REGULAR
COURSES

 

Philosophy 1440: Ethics of Eating (with Will Starr)  (syllabus) (facebook page) (Online MOOC version)

For course description, see the syllabus or the description on the University Courses website.  

Philosophy 2220: Modern Philosophy: Descartes to Kant

An  introductory  survey  of  some  of  the  following  key  figures   in  modern  (17th‑18th  century)  Western  philosophy:  Rene Descartes,  Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, John Locke, Baruch Spinoza,   Gottfried Leibniz,  Nicholas Malebranche, Margaret Cavendish, George Berkeley,  Catherine Trotter Cockburn, and  David Hume.    We’ll  focus  on  epistemology  (ideas,  skepticism,   belief,  knowledge,  science)  and  metaphysics  (bodies,  causation,  God,  natural   laws,  personal  identity).

 

​Philosophy 2530/RelSt 2630: Religion and Reason 

In this course we examine some of the most influential arguments about the existence and nature of a "greatest possible being" –ontological, cosmological, Kalam (Al-Ghazali), design, Pascalian, and moral arguments. The goal is to consider these arguments in their historical context, so the readings will typically be from ancient, medieval, and early modern authors in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions.  We will also discuss the most significant argument against the existence of the classical God – namely, the argument from evil and suffering -- and consider whether other conceptions of God (from Vedanta traditions in India and process theology in the West) offer a viable alternative. After that, we look at whether religious belief can be rational without theoretical proof or empirical evidence, whether religious experience is an intelligible notion, and whether the real-world fact of religious diversity has philosophical implications. Time permitting, we conclude by reflecting on two prominent religious ideas in a number of different traditions: miracles and afterlife.

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Philosophy 3221: Modern Empiricism (syllabus)

A mid-level look at the epistemology and metaphysics of the early modern empiricists and their critics. Topics include: ideas, skepticism, science, bodies, minds, God, causation, natural laws, afterlife, and personal identity. Readings from Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Catherine Trotter Cockburn, George Berkeley, and David Hume.

Philosophy 3220: Modern Rationalism
A mid-level survey of the epistemology and metaphysics of the classical Continental rationalists. Topics typically include: ideas, skepticism, belief, knowledge, science, bodies, minds, God, causation, natural laws, afterlife, personal identity. Readings from some (but not all) of the following: Descartes,  Elisabeth of Bohemia, Malebranche, Cavendish, Spinoza, Leibniz, Wolff, the early Kant. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy, preferably Ancient Philosophy, Modern Philosophy, or an equivalent.

Philosophy 3230, 6240; German 6241: Kant (syllabus)

An intensive study the metaphysical and epistemological doctrines in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.Topics include: the limits of human knowledge; the role of the mind in the production of experience; the reality of space and time; the nature of bodies; reason and its ability to critique itself; knowledge of the self; freedom of the will; the existence of God; the afterlife of the soul; the status of metaphysics; and the relationship between "appearances" and Ultimate Reality.
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Philosophy 4030, 6030/German 6131: German Philosophical Texts

Reading, translation, and discussion of important texts in the German philosophical tradition. Readings for a given term are chosen in consultation with students. Past readings have included selections from Kant's Kritik der Urteilskraft, Hegel's Phaenomenologie des Geistes, Schelling's System des transzendentalen Idealismus, Wittgenstein's über Gewissheit, and Fichte's Wissenschaftlehre.

OTHER SEMINARS
Philosophy 4810/6810: Seminar in Philosophy of Science (with Richard Boyd)

Team-taught seminar on Naturalism and Neo-Hegelianism in contemporary analytic philosophy. Readings from neo-Kantians, Sellars, McDowell, Brandom. Special guests: Robert Brandom (Pittsburgh), Hilary Putnam, (Harvard), Frederick Beiser (Syracuse) and Hilary Kornblith. (U-Mass, Amherst)

Philosophy/German 6420: Seminar on Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment 

An intensive study of Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgment, that focuses on aesthetics (the beautiful, the sublime, genius, the normativity of taste, the autonomy of aesthetics, etc.) as well as Kant's influential views about teleological judgment, biological explanation, and practical arguments.

 

Philosophy 6240/German 6241: Leibniz: Substance, Modality, Optimism (syllabus)

A seminar on G.W. Leibniz, focused mostly on his metaphysics, religion, and value theory.

Andrew Chignell