Fall 2021 Class Schedule
Fall 2021 class Schedule
Fall 2021 course descriptions
COURSES PRIMARILY FOR UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
PHIL 109: First-year Seminar: The Market and Its Limits
The market pervades every aspect of our lives, and yet its workings are in some sense hidden from view. This perhaps helps to explain the persistence of Adam Smith's metaphor of the "invisible hand" to describe how the market works. Our aim in this course is to make the invisible hand a bit more visible. What does the market do well? What does it do badly? Are there any goods, like sex or human organs, that should not be exchanged on the market? What alternatives are there to the market system? In trying to answer these questions, we will explore texts from economists, historians, and journalists as well as from philosophers.
PHIL 109: First-year Seminar: Propaganda
PHIL 109: First-year Seminar: What is Democracy?
This course will explore a variety of philosophical and ethical questions about lies and other forms of deception. For instance: When is it acceptable to lie? And when it is wrong, how should we understand the nature of that wrong? Is there such a thing as a right to the truth—even when the truth might be harmful? Is it possible to forfeit one's right to the truth? Is there an ethical difference between lying to someone and merely telling misleading truths? How should a democratic society that is committed to free speech handle lies and other sorts of dishonesty? Can fiction be honest or dishonest? Is it possible to lie to oneself?
PHIL 150: Introduction to Logic
Subtle mistakes in reasoning can get us into trouble, especially in philosophy where reasoning can be very intricate. Logic symbolizes arguments to make subtle mistakes easier to spot, and intricate arguments easier to follow. In this class we will first learn how to use symbols to represent certain natural language sentences. The symbolization allows us to give step-by-step reconstructions of arguments. When these step-by-step symbolized arguments have a certain profile, they represent good arguments. When they don't have that profile, the corresponding arguments can go wrong---and we can devise examples of when they go wrong! Throughout we'll address some concepts (such as truth and existence) that are deployed in philosophy, and how logical techniques can help us sort the good uses from the bad.
PHIL 210-1: History of Philosophy: Ancient
This course is designed to provide an introductory sample of important texts and ideas of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. Specifically, the course examines texts and ideas from Plato, Aristotle, and the Hellenistic philosophers.
PHIL 216: Introduction of Pragmatism
Classics of Pragmatist Thought
Pragmatism is probably the first, but certainly the most important genuinely North American philosophical tradition. The classical writings of Peirce, James, Dewey set the stage for a completely new orientation in epistemology, moral and political theory, psychology and many other fields. Basic to all Pragmatist writers is the belief that the active and interactive human being in its natural and social environment has to stand at the center of reflection. They thus emphasize volitional, procedural, social, and evolutionary aspects of knowledge of any kind. Given this focus on practically involved intelligent agents, political pragmatists like Dewey, Addams, Locke explore the natural origins, revisability and legitimacy of moral and political norms. They develop the idea of a critical use of knowledge and its connection to non-violent democratic conduct. Neopragmatists (Rorty and Putnam) explore the philosophical and political implications of critical thinking.
PHIL 253: Introduction to the Philosophy of Language
In this introduction to the philosophical study of language, we will ask questions like: What is language anyway? What is meaning? And how does the meaning carried by language vary (if it does) from the sort of meaning we attribute to natural phenomena when we say, for instance, "smoke means fire" or "those rings mean that this tree is 106 years old"? We will also touch on the role that the study of language has sometimes been thought to play in philosophical inquiry broadly, and on the connection between the philosophy of language and the empirical investigation of language in other disciplines.
PHIL 260: Introduction to Moral Philosophy
What sort of life is best to live? How should we treat others? What are the best or most appropriate principles on which to base our ethical decisions? Questions such as these have occupied philosophers for millennia and will occupy us for a quarter. We will spend the first six weeks of the term examining some of the foundational theories of the Western tradition of moral philosophy, focusing on Aristotle’s virtue ethics, Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism, and Kant’s deontological moral theory; we will spend the final four weeks of the quarter studying feminist and critical race theoretical critiques of this tradition in Carol Gilligan’s care ethics and Charles Mills’s radical Black Kantianism.
PHIL 269: Bioethics
A study of ethical problems arising in public policy, as well as philosophical approaches to addressing these problems. Topics to be discussed include punishment, immigration, climate change, and global distributive justice.
PHIL 273-1: The Brady Scholars Program: The Good Life
This is the first in a sequence of three courses required of sophomores in the Brady Scholars Program in Ethics and Civic Life. Our topic, the good life, will be explored by reading and discussing several recent books, as well as authors of antiquity (Plato, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius). We will ask: Are there objective truths about what is valuable - or about anything? Does life have a point or meaning? What should one try to get out of life? How should we think about death? Is each person the final judge of what is good for that individual, or is it possible to be mistaken about where one\'s good lies? What is the relationship between living well and being moral? How important is pleasure? Since more good is better than less, should we aim at all times to promote "the greatest happiness of the greatest number"?
PHIL 314: Studies in German Philosophy
Embodied ethical life" (Sittlichkeit) is a core concept in social philosophy, originating in the work of Hegel. Hegel argued that communities over timedevelop a value-laden "form of life" that is shaped historically and collectively, that contributes in essential ways to individual and social well-being, and that isnot under individual or conventional policy control. In this course, we will studythe concept of embodied ethical life as it appears in Hegel and in thosecontemporary philosophers and critical theorists who are interested in similarissues. We will ask questions like: How are social practices and institutionsformed and how do they change? What does it mean to say that a social practice orinstitution "embodies," "instantiates," or "reflects" certain values? In what waysmight embodied ethical life contribute to or detract from human flourishing? Ultimately, our goal is to explore the possibility of a broadly Hegelian alternativeto purely normative approaches to political philosophy like those offered by Rawlsand his critics—an alternative built on the premise that conceptions of the good orright, including conceptions of justice, cannot be understood or evaluated apartfrom their embodiment in social practices and institutions.
PHIL 315: Studies in French Philosophy: Power, Sex, and Knowledge (Michel Foucault)
This course introduces one of the most influential late-twentieth-century French philosophers, Michel Foucault, and his ongoing importance for contemporary studies in philosophy, critical theory, gender and sexuality studies, and critical race studies. The primary texts studied are: History of Madness, Discipline and Punish, and History of Sexuality, volume one. It explains Foucault’s development, throughout his work, of fundamental Foucauldian concepts such as : otherness, the historical a priori, epistemic conditions and epistemic rupture, discourse, archaeology discipline, normativity, biopolitics, power-knowledge, resistance, and genealogy, many of which have become central to inquiry and critique in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The course provides a transition to advanced studies in these areas. It does assume prior knowledge, and is the opportunity for a more systematic engagement with Foucault’s overall work, for those who have encountered this thinker briefly in other courses.
Thematically, the course will consider Foucault’s writings on madness, the medical gaze, prisons and related disciplinary institutions, the association between sexuality and truth, and Foucault’s critique of a number of modern understandings of freedom, selfhood, knowledge, and resistance.
The course is reading intensive. In addition to weekly excerpts, you should plan to read your choice of one of Foucault's major texts throughout the quarter, and to reflect on your choice of one line of contemporary criticism (or modification) of Foucault from a range of suggested fields that include gender and sexualities studies and critical race studies.
The course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. In fall ’21 we are able to offer a dedicated graduate discussion section (Wed 8 pm).
PHIL 360: Topics in Moral Philosophy: The Right and the Good
Some things are worth wanting, caring about, or even loving. And some ways of acting or interacting seem to be required of us. This class is about the relationship between those two things: how does what is valuable (the good) relate to our reasons for acting or requirements for treating one another in certain ways (the right)?
Consequentialists treat the good as prior to the right, because they think that all of our reasons for acting concern how to produce things of value, or make the world better. But there are also other ways of thinking that what it is right to do depends on what is good. Certain deontologists think that morally required ways of acting limit how we can pursue what we care about, and that makes the right prior to the good. But there are also other ways that the right might be prior to the good.
We will ask questions like: Do all of our reasons for acting somehow bottom out in what is valuable? Or is something being valuable just a matter of having reasons to treat it in a particular way? Do we always have some reason to do what we want to do, so that being worth wanting is being worth acting for? Or can reasons to value and reasons to act come apart? And, if the good and the right are inter-related, what terms of interaction should we adopt in communities marked by disagreement about what is good?
PHIL 373-1: The Civically Engaged Life: The Good Work
Brady Scholars in their senior year will meet frequently throughout the quarter to move ahead with the collaborative project they have chosen as their service to the Evanston community.
COURSES PRIMARILY FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS
PHIL 414: Studies in German Philosophy: Hegel's Concept of Philosophy
In this course, we will analyze Hegel’s concept of philosophy by means of a line-by-line reading of two of Hegel’s most well-known writings: the Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit and the Introduction to the Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences. We will pay particular attention to the question of the differences between philosophy and other forms of cognition.
PHIL 468: Seminar in Epistemology: Epistemic Psychology
This course is the epistemic analogue of a seminar in moral psychology. We will take up a variety of related issues, including normative constraints on belief, the nature of reasons, the aim of belief, the normativity of rationality, the relations between belief and other attitudes like doubt and the emotions, the nature of inquiry, and the intellectual virtues.
PHIL 402-1: Second-year Proseminar: Expressive Harms and Communicative Injustice
In this seminar we will study expressive aspects of injustice, focusing on expressive harms and communicative exclusions in the public sphere. We will explore communicative mechanisms that can be used to protect vulnerable groups from expressive harms and ways in which the communicative agency of marginalized groups can be safeguarded. We will examine how expressive harms and communicative injustice have been analyzed and evaluated in different bodies of literature: analyses of hate speech (Butler, Sosa et al.), discussions of speech and harm (Maitra et al.), and the literature on discursive injustice (Kukla et al.) and hermeneutical injustice (Fricker, Medina, and Pohlhaus).
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