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Courses and Requirements

The goal of the Philosophy Department is to work with students to develop the skills of critical analysis, powerful speaking, and clear writing, skills alumni find of singular practical use in a wide variety of careers, and indispensable to their work as responsible citizens. We emphasize the value of philosophical examination for understanding broad issues that concern us all.

The concentration in philosophy consists of nine courses:

  1. PHIL-201, PHIL-203, and PHIL-550; and
  2. One logic course: either PHIL-100, PHIL-200, or PHIL-240; and
  3. Three additional courses at the 400 level, none of which may be cross-listed from outside the department; and
  4. Two electives in philosophy.
  5. Concentrators must also satisfy the Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies (SSIH) requirement in a course so designated. Concentrators may satisfy the SSIH requirement with a course they are counting toward the concentration requirements 1-4 above

No more than one of the nine courses counted toward the concentration may be at the 100 level. Any course may be taken credit/no credit for the concentration or minor except 550.

Prospective concentrators are encouraged to complete PHIL-201, PHIL-203 and the logic requirement (either PHIL-100, PHIL-200, or PHIL-240) by the end of their sophomore year, but this is not required.

Senior concentrators complete the Senior Seminar (PHIL-550) in the fall of the senior year. Each student in PHIL-550 will complete a senior project.

Candidates for honors must have a 3.7 in all courses in philosophy, and must also have an A in the senior project, and at least an A- in 550.

A minor in philosophy can be of two kinds: standard (five courses consisting of one course from among PHIL-100, PHIL-200 or PHIL-240; PHIL-201, PHIL-203 and two other courses, one of which must be at the 400 level); or thematic (five courses in philosophy that are thematically related, one of which must be at the 400 level).  No more than one of the five courses counted toward the minor may be at the 100 level.  No more than one course taken outside of Hamilton will count toward the minor. 

The thematic minor is an in-depth exploration of a focused theme in philosophy.  The theme may relate to a student's concentration, but need not.  Students who wish to declare a thematic minor should so indicate on the declaration of minor form.  To certify completion of the thematic minor, students submit to the Philosophy Department Chair a list of 5 courses they either have taken or for which they are registered, along, with a reflective explanation of how the courses are thematically linked. After the Chair approves of the list and reflection, the student submits a copy of that explanation, with the Chair’s approval, to the Registrar.

First-year students may enroll in PHIL-200, PHIL-203, or PHIL-240 with no prerequisites. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors may enroll in PHIL-200, PHIL-201, PHIL-203, or PHIL-240 with no prerequisites.

100 Critical Thinking.
An introduction to informal methods of evaluating claims and arguments in everyday life. Emphasis on the strengthening your reasoning, recognizing nonrational persuasion, and the evaluation of explanations and arguments. Includes lecture, discussion, and small group interaction. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Open to first-year students only. Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18). Doran.

108 Philosophy of Love and Sex.
What is it to love someone as a lover rather than, say, a parent or a sibling or a friend?  Does sexual desire have a legitimate place in the former?  Or does true love leave sex behind?  What is the nature of sexual desire and how does it relate to sexual activity and sexual pleasure?  Why do we as a society take a negative view of sexuality?  What exactly is wrong with sexual desire and its expression?  What is sexual perversion?  What should we make of sexual proclivities and orientations that differ, sometimes radically, from our own? Among the topics that will be discussed in this class are sexual intercourse of various sorts, perversion, masturbation, trans-gender identities, homosexuality, prostitution, pornography, and rape. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Same as WMGST-108.) Maximum enrollment, First Year Course (18). Alessandro R Moscarítolo Palacio.

109 Telling Right from Wrong.
How ought we to live our lives? How ought we to treat other people? What features of an action make it right or wrong? What are the character traits make a person good or bad? We will examine three major traditions in ethical theory: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. And we will discuss some applied questions concerning the morality of abortion, affluence and poverty, war, pornography, climate change, and the treatment of non-human animals. We will explore questions of moral motivation. We will read primary texts. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18). Clark.

110 Introduction to Philosophy.
An introduction to the methods and topics of philosophy. We apply the fundamentals of logic and argumentation to pursue answers to important philosophical questions: How can we understand our nature as human beings? What constitutes a good and happy human life? Is everything that exists somehow physical? Does God exist? Do human beings possess free will? If not, can we be held responsible for our actions? Where does morality come from anyway? How can we know anything about the world we live in? What does it mean to think responsibly with so much disagreement and uncertainty? (Proseminar.) Maximum enrollment, Proseminar (16). Clark.

112 The Fundamentals of Race.
An introductory course that contextualizes and critically analyzes the concept of race as it relates to people of African descent and in terms of the dynamics of how it emerges and operates within the social world. Transdisciplinary in nature, the course draws upon multiple domains and explores multiple ways in which race is constructed, functions, and contested. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Proseminar.) Open to first-years only (Same as AFRST-112.) Maximum enrollment, Proseminar (16). Franklin.

115 Existentialism.
An introduction to various theories and expressions of 19th and 20th century existential thought. Readings include Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Camus, Heidegger, Sartre, Wright, and de Beauvoir. (Writing-intensive.) (Proseminar.) Maximum enrollment, Proseminar (16). Franklin.

117 Introduction to Political Theory.
Survey of selected political theorists from Plato to the present. Examination of questions of liberty, equality, justice and community. (Writing-intensive.) (Proseminar.) Open to juniors and seniors with consent of instructor only. Offered as Proseminar & Writing-Intensive at least once per year. (Political Theory) (Same as GOVT-117.) Maximum enrollment, Proseminar (16).

120 Philosophical Perspectives on the Self.
What is a self? Does each person have one? Does each person have only one? How is the self related to the soul? Is it unchanging or in constant flux? What is the relationship between the self and the body? Examination of personal identity, the self and the soul as these topics are addressed in traditional philosophical texts, literature and the natural and behavioral sciences. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Proseminar.) Open to first years and sophomores in the spring; open only to first years in the fall. Maximum enrollment, Proseminar (16). Janack.

122 Infinity.
An introduction to philosophy by way of the infinite. We’ll look at the puzzles and challenges raised for our understanding of ourselves and the world by examining various views about infinity, from Zeno’s paradoxes and Aristotle’s actual/potential distinction; through the medieval concept of syncategorematicity, and Galileo’s paradox; to Cantor’s transfinites and the foundations of mathematics. We’ll read works of fiction as well as more traditional philosophy. No particular mathematical background will be assumed, but we will do some basic set theory. (Writing-intensive.) Taught in alternating years. Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18). Marcus.

124 Philosophy of Education.
What is education? How is education manifested in individuals, schools, and society? We’ll start the term by examining the nature of knowledge. Then, we’ll turn to how people learn, before proceeding to think about how we can teach others. Finally, we’ll look at schools, how they are and how they could be. We’ll focus on philosophical questions at the roots of education and learning. Readings will be both historical and contemporary and will include a diverse range of views. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Taught in alternating years. (Same as EDUC-124.) Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18). Marcus.

140 What is Art?.
An exploration of some historical and recent attempts at defining art. Can 'art' can be defined at all? What, if anything, does Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa have in common with a work of street art? What, if anything, does hip hop have in common with classical music?  We will also ponder the role that art plays in our lives. Are some works of art immoral? Does art (most of which is fictional) help us understand real life? Why are we interested in genres like horror and tragedy that are designed to make us feel frightened or sad?   (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Proseminar.) Introduction to the philosophy of art/aesthetics. Maximum enrollment, Proseminar (16). Alessandro R Moscarítolo Palacio.

200 Critical Reasoning.
Practical, hands-on work on recognizing and constructing clear arguments from and in everyday life. Emphasis on strengthening one’s reasoning skills and putting them to constructive use in debate and writing. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Not open to students who have taken 100. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Doran.

201 History of Ancient Western Philosophy.
A study of the philosophical classics from early Greek times to the Renaissance. Emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. (Same as CLASC-201.) Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Clark.

203 History of Modern Western Philosophy.
A survey of themes in the works of some major philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, taught using team-based learning. Spurred by advances in science and criticisms of Church dogma, philosophers in the modern era attempted to reconcile the scientific revolution with a broad view of human abilities. They constructed systematic views of the world and our place in it in order to answer big questions, including ones about appearance and reality, the relation between minds and bodies, the nature of knowledge, God, laws of nature, and free will. Prerequisite, one course in philosophy. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Marcus.

204 Philosophy as/and/of Literature.
While Plato famously criticized the poets, his own works are often best read, not as straightforward presentations of philosophical ideas or arguments, but as ironic texts that use rhetorical devices to show, rather than tell, his claims. Examines philosophy’s relationship to the literary and questions about interpretation, truth and argument, as well as the rhetorical aspects of philosophical texts. Includes traditional philosophical works, novels, poetry and drama. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Janack.

209 Human Nature, Gender, and Identity.
An introductory survey of philosophical approaches to feminism. Examines the historical progression of feminist philosophical thought, as well as some of the debates that animate contemporary feminist theory. Will address the general question of feminism's relationship to, and tensions with, philosophical thought. Prerequisite, one course in philosophy or women's studies or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40).

219 Introduction to Moral Theory.
We will examine the central debates and positions in normative ethics and metaethics beginning with theories such as utilitarianism and deontology that tell us what our ethical obligations are and why. We then examine metaethical theories about the nature of moral claims: do they report objective facts, or express our own personal attitudes? Other topics include the nature of moral judgment and reasoning, debates about the correct analysis of moral semantics, and the scope of the moral domain. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18). Plakias.

221 Food and Philosophy.
This course will examine aesthetic, ethical, and political issues surrounding the production and consumption of food. Questions to be addressed include: what is food? Are aesthetic judgments about food objective, or merely matters of personal taste? When it comes to choosing what to eat, what are our ethical obligations as consumers? What role should government legislation play in regulating our choice of food? Who should bear responsibility for the social and environmental costs of our food choices? Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Plakias.

222 Race, Gender and Culture.
A critical philosophical examination of the normative categories of race, gender and culture. Topics include the origin, character and function of racial, gender and social identities. Analysis will focus on questions concerning the malleability of these identities, as well as questions concerning their psychological and social significance. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Open only to 1st and 2nd year students. (Same as AFRST-222, WMGST-222.) Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18).

228 Philosophy and Film.
Explores film through the lens of philosophy and conversely. Most philosophers agree that films illustrate philosophical problems, raise philosophical questions, or record philosophical arguments. But there is no such agreement on the more interesting question of whether films can also advance philosophical positions. We will focus on American social and institutional hierarchies. We will watch and examine movies that take up issues of race and racism, class and classism, and sex and sexism. And more. Students will be required to watch together one movie one evening every week. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, One course in Philosophy or one course in Cinema and Media Studies. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Same as CNMS-228.) Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Doran.

231 Indigenous Philosophy of the Americas.
An overview of the some of the main indigenous philosophical traditions that have flourished across Abya Yala (a.k.a. the Americas) before and after the European conquest. The course aims to show that these philosophical traditions, which have been traditionally marginalized in non-Indigenous/Western philosophical circles, contain valuable insights that can help us address some of our current philosophical and practical concerns. Topics to be studied in the course include indigenous metaphysics, indigenous epistemology, indigenous ethics, and indigenous conceptions of language and truth, among others. Readings for the course will include seminal texts from prominent Native American and Indigenous figures (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, One course in philosophy. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Alessandro R Moscarítolo Palacio.

232 Justice and the Good Life.
A study of justice within the history of ethical theory, including developments and debates among Humean, consequentialist, and deontological perspectives. We pay special attention to aid (when are we required to help others in need?) and distributive justice (what constitutes a fair distribution of goods and resources?), discussing theories from Dworkin, Rawls, Sen, and Nussbaum. The course concludes with a unit on the capabilities approach to distributive justice, which introduces basic questions about the requirements for living a good and happy human life. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Clark.

233 Latin American Philosophy.
An overview of Latin American philosophy, from pre-Hispanic times to the present.  We will examine how Latin American philosophy addresses traditional philosophical questions, including those about the nature of knowledge, language, beauty, and justice.  We will also examine Latin American philosophy’s role in the Spanish conquest, the independence revolutions of the 19th century, the liberation struggles of the 20th century, and today’s class, race, and gender struggles. Finally, we will critically examine the notions of Latin American identity and Latina/o/x identity. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, Take 1 course in Philosophy. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Moscarítolo Palacio.

235 Environmental Ethics.
Examines the appropriate relation of humans to the environment. Specific topics include ways of conceptualizing nature; the ethical and social sources of the environmental crisis; our moral duties to non-human organisms; and the ethical dimensions of the human population explosion. The goal is to help students arrive at their own reasoned views on these subjects and to think about the consequences of everyday actions, both personal and political. Preference given to environmental studies majors and minors, starting with seniors. Has at least one field trip. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40).

240 Symbolic Logic.
A study of formal systems of reasoning and argument evaluation. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Marcus.

242 The Black Self: Identity and Consciousness.
A philosophical exploration of a variety of historical and contemporary works that illuminate and influence the phenomenological experience of being black. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One course in philosophy or Africana studies, or consent of instructor. (Same as AFRST-242.) Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18).

270 Democratic Theory.
Analysis of the idea of democracy, traditions of democratic theory (liberal, Marxist, elitist) and current problems of democracy in practice. Topics include liberty and equality, community power, participation and bureaucracy. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40).

281 Philosophy as Spiritual Quest.
Exploration of the spiritual power attributed to philosophy by religious philosophers from classical Greece to modern times through readings from Greek, Jewish, Islamic and/or Christian philosophical works. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One course in philosophy and/or religious studies. (Same as RELST-281.) Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18).

308 Language Revolution.
Twentieth-century and contemporary philosophers often focus on the role of language in philosophical questions, whether to clear up mistaken or misleading uses of language or for its own sake. This survey course will look at the most important philosophers of language and how they approach questions of reference, meaning, and linguistic ontology, including Frege, Russell, Tarski, Quine, Putnam, Kripke, and Chomsky. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, One course in philosophy or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40).

310 Philosophy of Science.
Focus on the philosophical analysis of scientific knowledge, scientific method and the practice of science. Readings include classic texts in the philosophy of science as well as contemporary discussions of science as a social product and critiques of the notion of scientific objectivity. Taught in alternating years. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, 203 and either 120 or 235, or consent of the instructor. Next offered 2021-22. (Same as NEURO-310.) Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18).

311 Philosophy East and West.
A course in comparative philosophy. We will examine, compare, and contrast various philosophers, philosophical systems, and schools of thought from both eastern and western philosophy. For instance, we may examine the philosophies of Sextus Empiricus, the ancient greek (Pyrrhonian) skeptic, and Nagarjuna, founder of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism; we may draw comparisons between the ancient Roman Stoics and the philosophical life of Mohandas Gandhi; and we may investigate similarities or highlight important differences between the ethical systems of Aristotle and Confucius. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, Two courses in philosophy. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40).

314 Literary Philosophers.
What does writing style have to do with philosophical content? We will look at the "old quarrel" between the philosophers and the poets, and look at the ways in which philosophy was and is written, to think about what counts as philosophy and why and how we mark it off from its others. Readings by Borges, Calvino, Kafka, Coetzee, Plato and others. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 1 course in philosophy, literature/creative writing or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18). Janack.

319 Critical Race Theory.
A close examination of the emergence, aims, and argumentative styles of Critical Race Theory. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, One course in Philosophy or one course in Africana Studies. (Same as AFRST-319.) Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18). Franklin.

337 Seminar: Confucian Traditions.
Examination of Confucian thought and ritual practice from classical times to the present. Emphasis on reading philosophical and ritual texts in translation in order to understand the ways that Confucians understood their place in Chinese society. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, relevant coursework in history, Asian studies or religious studies, or consent of instructor. (Same as HIST-337.) Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12).

355 Contemporary Philosophy.
A critical survey of early 20th century Anglo-American philosophy with a focus on formative debates over the nature of experience and language, their connection to reality, and the nature of philosophy itself, ending with work on the nature of race and gender. Covers more truly contemporary work (with a brief stop in the 1960s) including both the decline and fall of some of the dominant themes of the tradition—for example, the craving for the certainty of logic and the perceived objectivity of science—and the birth of a variety of reconceptions of philosophy continuing to shape the discipline, and the philosophical imprint on the culture at large. Readings include works by Carnap, Quine, Wittgenstein, Elgin, Appiah, Haslanger, and Gleick’s The Information. Prerequisite, PHIL-203 or consent of instructor. Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40).

356 Virtue Ethics.
Virtue ethics emphasizes the goodness or badness of those who act, rather than the rightness or wrongness of particular actions. The virtues are often taken to contribute to individual happiness, or the ability to construct a meaningful life. We will examine virtue ethics as a theory (and as alternative to consequentialism and deontology). We begin with a survey of ancient versions, before exploring new developments and various applications of virtue ethics to contemporary moral problems (abortion, the treatment of non-human animals, climate change, human over-consumption, and technology). Prerequisite, One course in philosophy, or consent of instructor. Taught in alternating years. Maximum enrollment, Standard Course (40). Clark.

357 Theory of Internet Policy.
This course offers a critical introduction to internet policy through the lens of political theory. It is organized around five main topics: “the wisdom of the multitude” (Jeremy Waldron), civil disobedience, speech, privacy, and surveillance. While technology is always changing, the guiding refrain for the course is that seemingly novel concerns can often be traced back to old debates. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as GOVT-357.) Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18).

382 The Ethics of Belief.
Examining the ethical, social, and political implications of belief formation and belief change. Much of modern Western epistemology treats belief as an individual matter.  But knowledge doesn’t work like that.  We’re not isolated, we’re connected, and interdependent: our knowledge comes, not from reflection, but from conversations, imitation, and observation.  Beginning with the Cartesian model of belief and knowledge, this course will survey developments from modern to contemporary social epistemology.  Topics may include: arguments for the existence of god and the debate between faith and reason, the epistemology of testimony, conspiracy theories and the production of ignorance, and intellectual virtues and vices. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, one previous course in philosophy. Maximum enrollment, Writing-Intensive (18). Alexandra Plakias.

410 American Philosophy.
Historical debates over the metaphysics and ethics of personhood with an examination of some early American texts by Bradstreet and Lincoln, and Emerson and Thoreau’s Transcendentalism. Emphasis on classical Pragmatist metaphysics and epistemology through the work of Peirce, James and Dewey, with attention to their neo-Pragmatist legacies in contemporary American philosophy. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, Three courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. (Same as AMST-410.) Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Doran.

412 The Politics of AI: Algorithms, "Big Data," and "Humans in the Loop".
This upper-level seminar is structured around three concepts that are central to the politics of AI: algorithms, "big data," and "humans in the loop." Issues discussed include algorithmic discrimination, the state of consent in the age of "big data," and the psychological toll of content moderation on social media. Explicitly interdisciplinary, a variety of methods and academic backgrounds are welcome. The course is speaking intensive. (Speaking-Intensive.) Prerequisite, Consent of Instructor. (Same as GOVT-412 PPOL-412.) Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Gorham.

415 Objectivity and Rationality.
Is objectivity possible? If it is, is it an epistemic value worth pursuing? How does objectivity relate to the metaphysics of experience and to our ideals of rationality? How does objectivity relate to truth? Readings will draw from traditional philosophers of science, historians and sociologists of science, feminist philosophers of science and other writings in science studies. Prerequisite, three courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12).

416 Wittgenstein.
A broad study of themes through Wittgenstein’s work, including the picture-theory, naming, rule-following, meaning, skepticism, and truth. While our focus will be on Wittgenstein’s work, we will also spend time on his intellectual forebears and those he influenced, including Frege, Russell, Anscombe, Quine, Kripke, and Diamond. Prerequisite, Three courses in Philosophy or permission of instructor. Taught in alternating years. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Marcus.

426 David Foster Wallace and Metaphilosophy.
David Foster Wallace’s fiction and non-fiction are often read through a philosophical lens, given his deep immersion in the analytic philosophical tradition. This course examines the extent to which Wallace’s work is appropriately read as philosophy, and the question of what demarcates philosophy from fiction and from literary non-fiction. Not open to students who have taken 326. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, Three courses in philosophy, or three courses in Literature or Creative Writing, or consent of instructor. Next offered 2021-22. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12).

427 Intuitions and Philosophy.
Explores the role of intuition in our reasoning in epistemology, philosophy of mind, mathematics and moral philosophy, and perhaps other areas. We will consider arguments in favor of using intuitions in philosophy, as well as work on the fallibility of intuition, and the recent movement known as experimental philosophy. Seminar (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, three courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Taught in alternating years. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Marcus.

433 Philosophy of Liberation.
An exploration of the main strands, topics, and figures of the philosophy of liberation, including the controversial and fruitful theology of liberation. The philosophy of liberation (filosofía de la liberación) is a strand of Latin American Philosophy which aims to decolonize so-called Western philosophy from within: it is a philosophical critique of imperialism, racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of oppression. Unlike mainstream Western philosophy, the philosophy of liberation conceives of philosophical reflection as being inextricably bound up with a praxis of liberation: the philosophy of liberation aims to overcome domination and subordination by looking at the historical, social, cultural, economic, and political situation of oppressed groups. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, Three courses in Philosophy. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Alessandro Moscarítolo Palacio.

440 Mind and Body.
An examination of literature in philosophy of mind. Focus on questions and issues such as: What is the mind? How is it related to the body? What is its role in personal identity? How do theories of mind relate to our understanding of affective and cognitive phenomena such as the emotions, will and reason? Prerequisite, three courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. (Same as NEURO-440.) Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Janack.

447 Happiness.
Investigation of philosophical theories of happiness from the ancient Greeks until today including theories of hedonism, eudaimonism, desire satisfaction, life satisfaction, emotional state theory, and existentialism. Examination of recent literature from psychology concerning the nature and source of happiness, the ability to measure happiness, and the extent to which personal happiness is beyond our control. Comparison among happiness, well-being, meaning, and how they contribute to a good life. Prerequisite, Three courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Taught as a seminar. Philosophy concentrators or by permission of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Clark.

452 Evolution and Morality.
It makes sense to see morality as adaptive, yet from an evolutionary perspective it’s puzzling that we follow and enforce moral standards even when it is costly for us to do so. This course will critically examine different sorts of evolutionary accounts of morality (e.g. group selection, cultural evolution), with methodological issues in mind. Prerequisite, Three courses in philosophy or permission of instructor. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Plakias.

462 Critical Voice.
An existential exploration of voice as that which awakens and embodies critical consciousness. Focusing on voice as it emerges and operates within the context of blackness, the course will focus on various black figures and various black expressions of voice as they relate to existential forms of liberation and empowerment. Seminar. Prerequisite, Prerequisite, three courses in philosophy, one of which must be 112, 115, 222, 242, or 319, or consent of instructor. Open to juniors and seniors. (Same as AFRST-462.) Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Franklin.

463 Nietzsche.
A close examination of Nietzsche’s philosophical corpus that focuses on his conception of the good life as it emerges within the context of the critical and positive aspects of his philosophy. Topics include the existential significance of narrative, the nature of knowledge and the philosophical import of Nietzsche’s critical condemnations of metaphysics, religion and morality. Prerequisite, Three courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Open to juniors and seniors. Taught as a seminar. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12).

464 Rorty and His Critics.
Course will focus on Rorty’s work from his early work on philosophy of mind and epistemology through his work on metaphilosophy and politics. We will read not just Rorty’s major works, but also some of his critics, including Charles Taylor, Bjorn Ramberg, Linda Alcoff, and John McDowell. Prerequisite, 3 courses in Philosophy or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Janack.

466 Disagreement.
From politics to taste, disagreements are everywhere. We examine the epistemic, moral, and political significance of disagreement: when,if ever, should disagreement force us to revise our own views? Does the existence of moral disagreement have implications for moral objectivity? And how can we coexist with others who disagree with our most basic values? We will also discuss the differences among disagreements in science, aesthetics, and ethics. We’ll also ask whether the persistence of philosophical disagreement should make us pessimistic about the possibility of philosophical knowledge. Prerequisite, Three courses in philosophy or consent of instructor. Taught in alternating years. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). Plakias.

550 Senior Seminar.
Advanced work aimed at completing a philosophical essay or experiential project on a topic of each student’s interest.  In collaboration with other members of the seminar, each student will frame and explore a philosophical problem.  For a standard project, students will develop an extended thesis-driven essay.  For an experiential project, students will develop sustained engagement with activities that develop or apply philosophical views outside traditional academic structures in a reflective, creative, and rigorous way.  All projects will be presented publicly at the end of the term. Course cannot be taken Credit/No Credit. Maximum enrollment, Seminar (12). The Department.

(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)

Contact Information


Philosophy Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
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