2nd Courses in Philosophy

Second courses in Philosophy are designed for non-majors who would like to pursue philosophical questions beyond their introduction to philosophy. These courses typically focus on a sub-field of philosophy, to enable students to focus in on areas of interest in a way which is not possible in the typical introduction to philosophy.

We offer courses across every major field of philosophy; among the most commonly offered courses have been courses in the philosophy of science, in ethics and political philosophy, and in the philosophy of religion. All of the courses listed below satisfy the University Philosophy Requirement.

Spring 2019

Philosophy of Human Nature
20201 01 (23690)
D. Cory
2:00-3:15 MW
Cross-listed with STV 20201-01

What am I? The question is so fundamental that everything we do is an expression of what we implicitly think the answer is. Philosophy of Human Nature seeks to explicate and refine our answers to that question by engaging with the best and most serious answers that that have been given on the subject. The course will address some key problems about the human person. For example: What makes humans distinctive from other animals? Does talk of souls still make sense in the age of neuroscience? Are human beings really free? Does human life have a purpose or meaning? Are we the (only) ones who give human life meaning? To answer these questions, we will consider some of the major classical theories (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke) on what the human person is, i.e. a mind, a soul, a body, or some combination of the above.


Philosophy of Human Nature
20201 02 (23689)
D. Cory
3:30-4:45 MW

What am I? The question is so fundamental that everything we do is an expression of what we implicitly think the answer is. Philosophy of Human Nature seeks to explicate and refine our answers to that question by engaging with the best and most serious answers that that have been given on the subject. The course will address some key problems about the human person. For example: What makes humans distinctive from other animals? Does talk of souls still make sense in the age of neuroscience? Are human beings really free? Does human life have a purpose or meaning? Are we the (only) ones who give human life meaning? To answer these questions, we will consider some of the major classical theories (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke) on what the human person is, i.e. a mind, a soul, a body, or some combination of the above.


Existentialist Themes
20201 02 (23689)
Norton
12:30-1:45 TR
Cross-listed with GE 20430 01

In this class, we will consider existentialism as a European phenomenon that for our purposes begins in the early and mid-nineteenth century with Søren Kierkegaard and Fyodor Dostoyevsky and continues in the works of several German and French thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus and Simone Weil.  We will consider some of the principal themes of existentialism—the primacy of authenticity, the pervasiveness of “dread” or Angst, the inescapability of the absurd—and explore them through a number of representative works of philosophy, literature and film.


Philosophy of Life
20204 01 (31055)
Aslan
12:30-1:45 TR

In contemporary teaching, philosophy has become “technical” presented through the philosophical concepts and the philosophical systems of the great thinkers in a sophisticated philosophical language. Naturally, it has become quite difficult to relate philosophy to life itself. This course introduces the basic philosophical themes in relation to life, without heavily relying on philosophical concepts as well the history of philosophical thoughts. We will present, for instance, philosophical themes such as values, society, the idea of absolute, knowledge, being, truth, the nature of philosophical thinking, philosophy and science in relation to the personal existence of an individual. We will examine these philosophical issues under the guidance of two thinkers: A Polish Dominican logician Josef Maria Bochenski and a German existentialist philosopher Karl Theodor Jaspers. Each offers a different perspective on these issues.

Emphasis will be placed on attentive reading and discussion of the important points underlined in the class discussion and an in-depth understanding and evaluation of philosophical problems. We will also try to relate these philosophical problems to some current modern issues.


Philosophy of Life
20204 02 (31056)
Aslan
3:30-4:45 TR

In contemporary teaching, philosophy has become “technical” presented through the philosophical concepts and the philosophical systems of the great thinkers in a sophisticated philosophical language. Naturally, it has become quite difficult to relate philosophy to life itself. This course introduces the basic philosophical themes in relation to life, without heavily relying on philosophical concepts as well the history of philosophical thoughts. We will present, for instance, philosophical themes such as values, society, the idea of absolute, knowledge, being, truth, the nature of philosophical thinking, philosophy and science in relation to the personal existence of an individual. We will examine these philosophical issues under the guidance of two thinkers: A Polish Dominican logician Josef Maria Bochenski and a German existentialist philosopher Karl Theodor Jaspers. Each offers a different perspective on these issues.


Emphasis will be placed on attentive reading and discussion of the important points underlined in the class discussion and an in-depth understanding and evaluation of philosophical problems. We will also try to relate these philosophical problems to some current modern issues.


Minds, Brains, and Persons
20208 01 (26355)
Barker
9:30-10:45 TR
Cross-listed with STV 20208 01, and CDT 20520 01


This course is an introduction to the philosophy of mind, with a focus on the mind-body problem and the problem of personal identity. Questions to be discussed include the following: Is there anything more to the mind than overt behavior? Are mental states like visual experiences, itches, pains, beliefs, and desires identical with neural states of the brain? Is the mind a computer program? Can neuroscience completely explain consciousness? Are persons like you and I identical with our bodies? Do we have souls? Can we survive biological death? Is bodily resurrection possible?


Minds, Brains, and Persons
20208 04 (28203)
Barker
9:30-10:45 TR
Cross-listed with CDT 20520 02


This course is an introduction to the philosophy of mind, with a focus on the mind-body problem and the problem of personal identity. Questions to be discussed include the following: Is there anything more to the mind than overt behavior? Are mental states like visual experiences, itches, pains, beliefs, and desires identical with neural states of the brain? Is the mind a computer program? Can neuroscience completely explain consciousness? Are persons like you and I identical with our bodies? Do we have souls? Can we survive biological death? Is bodily resurrection possible?


Minds, Brains, and Persons
20208 07 (31627)
Hall
2:00-3:15 MW
 

This course will be an introduction to some of the philosophical questions surrounding the nature of persons. Some of the main questions we will consider are: What is the relationship between the mind and the body? Are mental states such as beliefs and desires identical to physical states? What kinds of things are capable of mentality? What does it take for a person to persist through time? We will also have the opportunity to discuss the relationship between these questions and questions in both ethics and theology.


Paradoxes
20229 01 (26356)

Pattillo
12:30-1:45 MW

This course introduces students to some of the most important philosophical puzzles and critically examines the question what, if anything, do they teach us about the world?  A paradox is a collection of statements, each of which seems individually plausible, but which collectively seem highly implausible. Figuring out how and why a paradox is wrong or how and why it is right can be highly informative on a wide variety of philosophical questions.  The topics in this class include but are not limited to, paradoxes related to time, time travel, time bias, motion, infinity, persistence, composition, knowledge, rational belief, rational action, foreknowledge, free will, death, semantics, and ethics. Students should leave both with a deeper understanding of these puzzles and how they impact the way we view the world, as well as with an ability to critically analyze and formulate novel solutions to difficult and complicated arguments.


Paradoxes
20229 02 (30867)

Pattillo
2:00-3:15 MW

This course introduces students to some of the most important philosophical puzzles and critically examines the question what, if anything, do they teach us about the world?  A paradox is a collection of statements, each of which seems individually plausible, but which collectively seem highly implausible. Figuring out how and why a paradox is wrong or how and why it is right can be highly informative on a wide variety of philosophical questions.  The topics in this class include but are not limited to, paradoxes related to time, time travel, time bias, motion, infinity, persistence, composition, knowledge, rational belief, rational action, foreknowledge, free will, death, semantics, and ethics. Students should leave both with a deeper understanding of these puzzles and how they impact the way we view the world, as well as with an ability to critically analyze and formulate novel solutions to difficult and complicated arguments.


Paradoxes
20229 03 (30868)

Pattillo
3:30-4:45 MW

This course introduces students to some of the most important philosophical puzzles and critically examines the question what, if anything, do they teach us about the world?  A paradox is a collection of statements, each of which seems individually plausible, but which collectively seem highly implausible. Figuring out how and why a paradox is wrong or how and why it is right can be highly informative on a wide variety of philosophical questions.  The topics in this class include but are not limited to, paradoxes related to time, time travel, time bias, motion, infinity, persistence, composition, knowledge, rational belief, rational action, foreknowledge, free will, death, semantics, and ethics. Students should leave both with a deeper understanding of these puzzles and how they impact the way we view the world, as well as with an ability to critically analyze and formulate novel solutions to difficult and complicated arguments.


Paradoxes
20229 04 (30869)

Nolan
12:30-1:45 MW

Tensions in our understanding of our concepts and the world can often give rise to paradoxes: situations where we are led from considerations we accept and may even find obvious to conclusions which we find very surprising or even ridiculous. This course examines a variety of paradoxes, both ancient and contemporary, with a view to working out how to deal with them. As well as the interest of the paradoxes themselves, I hope you will also think a bit about the issues that come up for dealing with puzzling arguments: when should we follow an argument where it leads, and when should we think the argument must have a mistake in it?


The Meaning of Life
20235 01 (30870)

Seachris
12:30-1:45 TR

Have you ever wondered about the meaning of it all? Many philosophers, especially for a better part of the twentieth century, were suspicious of the question. In pop culture, it is oft the subject of parody. In spite of this, the question of life’s meaning remains of deep and abiding human concern.

In this course, we will tackle the question head-on. To do so, we will explore a number of interconnected themes including sense-making, purpose, significance, futility, God, death, boredom, pessimism, and hope to name several. We will begin by considering thorny interpretive issues about how best to understand the question. In the heart of the course, we will compare theories of meaning grouped under the following broad categories: (1) Naturalistic Pessimism, (2) Theistic Optimism, and (3) Naturalistic Optimism. We will conclude by discussing a cluster of topics surrounding death, futility, and hope, weaving these themes back into earlier material.

Along the way we will discuss questions like: Does the question of life’s meaning make sense? Are we cosmically significant? Does life have a purpose(s)? Is God necessary for a meaningful life? Is leading a meaningful life about fulfilling your strongest desires? Can you be wrong about what constitutes a meaningful life? Can an immoral life still be a meaningful life? How can I avoid a midlife crisis? What should I do when I get bored? How do circumstances, like being locked in solitary confinement for long periods, threaten meaningful life? Is death good news or bad news for life’s meaning? Is an afterlife necessary for a meaningful life?

We will not limit ourselves to philosophy. Given that this is humanity’s question, others from both within and outside of the Academy have as much to say. We will expand our exploration of the topic beyond the written medium to include film as we carefully listen to the diversity of voices speaking on life’s grandest question.


Marx, Nietzsche, Freud
20243 01 (27624)
Dutt
11:00-12:15 TR
Cross-listed with: GE 20420 01

This course introduces students to the work and impact of perhaps the three most influential thinkers of post-Hegelian modernity: Karl Marx’ historical materialism, Friedrich Nietzsche’s atheism, perspectivism and genealogical method, and Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis have fundamentally challenged our traditional frameworks for understanding the human mind and agency, society, history, culture, morality, and religion. Our task in studying Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud will be hermeneutical as well as philosophical. As hermeneutists, we will try to thoroughly understand what the three authors actually claimed. As students of philosophy, we will attempt to justly assess the merits and demerits of their descriptive and normative claims. Starting with succinct biographical and historical-contextual overviews for each of them, we will investigate and critically compare the thematic contents, methodological commitments and argumentative structures of selected key writings that revolve around the following complementary topics: (1) society and history, (2) the human mind and human agency, (3) religion and morality, (4) culture, literature, and the arts.


Love and Death
20246 01 (30871)
Jech
11:00-12:15 TR

What is love? Why—how?—does it grip us and seem to draw us into a different, higher way of being? Why does the attempt to us live up to what loves calls for produce such dramatic collisions between what we might, a little stodgily, call the “ideal” and the “real”? Why does love always start off with so much hope and yet so often seem to fail, or even to open us up to greater kinds of failure than had we never loved? Why is love so often associated with—death?

 

We will explore these questions by working through the most prominent philosophical project devoted to understanding the nature and implications of this collision, the existential philosophy of Kierkegaard and his psychology of passion and the self. We will read selections from the foundational works in which he develops a variety of perspectives concerning the collision of passion and life (including Either/Or, Fear and Trembling, and The Sickness unto Death), paying careful attention to the difference between the three different perspectives he provides on love: the “aesthetic,” the “ethical,” and the “religious” understandings of love. We will be particularly concerned with how love can be incorporated (or not incorporated) into the structure of the self and the results of so incorporating it. We will therefore also pay careful attention to idea of the self, temporality and anxiety, and the possibility of the self’s misrelation, that is, despair—especially focusing on his analysis of the ultimate cause of despair and the possibility of its being overcome.

 

Following Kierkegaard’s lead, we will frequently recur to the theater arts for narratives in which we can apply, develop, and refine these ideas. We will focus upon works whose central theme is the collision of love with “actuality,” considering works that influenced Kierkegaard or were influenced by him, but also—and primarily—looking at artistic works that address the same ideas and problems independently, but in modes that parallel Kierkegaard. Our major focus will be on classical ballet, an art form almost defined by such collision, but will also look at drama and perhaps even dabble a bit in—don’t faint—opera, an art form Kierkegaard especially loved.

 

We will certainly examine Tchaikovsky’s incomparable Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. (If your knowledge of these is based on the animated versions, you have my apologies; you will not find what you expect, as comparing Tchaikovsky’s with these is like comparing the Sistine Chapel with a hole your brother dug in the backyard.) Two other indispensable works will be Stephen Adly Guigis’s The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

 

Other works we may analyze, either in whole or in part: Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, introducing the Orpheus theme so important to Kierkegaard; Mozart’s The Magic Flute; Wagner’s competing interpretation of Romantic ideals, Parsifal; the ballets produced by Kierkegaard’s Danish contemporary Bournonville, La Sylphide and Napoli; the high point of French Romantic ballet,Giselle; the playful Don Quixote; Prokofiev’s stunning Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet; Balanchine’s mischievous A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and, of course, we will have to say something about the other melancholy Dane, Shakespeare’s Hamlet.


Ethics
20401 01 (24984)
Rodriguez
11:00-12:15 MW
Cross-listed with HESB 20222 02

Over the course of the semester, we will examine the basic nature of, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of, a variety of moral theories, including cultural relativism, ethical egoism, divine command theory, and feminist ethics. We will cover some views (Kant, Mill, Aristotle) in more detail. The semester will conclude with a section on applied ethics (although we will be discussing concrete applications in the context of each view as well), specifically, just war and pacifism, with readings by Aquinas, Cady, Yoder, and Gandhi (among others).

Grades for the class will be based on three medium-length (5-6 page) papers, two (non-cumulative) exams, and class participation.


Ethics
20401 04 (31624)
Uffenheimer
9:30-10:45 TR
 

In this course we will investigate a range of ethical issues that are pertinent to everyday life. For instance, we will ask questions like ‘should I eat meat?’, ‘should I have children?’, ‘should I vote?’, and ‘what does a happy life look like?’. In answering these questions we will have to address some broader theoretical issues; for instance, ‘what things are valuable, and how do they get that value?’, ‘what sorts of things have moral status, and why do they have it?’, and ‘how do an individual’s obligations relate to those of a collective?’. Students will practice-- in discussion and in writing-- the skills of evaluating and constructing arguments for answers to ethical questions.


Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art
20411 01 (27625)
Rush
9:30-10:45 TR

This course is an advanced introduction into certain key concepts and issues involved in thinking philosophically about art. Six main topics are covered: (1) the ontology of art, i.e., what makes art what it is and not something else; (2) the relation of art to its criticism; (3) art and ethical valuation; (4) art and emotion; (5) debates over public art; and (6) art, technology, and nature. Readings from both classical and contemporary sources.


Contemporary Political Philosophy
20425 01 (31204)
Weithman
3:30-4:45 TR

This course is intended for first year students in the Honors Program, and is intended to satisfy their second philosophy requirement.

The last four decades have been an extraordinarily exciting time in the development of political philosophy. Many of the central questions in the subject have received their most authoritative formulation and treatment since the 19th century. This course will survey developments in English-speaking philosophical world in that period. A good deal of attention will be devoted to the ground-breaking writings of John Rawls, and to critiques of his work. Topics to be covered include the foundations of constitutional and human rights, the foundations of economic justice in domestic and global settings, and the point and demands of equality. We will consider some other problems briefly, including the conditions of just war in the contemporary world and moral problems connected with torture. Most of the readings will be drawn from books by John Rawls, Gerald Cohen and Amartya Sen, though we will also look at articles by other authors. The course will be run as a seminar.

This course presupposes that students have taken “Introduction to Philosophy”. Other than that, it has no prerequisites except a willingness to work hard and take part in class discussions. Students may be asked to do a small amount of reading over winter break as background for the course.

Requirements include frequent writing assignments, a class presentation and a comprehensive final examination.


Ethics and Personhood
20445 01 (28084)
Puestohl
9:30-10:45 MW

This course will concern various questions in both theoretical and practical ethics having to do with the notion of personhood, such as: 

  • What is moral responsibility?
  • What individuals should be counted as persons?
  • Is abortion ever permissible? 
  • What are our obligations to future people?

Along the way we will also explore some relevant metaphysical questions, including:

  • Is there freedom of the will?
  • What makes someone at one time the same person as someone at another time?

Ethics and Personhood

20445 02 (28085)
Puestohl
11:00-12:15 MW
 

This course will concern various questions in both theoretical and practical ethics having to do with the notion of personhood, such as: 

  • What is moral responsibility?
  • What individuals should be counted as persons?
  • Is abortion ever permissible? 
  • What are our obligations to future people?

Along the way we will also explore some relevant metaphysical questions, including:

  • Is there freedom of the will?
  • What makes someone at one time the same person as someone at another time?

Ethics and Personhood

20445 03 (30872)
Puestohl
2:00-3:15 MW
 

This course will concern various questions in both theoretical and practical ethics having to do with the notion of personhood, such as: 

  • What is moral responsibility?
  • What individuals should be counted as persons?
  • Is abortion ever permissible? 
  • What are our obligations to future people?

Along the way we will also explore some relevant metaphysical questions, including:

  • Is there freedom of the will?
  • What makes someone at one time the same person as someone at another time?

Philosophy and Science Fiction
20620 01 (30873)

Phillips
12:30-1:45 TR
Cross-listed with STV 20620 01

The science fiction genre is full of works that explore important philosophical questions through stories. In this class we will examine some of these philosophical questions through contemporary works of science fiction and works by philosophers. Some of the topics we’ll cover include the nature of personal identity over time, whether we have free will, the moral significance of AI, and the nature and significance of gender.


Philosophy and Science Fiction
20620 02 (30874)
Phillips
2:00-3:15 TR

The science fiction genre is full of works that explore important philosophical questions through stories. In this class we will examine some of these philosophical questions through contemporary works of science fiction and works by philosophers. Some of the topics we’ll cover include the nature of personal identity over time, whether we have free will, the moral significance of AI, and the nature and significance of gender.


Philosophy and Science Fiction
20620 03 (30875)
Phillips
3:30-4:45 TR

The science fiction genre is full of works that explore important philosophical questions through stories. In this class we will examine some of these philosophical questions through contemporary works of science fiction and works by philosophers. Some of the topics we’ll cover include the nature of personal identity over time, whether we have free will, the moral significance of AI, and the nature and significance of gender.


Science and Catholicism
20627 01 (30876)
O’Callaghan
2:00-3:15 MW
Cross-listed with STV 20627 01

A historical and philosophical examination of the relations, if there are any, between science and religion with particular reference to the Catholic intellectual tradition. Through the use of historical materials the course will attempt to isolate and examine philosophical difficulties that might be thought to obtain between the claims made by Christian revelation and various scientific theories about features of the world. Emphasis will be placed upon distinctive ways in which the intellectual tradition of the Catholic church has faced the issues raised.  Figures to be considered may include Augustine, Aquinas, Galileo, Bellarmine, Darwin, Huxley, Dawkins, Newman, Leroy, Zahm, LeMaitre, and Hawking, as well as others. Topics to be discussed are Language, Meaning, and Revelation, Faith and Reason, the Nature of Science, Theory, and Hypothesis, Evolution, the Big Bang, Soul and Body, Creation versus Making, Providence and Chance. 


Ethics of Emerging Weapon Tech
20628 01 (24754)
Latiff
11:00-12:15 TR
Cross-listed with STV 20228 01

The landscape of the twenty-first century battlefield is rapidly changing. Contemporary warfare is often far removed from the clash of large, standing armies on the open battlefield. In the United States' use of targeted killings via unmanned drone in Pakistan and Yemen (which are not, otherwise, theaters of war) to the deployment of the Stuxnet computer virus WORDS DELETED designed to target the computers that operate industrial equipment in Iran's nuclear weapons program, we already see examples of this new kind of warfare. The future promises that ever more remote possibilities will become reality entirely autonomous robotic weapon systems are already under deployment in Iraq and Korea, non-lethal electromagnetic- and sound-based weapons are under development, and research continues actively on automated, armed vehicles and biologically or robotically enhanced soldiers. The increasing pace of weapons research, however, has been matched by a large number of ethical worries, raised by military leaders, scholars, legislators, journalists, and non-profit and humanitarian groups.


In this course, students will gain familiarity with the main forms of emerging weapons technologies and reflect on the ethical and legal considerations that bear on whether and how these weapons should be used. Topics to be covered fall into four categories: (1) types of emerging weapons technologies (drones, robotic systems, non-lethal weapons, cyberwarfare, bioenhancement, and data mining), (2) positions on the ethics of peace and war (pacifism, political realism, and just war theory), (3) the Law of Armed Conflict (including the Geneva Conventions), and (4) normative ethical theories (consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics). Course grades will be determined by two papers, two exams (midterm and final), and one group presentation.  


Ethics of Emerging Weapon Tech
20628 02 (24753)
Latiff
2:00-3:15 TR
Cross-listed with STV 20228 02

The landscape of the twenty-first century battlefield is rapidly changing. Contemporary warfare is often far removed from the clash of large, standing armies on the open battlefield. In the United States' use of targeted killings via unmanned drone in Pakistan and Yemen (which are not, otherwise, theaters of war) to the deployment of the Stuxnet computer virus WORDS DELETED designed to target the computers that operate industrial equipment in Iran's nuclear weapons program, we already see examples of this new kind of warfare. The future promises that ever more remote possibilities will become reality entirely autonomous robotic weapon systems are already under deployment in Iraq and Korea, non-lethal electromagnetic- and sound-based weapons are under development, and research continues actively on automated, armed vehicles and biologically or robotically enhanced soldiers. The increasing pace of weapons research, however, has been matched by a large number of ethical worries, raised by military leaders, scholars, legislators, journalists, and non-profit and humanitarian groups.


In this course, students will gain familiarity with the main forms of emerging weapons technologies and reflect on the ethical and legal considerations that bear on whether and how these weapons should be used. Topics to be covered fall into four categories: (1) types of emerging weapons technologies (drones, robotic systems, non-lethal weapons, cyberwarfare, bioenhancement, and data mining), (2) positions on the ethics of peace and war (pacifism, political realism, and just war theory), (3) the Law of Armed Conflict (including the Geneva Conventions), and (4) normative ethical theories (consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics). Course grades will be determined by two papers, two exams (midterm and final), and one group presentation.  


Theory of Knowledge
20635 01 (28237)
Hagaman
12:30-1:45 TR
Cross-listed with STV 20635 01


Theory of Knowledge
20635 04 (31630)
Lehet
12:30-1:45 MW

This course will survey topics in epistemology - i.e. the theory of knowledge. We will consider questions relating to what we can know, how we know things, and what is rational to believe. We will discuss some of the popular -isms in epistemology and some of the important works on these topics.


Data & Artificial Intelligence Ethics
20647 01 (31324)
Ratti
9:30-10:45 TR
Cross-listed with STV 20647 01 and CDT 20515 01

In the last decade, the Big Data revolution and developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have both created promises and raised several ethical issues. Computational emerging technologies have fostered the achievement of apparent benefits, while at the same they seem to exacerbate social inequalities and threaten even our own existence as a species. In this course, we will discuss those ethical and societal issues related to the development of AI and Big Data that have direct and concrete consequences on the way we perceive ourselves as persons, as members of society, and the way we conceive our place as a species on this planet. These issues will be analyzed in light of major ethical theories, but a special emphasis will be placed on virtue ethics. Recent works in virtue ethics are well positioned to make sense of the importance of our place as human beings on this planet, but at the same time they can account for the indispensable roles that machines play in our environment.


Topics in Philosophy of Physics
20648 01 (31330)
Steeger
2:00-3:15 MW

Quantum theory is one of the most successful scientific theories we have. Its predictive success is astonishing. Suppose your friend guesses the distance from New York to Los Angeles and turns out to be correct to within a hand's width; that's how accurately quantum mechanics predicts the maximum wavelength of light that will dislodge electrons from helium atoms. But as successful as quantum theory is, it is also one of the most puzzling theories we have: to try to make sense of it, physicists have talked of many worlds hidden from our own, and of cats in 'superpositions' of being alive and dead. This course focuses on three puzzles of the quantum. First, we will discuss ontology: we will investigate what sorts of descriptions of the world are consistent with quantum theory. Second, we will discuss logic: we will debate whether there can be more than one logic that's correct and whether quantum theory pushes us to revise our logical notions. Third, we will discuss probability: we will ask how we ought to interpret the probabilities that quantum theory assigns to measurement events. What is the world like, how should we reason about it, and what are probabilities? These questions, fascinating in their own right, are also essential to understanding and improving our scientific inquiries.


Philosophy of Religion
20801 01 (30877)
Dumont
3:30-4:45 TR

An examination of the rational basis of religious beliefs. Topics include whether the existence of a God can be demonstrated and whether such a concept of God can be reconciled with the fact of evil in the world and human freedom. Other topics include the concept of soul and immortality, whether religious language is meaningful, the historical conflict between religion and science, and whether religion can provide the basis of morality. Readings will be taken from both classical and contemporary sources.

Requirements:  Three term tests.


Philosophy and Mysticism in Islamic Tradition
20814 01 (28375)
Aslan
12:30-1:45 MW
Cross-listed with MI 30361 01
 

This course introduces philosophical and mystical thought and practices in Islamic tradition throughout history. We will examine the thoughts of the prominent philosophers such as Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd, as well as ideas of the outstanding theologians such as Ghazzali and al-Razi and the insights of exceptional Sufis such as IbnArabi and Rumi. We will also focus on themes such as wisdom, virtues, love, the relationship between faith and reason, and the history of ideas, morality, and religion in Muslim society. Emphasis will be placed on attentive reading and discussion of the important points underlined in the class discussion and an in-depth understanding and evaluation of philosophical problems. We will also try to relate these historical philosophical problems to some current modern issues and daily life.


Technology & Innovation Ethics
24448 01 (31081)
Howard and Bourgeois
12:30-1:45 TR
Offered by Online Digital Learning


This course will closely consider the ethical responsibilities inherent in the process of technological innovation from the perspective of the innovator.  Innovation is here broadly framed as ethical and social intervention in the life of users and society rather than merely technical invention.  Topics covered include the nature of responsibility, values in design, the roles of regulation and of business models, and cases from social media, AI, and robotics.