326 Milbank Hall  
Department Assistant: Maia Bernstein


Philosophy is an effort to see how things – not just objects and persons, but also ideas, concepts, principles, and values – hang together. Philosophical questions explore the foundations and limits of human thought and experience. What is there? What can we know? What is good? How should we live? What is a person? What is reason? How do words have meaning? The philosophy major introduces students to central concepts, key figures, and classic texts so they may broaden and deepen their own understanding as they learn how others have approached foundational questions in the past. An education in philosophy also teaches students to think and write with clarity and precision – intellectual resources essential to future study and rewarding professional lives.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a B.A. in philosophy will have acquired skills in critical thinking, conceptual analysis, argumentation, close reading of classic and contemporary philosophical texts, and composition of clear, cogent, and persuasive prose. More specifically, they will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate their knowledge of major thinkers (such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant) and texts of the ancient and modern philosophical traditions;
  2. Demonstrate their understanding of central problems and dominant theoretical traditions in moral theory (Kantianism, utilitarianism) and either epistemology (skepticism, other minds, the problem of induction, decision theory), metaphysics (the mind-body problem, free will and determinism, causation, the nature of space and time), or the philosophy of language;
  3. Construct and evaluate deductive arguments using formal symbolic notation;
  4. Discuss and reflect critically on difficult philosophical texts and outstanding problems in a seminar setting with their fellow majors.

Although it is not required for the major or for the minor, students who have not had previous training in philosophy are advised to take PHIL BC1001 Introduction to Philosophy.

Chair: Frederick Neuhouser (Professor of Philosophy and Viola Manderfeld Professor of German Language and Literature)
Professor: Taylor Carman
Associate Professor: John Morrison
Assistant Professor: Karen Lewis
Term Assistant Professor: Kyle Driggers
Term Lecturer: Naomi Dershowitz
Professor Emeritus: Alan Gabbey

Other officers of the University offering courses in Philosophy:

Professors: David Albert, Akeel Bilgrami, Haim Gaifman, Lydia Goehr, Robert Gooding-Williams, Axel Honneth, Jenann Ismael, Patricia Kitcher, Philip Kitcher, Wolfgang Mann, Christia Mercer, Michele Moody-Adams, Christopher Peacocke, Carol Rovane, Achille Varzi, Katja Vogt
Associate Professor: Jessica Collins
Assistant Professors: Justin Clarke-Doane, Melissa Fusco, Dhananjay Jagannathan, Tamar Lando, Una Stojnić, Kathryn Tabb 

Requirements for the Major

A major in Philosophy consists of at least 10 courses, as follows:

1. One of the following in ancient or medieval philosophy:
The History of Philosophy I: Presocratics to Augustine
2. One of the following in early modern philosophy:
Late Medieval and Modern Philosophy
3. One course in logic:
Symbolic Logic
4. One course in ethics:
5. One of the following courses:
6. The Senior Seminar
Senior Seminar
7. Either of the two-course groups below:
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
OR any section of PHIL UN3912 or a PHIL seminar above 4000 AND one elective beyond the two stipulated in 8 (below).
8. Two electives in addition to the eight courses stipulated above.

PLEASE NOTE: "Elective" refers to any PHIL course not already used to satisfy a major requirement. Only one course at the 1000 level can be counted toward the ten PHIL courses required by the major.

Requirements for the Minor

Five courses constitute a minor in philosophy. The courses must be selected in consultation with the department chair.

PHIL UN1001 Introduction to Philosophy. 3 points.

Survey of some of the central problems, key figures, and great works in both traditional and contemporary philosophy.  Topics and texts will vary with instructor and semester.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN1001
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 1001 001/06226 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
302 Barnard Hall
Kyle Driggers 3 31/40
PHIL 1001 002/03948 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
202 Milbank Hall
Naomi Dershowitz 3 27/40
PHIL 1001 003/01281 T Th 4:10pm - 5:25pm
202 Milbank Hall
Naomi Dershowitz 3 28/40

PHIL UN1010 Methods and Problems of Philosophical Thought. 3 points.

Critical introduction to philosophical problems, ideas and methods.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN1010
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 1010 001/25824 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
602 Hamilton Hall
Akeel Bilgrami 3 63/80
Spring 2019: PHIL UN1010
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 1010 001/26477 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
Room TBA
Melissa Fusco 3 0/84

PHIL UN2003 Philosophy of Art. 3 points.

This is an introductory course in the Philosophy of Art. We will consider questions including (but not limited to) the following: What is art? Should we try to define art? What is taste? What are the conditions for aesthetic judgement? What is an aesthetic experience? We shall also consider the topics of "public art", "fakes and forgeries,"art and technology" and the philosophical implications of speaking of an "artworld.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN2003
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 2003 001/64572 M W 8:40am - 9:55am
517 Hamilton Hall
Lydia Goehr 3 61/80

PHIL UN2100 Philosophy of Education. 3 points.

Drawing on classical and contemporary sources, this course will introduce students to a variety of texts that address the philosophical consideration of education, including its role in the development of the individual and the development of a democratic society. Readings from Plato, Rousseau, Dewey, and others.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN2100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 2100 001/05941 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
203 Diana Center
Kyle Driggers 3 10/40

PHIL UN2101 The History of Philosophy I: Presocratics to Augustine. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA)., Recitation Section Required

Corequisites: PHIL V2111 Required Discussion Section (0 points).

Exposition and analysis of the positions of the major philosophers from the pre-Socratics through Augustine.  This course has unrestricted enrollment.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN2101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 2101 001/71623 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
517 Hamilton Hall
Dhananjay Jagannathan 4 57/80

PHIL UN2108 Philosophy and History. 3 points.

An introduction to historical (from 1800) and contemporary themes in the philosophy of history. Themes include Historicism, Historicity, Universality and Particularity; the debate over Positivism; the historical nature of concepts and meaning; time and tense: Past, Present Future; the Temporality of experience; the nature of Tradition and Practice; Epistemic, Revolutionary, and Paradigmatic change; Memory and the writing of one’s history (Autobiography).  

PHIL UN2110 Philosophy and Feminism. 4 points.

Is there an essential difference between women and men? How do questions about race conflict or overlap with those about gender? Is there a "normal" way of being "queer"? Introduction to philosophy and feminism through a critical discussion of these and other questions using historical and contemporary texts, art, and public lectures. Focus includes essentialism, difference, identity, knowledge, objectivity, and queerness.

PHIL UN2301 History of Philosophy III: Kant to Nietzsche. 4 points.

Prerequisites: None.

​Exposition and analysis of major texts and figures in European philosophy since Kant. Authors include Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Required discussion section. Admission to this course is through application only. Applications will be accepted on the first day of class. Attendance of the first class is mandatory.

PHIL V2400 Psychology and Philosophy of Human Experience. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

We will discuss some of the most fundamental questions that one can pose about human experience.  For example, we will investigate how we experience time, whether anything really has color, the difference between imagining and seeing, whether beauty is subjective, how we understand other people's emotions, the ways in which the human mind is structured and the extent to which our minds are functionally fractionable.  By drawing on both scientific and philosophical texts we hope to combine the best features of both approaches.

PHIL V2593 Science and Religion. 3 points.

Open to all undergraduates.Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

The course investigates what many people have viewed as a "quarrel" between science and religion. It explores what science is, and what religion is, and asks what authority can offer for the various claims they make. As the natural sciences provide increased knowledge of the cosmos, is there still a place for religion? The course has no prerequisites.

PHIL UN2685 Introduction to Philosophy of Language. 3 points.

This course gives students an introduction to various topics in the Philosophy of Language.

PHIL UN2702 Contemporary Moral Problems. 3 points.

Questions about how people should act have historically been central to philosophy.  This course introduces students to philosophy through an examination of some important moral problems that arise in the twenty-first century.  The aim is not only to offer ideas for thinking through the issues covered, but also to provide tools for general moral reflection.  Topics covered will include: the legitimacy of asking migrants to abandon their traditional practices, responsibilities to distant people and to future generations, abortion and genetic testing of the unborn, the proper treatment of animals, and the permissibility of war and terrorism.

PHIL V3121 Plato. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: One philosophy course or permission of the instructor.

Introduction to Plato's philosophy through analysis of characteristic dialogues.

PHIL V3131 Aristotle. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: One philosophy course or permission of the instructor.

Introduction to Aristotle's philosophy through analysis of selected texts.

PHIL V3190 Topics in Epistemology. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: one introductory class in philosophy.

This course is a non-hostorical introduction to the major controversies in 20th-century epistemology.

PHIL V3237 Late Medieval and Modern Philosophy. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA).

Prerequisites: One philosophy course or permission of the instructor. \nCourse not offered in Fall 2016, will be offered in Spring 2017

Study of one or more of the major philosophers from the Renaissance through the 18th century. Sample topics: substance and matter; bodies, minds, and spirits; identity and individuation; ideas of God; causation; liberty and necessity; skepticism; philosophy and science; ethical and political issues. Sample philosophers: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Conway, Locke, Berkely, Hume, Kant.

PHIL UN3248 Darwin. 3 points.

Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has been revolutionary, not just for scientists but for everyone who reflects on human nature and human destiny. The first aim of this course is to separate Darwin’s own theory from its scientific, religious, and cultural aftershocks, and to consider how its influence developed and changed over the century and a half since On the Origin of Species was published in 1859. After careful consideration of Darwin’s own life and historical context, we will read our way through the Origin, and then consider reactions to to it starting Darwin’s own day, proceeding through the “Modern Synthesis," and ending in our present moment. The final sessions of the course will explore Darwin’s impact on contemporary philosophical debates over faith, ethics, and scientific knowledge. 

PHIL UN3251 Kant. 3 points.

Explores the connections between theoretical and practical reason in Kant's thinking with special attention to the Critique of Pure Reason and the project of "transcendental" philosophy.

Spring 2019: PHIL UN3251
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3251 001/26739 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Room TBA
Patricia Kitcher 3 0/84

PHIL UN3252 Philosophy of Language and Mind. 3 points.

This course will provide an introduction to meaning, reference, understanding, and content in language, thought, and perception.  A central concern will be the question of the relation of meaning to truth-conditions, and what is involved in language and thought successfully latching on to reality.  If you have not already taken an elementary course in first order logic, you will need to catch up in that area to understand some crucial parts of the course.  All the same, the primary concerns of the course will be philosophical, rather than technical.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN3252
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3252 001/74094 T Th 1:10pm - 2:25pm
517 Hamilton Hall
Christopher Peacocke 3 24/80

PHIL UN3264 19th Century Philosophy: Hegel. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Phil UN2201 or PHIL UN3251

Examines major themes of Hegel's philosophy, with emphasis on social and political thought. Topics include Hegel's critique of Kant, the possibility of metaphysics, the master-slave dialectic, and the role of freedom in a rational society. Readings from Kant’s Third Critique help explain how Hegel's project develops out of Kant's transcendental idealism. Some knowledge of Kant's moral theory and his Critique of Pure Reason is presupposed. Prerequisite: at least one of PHIL UN2201, PHIL UN2301, or PHIL UN3251.

PHIL UN3278 Nietzsche. 3 points.

Prerequisites: one prior course in the history of philosophy (either ancient or modern).

An examination of major themes in Nietzsche's thought.  Topics include the philosophical significance of Greek tradegy, the nature of truth, the possibility of knowledge, the moral and metaphysical content of Christianity, the death of God, perspectivism, eternal recurrence, and the power to will.

PHIL UN3351 Phenomenology and Existentialism. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Two prior philosophy courses. Enrollment limited to 30.

Survey of selected works of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty. Topics include intentionality, consciousness and self-consciousness, phenomenological and hermeneutical method, the question of being, authenticity and inauthenticiy, bad faith, death, and the role of the body in perception.

PHIL V3352 Twentieth Century European Philosophy. 3 points.

Prerequisites: one prior philosophy course.

Reading and discussion of selected texts by central figures in phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, critical theory, and recent Continental philosophy. Authors may include Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Gadamer, Horkheimer, Adorno, Foucault, Bourdieu.

PHIL UN3353 European Social Philosophy. 3 points.

Prerequisites: one philosophy course.

A survey of Eurpoean social philosophy from the 18th to the 20th century, with special attention to theories of capitalism and the normative concepts (freedom, alienation, human flourishing) that inform them.  Also: the relationship between civil society and the state.

PHIL BC3398 Independent Study. 1-3 points.

Open to students who wish to pursue a project on an individual basis. The study consists in a combination of readings and papers over one semester under the direction of an appropriate instructor. The project and enrollment for the course are both subject to departmental approval.

PHIL UN3411 Symbolic Logic. 4 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement, Recitation Section Required

Corequisites: PHILV3413 Required Discussion Section (0 points).

Advanced introduction to classical sentential and predicate logic. No previous acquaintance with logic is required; nonetheless a willingness to master technicalities and to work at a certain level of abstraction is desirable. This course has unrestricted enrollment.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN3411
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3411 001/67835 M W 4:10pm - 5:25pm
203 Mathematics Building
Tamar Lando 4 69/80
Spring 2019: PHIL UN3411
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3411 001/17570 T Th 11:40am - 12:55pm
Room TBA
Achille Varzi 4 0/84

PHIL V3420 Mathematical Logic. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

PHIL UN3551 Philosophy of Science. 3 points.

Enrollment limited to 40.

Prerequisites: one philosophy course or the instructor's permission.

Philosophical problems within science and about the nature of scientific knowledge in the 17th-20th centuries. Sample problems: causation and scientific explanation; induction and real kinds; verification and falsification; models, analogies and simulations; the historical origins of the modern sciences; scientific revolutions; reductionism and supervenience; differences between physics, biology and the social sciences; the nature of life; cultural evolution; human nature; philosophical issues in cosmology.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN3551
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3551 001/67102 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
517 Hamilton Hall
David Albert 3 26/80

PHIL V3552 Philosophical Problems of Climate Change. 3 points.

Open to juniors and seniors.Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

The debate about climate change, its impact, and the implications for policy raise many philosophical questions.  What is the evidence for anthropogenic global warming?  Why does debate persist?  How should we assess the risks of various options?  What are our obligations to distant people and to future generations?  In what ways does climate change require us to assess our economic, social, and political institutions?  By taking up these question, the course will explore a range of important issues in philosophy of science, philosophy of economics, ethics, and social and political philosophy.

PHIL V3576 Physics and Philosophy. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Philosophical problems at the foundations of quantum theory, especially those having to do with the uncertainty of relations and nature of quantum mechanical indeterminacy. Exploration of a variety of interpretation and hidden variable theory.

PHIL UN3601 Metaphysics. 4 points.

Discussion Section Required

Corequisites: PHIL V3611 Required Discussion Section (0 points).

Systematic treatment of some major topics in metaphysics (e.g. modality, causation, identity through time, particulars and universals). Readings from contemporary authors.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN3601
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3601 001/74671 T Th 11:40am - 12:55pm
717 Hamilton Hall
Achille Varzi 4 76/86

PHIL V3654 Philosophy of Psychology. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Considers psychology from the perspective of philosophy of science and the plausibility of various philosophical positions in light of the best current theories of psychology. Examines the assumptions and explanatory strategies of past and present "schools of psychology" and the implications of recent work in psychology for such perennial philosophical problems as moral responsibility and personal identity.

PHIL UN3685 Philosophy of Language. 3 points.

This course is a survey of analytic philosophy of language.  It addresses central issues about the nature of meaning, including: sense and reference, speech acts, pragmatics, and the relationship between meaning and use, meaning and context, and meaning and truth.


PHIL UN3701 Ethics. 4 points.

Prerequisites: one course in philosophy.
Corequisites: PHIL V3711 Required Discussion Section (0 points).

This course is mainly an introduction to three influential approaches to normative ethics: utilitarianism, deontological views, and virtue ethics. We also consider the ethics of care, and selected topics in meta-ethics.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN3701
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3701 001/72729 M W 1:10pm - 2:25pm
602 Hamilton Hall
Katja Vogt 4 56/80
Spring 2019: PHIL UN3701
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3701 001/26909 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
Michele Moody-Adams 4 0/84

PHIL V3710 Law, Liberty and Morality. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Ethics and Values.
Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to 40 students.

Examination of classic philosophical theories about the rule of law, relations between law and morality, legal reasoning, and their implications for selected contemporty legal problems.

PHIL V3713 Varieties of Liberalism. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

  Seven formulations of Liberalism from Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Mill through Hobhouse, Dewey, and Rawls have generated the issues which remain central for current political divisions and divergent directions for social policy.  This course will examine each of these seven formulations with a focus upon the emerging issues that have been central for Liberalism.  These issues range from such theoretical questions as the grounds for contractual nature of the State, the justification of natural rights, and the perfectability of society through the application of the social sciences, to such policy debates as the scope and limits of individual freedom, the place of free markets and of the public sector in a political economy, political realism and political  idealism in international relations, and the role of interest groups in democratic society.  In addition to the seven texts of a liberal and democratic theory, there are readings from Berlin, Burnham, Devlin, Hayek, Hook, Oakeshott, Popper, Schumpeterm, and Weber.

PHIL V3716 Topics in Ethics. 3 points.

Enrollment limited to 40.

Classic justtifications of normative ethical positions through appeals to Nature in Aristotle, Reason in Kant, Sentiment in Hume, and History in Hegel.  Twentieth-Century Analyses of ethical statements from G.E. Moore's intuitionism through A.J. Ayer and C.L. Stevenson on Logical Positivism, J.P. Sarte's Existentialism, John Dewey's Progmatism, and cognitive rationality in Stuart Hampshire and Philippa Foot.

PHIL V3720 Ethics and Medicine. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Reason and Value (REA)., BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Ethics and Values.
Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: Limited enrollment by permission of the instructor. First-day attendance required.

Philosophical examination of moral issues in medical theory and practice. Analysis of the ethics of the doctor-patient relationship, e.g., informed consent, truth-telling, paternalism; topics in bioethics, e.g., abortion, euthanasia, experimentation on humans; justice and access to health care; human genetics.

PHIL UN3751 Political Philosophy. 3 points.

Six major concepts of political philosophy including authority, rights, equality, justice, liberty and democracy are examined in three different ways. First the conceptual issues are analyzed through contemporary essays on these topics by authors like Peters, Hart, Williams, Berlin, Rawls and Schumpeter. Second the classical sources on these topics are discussed through readings from Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Marx, Plato, Mill and Rousseau. Third some attention is paid to relevant contexts of application of these concepts in political society, including such political movements as anarchism, international human rights, conservative, liberal, and Marxist economic policies as well as competing models of democracy.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN3751
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3751 001/09606 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
325 Milbank Hall
Naomi Dershowitz 3 14/40

PHIL UN3752 Philosophy of Law. 3 points.

This course explores philosophical reflection on the relationship between law, society and morality. We discuss the nature of law, the nature of legal reasoning, the relationship between law and social policy, and central concepts in civil and criminal law. Readings are drawn from such sources as the natural law tradition, legal positivism, legal realism, and Critical Legal Theory. Readings will be supplemented by analysis of classic cases.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN3752
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3752 001/71033 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
517 Hamilton Hall
Michele Moody-Adams 3 64/80

PHIL UN3800 Philosophy, Justice, and Social Activism. 4 points.

This course will do three things: (1) critically examine the works of philosophers who have argued for justice reform and social change, (2) set this philosophical work next to writings by prominent activists, especially those interested in criminal justice reform, and
(3) work with students to do semester-long activist work. Local activists will visit class and discuss their work.
Students must petition to take the course. The petition must include a 2-3 sentence statement about the student's training in or commitment to activist work

PHIL UN3840 The Nature and Significance of Animal Minds. 3 points.

Humans have a complicated relationship with other animals. We love them, befriend them and save them. We hunt, farm and eat them. We experiment on and observe them to discover more about them and to discover more about ourselves. For many of us, our pets are amongst the most familiar inhabitants of our world. Yet when we try to imagine what is going on in a dog or cat's mind--let alone that of a crow, octopus or bee--many of us are either stumped about how to go about this, or (the science strongly suggests) getting things radically wrong. Is our thought about and behavior towards animals ethically permissible, or even consistent, Can we reshape our habits of thought about animals to allow for a more rational, richer relationship with the other inhabitants of our planet? In this course, students will reflect on two closely intertwined questions: an ethical question, what sort of relationship ought we to have with animals?; and a metaphysical question, what is the nature of animal minds? Readings will primarily be be from philosophy and ethics and the cognitive sciences, with additional readings from literature and biology.  There are no prerequisites for this class--it will be helpful but certainly not necessary to have taken previous classes in philosophy(especially ethics and philosophy of mind) or in cognitive science.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN3840
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3840 001/78441 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
716 Philosophy Hall
Simon Brown 3 14/15

PHIL W3852 Philosophy of Literature. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

 The course reviews and analyzes topics including meaning, interpretation, authorship, fiction, morality, and the historicity of literary genres. Texts to be covered will be historical and contemporary, analytical and continental. We will read texts by Adorno, Borges, Cavell, Danto, Foucault, Goodman, Ingarden, Sartre, and others. Comparative readings will also be offered regarding the relation of literature to the others arts.

PHIL UN3855 The Potential and Actual Infinite. 3 points.

This course examines the concept of infinity throughout the history of western philosophy, looking at how the puzzles that surround the concept led to the construction and defense of many different philosophical positions on the infinite. In particular, we will examine how many different historical figures have attempted (in many different ways) to draw a distinction between what is potentially infinite and what is actually infinite, and further, how this distinction is used in attempts to solve puzzles of the infinite. We move chronologically, starting with Zeno and Aristotle, through the invention of calculi of infinitesimals, to the development of set theory, model theory, and modern mathematical logic. We will also use the tools we develop in our historical investigation to address modern discussions in philosophy about the infinite, such as the debates about supertasks and the limitations of computation. This course has no prerequisites (although having taken Symbolic Logic may be useful), and it serves well as an introduction to philosophy of mathematics because of its chronological presentation. It also intersects with a wide range of topics in other fields, such as mathematics, logic, physics, computer science, religion, and artificial intelligence, which should make it of interest even to those who may not have a strong formal background.

PHIL UN3856 Political Realism and Social Injustice. 3 points.

Rectifying injustice remains a central motivation for social and political thought. The aim of a theory of justice or injustice is often to guide us in dealing with the grave wrongs in our social world. But how should philosophy support the advancement of justice, and what do its moral ideals have to do with the political realities of power and conflict? Do we need an “ideal theory” of a perfectly just society to set the aims of social progress? Can we properly respond to racial and gendered injustices without understanding how they wrong people as members of social groups (e.g. as black Americans, women, etc.)? What limits do our theories face in helping us navigate real political decisions and problems? This course will examine different answers to these questions as well as their substantive consequences for addressing pressing injustices based on race and gender. Our investigations will emphasize the relations between political philosophy, social science, the social construction of identity, and real-world politics.

PHIL UN3867 Philosophy & Literature: Jane Austen & Moral Philosophy. 3 points.

In the 1790s, when Jane Austen was beginning to write fiction, there was much debate over the value and function of the novel. Some argued that novels were dangerous to their readers, inciting violent emotional responses and corrupting the imagination (especially in women and children, who were believed to be more sensitive to such stimuli). Others saw potential in this narrative form, arguing that novels could contribute to the moral and sentimental education of their readers. Adam Smith, for example, claims that “[t]he poets and romance writers, who best paint the refinements and delicacies of love and friendship, and of all other private and domestic affections, Racine and Voltaire; Richardson, Maurivaux, and Riccoboni; are, in such cases, much better instructors than Zeno, Chrysippus, or Epictetus” (Theory of Moral Sentiments III.3.14). And David Hume argues that there is a kind of moral philosophy that paints virtue and vice rather than anatomizing it. Such philosopher-painters, he says, “make us feel the difference between vice and virtue; they excite and regulate our sentiments” (Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 1.1).
In this course, we will keep these questions about one possible function of literature in the back of our minds as we read through four of Austen’s novels. With each novel, we will focus on a specific ethical theme treated in and by that novel: with Sense and Sensibility we’ll focus on the role of the emotions in morality; with Mansfield Park we’ll focus on questions about moral education and virtue; with Emma we’ll focus on the difficulties of accurate discernment and judgment in moral matters; and with Persuasion we’ll focus on the relation between the individual and society and the complications caused by differences in gender, class, and social status. Each novel will be paired with selections from authors who were near contemporaries of Austen’s, including Samuel Johnson, David Hume, Jane Collier, Hannah More, Adam Smith, and Mary Wollstonecraft.
Two warnings/things to be aware of: first, this course will require a significant amount of reading; and second, in this course, we will be approaching literature with an interest in philosophical themes and questions. We will occasionally discuss formal and stylistic aspects of Austen’s novels (for example, her use of irony and of a technique referred to as “free indirect discourse”), but these sorts of concerns will not be our main focus

PHIL UN3912 Seminar. 3 points.

Required of senior majors, but also open to junior majors, and junior and senior concentrators who have taken at least four philosophy courses. This exploration will typically involve writing a substantial research paper. Capped at 20 students with preference to philosophy majors.

Fall 2018: PHIL UN3912
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3912 005/62980 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
716 Philosophy Hall
Justin Clarke-Doane 3 14/20
PHIL 3912 010/92202 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
501 International Affairs Bldg
Akeel Bilgrami 3 10/20
PHIL 3912 014/71781 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
716 Philosophy Hall
Robert Gooding-Williams 3 16/20
Spring 2019: PHIL UN3912
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3912 019/67061 M 6:10pm - 8:00pm
Room TBA
Lydia Goehr 3 0/20

PHIL W3953 Philosophy and Literature: Shakespeare. 3 points.

Open to students majoring either in philosophy or in English and comparative literature.Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

The seminar will consider seven plays by Shakespeare, devoting two sessions to each, and pairing each with other textsw (typically with philosophical texts).  Among the plays considered will be Merchant of Venice, All's Well that Ends Well, Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry IV Part I, and King Lear.  The readings will also include extracts from the writings of Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Anthony Appiah, Plato, Camus, Schopenhauer, and Stanley Cavell.

PHIL UN3960 Epistemology. 4 points.

Discussion Section Required

Corequisites: PHIL W3963 Required Discussion Section (0 points).

What can we know? What is knowledge? What are the different kinds of knowledge? We will read classic and contemporary texts for insight into these questions.

Spring 2019: PHIL UN3960
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 3960 001/70122 M W 6:10pm - 7:25pm
Room TBA
Justin Clarke-Doane 4 0/84

PHIL G4050 Aesthetics: Historical Survey I. 3 points.

Open to senior undergraduates with previous work in the history of philosophy and to graduate students.Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

This course is a critical examination of some major texts in aesthetics including Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Winckelmann, Lessing, Hume, Goethe, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, and Nietzsche.

PHIL BC4050 Senior Seminar. 3 points.

Intensive study of a philosophical issue or topic, or of a philosopher, group of philosophers, or philosophical school or movement. Open only to Barnard senior philosophy majors.

Fall 2018: PHIL BC4050
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 4050 001/08088 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
318 Milbank Hall
Karen Lewis 3 6

PHIL BC4051 Senior Thesis. 3 points.

A substantial paper, developing from an Autumn workshop and continuing in the Spring under the direction of an individual advisor. Open only to Barnard senior philosophy majors.

Fall 2018: PHIL BC4051
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 4051 001/03600  
Frederick Neuhouser 3 2

PHIL BC4052 Senior Thesis. 3 points.

A substantial paper, developing from an Autumn workshop and continuing into the Spring under the direction of an individual  adviser.   Open only to Barnard senior philosophy majors.

Spring 2019: PHIL BC4052
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 4052 001/08484 W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
Room TBA
Taylor Carman 3 0/10

PHIL G4055 Aesthetics: Modern Survey II. 3 points.

Open to senior undergraduates with previous work in the history of philosophy and to graduate students. Priority is given to students who have taken Aesthetics: Historical Survey I.

This course is a critical examination of the major texts in aesthetics including Dewey, Collingwood, Croce, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Adorno, Benjamin, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Wollheim, Goodman, Cavell, and Danto. Aesthetics: Modern Survey I is not a pre-requiste, but preference is given to those students who have taken it.

PHIL GU4100 Paradoxes. 3 points.

Various paradoxes, from many areas, including mathematics, physics, epistemology, decision theory and ethics, will be analyzed. The goal is to find what such paradoxes imply about our ways of thinking, and what lessons can be derived. Students will have a choice to focus in their papers on areas they are interested in.

Fall 2018: PHIL GU4100
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 4100 001/61420 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
716 Philosophy Hall
Haim Gaifman 3 5/80

PHIL G4251 Kant's Critique of Judgment. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Prerequisites: For undergraduates: PHIL V3251 (Kant) or PHIL V3264 (Hegel) or the instructor's permission.

A close reading of central arguments of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

PHIL V4350 Heidegger. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

A study of selected works from Heidegger's middle and later period, from the 1930s to the 1960s, concerning the history of metaphysics, the nature of art and technology, and the problem of nihilism.

PHIL GU4424 Modal Logic. 3 points.

CC/GS: Partial Fulfillment of Science Requirement

Fall 2018: PHIL GU4424
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 4424 001/60727 M 6:10pm - 8:00pm
963 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Tamar Lando 3 14/40


PHIL GU4561 Probability and Decision Theory. 3 points.

Examines interpretations and applications of the calculus of probability including applications as a measure of degree of belief, degree of confirmation, relative frequency, a theoretical property of systems, and other notions of objective probability or chance. Attention to epistimological questions such as Hume's problem of induction, Goodman's problem of projectibility, and the paradox of confirmation.

Fall 2018: PHIL GU4561
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
PHIL 4561 001/22937 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
516 Hamilton Hall
Haim Gaifman 3 15/40

PHIL G4569 Critical Social Theory. 3 points.

A close reading of Jürgen Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action. Prerequisite: PHIL V3353 or PHIL G9755

PHIL GU4675 The Direction of Time. 3 points.

A survey of the various attempts to reconcile the macroscopic directionality of time with the time-reversibility of the fundamental laws of physics. The second law of thermodynamics and the concept of entropy, statistical mechanics, cosmological problems, the problems of memory, the possibility of multiple time direction.

PHIL GU4900 Topics in Early Modern Philosophy. 3 points.

Open to undergraduates with previous work in the history of philosophy and to graduate students. Focuses either on an important topic in the history of early modern philosophy (e.g., skepticism, causation, mind, body) or on the philosophy of a major figure in the period (e.g., Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Gassendi, Conway). 

PHIL GU4910 Topics in Metaphysics. 3 points.

Not offered during 2018-19 academic year.

Description forthcoming.

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