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Instructor-Specific Course Descriptions for Special Topics, Upper Division, and Graduate Courses

Please see Banner/Timetable for further information about sections, times, locations, and instructors.

Spring 2023

PHIL 400/528 - Philosophy of Disability - Cureton
Over the past three decades, philosophers have increasingly come to realize that issues of disability are of central importance to moral and political philosophy. Disability raises fundamental issues about the significance of variations in physical and mental functioning for human performance and well-being, for personal and social identity, for self-respect and respect for others, and for justice in the allocation of resources and the design of the physical and social environment. The aims of the course are to introduce students to the main conceptual and normative issues in disability and to advance the discussion of those issues. One of our main themes, in particular, will be how complex and problematic our attitudes towards persons with disabilities are when we are in relationships with them as care-givers, friends, family members, or briefly encountered strangers.

PHIL 400/624 - Philosophy and Film - Eldridge
This course is devoted to conceptual questions [questions about what it makes sense to say] about the nature and value of film as a medium of art. Can films present significant new truths or offer us significant new knowledge? If so, how? And about what? How is artistic success related to fictionality (pretense), entertainment value, and the formal organization of materials in a medium? How and why do (different) works of film negotiate the demands of realism (attention to things that are given), expressivity (evincing a ‘take’ on things, via style, surface, and arrangement), and spectacle? How do we engage imaginatively, emotionally, and critically with successful works of filmic art, and do the ways in which we engage with them matter to the cognitive work they may do? The readings will include both some classical film theorists (Bazin, Arnheim, Bazin, Kracauer, Munsterberg) and contemporary philosophers and film scholars (Carroll, Cavell, Bordwell, Danto, Deleuze, Rodowick, Schatz).

PHIL 420/520 - Plato - Shaw
This course will focus on Plato's discussions of false belief (esp. Theaetetus, Sophist) and false pleasure (esp. Philebus), with attention to the importance of these topics for understanding Plato's wider views in psychology, ethics, and epistemology.

PHIL 420/522 - Kant’s First Critique - Stratmann
This course will explore a landmark work of modern Western philosophy: Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. As Kant describes his titular project: “reason should take on anew the most difficult of all its tasks, namely, that of self-knowledge, and to institute a court of justice, by which reason may secure its rightful claims while dismissing all its groundless pretensions […] and this court is none other than the critique of pure reason itself.” The first goal of this course is to investigate the Critique’s main positive conclusions about the powers of human reason (“its rightful claims”). Its second goal is to investigate the Critique’s main negative conclusions about overstepping the boundaries of reason’s powers (“its groundless pretensions”).

PHIL 480/573 - Free Will - Palmer
What is free will and do we have it? It is easy to wonder whether factors beyond our control—our genetic constitution, the environment in which we were brought up, and so on—might be among the causes of our behavior. In the light of this, we might wonder whether it is really possible for us to act freely or, instead, whether everything we do is ultimately shaped by these factors in a way that undermines our free will. In this class, we will investigate contemporary work on libertarian approaches to free will: those that insist that, while we sometimes do act freely, free will requires the absence of determinism. The question we will ask in the class is this: If free will requires the absence of determinism (as libertarians require), then what, more positively, does free will require? We will look at the three main libertarian options: that what free will requires, in addition to the absence of determinism, is indeterministic event-causation, indeterministic agent-causation, or uncaused events. We will attempt to assess which, if any, of these three options is the most plausible.

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