Summer courses do not have prerequisites.
FIRST SUMMER SESSION (5/23-7/6)
PHIL-UA 22; Plato; M/T/W/TH 1:30PM-3:05PM; Alan Barat
In this course, we will read several of Plato’s dialogues in order to understand his metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology: his views about what is real, what is good, and how we know what is real and good. There will be a special focus on the relationship between these views with respect to the project of becoming a good person.
For Plato, the world of which we are aware through our senses is less real than a world beyond it, a world of Ideas (or Forms). Everything, including the objects of our senses, depend for their reality on these Ideas. And ultimately, all Ideas depend on one highest Idea: the Idea of the Good. We will focus on how for Plato becoming a good person is not only an ethical process, but at the same time an epistemological and metaphysical process: how becoming good is at the same time coming to know the Idea of the Good, and having our soul in some sense ascend to the Good.
PHIL-UA 40; Ethics; M/T/W/TH 6:00PM-7:35PM; Patrick Wu
Examines a central question in moral philosophy: what should I do? Should I maximize happiness? Respect others’ rights? Follow the virtues? Or something else? The first half of the course covers some classic arguments and views on this question. The second half explores how formal tools (e.g. from decision theory) may shed light here. No prior experience with formal reasoning needed.
PHIL-UA 41; The Nature of Values; M/T/W/TH 11:30AM-1:05PM; Aidan Penn
Examines the nature and grounds of judgments about moral and/or nonmoral values. Are such judgments true or false? Can they be more or less justified? Are the values of which they speak objective or subjective?
PHIL-UA 76; Epistemology; M/T/W/TH 9:30AM-11:05PM; Cristina Ballarini
ONLINE ONLY - A brief introduction to epistemology. The course will be divided into roughly three units: the first focused on knowledge, the second on epistemic justification, and the third on belief. We’ll concentrate on questions including (but not limited to): What is knowledge, and how does it relate to justified belief? Does the justification of a person’s belief depend only on facts internal to that person, or does it also depend on facts about her environment? What is it to believe something anyway, and how should the confidence a person invests in various claims relate to her beliefs?
PHIL-UA 78; Metaphysics; M/T/W/TH 3:30PM-5:05PM; Tez Clark
Metaphysics is often glossed as the study of reality’s fundamental nature. It might be initially puzzling as to why this topic is a matter for philosophy, as opposed to physics. But philosophical problems arise once we notice that many everyday things—ourselves and our thoughts, not to mention free will, norms, causes and explanations—are hard to locate in the natural world. Philosophers have developed several responses to this problem. Three popular ones are eliminativism (some everyday things don’t exist), reductionism (some everyday things exist, but reduce to natural features and are therefore different than we initially thought), and non-reductionism (everyday things exist, and so there is more to existence than the natural world). This course will address these problems, with a special focus on (i) identifying what we mean by a “natural” worldview and (ii) differences between the first-person and third-person perspectives of the world.
PHIL-UA 93; Philosophical Applications of Cognitive Science; M/T/W/TH 3:30-5:05; Soren Schlassa
Applies recent discoveries about the mind to philosophical questions about metaphysics, logic, and ethics. Questions include: Is there a right way to “carve up” the world into categories? Why do we see the world as consisting of objects in places? What is causation? Is there such a thing as objective right and wrong? Do we have free will? An overarching theme will be: how much of our world do our brains construct for us, and how much do they discover?
SECOND SUMMER SESSION (7/7-8/17)
PHIL-UA 3; Ethics and Society; M/T/W/TH 3:30PM-5:05PM; Clara Lingle
ONLINE ONLY - An introduction to philosophy through the study of selected moral, social, and political issues. Topics may include criminal justice and punishment; political authority and civil disobedience; toleration and free speech; racial justice.
PHIL-UA 5; Minds and Machines; M/T/W/TH 9:30AM-11:05AM; Clifford Carr
An introduction to the philosophy of mind and related topics, by examining how minds have been both defined against and understood by analogy to machines and computers. Topics will include: what is a computation, and in what sense (if any) can computation be considered thought; conversely, why is thought often characterized as a residue of what can be made computable? How might shifting technologies displace, or call into question the possibility of, stable answers to these questions? How might the comparison between minds and machines inform our understanding of the moral status of humans? Our conceptual categories of race, gender, and class? Our understanding of social and economic interactions between humans and computers? Readings will be drawn from analytic philosophy of mind and critical theory.
PHIL-UA 40; Ethics; M/T/W/TH 3:30PM-5:05PM; Sophie Cote
Examines fundamental questions of moral philosophy: What are our most basic values, and which of them are specifically moral values? What are the ethical principles, if any, by which we should judge our actions, ourselves, and our lives?
PHIL-UA 78; Metaphysics; M/T/W/TH 1:30PM-3:05; Noga Gratvol
The study of metaphysics is concerned with the nature and structure of reality. In this course, we will focus on a few central issues within this broad field: time, identity, modality, and the relation between the mental and the physical. We will discuss questions such as: Does the future exist? Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? Are there possible universes other than our own? Could you have had different parents? Is your mind identical to your brain? We will examine different positions on these issues, and assess arguments for and against them.
PHIL-UA 85; Philosophy of Language: Paradoxes; M/T/W/TH 11:30AM-1:05PM; Will Nava
Paradoxes are apparently sound arguments that establish what seem to be absurd conclusions. This course will examine certain questions that arise from paradoxes, such as: Can the problematic consequences of paradoxes be in some sense confined to language, or do they tell us something about the world? Do paradoxes give us a reason to revise logic (and what would that even mean)? Does rejecting certain principles in response to paradox amount to ‘changing the meaning’ of our concepts? We will tackle these questions by looking at some well-known paradoxes, including the Liar (“This sentence is false”), the Sorites (aka ‘the paradox of the heap’), the Hooded Man, and the paradox of non-existence.