Spring 2015 Upper Division Course Descriptions


Philosophy 535: Philosophy of Law 

T/Th 11:30-12:45, Dickens 203

This course will consider theoretical and applied issues in philosophy of law. The first part of the course will be devoted to an overview of current debates over questions such as: What is the relationship between law and morality? Does legality depend on moral legitimacy? Is there a special kind of objectivity that is unique to law? In the second part of the course will also examine two thematic areas in detail: privacy (from one another and from the government) and the role of the state in regulating offensive conduct and speech.


Philosophy 570: Aesthetics

MWF 9:30-10:20, Dickens 203

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Philosophy 590: Philosophy of Feminism

MWF 2:30-3:20, Dickens 203

This semester, this course will focus on feminist debates about autonomy and adaptive preferences. Philosophers disagree about how we should evaluate socialization. On the one hand, communities, relationships, and shared norms are valuable, and this seems to give us reason to reject the normative ideal of the autonomous individual who is entirely self-sufficient and self-directed. But on the other, oppressive gender systems seem to be so tenacious at least in part because women have been effectively socialized to buy into and support them. Maybe if people were just more autonomous, the world would be a less oppressive place. So what’s a feminist philosopher to do? This semester, we’ll try to find a way forward. First, we’ll consider and evaluate various attempts to reconceptualize autonomy so that it can serve both feminist and liberal purposes. And second and relatedly, we’ll try to figure out how we – individual private citizens and political actors alike – should judge and respond to individuals who prefer oppressive norms that seem to harm them. Should we see them as autonomous actors trying to make the best of a bad situation? Should we see them as foolish dupes of patriarchy? Should we force them to change their behavior for their own benefit? Or should we continue, as liberal political philosophy asks us to do, to see individuals as the best judge of their own good?

*Note* - As part of this class, we’ll get to skype to spend a session skyping with Serene Khader – the woman who literally wrote the book on adaptive preferences. Professor Khader is in the Philosophy Department at Brooklyn College, and holds the Jay Newman chair in Philosophy of Culture.