Spring 2014 Upper Division Course Descriptions
Philosophy 525: Social and Political Philosophy
MWF: 1:30-2:20, Dickens 203
This term the central themes of the course will be gender and race. What are race and gender? And more importantly, what do we want them to be? When we look at the world around us, it seems clear that race and gender are real categories – after all, some people are obviously disadvantaged by their race or gender, and other people are obviously advantaged. But just how should we think about these categories? Are they biological realities? Are they “mere” social realities? Or are we mistaken, and do they not meaningfully exist at all? In this course, we’ll have three main aims. First, we’ll explore a variety of metaphysical and epistemological questions related to race and gender, in order to better understand what we take race and gender to be, and what we can know about them. Second, we’ll consider a variety of applied questions – from the ethics of marriage and motherhood to the ethics of racial humor – to help to understand the real-world consequences of the ways in which we answer the metaphysical and epistemological questions. And third, we’ll use the literature on ideal and non-ideal theory to explore whether the ways in which we use and understand the concepts of race and gender in our own imperfect world should be different from the ways in which we would use and understand them in a perfectly just one.
Philosophy 535: Philosophy of Law
This term we will consider theoretical and applied issues in philosophy of law. 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? We will also examine more practical topics such as law and religion, the limits to freedom of expression, rights and torture, and hate speech. The primary texts will be: Scott Shapiro, Legality; Brian Leiter, Why Tolerate Religion?; and Corey Brettschneider, When the State Speaks What Should it Say? We will also read some articles by authors such as Connie Rosati, Julie Dickson, and Jeremy Waldron.
Philosophy 620: History of Analytic Philosophy
This course is an introduction to the central concepts, themes, and figures in the development of analytic philosophy. Though the focus of the course is historical, covering mostly work produced between 1890 and 1950, its main goal is not. We aim to explore and understand the arguments and ideas that have shaped the contemporary debates in philosophy of language, philosophy of logic and mathematics, metaphysics, and epistemology. We will study the work of key thinkers such as Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, Quine, and Lewis, as well as the underpinning of influential philosophical movements such as logicism, logical empiricism, and ordinary language philosophy.