Courses

Course Descriptions

80-100 What Philosophy Is All Semesters: 9 units

In this introductory course we will explore three major areas of Philosophy: Ethics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology. Accordingly the course is divided into three sections. In each section we will read primary sources and discuss some of the main philosophic problems associated with that area. These will include: moral problems (Ethics), problems rising from the debates about freewill, personal identity or intelligence (Metaphysics), and inquiries about the scope and limits of human knowledge (Epistemology). We will then introduce some theories designed to solve such problems, and try to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these theories. We will apply different techniques and theories to issues that we might encounter in the real world. We will use class discussions, homeworks and papers to learn skills for evaluating arguments. These skills include: how to present a philosophic argument, what are the assumptions that justify it, what are its weaknesses and its strengths, whether such weaknesses can be resolved and, if they cannot be resolved, why.

80-102 Honors Program in What is Philosophy Fall and Spring: Mini Session -3 units

This three credits extension of 80-100 is open to Freshmen and Sophomores by invitation of their instructor only. The seminar meetings examine interesting puzzles and open controversies concerning topics raised in 80-100

80-108 Freshman Seminar: Politics and the Media Spring: 9 units

Politics, the Media, and the Truth This course will explore how mainstream newspapers and television cover the events, political candidates, and policy issues that define our era. It will detail, with a number of case studies from the last several years, the astonishing and ever-growing gap between what is real and what is reported. It will examine the fallacies of reasoning that are routine, and the profound effect such fallacies have on the society we inhabit.

80-110 Nature of Mathematical Reasoning Spring: 9 units

This course focuses on understanding mathematical reasoning reflectively, not on mastering a particular mathematical theory like linear algebra or calculus. It explores instances of mathematical reasoning and rigorous argumentation, with examples from the history of science and mathematics. We consider the "Let's Make a Deal" puzzle, the counter-intuitive results of HIV testing, and how to assess the relative size of infinite sets, all problems which defy intuitive solution but which look simple after they are put in mathematical form. The course is designed for students at the freshman and sophomore levels who are not interested in a mathematically intense major.

80-115 Freshmen Seminar: Consciousness Fall: 9 units

80-130 Introduction to Ethics Spring: 9 units

This course provides both a historic and thematic survey of western ethical theory. Key figures such as Aristotle, Hobbes, Kant, Mill, and Nietzsche will be presented as background to the thematic problems of relativism, egoism, and other concepts in ethical theory. Students will take part in the creative process of developing skills necessary to engage in reflective moral reasoning. This process will culminate in the use of interactive multimedia modules simulating real world scenarios involving difficult moral choices. Participating in a class ethics committee will provide students with opportunities for personal reflection on the ways moral reasoning can be used to expand our understanding of hard choices and moral dilemmas.

80-135 Introduction to Political Philosophy Fall: 9 units

We will seek to trace out the historical and philosophical dimensions of the State from its origins in Ancient Greece to its current manifestation in modern society. Philosophical writings and thinkers to be considered include Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Marx, and Dewey. Contemporary discussions of political theory may include the analysis and critique of utilitarianism, liberalism, libertarianism, Communitarianism, and feminism.

80-136 Social Structure, Public Policy & Ethical Dilemmas Fall: 9 units

Theme: Family Life and the State. All States regulate their constituent families to some extent, but the proper relationship between the state and the family has been hotly debated for millennia. In this course we will consider a variety of issues in which the interests of the state may possibly clash with the wishes and liberties of families. Our discussion will be motivated by readings from several intellectual traditions, including philosophy and sociology. Topics for discussion may include, but need not be limited to: (a) The regulation of marriage., (b) Government standards of and support for the education of children., (c) Government intervention in the promulgation of arts and literature., and (d) Abortion rights.

80-150 Nature of Reason Fall: 9 units

This course offers an intellectual history of philosophical views regarding the nature of human reasoning in mathematics and the sciences, from ancient to modern times. The first part of the course traces the search for deductive methods for obtaining certain knowledge, starting with Aristotle and Euclid, and continuing through the Middle Ages and late Renaissance thought, to the work of Boole and Frege in the nineteenth century. The second part of the course considers the history of skepticism about empirical knowledge, covering Plato, Sextus Empiricus, Descartes, Pascal, and Hume, along with replies to skepticism in the works of Bayes and Kant. The third part of the course discusses theories of the nature of mind, culminating in the computational conception of mind that underlies contemporary cognitive science.

80-151 God in the West Fall: 9 units

This courses surveys the rise of Christianity from pagan and Jewish sources, the rise of Islam, the fragmentation of the two religious movements, and their confrontation over a millennium and a half. The course will focus on several questions and themes: Why and how did Christianity succeed in converting the Roman Empire? Why and how did Islam succeed in converting more than a billion people? How did doctrine and practice become transformed by institutionalization and circumstance? How and why did the two movements respectively fragment? How and why did secularization occur? What is "fundamentalism" and why does it endure? Ethical and doctrinal issues will also be considered, in some cases at length.

80-180 The Nature of Language Fall and Spring: 9 units

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It comprises many sub-fields, in which the different aspects of language are investigated. The topics studied in linguistics range from the mechanisms of human speech production to the nature of linguistic meaning, from historical relations among languages to current linguistic change, from writing systems to abstract linguistic structure. This course will provide a broad introduction to the field of linguistics, surveying a number of the major subfields. The focus of the course is not on describing or analyzing one particular language, but on understanding the properties and nature of language as a human phenomenon.

80-181 Language and Thought Fall and Spring: 9 units

The course addresses issues relating to the connections between thought and language, particularly the ways in which we express thoughts and attitudes through language. Is language necessary for thought? What are the referents of linguistic expressions: cognitive or mental entities of some sort, or things out there in the world? Does the meaning of sentences come before their truth conditions, or the truth conditions of an expression are sufficient to determine its meaning? What kind of knowledge makes it possible for speakers of a language to communicate with one another? Is the meaning of expressions determined by norms and social conventions? What is a metaphor? What exactly serves as the context of an utterance in discourse? Do speakers of different languages perceive the world differently because of their language differences? The first part of the course addresses classical philosophical issues concerning the relation of truth and meaning, as well as issues related to the meaning of verbs of propositional attitude and pragmatics. The second part of the course focuses on more recent proposals in cognitive semantics, particularly theories that utilize conceptual spaces as the main framework to represent semantic information. We will also consider "hybrid" theories that describe the form-meaning relation as an idealized account of the process whereby the recipient of an utterance comes to grasp the thoughts that the utterance contains. A basic course in logic is recommended but not required.

80-195 Research Training Fall and Spring: 9 units

This course is part of a set of 100-level courses offered by H&SS departments as independent studies for students in the College. In general, these courses are designed to give students some real research experience through work on a faculty project or lab in ways that might stimulate and nurture subsequent interest in research participation. Faculty and students devise a personal and regularized meeting and task schedule. Each Research Training course is worth 9 units, which generally means a minimum for students of about 9 work-hours per week. These courses are offered only as electives; i.e., they cannot be applied toward a college or major requirement, although the units do count toward graduation as elective units. Additional details (including a roster and descriptions of Research Training Courses available in any given semester) are available in the H&SS Academic Advisory Center. For H&SS students only; only for second-semester freshmen, or first- or second-semester sophomores; minimum cumulative QPA of 3.0 (at the time of registration) required for approved entry; additional prerequisites (e.g., language proficiency) may arise out of the particular demands of the research project in question.

80-201 Epistemology Fall: 9 units

Epistemology, one of the cornerstones of philosophy since ancient times, concerns the relationships between belief, truth, and knowledge. This course will explore fundamental issues in epistemology, such as the analysis of the concept of knowledge, epistemic justification and scientific method, a priori knowledge, theories of truth, skepticism, reliabilism, and coherentism. Both classic texts and contemporary journal articles will be discussed. There are no prerequisites, but students with some philosophical sophistication and/or formal ability will be more comfortable with the material.

80-208 Critical Thinking Fall: 9 units

80-210 Logic and Proofs All Semesters: 9 units

This novel web-based course introduces students to central issues in logic and develops their ability for constructing and refuting arguments. It addresses the question: How can one analyze the structure of rational discourse or, more specifically, the logical structure of argumentation? An answer to this question requires: (i)uncovering the logical form of statements; (ii)defining the correctness of logical steps; (iii)formulating correct inference rules for the logical forms; (iv)designing strategies for argumentation with the inference rules. The course takes these steps for both sentential and quantificational logic. Presentation: The material is presented on-line, though some exercises must be done with pen and paper. Additional reading of a historical character will complement the systematic on-line presentation. Weekly small discussion meetings with collaborative reviews, substantive discussions and cricitical reflections supplement the on-line presentation.

80-211 Logic and Mathematical Inquiry Fall: 9 units

Since ancient times, those searching for truth have looked to mathematical arguments as a paradigm of rational inquiry. We shall study the structure of these arguments and their application. In the first half of the course, we study the syntax and semantics of propositional and predicate logic while in the second, we apply this logic to examine axiomatic methods in set theory and arithmetic and introduce formal models of computation. This course prepares students to take the 310-311 series on fundamental theorems in logic and computability theory.

80-212 Arguments and Logical Analysis Spring: 9 units

Are there rational methods that can further our knowledge? The notion of rational inquiry presupposes that there are appropriate methods for the pursuit of knowledge. In this course, we will investigate the means by which a successful argument justifies its conclusion, as well as various subtle ways in which other arguments fail. In the course of our inquiry, we will take a historically informed approach to studying logic and argumentative fallacies. We will also discover that these tools are useful for constructing and analyzing arguments in all disciplines from philosophy and history to psychology and physics. Our primary goal is to learn to use these tools to make our thinking and writing clearer, more precise, and more critical. To that end, our coursework will consist in homework and exams on topics in logic, as well as essays on a wide variety of topics. This course is intended for students from any discipline who would like to improve their writing and critical thinking skills.

80-220 Philosophy of Science Fall: 9 units

In this course, we will examine some historical case studies (e.g., the Copernican revolution in astronomy) against which we will assess views pertaining to the significance, justification, and production of scientific knowledge. For example, should scientific theories be understood literally or as computational devices for deriving new predictions? Does explanation contribute to a theory's confirmation by the evidence? Does causation exist in the world or is it nothing but the explanatory structure of the best scientific theory? Does science aim to find the truth? Is probability in the world or only in our minds? Does probability have anything to do with scientific justification? Is scientific rationality objective or culture-relative?

80-221 Philosophy of Social Science Fall: 9 units

Can we use the scientific method to understand social phenomena like war and religion in the same way that we use it to understand natural phenomena like lasers and microchips. For example, humans possess free will and act with intentions while light rays do not; does this mean we must use different species of explanations in the two cases? Do simple social "laws" exist which explain basic social norms like cooperation? Do social norms evolve in the same way as do biological species? Is our understanding of social phenomena always value laden?

80-222 Measurement and Methodology Spring: 9 units

This course is intended as an introduction to the theory of measurement. How are scientific units chosen? Under what conditions do qualitative relationships determine quantitative ones? Why, for example, is the zero-point a conventional choice for measuring temperature, but not so for ther measurement of length with rulers? We shall investigate theories of extensive measurement, with and without error. Applications will be taken from the natural and social sciences, including the development of some "psychometric" scales, such as measuring the intensity of personal preferences.

80-230 Ethical Theory Spring: 9 units

Every day, often in very subtle ways, we make judgments of value that shape our lives and our conduct. This course provides a systematic examination of foundational concepts in ethics and the comprehensive theories that explain their importance and their relationship to one another. We will therefore examine alternative treatments of concepts such as welfare and happiness, basic moral rights, and different moral virtues. We will also analyze the role of these conceptions in different foundational moral theories such as utilitarian approaches, Kantian theories, Aristotelian ethics, contractarian moral theories, and possibly others as well. Primary readings will focus on source texts by Aristotle, Hobbes, Kant, and Mill along with secondary readings from more contemporary sources. Particular attention will be paid to locating specific areas of disagreement that distinguish competing moral theories so that we can evaluate them on a reasoned basis and make an informed decision about their respective merits and deficiencies.

80-235 Political Philosophy Spring: 9 units

The central question of political philosophy can be stated in the following way: What constitutes a just society? The various answers to this question proposed by political philosophers are intertwined with the answer they give to a closely related question: (2) Why should the individual members of society follow the requirements of their society? In this course, we shall take a sustained and critical look at three alternative views of a just political society: (i) A society is just if its members gain some mutual benefit from living together. (ii) A society is just if all of its members can accept the distribution of benefits and responsibilities of their society as the product of a rational choice. (iii) A society is just if its benefits and responsibilities are distributed in proportion to what its individual members contribute. Our examination of these three views will draw upon arguments of several of the most influential contemporary political philosophers as well as those from selected figures in the history of political thought.

80-236 Philosophy and Law Spring: 9 units

Have you ever wondered what would happen to you if you were clutched by the law on criminal charges, whether justly or unjustly? Or, what defenses would be available to you, according to the law, whatever the charges? Or, what sort of rationales define and delimit criminal offenses and available defenses to specific criminal charges? This course investigates principles, rules, procedures, sensibilities and practical realities of the criminal law in action. Our focus will be the law governing homicide, which, while aiming to protect our most basic human interest in life itself, also allows for the taking of human life. This apparent conundrum provides a compelling invitation to philosophic inquiry. While the law is steeped in apparent intractabilities of conflicted human values, it must also be very practical and decisive. The intersection of Philosophy and Law invites reflection on the relationship between facts and values, the complementarity of scientific and humanistic perspectives, and the interdependence of theory and practice. For depth of perspective, we will (1) analyze in considerable detail controversial real-life scenarios and cases to (2) test the principles underlying the criminal law and legal defenses to the most serious of charges, criminal homicide (e.g., insanity, diminished capacity, duress, provocation, necessity, self-defense, "battered woman" and other "syndromes"), (3) analyze philosophic and legal concepts of justifiability, excusability, culpability, responsibility and criminal liability, and (4) examine similarities in legal and philosophic reasoning. To vivify these issues and illustrate the criminal law, its precepts and procedures in action, we will (5) make extensive use of videos and role-play to"visit" courtrooms, cases, and scenarios. Overall, (6) the course aims to challenge and sharpen your analytical reasoning skills.

80-241 Ethical Judgments in Professional Life (Professional Ethics) Fall: 9 units

This is a self-paced course that examines the numerous ethical issues, problems and dilemmas that confront professionals in such areas as medicine, law, engineering, the media, government and the natural and social sciences. As a self-paced course, video and audio tapes and an electronic bulletin board are employed to create a virtual classroom for student discussions. This course meets one day a week.

80-242 Conflict , Culture and Dispute Resolution Fall and Spring: 9 units

This course is about strategic choice and bases for choosing strategies for dealing with human conflict. The course has two dimensions: (1) methodology and (2) applications. (1) We will critically examine current models of conflict and conflict resolution, including specific techniques for negotiating conflict in principled ways, methods for addressing moral conflicts and disagreement, for identifying, weighing and balancing conflicting values and interests. (2) We will apply strategies for conflict resolution on societal, inter-group, inter-personal and intra-personal levels; in particular, we will use in-depth case studies to examine the application of conflict-resolution methods to large-scale social conflicts (such as the Waco disaster) and to polarizing social controversies (such as abortion, euthanasia, gun control and violence in American society). We will make heavy use of video case studies and innovative multimedia technology developed at the Department's Center for the Advancement of Applied Ethics.

80-243 Business Ethics Intermittent: 9 units

Various moral mazes that confront managers in the contemporary business organization will be the focus of this course. Topics treated will include: conflicts of interest, whistleblowing, confidentiality and privacy, environmental issues, sexual harassment, diversity in the workplace, international business ethics, and corporate social responsibility. Codes of business ethics, ethics audits, recommendations from the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Commission, ethics hotlines, business ethics officers, corporate ethics committees, and other mechanisms designed to address the ethics of business will also be examined.

80-244 Environment Management and Ethics Spring: 9 units

Participants in this course will examine and pose answers to the following question: "What are the legitimate environmental responsibilities of organizational managers and how can they be fulfilled?" This query will provide the course with its major theme and framework. But in order to do justice to it, three interrelated areas that are presupposed by this question will need to be explored first. These areas are: 1) ethics, 2) management ethics and 3) environmental ethics. The first half of the course will concentrate upon these three areas. The second half of the course will explore answers to the lead question about management and the environment by employing the insights gained during the first half. Here participants will first empirically review and evaluate past and current management practices with respect to the environment, organizational policies on the environment and the role of government in the process of determining environmental responsibilities in management. Environmental concerns on the international level and their impact upon organizational management, the emergence of the "environmental affairs manager" within organizations, balancing environmental responsibilities with other management responsibilities and examples of management responses to environmental crises will also be examined during this portion of the course. Case studies in management, environment and ethics will be analyzed.

80-245 Medical Ethics Fall and Spring: 9 units

This course provides an introduction to core ethical issues in health care, medical research, and public policy. Topics include: the moral responsibilities of health care providers to patients and various third parties such as the government or insurance companies, the status of health as a social good, and questions of individual liberty and social responsibility at the ends of life including issues such as abortion, physician assisted suicide, and the definition of death. We will also examine specific ethical issues in the conduct of medical research and look at the impact of technological innovation on our notions of health, disease, life, death, and the family. If time permits, we may also discuss issues related to genetics and cloning. While the course engages such substantive ethical issues it also attempts to sharpen students’ skills in practical reasoning through argument analysis, analogical reasoning, and the application of theory and principles to particular cases.

80-246 Criminal Justice in America: Ideals and Realities Spring: 9 units

This course applies selected theories of procedural and social justice to a major public institution. It explores 1) the nature and impact of police, lawyer and prosecutor practices, 2) the effects of criminal justice legislation, 3) causes and consequences of racial and gender disparities in both the system and its outcomes and 4) improvements and alternatives currently being proposed, implemented and assessed in many jurisdictions.

80-247 Heath, Development, and Human Rights Spring: 9 units

80-250 Ancient Philosphy Fall: 9 units

This course provides a broad survey of Ancient Greek philosophy from the pre-Socratics, through Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, to the later Hellenistic writers. Through careful study of primary texts we will explore some of the historical and intellectual movements that led up to and culminated in the flourishing and downfall of Periclean Athens. A study of Socrates (as represented in Plato's early dialogues) will lead to an in-depth reading of Plato's Phaedo, Meno, and sections of the Republic. We will then explore Aristotle's systematization of philosophy through selections from the Metaphysics, DeAnima, and the Nicomachean Ethics. The course will conclude with an examination of Epicurean and Stoic movements from the Hellenistic period. This course provides a strong foundation in the history of philosophy, and the history of western moral, political, metaphysical, epistemological, and psychological thought more generally.

80-251 Modern Philosophy I Fall: 9 units

Descartes' project to doubt all received knowledge and begin from scratch marked the beginning of an intellectual upheaval, helping to launch what is now called the Modern period of philosophical thought; the Western world is yet today the heir of modernism. Locke, Leibniz, Hume, and Kant are several of the most important figures of this period. We will examine works of these thinkers, exploring both the new sorts of questions that these philosophers raised and their new methods of doing philosophy, which together mark a fundamental break with the traditions that preceded them.

We will devote special attention to the new theories of knowledge they proposed. The philosophical revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries occurred during a time of great scientific progress and political upheaval in Europe; as part of our course we will consider the relation of certain of these developments to the new questions and methods of the modern philosophers. (This course complements Modern Moral Philosophy, but either may be taken independently.)

80-252 Kant Spring: 9 units

Immanuel Kant's "Critical philosophy" may be seen as the result of his attempts to determine the sources of human knowledge, and to find metaphysical foundations for Newton's mechanics. This course will involve readings in some of Kant's major works, as well as secondary sources. Emphasis will be placed on understanding Kant's thought in the context of contemporary intellectual developments and on his theory of human cognition.

80-253 Continental Philosophy Spring: 9 units

This course provides students with an overview of key historical and philosophical movements in European Philosophy. The cultural and historical background for 20th Century Continental Philosophy covers Descartes, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche (Hegel and Marx are also options). Early to mid-20th Century Continental Philosophy covers the central tenets of phenomenology and existentialism (e.g., intentionality, Being-in-the-World, Bad Faith). This part will involve selections from the works of, for example, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. Finally, cultural and philosophical trends such as Structuralism, Hermeneutics and Post-modernism (e.g., Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard and Habermas) will be addressed.

80-254 Analytic Philosophy Spring: 9 units

This course examines the revolutionary impact on philosophy and contemporary thought of several scientific breakthroughs that occurred at the turn of the century. By the 1920s, a number of scientists and philosophers were sufficiently impressed by the recent rush of scientific progress to become hopeful that the end of the long tradition of philosophical deadlock was finally within reach. Buoyed in particular by Einstein's theory of relativity and the invention of modern logic, they created a new kind of scientific philosophy with the goal of applying logical and empirical methods to philosophical problems. With the endorsements and contributions of such leading thinkers as Einstein and Russell, the new movement quickly gathered momentum and was a major intellectual force until its disruption by the Second World War. From Wittgenstein's language-oriented philosophy to the scientific study of such notions as meaning, information,computation, and inference, the modern fields of linguistics, cognitive science, and information and computer sciences all owe a debt to these sources, as does of course contemporary philosophy. This course will be centered around selected readings of Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and the Vienna Circle, as well as the post-war reception by Quine and others.

80-255 Pragmatism Fall: 9 units

American Pragmatism represents an energetic attempt to bridge the divergent cultures of science and the humanities. The movement's founder, C.S. Peirce, was trained in chemistry and worked as a physicist, but he was also deeply concerned with the contemporary philosophical portrayal of science, which distinguished sharply between theoretical knowledge and practice. Peirce responded by constructing a comprehensive philosophy emphasizing the scientific importance of community, fallibility, and action. Pragmatism was also developed and vigorously popularized by William James, who aspired to be a painter and ended up as an acknowledged founder of modern empirical psychology. James extended Peirce's position by defending the role of values in even the purest of empirical sciences. John Dewey, who is also well-known for his role in education, interpreted science as an evolving social system and developed a theory of aesthetics based on what we now call the psychology of problem solving. The pragmatists made and continue to make lasting contributions to modern statistics, logic, and social science and their emphases on community, fallibility, action, and value in science are still of primary importance in philosophy and in the ongoing dialogue between the scientific and humanistic cultures.

80-256 Modern Moral Philosophy Fall: 9 units

This course will address some of the central themes of the moral philosophy developed in the 17th and 18th centuries. Much of the philosophy produced in this time was motivated by great social upheavals, including the Thirty Years War, the Glorious Revolution in Britain and the French Revolution, as well as monumental developments in the sciences, including Galileo's and Newton's new physics which overthrew the traditional Aristotelian physics. The moral philosophy of this period opened many new areas of debate undreamed of by pre-17th century philosophers, and remains profoundly influential in our time. In this course we will study the moral theories of some of the most important figures of this period, including Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau and Kant. Topics for discussion will include: (a) The"new" natural law theories that attempted to show that moral precepts are independent of religion., (b) The naturalist and conventionalist accounts of justice proposed during this time., (c) Alternative accounts of the roles that sentiment and rationality play in moral life., (d) Kant's new rationalist account of the moral law., and (e) The proper role, if any, of "social contract" arguments in justifying and explaining human institutions. Please note that this course complements 80-251, Modern Philosophy I, but may be taken independently of that course.

80-257 Nietzche Spring: 9 units

During his life in the late nineteenth century, Fredrich Nietzsche was a relatively obscure German philosopher. Since his death however, he has become deeply influential and well known, and was a source of inspiration for many important twentieth century thinkers. Despite this popularity, Nietzsche's philospohy mysterious and often misunderstood. Much of his writing consisted of aphorisms, rather than more traditional prose and arguments, and many of his positions seemed to contradict one another. This course will cover a broad range of Nietzsche's writings, focusing on such central concepts as the will to power, eternal recurrence, and the oft misunderstood Ubermensch ("overman"). Throughout, we will focus on developing a consistent interpretation of an enigmatic philosopher whose views have been mischaracterized throughout the past century.

80-258 Leibniz, Locke, and Hume Spring: 9 units

This course will take a close look at the theories of knowledge of three major thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: John Locke, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and David Hume. Selections from Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Leibniz's reply in New Essays on Human Understanding, and Hume's views in The Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding as well as secondary sources will be discussed.

80-270 Philosophy of Mind Fall: 9 units

The course offers an introduction to some of the basic questions in the Philosophy of Mind: What is the real nature of mental states? (the ontological problem); What sort of property (if any) confers truth evaluability and content on certain psychological states? (the semantical problem); How do we know that other agents have consciousness and enjoy mental states at all? What are the minimal conditions of personhood? (the epistemological problem); What sort of data is admissible to construct a "science of the mind"? What are the relationships between "folk" and scientific psychology? (the methodological problem); Which is the role of contentful psychological states in the explanation of behavior? How the intentionality and thought of individual agents connect with their social nature and their communal experience? (the problem of psychological explanation).Each year the course pays particular attention to a topic or a family of topics. In the recent years focal points have been: (a) recent theories of consciousness, (b) the status of the so-called computational theory of mind (alias functionalism), (c) the tension between computational and associationist models of the mind (d) the nature of desires and emotions.

80-271 Philosophy and Psychology Spring: 9 units

Throughout both of their histories, philosophy and psychology have had a close relationship. This course will examine some of the many ways in which philosophical and psychological theories have mattered for each other, both in the past and present. In particular, we will begin by examining a series of historical cases in which philosophy and psychology have intersected, such as Kant's influence on Helmholtz's psychological theories, or the influences of psychological behaviorism on philosophical logical positivism (and vice versa). We will also consider, in significantly more depth, a more recent intersection of philosophy and psychology: the philosophical problem of free will, and recent research on its psychological and neuroscientific foundations.

80-275 Metaphysics Spring: 9 units

The topical agenda of this course will vary. Typical topics include the problem of personal identity, the nature of human freedom, the nature of the self, the nature of reality and being, the nature of causality, and the question of whether solutions to such problems can be given. Classical as well as contemporary philosophic texts will be studied.

80-276 Philosophy of Religion Fall: 9 units

In order to expand our ideas about what religion could be, the course begins with a brief cross-cultural review of some major religious traditions around the world. Then we turn to some more traditional arguments for and against theism, including the ontological, cosmological, and design arguments, the argument from religious experience, the argument from miracles and historical testimony, and the problem of evil. We will also consider whether morality ultimately depends on God's sanctions and (yes, here it is at Carnegie Mellon) whether life would be meaningless if God did not exist.

80-280 Introduction to Linguistic Analysis: Syntax Fall: 9 units

The goal of this course is to equip students with the vocabulary and skills needed to engage in the analysis of linguistic data. The course will focus on one or more of the following topics: syntactic analysis (analysis of sentence structure), phonological analysis (analysis of linguistic sound systems) or semantic analysis (analysis of sentence interpretation). Other topics may be included. In each segment of the course, an appropriate formal framework will be presented, to be used as a tool of analysis. Using this tool, you will develop your ability to describe linguistic phenomena accurately, to make linguistic generalizations, and to propose accounts of these generalizations within a given theoretical framework.

80-282 Phonetics and Phonology Fall: 9 units

80-291 Issues in Multimedia Authoring Fall: 9 units

This course emphasizes the philosophical, cultural, and sociological aspects of multimedia. The course will explore these issues historically and thematically by looking at central figures in the early days of computers and communication theory (e.g., Alan Turing and Claude Shannon) and recent work by writers such as Brenda Laurel (Computers as Theatre), George Landow (HyperText 2.0), and Janet Murray (Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace). This is not a technical course in issues relating to the creation of multimedia software. It is a course concerned with the meaning of multimedia authoring in its contemporary societal context.

80-300 Minds Machines, and Knowledge Fall: 9 units

Theories of Cognitive Architecture explore how systems are designed so they can behave intelligently. Such theories can roughly be divided into those that are biological and those that are computational. The computational models in turn can roughly be divided into theorem provers and networks.In this edition of Minds, Machines and Knowledge we will look at the historical sources of the two kinds of computational accounts, and at a contemporary presentation of a biological account. The sources of the theorem prover account are Kant and Carnap, with some help from Bertrand Russell. We will make some comparisons with contemporary computational theories. The biological account is Patricia Churchland's.

80-305 Rational Choice Fall: 9 units

This course will cover selected topics in rational choice theory, which informally is the analysis of how to make correct decision in a given context. The course offers an introduction to the main normative theories of rational choice: von Neumann-Morgenstern theory of expected utility, Anscombe-Aumann's account and Savage's theory of choice under uncertainty. Possible topics may include, and are not limited to: individual choice under uncertainty and related issues in the psychology of judgment and decision making, problems of public choice in which a group of individuals must collectively make a decision, game-theoretic problems of conflict and coordination, alternative approaches to the problem of fair division of goods as well as recent theories that abandon the Bayesian assumption that the decision maker's beliefs can always be represented by a unique probability distribution. This course will stress the role that formal methods can play in the analysis of decisions and alternative applications of decision theory to issues in philosophy and social science.

80-310 Logic and Computation Fall: 9 units

Among the most significant developments in logic in the twentieth century is the formal analysis of the notions of provability and semantic consequence. For first-order logic, the two are related by the soundness and completeness theorems: a sentence is provable if and only if it is true in every interpretation. This course begins with a formal description of first-order logic, and proofs of the soundness and completeness theorems. Other topics may include: compactness, the Lowenheim-Skolem theorems, nonstandard models of arithmetic, definability, other logics, and automated deduction.

80-311 Computability and Incompleteness Spring: 9 units

The 1930's witnessed two revolutionary developments in mathematical logic: first, Gödel's famous incompleteness theorems, which demonstrate the limitations of formal mathematical reasoning, and second, the formal analysis of the notion of computation in the work of Turing, Gödel, Herbrand, Church, Post, Kleene, and others, together with Turing's results on the limits of computation. This course will cover these developments, and related results in logic and the theory of computability.

80-312 Philosophy of Mathematics Spring: 9 units

The 20th century witnessed remarkable and novel developments of mathematics - with deep roots in the 19th century. The beginnings of these developments were beset with foundational problems and provoked a variety of programmatic responses: logicism, intuitionism, and finitism. For a deeper study of basic issues, we review a part of classical Greek mathematics (the theory of proportions) that is closely connected to the foundations of analysis in the 19th century. We analyze set theoretic and constructive approaches, and discuss fundamental metamathematical results and their philosophical implications. A "reductive structuralist" position will finally provide a perspective for understanding the abstract character of mathematics as well as its usefulnes in applications.

80-314 Logic in Artificial Intelligence Spring: 9 units

An introduction to several formalisms used in knowledge representation and database theory. The emphasis is placed on nonmonotonic logic, conditional logic and belief revision methods. We will also study recent issues in the logics of knowledge and belief and consider applications in distributed AI. Several methodological problems in AI are discussed.

80-315 Modal Logic Fall: 9 units

An introduction to first-order modal logic. The course considers several modalities aside from the so-called alethic ones (necessity, possibility). Epistemic, temporal or deontic modalities are studied, as well as computationally motivated modals (like "after the computation terminates"). Several conceptual problems in formal ontology that motivated the field are reviewed, as well as more recent applications in computer science and linguistics. Kripke models are used throughout the course, but we also study recent Kripkean-style systematizations of the modals without using possible worlds. Special attention is devoted to Scott-Montague models of the so-called 'classical' modalities.

80-316 Probability and AI Fall: 9-12 units

In this course we will examine foundational questions about the concepts of causality and probability, how artificial intelligence techniques can be used to solve some of the computational problems presented by the use of probabilities and representations of causal relations, and how probabilities and representations of causal relations have been incorporated into recently developed expert systems. The foundational questions we will examine are: What do causal and probabilistic statements mean? How can probabilities and causal relations be inferred? Are there any axioms relating causal relations to probability distributions? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using probabilities as compared to alternative representations of uncertainty? We will then discuss recent developments in Artificial Intelligence (e.g. Bayesian networks) which have solved some of the long-standing computational problems associated with the use of probabilities and statements about causal relations. Finally, we will study in detail some expert systems, such as QMR and Pathfinder, which have incorporated these new techniques in order to perform medical diagnosis.

80-317 Constructive Logic Intermittent: 9 units

This multidisciplinary junior-level course is designed to provide a thorough introduction to modern constructive logic, its roots in philosophy, its numerous applications in computer science, and its mathematical properties. Some of the topics to be covered are intuitionistic logic, inductive definitions, functional programming, type theory, realizability, connections between classical and constructive logic, decidable classes. Prerequisites: 15151 or 15211 or 15212 or 80210 or 80211

80-318 Computation and Proof Search Intermittent: 9 units

Can one mechanize significant parts of mathematical reasoning? To answer this question, we carry out a case study for Godel's incompleteness theorems and some theorems of set theory. That requires extensive preparatory work in Parts 1 and 2 of the course. In part 1 we survey problems that led to the search for a notion of computability, look at a number of different notions, and give a convincing conceptual analysis that is based on work by Turing, Post, and Gandy. The decision problem was solved negatively using such rigorous notions of computability. The theorem of Church and Turing asserts that there is no mechanical procedure deciding whether or not a sentence in the language of first-order logic is a logical truth. However, Godel's completeness theorem guarantees that every logical truth can be proved - in a suitable calculus. A variety of procedures have been developed to search systematically for proofs. Part 2 investigates "proof search procedures" for natural deduction calculi.

80-319/719 Computability and Learnability 9 units

This course is conceived as an alternative way to fulfill the 80311, Computability and Incompleteness requirement for students who are more interested in rationality, learning, and scientific method than in logic and the foundations of mathematics. A solid grounding in the theory of computability will be provided, but the applications will concern computational learning theory, which studies what can be learned or discovered by computational agents from empirical data rather than what can be proved in a logical system. The application is more natural than it might seem at first.

The problem of induction is that a general law may be refuted by the next observation, no matter how long it has withstood test. But there is a parallel problem about algorithmic halting: no matter how long a computation fails to halt, it may halt as soon as a world-be decision procedure concludes that it never will. In both cases, the difficulty can be sidestepped by entertaining methods that converge to the right answer without announcing when they have done so. We will delve into this analogy, using the theory of computability to investigate such questions as what machines can learn, whether machines could discover uncomputable truths, why irrational machines may be smarter, and what good it would do to have an infinite regress of methods, each of which checks whether its predecessor will find the truth.

All topics covered are self-contained, but students are expected to have some basic background in logic, computation, or discrete mathematics. The text will consist of handout lecture notes. The course grade will be based on exercises and two short papers that will provide vital practice in writing articles for conference proceedings.

80-321 Causation and Social Policy Fall: 9 units

Policy makers face causal questions. For example, does violence on TV cause violence in life, and if so, what policies can we institute that will actually curb it? Does the death penalty actually deter criminals? Do tough drug laws reduce drug use? This course investigates how social and behavioral scientists establish causal claims, and how policy makers rely on or systematically ignore such science. We examine what causal claims mean and how they connect to statistical data, and we discuss the limits of standard techniques for establishing causal claims. We will consider all of these issues first theoretically, and then in the context of several case studies, including the effect of media violence on real violence. Knowledge of social science and/ or statistics is not required, but is desirable.

80-322 Philosophy of Physics Spring: 9 units

This course examines philosophical problems in the development of modern physics. Topics include the philosophical significance of Einstein's theory of relativity, interpretations of quantum mechanics, and the relationship between these two theories. Other topics may include the philosophy of space and time, the epistemology of geometry, the significance of modern cosmology, and chaos theory.

80-323 Philosophy of Biology Spring: 9 units

This course will focus on a range of foundational problems in evolutionary biology, including the possibility of meaningful explanations and laws, evolutionary explanations of human behavior from sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, and controversies over the meanings and roles of a variety of foundational concepts (including fitness, adaptation, optimality, and probability). Philosophers have historically played a central role in these debates, and so we will also examine the ways in which the theory and practice of evolutionary biology have changed in light of philosophical arguments and observations. This course will be accessible both to philosophers interested in the epistemological and metaphysical status of evolutionary biology, and to biologists interested in better understanding the foundations of their field. Although there are no formal prerequisites for this course, students will be expected to have taken courses in either philosophy or biology.

80-330 Research Ethics Spring: 9 units

This course covers foundational issues in the ethical evaluation and regulation of research involving human subjects. It begins with a historical overview of the origins of research ethics after World War II as a response to high profile cases of abuse or scandal. This unit covers "classic cases" including the Tuskegee syphilis study, the Willowbrook hepatitis study, the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital Case, and others. It also covers seminal documents such as the Nuremberg Code, the Belmont Report, and the current federal regulations known as the Common Rule. Against this historical backdrop, the course then examines foundational philosophical issues in human-subjects research including ethical issues in clinical trial design, the concept of equipoise and the use of placebo controls, the requirements of justice in the research context, and the values of privacy and informed consent. The course will touch on ethical issues in non-biomedical areas of research such as psychology, the social sciences and computer science, and end with issues at the cutting edge of current debate.

80-340 Environmental Ethics and Decision Processes Fall: 9 units

The use of limited natural resources such as water, land, and energy sources inevitably produces conflicts over access, regulation and policy, environmental standards, and enforcement. Traditional means of settling such conflicts, and particularly the legal system, often do not address the fundamental differences in values and goals of the parties, or include all stakeholders (such as future generations). Legal battles are often costly, socially as well as economically. A promising innovation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, involves the use of negotiation and mediation to resolve environmental disputes. Based on a series of environmental case studies, this course will explore the nature of ADR methods: the values implicit in the processes, the types of outcomes they produce, and the criticisms that have been raised.

80-341 Computers, Society and Ethics Spring: 9 units

This course explores many of the social and ethical issues that have emerged in the wake of the significant advances that we have witnessed in computer science and information technology (IT). Computers and communications technologies have had an increasing impact on the whole of society and have raised new and difficult ethical questions. In turn, these ethical issues have spurred the need for a consideration of new policies and regulations. In this new world of IT, some are concerned about the protection of their privacy while others find problems of censorship and, more generally, restrictions on information access to be their main focus as a problematic social issue. This course will address these and other issues such as: questions of free speech, surveillance in the workplace, intellectual property and copyright, information acquisition and ethics and the Internet.

80-344 Environmental Ethics Fall: 9 units

This course will survey numerous philosophical and ethical aspects of the environmental movement. It will focus upon such topics as the nature of environmental responsibility, anthropocentric versus biocentric considerations of the environment, animal rights, obligations to future generations and the "land ethics" of Aldo Leopold. It will explore the arguments found in the debates over radical environmental activism, deep ecology, social ecology and eco-feminism. Environmental justice, issues of environmental rights, the possibilities of sustainable environmental practices and the causes of our ecological condition will be discussed in this course as well.

80-346 Value Fact and Policy Fall: 9 units

This seminar is about how appraisals of value and fact interact in the deliberation and evaluation of public policy. Policy making and debate entail value judgments and evaluation (the weighing and balancing of competing values, interests and goals) as well as assiduous fact finding. When we disagree about the facts of the matter, we may think that we have a good idea of how to go about settling the disagreement. But what do we do when we disagree about values? That is a central question for this seminar. But policy issues cannot be intelligently debated absent facts. And the factual issues may be arguable and complex: we encounter political, sociological, cultural, psychological issues as well as legal and ethical questions. For depth of perspective, so that we can become well versed in the relevant factual as well as value controversies, the seminar will focus on specific policy disputes regarding crime and violence. A commonsense framework for deliberating and evaluating public policy will be proposed and critiqued.

80-380 Philosophy of Language Spring: 9 units

What constitutes an adequate theory of meaning for ordinary language? This question, which is central to the philosophy of language, will be the focus of the course. In answering it, we will confront many additional questions, including: what view of meaning allows for the construction of such a theory? What is the relation between what a sentence means and what a speaker means? What is the connection between linguistic form and linguistic meaning? While we will explore classic philosophical answers to these questions, we will also investigate recent work in which the emerging insights of formal linguistics are used to shed new light on these old problems. The course will involve a significant amount of reading, and several paper assignments. While this is an introduction to the philosophy of language, it is not an introduction to philosophy. Students enrolling in this course should have taken at least one philosophy course in which they read from the philosophy literature and were required to write at least one paper. Students interested in the course who lack this background may request permission from the instructors to enroll.

80-405 Game Theory Spring: 9 units

The first part of course will be a standard introduction to noncooperative games. The second part will cover experimental game theory and formal models that take into account social preferences, fairness and reciprocity motives. Prerequisites: 80305 and 80605

80-411 Proof Theory Fall: 9 units

This course is an introduction to Hilbert-style proof theory, where the goal is to represent mathematical arguments using formal deductive systems, and study those systems in syntactic, constructive, computational, or otherwise explicit terms. In the first part of the course, we will study various types of deductive systems (axiomatic systems, natural deduction, and sequent calculi) for classical, intuitionistic, and minimal logic. We will prove Gentzen's cut-elimination theorem, and use it to prove various theorems about first-order logic, including Herbrand’s theorem, the interpolation theorem, the conservativity of Skolem axioms, and the existence and disjunction properties for intuitionistic logic. In the second part of the course, we will use these tools to study formal systems of arithmetic, including primitive recursive arithmetic, Peano arithmetic, and subsystems of second-order arithmetic. In particular, we will try to understand how mathematics can be formalized in these theories, and what types of information can be extracted using metamathematical techniques. Prerequisites: 21300 or 80310 or 80311

80-413 Category Theory Spring: 9 units

Category theory, a branch of abstract algebra, has found many applications in mathematics, logic, and computer science. Like such fields as elementary logic and set theory, category theory provides a basic conceptual apparatus and a collection of formal methods useful for addressing certain kinds of commonly occurring formal and informal problems, particularly those involving structural and functional considerations. This course is intended to acquaint students with these methods, and also to encourage them to reflect on the interrelations between category theory and the other basic formal disciplines. Prerequisites: one course in logic or algebra

80-419 Topics in Logic and Foundations of Math Intermittent: 9 units

80-449 Topics in Applied Ethics Intermittent: 9 units

This course allows students who have taken 100, 200, or 300level courses in applied ethics to pursue deeper studies in a specific topic of applied ethics.

80-481 Formal Semantics Spring: 9 units

This course provides a high-level introduction to the field of formal semantics for natural language. The goal of formal semantics is to develop a theory capable of representing how the meanings of sentences are constructed from the meanings of their parts. The theory must thus be able to represent the meanings of sentence parts i.e. words and word constituents, and provide rules for how these meanings are combined. In the course, we will adopt the model-theoretic, truth conditional approach which is standard in linguistic semantics. Our talk of "meaning" will thus be restricted to the assignment of model-theoretic objects " individuals, sets, functions, and so on" to expressions of the language. This approach utilizes translation of natural language into a formal language (logic); part of the task, then, is to identify an appropriate logic to serve as the translation language. No background in linguistic theory is required for the course. However, students must be comfortable with basic set theory and with quantified first-order (predicate) logic. This formal background will be assumed.

80-511 Thesis Seminar Spring: 9 units

This course provides a forum for the presentation and detailed discussion of research done by students, be they undergraduates working on their Senior Thesis or graduate students engaged with their M.S. thesis.

80-512 Seminar on Causation Fall: 9 units

This course explores the foundations of causation. It examines how causal claims connect to both probability and to counterfactuals. Under a variety of background assumptions, and a variety of senses of "reliable", we will examine which causal inferences can be made reliably. We will also examine recent developments in statistics and artificial intelligence relating to causal inference.

80-513 Seminar of Philosophy of Mathmatics Fall and Spring: 9 units

The seminar discusses mathematical, logical, and philosophical work that is important for the foundations of mathematics. That may range from constructive consistency proofs for classical theories through conceptual analyses of central mathematical notions to the discussion of ontological and epistemological issues.

80-514 Seminar on Philosophy of Science Fall: 9 units

A graduate level critical review of standard issues in the philosophy of science. Topics will include determinism, predictability, confirmation, probability, causation, lawlikeness, explanation, the aims of science, the content of scientific claims, the rationality of belief in scientific claims.

80-515 Seminar on the Foundations of Statistics Spring: 9 units

The seminar focuses on some single important foundational work, or body of work, and investigates it and related research from a contemporary point of view. For example, when Savage’s Foundations of Statistics is the course's focus, the class goals include understanding how Bayesian decision theory differs from its rivals, and understanding where Savages position is located within the current Bayesian program. Other seminal thinkers whose writings have served as the course's focus in different terms include, R.A.Fisher, Harold Jeffreys, J.Neyman, and A. Wald. Prerequisities: This is primarily a graduate level class. Instructor permission is required for undergraduates .

80-516 Seminar on Metaphysics Intermittent: 9 units

We will begin, appropriately, with readings from Plato and from Aristotle's Metaphysics, which motivate the fundamental questions of metaphysics. With this classical background, we will turn to a range of exemplary contemporary articles concerning such traditional metaphysical questions as the nature of existence, necessity, and causation, the persistence of objects through time, and personal identity. This is an advanced undergraduate class.

80-517 Seminar in Social and Political Philosophy Spring: 9 units

The seminar's topic changes every year. In the past, it covered subjects such as the nature of social norms, the evolution of institutions and the use of dynamic models in the social sciences.

80-518 Seminar on Epistemology Spring: 9 units

This seminar focuses on prominent issues in contemporary epistemology. Standard topics in the field will be studied in the light of recent research in artificial intelligence, cognitive science as well as social and decision sciences. Topics considered in recent years include "local" theories of induction, the problem of how to represent belief and how to justify belief change, as well as issues related to the viability and structure of current theories of "radical probabilism" in Bayesian epistemology. The seminar discusses not only issues in "classical" epistemology, but also more recent naturalistic and pragmatists approaches.

80-519 Seminar History of Philosophy Spring: 9 units

This course focuses on seminal figures, eras, or movements in the history of philosophy. Although the specific topic of the seminar varies, the goals of the course are to situate important philosophical tests or ideas within a broader historical context and to provide a systematic critical investigation of those ideas. Topics of the seminar might include: Aristotle's Ethics, Plato, Hume, Kant's First Critique, The Empiricists, The Rationalists, History of Philosophy of Mathematics.

80-520 Categorical Logic Fall: 9 units

This course focuses on applications of category theory in logic and computer science. A leading idea is functorial semantics, according to which a model of a logical theory is a set-valued functor on a category determined by the theory. This gives rise to a syntax-invariant notion of a theory and introduces many algebraic methods into logic, leading naturally to the universal and other general models that distinguish functorial from classical semantics. Such categorical models occur, for example, in denotational semantics. e.g. treating the lambda-calculus via the theory of Cartesian closed categories. Similarly, higher-order logic is treated categorically by the theory of topoi. Note: this course will begin with a 3 week refresher of basic category theory

-CS students can start after immigration by reviewing on their own.

80-521 Seminar on Methodology Fall: 9-12 units

The basic idea behind this course is a deep mathematical analogy between Hume's problem of induction and uncomputability: Hume asks how you could tell for sure that the sun will always rise and Turing asks how a computer could tell for sure that a computation will never end. Systematic exploration of this analogy has led to a sub-discipline of computer science known as computational learning theory. The aim of this course is to apply ideas from computational learning theory to such standard philosophical issues as skepticism and underdetermination, the nature of scientific justification, how Ockham's razor helps us find the truth, whether a computer could converge to the truth about a radically non-computable theory, and a computational solution of the problem of infinite regresses. Graduate students from other departments and undergraduates with training equivalent to 80311 or 80-319 are welcome.

80-523 Seminar on the Philosophy of Language Fall: 9 units

80-602 Journal Seminar Spring: 12 units

Φ Back to Courses