Summer 2018 Albert Course Search HERE.
Please note: No prerequisites are required for any summer courses.
FIRST SUMMER SESSION:
PHIL-UA 1; Central Problems in Philosophy; MTWR 3:30-5:05; Michelle Dyke
This course will provide an introduction to some of the classic and enduring problems in philosophy and to the methods that philosophers use for tackling them. Our readings, assignments, and class discussions will be structured around four central questions: What is knowledge? What is the relationship between the human mind and the physical body? Is our world causally determined, and does that preclude the possibility of free will? What is required for moral responsibility? We will compare historical discussions of each of these issues with work by more recent philosophers. Some class time will be devoted to discussing what makes for good philosophical writing.
PHIL-UA 4; Life and Death; MTWR 11:30-1:05; Arden Koehler
Human beings are capable of abstract thought, self-governance, and imagination. Yet each one of us is brought into existence though no choice of our own, severely undignified and lacking any control over our situation; and we are stricken from existence in almost the same fashion. Meanwhile, everything we do is conditional on the functioning of a biological organism that is vulnerable in all kinds of ways. What does it mean for us that we are bound in this way to processes and cycles of which we have imperfect understanding and very limited control? In this course, we will discuss philosophical issues related to reproduction, childhood, death, pathology, memory, and identity. Students will learn to read philosophy and discuss philosophical issues critically and carefully, produce clear argumentative writing, and see platitudes and common wisdom about human life with a critical and philosophical eye.
PHIL-UA 85; Philosophy of Language; MTWR 1:30-3:05; Ben Holguin
Here is a sentence: "There are more grains of sand on Earth than there are atoms in the universe." Here is something interesting about it: Despite the fact that you've never seen this sentence before, and despite the fact that it's just a bunch of marks on paper (or a computer screen), you know what it means and you know that it's false. How is this possible? How do words and sentences get their meanings, and what is the relationship between word meaning and sentence meaning? In virtue of what does an abstract representation--say a word or a thought--get to have meaning in the first place? In attempting to answer these questions, this course will examine various philosophical and psychological approaches to language and meaning, as well as their consequences for traditional philosophical problems in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. Note: Please get in touch with the instructor if you wish to enroll but have not already taken a course in analytic philosophy.
SECOND SUMMER SESSION:
PHIL-UA 5; Minds and Machines; MTWR 11:30-1:05; Jennifer Judge
In both philosophy and cognitive science, it is common to model the mind as a kind of machine. On a view held by many, the brain is the hardware on which our mental software runs. But is the mind really just the software of the brain, or is it more like the hardware? Could a machine think, and if it did, would it be conscious? And are there any reasons to think that the entire mind-as-machine model might be misguided? In this course, we will explore and critically evaluate various possible answers to these questions, reading some classic papers in the philosophy of mind as we go.
PHIL-UA 45; Political Philosophy; MTWR 3:30-5:05; David Storrs-Fox
By studying political philosophy, you can learn to apply philosophical rigor to important and enduring questions about public life. In this course we'll consider the ends we might pursue through politics - such as freedom, equality and justice - and what uses of political power are legitimate in pursuit of these ends. In view of the current prominence of nationalistic movements worldwide, we'll also reflect on the moral significance (if any) of national borders and on whether we have special obligations to our compatriots.
PHIL-UA 76; Epistemology; MTWR 1:30-3:05 Annette Martin
Do you actually do things like eat and do homework, or are you just a brain in a vat hooked up to electrodes that make it seem that way? Could you ever rule this out as a possibility? Starting with skeptical concerns like this one, we will consider various questions about belief and knowledge, such as: when are we justified in our beliefs? How, if ever, do we have knowledge? Can knowledge be relative? And what, if any, are the social dimensions of belief and knowledge?
PHIL-UA 78; Metaphysics; MTWR 1:30-3:05; Trevor Teitel
In this course we’ll survey some of the greatest hits of recent metaphysics, touching on related topics in the philosophy of physics. Questions we’re likely to look at include: Are space and time part of the fundamental structure of the world? Do things that exist now have some special status over things that existed in the past or will exist in the future? Is the idea of someone traveling through time to the distant past or far future somehow incoherent? In what sense, if any, do the laws of nature that scientists aim to discover govern how history unfolds? Could the world have been exactly as it is except you’re Bob Dylan and he’s you? And if not, in what sense is this impossible? Is everything in some sense explicable, or are there facts that can’t be explained? And is there a scientifically respectable explanation of why there’s something rather than nothing? Finally, are debates over questions like these substantive? Or is the entire project of metaphysics somehow misguided? No familiarity with metaphysics or physics will be presupposed. Students who haven’t already taken a course in philosophy should contact the instructor before enrolling.