Courses for Fall 2017

  • Skepticism and Knowledge

    What is knowledge? What is the extent and basis of one's knowledge about physical objects, other people, oneself, the future, morality, and religion? WRIT
    PHIL 0030 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Ackerman
  • Aesthetics: Art and Morality

    From Plato to the present, the power of the arts to trigger powerful emotions has been seen by some thinkers as a threat to morality, by others as a vital support. This debate raises such issues as whether aesthetic experience is a distinctive kind of experience and whether the creation and reception of art are autonomous activities free from the constraints of morality and politics. Beyond Plato, authors to be read will include such figures as Hume, Mendelssohn, Rousseau, Kant, Schiller, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Ruskin, Tolstoy, Collingwood, Stanley Cavell, Martha Nussbaum, Alexander Nehamas, and others.
    PHIL 0050 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Guyer
  • Ancient Philosophy

    This course will introduce students to the major concerns of Greek philosophy, and how they are addressed by the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. We will have two related ends: historical and critical. On the one hand, we will get clear so far as we are able what it is that these thinkers thought; on the other, it is important to evaluate their arguments. This course will emphasize the identification of the problems and the solutions to them that seemed pressing to these thinkers, especially if such problems seem alien to us. WRIT
    PHIL 0350 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Gill
  • Logic

    An introduction to perhaps the most fundamental tool of rational thought: deductive logic. Course begins with basic sentential logic, then moves on to deduction, quantification, and prediction. Argumentation and reasoning may also be addressed at times. No previous experience with logic or philosophy is required.
    PHIL 0540 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Heck
  • Introduction to the Philosophy of Language

    Discussion of the nature of linguistic meaning and other topics, such as vagueness; metaphor; and language, thought, and culture.
    PHIL 0850 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Bjurman Pautz
  • Perception

    Begins with a reading of some classic works, and then moves on to contemporary work. Topics include: naive realist versus representational theories of sensory experience, the possibility that sensory experience is massively illusory (so that we already occupy a kind of “virtual reality”), the role of the brain in shaping sensory experience, and the alleged foundational role of sensory experience in knowledge. The focus will be on vision but we will also discuss other sense-modalities
    PHIL 0990F S01
    Primary Instructor
    Pautz
  • Paradox and Infinity

    This course will focus on several important paradoxes that arise within philosophy and mathematics. We will use these paradoxes to investigate central issues in metaphysics, the philosophy of language, decision theory, physics, mathematics, and logic. Among the paradoxes we will discuss are Zeno's paradoxes of space, time, and motion; the paradoxes of set theory; the paradoxes of truth and reference; the sorites paradox; and paradoxes of rational action and rational belief. Enrollment limited to 20.
    PHIL 0990T S01
    Primary Instructor
    Schechter
  • Scepticism, Ancient and Modern: Sextus, Descartes, Hume

    Ancient Sceptics had a great series of arguments for undermining claims to knowledge and (some say) belief. (Honey tastes sweet to some, but bitter to people with a fever. 'Since everything is relative, we shall suspend judgement as to how things are independently'. And many more.) But, some say, it was only with Descartes that philosophers put in question the very existence of an independent world. We shall explore what kind of life the life of a sceptic may be; what kinds of fragmentation of the world may (or may not) result; and some differences between older and newer forms of scepticism.
    PHIL 0991L S01
    Primary Instructor
    Broackes
  • Ethics in the Novel

    Consideration of novels in terms of their treatment of such philosophical themes as death, courage, faith, betrayal, responsibility to others, and mercy. Focuses on themes in moral philosophy rather than themes in social and political philosophy. The course deals with contemporary American novels and also with Malory. No pre-requisites. WRIT
    PHIL 1400 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Ackerman
  • Consciousness

    Topics will include: (i) the different features of various types of consciousness; (ii) dualist, physicalist, and representationalist theories of experience; (iii) the nature of pain and other bodily sensations; (iv) the nature of conscious thought; (v) the qualitative dimension of perception; (vi) introspection; (vii) the roles of attention and working memory in perceptual consciousness; (viii) blindsight, inattentional blindness, hemineglect, and related phenomena; (ix) the unconscious; and (x) what it is for a state of consciousness to be unified.
    PHIL 1520 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Hill
  • Philosophy of Science

    Some very general, basic questions concerning science. Can evidence justify belief in theories which go beyond the evidence? What is the nature of good scientific reasoning? Is there a single scientific method? What is a scientific explanation? Does science reveal truths about unobservable reality, or merely tell us about parts of the world we can measure directly? WRIT
    PHIL 1590 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Christensen
  • Moral Theories

    A systematic examination of the main alternative normative moral theories: consequentialism; moral rights; moral duties; moral virtues. Focuses on the principal issues in the formulation of the different theories, on the main points of conflict between them, and on the critical evaluation of each. Readings are drawn mainly from contemporary work in moral philosophy.
    PHIL 1650 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Arpaly
  • Epistemology

    We’ll concentrate on several issues involving knowledge and rational belief: What is knowledge, and how does it relate to rational or justified belief? Does a person’s knowing something depend on non-evidential factors such as the practical importance of the person’s being correct? Does the justification of a person’s belief depend just on facts internal to the person—or might it depend on her environment? And what can we learn from thinking about the skeptical position which claims that we’re not justified in believing even the most ordinary things about the world around us? WRIT
    PHIL 1750 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Christensen
  • Independent Studies

    An elective for students with at least six previous courses in philosophy. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
    PHIL 1990 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Ackerman
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S02
    Primary Instructor
    Hill
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S03
    Primary Instructor
    Gill
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S04
    Primary Instructor
    Heck
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S05
    Primary Instructor
    Emery
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S06
    Primary Instructor
    Schechter
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S07
    Primary Instructor
    Reginster
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S08
    Primary Instructor
    Broackes
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S09
    Primary Instructor
    Dreier
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S10
    Primary Instructor
    Christensen
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S11
    Primary Instructor
    Estlund
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S12
    Primary Instructor
    Pautz
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S13
    Primary Instructor
    Larmore
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S14
    Primary Instructor
    Arpaly
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S15
    Primary Instructor
    Preiss
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S16
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S17
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1990 S18
    Primary Instructor
    Guyer
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
  • Senior Thesis

    An elective for students writing a thesis. Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
    PHIL 1995 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Ackerman
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S02
    Primary Instructor
    Arpaly
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S03
    Primary Instructor
    Broackes
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S04
    Primary Instructor
    Christensen
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S05
    Primary Instructor
    Dreier
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S06
    Primary Instructor
    Emery
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S07
    Primary Instructor
    Estlund
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S08
    Primary Instructor
    Gill
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S09
    Primary Instructor
    Guyer
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S10
    Primary Instructor
    Heck
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S11
    Primary Instructor
    Hill
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S12
    Primary Instructor
    Larmore
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S13
    Primary Instructor
    Pautz
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S14
    Primary Instructor
    Reginster
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 1995 S15
    Primary Instructor
    Schechter
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
  • Color and its Place in Nature

    Focuses on the nature and status of color, an instance of the ancient puzzle of appearance vs. reality. We will begin by examining contemporary realist views of color (Armstrong, Byrne and Hilbert, Tye). Then we will take a look at irrealist approaches (Chalmers, Pautz). Finally we will look at “relativist views” (Jonathan Cohen, Jack Spencer). Although the focus will be on color, we will also sometimes discuss other sensible properties (audible qualities, olfactory qualities, etc.)
    PHIL 2020P S01
    This course is held on MIT's campus in Boston, MA. Building 32, room D831.
    Primary Instructor
    Pautz
  • Moral Psychology

    This seminar will examine in depth some problems associated with morality, rationality, and the human psyche. Possible topics: acting for reasons, moral responsibility, practical reasoning, moral character, love, modesty, being too good, moral luck, desire, weakness of will. Undergraduates require instructor permission to enroll.
    PHIL 2030A S01
    Primary Instructor
    Arpaly
  • Plato's Theaetetus

    In this seminar, we will discuss Plato's Theaetetus, his investigation of knowledge, and associated topics, including relativism, perception, true and false judgment, and accounts, with a view to understanding how Plato distinguishes knowledge from true belief. Open to graduate students only; others may enroll with instructor permission.
    PHIL 2150I S01
    Primary Instructor
    Gill
  • Graduate Proseminar

    Will cover classics of philosophy from the end of the 19th century to the end of the 20th; including ethics as well as metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of language.
    PHIL 2200 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Broackes
  • Dissertation Workshop

    No description available. Course for graduate students during their 4th year or above.
    PHIL 2800 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Schechter
  • Thesis Preparation

    For graduate students who have met the tuition requirement and are paying the registration fee to continue active enrollment while preparing for a preliminary examination.
    PHIL 2970 S01
    Schedule Code
    E: Grad Enrollment Fee/Dist Prep
  • Research in Philosophy

    Section numbers vary by instructor. Please check Banner for the correct section number and CRN to use when registering for this course.
    PHIL 2980 S01
    Primary Instructor
    Ackerman
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S02
    Primary Instructor
    Hill
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S03
    Primary Instructor
    Gill
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S04
    Primary Instructor
    Heck
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S05
    Primary Instructor
    Emery
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S06
    Primary Instructor
    Schechter
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S07
    Primary Instructor
    Reginster
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S08
    Primary Instructor
    Broackes
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S09
    Primary Instructor
    Dreier
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S10
    Primary Instructor
    Christensen
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S11
    Primary Instructor
    Estlund
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S12
    Primary Instructor
    Pautz
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S13
    Primary Instructor
    Larmore
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S14
    Primary Instructor
    Arpaly
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S15
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
    PHIL 2980 S16
    Primary Instructor
    Guyer
    Schedule Code
    I: Independent Study/Research
  • Thesis Preparation

    For graduate students who have met the tuition requirement and are paying the registration fee to continue active enrollment while preparing a thesis.
    PHIL 2990 S01
    Schedule Code
    E: Grad Enrollment Fee/Dist Prep
  • Courses of Interest to Philosophy Concentrators

    There are many courses that look at philosophers or philosophical questions in other departments, including Africana Studies, Classics, Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences, French Studies, German Studies, Judaic Studies, Mathematics, Modern Culture and Media, Political Science, and Religious Studies. They include:
    Classics
    CLAS 1140 Classical Philosophy of India
    PHIL XLIST 0