FALL 2019 COURSE OFFERING
PH 101 - Introduction to Philosophy
Day/Time: 002 T/TH 11:10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Day/Time: 003 W/F 10:10 - 11:30 a.m.
An historical and topical survey, this course will introduce the student to the discipline
of philosophy through the close reading of representative texts, both historical and
contemporary. Through analysis of the texts, lecture, and discussion the student will
gain an understanding of philosophy both as a unique discipline and as a way of asking
and attempting to answer the most profound questions about ourselves and our world
that we may pose.
PH 203 - Ancient Greek Philosophy
Ancient Greek thinkers engaged in a continuous dialogue about certain core philosophical
questions, such as: Why do we philosophize? What is the nature of the cosmos and what
place do human beings have in it? How do we attain knowledge? What is happiness and
how can we achieve it? Is ethical conduct necessary to live a good life?
PH 204 - Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant
An introduction to major thinkers and themes of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century
Europe. The dynamics of the Scientific Revolution - the collection of new discoveries
and inventions and the evolving experimental methods in the early modern period -
led philosophers to a profound reappraisal of fundamental issues such as the sources
and limits of knowledge, the relation between mind and body, theories of human freedom
and personal identity, and the apparently competing desires to explain the surrounding
world in both natural and religious terms. Students will investigate how these philosophical
developments led to distinctively modern ways of thinking about nature and the self.
Primary documents will be read throughout.
PH 207 - Introduction to Logic
An introduction to the basic concepts and methods of modern symbolic logic, with a
focus on their application to proper reasoning. Students learn how to represent sentences
in logical notation, to reconstruct arguments in that notation, to assess arguments
for validity and soundness, and to prove conclusions from premises using a system
of natural deduction. Students also learn to recognize common argument forms and common
mistakes in reasoning (fallacies), are introduced to philosophical issues related
to logic, and learn how symbolic logic is the basis for the digital computer.
PH 211 - Ethics
A critical examination of the nature and principles of some of the major ethical theories
proposed in the history of Western thought. Theories studied may include virtue ethics,
natural law, deontological ethics, social contract, and utilitarianism. The course
may also include some consideration of the application of the theories studied to
selected contemporary moral issues.
PH 230D-001: Early Chinese Philosophy
This course will focus on texts from the golden age of philosophy in China, the period that began before Confucius and ended with the rise of the Qin Dynasty. We will discuss not only the more familiar Confucianism and Daoism, but also ‘Legalism’, Mohism, and the School of Names. Discussion will range over a number of topics, from ethics and political philosophy to the nature of the world, the self, and language—What is a good life like? What is the foundation for our ethical judgments? What is our relationship to nature? What does it mean to be human? How do words get meaning?
PH 230D-002 - Feminist Philosophy
This course explores feminist philosophy, both historical and contemporary. It starts
with the supposition that feminism must be intersectional, taking account of how gender
intersects with race, socio-economic class, sexuality, ethnicity, and nationality
to shape people’s social positions, experiences, and identities. It explores a range
of issues and concepts such as oppression, power, privilege; the very concepts of
“sex,” “gender,” and “sexuality” and the connections between sexual identities and
gender identities; the different experiences we have in bodies that are differently
sexed/gendered; the relationship between sex/gender and knowledge; feminism’s relationship
to capitalism, socialism, colonialism, and decolonization; feminist environmentalism;
and the difficulties and promises of global feminist movements.
PH 241-001 - Mind, Thought and Consciousness
This course deals with the nature of the mental and its relationship to the physical,
the distinctive characteristics of mental content, and attempts to answer the “hard
problem” of consciousness—how and why some animals experience the world in the distinctive
ways we do.
PH 327 - Nature, Mind, and Justice in the Philosophy of Leibniz
G.W. Leibniz (1646-1716) was a true polymath. He was a philosopher, political advisor,
mathematician, historian, engineer, and librarian (among other things!). Leibniz's
philosophy is systematic and wide-ranging. In this seminar, we will take a deep dive
into Leibniz's philosophy of mind. Leibniz developed a unique account of the nature
of mind and perception, and he was one of the first to theorize about the existence
and nature of non-conscious mental states. Prof. Jorgensen has recently published
a book in which he argues that Leibniz provides a fully natural grounding for his
philosophy of mind and that his philosophy of mind and consciousness are still relevant
to today's philosophers of mind. After exploring the structure of Leibniz's metaphysics
and philosophy of mind, we will turn to Leibniz's theory of justice, which Leibniz
defines as the "love that a wise person would show."
PH 329 - Seminar in Kant
A study of Immanuel Kant, the pivotal thinker of modern Western philosophy. Kant offers
a critique of both early modern empiricists and rationalists, introduces the transcendental
standpoint into philosophy, and sets the stage for nineteenth- and twentieth-century
philosophers, all of whom respond to his critique of theoretical and practical reason
in one way or another.
PH 330D - Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence (AI) is seemingly everywhere now, and each day brings news of further advances in AI technology and further discussion of its promises and perils. Many of these discussions focus on Terminator-style apocalyptic scenarios in which super-intelligent machines rise up and exterminate humanity. However, the fact that computers will soon be—or already are—piloting our cars, trucks, and planes, helping to make our medical, financial, and legal decisions, tending our children and elderly, and even fighting our wars raises difficult philosophical questions that are closer to hand than such existentially gripping science fiction.
The questions that we will investigate in this seminar include: What ethical principles should we program into AI-piloted vehicles to handle “forced choice” situations in which someone or other will die or be injured and the AI has the ability to influence who that is? Is ethical decision-making even amenable to algorithmic implementation? Who should be morally or legally responsible for AI systems and their actions? More generally, what is "intelligence", and what makes an AI "artificially" intelligent? What is the relation between intelligence and the other aspects of psychology that intelligent beings typically have, e.g., sensations, emotions, moods, beliefs, desires, etc.? Could something be intelligent without having any of those other characteristics? And if not, do we need to create "artificial sensations," etc. to create artificial intelligence? And if we are talking about sensations, we are presumably talking about bodies, but now we appear to be talking about needing to create artificial life in order to create artificial intelligence, which raises a further host of ethical and metaphysical questions. For example, could an AI system come to have ethical duties and commensurate rights? Could the decision to turn an AI system on or off become as ethically laden an issue as whether to bring a child into the world or to end a human being’s life? Or will an AI always be just a tool?