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The University Catalog contains a complete list of courses taught in the Philosophy Department.

Spring 2019

PHIL 4020/5020: British Ethical Theories from Sidgwick to Ewing
Professor Heathwood
MW 3:00-4:15
Can fulfill EITHER the Open History requirement OR the Value Theory requirement for the Ph.D. program (student’s choice), but not both.  Students who enroll should let Karen know which requirement they would like the course to fulfill. Fulfills the Ethics and Social or Political Philosophy requirement for the M.A. program.

A study of the important doctrines, arguments, and themes advanced among a group of British moral philosophers active in the late nineteenth century and first half of the twentieth century.  The most well-known and influential thinkers in the group are Henry Sidgwick, G.E. Moore, and W.D. Ross.  Other central figures include Hastings Rashdall, J.M.E. McTaggart, H.A. Prichard, E.F. Carritt, C.D. Broad, and A.C. Ewing.

Their primary contributions were in theoretical ethics, and in particular in the normative ethics of behavior, axiology, and metaethics.  In normative theory, they didn't form an entirely unified school: in the ethics of behavior, some were consequentialists, others deontologists; in axiology, some were hedonists, others pluralists.  They agreed more in metaethics: they were all non-naturalists and intuitionists.  They shared other commitments as well, such as about which moral concepts are central and a commitment to the idea of underivative moral truths.  As Thomas Hurka writes in his recent book on this school, "these shared views make the group a distinctive school in the history of moral philosophy, pursuing the subject differently than earlier writers such as Aristotle, Hobbes, and Kant and than many present-day ones."

Our main aim in the course is to understand and evalute the school's views and arguments.  We will also be interested in understanding the relations and influences among the members and among their ideas.  The course will be structured around Thomas Hurka's recent book, British Ethical Theorists from Sidgwick to Ewing, the organization of which is topical rather than by figure.  We will read Hurka's book chapter-by-chapter all the way through alongside relevant excerpts from the primary sources.

PHIL 5030: Greek Philosophical Texts
Professor Lee
Contact Professor Lee for meeting times/place

Selected readings in classical philosophy, with a focus on achieving fluency in reading philosophical Greek. May enroll in multiple selections in the same term. Repeatable for up to 8 total credit hours.

PHIL 5040: Latin Philosophical Texts
Professor Pasnau
Contact Professor Pasnau for meeting times/place

Selected readings in classical and medieval authors, in the original language. The focus is on achieving fluency in reading philosophical Latin. Repeatable for up to 7 credit hours.

PHIL 4260/5260: Philosophy of Law
Professor Talbot
TR 3:30-4:45
Fulfills the Value Theory requirement for the Ph.D. program and the Ethics and Social or Political Philosophy requirement for the M.A. program. 

First topic:  The ethics of collective activity in the legal context

The justification of legal practices often depends on goals that can only be achieved by collective or group activity

  • Often, typical acts of individual participation, taken by themselves, make no difference to the goals of the group activity, and can do serious harm in the individual case
  • We see this, e.g., in the justification of punishment:  the overall policy of legal punishment of general types of acts does have an effect on crime (although that connection is complicated), but typical individual acts of punishment won't have any effect on crime, and will be costly to the criminal
  • We also see this in discussions of judicial adherence ("correct" application of the law):  consistent adherence creates an effective, predictable system, and systematic deviation would be potentially very harmful; but a particular act of adherence will have little to no effect on the systematic goals and may be very costly to those involved in a case

Topic two:  The ethics of collective harm in the legal context

Collective legal activities can create harms to which individual activities don't make a significant causal difference

  • For example, individual sentences, or individual arrests, or individual uses of testimony in a particular case can be a piece of a systematic pattern of injustice without clearly making any significant difference to that larger pattern

We may also talk about how the law should deal with actions that create collective harm

  • E.g. should individual acts which, as a group, create marginalization be punished more stringently, even when the action itself does not make a noticeable contribution to marginalization? 

The course will cover issues connected to collective action and collective harm, which might include:

  • Do groups or collectives have moral obligations themselves?
  • When do individuals have obligations to participate in collective activity, or to avoid participating in the harms caused by collectives?
  • Do legal agents have special obligations to participate in collective activity, or to remedy collective harms?
  • When these obligations exist, how strong are they?

Second topic:

What should legal agents (judges, jurors, police officers, lawyers, etc) do when they think their legal requirements conflict with their moral requirements?

  • Note that they may be incorrect about this conflict.
  • This is especially interesting in the legal context, because almost everyone agrees that even ideal laws can't fully conform to moral requirements.  And everyone agrees that our actual laws are not ideal laws.
  • Possible examples we might discuss: jury nullification, judicial deviation from seemingly unjust laws

We'll likely discuss:

  • Under what conditions should we see the law as more reliable about moral matters than we are?
  • Do legal jobs create moral obligations to set aside one's own moral views?
  • How do moral uncertainty and moral ignorance affect moral reasons/obligations?
  • Does democracy sometimes require deference to the law (if so, under what conditions, and how strong is this requirement)?

PHIL 5550: Metaphysics and Epistemology Proseminar
Professor Forbes et al.
R 5:00-7:30
Restricted to first year Philosophy graduate students only; fulfills the Metaphysics and Epistemology requirement for the Ph.D. program and the M.A. program.

The M&E Proseminar, PHIL 5550, is designed to allow graduate students to acquire some background in M&E topics before taking specific M&E courses. It's team taught, in S19 by Cleland, Forbes, Pasnau and Saucedo. Each of these will present material on their chosen topic, as follows:

Cleland: Philosophical thought about scientific methodology:  Logical empiricism, proof, and probability; Popper's falsificationism and its woes; Kuhn's radical rethinking of scientific methodology; the post-Kuhnian world of philosophy of science (overhauling traditional ideas about scientific justification and objectivity)

Forbes: Modal logic for philosophy: I will cover sentential systems of modal logic, quantified S5 and counterfactuals.

Pasnau: Recent developments in epistemology, focusing especially on contextualism and pragmatic encroachment.

Saucedo: More logic for philosophy: an introduction to advanced topics in predication and quantification, and selected themes in non-classical systems.

Work associated with the modules will be in the form of either problems-sets or a short paper.

PHIL 5800: Epistemology
Professor Staffel
TR 2:00-3:15
Fulfills the Metaphysics and Epistemology requirement for the Ph.D. program and the M.A. program.

This class is intended to be an introduction to some central topics in formal epistemology. Formal epistemology is a relatively recent branch of epistemology, which uses formal tools such as logic and probability theory in order to answer questions about the nature of rational belief. An important feature that distinguishes formal epistemology from traditional epistemology is not just its use of formal tools, but also its understanding of the nature of belief. Traditional epistemology tends to focus almost exclusively on what is called ‘outright belief’, where the options considered are just belief, disbelief, or suspension of judgment. By contrast, it is widely accepted among formal epistemologists that this conception of belief is too coarse-grained to capture the rich nature of our doxastic attitudes. They posit that humans also have degrees of belief, or credences, which can take any value between full certainty that something is true, and certainty that it is false. To see why this makes sense, consider the fact that we can have outright beliefs in various propositions, but still have varying degrees of certainty in them. For example, I believe that 2+2=4, and that Freddy Mercury was born in Zanzibar, but I am much more certain of the former than the latter. This can be captured elegantly in a framework that allows for both outright and graded belief.

The shift in focus towards degrees of belief has generated a rich research program, parts of which integrate with issues in traditional epistemology, and parts of which are specific to the debate about degrees of belief. Important questions in the field are for example: How are degrees of belief related to outright beliefs? What constraints are there on rational degrees of belief, and how can they be defended? How can we adequately represent degrees of belief in a formal framework? How do ideal epistemological norms bear on what non-ideal agents like us ought to believe? The results of these debates are relevant for many areas of philosophy besides epistemology, such as philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and practical reasoning.

No special prior knowledge of formal methods is required that goes beyond familiarity with propositional logic.

PHIL 6000: Seminar in History of Philosophy: Plato's Theaetetus and Philebus
Professor Lee
M 5:00-7:30
Fulfills the Classical Philosophy History requirement for the Ph.D. program and the History of Philosophy requirement for the M.A. program. 

This seminar will focus on two quite different Platonic dialogues, the Theaetetus and the Philebus, to show how Plato in his mature thinking moved beyond some of the more familiar ideas in ethics, metaphysics and epistemology of his earlier period.
The Theaetetus is the only dialogue devoted to the question of knowledge (epistêmê) in Plato. It revisits and revises numerous ideas about knowledge in earlier works such as the Meno, Phaedo, Republic, and Timaeus. In the Theaetetus, Socrates and his interlocutors develop —and then reject — three main answers to the question ‘what is knowedge?’: (i) knowledge is perception, (ii) knowledge is true belief or judgment, (iii) knowledge is true belief with an account (logos).

The Philebus is another late Platonic dialogue, this one focused on the question of which life is the best: the life of pleasure or the life of knowledge. Famously, Socrates answers that neither one is best for humans—rather, you need to a blend or mix of the two. This important but difficult dialogue contains numerous influential ideas, including a new approach to the metaphysics of forms, the seeds of the idea of eudaimonism (which would have an enormous influence on Aristotle), as well as a rethinking of Plato’s earlier and overly simplistic ideas about the merits of pleasure as well as contemplation.

PHIL 6100: Seminar in Ethics: Metaethics: Internalism versus Externalism about Moral Motivation, and the Structure of Normative Reasons
Professor Norcross
T 5:00-7:30
Fulfills the Value Theory requirement for the Ph.D. program and the Ethics and Social or Political Philosophy requirement for the M.A. program.

This seminar will cover two topics in metaethics. In the first half of the semester, we will examine the debate over the relation between moral judgment and moral motivation. We will read Michael Smith’s The Moral Problem, and various articles. In the second half of the semester, we will focus on the structure of moral reasons, by working through the manuscript of my forthcoming book Morality By Degrees: Reasons Without Demands.

Fall 2018

PHIL 5100: Proseminar in Values
Professor Jaggar et al.
SEC 001 W 5:00-7:30 HLMS 177
Restricted to first year Philosophy graduate students only.

PHIL 5030: Greek Philosophical Texts
Professor Lee
Contact Professor Lee for meeting times/place

PHIL 5040: Latin Philosophical Texts
Professor Pasnau
Contact Professor Pasnau for meeting times/place

PHIL 4030/5020: Topics in the History of Philosophy: Medieval Philosophy
Professor Pasnau
SEC 001 TR 3:30-4:45 HUMN 125

This course will be a survey of medieval philosophy, ranging over ethics, mind, and metaphysics, and covering both the Latin and the Arabic traditions. It will be mainly aimed at undergraduate majors (as PHIL 4030), but might be suitable for graduate students who have not previously had the chance to get an overview of medieval philosophy.

PHIL 4200/5200: Political Philosophy: Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Global Justice
Professor Jaggar
SEC 001 MW 3:00-4:15 MCOL E155

This course will study the tensions between the global regime of international law and human rights, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the rise of contemporary nationalisms. New forms of global governance seem to be required by the ever-increasing integration of the global economy and the recognition that many environmental problems cross national borders. Yet today we see a resurgence of xenophobia and nationalism, with calls to guard our borders and ways of life.

The tensions between these two approaches to global governance emerge in many conflicts over land, language, and culture. We will study the philosophical aspects of a tangle of related issues including: moral bases for territorial claims, cultural integrity, migration, responsibility for global inequality, military humanitarian intervention, and reparations for colonialism.

PHIL 5360: Metaphysics: Metaphysics of Time
Professor Demarest
SEC 001 T 5:00-7:30 HLMS 177

What does it mean for time to flow, and what does the direction of time have to do with flow? What do special and general relativity imply about time, and does quantum entanglement have any implications for time (or time-ordering of events). We will cover the 'Mentaculus' thesis that time can be derived from nothing more than statistical mechanics and the big bang. We will also discuss what time has to do with personal identity. We’ll read current articles on these topics, as well as a few classics, and there will be a term paper.

PHIL 4440/5440: Topics in Logic
Professor Forbes
SEC 001 TR 11:00-12:15 HLMS 177

The course is designed mainly with the needs of philosophy majors/ minors and graduates in mind. For philosophy majors or minors, a grade of at least B+ in Phil 2440 (Symbolic Logic) or some equivalent is recommended. Any undergraduate who doesn’t satisfy this condition but who plans to enroll should first seek the advice of the instructor.

Course Description: The aim of the course is to present proofs of soundness and completeness results for sentential and first-order systems of natural deduction of the kind commonly taught in Phil 2440. The particular focus will be the Gentzen-style systems of my Phil 2440 textbook Modern Logic (OUP 1994). As time permits, we will look at some first-order model theory beyond the completeness proofs, up to and including properties of non-standard models of arithmetic.

Textbook: Logic and Metalogic for Philosophers, by Graeme Forbes (available in the bookstore in late summer).

Homework assignments will be set on a regular basis and graded, course grades being based on these. The assignments for those taking the course at the 4440 level may sometimes be different from those for the 5440 level.

PHIL 4800/5800: Open Topics: The Epistemology of Testimony
Professor Steup
SEC 001 TR 3:30-4:45 HLMS 245

There are interesting parallels between the epistemology of perception and the epistemology of testimony. When the liquid in a cup tastes like coffee, you have a perceptual experience. Under which conditions does such an experience give you justification for believing that there is coffee in the cup? Dogmatists say: Perceptual experiences are necessarily a source of (defeasible) justification. There are no conditions under which the liquid’s tasting like coffee fails to give you a reason to believe there is coffee in the cup. Conservatives say: Perceptual experiences are a source of justification provided you have no reason to distrust them. On that view, the liquid’s tasting like coffee gives you justification for believing there is coffee in the cup as long as you have no negative reason to think the experience is deceptive. Credentialists say: Perceptual experiences are a source of justification only if you have reasons to trust them. According to them, the liquid’s tasting like coffee gives you justification for believing there is coffee in the cup only if you have positive reasons to consider this experience trustworthy or reliable.

In the epistemology of testimony, we find the same dialectic. Suppose Jane tells you that the liquid in the cup is coffee. Under which conditions does the Jane’s assertion give you justification for believing there is coffee in the cup? Dogmatists say: Testimony is always a source of (defeasible) justification. There are no conditions under which Jane’s assertion fails to give you a (defeasible) reason to believe the liquid in the cup is coffee. Conservatives say: Testimony is a source of justification as long as there is no negative reason to consider it untrustworthy. Jane’s assertion is a reason to believe there is coffee in the cup provided you have no negative reasons for not trusting what she told you. Credentialists say: Testimony is a source of justification only if you have evidence of its reliability. Jane’s assertion is a reason to believe the liquid in the cup is coffee only if you have positive reasons to consider her testimony trustworthy.

In this course/seminar, we will examine the reasons for and against each of these theories about testimony, and also discuss various other issues that arise in the epistemology of testimony. Readings: Paul Faulkner: Knowledge on Trust (OUP 2011). Jennifer Lackey: Learning from Words (OUP 2008). Lackey & Sosa (eds.): The Epistemology of Testimony (OUP 2006).

PHIL 4260/5260: Philosophy of Law
MWF 2:00-2:50 HLMS 177
Professor Wingo

"Philosophy of Law" can refer to a wide range of philosophical topics related to the law.  In this course we will be especially concerned with the moral foundations of law and moral questions that arise when thinking about the law, especially the constitutional law of the United States.

Some Topics we will cover include:

  1. Natural Law Theory
  2. Legal Positivism
  3. Legal Realism
  4. Law and the Limits of Individual Liberty
  5. Human Dignity and the Law
  6. American Constitution: The original Intent and the Constitution as a living Document  
  7. Civic Education and the Law

PHIL 5290: Topics in Values and Social Policy
T 5:00-7:30, HLMS 177
Professor Boonin

This seminar will focus on topics in sexual ethics that have an important bearing on social policy.  A significant portion of the course will be devoted to questions about sexual consent.  Examples include: Can the threat of emotional harm suffice to render consent invalid? (e.g. “if you don’t agree to have sex with me, I’ll break up with you”).  Does the threat of physical harm suffice to render consent given to a third party invalid? (e.g. if A says to B “if you don’t agree to have sex with C, I’ll beat you up,” and if B agrees to have sex with C as a result, is the consent to sex that B gives to C valid?).  Can deception about relatively minor matters suffice to render consent invalid? (e.g., lying about one’s job to get someone to agree to sex).  Under what conditions, if any, is it permissible to have sex with someone whose consent is given while they are moderately intoxicated?  Does a young child’s inability to give valid consent to sex suffice to justify prohibitions on pedophilia?  Is it permissible to continue having sex with a long-term partner if they develop severe dementia and are no longer able to provide valid consent?  Are people who have severe cognitive disabilities from birth morally precluded from having sex if they never develop the competence to consent to it?  Do certain kinds of power asymmetries (e.g., between therapist and patient, or between clergy person and congregant) undermine the validity of sexual consent?  Can some offers be so irresistible that they render consent invalid? (e.g., “I’ll give you ten million dollars if you have sex with me”).

Other topics in sexual ethics to be covered include sadomasochism, “virtual” child pornography (made with computer images or with young adults posing as children), voyeurism, necrophilia, and prostitution.  Time permitting, we will also consider a few issues in procreative ethics, including abortion, anti-natalism, and commercial surrogacy.  Readings for the unit on sexual consent will include works by Alan Wertheimer, Sarah Conly, Tom Dougherty, Heidi Hurd, Joel Feinberg, Hallie Liberto, and Igor Primoratz.  Readings on other topics to be covered include works by Elizabeth Anderson, David Benatar, Judith Jarvis Thomson, Don Marquis, Debra Satz, John Corvino, and Rivka Weinberg.

PHIL 4340/5340: Epistemology
TR 3:30-4:45
Professor Huemer

PHIL 4490/5490: Philosophy of Language
MW 3:00-4:15, HLMS 177
Professor Forbes

The course will focus on semantic and pragmatic aspects of linguistic meaning, and the difference between the two.

Example: you are serving on a search committee in the Department of Mathematics. The appointment is to be at the Assistant Professor level, for a specialist in differential geometry. Dr. Y has applied, and you await a letter of reference from Professor X, Y’s Ph.D. supervisor. X’s letter arrives. It reads in its entirety: Dr. Y is always polite and well-dressed, and has very neat handwriting. You conclude that X’s opinion is that Dr. Y is not a great differential geometer. Semantics tells us what the literal meaning of X’s letter is. The literal meaning concerns Dr. Y’s personal manner, tailoring, and legibility of writing. But pragmatics enriches this meaning to “Dr. Y would be a really bad choice for your position.” Somehow, the irrelevance of the literal meaning in the context (it wouldn’t be so irrelevant if we run the clock back a thousand years and suppose Y is applying for a position transcribing manuscripts in a monastery) combines with general principles about conversation to generate a total message about something — Y’s ability as a differential geometer — that the letter never even mentions.

Semantics explains how the literal meaning is arrived at. Pragmatics explains how the total message is generated from the literal meaning.

The central concept of semantics is that of compositionality, which goes back to Frege: the meaning of a complex phrase is derived in a systematic way from the meanings of its syntactic constituents. In the first part of the course we will work through an elementary version of a compositional semantic theory, known as type-logical semantics (TLG). The text for this is an introduction to semantics, Formal Models of Fregean Compositionality, by the instructor, and will be available in the campus bookstore in January.

The central concept of pragmatics is that of conversational implicature, due to Grice. Grice’s original paper, Logic and Conversation, will be distributed during the semester, as will several other readings.

The course grade will be based on homework problems set in the first part of the course, and a paper set at the end of the second.

Most of the course will be unintelligible to students who haven’t taken PHIL 2440 (Symbolic Logic) or an equivalent.

PHIL 5550: Proseminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology
R 5:00-7:30 HLMS 177
Professor Pasnau et al.
Open to first-year Philosophy graduate students only.

PHIL 6000: Seminar in History of Philosophy: Early-Modern Metaphysics
TR 2:00-3:15 HLMS 177
Professor Kaufman

Topics: Individuation/Identity, Free Will and Necessity.
Philosophers: Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Bramhall, Cavendish, Locke, Leibniz, Boyle, Cordemoy, Conway, More, Digby, (maybe) Cudworth, and perhaps some currently lesser-known authors.


  • 1 seminar presentation
  • 1 short (2-4 pages) paper, on an assigned topic or question. Due mid-semester.
  • 1 term paper (roughly 15-25 pages)
  • Annotated bibliography

PHIL 5010: Advanced Topics in Aristotle
Professor Lee
MWF 1:00-1:50, HLMS 255
This course will be an advanced survey course on Aristotle. We will cover the following topics in Aristotle: (i) Aristotle’s theory of dialectic and argument, (ii) what is distinctive about his syllogistic and theory of deductive argument? (iii) Aristotle’s concept of proof and his epistemology, (iv) Aristotle’s early ontology, (v) did Aristotle recognize the principle of bivalence or any other principle as a “logical principle”? (vi) Aristotle’s metaphysics—his concept of explanation and cause, his concept of ‘metaphysics’, what kind of principle is the principle of non-contradiction and how does Aristotle argue for it?, his theory of substance, matter and form, his concepts of potentiality and actuality, his theology, with his theory of unmoved movers and of God; (vii) Aristotle’s philosophy of science and biology, (viii) Aristotle’s psychology, (ix) Aristotle’s ethics and politics. This course is designed for advanced philosophy majors and for philosophy graduate students. Prerequisites: Undergraduates should not take this before taking PHIL 3000, and should have taken 4 philosophy courses before taking this course. If you have questions, please contact mitzi.lee@colorado.edu. The required text for this course is J.L. Ackrill’s  A New Aristotle Reader (Princeton 1987).

PHIL 5030: Greek Philosophical Texts
Professor Lee
SEC 001
Contact Professor Lee for meeting information.

PHIL 5040: Latin Philosophical Texts
Professor Pasnau
SEC 001
Contact Professor Pasnau for meeting information.

PHIL 5100 Values Proseminar
Professor Jaggar; Professor Norcross; Professor Boonin
W 5:00-7:30, HLMS 177
Restricted to incoming Philosophy graduate students only.

PHIL 5120: Philosophy and Animals
Professor Norcross
TR 12:30-1:45, HLMS 196
This course will focus on ethical issues arising out of humans’ treatment of nonhuman animals. We will begin with a consideration of the ethics of eating animals, and then move on to discuss issues arising in connection with the use of animals in research. We will conclude with a variety of issues connected with Tom Regan’s rights-based approach to animal ethics.
Graduate students, who sign up for PHIL 5120, will also read Peter Carruthers’ Book The Animals Issue, and take part in extra graduate-only weekly meetings.

PHIL 5240/ENVS 5240: Seminar in Environmental Philosophy
Professor Hale
M 2:30-5:00, SEEC S125
This course is structured to address underlying theoretical concerns of environmental scientists and policy analysts, as well as to bring environmental philosophers “back down to earth.”  As such, it aims to strike a balance between the abstract and the practical. Because of its unique student composition -- approximately one third environmental scientists, one third environmental policy and law students, and one third philosophers -- discussions tend toward “on the ground” issues.  They follow a trajectory away from big picture views toward more nuanced analytical philosophy.  Nevertheless, all of the readings are firmly rooted in environmental philosophy. 

PHIL 5460: Modal Logic
Professor Forbes
TR 3:30-4:45, HLMS 263
Many of the central problems of philosophy crucially involve the modal concepts of possibility and necessity. For example, the problem of free will is the problem whether it was in any sense possible to have acted differently from the way one did; the problem of causation is whether there is any sense in which a cause necessitates its effect; various issues about reducibility turn on whether facts of one kind could have been different without there being any difference in facts of some other kind; and so on.

Nowadays, proper discussion of these and other issues requires some familiarity with the logic of possibility and necessity, or modal logic, as it is known. This course imparts the required familiarity. After a review of non-modal sentential logic, we will begin with the standard system of sentential modal logic, S5. Following a review of non-modal first-order logic, we will then investigate other systems of sentential modal logic. In the second part of the course we extend sentential S5 to first-order S5, and we will investigate a number of topics of philosophical interest, including quantification and existence, possibilist quantifiers, the actuality operator, the de re/de dicto distinction, and counterpart theory.

Grades will be based on homework assignments set at the end of each class.

PHIL 5800: Open Topics in Philosophy:  Studies in 20th-Century Analytic Philosophy
Professor Saucedo
TR 9:30-10:45, MCOL E155
The course will be an in-depth study of a few core themes in the intersection of logic and metaphysics throughout the 20th century. Readings from Boole, Cantor, Frege, McTaggart, Bradley, Moore, Russell, Whitehead, Wittgenstein, Quine, Kripke, Boolos, Lewis, and Fine. Restricted to graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Prerequisites: must have gotten a grade of B+ or better in PHIL 2440. Highly advisable to have taken PHIL 3480 and at least one of the following: PHIL 4300, PHIL 4340, PHIL 4360, PHIL 4400, PHIL 4440, PHIL 4450, PHIL 4460, PHIL 4490.
PHIL 6400: Seminar in Philosophy of Science
Professor Cleland
T 5:00-7:30, SEEC N128

"The Quest for a Universal Theory of Life"

Course Description
This course is designed for graduate students in both philosophy and the sciences. It presupposes no background in either science or philosophy. The purpose is to get science and philosophy graduate students discussing issues about life that cross disciplinary boundaries. The class is based upon my forthcoming book, The Quest for a Universal Theory of Life (under contract with Cambridge University Press), chapters of which will be assigned, along with readings by other authors, for class discussion.  The first half of the course will focus on philosophical issues such as the influence of Aristotelian ideas about life on contemporary scientific thought about the origin and nature of life, the nature of definition, the structure, function and development of scientific theories, and the 'N=1 problem' of biology.  The second half of the course brings these philosophical issues to bear on contemporary scientific issues about life, ranging from the status of artificial (soft, hard, and wet) life, the scientific plausibility of a shadow biosphere (microbial Earth life descended from an alternative origin of life), searching for extraterrestrial life, and prospects for rethinking the foundations of biology from a more microbial perspective.

A term paper (10-20 pages in length) will be due at the end of the semester. Students will be asked to write a 5-page prospectus for their term paper, which will be returned with extensive comments, and provide a short class presentation relating to material in their term paper; prospectuses and presentations will be distributed across the semester depending upon the focus of a student's interests.

Spring 2017

Courses at the 5000 and 6000 levels require graduate standing in philosophy unless otherwise indicated.

PHIL 5030: Greek Philosophical Texts
SEC 001

PHIL 5040: Latin Philosophical Texts
SEC 001

PHIL 5110: Contemporary Moral Theory
SEC 001, TR 3:30-4:45, HLMS 237
Prof. Fileva
We will begin this course with a central problem in metaethics, that of the role of reason versus emotion in moral judgment: Do emotions cause moral judgments? Are emotions themselves moral judgments? Is moral understanding possible without moral emotions?

In the second part of the course, we will focus on contemporary work by deontologists and consequentialists. As we will see, the debate over the role of reason and emotion in moral judgment has implications for the deonotlogy-consequentialism debate. For instance, it has been argued that deontology is based on emotion while consequentialism is based on at least partly emotion-independent reasoning.
In part three, we will discuss virtue and moral goodness and the relationship between these two, on the one hand, and and moral rightness, on the other. We will begin this part by asking what makes certain character traits virtues and whether virtue ethics is an alternative to deontology and consequentialism as has been traditionally held. Here, we will draw on work on virtue not only by contemporary virtue ethicists but by Kantians and consequentialists as well. After getting a handle on virtue's relationship to deontology and consequentialism, we will ask whether being a virtuous person is the same as being a good person as ordinarily understood, and if not, how the two are different.  
In the fourth and last part of the course, we will take a careful look at the so-called  unvirtuous emotions: envy, jealousy, anger, and so on. We will inquire into their nature and causes, their fittingness from the viewpoint of practical rationality, and the  moral assessment appropriate to them and the agents who feel them.   

PHIL 5300: Philosophy of Mind
SEC 001, TR 2:00-3:15, HLMS 237
Prof. Rupert
In this course, we will address three families of questions. The first pertains to mental content: How do our thoughts get their meaning? Do we have direct access to the contents of our thoughts? Is thought-content essentially normative? The second concerns the relation between the mental domain and the universe as it’s depicted by contemporary natural science: How could a mental state cause physical behavior? Could distinctively mental phenomena appear in a world composed ultimately of nothing more than “atoms in the void”? The third focuses on consciousness in particular: How could conscious experiences appear in a physical world? Do conscious experiences have irreducible qualitative character? How is conscious experience connected to the self? We’ll read one to two essays per week, according to a schedule to be announced in class as we move along.
Textbook: B. McLaughlin and J. Cohen (Eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007)

PHIL 5450: History and Philosophy of Physics
SEC 001, TR 11:00-12:15, DUAN G2B41
Prof. Franklin

PHIL 5550: M&E Proseminar
Restricted to first-year Philosophy graduate students only.
SEC 001, R 5:00-7:30, HLMS 177
Prof. Saucedo

PHIL 6000: Seminar in the History of Philosophy: Epistemology from Descartes to Hume
SEC 001, W 5:00-7:30, HLMS 177
Prof. Pasnau
This seminar will look closely at some of the most famous episodes in epistemology after the decline of scholasticism. We will spend roughly
four weeks each on Descartes, Locke, and Hume, and devote a bit of time to some lesser known figures from that era. Topics of particular
interest will be the structure of skeptical arguments, strategies for responding to skepticism, the role of evidence, the status of probability as an alternative to certainty, and the place of 'knowledge', 'science', and other epistemic terms.

Note that this is not intended as an overview of this familiar subject. We will be looking carefully at selected texts, and going deeply into the secondary literature. The class will take for granted a solid background familiarity with the core texts from this period. (Students unsure whether they have sufficient background should consult with the instructor about preparatory readings over winter break.)

PHIL 6100: Seminar in Ethics: Metaethics
SEC 001, T 5:00-7:30, HLMS 177
Prof. Norcross
This is a seminar on some of the central issues in metaethics. We will be looking at some of the debate over realism, expressivism, practical reason, normativity, and the meanings of moral terms. In slightly more detail, this means that we will be considering the following questions: Are moral claims straightforwardly true or false, in the same sense that descriptive claims about the physical world are (e.g. “the table is rectangular”, “The Rock of Gibraltar is larger than Dwayne ’The Rock’ Johnson”). Do moral claims attribute mind-independent properties to features of the natural world (e.g. moral agents, actions, etc.), and, if so, are any of them non-trivially true or false? Do moral claims express attitudes of approval or disapproval of the speakers? Are moral claims essentially prescriptive? Are moral judgments essentially motivating? Do moral facts, if they exist, provide reasons for action? Are there other kinds of reasons for action? Can different kinds of reasons for action (if there is more than one kind) be compared with each other? This is state-of-the-art cutting-edge metaethics. It also kicks ass (and takes names).

PHIL 6340: Seminar in Epistemology
SEC 002, M 5:00-7:30, HLMS 177
Prof. Steup
This seminar will focus on perceptual knowledge and skepticism. We will discuss the following theories: (i) the relevant alternative theory and closure denial (Dretske, Stine), (ii) contextualism (Cohen, DeRose vs. Conee and Brown as a critics), dogmatism and phenomenal conservatism (Huemer, Pryor), anti-dogmatic non-evidential conservatism (Wright), and holism (Cohen). We will also focus on the problem of easy knowledge (Cohen, Markie, Pryor). Some of the papers we will discuss can be found in two recent collections: Chris Tucker: Seemings and Justification. New Essays on Dogmatism and Phenomenal Conservatism (Oxford 2013), and Dylan Dodd & Elia Zardini: Sceptism and Perceptual Justification (Oxford, 2014).

Fall 2016

Courses at the 5000 and 6000 levels require graduate standing in philosophy unless otherwise indicated.

  • PHIL 5010: Advanced Topics in Plato
    TR 2:00-3:45, HLMS 245
    Prof. Lee
    This course will concentrate on the issues of law and virtue in Plato's Crito, Statesman, and the Laws. The course presupposes the equivalent of PHIL 3000 History of Ancient Greek Philosophy, and in particular, a basic acquaintance with Plato.
  • PHIL 5040: Latin Philosophical Texts
  • PHIL 5100: Ethics Proseminar
    Restricted to incoming graduate students only; required for all incoming PhDs
    R 5:00-7:30, HLMS 177
    Prof. Jaggar et al.
  • PHIL 5360: Metaphysics
    MWF 2:00-2:50, MCOL E155
    Prof. Oddie
    Metaphysics concerns the elements of being and their nature -- including (amongst other entities) properties, particulars, sets, relations, states of affairs, events, actions, numbers, functions, procedures, proofs, possibilities, connections and values. Different metaphysical theories posit different fundamental elements and attempt to construct a complete account of what is in terms of the fundaments. We will begin with the problem of universals and particulars and investigate a range of realist and nominalist theories. This will lead on naturally to an investigation of the nature of existence, wholes and parts, modality, causation and value.
  • PHIL 5440 Topics in Logic: Mathematical Logic
    TR 3:30-4:45, HLMS 177
    Prof. Forbes
    The course is designed mainly with the needs of philosophy majors/minors and graduates in mind. For philosophy majors or minors, a grade of at least B+ in Phil 2440 (Symbolic Logic) or some equivalent is recommended. Any other undergraduate who plans to enroll should seek the advice of the instructor.

    Course Description: The aim of the course is to present proofs of soundness and completeness results for sentential and first-order systems of natural deduction of the kind commonly taught in Phil 2440. The particular focus will be the Gentzen-style systems of my Phil 2440 textbook Modern Logic (OUP 1994). As time permits, we will look at some first-order model theory beyond the completeness proofs, up to and including properties of non-standard models of arithmetic.

  • PHIL 5450: History and Philosophy of Physics
    MWF 11:00-11:50, DUAN G2B21
    Dr. Vistarini
  • PHIL 6100: Seminar in Ethics
    MW 5:00-6:15, HLMS 177
    Prof. Jaggar

    This is a course in moral methodology. It will examine contemporary accounts of public reasoning, with special attention to the possibility of cross-cultural moral discussion in contexts of diversity and inequality. How can moral criticism of social practices be validated, especially the practices of other cultures? Do universal moral standards exist? If so, how can they be known? Who has the standing to criticize which social practices? Are practices of reasoning themselves culturally biased? Is it possible to avoid both cultural relativism and cultural imperialism?

    We will discuss a variety of topics and models proposed for adjudicating moral claims. They include but are not limited to:

  • Thinking from the original position
  • Communitarianism
  • Discourse ethics
  • The ethics of care
  • Liberal reasonableness
  • Human rights
  • Capabilities theory
  • Ideal and non-ideal theory
  • Intuitionism, trolley problems and experimental philosophy
  • Naturalizing moral philosophy
  • The revival of pragmatism

 Students will write five reading responses and a final paper.


Spring 2016


Courses at the 5000 and 6000 levels require graduate standing in philosophy unless otherwise indicated.

  • 5040 Latin Philosophical Texts
  • 5100 Proseminar in Values
    5:00-7:30 R HLMS 196
    Profs. Boonin, Heathwood, Hosein, Jaggar, Norcross
    This team-taught proseminar will consist of a study of five important books in the analytic tradition:
    • Henry Sidgwick's The Methods of Ethics (1874/1907) [Norcross]
    • W.D. Ross' The Right and the Good (1930) [Heathwood]
    • John Rawls' A Theory of Justice (1971) [Hosein]
    • Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons (1984) [Boonin].
    • Elizabeth Anderson's The Imperative of Integration (2010) [Jaggar]
    • Closed admission proseminar course. Required of all first-year PhD students; recommended for all first-year MAs.
  • 5290 Topics in Values and Social Policy
    2:00-3:15 TR HLMS 196
    Prof. Wingo
    This Seminar will concentrate on freedom as a normative as well as an operative concept. We shall examine the cross-cultural conceptions of freedom by way of its philosophical and historical bases. The essence of the seminar will be to use this political kernel, freedom, as a place holder to make sense of other associated central political concepts such as democracy, happiness, justice, equality and human rights.
  • 6000 Seminar in the History of Philosophy
    5:00-7:30 W HLMS 177
    Prof. Bailey
  • 6100 Seminar in Ethics: Happiness
    5:00-7:30 M HLMS 177
    Prof. Heathwood
    An ongoing concern of the course will be the extent to which a theory of the nature happiness makes plausible the view that happiness is a fundamental intrinsic good. Another concern will be whether there is even a single phenomenon that we are inquiring into, or whether 'happy' is importantly ambiguous. If there is time, we may look at two further topics. One is evaluative: Is a happiness theory of well-being plausible? The other concerns the empirical study of happiness: Can empirical science shed light on the nature of happiness?; What assumptions about the nature of happiness are implicit in the ways in which psychologists measure happiness?; How do these assumptions affect the significance of the results of empirical studies of happiness?
  • 6380 Metaphysics
    5:00-7:30 T HLMS 196
    Prof. Huemer
    This course will examine puzzles surrounding the infinite and related matters. Seventeen paradoxes of the infinite will be discussed, and we will attempt to resolve each of them. Theoretical questions to be considered include: why are some infinite series completable and others not? Is anything actually infinite, or are there only "potential infinities"? Are there such things as infinite numbers? What are numbers anyway? What are sets? Do geometric points really exist? Readings will include a forthcoming book on the infinite authored by the instructor.



Fall 2015

  • Single Philosophy: Kant
  • Greek Philosophical Texts
  • Latin Philosophical Texts
  • Topics in Values and Social Policy
  • Modal Logic
  • Metaphysics and Epistemology Proseminar
  • Metaphysics

Spring 2015

  • Single Philosopher: Leibniz
  • Philosophy and Animals
  • Aristotle's Ethics
  • Moral Psychology and the Self
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Metaphysics

Fall 2014

  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
  • 17th Century Philosophy
  • Metaphysics

Spring 2014

  • Single Philosopher: Nietzsche
  • Single Philosopher: Plato
  • Contemporary Moral Theory
  • Political Freedom
  • Metaphysics
  • Mathematical Logic
  • M&E Proseminar
  • 17th Century Philosophy
  • Philosophy, Economics, and the Environment

Fall 2013

  • Single Philosopher: Rousseau
  • Ethics
  • Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • Bioethics and Public Policy
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Epistemology
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Modal Logic
  • Aristotle M&E

Spring 2013

  • Descartes and 17th-Century Metaphysics
  • Hellenistic Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Law
  • M&E Proseminar
  • Aristotle's Ethics
  • Democratic Theory
  • Philosophy of Mind

Fall 2012

  • Single Philosopher: Plato
  • Single Philospher: Hobbes
  • Classic Texts in Analytic Ethics
  • Probability and Rational Choice
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Medieval Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Race
  • Reduction, Supervenience, and Emergence

Spring 2012

  • Kant
  • Philosophy and Animals
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • God, Freedom, and Evil
  • Aristotle's M&E
  • Justice and Institutions
  • Issues and Methods in Cognitive Science
  • Truth and Truthmakers

Fall 2011

  • Plato
  • Classic Texts in Analytic Ethics
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Modal Logic
  • Seminar in Ethics: Welfare

Spring 2011

  • Kant
  • Aquinas
  • Contemporary Moral Theory
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Empire
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Philosopy of Mind
  • Metaethics
  • Philosophy of Language: Identity

Fall 2010

  • Plato
  • Nietzsche
  • Classic Texts in Analytic Ethics
  • Philosophy of Law
  • History and Philosophy of Physics
  • Seminar on the Nature of Life
  • Philosophy of Language