Courses

Current Course Descriptions (Fall 2014)


Philosophy 001 – Introduction to Philosophy (*applies to all sections of PHIL 001)

In all sections of Philosophy 001, an enrollment maximum will be strictly enforced. The sections are taught as independent classes, each with separate reading lists, assignments, and examination policies; but the following features are common to all:

  1. The classes are small and designed to introduce students to philosophical thinking through the reading of a few great texts.
  2. The classes stress the development of good writing, reading, and thinking habits by encouraging critical analysis, philosophical debate and discussion, and clear, rigorous writing.
  3. Each section requires at least five short papers, which are carefully criticized and graded, with attention paid both to philosophical cogency and style.
  4. Students having credit for English 001 may use Philosophy 001 to satisfy the second half of the College Writing Requirement as well as the Humanities Requirement.


PHIL 001-01 / Introduction to Philosophy: Problems of Philosophy

Jeff McConnell / E+ / MW 10:30-11:45

Metaphysics is the philosophical study of the ultimate character of reality. This section is an introduction to metaphysics. We will also consider certain questions in epistemology, the philosophical study of knowledge. We will often be concerned with how these two areas of philosophy are connected -- what limitations our various conceptions of knowledge impose on how much of the world we can know, and what our various metaphysical conceptions have to say about knowledge. In the process, we will examine some central metaphysical problems: What is the relation between the mind and the body? What makes us the same persons over time? What is the nature of alienation? Do we have free will? Are our actions causally determined? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the origin of the order and of the complexity in the world? What is the role of luck in the universe? Several readings may be drawn from classical texts, but most readings will come from the last hundred years. There will be regular writing assignments, and occasionally, during times arranged outside the time block, students may be asked to view films related to the readings.


PHIL 001-02 / Introduction to Philosophy: History of Modern Philosophy

Jeff McConnell / G+ / MW 1:30-2:45

This section is an introduction to philosophy by way of a close reading of several philosophical classics. The readings will include Plato's Meno, Descartes's Meditations, the opening sections of Locke's Essay, the entirety of Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and parts of his Treatise, and several short works by Friedrich Nietzsche. Along the way, we will examine some central problems of philosophy, such as these: What is the relation between the mind and the body? Do we have free will? Are our actions causally determined? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the origin of the order and of the complexity in the world? What makes us the same persons over time? How can we know anything? Can we know whether or not there is a God? What is the nature of right and wrong? What is the role of reason in our lives? There will be discussion of the reading assignments and regular writing assignments.


PHIL 001-03 / Introduction to Philosophy

Susan Russinoff / J+ / TR 3:00-4:5

This is an introduction to philosophy through an examination of some of the classical problems in the history of Western Philosophy. We start by investigating various kinds of reasoning used by philosophers and then take a careful look at questions concerning belief, knowledge, and reality. We also explore how humans ought to make decisions, and investigate questions that arise when we think about whether an act is right or wrong. This is done, in part, by considering and evaluating answers given by various philosophers and their reasons for giving them. The course introduces you to several areas of philosophy and helps to develop both your analytic skills and your ability to express your own views and thoughts clearly. Readings will include selections by Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Goodman, Pascal, Mill, and Kant. Students will write five short essays and will be given the opportunity to write several drafts of each.


PHIL 001-04 / Introduction to Philosophy

Valentina Urbanek / L+ / TR 4:30-5:45

In this course, we will ask and attempt to answer big metaphysical questions: What are we -- are we immaterial things, bodily things, some complicated combination? What happens to us when we die? Does God exist? Do we have free will?

We will also ask and attempt to answer big epistemological questions: How could we ever come to know the answers to these important metaphysical questions? What is knowledge and how do we get it -- via our senses, by reasoning alone? Is knowledge even attainable?

Throughout our examination of these metaphysical and epistemological questions, we will discuss questions about values and what we should do. What attitude should we take toward death? Is suicide immoral? If we don't have free will, does that mean that everything that we do is pointless? If we can't prove that some of our most fundamental beliefs are true, would it matter -- how should we go on with life?

Great philosophers have proposed sophisticated answers to these questions. We will read their works, consider their theories, analyze their arguments, and grapple with our own answers, however tentative, to these big questions.


PHIL 001-05 / Introduction to Philosophy

Valentina Urbanek / N+ / TR 6:00-7:15

In this course, we will ask and attempt to answer big metaphysical questions: What are we -- are we immaterial things, bodily things, some complicated combination? What happens to us when we die? Does God exist? Do we have free will?

We will also ask and attempt to answer big epistemological questions: How could we ever come to know the answers to these important metaphysical questions? What is knowledge and how do we get it -- via our senses, by reasoning alone? Is knowledge even attainable?

Throughout our examination of these metaphysical and epistemological questions, we will discuss questions about values and what we should do. What attitude should we take toward death? Is suicide immoral? If we don't have free will, does that mean that everything that we do is pointless? If we can't prove that some of our most fundamental beliefs are true, would it matter -- how should we go on with life?

Great philosophers have proposed sophisticated answers to these questions. We will read their works, consider their theories, analyze their arguments, and grapple with our own answers, however tentative, to these big questions.


PHIL 001-06 / Introduction to Philosophy

Charles Oliver / I+ / MW 3:00-4:15

In this course, we examine some of the ethical, religious, and scientific ideas developed by philosophers in the Western tradition. Our effort begins with the Greeks. First, we consider traditional views on the gods and morality and the Pre-Socratic and Sophistic attack on them. Then we see how philosophy emerged as a way to address these criticisms. We look, in particular, at Plato and Aristotle's attempts to create more rational accounts of the divine and of human action. From there, our inquiry moves to the modern world. We start with Descartes, who rejected the ideas received from antiquity and attempted to put science and philosophy on a new, more certain foundation. We then consider Hume's challenge to this new science, especially his criticism of the idea of cause and effect, and his qualified skepticism about what we can ultimately know. We emphasize throughout the connection between these thinkers' ideas and the circumstances from which they emerged as well as the continuing relevance of their insights to contemporary life.


PHIL 001-07 / Introduction to Philosophy

Charles Oliver / M+ / MW 6:00-7:15

In this course, we examine some of the ethical, religious, and scientific ideas developed by philosophers in the Western tradition. Our effort begins with the Greeks. First, we consider traditional views on the gods and morality and the Pre-Socratic and Sophistic attack on them. Then we see how philosophy emerged as a way to address these criticisms. We look, in particular, at Plato and Aristotle's attempts to create more rational accounts of the divine and of human action. From there, our inquiry moves to the modern world. We start with Descartes, who rejected the ideas received from antiquity and attempted to put science and philosophy on a new, more certain foundation. We then consider Hume's challenge to this new science, especially his criticism of the idea of cause and effect, and his qualified skepticism about what we can ultimately know. We emphasize throughout the connection between these thinkers' ideas and the circumstances from which they emerged as well as the continuing relevance of their insights to contemporary life.


PHIL 001-08 / Introduction to Philosophy

Valentina Urbanek / H+ / TR 1:30-2:45

In this course, we will ask and attempt to answer big metaphysical questions: What are we -- are we immaterial things, bodily things, some complicated combination? What happens to us when we die? Does God exist? Do we have free will?

We will also ask and attempt to answer big epistemological questions: How could we ever come to know the answers to these important metaphysical questions? What is knowledge and how do we get it -- via our senses, by reasoning alone? Is knowledge even attainable?

Throughout our examination of these metaphysical and epistemological questions, we will discuss questions about values and what we should do. What attitude should we take toward death? Is suicide immoral? If we don't have free will, does that mean that everything that we do is pointless? If we can't prove that some of our most fundamental beliefs are true, would it matter -- how should we go on with life?

Great philosophers have proposed sophisticated answers to these questions. We will read their works, consider their theories, analyze their arguments, and grapple with our own answers, however tentative, to these big questions.


PHIL 001-09 / Introduction to Philosophy

Christopher Phillips / K+ / MW 4:30-5:45

As an introductionto philosophy, we will be covering a variety of topics in Epistemology, Metaphysics, and Ethics, philosophy's three "main" topical areas of study. Pulling from sources both contemporary and ancient, we will consider a variety of philosophical issues beginning with the nature of philosophy itself. From there, we will consider the differences between belief, opinion, and knowledge(and whether the latter is even possible). Following (and paraphrasing) Descartes, perhaps all we knowis that "I exist as a thinking thing" ... but what does this mean? What is it to so exist? What is our fundamental nature as this kind of "thinking thing"? What about God: does God exist? How would we know this? Do we know it? What kindof being is God? Returning to our own existence as (purportedly) essentially a "thinking thing", what individuates you (as you) and me (as me)? How much can we changeover time – and in what ways – and still be us?Is this "thinking thing" a will?Can we act freely;is it a freewill? And what does thateven mean?! Finally, how do these various concerns bear on our moral status, our ethical responsibilities? How do these considerations inform our understanding of moral obligations, how we understand what we oughtto do (if anything)?

But as an introduction to philosophy, Even so, you will be learning more than just what philosopher's study and think about, more even than how to engage with philosophical issues yourself. Here, you will be doing some philosophy! And in so doing, you will be writing: as a means to process hard, abstract thoughts; to clearly and cogently express what you've processed; and – in what might be paradigmatically philosophical – to argue a position and defendit against possible critics.

Note: it is this focus on clear, cogent, critical writing that allows Philosophy 001 to substitute for the otherwise required English 002.


PHIL 001-10 / Introduction to Philosophy

Monica Link / H + / TR 1:30-2:45

In this course we will take up three broad philosophical topics. The first topic is the nature and structure of morality. How should we treat other human beings? What principles ought we to use in deciding when an action is right or wrong?

Next we will turn to questions about knowledge and reality. Can we be certain that we exist? That the external world exists? That God exists? Are the mind and the brain identical? If they are two separate entities, how are they related?

Lastly, we will discuss free will. What is it, and do we have it? Is it compatible with the idea that everything in the universe is determined? Is free will a necessary condition for holding people morally responsible for their actions?

Readings will be drawn from both classic and contemporary philosophers.


PHIL 001-11 / Introduction to Philosophy

Monica Link / J+ / TR 3:00-4:15

In this course we will take up three broad philosophical topics. The first topic is the nature and structure of morality. How should we treat other human beings? What principles ought we to use in deciding when an action is right or wrong?

Next we will turn to questions about knowledge and reality. Can we be certain that we exist? That the external world exists? That God exists? Are the mind and the brain identical? If they are two separate entities, how are they related?

Lastly, we will discuss free will. What is it, and do we have it? Is it compatible with the idea that everything in the universe is determined? Is free will a necessary condition for holding people morally responsible for their actions?

Readings will be drawn from both classic and contemporary philosophers.


PHIL 003 / Language and Mind

Brian Epstein / G+ / MW 1:30-2:45

Are we the only species with minds? Do animals — dolphins, chimpanzees, birds, spiders — have minds, or do they just have brains? We are the only species with language. Some animals have what might be called proto-languages, much simpler signaling systems, but these do not seem to give those species the spectacular boost in intelligence that language gives us. It is generally agreed that language makes our minds very different from animal minds, but how, and why? Are we the only conscious species? Are we the only self-conscious species? What is it like to be a bat? Is it like anything to be a spider?

In the first half of the course we will explore fundamental questions about the nature of minds. What does it take for something to have a mind? We will discuss the empirical research that has recently shed new light on the questions about animal minds, while sharpening philosophical questions about the nature of minds in general.

In the second half of the course, we will look at human language, its structure and evolution, and the effects it has on our minds. We will also explore "linguistic relativity": do people in other cultures think differently than we do? Is there a relation between the language we speak and how we think?

The course has no prerequisites, and is particularly appropriate for students who are not likely to major in philosophy but want to get a substantial introduction to the specific philosophical issues surrounding the mind-body problem and its relation to language. Readings will include classic philosophical essays by Turing, Searle, Nagel, Putnam, Jackendoff, Dennett, and others. Also, we will have special guest lectures by Daniel Dennett and by Ray Jackendoff.


PHIL 15 / Introduction to Linguistics

Ari Goldberg / G+ / MW 1:30-2:45

The contemporary science of linguistics is concerned with how humans encode their language in their brains, so that they can produce and understand an unlimited variety of utterances in context. This course will begin with a discussion of general properties of language: its cultural and political context and how it contrasts with other forms of communication. It then will turn to the problem of how children learn language and the possibility of a biological basis for the ability to learn language, often termed Universal Grammar. From this background, the course will work out some aspects of the structure of language: morphology (word structure), syntax (sentence structure), phonology (sound structure), and semantics (meaning), making use of problem sets involving English and other languages of the world.


PHIL 24 / Introduction to Ethics

Monica Link / C / TWF 9:30-10:20

What makes an action right or wrong? What responsibilities, if any, do we have to people other than ourselves and those most close to us? How should we balance competing interests? These are the some of the questions that will be addressed as we study the fundamentals of various ethical theories including relativism, consequentialism, duty-based ethics, virtue ethics and social contract theory.

With this background, we will discuss how these ethical theories can help us analyze real-world dilemmas and make justified decisions. Two class lectures each week will be devoted to studying the philosophical theories, and one day a week will be reserved for analyzing relevant case studies. We will consider a wide range of topics pertinent to choices that an individual might face (e.g., physician assisted suicide, loyalty to family, and vegetarianism), as well as to decisions that affect larger communities (e.g., the death penalty, censorship and the justice of war.)

Prior experience in philosophy is not necessary; this course is intended for students interested in acquiring and sharpening their oral and written skills in order to construct, analyze, object to, and revise arguments.


PHIL 33 / Logic

Susan Russinoff / F / TRF 12:00-12:50

*Satisfies Tufts Mathematical Sciences Distribution Requirement

How can one tell whether a deductive argument succeeds in establishing its conclusion? What distinguishes good deductive arguments from bad ones? Questions such as these will be addressed in this course. We will discuss what a formal language is, how arguments in English are to be expressed in various formal languages, and what is gained from so expressing them. In the jargon of the field, we will cover sentential logic, first-order predicate logic, identity theory, definite descriptions, and topics in metatheory. The course requires no specific background and no special ability in mathematics.


PHIL 38 / Rational Choice

Patrick Forber / K+ / MW 4:30-5:45

Decision making and strategic interaction are activities we engage in everyday. But do we make the right decisions? Do we adopt the most advantageous strategies? This course will approach these questions by using a set of formal methods for analyzing decisions and strategies: decision theory and game theory. We will cover the basics of probability and game theory and their application to problems in decision making and strategic thinking, tackling a number of troublesome paradoxes that emerge. We will also look at promising applications of game theory to understanding evolution in both biological and cultural domains.


PPHIL 41 / Western Political Thought I

Ioannis Evrigenis / D+ / TR 10:30-11:45

"Central concepts of ancient, medieval, and early modern political thought. Ideas of Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle during the rise and fall of Athens. Subsequent transformations of political philosophy, related to the decline of the Roman empire and the origins and development of Christian political doctrine, and the new political outlook of those who challenge the hegemony of Christianity. Analysis of how pre-modern political thought helped structure future political debate."


PHIL 43 / Justice, Equality & Liberty

DDavid Denby / I+ / MW 3:00-4:15

This is a lower-level introduction to political philosophy. It presupposes no previous acquaintance with philosophy.

We will focus on five topics: the state of nature; the justification, if any, for state power; utilitarianism; distributive justice; liberalism and its critics. A number of other topics will come up along the way, including the nature and justification of free speech, free markets, and private property. All these topics are linked, and many bear on one of the fundamental questions of political philosophy: how should a state distribute power and material goods?

Our approach will be problem-centered rather than historical, and the emphasis will be on clarity and rigor rather than on scholarship or sensitivity to historical context. Our discussions will concern fundamental principles more often than particular issues of contemporary concern. The reading is drawn from early modern, nineteenth century, and contemporary sources and is moderate to heavy in quantity. It will include selections from Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Marx, Berlin, Rawls, Nozick, Dworkin, Sandel, Cohen, and others.


PHIL 048 / Feminist Philosophy

Nancy Bauer / F+ / TR 12:00-1:15

The purpose of this course is to ask whether "feminist philosophy" is possible and, if so, what it can do and what it is good for. Any number of prominent feminists believe that in its commitment to what it calls "objectivity," "universality," and "reason," philosophy inveterately and insidiously serves the interests of men and is inherently an enemy of feminism. On the other hand, mainstream philosophers, who see objectivity, universality, and reason as paradigmatically neutral values, often worry that political movements such as feminism, while they may serve lofty purposes, cannot, by definition, count as philosophy.

The guiding concern of this course will be to explore whether in fact feminism has any good reason to take an interest in philosophy—or traditional philosophy in feminism. We will focus on the following sorts of questions: Does philosophy have anything special to offer feminism? Can philosophy be feminist and remain philosophy? Why can't we, if indeed we can't, explore feminist concerns—such as the very possibility of an inherent masculine bias in some of our basic practices and concepts—within traditional philosophical inquiry? Is there anything philosophically special about oppression based on gender? Is gender a natural subject for philosophy? What is gender? What, if anything, does it have to do with people's bodies or with sexuality? What rides, for feminism and for philosophy, on the answers to these sorts of questions?

The syllabus for the course will juxtapose contemporary feminist philosophical writings with traditional philosophical texts. The feminist writings implicitly or explicitly offer themselves as examples of or commentaries on the possibility of feminist philosophy. The traditional philosophical material criticized and appropriated by our feminist writers will include texts by philosophers such as Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Freud—authors who, ironically in this context, understood themselves to be working generally in service of human liberation.

Prerequisites: No previous experience with any of the authors mentioned above, or with philosophy or feminist theory in general, is necessary or will be presupposed.


PPHIL 091-01 / From Sinners to Sociopaths

Amelie Rorty / H+ / TR 1:30-2:45

Why is there so much fuss about morality? This course will trace the dark side of moral psychology: we will track the history of conceptions of evil, from Christian sin and Greek and Roman vices, on to malevolence, willfulness, immorality, wickedness, ending with socially constructed crime and socio-pathology). How –and why—do the paradigms of evil change? What are the sources and attractions of moral transgression? Why is vice more imaginatively arresting than virtue? Each student will pick her/his favorite form of evil (e.g. greed, lust, malice) and trace its historical transformations.

A course of this kind is interdisciplinary in its very nature: it combines selections from theology (Augustine, Luther, Calvin), philosophy (Aquinas, Abelard, Leibniz, Kant, Nietzsche, Arendt, Walzer, Rorty), literary works, (Theophrastus, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Blake, Goethe, Hawthorne, Baudelaire, Dostoyevsky, "The Third Man"). Lots of juicy reading.

NO PRE-REQUISITES but:
1) A tolerance for ambiguity, a sense of humour, an active interest in the structures of the human psyche
2) An ability to read complex, unfamiliar work accurately, sympathetically and evaluatively,
3) Regular class attendance. Active cooperative participation in discussion. From time to time, we shall break into smaller groups to prepare for team-debates.
4) weekly responses, mid-term paper, final paper.

Texts: Many texts will be reproduced on the course website. Some will be found in *The Many Faces of Evil,* ed. Amelie Rorty (Routledge, 2001)


PHIL 091-02 / Happiness and the Good Life

Christiana Olfert / I+ / MW 3:00-4:15

What is happiness, and how can we become happy? How do pleasure, friendship, and luck contribute to a life well lived? And how is living a good life connected to being a good person?? In this course, we will take two perspectives on these questions. On the one hand, we will examine in detail some of philosophy's oldest and most enduring answers to these questions as they are found in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. And on the other hand, we will examine, test, and evaluate Aristotle's classic answers in light of contemporary thinkers' views on these subjects. Our main goal will be to generate a conversation with Aristotle, accessible in contemporary terms, about what counts as a good life. In doing so, we will gain a broad and deep understanding of one of history's most important ethical texts – the Nicomachean Ethics – and we will also see how philosophers today continue to develop our understanding of how to live well. There are no required prerequisites for this course.


PHIL 091-03 / Reality and Subjectivity

Dilip Ninan / L+ / TR 4:30-5:45

A traditional concern of philosophy is to disentangle those aspects of our thought and talk that concern a genuinely objective, mind-independent reality from those that are, in some sense, constituted by our subjective points of view or our social practices. This course will serve as an introduction to this broad issue by examining how it arises in connection with a number of traditional philosophical issues. Topics to be discussed may include: the nature of the self, and whether there are deep facts concerning our persistence over time; whether morality and beauty are objective (and what this might mean); and whether causation is a real relation in the world or something that we simply project onto it (as Hume thought). Readings will be drawn from a variety of historical and contemporary sources.br>
This course has no prerequisites.


PHIL 103 / Logic

George Smith / J / M 4:30-5:20 TR 3:00-3:50

How can one tell whether a deductive argument succeeds in establishing its conclusion? What distinguishes good deductive arguments from bad ones? Questions like these will be addressed in this course. The principal text will be Richard Jeffrey's Formal Logic, though it will be supplemented by other texts and by notes from the instructor. The accent will be as much on coming to understand what the word 'formal' means in the title of Jeffrey's book as on what 'logic' means. We will discuss what a formal language is, how arguments in English are to be expressed in various formal languages, and what is gained from so expressing them. In the jargon of the field, we will cover sentential logic, first order predicate logic, identity theory, and definite descriptions. We will also look briefly at the history of logic.

The course requires no specific background and no special ability in mathematics. Understanding why formal methods work will be as important as manipulating them. The course will require six written homework assignments and an open-book final exam. The homework assignments, which students are expected to work on in groups, form the core of the course. Students should anticipate spending an average of eight hours per week outside of class in this course.


PHIL 111 / Semantics

Ray Jackendoff / I+ / MW 3:00-4:15

This course concerns the structure of meaning as it is encoded in human language and processed by the human brain. Topics include: mentalistic theories of sense and reference, word meanings, combining word meanings in phrasal meanings, and aspects of meaning not conveyed by words.


PHIL 117 / Philosophy of Mind

Stephen White / G+ / MW 1:30-2:45

TThis course will focus on the nature of conscious experience, its relation to the subjective point of view, and the implications of both for the mind-body problem, the problem of agency, and the problem of other minds. The traditional mind-body problem has been taken to raise such questions as whether we could continue to exist after our bodies had been destroyed and whether computers could be conscious. We will consider these questions, but we will also consider carefully the nature of the subjective point of view and the question what is involved in seeing a world that contains opportunities for genuine action, states of affairs worth striving for, and agents like ourselves.

We will begin by examining the Cartesian conception of consciousness, which holds that the intrinsic features of conscious experience are fully manifest and completely given at the time the experience takes place. The intuition behind this conception is that conscious experience has no hidden sides and no unnoticed features. This intuition supports the sense-datum theories of consciousness and experience held by the major figures from Descartes to Russell and implicit in many contemporary arguments that there could not be a naturalistic account of "qualia."

We will go on to consider a wide range of problems for this conception of consciousness, such as our ability to perceive depth and to perceive aspects. We will then look at some of the contemporary alternatives to the Cartesian conception, including behaviorism, physicalism, and functionalism and explore their implications for such topics as narrow content, mental imagery, and the emotions. Despite the success of some of these theories in handling a number of the relevant issues, the objection remains that such theories fail to explain the depth and significance of the distinction between those entities that do and those entities that do not enjoy consciousness.

We will then examine the relation between consciousness and our perceptual experience of the external world. Recent work on the "phenomenology" of perception has centered on the thesis of disjunctivism--that as between veridical perception and a matching hallucination there is no "highest common mental factor" in virtue of which we are given the world only indirectly. Though disjunctivism provides an attractive (anti-skeptical) position in epistemology, in its apparent denial of the reality of full-blown subjective experience in cases of hallucination, it raises apparently intractable problems in the philosophy of mind. Our discussion, in this context, of the varieties of the "internalism/externalism distinction" will cut across not only the boundary between epistemology and philosophy of mind, but will have important implications for virtually every major area of philosophy.

Finally, we will examine the concept of nonconceptual content and ask whether we can make sense of a kind of content that is radically different from the kind we normally suppose our mental states to have in virtue of our having a natural language.


PHIL 121 / Ethical Theory

Avner Baz/ D+ / TR 10:30-11:45

TThis course focuses on some of the most important works in moral theory in modern Western philosophy. In the first part of the course, we will read and discuss David Hume's Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, and John Stewart Mill's Utilitarianism. In the second part of the course, we will read several contemporary articles that discuss the question of whether all of us, who could be doing more for other people than we are doing, are acting morally badly, and other contemporary articles that are critical of modern moral theories and seek to promote some version of Aristotelian 'virtue ethics' (we will not read Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics itself, for reasons that will be explained in class).

Our first aim will be to understand the above texts and to engage with them critically. In part, we shall do so by considering how these texts may be understood as critically responding to each other, both directly and indirectly. We will think not only about what each of the above philosophers says about morality, but also about what he or she does—about the conception of philosophical work that guides his or her work, whether implicitly or explicitly. (It should then be difficult for us to ignore the question of what we are doing in this course. What, if anything, can (should) the learning, and teaching, of philosophy be?)

Through these questions, the question of what exactly ethical or moral theory is a theory of will no doubt come to occupy us in various ways. More specific questions will be: What makes a judgment, or a conversation, or a moment in life, moral (or ethical)? Is there a useful distinction to be drawn between what may be called 'morality' and what may be called 'ethics'? What's the right way to conceive of the relation between the character of an agent and her actions? Is moral assessment first and foremost an assessment of individual actions or of character (or perhaps of something else altogether)? What, if anything, might moral knowledge or truth be? What might be the data, or evidence, for philosophical theories of morality? Is it anything like the data or evidence for theories in the natural sciences, for example? More generally, what exactly is, and what ought to be, the relation between philosophical theories and their purported subject matter? Should our moral theories, for example, only attempt to describe and explain, or give the foundations of, our present judgments and practices, or should they strive to also improve them (whatever improving them might mean)? Can they do both at once? Should moral theories themselves, and their production, be assessed morally?


PHIL 130 / Moral Psychology

Lionel McPherson / H+ / TR 1:30-2:45

This course will investigate notions of moral responsibility, particularly in relation to the "reactive attitudes" of resentment, anger, indignation, and the like. We will consider whether responsibility judgments successfully sidestep or resolve the supposed problem of free will. We will explore various proposals for understanding the nature of irrationality, weakness of the will, and self-deception. Finally, we will consider connections between personal identity, rationality, and moral responsibility. Readings include P.F. Strawson, Gary Watson, Michael Smith, T.M. Scanlon, Amelie Rorty, Derek Parfit, and Christine Korsgaard.


PHIL 131-01 / Epistemology

Patrick Forber / M+ MW 6:00-7:15

Epistemology is the study of knowledge—what it is, where it comes from, and how we obtain it. This course provides an introduction and survey of the contemporary literature. Topics include the classic problems associated with skepticism, knowledge as justified true belief, and the sources of justification as well as more recent problems associated with naturalized epistemology, decision making, and scientific knowledge.

The course requires some background in philosophy (at least Phil 1 or Phil 39) or consent (usually limited to students with at least Junior standing or Phil majors). The primary book for the course is Epistemology: An Anthology (Wiley-Blackwell) with additional readings posted on the course website. Grades will depend primarily on three writing assignments: two short papers during the term and a longer final paper.


PHIL 151 / Ancient Philosophy

Christiana Olfert / E+ / MW 10:30-11:45

This course will introduce you to some of the greatest philosophers of Ancient Greece and Rome. Starting with the Classical philosophers – Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle – we will examine their distinctive answers to enduring questions like the following: What does it mean to be happy? What are the fundamental constituents of reality? What is knowledge, and how do we come to have it? And, what makes for a just and healthy society? As we will see in texts like Plato's Protagoras and Republic, and Aristotle's Metaphysics and Nicomachean Ethics, all three Classical thinkers believe that these questions hold the key to what it means to live well as a human being. After a look back to the Pre-Socratics and their influence on the Classical thinkers, we will then move on to the Hellenistic period and the debate between the Stoics and the Ancient Skeptics. We will find that these later thinkers deliberately revive the original, Socratic answers to our central questions, but with some new and surprising results.


PHIL 167 / Science Before Newton's Principia

George Smtih / 11+ / T 6:00-9:00

This is the first part of a two-course sequence focusing on Newton's Principia, the book that first showed the world how to do science in the modern sense of the term. In Philosophy 168 in the spring semester we will read the Principia itself. The revolution produced by the Principia is undoubtedly the most important single event in the history of science, ending controversies begun by the Copernican model of the planetary system and leading over the next 60 years to what we now call Newtonian mechanics. It produced no less of a revolution in scientific method by illustrating a way of marshalling evidence that stood in sharp contrast to both the narrow empiricist line then prevalent in England and the rationalist line prevalent on the continent. Because of this, the Principia is as important to philosophy of science as it is to history of science. It is the perfect work to focus on in investigating how science at its best succeeds in turning data into decisive evidence.

The Principia is accessible to a wide range of students. It requires no background in physics or calculus. It does, however, require historical knowledge of the scientific context in which it was written. Thus, the goal of the fall semester is to cover the background needed to grasp the force of the evidential arguments in the Principia. We will review the work on planetary orbits by Kepler and those after him; Galileo's efforts toward a science of motion; Descartes' theory of planetary motion; and studies of curvilinear motion by Huygens and Newton that led directly into the Principia. Three 6 to 8 page papers will be required during the fall semester. In the spring semester we will examine the evidential argument developed throughout the Principia and responses to it. The sole written requirement will be a term paper dealing with one of the major historical or philosophical issues surrounding the work.

Studying the Principia can be of value to a wide range of students. Besides offering an ideal way of studying the philosophy of science, it gives history students a vehicle for getting into the history of science. It offers students in the physical sciences and engineering an opportunity to learn how the foundations of their disciplines were secured. And it offers students in the humanities a way of studying what science is like from the inside, where the fundamental problem is not to obtain data, but to find ways of turning data into evidence. Science distribution credit is given for the spring semester.


PHIL 186 / Phenomenology & Existentialism

Avner Baz / 10+ / M 6:00-9:00

Phenomenology seeks to uncover, or recover, human experience in the face of our own natural tendency to overlook it, and in the face of its distortion-through-over-intellectualization in traditional philosophy and in modern science. Against the tendency to suppose that we already know what our experience mustbe (like), since (presumably) we know, objectively, what we are and what the world is like, phenomenology calls upon us to 'bracket' that objective knowledge and to reflect upon our experience without traditional or scientific presuppositions. It claims that, ultimately, even the work of science presupposes this level of 'pre-reflective' experience, or the world as perceived before it is thought. This immediately raises the question of how we can recover for ourselves a level of relation to ourselves and to our world that, on the phenomenologist's own account, we normally and naturally pass over—interested as we are in objective facts and practical results. How can we know that, in criticizing existing theories for distorting human experience, we ourselves are free of challengeable presuppositions that distort our own account? The phenomenologist's answer is that we cannot know that: existing phenomenological descriptions of our experience are always open to challenges in the name of a truer description. And yet it is undeniable that neither traditional philosophy nor modern science has much to say that is enlightening about the special way in which we perceive and relate to our own body, for example; or about what it means to relate to another human being as an other; or about the way in which the back of an object, or what's behind our back, is present in our experience; or about how to understand those moments when we look at something differently and 'everything changes even though nothing has changed'; or about the way in which our past is present in our present (and how this makes freedom both possible and limited); or on how we know, and yet do not truly know, that we are going to die; or on how sexuality, for example, or class consciousness, or a childhood trauma, affects the whole of our being. And it is also undeniable that phenomenology has much to say that is enlightening about these issues.

Existentialism reminds the traditional philosopher or 'the thinker' that, before all else—before any reasoning or theorizing—she or he exists. And this is not a conclusion—a proposition—that we necessarily arrive at if we follow Descartes' reasoning in his first and second Meditations. It is a fact we live before we think it. Descartes doubts; and then 'realizes' that in doubting, he must exist. But before any reasoning or logical derivation he liveshis doubt (if it's a genuine doubt)—he enactsit. Doubting is how he spends thismoment of his life; and his present act of doubting will become part of what he'll carry with him to the next moment. As the conclusion of a piece of reasoning, who knows what it means for meto exist? As something I undergo, however, my existence is undeniable. It is truly what I must begin with: not in the sense of being an Archimedean starting point or axiom for a logical derivation, which is how Descartes thought of it, but in the sense that, before all else, I exist. We each have been 'thrown into the world', and we come to every moment—even a moment of the highest and most abstract reflection—with an inheritance (personal, cultural, biological) that we are free to transcend in various ways, but not to choose. And we have no essence—no character—that precedes our interaction with the world and determines it in advance—we can only discover ourselves inour engagement with the world, not by pure, disengaged reflection or introspection.

The philosophers we will study in this course are phenomenologists. They are also existentialists (Merleau-Ponty much more so than Husserl). For Merleau-Ponty, the fact of our existence is the fact of our embodiment—not in the trivial sense that we each have a body, but in the much deeper and more difficult sense that we areour bodies—not our bodies as science conceives of them, however, but our bodies as we (and others) perceive them. It will be interesting for us to think how, for all of the differences between them, Husserl's work made Merleau-Ponty's work possible: how within the span of two great Texts—Husserl's Cartesian Meditations (based on his Paris Lectures)and Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception—we can go from Descartes' Meditations to the most radical overthrowing to date of Cartesian metaphysics.


PHIL 191-01 / History of Analytic Philosophy

David Denby / G+ / MW 1:30-2:45

At the end of the nineteenth century, a form of Idealism derived from Hegel dominated philosophy. Then Bertrand Russell, G.E. Moore, and others turned against it in spectacular fashion, rejecting not just its central doctrines, but its methodology, techniques, and even the questions it focused on. Philosophy was transformed. This was the dawn of Analytic Philosophy. Since then it has seen dazzling successes and stark failures, and lots of unexpected twists and turns. Now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Analytic Philosophy dominates philosophy departments in the English-speaking world to an even greater extent than Hegelian Idealism once did. It is impossible to understand contemporary philosophy without understanding Analytic Philosophy.

This course is an upper-level history of Analytic Philosophy, focusing especially on developments up to the 1960s. Drawing on a varied and thrilling body of work, we will look at some of the questions that have captured the imaginations of analytic philosophers about language, knowledge, reality, mind, morality, and modality. And we will try to see them through analytic eyes—learning to think like an analytic philosopher is an important goal of this course. There aren't really any core doctrines, but certain tendencies will emerge: a revulsion at obscurantism; a belief that philosophy starts with the everyday; a belief that philosophy can be pursued piecemeal; among others. Above all, I hope the course will provide a forum for really doing philosophy, not just learning about it. That's the best way to grasp and enjoy analytic philosophy.

Readings include: Frege, Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, Ayer, Hempel, Carnap, Quine, Strawson, Grice, Kripke, Lewis, and others. Course prerequisite: either Phil 33 or Phil 103


PHIL 191-02 / Aesthetic Psychology

Stephen White / K+ / MW 4:30-5:45

The term 'aesthetic psychology' bears the same relation to modern aesthetic theory that the expression 'moral psychology' bears to first order moral theories. In both cases we refer to a meta-level investigation--in moral psychology the investigation of the psychological conditions of our meaningful use of normative and evaluative language, in aesthetic psychology of our meaningful use of terms such as 'beautiful' or 'sublime.'

In this course, we will focus on the psychological presuppositions of modern aesthetic theory, including that of Romanticism, Modernism, and Postmodernism. And the central psychological issue in all three cases is that of the productive imagination. This, according to romantic theory, is the creative power of the mind that grounds our notion of reality and gives us our vocation--as artists and non-artists alike--to transform what we are given in experience. This means, as Charles Larmore has written, "making whole what has been broken asunder," and "pursuing correspondences where divisions were thought to exist."

This romantic conception of the productive imagination gives us the conception of a vocation of art in a very strong sense--a conception according to which art plays a (or the) fundamental role in human existence and one which among all human activities it is uniquely qualified to play. And despite the fundamental differences between the romantic, modernist, and postmodernist perspectives, some such conception of the productive imagination runs through all three.

It is inevitable that we should ask, then, what sense we can make (in the context of analytical philosophy and contemporary psychology) of such a conception of the imagination. How is such conception related to such notions as theory-laden perception in philosophy of science, contemporary work in experimental psychology in the traditions established by Michotte and J. J. Gibson, the neurophysiologically informed clinical observations of Oliver Sacks, the continental traditions of phenomenology associated with Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, or the Freudian and Lacanian conceptions of the development of the self.

We will pursue these questions by reference in connection with a wide range of works of art, many of them deeply influenced by romantic and post-romantic aesthetic theory, including works of the major romantic poets, filmmakers Ridley Scott, Terrence Malick, Nicholas Roeg, and Park Chan Wook, Hans Jurgen Syberberg, and multi-media and performance artists Joseph Beuys and Matthew Barney.


PHIL 191-03 / Objectivity in Ethics

Sigrún Svavarsdóttir / 12+ / W 6:00-9:00

Is there anything of objective value? What kind of question is that? What kind of notion of objectivity figures into that question? What would have to be the case for something to have objective value? These questions set the research agenda for this seminar. While pursuing these questions, we will study philosophical work on objectivity in ethics from the last few decades. Among names likely to appear on our reading list are: Simon Blackburn, Jamie Dreier, David Enoch, Allan Gibbard, Gilbert Harman, Mark Johnston, John Mackie, Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, John McDowell, Thomas Nagel, Peter Railton, Gideon Rosen, Sharon Street, Nicolas Sturgeon, Sigrún Svavarsdóttir, and Judith Jarvis Thomson.

Prerequisite: Two (2) philosophy courses, or consent.


PHIL 191-04 / Metaethics after Moore

Sigrún Svavarsdóttir / L+ / TR 4:30-5:45

This is an advanced course in metaethics, open to both undergraduate and graduate students. In metaethics, we address questions such as: What are we doing when engaging in moral thinking or in moral discussion? What is the nature of moral and other value judgments? Are there moral facts? If so, what is the nature of these facts? Are there objective values? What would it be for values to be objective? We will undertake a rigorous study of the most influential 20th century analytic literature on these issues, starting with the work of G. E. Moore. The rest of the course is organized as a study of the main responses that have been given to Moore's open question argument. We will critically examine the main theoretical developments within 20th century metaethics: non-cognitivism/expressivism, error theory, naturalized realism, and informative dispositional analysis.

Prerequisite: Two (2) philosophy courses, or consent.


PHIL 197-01 / Ethics, Law and Society

Lionel McPherson / D+ / TR 10:30-11:45

This course forms the core of a certificate program in Ethics, Law and Society, administered through the philosophy department. The goal of the program is to use philosophy to prepare students to be active citizens in leadership positions in government, NGOs and the private sector. Students will learn about how moral and political philosophy relate to questions of public importance.

The seminar will study a range of practical ethical questions concerning such themes as: (1) morality across boundaries; (2) criminal justice, moral responsibility, and the aims of punishment; (3) terrorism and just war; (4) multiculturalism and religious toleration; (5) marriage and the family; (6) ethics and animals.

We will approach these questions by considering case studies and by evaluating moral principles for resolving ethical dilemmas. We will be especially concerned with the challenges to ethical thought posed by ethnic, religious, and political diversity.

Requirements for the course include several short papers and a longer term paper.


PHIL 291-01 / Evaluative Language

Dilip Ninan / 13+ / R 6:00-9:00

In this seminar, we will investigate the nature of normative and evaluative language. Topics to be covered will include deontic modals (ought, must, may), aesthetic predicates (beautiful, delicious), and (possibly) imperatives (Close the door!). Among other things, we will examine the idea that the meaning of these expressions is not best understood in terms of truth-conditions. In the metaethics literature, this idea is usually associated with expressivism, the view that normative/evaluative claims do not aim to describe the world, but seek to express an attitude towards it. The debate over expressivism often focuses on whether expressivists can meet rather minimal standards of empirical adequacy (e.g. the Frege-Geach problem). We will discuss this issue, but we'll also examine whether there might be any positive empirical motivation for expressivism. We may also examine the relationship between expressivism and dynamic semantics, an approach in formal semantics which also seeks to understand non-truth-conditional aspects of meaning. Readings will be drawn the contemporary literature in metaethics, philosophy of language, and formal semantics/pragmatics.

The prerequisites for this course are logic (PHIL 33 or PHIL 103 or equivalent) plus two further courses in philosophy. Some prior knowledge of philosophy of language will be an asset, but is not required.


PHIL 297-01 / Graduate Writing Seminar

Denby and Epstein / 2 / W 9:00-11:30

The Graduate Writing Seminar (GWS), offered every term, is required of all students entering the MA program in Philosophy in Fall 2009 or later and open to graduate students who started the program before Fall 2009. In addition to fulfilling all other requirements for the MA in Philosophy, students who enter the program in Fall 2009 or later must earn a grade of SATISFACTORY in the GWS. Letter grades will not be given. Students are eligible to take the course after completion of one successful term in the MA program. Students who wish to audit the seminar must commit to being full participants in the class, which means attending all sessions and completing all assignments. Auditing may be appropriate for students who have already taken the course for credit or for first-semester students who are not used to writing in English.

Prospective members of the GWS, including auditors, must come to the first session of the seminar with the following materials: a draft of a potential writing sample; a term paper that might be expanded or polished; or a detailed outline of a writing project that has already been well thought-out. The paper/outline should be accompanied by a brief abstract and any comments the student wishes to make, such as that he or she intends to turn the paper into a writing sample for PhD program applications.

To receive a grade of SAT in the GWS, a student must have a strong attendance record; participate faithfully; and, by the end of the term, produce a solid writing sample or the equivalent thereof. A student who does not meet these requirements will ordinarily be granted a grade of INC; making up the work will involve not only producing the final paper but also sitting through the course again.

Topics of instruction will include: how to determine the necessary extent of a literature review; how to narrow down a topic; how to make sure that your paper is philosophical, and not just expository; how to write an introduction to a philosophy paper; how to handle transitions between sections of a paper; how to anticipate and address objections to your view; how to write a conclusion; when to ask a faculty member for criticism. The course will involve intensive peer review of papers. We will use contemporary papers in the philosophical literature as examples of how (and perhaps how not) to write a philosophy paper.

Students will be given frequent but brief out-of-class writing assignments, sometimes general exercises and sometimes term paper work.

PREREQUISITES: At least one successfully completed semester in the Tufts MA program in Philosophy. Exceptions to these restrictions may be made in unusual cases.


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