does it take for something to be possible? Finally, in the third part, we consider questions about abstract entities—entities which, unlike tables and chairs, do not exist in space and time. Are there such entities? Are mathematical entities such as numbers and functions examples of such entities? Are works of art such as novels or symphonies further examples?

PHI 383: Free Will
MW 12:45-2:05 Heller

Is it up to me whether I teach this course? Or is it determined? Or could both of those be true together? Would the absence of determinism help, or would that just turn my actions into chance events? This course explores the concept of free will, asking: what is it, can we have any, and why should we care?

PHI 395: Philosophy of Art
MW 3:45-5:05 Osborne

Hello, philosophers of art! In this class you will take an active role in sorting through puzzles that have taxed some of the sharpest minds in the history of thought. What is an artwork? Who decides? Who gets to be an artist? When does a work of art become a work of art? Can we learn from art? Can art be evil? Does beauty matter? Is there a principled difference between art and entertainment? (or art and nature? art and philosophy? art and artisanship?) So many questions to consider! We will sort through these and more as we look at a range of views offered by a range of important philosophers. Doing so will allow you to develop your own personal conclusions on these topics. Much of this process will be an active-learning process, including your engagement with a number of art (and perhaps “near-art”) experiences in the world—watching, listening, and tasting as a thoughtful critic.

PHI 400: Selected Topics – Consciousness
TTH 2:00-3:20 Van Gulcik

Understanding Consciousness. We will investigate the nature and basis of consciousness. What is consciousness? How does it relate to non-conscious aspects of reality such as the physical and the neural? Many readings will be drawn from philosophy but also from neuroscience and psychology, and perhaps literature. A background question will be "What would count as understanding consciousness?"

PHI 401: Seminar for Philosophy Majors
TTH 2:00-3:20 Edwards

This is a special seminar restricted to philosophy majors, and usually taken in a student’s senior year. This iteration of the course will focus on issues in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind, and to a lesser extent some related issues in metaphysics and philosophy of science. Readings for the course will be some combination of books and papers. We will cover some material from the late 19th and early 20th century, a seminal text from the 1970’s, and at least one major work that has been published in the past few years.

PHI 422: 20th Century French/German Philosophy
T 5:00-7:50 Lambert

Following last year’s seminar on the 20th century critiques of European humanism, in this year’s sequence I will propose to cover three critiques of the subject: the subject of ideology, the subject of the unconscious, and the subject of history (i.e., the subjects of critical theory, psychoanalysis, and post-war French Marxism). Consequently, our itinerary will begin in Germany with early establishment of the “Frankfurt School”, but will veer toward France and pick up the post-war tradition of critical theory via the influences of the Lacanian school of psychoanalysis and Althusserian Marxist theory. Finally, we will conclude in the present with some of the the recent writings of the contemporary French philosopher Alain Badiou.

PHI 600: Professional Development Seminar
T 6:30-8:20 Bradley

The goal of this 2-credit seminar is to get ready for the academic job market. This means preparing all application materials, including CV, cover letter, dissertation abstract, writing sample, research statement, teaching portfolio, and diversity statement; creating a professional website; and practicing interview skills.

PHI 622: 20th-Century French/German Philosophy
T 5:00-7:50 Lambert

Following last year’s seminar on the 20th century critiques of European humanism, in this year’s sequence I will propose to cover three critiques of the subject: the subject of ideology, the subject of the unconscious, and the subject of history (i.e., the subjects of critical theory, psychoanalysis, and post-war French Marxism). Consequently, our itinerary will begin in Germany with early establishment of the “Frankfurt School”, but will veer toward France and pick up the post-war tradition of critical theory via the influences of the Lacanian school of psychoanalysis and Althusserian Marxist theory. Finally, we will conclude in the present with some of the the recent writings of the contemporary French philosopher Alain Badiou.

PHI 693: Proseminar: Moral and Political Philosophy
TH 3:30-6:15 Sobel

This course covers topics in normative ethics, metaethics, and political philosophy, focusing on relatively contemporary material. By design the course is a rather rushed introduction to a few selected topics in recent moral and political thought rather than either an in-depth investigation into a single topic or an attempt to canvas the entire range of topics in contemporary moral and political philosophy. The course is designed to prepare students for further graduate coursework in ethics and political philosophy. The readings listed are tentative and may change.

PHI 730: Seminar in Modern Philosophy - Kant's Critique of Pure Reason
W 6:45-9:30 Beiser

PHI 750.1: Seminar in Current Philosophical Problems - Language
M 3:45-6:30 Rieppel

Referential opacity is exhibited by a linguistic environment if the substitution of coreferring terms inside that environment can bring about a change in truth value. For example, while it is a priori knowable that Hesperus is Hesperus, it seems not to be a priori knowable that Phosphorus is Hes- perus, so ‘it is a priori knowable that’ creates an opaque environment. On the face of it, opacity looks like it gives rise to failures of Leibniz’s Law, since e.g. Hesperus and Phosphorus are one and the same, but seem not to share the property of being a priori knowable to be identical to Hespe- rus. And Quine argued that quantifying into opaque environments is incoherent, and that quantified modal logic should be rejected. In this seminar, we will look at issues to do with opacity, Leibniz’s Law, and quantifying-in in different contexts, focusing on attitude reports and epistemic modals. We will begin by working through some of the classic literature by philosophers like Frege, Quine, and Kaplan, and then move on to more recent engagements with the topic.

PHI 750.2: Seminar in Current Philosophical Problems - Methodology
W 3:45-6:30 Dowell

We will focus primarily on addressing three questions about intuitions and thought experiments, considering an array of different answers. What is the nature, content, and form of our intuitions? What probative value do they have and what is the source of that value? Under what conditions to they have such probative value? Call a package of answers to these questions a “philosophical methodology”. On each of the methodologies we’ll consider, intuitions are held to have modal content. This is the standard view. Given this, we will need to spend some time thinking about the epistemology of modality and the semantics of the expressions we use to express modal content. We will also consider a number of famous thought experiments in detail, considering what implications one or more of our different methodologies has for the philosophical force of each.

PHI 860: Seminar in Ethics - Animal Ethics
T 3:30-6:15 Bradley

This seminar will focus on attempts to incorporate non-human animals into moral theories. Some questions we may discuss include: Is it permissible to hunt or eat animals, or keep them in zoos or as pets? Do we have obligations to preserve endangered species, to help injured animals in the wild, or to keep animals from hurting other animals? What should I do with these cute annoying mice that keep moving into my basement? We will mainly focus on two recent books: Shelly Kagan’s How to Count Animals, More or Less, and Christine Korsgaard’s Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the Other Animals.