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Fall 2017

200- AND 300-LEVEL COURSES FALL 2017

(Note: all courses are 3 hrs, 3 crs, unless otherwise indicated.)

 

PHILO 200.96: HUMANS AND OTHER ANIMALS

Prerequisite: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Section 01: Tue & Fri, 11:10 am-12:25 pm Prof . David Egan

Non-human animals occupy a perplexing variety of roles in the human world: they're food, they're pets, they're pests, they're sources of clothing and other products, they're experimental subjects, and so on. Depending on their role, we treat them with affection, indifference, cruelty, or sentimentality. They're different from us, but also a lot like us in many ways. Thinking carefully about how we regard animals-and asking how we should regard them-will also cast some light on how we regard ourselves. One premise of this course is that our conflicting attitude toward animals reflects a conflicting attitude toward ourselves. Readings will include philosophical texts by Aristotle, Descartes, Nietzsche, Mary Midgley, Peter Singer, and Cora Diamond, as well as literary works by Jonathan Swift, Franz Kafka, and J. M. Coetzee, among others.

This course counts as an elective for all Philosophy majors (both standard and PPS tracks).

 

PHILO 212: CLASSICAL GREEK PHILOSOPHY: PLATO AND ARISTOTLE GER 3/A, PD/D

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Sect 01: Tue & Thu, 7-8:15 pm Prof. Vishwa Adluri

Reading and discussion of major works by Plato and Aristotle in the context of the philosophical thought of the ancient world. This is a course in the history of Western philosophy from the pre-Socratics through late antiquity, including: the Hellenistic Schools (Stoics, Skeptics, and Epicureans), the encounter between Greek philosophy and early Christianity, and Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism, which became one of the backbones of medieval Christian, Islamic, and Jewish philosophy and a foundation of modern rationalism.

Sect 02: Mon & Thu, 9:45-11 am Prof. Gerald Press

Reading and discussion of major works by Plato and Aristotle in the context of the philosophical thought of the ancient world. This is a course in the history of Western philosophy from the pre-Socratics through late antiquity, including: the Hellenistic Schools (Stoics, Skeptics, and Epicureans), the encounter between Greek philosophy and early Christianity, and Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism, which became one of the backbones of medieval Christian, Islamic, and Jewish philosophy and a foundation of modern rationalism

Graded work consists of 4 short position papers, midterm examination, term paper, final examination.

Required texts are: Greek Philosophy: Thales to Aristotle, ed Allen (Free Press); Greek and Roman Philosophy after Aristotle, ed. Saunders (Free Press); Columbia History of Western Philosophy, ed Popkin (Columbia Univ. Press)

This course is required for all Philosophy majors (both standard and PPS tracks). 2

 

PHILO 215: FOUNDATIONS OF MODERN PHILOSOPHY GER 3/A, PD/D

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Sect 01: Tue & Fri 3:45-5 pm Prof. Laura Keating [description to come]

Sect 02: Mon & Thu, 1:10-2:25 pm Prof. Ian Blecher

Our title has a double meaning, for the thinkers we will study, the men and women who laid the historical foundations of modern philosophy, were particularly concerned with the intellectual foundations of their subject matter. Maybe this was a natural result of the revolutions in science and technology that had seemed to undermine the old ways of thinking about nature, and the wars of religion that had thrown every piety into question; or maybe it was something in the unfolding nature of reason itself. In any case, the search for foundations in philosophy produced some of the deepest and most troublesome works in the western tradition. We will consider a few of these, attending to certain differences between them; but our real interest will lie in the idea of knowledge implicit in every demand for a foundation. Readings will be drawn from Descartes, Spinoza and Hume among others.

This course is required for all Philosophy majors (both standard and PPS tracks).

 

 PHILO 218: REVOLUTIONS IN MODERN PHILOSOPHY GER 3/A, PD/D

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Sect 01: Mon & Thu, 2:45-4 pm Prof. Frank Kirkland

Sect 02: Mon & Wed, 7-8:15 pm Prof. Frank Kirkland

This survey course will cover a relatively small period of the history of philosophy, viz., the period of the 19th century (1781-1887). Philosophers, then and now, have regarded this period in two disparate ways. Either (1) as the "Dark Ages" of philosophy, as a period when philosophical reflection went astray and surrendered to the beguilements of the metaphysically spurious and the discursively illogical. Or (2) as arguably the most influential period of philosophy, as the period, unlike any other, when philosophical reflection comprehensively and legitimately altered the presumptions of both rationalism and empiricism and took on a most ground-breaking and influential character in the political, cultural, aesthetic, scientific, economic, and social arenas of the modern world. In this course, our study of the period will take the route of (2), but we will briefly explain why (1) is still prominent.

We shall read works by Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Frege. Brief attention may be given to Kierkegaard, Darwin, Peirce, and Du Bois.

This course is required for all Philosophy majors (both standard and PPS tracks). NOTE: PHILO 218 will not be offered in Spring 2018.

 

PHILO 221: INDIAN PHILOSOPHY GER 3/A, PD/A

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Sect 01: Tue & Thu, 5:35-6:50 pm Prof. Vishwa Adluri

This course introduces some key themes in Indian philosophy's presentation of ontology (theory of Being), epistemology (theory of knowledge), ethics and aesthetics. Because the textual traditions that comprise Indian philosophy are vast, certain aspects are not discussed here: Buddhist thought and Hindu theistic metaphysics. The approach adopted here is rigorously systematic, loosely chronological and stresses the critical and analytic dimensions of Indian philosophy.

This course counts as an elective for all Philosophy majors (both standard and PPS tracks).

 

 PHILO 226: AFRICAN AMERICAN PHILOSOPHY GER 3/A, PD/C

Prerequisite: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Sect 01: Mon & Thu, 4:10-5:25 pm Prof. Frank Kirkland

Philosophically African-American philosophy and critical race theory can be mapped out in 3 stages:

1) Prior to 1985, philosophical discussions about race were conducted primarily along normative lines addressing whether and, if so, how moral or ethical salience should be granted to race and to government policy reliant on it in order to allow, legitimately, for differential treatment amongst racial groups of citizens. Generally Bernard Boxill's Blacks and Social Justice (1984, 1992) was and still remains the standard bearer for those discussions. 2) Between 1985 and 2000, however, philosophical discussions about race hinged on the question of whether or not race is a "real" or "objective" property and what metaphysical commitments fall from that. Generally Kwame Anthony Appiah's In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (1992) has been the standard bearer on this front. 3) Since 2000, philosophical discussions have in critical race theory and African-American philosophy settled on race as a social construction, which Tommie Shelby's We Who are Dark (2004) confirms. Generally, however, Charles Mills' The Racial Contract (1998) has been the standard bearer on this front. The gist of this course is to convey and respond historically to the arguments and issues raised in the 3 aforementioned stages. Works by Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, Alexander Crummell, Anna Julia Cooper, W.E.B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, Angela Davis as well as a few of the persons mentioned above will be drawn upon to address whether matters concerning race have normative/ethical salience in its social construction or not and whether such matters are the stuff of philosophical or non-philosophical (social-scientific) theorizing.

This course counts as an elective for all Philosophy majors (both standard and PPS tracks).

 

PHILO/WGS 230: FEMINISM: PHILOSOPHICAL THEORY AND PRACTICE GER 3/A, PD/C

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Sect 01: Mon & Wed, 4:10-5:25 pm Prof. Linda Alcoff

This course will explore the development of feminist thought from the publication of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex to the present. We will consider feminist attempts to reveal, unravel, and remedy the conceptual, psychological, and economic dimensions of gender oppression. Readings will explore the major feminist positions on the nature and scope of women's oppression, how it gets perpetuated, and possible solutions. We will also cover the relationship of sexism to racism, to heterosexism, to imperialism, and to class exploitation, and we will look at debates among feminists on cultural traditions and abortion. The focus of the course will be on the variety of possible positions and debates within feminism.

Course requirements will include about 6 short papers over the course of the semester, an in-class mid-term exam, and a final paper.

This course counts as an elective for all Philosophy majors (both standard and PPS tracks).

 

 PHILO 244: MORAL PHILOSOPHY GER 3/A

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Sect 01: Mon & Wed, 5:35-6:50 pm Prof. Steven Ross

This course offers a study of selected problems in philosophical ethics and moral psychology. Topics to be explored include: virtue and happiness; duty and interest; objectivism, relativism, and naturalism; the nature of practical reasoning and reasons for action; and the nature of moral discourse. The course will divide into three or four units focusing on trends or distinguishable arcs within various periods in the historical development of moral philosophy, including: Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman Greece (i.e. from Socrates to the Stoics); Early Modern Philosophy (i.e. from Montaigne to Kant); Nineteenth Century Philosophy (i.e. from Hegel to Nietzsche); and Twentieth Century Philosophy (e.g., Moore, Ayer, Sellars, Williams).

This course or PHILO 246 or PHILO 258 is required for Philosophy majors (standard track).

 

 PHILO 246: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY GER 3/B

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Sect 01: Tue & Fri, 9:45-11 am Lect. Joshua Keton

States are incredibly important institutions. The organization of collective power, centralization of authority, and administration of resources have yielded tremendous advances in the character and quality of life. However, the same power that makes states so uniquely suited to improve lives have also been used to oppress minorities, enrich and secure the powerful, and wage war. While much of theorizing in political science and related fields involves the question of how states do act, this course instead focuses on the normative question of how the state should act--even if there should be states at all. How should we organize society-especially the use of collective power? What makes a government legitimate? What are the limits of the legitimate use of state power? Do the requirements of justice stop at state borders or do they extend globally? The purpose of this course is to provide a framework for answering some of these questions. The first half of the course is designed to give a broad background in the way that philosophers have approached these, and other, questions. We begin with a series of readings intended to introduce some of the central concepts of political philosophy-i.e., justice, authority, legitimacy, rights, equality, and democracy. The second half of the course addresses the ways that these concepts inform contemporary debate-e.g., affirmative action, immigration, constitutionalism and judicial review, world poverty, and human rights.

This course or PHILO 244 or PHILO 258 is required for Philosophy majors (standard track), and is required for all Philosophy majors (PPS track).

 

 PHILO 250: PROBLEMS OF ETHICS AND SOCIETY GER 3/B

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Sect 01: Tue & Fri, 11:10 am-12:25 pm Lect. Jamie Lindsay

Study of ethical questions raised by contemporary social movements and arising in civil society, using multiple normative approaches. Topics may include intercultural conflict, indigenous sovereignty, mass incarceration, unpaid care labor, sex work, and climate change. Philosophical perspectives include consequentialism, deontology, care ethics, virtue ethics and discourse ethics.

This course or PHILO 248 is required for Philosophy majors (PPS track).

 

 PHILO 258: AESTHETICS GER 3/A

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 1 course in Philosophy

Sect 01: Mon & Thu, 2:45-4 pm Prof. Steven Ross

This course is an introduction to some basic philosophical problems of art and beauty. It will include extensive viewing and discussion of great works of art. Some questions we will consider include: What is realism in the arts-does it mean resembling reality, and if so, how do artworks manage to do that? What is the artistic status of photography and film, which according to some philosophers, "mechanically reproduce" reality? How do artworks embody or express specific emotions? (It might be clear how a story or a realistic painting can express emotions, but what about an abstract painting, or a song with no lyrics?) Why do we seek out painful and frightening emotions in art, feelings we don't tend to seek out in life? How should we understand 'minimal' or readymade artworks, like Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes or Marcel Duchamp's urinal? Finally, we will consider the connection between art and ethics. Plato argued, in Republic, that most forms of poetry and other arts would have no place in a good city. Why did he think that? Does art have a role to play in living a good life?

This course or PHILO 244 or PHILO 246 is required for Philosophy majors (standard track).

 

PHILO 275/MATH 275/CSCI 395.9: SYMBOLIC LOGIC GER 3/B

Prereq: none

Sect 01: Mon & Thu, 11:10 am-12:25 pm Prof. Daniel Harris

Symbolic logic is the mathematically precise study of reasoning. By representing chains of reasoning in a clear and precise mathematical notation, we can formulate relatively simple and universal rules that distinguish the good from the bad. In this class, our focus will be on understanding Sentential Logic and Predicate Logic-the two systems that are most likely to be useful to you elsewhere. You'll learn how to translate from English into the formal languages of these logics, and strategies for using them to evaluate chains of reasoning. There are several good reasons to study logic. First, learning logic can make us better reasoners by showing us how to focus on the aspects of arguments that are relevant to their rational persuasiveness, while ignoring their merely rhetorical aspects. Second, knowledge of logic is often presupposed in contemporary philosophy, linguistics, computer science, and cognitive science, and so logic literacy is required in order to understand these subjects. Third, logic can be an inherently fun exercise of the intellect, in the same way that solving a sudoku or crossword puzzle can be fun.

This course or PHILO 170 is required for Philosophy majors (standard track).

 

 

PHILO 320: TWENTIETH-CENTURY PHILOSOPHY GER 3/A

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 2 courses in Philosophy, 1 at the 200-level

Sect 01: Tue & Fri, 2:10-3:25 pm Prof. David Egan

Western philosophy in the twentieth century is often perceived as developing in two distinct and antagonistic streams: the "continental" and "analytic" traditions. This course will examine the points of connection and conflict between these two traditions by considering three encounters between major figures from each tradition: Frege and Husserl, Carnap and Heidegger, and Austin, Derrida, and Searle. By considering how both traditions arrive at these moments of encounter and evolve from them, we will get an overview of twentieth-century philosophy as a whole, and an appreciation of the difficulties of philosophical method: all three of these encounters are essentially debates about how to do philosophy.

For 2017-18, this course will satisfy the Metaphysics requirement for Philosophy majors (standard track).

 

PHILO 366: PHILOSOPHY OF MIND GER 3/A

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 2 courses in Philosophy, 1 at the 200-level

Sect 01: Mon, 4:10-7 pm Prof. Steven Ross [description to come]

This course satisfies the Metaphysics requirement for Philosophy majors (standard track). 7

 

PHILO 380.11: ARISTOTLE GER 3/A

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 2 courses in Philosophy, 1 at the 200-level

Sect 01: Mon & Thu, 2:45-4 pm Prof. Gerald Press

The course will pursue a close, scholarly reading and interpretation of central texts in Aristotle's philosophical writings. We will consider basic Aristotelian ideas, such as form, matter, actuality and potentiality, causes and principles, the nature of knowledge, natural science, reality, perception, moral excellence, and human happiness. We will also consider broader questions about Aristotle's philosophical aims, methods, and principles.

Required books are Aristotle: Selections, tr Irwin and Fine (Hackett); R. P. McKeon, ed, Basic Works of Aristotle (Random House/Modern Library); David Ross, Aristotle, 6th ed (Routledge) [e-book, accessible via Hunter College Library].

This course or another section of PHILO 380 is required for all Philosophy majors (both standard and PPS tracks).

 

 PHILO 380.83: HEIDEGGER GER 3/A

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 2 courses in Philosophy, 1 at the 200-level

Sect 01: Tue & Fri, 12:45-2 pm Prof. David Egan

Martin Heidegger is widely considered one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century, and his influence is felt in almost all the major strands of twentieth-century European thought, from phenomenology to existentialism to post-structuralism. The primary focus of this class will be his most famous work, Being and Time, in which he offers an ambitious and strikingly original account of human existence as "being-in-the-world." Among the themes we will explore are worldliness, sociality, understanding, language, anxiety, death, authenticity, and temporality.

This course or another section of PHILO 380 is required of all Philosophy majors (both standard and PPS tracks).

 

 PHILO 394.72: FEMINIST AND SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGIES

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 2 courses in Philosophy, 1 at the 200-level

Sect 01: Mon & Wed, 7-8:15 pm Prof. Linda Alcoff

Epistemology is in some ways the most basic of all the fields of philosophy, in asking what can we know? While the modern European philosophy traditions debated alternative accounts about justification and belief that were generally focused on individuals, more recent work has focused on the social and political dimension of how claims come to be justified, how beliefs form, and even how truth is defined. Most of what we know is learned from others rather than from our own individual experience, and the way we learn from others, and the way we learn in groups, is subject to the contingencies of social and political structures. It behooves us, then, to epistemically analyze these social and political contingencies for their impact on knowledge. This course will explore recent work that considers the relationships between knowledge, epistemology, society, identity, and power. We will pursue questions such as the following: What counts as epistemic injustice? What are the epistemic lessons to be learned-and not simply the sociological or political ones-from the history of the ways in which women and whole groups of people across the globe have been presumed to be inadequate knowers? Scientific norms about avoiding bias have been proven inadequate, so how can these norms be revised or strengthened? Is objectivity a realistic goal, and how should it be defined? The work that we will read includes feminist epistemology, decolonial studies, social epistemology, critical race philosophy, and science studies. Beyond the critical project, we will look at work that develops normative reconstructions of epistemology with these histories in mind. These include, for example, proposals to build in a robust reflexivity about the political and social context in which belief formation and justification occurs, to reassess the role of certain social and political values as epistemic virtues, and to explore the role of identity and of context in judgment.

Requirements are five short papers, one due about every two weeks, an in-class mid-term, and a final paper. The short papers will be 2-3 page summaries and discussions of the readings.

For 2017-18, this course will satisfy the Metaphysics requirement for Philosophy majors (standard track).

 

PHILO 394.80: ETHICS OF WAR AND VIOLENCE

Prereq: ENGL 120 or equivalent + 2 courses in Philosophy, 1 at the 200-level

Sect 01: Mon & Thu, 1:10-2:25 pm Prof. Omar Dahbour

This course will consider some of the following questions: Is violence always wrong? Can war be abolished? When, if ever, is (violent) revolution legitimate? Are terror attacks ever justifiable? Do human rights violations provide a reason for foreign military interventions? Are social injustices the result of "structural" violence? Can "ethnic cleansing" ever be justified? Are strategic bombing, missile strikes, and drone warfare morally equivalent to terrorism? Is it acceptable to kill in self-defense? Is there an important ethical difference between attacking soldiers and killing civilians (including politicians or diplomats)? Should soldiers ever refuse orders from their civilian or military superiors? Do the "laws of war" limit violence or legitimate it? We will read some classic historical and contemporary works dealing with these questions, such as those by Grotius, Locke, Clausewitz, Schmitt, Arendt, Benjamin, Trotsky, Fanon, Walzer, Teichman, and McMahan.

This course counts as an elective for all Philosophy majors (both standard and PPS tracks), and is especially recommended for PPS students.

 

 

CSCI/MATH/PHIL 3

Logic and Computers

                                  

There has been a tremendous increase recently in the use of logic to model and reason about systems. This inter-disciplinary course introduces students to this topic, and gives students an understanding of logics and their use in formalizing real-world problems. It is also one of 4 required courses in the new logic minor.

 

 

 

Topics

Logics that will be covered include propositional, predicate, temporal, and higher-order. For each of these logics, topics to be covered include:

• A summary of theoretical properties of the logic.

• Application of the logic to model and represent real-world problems.

It is expected that most problems in this course will be games and puzzles, though students are encouraged to suggest problems in their areas of interest.

• Analyzing and proving properties of the problems being modeled using automated techniques that have seen an explosive growth in recent years. Techniques include SAT/SMT solvers, theorem provers, and model checkers.

The course is project-driven, and intended to be accessible to majors in all 3 areas (CSCI, Math, Phil). There is no programming, though you will use computer tools.

Course Information

Time: Tuesday/Thursday 700 – 815 PM

Instructor: Subash Shankar (subash.shankar@hunter.cuny.edu), HN-1000F

Prerequisites: PHIL/MATH/CSCI 275 or CSCI 150 or instructor’s permission (please contact instructor before registration)

4-5 homeworks (small projects), and 2-3 tests expected. All the puzzles given here can be modeled and solved/analyzed using [different] logics