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Graduate Courses 2015-16

Submitted by rzach on Sat, 08/20/2016 - 1:09pm

Fall 2015

Biotechnology and the Law: Legal, Ethical and Metaphysical Issues in Emerging Biotechnology (Allen Habib)

PHIL 601.19 L01 (75825) Tues. 17:30-20:15 pm Room SA 125

The class will cover current research into legal, ethical, and theoretical issues in emerging biotechnology. We will consider issues relating to assisted human reproduction, including cloning and embryonic modification, genetic engineering of plants, animals and microorganisms, genetic therapies and enhancements in humans, and artificial life, in synthetic biology, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Graduate Proseminar (Richard Zach)

PHIL 603 L01 (73120) Thurs. 15:30-18:15 am Room SS 1253

The aim of this seminar is to sharpen one’s philosophical research and writing skills. We will focus on how to identify research topics, write research proposals and papers, and prepare research presentations.

Aquinas (Jack MacIntosh)

PHIL 609 L01 (72895) Tues. 17:00-19:45 am Room SA 123

St Thomas Aquinas is one of the world’s great philosophers. Although he is one of the greatest of philosophers he is also, by those who do not share his faith, greatly unread. His (almost) always interesting arguments are frequently better than his detractors are aware, and frequently less good than his defenders suggest. In this course we shall consider the strengths and weaknesses of Aquinas’s arguments in three overlapping areas I: Natural Philosophy (Necessity, Causality, Time, Infinity); II: Philosophical Theology (God’s existence, God’s attributes, Foreknowledge and freedom); II: Human Beings (The soul and immortality, Epistemology, Morality and method).

Naturalistic Metaphysics (Ken Waters)

PHIL 623.5 L01 (74489) Wed. 12:00-14:45 am Room ST 125

In this seminar, we will investigate different conceptions of what it would mean to have a metaphysics informed by sciences. One conception, the dominate one, is that metaphysics ought to be informed by our best, and most general theories of science. This conception draws heavily upon scientific realism and leads philosophers to explore how the most fundamental theories of physics could be interpreted in order to unify our understanding of everything. Another conception, far less developed, is that metaphysics ought to be informed by whatever kind of success (theoretical or not) that is characteristic of science generally. This conception draws upon pragmatism and leads philosophers to explore pluralistic practices across the sciences and ask, “what might the world be like such that these, possibly disunified, practices are the ones that succeed?”

Winter 2016

Moral and Reason Internalism (John Baker)

PHIL 649.9 L01 (12727) Mon. & Wed. 15:30-16:45 pm Room SA 123

With the publication of John Mackie’s 1977 Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong and of Bernard Williams’s 1979 paper “Internal and external reasons” the focus of metaethical inquiries shifted from a direct investigation of the nature of morality and of claims about moral rightness and wrongness to the examination of what it is, quite generally, for someone to have a justificatory (aka normative) reason to act in certain ways or to have certain attitudes and feelings, the idea being that the change in focus will make possible the development of a better grounded account of actions for moral reasons. The goal of the course will be (1) to provide a brief but detailed examination of the roots of this shift in focus; (2) to examine some recent work on how best to analyze justificatory/normative reasons; and (3) to examine some of the implications those views for standard views about rationality and the possibility of rationality and the possibility of rational assessment of moral claims.

Explanation (Marc Ereshefsky)

PHIL 667.9 L01 (20966) Tues & Thurs. 14:00-15:15 pm Room ST 125

The seminar will start with classic philosophical accounts of explanation, for example those by Carl Hempel and Wesley Salmon. Then we will turn to accounts of historical explanation (historical explanations are frequently found in the biological and social sciences). Allegedly, historical explanation is different than other types of explanation. The second half of the seminar will focus on the question of what makes historical explanation historical (as well as the nature of historical contingency).

Philosophical Topics in the Sciences: Issues in the Historical Sciences (Adrian Currie)

PHIL 667.12 L02 (20967) Mon. 17:00-19:45 pm Room SS 006

Some scientists are concerned with the deep past: how did the universe begin, the solar-system form, and life emerge? What explains life’s diversity, major events in its history, and the emergence and subsequent success of homo sapiens? In answering such questions, scientists engage in activities which take them well outside what philosophers of science are used to. Theories are often vague, ambiguous or non existent, experiments of limited value, data is often highly biased and incomplete. And yet, historical scientists have met with great success. We will examine these sciences and try to explain how and why they work.

Philosophy and Neuroscience (Walter Glannon)

PHIL 683 L01 (20968) Tues. 17:00-19:45 Room SA 123

Advances in neuroscience over the last 25 years have resulted in a better understanding of how the brain enables the mind and the neurobiological basis of human thought and behavior. Structural and functional neuroimaging, psychoactive drugs and neural prosthetics challenge traditional philosophical conceptions of free will, moral responsibility and personal identity by raising questions about what generates and sustains our mental states and what produces our actions. This course critically examines the reductionist view that our brains alone do not determine everything about who we are and how we experience the world.

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