Spring 2022 Class Schedule
|PHIL 109-20||First-year Seminar: Philosophy, Technology, and Social Media
||Laura Martin||TTh 9:30-10:50am|
|PHIL 201-3||History of Philosophy: Early Modern||Baron Reed||TTh 12:30-1:50pm||Required|
|PHIL 255||Theory of Knowledge||Sanford Goldberg||MW 9:30-10:50am||Required|
|PHIL 269||Bioethics||Chad Horne||TTh 11:00-12:20pm||Required|
|PHIL 273-3||Brady: The Good Society||Laura Martin||TTh 2:00-3:20||Th 3:30-4:20pm|
|PHIL 326||Philosophy of Medicine||Chad Horne||TTh 2:00-3:20pm|
|PHIL 328||Megan Hyska||TTh 9:30-10:50am|
|PHIL 353||Philosophy of Language||Gregory Ward||TTh 2:00-3:20pm|
|PHIL 361||Topics in Social and Political Philosophy||David Johnson||TTh 11:00-12:20pm|
|PHIL 415||Seminar in French Philosophy||Penelope Deutscher||W 6:00-8:50pm|
|PHIL 420||Studies in Ancient Philosophy||Guiseppe Cumella||Th 3:00-5:50pm|
|PHIL 423||Seminar in Contemporary Philosophy||Megan Hyska||T 2:00-4:50pm|
|PHIL 488||Professional Skills||Sanford Goldberg||M 2:00-4:50pm|
spring 2022 Course Descriptions
PHIL 109-20: First-year Seminar: Philosophy, Technology, and Social Media
Social media has increasingly become the medium through which people engage in political activism, read the news, express themselves, and communicate. Our aim in this course will be to reflect critically on how social media and digital technology shape personal identity, political discourse, privacy, rationality, and democracy. Questions we will explore include: can technology ever be neutral? Does social media facilitate or hinder authenticity? How does social media structure personal identity? What value does privacy have, and how do surveillance and big data change our experience of privacy? Does social media make political discourse irrational? What impact does it have on social movements? What ethical questions do technologies like algorithms and virtual reality raise? Readings may include Heidegger, Arendt, Baudrillard, Zuboff, Turkle, and Carr.
PHIL 210-3: History of Philosophy-Early Modern
The transition from the Medieval to the Modern era in philosophy began, roughly, in the late 16th and early 17th centuries and ended, again roughly, in the late 18th century. New methods of acquiring knowledge, along with a radically different conception of the world, permanently transformed the philosophical enterprise and the broader culture. In this course we will examine the views of some of the most important modern philosophers—especially Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Bayle, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume—on the nature of God, causation, substance, mind, knowledge, and the material world. Additional readings will be drawn from Elizabeth, Galileo, Sor Juana, Masham, Boyle, Shepherd, Du Châtelet, and Cordova.
PHIL 255: Theory of Knowledge
In this class we will investigate several philosophical questions that arise as we think about knowledge. To what extent should we think for ourselves, and when if at all should we rely on experts? What (if anything) is wrong with information bubbles? What is the responsible way to consume news? How do we determine when we ourselves or others are rational, and what can be done when we detect irrationality (in ourselves or others)? What should we do when we disagree? What is the nature of trust (and when should we trust)? Does morality or justice make any demands on what we believe?
PHIL 269: Bioethics
This course is an analysis of ethical and political issues related to health and health care. Topics to be considered include human research, abortion, euthanasia, genetic engineering, and public health ethics. We will devote special attention to ethical issues arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PHIL 273-3: Brady Program: The Good Society
This course is the third in the sequence of Brady seminars. Political philosophy is concerned, among other topics, with questions of power. Who ought to rule politically and why? When is the exercise of power legitimate and when is it illegitimate? Does a distinctive form of power arise in modern societies? How do unjust or pathological power relations arise, and what are their corrosive effects on individuals and entire societies? In this course we will explore these questions by reading central texts in the history of political philosophy. After examining different answers to the question who should rule, we turn to the efforts of critical theorists to expose invisible workings of power, and the philosophical confrontation with the rise of 20th-century totalitarianism. Readings may include Plato, Hobbes, Rousseau, Arendt, Schmitt, and Foucault.
PHIL 326: Philosophy of Medicine
This course is a study of the political philosophy of health and health care. In the first part of the course, we will study prominent accounts of justice in health care. Is there a right to health care, and if so, what does that right encompass? In the second part of the course, we will consider several recent theories of health care rationing. In the third and final part of the course, we turn to the growing field of public health ethics, public health being concerned with the promotion of health at the population level rather than with the provision of personal health care services. We will look at prominent recent accounts of the moral foundations and limits of public health.
PHIL 353: Philosophy of Language
An interdisciplinary investigation of reference from a philosophical/linguistic/psychological perspective, with the goal of explaining how speakers produce (and hearers comprehend) contextually-appropriate referring expressions in natural language. More generally, theories of reference attempt to answer the two interrelated questions: how do we acquire knowledge of the world through language? and what is the nature of the relationship between language and reality? Specific topics to be covered include: (in)definiteness, genericity, deixis/indexicality, the referential/attributive distinction, deferred reference, and anaphora.
PHIL 361: Topics in Social and Political Philosophy
"It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless." This observation, made by George Orwell in 1944, may be tempting to reaffirm today. No one, it seems, is immune from being labelled a fascist: conservatives, liberals, progressives, Trumpists, men's rights activists, feminists, supporters of Black Lives Matter, Proud Boys, Antifa, Christian Evangelicals, Catholic Supreme Court justices, fundamentalist Muslims, teachers of Critical Race Theory, supporters of the state of Israel, critics of the state of Israel, anti-vaxxers, pro-vaxxers—the list goes on and on. But are any of these groups truly fascist? What exactly is fascism? Does the concept of fascism describe a unitary thing, or is its referent more akin to a set of family resemblances? Is fascism possible in the 21st century, and if so, in what ways is contemporary fascism likely to differ from its 20th-century progenitors? In this course, we will attempt to gain clarity on these and related questions through readings in 20th- and 21st-century political philosophy, history, sociology, and psychology. Along the way, we will discuss other social and political forms as well, including liberalism, socialism, and totalitarianism, examining the ways in which they intersect with and diverge from fascism. We will also touch on fascist aesthetics. By the end of the course, you should be able both to deploy the concept of fascism with theoretical precision and historical understanding and, perhaps, to recognize those fascist currents in our world today.
PHIL 415: Seminar in French Philosophy
Sexuality and the Family in Twentieth Century French Philosophy (Beauvoir, Fanon, Castro-Gómez, Foucault)
This course addresses the emergence of sexuality as a philosophical theme within a number of currents of French philosophy, focussing on the feminist existentialist phenomenology of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, the post-Marxist decolonialism of Frantz Fanon in A Dying Colonialism, the genealogical critique of Michel Foucault, and the latter's decolonial revision within the biopolitical analyses of the Colombian philosopher Santiago Castro-Gómez.
The course has three main aims. We will critically compare and appraise the different methodologies, aims, concepts of power, and interpretive politics within these analyses of sexuality and/or the family as contingent formations. We will give attention to several recent publications by the philosophers under consideration that have prompted contemporary revision of established interpretations of these bodies of work. And we will ask how the work of Beauvoir, Fanon, Foucault and Castro-Gómez continues to be resituated today within a number of fields including contemporary critical theory, decolonial theory, critical race studies, and gender and sexualities studies. We will ask: what new concepts have now emerged from these transits and translations of mid twentieth-century theory?
PHIL 420: Studies in Ancient Philosophy
This course consists of a detailed study of Aristotle's Politics accompanied by critical discussion of the current philosophy and classics scholarship. We will also note the reception of Aristotle’s ideas in contemporary philosophy.
PHIL 488: Professional Skills
We will go over various aspects of "professionalization" in philosophy: writing a good CV, submitting a good writing samples, developing good academic habits for career (teaching and publication) success, standards of publishability, and other questions that arise from the grad students themselves.