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PHIL 2: Introduction to Moral Philosophy (ETHICSOC 20)

What should I do with my life? What kind of person should I be? How should we treat others? What makes actions right or wrong? What is good and what is bad? What should we value? How should we organize society? Is there any reason to be moral? Is morality relative or subjective? How, if at all, can such questions be answered? Intensive introduction to theories and techniques in contemporary moral philosophy.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER

PHIL 7N: Philosophy and Science Fiction

What if things had been otherwise? What if things are someday, somewhere, very different than they are here and now? Science fiction and other genre fiction gives us the opportunity to explore worlds that stretch our conceptions of reality, of what it is to have a mind, to be human, and to communicate with one another. This course examines central questions in philosophy through the lens of speculative fiction. Can there be freedom in a deterministic world? How could language and communication evolve? What is a mind, and what is the nature of experience? How can we know what the world is like? We¿ll read classical and contemporary papers in philosophy alongside short stories, novels, and movies that play the role of thought experiments in illuminating philosophical issues.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3
Instructors: Cao, R. (PI)

PHIL 11N: Skepticism

Preference to freshmen. Historical and contemporary philosophical perspectives on the limits of human knowledge of a mind-independent world and causal laws of nature. The nature and possibility of a priori knowledge. Skepticism regarding religious beliefs..
Terms: Win | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum

PHIL 12N: Concepts and concept possession

Our thoughts are made up of concepts. If I didn¿t have the concept of a caterpillar or of love or of a prime number, I couldn¿t think about caterpillars, love, or prime numbers, respectively. And if I couldn¿t think about those things then I couldn¿t talk or sing or make jokes about them, believe or remember anything about them, reason about them, hope or desire or fear anything to do with them¿and so on. But what are concepts? What does it take to haveone? And how do we get to do that: what¿s involved in the acquisition of a concept? Are some concepts innate? To what extent can empirical psychology help improve our understanding of concepts? How are concepts related to natural language? What counts as concept change? And how is it possible for concepts to `reach out¿ and be about aspects of the world (e.g., about caterpillars, love or prime numbers)?nnIn this seminar we will explore these and related questions through extensive discussions, reading and writing. There will be a lot of emphasis on active class participation. The reading will include texts in contemporary cognitive science as well as in philosophy of mind.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3
Instructors: Malmgren, A. (PI)

PHIL 20N: Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence

Is it really possible for an artificial system to achieve genuine intelligence: thoughts, consciousness, emotions? What would that mean? How could we know if it had been achieved? Is there a chance that we ourselves are artificial intelligences? Would artificial intelligences, under certain conditions, actually be persons? If so, how would that affect how they ought to be treated and what ought to be expected of them? Emerging technologies with impressive capacities already seem to function in ways we do not fully understand. What are the opportunities and dangers that this presents? How should the promises and hazards of these technologies be managed?nnPhilosophers have studied questions much like these for millennia, in scholarly debates that have increased in fervor with advances in psychology, neuroscience, and computer science. The philosophy of mind provides tools to carefully address whether genuine artificial intelligence and artificial personhood are possible. Epistemology (the philosophy of knowledge) helps us ponder how we might be able to know. Ethics provides concepts and theories to explore how all of this might bear on what ought to be done. So we will read philosophical writings in these areas as well as writings explicitly addressing the questions about artificial intelligence, hoping for a deep and clear understanding of the difficult philosophical challenges the topic presents.nnNo background in any of this is presupposed, and you will emerge from the class having made a good start learning about computational technologies as well as a number of fields of philosophical thinking. It will also be a good opportunity to develop your skills in discussing and writing critically about complex issues.
Terms: Win | Units: 3
Instructors: Crimmins, M. (PI)

PHIL 21S: Happiness in Ancient Greek Philosophy

What is happiness and how do we attain it? Considerations about happiness played a central role for Greek philosophers in answering questions like, How should I live my life? and, Why should I be a good person? This course is an introduction to the prominent writers and major schools of ancient Greek philosophy, including Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and the Epicureans. In addition to considering ethical questions about how to act, we also consider closely related questions about how to know the good and whether there is such a thing as human nature. While the course focuses on ancient texts, we shall also consider related arguments made in contemporary ethics.
Terms: Sum | Units: 3

PHIL 23S: Philosophy as Freedom

Philosophizing, if done correctly, can be life-changing: new ideas can change the way we think about, look at, interact, engage and deal with the world around us. New ideas can bring out problems that we could not even see as problems before; they can change our conception of how and why we are to live the lives in the way we think we should; they can change our relations with other individuals who either share or do not share the ideas that we have newly come to acquire. The aim of this course is a philosophical exploration of some of the ideas that have shaped and are currently shaping our world today, and what that means for our evolving understanding of freedom, to be "purely at home with ourselves."
Terms: Sum | Units: 3

PHIL 24A: Knowledge First Epistemology

What is the nature of knowledge? What is the role knowledge should play in our lives? Such questions have been central to philosophy since its inception. It is thus surprising that towards the end of the 20th Century, some philosophers suggested that knowledge is irrelevant to questions regarding what we should believe and how should we act. This tutorial will focus on the knowledge-first project in contemporary epistemology, which was initiated by Timothy Williamson and aims to put knowledge back in the center of philosophical thinking. The goal of this tutorial is to understand the knowledge-first project and its critics. We will focus on recent discussions regarding the metaphysics of knowledge, knowledge norms, and the way knowledge-first epistemology interacts with cognitive science and decision theory. Although no philosophical background is required, a familiarity with philosophy at the level of PHIL 80 will be assumed.
Terms: Win | Units: 2
Instructors: Cohen, M. (PI)

PHIL 24B: The Problem of Evil: Theodicies Old and New

Consider the following three propositions: 1) There is evil in the world; 2) If God exists, God is omnipotent; 3) If God exists, God is perfectly good. The problem of evil amounts to the following: if (2) and (3) are both true, then (1) should not be true; (1) is true; therefore, God does not exist or, at best, (1) is strong evidence against the existence of God. This course considers the problem of evil from both historical and contemporary perspectives, reading critiques of religious belief and theodical responses from historical figures (including Hume, Keats, Voltaire, Aquinas, Augustine, and Leibniz) and contemporary analytic philosophers of religion (such as Plantinga, Van Inwagen, Adams, and Swinburne). If there is time, we will also consider the way thinkers outside the Judeo-Christian tradition have addressed the problem of evil. Although previous experience with the philosophy of religion is welcomed, no such background is required. Interested students are invited to contact the instructor for more information.
Terms: Win | Units: 2
Instructors: Slabon, T. (PI)

PHIL 24C: Existence

Ontology is concerned with what exists and the nature of being. The central ontological question is: what exists? Metaontology is concerned with pinning down what ontological claims and questions mean, and how we should go about answering the latter. Ontology is an ancient subject; metaontology has been around for only 30 years or so. Both subjects are currently enjoying a surge of interest from philosophers.
Terms: Spr | Units: 2
Instructors: Bassett, R. (PI)
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