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2021-2022 Course Descriptions



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

Democracy works when people are able to make conscientious, informed decisions about the kind of society they want to live in. Thinkers from antiquity to the present have been concerned with the various ways that this ability can be undermined by propaganda, both in purported democracies and in explicitly authoritarian regimes. On the other hand, many radical thinkers have suggested that propaganda isn't always bad, and is perhaps a necessary component of liberatory social and political movements. In this course we will be asking three central questions: What is propaganda? How does propaganda function in the world today? And finally, how can a just society deal with propaganda's negative effects?

PHIL 109: First-year Seminar: What is Democracy?

In this seminar, we will examine some of the fundamental ideas and questions behind democracy and provide a reading of their "inventors". Some of the questions are: What is democracy? Is it a form of government, a value, an ideal, a political system, a form of life, a bit of all this? Is democracy always the best political solution (in wartime? general starvation?)? Why should the whole of the people decide and not the specialists in the respective questions? Are all democratically taken decisions automatically legitimate (what about minorities\' rights?)? How should all citizens in a democracy participate in politics? By direct self-government of the people or by voting representatives? Is everything democratically decidable or does the individual have unalterable

PHIL 109-20: First-year Seminar: Hume and Nietzsche on the Origin of Morality

In this class, we will read two short classics of modern moral philosophy which share the aim of providing a naturalistic account of morality. The first is David Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morality (1777), which Hume considered the best thing he ever wrote, and which is now considered a masterpiece of philosophical prose. In that work, Hume argues that the object of morality are mental qualities that are useful or agreeable to ourselves or others. The second is Friedrich Nietzsche’s late work Twilight of the Idols (1888), which is written in a highly polished aphoristic style, and serves as a kind of epitome of Nietzsche’s critique of morality as opposed to nature and hostile to life. We will engage in close reading of both texts, which are short enough that we should be able to read and discuss them in their entirety.

PHIL 109-20: 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 109-21: First-year Seminar: The Self

In this course we will discuss philosophical questions about the nature of the self, raised and answered in readings from the history of philosophy and contemporary philosophical writings, as well as some artistic representations. Thus we may discuss questions such as: Is self-awareness necessary or sufficient for selfhood? What guarantees the continuity of personal identity over time? To what degree is the self constituted by its social context? Are there good or bad (authentic/inauthentic, alienated, unified, etc.) ways to be a self? As with any first-year seminar, the course will also involve frequent writing assignments, including both informal exercises and formal argumentative papers.

PHIL 110: Introduction to Philosophy

In this course we will be exploring several traditional topics within philosophy. These include knowledge and reality, free will, the existence of God, personal identity, ethics and social issues, and the (in)significance of death.

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 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 216: Introduction to 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 220: Introduction to Critical Theory

In this class, we will focus on the foundations of critical theory in the works of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, paying particular attention to their understanding of the origins and explanation of inequality, domination, morality, good and evil, "ressentiment", repression, guilt and shame, rights, legality, and revolution, and the opposition between justice and injustice.

PHIL 224: Philosophy, Race & Racism

This course provides a broad overview of philosophical discussions of race and racism in American culture. In this overview, we will focus on phenomenological issues concerning the experience of race (especially in the US), epistemological issues concerning racial distortions and racial ignorance, and ethical and political issues concerning racial oppression. Some of the central questions that we will address are: How should we understand the concept of race and the processes of racialization through which people come to see themselves as having a racial identity? What are the different kinds of racial injustice that we can identify, and the different kinds of exclusion, subordination, marginalization and stigmatization that can be part of racial oppression? How should racial oppression be resisted? How should racial violence be stopped? How should we build racial solidarity and fight for racial justice? We will also explore the connections between race and other identity categories such as gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, religion, and nationality.

PHIL 250: Elementary Logic II

Elementary Logic II Introduction to variations of classical logic, and their application to philosophical topics, among them necessity and possibility, obligation and permission, knowledge and truth. Second quarter of 150/250/350 sequence.

PHIL 253: Introduction to 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 254: Introduction to Philosophy of Natural Science

The course will introduce students to deep philosophical issues raised by modern natural science of metaphysical and epistemological nature. From a reflection on methodological questions, it will approach the question of realism. We will be guided by nested "what does it take"-questions. For example: What does it take for a system of sentences to count as a good scientific theory? What does it take for a scientific theory to be testable by observational and experimental data (and, by the way: what does it take for certain series of experiences to count as data or observations?)? What does it take for a given theory to be better supported by the available evidence than its competitors? What does it take for a given theory to explain the known phenomena in an area of knowledge? What does it take for an explanatory scientific theory to be credited with reference to underlying structures of reality? We will begin with a brief overview of the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17 th century, and then turn to the treatment of certain problems in the contemporary literature, like the problem of induction, the problem of the underdetermination of theory choice by the available data, the problem of rationality and conceptual change, the problem of realism.

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 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 261: Introduction to Political Philosophy

An introduction to some of the core problems of political philosophy through a study of major historical and contemporary figures. Topics to be discussed include: the sources and limits of legitimate political authority; the meaning of central political values like liberty, equality, and solidarity; and the sources of political stability in a multicultural society.

PHIL 262: Ethical Problems/Public Issues

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 266: Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion

In this course, we will examine some classic texts on the philosophy of religion, from antiquity to the present. Issues covered will include the nature of religious experience, the existence of God, and the relation of reason and faith.

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 273-1: 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 273-2: Brady Scholars Program: The Moral Life

What does morality require of us? Does acting morally amount to consistently bringing about the best consequences that we can? Or are there other important considerations that we should take into account when thinking about how to act well? When we are trying to figure out how to act, what questions should we be asking ourselves? Drawing on both classic and contemporary readings in philosophy, as well as our own experiences, we will ask what it means to live a moral life in different spheres and situations. Do we have, or can we justify, special obligations to our friends and family? Do our professional and other roles shape what we have reason to do? How do we understand our obligations towards strangers? Is there some unified way to understand the reasons that should guide us in all of these spheres, or do they operate independently?

PHIL 273-3: Brady Scholars 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 310: Studies in Ancient Philosophy: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

This course offers a critical study of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Like Plato in the Republic, Aristotle is concerned with the question, what is the best possible sort of life? In defending his response to this question, Aristotle offers a close analysis of happiness, human action, character, moral knowledge, the virtues, pleasure, weakness of will, friendship, and other related topics. Much of what Aristotle has to say on these topics is significant and of continued importance for contemporary debates in ethics and moral psychology. The course will study the work in detail.

PHIL 313: Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

This course provides a thorough reading of the conception of empirical knowledge laid out in the first part of Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" (the Analytic). The seminar will also relate Kant's arguments to issues in more recent philosophical debates. E.g.: Kant qualified his philosophy as "transcendental idealism and empirical realism". According to Kant, it evades the choice between saying that we must have an unconceptualized access to reality in order to have factual knowledge (so that it is hard to say how we as concept-using knowers can know reality at all) on the one hand, and saying that the reality our factual knowledge represents is determined by our concepts (so that it is hard to say in what way reality is a mind-independent constraint on belief). Kant suggests that this is a non-issue if there is only one universal set of concepts constitutive of all (genuinely fact-enabling) human experience. But the course of scientific progress since reveals this as a big (and unfulfilled) IF: in light of the diversity of experience and of the sciences, it is not easy to insist that there is only one set of forms of all possible objects of experience, one set of categories to form judgments, one set of principles to form natural laws. But the impasse confronted in Kant's epistemological analysis persists --for each of the variegated forms. Can Kant's conception of experience and empirical knowledge still help us understand how we can claim to know mind-independent reality? Another example: Much of contemporary philosophy of mind centers on the question of the relation between mind and reality. Kant criticized all such attempts at founding factual knowledge on self-knowledge (which lead into "paralogisms") or knowledge of unconceptualised reality in itself (which lead to "antinomies"). His arguments compel realizing that both (reality as such and a directly present foundational 'inner' self) can't be objects of knowledge at all (=are non-objects). Does this dissolve the problems of mind and reality or rather make them cognitively insolvable?

PHIL 314: Studies in German Philosophy: Hegelian Themes in Social Theory

“Embodied ethical life” (Sittlichkeit) is a core concept in social philosophy, originating in the work of G. W. F. Hegel. Hegel argued that communities over time develop 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 is not under individual or conventional policy control. In this course, we will study the concept of embodied ethical life as it appears Hegel and in those contemporary philosophers and critical theorists who are interested in similar issues, asking questions like: How are social practices and institutions formed and how do they change? What does it mean to say that a social practice or institution “embodies,” “instantiates,” or “reflects” certain values? In what ways might embodied ethical life contribute to or detract from human flourishing? Ultimately, our goal is to explore the possibility of a broadly Hegelian alternative to purely normative approaches to political philosophy like that offered by Rawls and his critics, one built on the premise that conceptions of the good or right, including conceptions of justice, cannot be understood or evaluated apart from 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 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 328: Classics of Analytic Philosophy

This course will trace the major preoccupations of of analytic philosophy from its beginnings in the late 19th century up until the present moment, with readings by central figures such as Frege, Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, Strawson, Quine, Grice, Evans, Lewis and Kripke, as well as by prominent historians of the tradition. We will also consider some challenges to contemporary analytic philosophy's inherited sets of priorities and methodologies.

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 357: Topics in Metaphysics and Epistemology: The Philosophy of Humor

In this course we will explore humor from a philosophical point of view. Our questions will be these: What is humor? What makes a joke or scene funny? What (if anything) does this tell us about the nature of the human mind? Is it ever wrong to laugh at a joke? Why does it often (typically? always?) seem improper to respond to another's criticism of something we said by saying "It was only a joke!"? How should we think about humor that denigrates a person or group of people?

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 361: What is Fascism?

"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 373-1: Brady Scholars Program: The Civically Engaged Life

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.

PHIL 373-2: Brady Scholars Program: The Civically Engaged Life

PHIL 380: Philosophy of Art

This course interrogates the relationship between aesthetics and authoritarianism. We will begin with an examination of the nature of authoritarianism, which we will consider as a species of political regime, a form of social dynamism, and a personality type. We will next turn to the aesthetics of authoritarianism—the ways in which sensation is invested by authoritarian forces through propaganda, mass culture, and imperial style. The final section of the course will explore possibilities for an anti-authoritarian aesthetics. Readings will largely, though not entirely, be drawn from the continental philosophical tradition, focusing especially on the Frankfurt School and recent French philosophy.



PHIL 414: Seminar 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 414: Seminar in German Philosophy: Heidegger's Hermeneutics and the Possibility of Critique

In this course, we will examine the main features of the philosophical paradigm of hermeneutics that Heidegger articulates in Being and Time. The key to Heidegger’s paradigm shift is the generalization of hermeneutics from a method of textual interpretation to a way of understanding human identity. The hermeneutic paradigm offers a radically different understanding of what is distinctive about human beings: to be human is not primarily to be a rational animal, but first and foremost to be a self-interpreting animal. In order to assess the explanatory power of hermeneutic philosophy and its limits, our seminar will undertake three tasks. First, we will analyze Being and Time’s hermeneutic conception of human identity and its main philosophical consequences. To get a sense of the full explanatory potential of Heidegger’s hermeneutics we will then analyze Gadamer’s dialogical model of interpretation as elaborated in his Truth and Method as well as contemporary accounts that engage with the hermeneutic approach, like those of Miranda Fricker, Ronald Dworkin, Danielle Allen, and Robert Brandom. Third, we will explore the potential limits of the hermeneutic paradigm through an analysis of challenging approaches such as ideology critique and critical race theory, and the possibilities of articulating a critical hermeneutics along the lines of Habermas’s ‘democratic turn’ in critical theory.

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 422: Studies in Modern Philosophy: Kant on Nature and History

In this course we will discuss philosophical questions about the nature of the self, raised and answered in readings from the history of philosophy and contemporary philosophical writings, as well as some artistic representations. Thus we may discuss questions such as: Is self-awareness necessary or sufficient for selfhood? What guarantees the continuity of personal identity over time? To what degree is the self constituted by its social context? Are there good or bad (authentic/inauthentic, alienated, unified, etc.) ways to be a self? As with any first-year seminar, the course will also involve frequent writing assignments, including both informal exercises and formal argumentative papers.

PHIL 423: Seminar in Contemporary Philosophy

In this course we’ll examine various ways that analytic philosophers over the last century have connected claims about the nature of language to claims about politics. Likely included will be a consideration of the verificationism of the Logical Positivists, and of the semantic externalism of late-20th century US philosophers like Kripke, Putnam, and Burge. We’ll also critically examine more contemporary trends and debates in social/political philosophy of language, likely including applications of speech act theory, the at-issue/not-at-issue distinction, the ideal/non-ideal distinction as applied to the philosophy of language, and the idea of an ``ameliorative” approach to linguistic analysis.

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 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.

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).