Undergraduate Courses

Philosophy @ UConn

Philosophy is unique both in its methods and in the nature and breadth of its subject matter. It pursues questions in every dimension of human life, and its techniques apply to problems in any field of study or endeavor. It seeks to establish standards of evidence, to provide rational methods of resolving conflicts, to create techniques for evaluating ideas and arguments, and to combine the discoveries of other disciplines to create a coherent world view. Philosophy develops the capacity to see the world from the perspective of other individuals and other cultures; it enhances one’s ability to perceive the relationships among the various fields of study; and it deepens one’s sense of the meaning and varieties of human experience.

Majoring in philosophy provides excellent training for further study in a variety of professional fields. It is particularly appropriate for further study in law, theology, linguistics (indeed a joint major in Linguistics and Philosophy is offered at UConn), and of course philosophy; it is also a good background for such diverse fields as medicine and business. Most majors who continue their study of philosophy at the graduate level intend to teach at a college or university, but some pursue careers in fields as diverse as artificial intelligence and government service.



Fall 2018

Mon. Aug 27, 2018 – Fri. Dec 7, 2018



Spring 2019 (Tentative)

Tues. Jan 22, 2019 – Fri. May 3, 2019

Undergraduate course descriptions for Spring 2019 (Storrs campus only)

PHIL 2208:  Epistemology

Prof Crerar, Mondays 5p – 7:30p

This course explores a range of questions within contemporary epistemology, which is the branch of philosophy that focuses on issues to do with knowledge. The first part of the course primarily addresses theoretical topics. We will ask, for example, what knowledge actually is? How is it different from merely believing something that is true? What does it mean to describe a belief as ‘justified’? And should we be worried about skepticism, the claim that acquiring knowledge is impossible? The second half of the course will turn to explore a range of more applied issues to do with our lives as knowers and thinkers. These might include such topics as the nature of intellectual virtues (open-mindedness, diligence) and vices (arrogance, dogmatism), the prevalence of ignorance about important issues, feminist approaches to epistemology, and the various ways that we can inflict distinctively epistemic injustices upon one another.


PHIL 2210W:  Metaphysics

Prof Fazekas, TuTh 2p – 3:15p

Metaphysics is the field of philosophy that examines the nature of reality. In this course, we will examine questions such as the following. Does God exist? Is it rational to believe in God’s existence? Is the present the only time that exists, or do all times equally exist? Does time pass? If so, what is the nature of the passage of time? Do human beings have free will or are all of our actions already determined? Are you the same person today that you were ten years ago? If so, what makes you the same person? Do we perceive the world as it really is or do we “create” the world through our experience? Are colors real properties of objects or are they just a product of our way of experiencing the world? What really exists—concrete objects, abstract objects? How do science and metaphysics influence each other (and how should they influence each other)?


PHIL 2211Q:  Symbolic Logic I

Prof Rossberg, TuTh 12:30p – 1:45p

We will study truth functional logic, and then quantificational logic, and develop techniques for establishing validity and invalidity in both these systems.   We will also study the translation of English into these formal systems.   As time allows, we will also explore some or all of these topics: the semantical and set-theoretical paradoxes, Russell’s theory of descriptions, and modal logic (the logic of possibility and necessity).


PHIL 2215:  Ethics

Prof Bloomfield, MW 3:35p – 4:50p

This class will be an upper-level introduction to main issues in normative ethical theory. We will concentrate on the three most traditional ethical theories, reading original texts and secondary literature. These theories are Kantian deontology, utilitarian consequentialism, and virtue theory.


PHIL 2217:  Social and Political Philosophy

Prof Llanera, TuTh 3:30p – 4:45p

The first half of the course surveys some of the most influential figures in western political thought: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Rawls. We will focus primarily on their justifications of the state, their defenses of individual liberty, and their understandings of political community. The second half of the course will address topics in the present-day global context, paying particular attention to issues in the intersections of race, gender, and social inequality.


PHIL 2221W:  Ancient Philosophy

Prof Nelson, TuTh 6:30p – 7:45p

We will read selections from ancient Greek philosophers ranging from the pre-Socratics to the post-Aristotelians, with special attention to Plato and Aristotle.  Topics will include Fate and Freedom, Reason and Emotion, Knowledge and Skepticism, Motion, the Forms, Cause, Time, the Best Life, and Society and the State.  The text will be Julia Annas, ed., Voices of Ancient Philosophy (Oxford University Press).


PHIL 2222:  17th and 18th Century Philosophy

Prof Tizzard, TuTh 5p – 6:15p

Around the beginning of the 17th century, European philosophy entered a period of creative upheaval during which central features of the previously dominant worldview were widely rejected.  The aim of this class is to investigate some of the most prominent alternative views of nature and our place in it that came to be defended by “modern” philosophers.  What kinds of things exist?  How do minds relate to physical things?  What mind-independent features do physical things have?  What is causation?  What capacities do we have for knowledge?  We will examine approaches to these questions and others in texts by philosophers including Descartes (1596-1650), Locke (1632-1704), Berkeley (1685-1753), Hume (1711-1776), and Kant (1724-1804).


PHIL 3250:  Philosophy of Mind

Prof Lycan, TuTh 11a – 12:15p

Could a computer think?  Do animals feel pain?  And just what is it like exactly to be a bat, experiencing the world through echolocation?  Questions such as these—questions about the nature of thought and experience, of consciousness and subjectivity—are the focus of this course.  Topics include dualism and materialism as accounts of conscious experience; the subjectivity and privacy of the mental; the nature of introspection; our knowledge of other minds; the mind’s ability to direct itself upon the various objects of thought (“intentionality”); the problem of mental causation, and the nature of psychological explanation.  The course will include a mix of discussion and lecture.  Required work will include presentations, papers, and final exam.

Prerequisite:  at least one 2000-level or above, three-credit philosophy course.


PHIL 3263:  Asian Philosophy

Prof McLeod, TuTh 8a – 9:15a

The historical, religious, and philosophical development of Asian systems of thought.  Possible topics include the Analects of Confucius, the Daoist text Zhuangzi, the early Buddhist Suttas, and the Bhagavad Gita.


PHIL 3298:  Variable Topics – Kripke’s Naming and Necessity

Prof Simmons, Wed 5:45p – 8:15p

This course is centered on a modern classic, Saul Kripke’s Naming and Necessity, first published as a book in 1981.  Kripke’s enormously influential book ties together, in a remarkably unified way, themes from philosophy of language, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind.  We will also study closely related work by other philosophers, including Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Strawson, Searle, Plantinga, Evans, Smart, Nagel, and Jackson.

May Term (Tentative)


Summer Session 1 (Tentative)


Alternative Session 1 (Tentative)


Summer Session 2 (Tentative)