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Graduate Course Schedule

For a full list of graduate-level philosophy courses, please see the Graduate School Course Catalog. Listed below are the course offerings for the current and upcoming semesters.

Graduate Course Schedule, Fall 2017

PHIL 5301: Seminar in Contemporary Philosophy

Thursdays from 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Instructor: Susan Schneider

Description: Consciousness, AI, and the Nature of the Self. This course explores the nature of conscious minds.. Specifically, it asks: what challenges to our conception of the self and mind will emerging technologies like AI and human brain enhancement bring to the fore? And what does philosophy have to add to debates over these technologies? (E.g., can machines be conscious? Is superintelligence really possible?) The backdrop for our discussions will be age old debates on the nature of the mind and personal identity, as well as work on the unity of conscious experience. It is here that I introduce my own answer to the classic mind-body problem, the problem of how thought and mind relate to the physical world, and in particular, the world of fundamental physics.


PHIL 5305: Seminar in Aesthetics

Tuesdays from 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Instructor: William Lycan

Description: What is the difference between something that’s funny and something that isn’t funny?  Why is anything funny?  What moral considerations apply to humor?  What is the relation between humor and comedy?  What is theater, and how is it related to other performing arts?  What exactly is acting?  What is or should be the relation of a written play to performance?  Can and should theater instruct?  Finally, what is the relation between theater and philosophy?  Texts may include Ted Cohen, JOKES; D,C, Dennett et al, INSIDE JOKES; Tom Stern, PHILOSOPHY AND THEATRE.


PHIL 5307: Logic

Wednesdays from 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Instructor: Jc Beall

Description: This course aims to give students confidence in creatively using formal tools to do philosophical modeling. We will start with logical consequence itself, and explore classical logic (or the standard view of the logical entailment relation) and some salient subclassical logics (views that take logical entailment to be weaker than the standard view). With this in hand we’ll move through some standard ways of modeling notions like necessity, impossibility, moral obligation and more.

We’ll march through Beall & Logan’s /Logic: The Basics/ 2nd edition (Routledge, 2017). We’ll then turn to handouts, essays and the like to look at broader issues.

NOTE: if you have questions please contact Jc Beall at by putting ‘PHIL 5307’ in the Subject field.


PHIL 5316: Seminar in the Philosophy of Social Science

Tuesdays from 1:00 – 3:30 PM

Instructor: Lewis Gordon

Description: Our aim in this seminar will be to explore and interrogate philosophical problems posed by the idea of social science. We will first examine the conditions of possibility for a social science, its relationship with formal and natural sciences, the status of “logic” in social science, problems of “justification” in social science, and whether social science must be a human science. We will then consider: Do different kinds of social science pose unique problems for philosophy? Is philosophy ultimately a social science despite its location in the humanities? What impact do solutions to problems in the social sciences have on philosophical problems ranging from mind to epistemology to the philosopher’s understanding of reality? We will discuss responses to these questions from a variety of philosophical approaches such as analytical philosophy, phenomenology, pragmatism, hermeneutics, critical theory, Marxism, structuralism, and what have become known as philosophies from the global south (e.g., Africana philosophy, creolization theory, and decolonial thought) and feminist philosophy.


PHIL 5320: Seminar in the History of Philosophy

Mondays from 1:30 – 4:00 PM

Instructor: Lionel Shapiro

Description: We will undertake a close study of much of Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding, while keeping in mind Locke’s aims and dialectical context.  Among the topics I expect we will discuss: Locke’s theory of ideas and their role in knowledge, his distinction between primary and secondary qualities, his position on substance, the role of mechanism in his philosophy, his account of kinds and their essences, his view of the functioning and philosophical significance of language, and his accounts of personal identity and moral agency.  In recent decades, each of these topics has generated controversy, often informed by different views of Locke’s aims and continuing relevance.  As time allows, we will explore some of this literature.

PHIL 5397: Logic and Theology

Wednesdays from 1:30 – 4:00 PM

Instructor: Jc Beall

Description: This version of Phil 5397 explores issues in philosophical theology, and in particular in analytic Christian theology. The chief focus is on the so-called fundamental problem of Christology: namely, the apparent logical contradiction involved in Jesus’ having two (apparently logically contradictory) natures, as orthodox Christianity (per Chalcedon) maintains. This problem is tied directly to the metaphysical issues surrounding the incarnation.

Let this be abundantly clear: the issues here are philosophical; one need not be a Christian or even a theist to engage with the topics. If one is a Christian one might have a special stake in resolving the fundamental problem~– the `coherence objection’ to Christianity, as Richard Cross puts it. If one is an atheist or simply a non-Christian one might have a stake in examining the problems at the root of orthodox Christian theory.

Aim:  The aim is to (first) canvass the leading (orthodox) solutions to the fundamental problem, and (second) to advance a new solution. (On a practical level the aim is to draft a book in analytic theology which advances the new solution.) Salient topics will be so-called QUA solutions to the problem (including a new such solution draft by Beall and Henderson), Timothy Pawl’s new solution to the problem, and the target new solution: Contradictory Christology. Very important offshoot topics will be the Trinity and (especially) Identity (i.e., the appropriate identity relation in Christian theology).

Implementation: The course is designed to focus on the fundamental problem, its principal solutions, and the target new solution. Students will be required to do weekly structured reports on the readings, following a template to be distributed. Students who come up with a new solution or new problem in the target area will be welcome to share their ideas as the focus of a late-semester class session.

Required Reading:  Readings are either notes by the instructor (or by graduate students in the class), works distributed as PDFs, or the required monograph (see below). Distribution of a lot of material will be via a course Dropbox link.

Required Book:  Timothy Pawl, \emph{In Defense of Conciliar Christology: A Philosophical Essay.}  Oxford Studies in Analytic Theology.  Oxford University Press, 2016.

NOTE: if you have questions please contact Jc Beall at by putting ‘PHIL 5397’ in the Subject field.


Upcoming Graduate Courses (Tentative)

Spring 2018

  • PHIL 5300: Independent Study (ECOM) with Professor Dorit Bar-On (offered simultaneously with PHIL 3299)
  • PHIL 5312: Philosophy of Science with Professor Thomas Bontly
  • PHIL 5315: Seminar in Moral Philosophy with Professor Paul Bloomfield
  • PHIL 5320: History of Philosophy (Frege) with Professor Marcus Rossberg
  • PHIL 5331: Seminar in Philosophy of Mind with Professor Dorit Bar-On
  • PHIL 5342: Seminar in Philosophy of Language with Visiting Professor Stewart Shapiro
  • PHIL 5344: Seminar in Philosophical Logic with Professor Keith Simmons
  • PHIL 5397: Seminar in Social Epistemology with Visiting Professor William Lycan