Spring 2013 Upper Division Course Descriptions
Philosophy 525: Social and Political Philosophy
MWF: 10:30, Dickens 203
What is the point of equality? This question is at the center of many perennial issues in political philosophy including: the moral authority of the state, distributive justice, what citizens owe to each other and the limits to justified political coercion. The first part of this course will examine the two most influential works on these issues: John Locke’s Second Treatise and J.J. Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality. Locke is the inspiration for classical liberal and neo-classical liberal positions which emphasize limited government. Rousseau’s conception of equality is the basis for left-liberal and egalitarian conceptions of democracy. The second part of the course will cover contemporary articles by political philosophers who debate the ideas of equality that Locke and Rousseau made famous. Topics covered will include child labor, markets for body parts and religious exemptions. Finally, we will read some current work in the new and exciting area of applied political philosophy called non-ideal theory. For this part of the course the main focus will be on democratic equality and religious freedom in a Muslim context.
Philosophy 645: Philosophy of Science
T TH 11:30-12:45, Dickens 203
What does it mean to be scientific? What are the limits of scientific methods? How can we tell when a scientific approach to a problem is warranted? This course will cover topics concerning the nature of science and scientific explanations, theories of scientific confirmation, goals of scientific inquiry, and how scientific methods can be assessed. The course will be designed to appeal both to students with a philosophy background and to students with a science background (as well as those with both!): the course will relate topics to standard issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and value theory as well as to areas of scientific practice where philosophical reflection can be helpful. Especially welcome are students who would like to know more about how to decide when and under what conditions science can be relevant to philosophical questions.
Prereqs: Two courses in philosophy, one of which must be PHILO 110 or 320, OR three science courses (with instructor permission)