Department of PhilosophyWestern Arts and Humanities

4000 Level Courses

Philosophy 4091G - Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception
Philosophy 4108G - Free Will Debate in Early Modern Philosophy
Philosophy 4210G - Undergraduate Survey in Philosophy of Language
Philosophy 4310F - Problems in Philosophy of Science
Philosophy 4710F - Advanced Topics in Practical Ethics

Philosophy 4091G - Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception

Instructor: H. Fielding

This course will focus on the 2012 translation of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s important mid-twentieth century work on perception.  We will approach the work from two perspectives 1) the existential framework it provides that shows how perception cannot be reduced to either empiricism or intellectualism. 2) the insights it provides for contemporary research in philosophy of mind and neuroscience.  Drawing on the research of his day in psychology and neurology, Merleau-Ponty explores embodied perception, and embodied experience and describes how perception belongs to a meaningful gestalt of subject and world.  In the course we will address the ways in which he takes up such themes as temporality, spatiality, the senses including synesthesia, motility and freedom. 

Course Outline

Philosophy 4108G - Free Will Debate in Early Modern Philosophy

Instructor: L. Falkenstein

This course will study the central texts in the debate over free will in early modern English language philosophy: the Hobbes/Bramhall debate, Locke's chapter on power in the Essay, Hume's treatment of free will in the Treatise and the Enquiry, Kame's views on the problem in his Essays on the principles of morality and natural religion, and Reid's account in his Essays on the Active Powers.  Locke, Hume and Kames all made significant changes to their views in successive editions of their works and these alterations will be identified. A principal question for the course will be whether the tradition from Hobbes to Locke so Hume represents the successive articulation of a single, fundamentally deterministic answer to the probem of free will.  There will be a brief overview of views on free will among the Stoics, in Augustine's On Free Will, and among the Cartesians as well as some discussion of the opposed "Pelagian/Molinist/Arminian" and "Augustinian/Jansenist/Calvinist" views in Christian theology.

Course Outline

Philosophy 4210G - Undergraduate Survey in Philosophy of Language

Instructor: R. Stainton

An advanced introduction to contemporary Philosophy of Language in the Analytic Tradition. Structured around theories of meaning as external things, mental representations and uses, topics addressed will include: sense and reference; meaning, truth and modality; linguistic meaning and mental representation; semantic indetermniacy and context sensitivity; speech acts; the semantics-pragmatics boundary.

Course Outline

Philosophy 4310F - Problems in Philosophy of Science

Instructor: TBA

In this course we will examine the various metaphysical theories of the structure of the world and of the ontic categories that are necessary for a coherent scientific image of it. We will revisit the debates about the nature and ontic status of properties (universals vs particulars; categorical vs powers), dispositions and propensities; the various approaches to causation (production vs dependence; singular vs general); and the assorted theories of laws of nature (regularity vs regularity-enforcers; contingent vs necessary). The basic metaphysical views of the world (what could be labeled ‘Humeanism’ and ‘Aristotelianism’) will be discussed systematically. They will be also examined in light of current scientific theories as well as the history of science. An important issue that will be dealt with is the relation between metaphysics of science and science and the various methods by means of which metaphysical theories might be appraised. 

Course Outline

Philosophy 4710F - Advanced Topics in Practical Ethics - The New Paternalism

Instructor: B. Hoffmaster

Recently, paternalism has been revived in the literatures of behavioral economics and law. A new version of paternalism, known as "libertarian paternalism" or "soft paternalism" has been proposed as a way of protecting the best interests of people. This course will review John Stuart Mill's famous critique of paternalism in On Liberty and the classic debate between H.L.A. Hart and Patrick Devlin about the legal enforcement of morality, along with current theoretical work, and will examine particular policy issues that incarnate the new paternalism.

Course Outline