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Department of Philosophy

Department Website:


  • Gabriel Richardson Lear

Director of Graduate Studies

  • Kevin Davey

Director of Undergraduate Studies

  • Agnes Callard


  • Matthew Boyle
  • Daniel Brudney
  • James Conant
  • Arnold Ira Davidson, Divinity
  • Michael Kremer
  • Gabriel Richardson Lear
  • Jonathan Lear, Social Thought
  • Martha C. Nussbaum, Law
  • Robert Pippin, Social Thought
  • Robert J. Richards, History
  • Candace A. Vogler

Associate Professors

  • Jason Bridges
  • Agnes Callard
  • Kevin Davey
  • David Finkelstein
  • Anton Ford 
  • Malte Willer

Assistant Professors

  • Matthias Haase
  • Raoul Moati
  • Thomas Pashby
  • Anubav Vasudevan

Full-Time Lecturers

  • Benjamin Callard
  • Ben Laurence
  • Bart Schultz

Emeritus Faculty

  • Howard Stein
  • Josef J. Stern
  • William W. Tait
  • William C. Wimsatt

The programs in philosophy are designed to develop skill in philosophical analysis, to enable the student to think clearly, systematically, and independently on philosophical issues, and to achieve a thorough acquaintance with major classics and contemporary works in philosophy. Philosophy classes are conducted so that students may develop philosophical skills by class discussions and by the writing of carefully directed papers.

The following is an outline of the main features of the graduate program. For full details, please write the Department of Philosophy directly.

Graduate Degrees

The graduate program in philosophy is primarily a doctoral program. Admission as a graduate student normally implies that, in the opinion of the department, the student is a promising candidate for the Ph.D. degree. The Master of Arts degree, however, may be awarded to students in the program who meet the requirements specified below.

The application process for admission and financial aid for all graduate programs in the Division of the Humanities is administered through the divisional Office of the Dean of Students. The Application for Admission and Financial Aid, with instructions, deadlines and department specific information is available online at:

Questions about admissions and aid should be directed to or (773) 702-1552.

Students admitted to doctoral study are typically awarded a five-year fellowship package that includes full tuition, academic year stipends, summer stipends, and medical insurance. Teaching training is a vital part of the educational experience at the University, so all fellowships include a required teaching component. 

The Degree of Master of Arts

The objective of the program is the Ph.D. degree. Students seeking a master’s degree should apply to the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH), a three-quarter program of interdisciplinary study in a number of areas of interest to students.  Further details about the MAPH program are available at

Doctoral students who are enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago may receive an M.A. in Philosophy. These can be either:

  • Doctoral students in another discipline who seek a “secondary” M.A. in Philosophy, in conjunction with their doctoral studies in that other discipline; or
  • Doctoral students in Philosophy who want to receive the M.A.

The requirements for the degree are the same in either case. The requirements can be satisfied entirely by course-work; no thesis is required. They are specified in five clauses:

  • Quality: No course for which the student received a grade lower than a B+ will satisfy any requirement for the M.A.
  • Level: Only courses taken at the graduate level (that is, with a course-number of 30000 or higher) can satisfy any requirement for the M.A.
  • Quantity: The student must complete at least eight courses in Philosophy at the University of Chicago. (Reading and research courses do not count toward satisfying this requirement, nor do courses taken pass/fail—except the first-year seminar, which counts as one course if passed.)
  • Distribution: The student must have taken at least one designated course in each of the Philosophy Department’s five “areas” — namely:
    • Area I: Value theory
    • Area II: Philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and logic
    • Area III: Epistemology and metaphysics
    • Area IV: Ancient or Medieval philosophy
    • Area V: Modern philosophy (17th-19th centuries)
  • Elementary Logic: The student must demonstrate competence in elementary logic. This can be achieved by an interview in which the candidate satisfies one of the Department’s logicians that he or she has the required competence, or by taking the Elementary Logic course (PHIL 30000 Elementary Logic), or any more advanced logic course offered by the Department. Philosophy 30000 can count as one of the minimum eight courses, but it does not satisfy the Area II requirement. A more advanced logic class does both.

Application Procedure

Doctoral Students in the Department of Philosophy may apply for the M.A. at any time after they have completed the requirements. 1. Contact the Department Coordinator so that the proper paperwork is submitted verifying your courses (above) and 2. contact the office of the Humanities Dean of Students in order to gain access to the degree application in  Keep your expected graduation date set to the date you anticipate receiving the Ph.D.

Students in a Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago in a department other than Philosophy who wish to receive a “secondary” M.A. in Philosophy must first apply for admission to the M.A. program in the department of Philosophy. No student can apply unless she has taken at least three Philosophy courses, and it is expected that the student will apply soon after completing that number of courses. To initiate the application process, the student should set up an appointment with the Assistant Dean of Students for Admissions in the Division of Humanities who will direct the student through the required paperwork and obtain:

  • The applicant’s transcript of courses taken for the B.A.
  • His/Her GRE scores
  • A transcript of the applicant’s courses at the University of Chicago taken up to the time of the application.
  • A sample of her best philosophical writing. This may but need not be a paper written for one of the applicant’s already completed Philosophy courses at the University.
  • A brief letter from the chair or director of graduate studies of the applicant’s home department supporting the application. The letter should explain why the student is seeking an M.A. in philosophy to complement her doctoral studies.
  • Names of two faculty in the Dept. of Philosophy who can comment on work done by the applicant and on her philosophical potential.
  • A statement by the applicant that explains why she is seeking an M.A. in Philosophy.

The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

The divisional and University requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be fulfilled. Departmental requirements are as follows:

Course Requirements

The Course Requirement has seven parts concerning:

  • The number of required courses
  • The distribution of required courses
  • The logic requirement
  • Required progress
  • Policies concerning incompletes
  • Grades
  • Transfer credits

Number of required courses

Students must complete at least thirteen courses in their first two years of study: the first year seminar and twelve graduate courses.

First-year students must enroll in the first-year seminar. The exact organization and scheduling varies from year to year according to the instructor’s discretion. It is graded on a pass-fail basis.

In addition, twelve graduate courses must be completed with a grade of B or better:

  • At least ten of these courses must be in the Philosophy Department listings;
  • Reading and research courses do not count among these twelve classes
  • At least one must be a graduate seminar in Philosophy

Distribution of required courses

Students are required to take one course in each of the following three areas of contemporary philosophy:

  • Value theory (listed in the course descriptions as I)
  • Philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and logic (listed in the course descriptions as II)
  • Epistemology and metaphysics (listed in the course descriptions as III)

and three courses on the history of philosophy as follows:

  • A figure or movement in either Ancient or Medieval Philosophy (listed in the course descriptions as IV)
  • A figure or movement in Modern Philosophy from the 17th through 19th centuries (listed in the course descriptions as V)
  • One additional course on a figure or movement in either IV or V.

It should be noted that not all graduate courses satisfy a field distribution requirement; those not classified in the published course descriptions as belonging to I-V cannot be used to satisfy the distribution requirement. Nor can Philosophy 30000 (Elementary Logic) be used to satisfy a field distribution requirement.

Logic requirement

There is a requirement in logic that can be satisfied in several ways.

  • By passing PHIL 30000 Elementary Logic with a grade of B or higher.
    Philosophy 30000 is offered every Autumn quarter. It counts toward the twelve course requirement but does not satisfy the field II distribution requirement.
  • By passing a course equivalent to or better than Philosophy 30000 (Elementary Logic), at another institution or in another department at Chicago, with a grade of B+ or higher. The equivalence of the course in question to Philosophy 30000 will be determined by the instructor in Philosophy 30000 in the year in question, on the basis of an interview with the student, and such evidence as the syllabus for the course, the textbook for the course, and any other course materials which the student can provide. Note that satisfying the logic requirement in this way will count neither towards one of the twelve required courses nor towards satisfying the field II distribution requirement.
  • By passing an advanced graduate course in logic with a grade of B or higher.
    Passing an advanced graduate course in logic would both satisfy the logic requirement and count towards the field II distribution requirement.

Required progress

Courses must be completed, with a grade of B or better, according to the following timetable.

  • Two courses should be completed by the beginning of the Winter quarter of the first year
  • Four courses (at least three in the Philosophy Department) should be completed by the beginning of the third quarter
  • Six courses should be completed by 30 September of the second year
  • Ten courses should be completed by the end of the fifth quarter
  • All thirteen courses (twelve plus the first year seminar) must be completed by 30 September following the sixth quarter.

In addition to this timetable, students should keep in mind that because they are expected to be working on their Preliminary Essay over the summer following their sixth quarter, they would be ill-advised not to have completed their course requirements by the early part of the summer.


At the discretion of the instructor, coursework not completed on time may be regarded as an “incomplete.” This means that the instructor will permit a student to complete the work for a course after the normal deadline.

The instructor sets the time period for completion of the incomplete, subject to the following limitation: all coursework must be submitted by September 30th following the quarter in which the course was taken in order to count toward fulfillment of the requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. This date is an absolute deadline and is not subject to further extensions by individual faculty members.

Note: Students in their first year in the program are not permitted to take any incompletes in their first quarter.


Satisfactory grades for work toward the Ph.D. in Philosophy are A, A-, B+, and B.

For Philosophy faculty, those grades mean the following. A: pass with distinction; A-: high pass; B+: pass; B: low pass.

Transfer Credits

The following policy applies to the Philosophy Ph.D. program. Special requirements of joint programs take precedence over this policy.

  1. Of the required 12 graduate courses, no more than 2 can be taken at the University, but outside the Philosophy Department.
  2. Of the required 12 graduate courses, no more than 3 can be transferred from other institutions.
  3. Of the required 12 graduate courses, at least 9 must be taken within the Philosophy Department's course offerings.
  4. Only courses taken while enrolled in a doctoral program in Philosophy can be counted towards the required 12 graduate courses.

For example, a student might transfer 2 courses from another institution and take one course from another department within the University, with the remaining 9 courses taken within the Philosophy Department. Or a student might transfer 3 courses from another institution, with the remaining 9 courses taken within the Philosophy Department. 

Students wishing to obtain credit for graduate courses taken from the listings of other departments within the University toward the required 12 course do not need to petition the department, within the two-course limit specified above.

Students wishing to obtain transfer credit for courses taken at other institutions must petition the Graduate Program Committee. Students should be prepared to provide evidence in support of their transfer application at the request of the Committee. Such evidence may include course descriptions, syllabi, assignments, written work completed for the course, and so on.  Students who are transferring from other graduate programs must make such a request upon their entry into the Philosophy Department. Students who take a course at another institution while enrolled in the PhD program should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies beforehand, but must still petition the Graduate Program Committee to have the course accepted for transfer credit upon completion of the course.

Note that elementary logic courses taken outside the department may fulfill the elementary logic requirement but may not be used to meet the 12 course requirement. See “Logic Requirement” above for further details.

Foreign Language Exam

All students must pass an examination in French, German, Latin, or Greek by the end of Spring quarter of the fourth year or before the topical examination, whichever comes first. (There is a special rule for students who wish to write theses on ancient Greek or Roman philosophy; this is detailed below).

There are two kinds of language examinations: those administered by the Department and those administered by the University. Departmental language exams will be given twice a year and may not be taken more than twice.

Students who take the University language examination must receive a “High Pass.” These are offered every quarter and there is a fee for taking them.

There is a special requirement for those working in ancient philosophy or German philosophy, since work in these fields depends heavily on one’s ability to use the relevant languages.

Any student intending to write a thesis on ancient philosophy must pass the Departmental or University exam in Greek (the latter with a “High Pass”). Any student intending to write a thesis on Hellenistic or Roman philosophy must also pass the Departmental or University exam in Latin (the latter with a “High Pass”). Any student intending to write a thesis on German philosophy must pass the Departmental or University exam in German with a "High Pass".

Such students may take the Departmental exam in Greek or Latin or German a maximum of three times (as opposed to two times, which is the rule for other languages).

Preliminary Essay

In the Spring quarter of their second year students will register for the first quarter of a two-quarter (Spring, Autumn) workshop on the preliminary essay. The workshop involves discussion of general issues in writing the essay and student presentations of their work. Although students do not register for the Summer quarter, they are expected to make significant progress on their preliminary essay over the summer.

By the end of the eighth week of the Spring quarter at the latest each student will submit to the Director of Graduate Studies a proposed topic and a ranked list of possible readers in the Philosophy Department. The Graduate Program Committee will evaluate proposed topics along the following lines:

  • Is the topic philosophically interesting?
  • Can a paper on the topic be completed within the given time?
  • Can a committee be formed to supervise an essay on the topic?

If the topic is approved, the Graduate Program Committee will form a preliminary essay committee for the student in question consisting of two faculty readers, each of whom the student is expected to consult regularly and each of whom have equal responsibility in directing the preliminary essay. The student's primary responsibility in this process is regularly to provide each of the faculty readers with a new draft of the essay and then rewrite the most recent draft in accordance with their instructions. The primary responsibility of the faculty readers is to provide the student with prompt and focused instructions about how to rewrite each draft, while ensuring that it remain within the page-length requirement. The preliminary essay should be no longer than 8,000 words in the body of the text, with an additional 1000 words of philosophical prose permitted in the footnotes. The word-count does not include bibliographical and philological footnotes or block quotations in the text.

In addition to the supervision furnished by the student's preliminary essay committee, further direction and structure is provided through participation in the Preliminary Essay Seminar, which runs for two quarters. Every student enrolled in the PhD program is required to take the Preliminary Essay Seminar for credit during the Spring Quarter of their second year and the Fall Quarter of their third year. The seminar is taught by the Director of Graduate Studies, who offers additional supervision and oversight throughout the entire preliminary essay process, from beginning to end. One of the primary purposes of the Preliminary Essay Seminar is to provide a forum in which students can present their ongoing work on the essay in a seminar-environment, in order to discuss it with their peers and receive additional oral feedback on their work.

From the point of view of the faculty, the aim of the exercise of the preliminary essay is to enable the student to acquire the following two skills before embarking upon a full-scale dissertation: (1) to learn to improve a piece of philosophical prose by subjecting it to many rounds of revision, without in the process permitting it to grow in length, and (2) to learn to work with a committee of faculty advisors whose distinct forms of supervision are to be synthesized and harmonized in that single piece of writing. From the point of view of the student, the exercise of the preliminary essay affords the following two opportunities: (1) to test out a possible dissertation topic, without having immediately to make a costly investment of time and effort in it, and (2) to test out a pair of possible dissertation advisors, without immediately having to commit to these individuals as final choices for members of the student's dissertation committee. If, after completing the preliminary essay, a student wishes to change (one or more of) their faculty advisors or their topic or both, then they are utterly free to do so.

The final draft of the Preliminary Essay must be submitted by the first day of the Winter quarter of the student's third year. Essays submitted late are penalized as follows: A letter grade is reduced by one notch if the essay is submitted after the deadline but before the first day of the sixth week of the Winter quarter (e.g. an 'A' is reduced to an 'A-'). A letter grade is reduced by two notches if the essay is submitted after the first day of the sixth week of the Winter quarter but by the end of Exam Week of the Winter quarter (e.g. an 'A' is reduced to a B+). Essays submitted after the end of the Winter quarter do not count toward satisfaction of the requirement.

Topical Examination

Following the Preliminary Essay, students begin work toward their dissertations. During the Winter and Spring quarters of their third year, they should be meeting with various faculty members to discuss and refine possible dissertation topics, and possible dissertation committees.

By the end of the seventh week of the spring quarter, each student should meet with a prospective committee for an informal "dissertation chat," based on a "dissertation sketch" submitted to those faculty and to the Graduate Program Committee. The character of that sketch will vary from case to case; but, in any case, is not expected to be long or elaborate. Some sketches may be more definitive than others; some may be seriously disjunctive; some students may submit more than one sketch. The point of the sketch and preliminary meetings is to provide some faculty guidance for the more independent research that begins over the summer. After the "dissertation chat" the student should submit to their committee a document that describes the work toward formulating a dissertation project and lays out a plan of research for the summer that will lead to a "Topical Examination" by the beginning of the Winter quarter of their fourth year.

At the beginning of the following fall (fourth year), students will again meet with their advisors (optimally all together), to discuss progress and developments over the summer, and make concrete plans for the Topical Examination (to be held later that quarter, or, if necessary, early in the Winter quarter). Those plans will include:

  • a tentative timetable
  • a determination of the dissertation committee
  • the expected character of the materials to be submitted by the student, on which the Examination will be based.

Though the details will vary (depending on the subject matter, the state of the research, individual work habits, and so on), these materials must include a substantial piece of new written work by the student (something on the order of twenty-five double-spaced pages) -- perhaps a draft of a chapter, an exposition of a central argument, a detailed abstract (or outline) of the whole dissertation, or whatever the committee as a whole agrees upon. (It is expected that students will abide by these agreements; but, if there are unanticipated problems, they may petition their advisors and the DGS, in writing, for a revision).

The Topical Examination is an oral examination administered by the members of a student's dissertation committee with the aim of evaluating the viability of the proposed dissertation project and the student's ability to complete it within a reasonable amount of time. Students will be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. only once they have officially passed their Topical Examination.

Note: students must have scheduled their Topical Examination by the end of their fifteenth quarter (normally the end of the fifth year) to remain in the Program. (For students admitted before 2010: students must have scheduled their Topical Examination by the end of their sixth year to remain in the Program.)

Students cannot take their Topical until they have met all other program requirements including passing their foreign language exam or exams. Students must finish their language exams by the end of their fourth year in the program (independently of their status with regard to any other requirements).
The Department's normal expectation is that students will have advanced to candidacy (including passing their Topical Examination and their language examination(s)) by the end of third week of their 11th quarter (normally the Winter quarter of their fourth year). Summer funding at the end of the fourth year is contingent on satisfying this expectation.

The Department requires that each student submit a written progress report on his or her progress by the end of the winter quarter of each year, beginning with his or her fourth year in the program. The report should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies and (after the Topical) to the student's dissertation committee. In addition to this report, students who have advanced to candidacy must submit a substantial piece of new writing (25-30 pages in length) to the chair of their dissertation committee. The student will be notified whether or not he or she is making good progress following the annual review meetings in Spring.
It is very much in each student's own interest to be well along with his or her dissertation early in the fifth year, for several related reasons. First, of course, all students are obligated to teach a stand-alone course that year as part of their GAI teaching requirements. This is inevitably time and energy consuming. Second, GAI funding runs out at the end of that year; and some students will not get any more support from the University. And, finally, such sixth-year support as there is from the University is systematically directed to those applicants whose work is not only of the best quality, but also the furthest along (as documented not only by faculty testimonials but also by submitted chapters). Keep in mind also that so-called "dissertation-year fellowships" are awarded competitively on a Division-wide basis, and there are not enough to go around. Though Philosophy students have often done well in this competition, there is no guarantee for the future; and, in any case, not all applications will be successful.
To be sure, supporting oneself without aid, while finishing up a dissertation, is a time-honored academic tradition. But, for most students, the available opportunities are far from deluxe (either inside or outside the University), and it is clearly wise to minimize one's dependence on them, if possible.

NOTE: The Department Coordinator must be informed of the date and time of your Topical Exam, and documentation of the Topical. This is so that department and university can record the exam and admit the student to candidacy.  Students need to email the Department Coordinator the names of the members of the committee, the sample chapter on which the Topical examination is based, and the working title of the dissertation.

Teaching Requirements

The Philosophy Department views the development of teaching competence as an integral part of its overall Ph.D. program and takes various steps to train its doctoral students to become excellent teachers of philosophy. It offers different types of teaching opportunities, which gradually prepare its students to teach their own classes.  These opportunities are enhanced by the department's pedagogical support through individual faculty mentorship and year round discipline-specific pedagogical events offered through its pedagogy program. The first teaching opportunities come in the form of course assistantships. The professor responsible for the course in which a doctoral student serves as an assistant is also responsible for monitoring the doctoral student's teaching progress in that course and preparing a written report of her teaching performance therein. Once a doctoral student has proven herself as a teaching assistant, she is permitted to do stand-alone teaching. In these cases, too, however, the design of the syllabus of the course is developed in consultation with a member of the faculty. Here, too, that faculty member is responsible for further monitoring the doctoral student's teaching progress over the duration of the stand-alone course and preparing a written report of her teaching performance as a solo instructor.

The initial guaranteed funding for five years awarded to students admitted to the program includes a teaching obligation. That obligation standardly takes the form of the student serving four times as an instructor -- usually three times as a course assistant and once as an instructor of a stand-alone course. Normally, students complete one teaching assistantship in their third year, after completion of the Preliminary Essay, and two in their fourth year.  Normally, students give their stand-alone course in the fifth year.  These first four teaching stints are not further compensated: they are a component of the five-year fellowship package. This four-time teaching obligation is a requirement of the Department of Philosophy's Ph.D. program.

These first four teaching opportunities are built into the basic requirements of the Ph.D. program in order to ensure that students in the program acquire a certain minimum degree of teaching competence. However, the Department views the teaching obligation as a bare minimum with regard to teaching preparation. Doctoral students in the program are encouraged to do more teaching in the later years.

The Department's primary responsibility with respect to doctoral students is to support their work toward the doctoral degree. Teaching preparation is a crucial aspect of that responsibility and any additional teaching must be consistent with timely progress toward the doctoral degree.  Accordingly, the policy on teaching beyond the departmental teaching obligation is as follows:

  1. In Years 1 & 2, when doctoral students are expected to satisfy their course and logic requirements as well as to formulate topics, find readers, and begin research toward their Preliminary Essays, doctoral students are not given departmental teaching and will not be permitted to accept extra-departmental teaching.  The students may, however, complete the Training Course for Writing Interns and Lectors offered by the University of Chicago Writing Program before Autumn of Year 3.
  2. In Years 3-5, students may petition the DGS for permission to apply for extra teaching.  If, and only if, the following conditions are met, the Department (normally through the DGS) may petition the Dean of Students in the Humanities  and the Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division to allow the student to apply for extra-departmental teaching:
    1. The student is making exemplary progress toward the degree in Philosophy (that is, the student has met every deadline set in the time to degree expectations and the students' work toward the degree is strong).
    2. There is a sound pedagogic reason to allow the student to seek extra teaching.
  3. Students must make their petitions to the DGS by the second week of the term prior to the term in which they hope for extra-GAI teaching—students must make their petitions by the second week of Spring quarter for extra teaching in Autumn, by the second week of Autumn quarter for extra teaching in Winter, and by the second week in Winter quarter for extra teaching in Spring.  The Department must make its petition to the DOS and Master of the HCD by the end of the third week of the term prior to the term in which students seek extra-GAI teaching.
  4. If the DOS and the HCD approve the Department's petition, and if the students are offered extra teaching appointments, funding for these positions cannot be drawn from the students' fellowship teaching obligation monies.
  5. Extra teaching permissions may be withdrawn if students cease to make exemplary progress toward their degrees.

Petitions to the DOS and Master of the HCD will attest to the students' progress and provide the rationale for allowing these students to seek teaching beyond the departmental teaching obligation.

Students do not need departmental permission to seek extra teaching assignments after their fifth year of residence.

Over the course of a doctoral student's career, that student together with the Department builds a teaching dossier, containing the syllabuses of the courses that she has taught, written reports by faculty teaching mentors on those courses, and last but not least, undergraduate evaluations of those courses. When doctoral students prepare to go on the job market, the Department sees to it that one member of the faculty undertakes the responsibility of writing a teaching letter for the student that documents and surveys the highlights of her teaching career at the University of Chicago.

The Department of Philosophy offers a non-credit and not required Pedagogy Program for PhD students. For more information, click here.

Dissertation and Final Oral Exam

Students must inform their committee members of their intention to schedule a defense during the term PRIOR to the term in which they plan to defend. Committee members will consult concerning whether the dissertation is in sufficiently final form to warrant the fixing of a date for the oral examination. Committee members will normally have seen the bulk of the work of the dissertation before making this judgment. Students should consult with their Dissertation Director and other Committee members about the amount of material they will need to see, the state of completion needed, and the time required for this judgment to be made. When the Dissertation Committee judges that the student is ready to defend, the student must coordinate with the Dissertation Committee and the Department Co-ordinator to settle the date and time for the dissertation.

Students should consult with their Committee concerning a precise deadline for submission of the final draft of the dissertation for the defense. This is normally several weeks to a month before the defense date. Students should be aware that, in practice, in order to graduate in a given quarter, the final draft of the dissertation must be submitted to the Dissertation Committee in the first week or two of that quarter, so that the defense can take place prior to the Library's deadline for submitting the final form of the dissertation, leaving time for any necessary revisions noted during the defense. For information regarding the precise deadline by which your approved dissertation must be submitted in a given quarter for the degree to be granted in that same quarter, please click here. Note also that an exam cannot be scheduled for at least two weeks after the formal request has been submitted.

The defense must take place at the University of Chicago, preferably in the Autumn, Winter, or Spring quarters. Summer defenses are scheduled at the discretion of the student's Dissertation Committee.

The student and at least one member of the Dissertation Committee must be physically present at the defense.

The student should submit, within the timeline notes, to the Department Coordinator:

  • the scheduled date, time, and the members of the committee, and any special room requirements, at least 3 weeks prior, or as soon as the date and time are settled
  • an electronic copy (.doc or .docx) of a 1-2 paragraph abstract, at least 3 weeks prior
  • an electronic copy of a 10-page abstract of the dissertation, at least 2 weeks prior

The final oral exam is a public event. The examining committee consists of the members of the dissertation committee, along with an appointed member of the Humanities Division faculty who serves as a representative of the Dean's Office. Other faculty and graduate students from the Philosophy Department may and generally do attend. Family members of the doctoral candidate and other members of the general public are also welcome.

If a student passes, then it is customary in the final phase of the exam for the members of the student's dissertation committee to request a final round of revisions to the dissertation. The final granting of the degree is conditional upon the completion of these final revisions.  These are to be made promptly after the exam and prior to the formal submission of the PhD document. After the dissertation is submitted, the student is required to provide each member of the dissertation committee with an electronic version of the document in its final form.

Philosophy Courses

PHIL 30000. Elementary Logic. 100 Units.

An introduction to the techniques of modern logic. These include the representation of arguments in symbolic notation, and the systematic manipulation of these representations in order to show the validity of arguments. Regular homework assignments, in class test, and final examination.

Instructor(s): T. Pashby     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): No prerequisites. Course not for field credit.
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 through 08. Graduates enroll in section 09.
Equivalent Course(s): CHSS 33500,HIPS 20700,PHIL 20100

PHIL 30098. Medieval Metaphysics: Universals from Boethius to Ockham. 100 Units.

Any language contains terms that apply truly, and in the same sense, to indefinitely many things; for instance, species- or genus-terms, such as hippopotamus or animal. How things admit of such “universal” terms has engaged philosophers ever since Plato, who proposed participation in the forms. In the third century, the neoplatonist Porphyry wrote an introduction to Aristotle’s Categories, in which he raised, but did not even try to answer, three metaphysical questions: whether genera and species are real or only posited in thoughts; whether, if real, they are bodies or incorporeal; and whether, if real, they are separate entities or belong to sensible things. A century or so later, Augustine, though not addressing Porphyry’s questions, offered a neoplatonically-inspired Christian alternative to Plato’s forms. Then at the beginning of the medieval period, yet another neoplatonic thinker, Boethius, took up Porphyry’s questions. He offered a strict definition of universals, explained the difficulty of the questions, and proposed (without fully subscribing to) what he took to be Aristotle’s way of answering them. Boethius’s treatment oriented the approach to universals by philosophers up through the 12th century.

Instructor(s): S. Brock; C. Vogler     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 20098

PHIL 30109. Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. 100 Units.

We propose here a cursive reading of Sartre’s masterpiece of 1943, explaining the whole project of Sartre’s phenomenological ontology. For that we will focus on his polemical relation to German Idealism (mostly Hegel) and to German Phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger) in order to clarify the meaning of notions that Sartre inherits from these two traditions, like in-itself, for-itself, intentionality, existence, selfhood, pre-reflexive consciousness, negativity, nothingness, etc. (B)

Instructor(s): R. Moati     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Prior knowledge on Descartes, Spinoza, German Idealism, Phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger) and knowledge in French are highly recommended to attend this course.
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 & 02. Graduates enroll in section 03.
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 20109,PHIL 20109

PHIL 30116. American Pragmatism. 100 Units.

This course will survey some of the seminal writings of the early American Pragmatist tradition. We will focus primarily on works by the three most prominent figures in this tradition: C.S. Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Our aim in the course will be to extract from these writings the central ideas and principles which give shape to pragmatism as a coherent philosophical perspective, distinct from both empiricism and rationalism. (B) (II)

Instructor(s): A. Vasudevan     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 & 02. Graduates enroll in section 03.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 20116

PHIL 30120. Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. 100 Units.

A close reading of Philosophical Investigations. Topics include: meaning, explanation, understanding, inference, sensation, imagination, intentionality, and the nature of philosophy. Supplementary readings will be drawn from other later writings. (B) (III)

Instructor(s): J. Bridges     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): At least one Philosophy course.
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 through 04. Graduates enroll in section 05.
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 20120,PHIL 20120

PHIL 31002. Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations. 100 Units.

Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I)

Instructor(s): B. Laurence     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 through 06. Graduates enroll in section 07.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 21002,HIST 29319,HIST 39319,LLSO 21002,MAPH 42002,LAWS 97119,HMRT 31002,INRE 31602,HMRT 21002

PHIL 31102. Opera As Idea and As Performance. 100 Units.

Is opera an archaic and exotic pageant for fanciers of overweight canaries, or a relevant art form of great subtlety and complexity that has the power to be revelatory? In this course of eight sessions, jointly taught by Professor Martha Nussbaum and Anthony Freud, General Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, we explore the multi-disciplinary nature of this elusive and much-maligned art form, with its four hundred-year-old European roots, discussing both historic and philosophical contexts and the practicalities of interpretation and production in a very un-European, twenty-first century city. Anchoring each session around a different opera, we will be joined by a variety of guest experts, including a director, conductor, designer and singer, to enable us to explore different perspectives. The tentative list of operas to be discussed include Monteverdi's The Coronation of Poppea, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Verdi's Don Carlos, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Wagner's Ring, Strauss's Elektra, and Britten's Billy Budd. (A) (I)

Instructor(s): A. Freud; M. Nussbaum     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Students do not need to be able to read music, but some antecedent familiarity with opera would be extremely helpful. CD’s and DVD’s of the operas will be placed on reserve.
Note(s): Students should register via discussion section.
Equivalent Course(s): MUSI 24416,MUSI 30716,LAWS 43264,PHIL 21102

PHIL 31399. Conceptual Foundations of the Modern State. 100 Units.

The course will examine the evolution of western thinking about the modern concept of the state. The focus will be on Renaissance theories (Niccolò Machiavelli; Thomas More); theories of absolute sovereignty (especially Thomas Hobbes); theories about ‘free states’ (James Harrington, John Locke); and republican theories from the era of the Enlightenment.

Instructor(s): Q. Skinner     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Open to undergraduates by consent of instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 21399,SCTH 33401

PHIL 31414. Contemporary Analytic Philosophy. 100 Units.

The goal of this course is to explore the historical origins of analytic philosophy. Beginning with Bolzano and Frege, we will look at the development of analytic philosophy through the work of figures such as Russell, Wittgenstein and Carnap, looking also at the rise and fall of positivism. At the end of the course, students should have a more solid understanding of the central issues that have shaped modern American-European analytic philosophy, and some of the important ways in which this tradition diverges from contemporary continental philosophy. We will use Coffa’s ‘The Semantic Tradition from Kant to Carnap: To the Vienna Station’ as our main textbook, supplementing it with other materials when necessary.

Instructor(s): K. Davey     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): This course is open only to MAPH students. MAPH students who wish to apply to Ph.D. programs in philosophy are strongly urged to take this course.
Equivalent Course(s): MAPH 31414

PHIL 31504. The Nature of Practical Reason. 100 Units.

Practical reason can be distinguished from theoretical or speculative reason in many ways.  Traditionally, some philosophers have distinguished the two by urging that speculative or theoretical reason aims at truth, whereas practical aims at good.  More recently, some have urged that the two are best known by their fruits.  The theoretical exercise of reason yields beliefs, or knowledge, or understanding whereas the practical exercise of reason yields action, or an intention to do something, or a decision about which action to choose or which policy to adopt.  In this course, we will focus on practical reason, looking at dominant accounts of practical reason, discussions of the distinction between practical and theoretical reasons, accounts of rationality in general and with respect to practical reason, and related topics. 

Instructor(s): A. Mueller; C. Vogler     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): At least one course in philosophy.
Note(s): Undergrads opt in sections 01 and 02. Graduates opt in section 03.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 21504

PHIL 31609. Medical Ethics: Central Topics. 100 Units.

Decisions about medical treatment, medical research, and medical policy often have profound moral implications. Taught by a philosopher, two physicians, and a medical lawyer, this course will examine such issues as paternalism, autonomy, assisted suicide, kidney markets, abortion, and research ethics.

Instructor(s): D. Brudney; Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Third or fourth year standing. This course does not meet requirements for the Biological Sciences major.
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 and 02. Graduates enroll in section 03. For Philosophy majors: This course fulfills the practical philosophy (A) requirement.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 21609,BPRO 22612,HIPS 21609,BIOS 29314

PHIL 32000. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. 100 Units.

We will begin by trying to explicate the manner in which science is a rational response to observational facts. This will involve a discussion of inductivism, Popper’s deductivism, Lakatos and Kuhn. After this, we will briefly survey some other important topics in the philosophy of science, including underdetermination, theories of evidence, Bayesianism, the problem of induction, explanation, and laws of nature. (B) (II)

Instructor(s): T. Pashby     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 & 02. Graduates enroll in section 03.
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 25109,HIST 35109,CHSS 33300,HIPS 22000,PHIL 22000

PHIL 32199. Cognition. 100 Units.

That we think, that we remember past events, that we perceive objects in the world around us, that we feel pain and other sensations, that we have emotions, that we formulate plans and work to put them into action—these are among the most quotidian, undeniable realities of human life as we know it and experience it. And yet philosophers and scientists have long struggled to find a place for such "mental" phenomena within a conception of the world as natural and un-mysterious. In recent decades, the interdisciplinary field of cognitive science has proposed a new form of solution to this age-old quandary. We will explore foundational questions raised by the cognitive-scientific approach. Readings are drawn from a range of historical and contemporary sources in philosophy and psychology.

Instructor(s): J. Bridges; L. Kay; C. Kennedy     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Undergrads opt in sections 01 & 02. Graduates opt in section 03.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 22199,LING 26520

PHIL 32500. Biological and Cultural Evolution. 100 Units.

This course draws on readings in and case studies of language evolution, biological evolution, cognitive development and scaffolding, processes of socialization and formation of groups and institutions, and the history and philosophy of science and technology. We seek primarily to elaborate theory to understand and model processes of cultural evolution, while exploring analogies, differences, and relations to biological evolution. This has been a highly contentious area, and we examine why. We seek to evaluate what such a theory could reasonably cover and what it cannot.

Instructor(s): S. Mufwene, W. Wimsatt     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing or consent of instructor required; core background in evolution and genetics strongly recommended.
Note(s): This course does not meet requirements for the biological sciences major. CHDV Distribution: A
Equivalent Course(s): CHDV 23930,ANTH 28615,ANTH 38615,LING 11100,CHSS 37900,LING 39286,CHDV 33930,BIOS 29286,HIPS 23900,PHIL 22500,NCDV 27400,BPRO 23900

PHIL 33015. Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" and "The Descent of Man" 100 Units.

This lecture-discussion class will focus on a close reading of Darwin's two classic texts. An initial class or two will explore the state of biology prior to Darwin's Beagle voyage, and then consider the development of his theories before 1859. Then we will turn to his two books. Among the topics of central concern will be the logical, epistemological, and rhetorical status of Darwin's several theories, especially his evolutionary ethics; the religious foundations of his ideas and the religious reaction to them; and the social-political consequences of his accomplishment.

Instructor(s): R. Richards     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): HIPS 24901,PHIL 23015,HIST 34905,CHSS 38400,FNDL 24905,HIST 24905

PHIL 34010. Meaning and Reference. 100 Units.

In this course we address one of the central and most fascinating philosophical questions about linguistic meaning: What is the relationship between meaning and reference? We will study a range of classical and contemporary theories about the semantics of referring expressions such as proper names, definite descriptions, and indexicals. Readings will include Frege, Russell, Strawson, Kripke, Donnellan, and Kaplan, among others. Throughout, we will try to reach a better understanding of how questions about meaning and reference connect with a range of topics that are central to philosophical theorizing, including the connection between propositional attitudes and the explanation of action, the role of the principle of compositionality in formal semantics, the question of whether there is a level of mental experience that is epistemically transparent, the relation between thought and language, the nature of fictional and non-existent objects, and the interaction between semantics and pragmatics. (B)

Instructor(s): M. Willer     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Prior courses in philosophy are beneficial. Elementary Logic or equivalent recommended, but not required.
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 and 02. Graduates enroll in section 03.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 24010

PHIL 34709. Nietzsche’s Critique of Morality. 100 Units.

A close reading of Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals, supplemented by passages from The Gay Science, and Bernard Williams’s book, Shame and Necessity. Of special importance: the appeal to “psychology” in the critique of morality.

Instructor(s): R. Pippin     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 through 04. Graduates enroll in section 05.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 24709,SCTH 38005

PHIL 35209. Emotion, Reason, and Law. 100 Units.

Emotions figure in many areas of the law, and many legal doctrines (from reasonable provocation in homicide to mercy in criminal sentencing) invite us to think about emotions and their relationship to reason.  In addition, some prominent theories of the limits of law make reference to emotions: thus Lord Devlin and, more recently, Leon Kass have argued that the disgust of the average member of society is a sufficient reason for rendering a practice illegal, even though it does no harm to others.  Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied closely, with the result that both theory and doctrine are often confused. (A) (I)

Instructor(s): M. Nussbaum     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 49301,RETH 32900,GNSE 28210,GNSE 38300,LAWS 43273,PHIL 25209

PHIL 37319. Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil. 100 Units.

I shall present a new interpretation of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil and discuss Nietzsche's book form the beginning to its end in detail.

Instructor(s): Meier, H.     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Undergrads with consent only. This course will be taught twice a week the first five weeks of the quarter (3/26/18-4/30/18).
Equivalent Course(s): FNDL 25703,GRMN 37319,SCTH 37319

PHIL 38204. Philosophy of Right: Fichte, Kant, Hegel. 100 Units.

We will do a comparative reading of the beginnings of the philosophies of right of Fichte, Kant and Hegel. We will start with Fichte’s attempt for a swift deductions of the concept of right from the ‘I think’ and then look how the introduction of rights is more complicated in the case of Kant and Hegel.

Instructor(s): M. Haase     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 & 02. Graduates enroll in section 03.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 28204

PHIL 38209. Psychoanalysis and Philosophy. 100 Units.

This course shall read the works of Sigmund Freud. We shall examine his views on the unconscious, on human sexuality, on repetition, transference, and neurotic suffering. We shall also consider what therapy and “cure” consist in, and how his technique might work. We shall consider certain ties to ancient Greek conceptions of human happiness—and ask the question: what is it about human being that makes living a fulfilling life problematic? Readings from Freud’s case studies as well as his essays on theory and technique.  

Instructor(s): J. Lear     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Course for Graduate Students and Upper Level Undergraduates.
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01, 02, 03, and 04. Graduates enroll in section 05.
Equivalent Course(s): SCTH 37501,HIPS 28101,FNDL 28210,PHIL 28210

PHIL 39600. Intermediate Logic. 100 Units.

In this course, we will prove the soundness and completeness of deductive systems for both sentential and first-order predicate logic. We will also establish related results in elementary model theory, such as the compactness theorem for first-order logic, the Lӧwenheim-Skolem theorem and Lindstrӧm’s theorem. (B) (II)

Instructor(s): A. Vasudevan     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Elementary Logic or the equivalent.
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 & 02. Graduates enroll in section 03.
Equivalent Course(s): CHSS 33600,HIPS 20500,PHIL 29400

PHIL 39911. Ancient Greek Aesthetics. 100 Units.

The ancient Greek philosophical tradition contains an enormously rich and influential body of reflection on the practice of poetry.  We will focus our attention on Plato and Aristotle, but will also spend some time with Longinus and Plotinus.  Topics will include: the analysis of poetry in terms of mimesis and image; poetry-making as an exercise of craft, divine inspiration, or some other sort of knowledge; the emotional effect on the audience; the role of poetry in forming moral character and, more broadly, its place in society; the relation between poetry, rhetoric, and philosophy; aesthetic values of beauty, wonder, truth, and grace. (A) (IV)

Instructor(s): G. Richardson-Lear     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): Undergrads enroll in sections 01 & 02. Graduates enroll in section 03.
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 29911,CLAS 36517,CLCV 26517,SCTH 39911

PHIL 41001. Neo-Aristotelian Philosophical Anthropology. 100 Units.

Neo-Aristotelian practical philosophy encompasses one of the three most important strands of work in contemporary ethics (the other two are neo-Kantian and neo-Humean lines of thought).  Aristotelian approaches in practical philosophy generally treat humanity—human nature—as providing a foundation or framework for systematic work in practical philosophy.  In this sense, philosophical anthropology is crucial to neo-Aristotelian ethics.  In this seminar we will read, write, and think about work in philosophical anthropology meant to provide a framework for neo-Aristotelian practical philosophy. (I)

Instructor(s): C. Vogler     Terms Offered: Autumn

PHIL 43011. Reason and Religion. 100 Units.

The quarrel between reason and faith has a long history.  The birth of Christianity was in the crucible of rationality.  The ancient Greeks privileged this human capacity above all others, finding in reason the quality wherein man was closest to the gods, while the early Christians found this viewpoint antithetical to religious humility.  As religion and its place in society have evolved throughout history, so have the standing of, and philosophical justification for, non-belief on rational grounds.  This course will examine the intellectual and cultural history of arguments against religion in Western thought from antiquity to the present.  Along the way, of course, we will also examine the assumptions bound up in the binary terms "religion" and "reason."

Instructor(s): Shadi Bartsch and Robert Richards     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent required: Email a few sentences describing your background and what you hope to get out of this seminar.
Equivalent Course(s): DVPR 46616,KNOW 40201,CLAS 46616,CHSS 40201,HIST 66606

PHIL 49700. Preliminary Essay Workshop. 100 Units.

The workshop involves discussion of general issues in writing the essay and student presentations of their work. Although students do not register for the Summer quarter, they are expected to make significant progress on their preliminary essay over the summer.

Instructor(s): K. Davey     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring
Prerequisite(s): All and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years. A two-quarter (Spring, Autumn) workshop on the preliminary essay required for all doctoral students in the Spring of their second year and the Autumn of their third year.

PHIL 49900. Reading & Research. 100 Units.

Reading and Research.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of Instructor.

PHIL 50100. First-year Seminar. 100 Units.

No description available.

Instructor(s): J. Bridges     Terms Offered: Autumn,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students.
Note(s): This course meets in Autumn and Winter quarters.

PHIL 50305. Oedipus and Hamlet: On the Philosophy of Tragedy. 100 Units.

In this class we will consider closely attempts to understand tragedy philosophically. Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, two texts that have particularly attracted philosophical attention will serve as constant reference points, but other paradigmatic tragedies (Euripides Bacchae, Goethe’s Faust, Beckett’s Endgame) will also be considered. Among the philosophical contributions to be considered are works by Aristotle, Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Scheler, Schmitt, Benjamin, Murdoch, and Menke.  Major issues to be dealt with: the structure of tragic plot; the tragic affects; catharsis; ancient and modern tragedy; tragedy and the tragic; the aesthetics of tragedy; tragedy and society; tragedy and the sacred.

Instructor(s): David Wellbery; Robert Pippin     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): TAPS 40305,SCTH 40305,GRMN 40305

PHIL 51200. Law-Philosophy Workshop. 100 Units.

The theme for 2017-18 is “Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics.”  About half of the sessions will discuss philosophical and legal issues related to animal rights, and the other half will discuss issues of environmental ethics, focusing on the ethics of climate change.  This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines.  It admits approximately ten students.  Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance.  The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors.  Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year.  The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement.

Instructor(s): M. Nussbaum; N. Delon     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors. They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by email by September 20. Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.
Note(s): Students must enroll for all three quarters to receive credit.
Equivalent Course(s): LAWS 61512,RETH 51301,GNSE 50101,HMRT 51301,PLSC 51512

PHIL 51516. Henry Sidgwick. 100 Units.

The most philosophically explicit and rigorous of the British Utilitarians, Henry Sidgwick made important contributions to normative ethics, political philosophy, and metaethics.  His work also has important implication for law.  His great work The Methods of Ethics, which will be the primary focus of this seminar, has been greatly admired even by those who deeply disagree with it – for example John Rawls, for whom Sidgwick was important both as a source and as a foil, and Bernard Williams, who wrote about him with particular hostility.  Sidgwick provides the best defense of Utilitarianism we have, allowing us to see what it really looks like as a normative ethical and social theory. Sidgwick was also a practical philosopher and activist, writing on many topics, but especially on women’s higher education, which he did much to pioneer at Cambridge University, founding Newnham College with his wife Eleanor.  A rationalist who helped to found the Society for Psychical Research, an ardent feminist who defended the ostracism of the “fallen woman,” a closeted gay man who attempted to justify the proscriptions of Victorian morality, Sidgwick is a philosopher full of deep tensions and fascinating contradictions, which work their way into his arguments.  So we will also read the work In the context of Sidgwick’s contorted relationship with his era. (I) (IV)

Instructor(s): M. Nussbaum     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): An undergraduate major in philosophy or some equivalent solid philosophy preparation. This is a 500 level course. Ph.D. students in Philosophy and Political Theory may enroll without permission.
Note(s): Admission by permission of the instructor. Permission must be sought in writing by September 15.
Equivalent Course(s): PLSC 51516,RETH 51516,LAWS 53396

PHIL 51715. Plato and Aristotle on Craft and Wisdom. 100 Units.

Plato and Aristotle both made extensive appeal to craft knowledge as a model for theorizing practical and political wisdom.  In this seminar we will examine their conceptions of craft and its relation to wisdom.  Readings will likely come from Plato’s IonGorgias, Republic, and Statesman and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Metaphysics. (IV)

Instructor(s): G. Richardson-Lear     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): SCTH 51715

PHIL 51830. Advanced Topics in Moral, Political and Legal Philosophy. 100 Units.

The topic for Winter 2018 is the “Epistemology of Etiological/Genealogical Critiques: Contemporary and Historical.”  Anglophone epistemology has recently become interested in the question whether the origin of our beliefs matters to their acceptability or justification.  The intuitive thought is simple: If you had been brought up in a different family, or a different culture, or at a different time, your moral, religious, and philosophical beliefs (among any others) would likely have been very different than they are.  Shouldn’t that make us wonder whether we are really justified in believing what we believe?  Should the origin or historical contingency of our beliefs and values make us skeptical about them, or lead us to revise them?  Many historical figures in the German traditions have thought so: in different ways, Herder, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.  Many recent Anglophone philosophers think not: they ask what epistemological principle would license a localized skepticism about certain beliefs without having far-reaching implications?  When does the etiology of belief matter epistemically and when does it not?  We begin by looking at contemporary approaches to this question in the recent Anglophone literature (with readings from G.A. Cohen, Sharon Street, Roger White, and Amia Sreenivasan, among others), then turn to historical figures in the Continental European traditions concerned with these questions.

Instructor(s): M. Forster; B. Leiter     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): The seminar is open to philosophy PhD students without permission; to J.D. students with instructor permission; and to others with instructor permission.
Equivalent Course(s): LAWS 53256

PHIL 53360. Philosophy of Judaism: Soloveitchik Reads the Classics. 100 Units.

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was one of the most important philosophers of Judaism in the twentieth century. Among his many books, essays and lectures, we find a detailed engagement with the Bible, the Talmud and the fundamental works of Maimonides. This course will examine Soloveitchik’s philosophical readings and appropriation of Torah, Talmud, and both the Guide and the Mishneh Torah. A framing question of the course will be: how can one combine traditional Jewish learning and modern philosophical ideas? What can Judaism gain from philosophy? What can philosophy learn from Judaism?

Instructor(s): A. Davidson     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to by 12/15/2017. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee. Applicants should briefly describe their background and explain their interest in, and their reasons for applying to, this course.
Equivalent Course(s): HIJD 53360,DVPR 53360,KNOW 47002

PHIL 53501. Special Topics in Philosophy of Mind: Imagination. 100 Units.

What is imagination, and what functions does our power of imagination have in our lives?  The seminar will approach these general questions via more specific ones such as the following.  What are the relations between imagining, perceiving, remembering, and dreaming?  Does our capacity for imagination play a role in enabling us to perceive?  Does imagining something involve forming a mental image or picture of that thing?  If not, how should we conceive of the objects of imagination?  What is the nature of our engagement with what we imagine, and how does this engagement explain our ability to feel emotions such as fear, pity, and sympathy for imaginary beings?  What is the role of imagination or fantasy in structuring our understanding of ourselves and our relations to other persons?  Is there such a thing as the virtuous state of the power of imagination? Readings will be drawn from various classic discussions of imagination – e.g., Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Freud, Wittgenstein, Sartre – and from some contemporary sources. (III)

Instructor(s): M. Boyle; J. Lear     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Graduate students in Philosophy & Social Thought only, except with permission of instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): SCTH 53501

PHIL 53709. Conceptual Change and the a-priori. 100 Units.

In light of continual upheavals in the sciences, Kant's view that the sciences should be built on a foundation of synthetic a-priori knowledge has fallen out of favor. Should we then completely abandon the idea that the a-priori plays a significant role in science, or does some variant of the synthetic a-priori still in fact turn out to be necessary for science? To address this question, we will look at the writing of thinkers like Schlick, Reichenbach, Carnap, Quine, Kuhn, Friedman and others. (II) and (III)

Instructor(s): K. Davey     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CHSS 53709

PHIL 54002. Moral Psychology of the Emotions. 100 Units.

In addition to having reasons for belief (theoretical reasons) and reasons for action (practical reasons), we also, sometimes, have reasons for feeling the way we do.  For example: I feel angry because of the injustice someone did, or sad because of the loss I suffered, or grateful because of the benefit someone provided me.  In this class we will ask what kinds of reasons those are: what is a reason to feel?  We will also want to know how rational such emotions are: are there features that are central to our emotional life that we miss out on or misdescribe when we attend soley to its rational structure?  We will also consider a puzzle that arises about the temporality of reasons for feeling: if my reason for being angry (or sad or grateful) is what you did, and it will always be true that you did it, do I have a reason to be angry (or sad or grateful) forever?  If not, why not?  In addition to discussing what might be true of  the rationality of emotions considered as a class, we will also spend some time addressing questions specific to a given emotion.  For example: What is an apology? Does gratitude require actual benefit or only positive intention? When we are sad about a loved one’s death, do we mourn for ourselves, or for her? Are there reasons for feeling jealous, disgusted or stressed? (I)

Instructor(s): A. Callard     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Students who are not enrolled by the start of term but wish to enroll must (a) email the instructor before the course begins and (b) attend the first class.

PHIL 54101. Consciousness. 100 Units.

When we try to make sense of unconscious states of mind we run into some of the same difficulties that we encounter when we think about the minds of young children and non-linguistic animals. Unconscious attitudes can seem to sit awkwardly between the conceptual and the non-conceptual, between the personal and the subpersonal, and between the mental and the non-mental. Relatedly, when a person acts on an unconscious desire, we are inclined to think of her as not-quite-responsible for the activity, but not entirely free of responsibility either. In this seminar, we'll be exploring the connections between consciousness, agency, concepts, and mindedness as such. We'll (probably) read work by Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Donald Davidson, Richard Rorty, Jonathan Lear, Sebastian Gardiner, Marcia Cavell, Daniel Dennett, John McDowell, and Richard Moran. (III)

Instructor(s): D. Finkelstein     Terms Offered: Spring

PHIL 54260. Recent Ethical Theory. 100 Units.

We will discuss recent publications in contemporary ethics focusing on second personal relations. Literature will include texts by Jay Wallace, Michael Thompson, Jennifer Whiting. (I)

Instructor(s): M. Haase     Terms Offered: Spring

PHIL 55605. The Life and Acts of a Being that Says "I" 100 Units.

The being we will study in this course is a subject of thinking/judging and therefore in a sense, all things (Aristotle, De Anima), at the same time she is a determinable substance whose determinations include moods, sensations, feelings, intentions, actions. We shall explore the apparent tension between these two descriptions of our being — as a subject-being and as a substance-being — and search for an understanding that resolves it.  Readings include sections from: Aristotle, Kant, Hegel. Sartre, Heidegger, Wittgenstein. 

Instructor(s): I. Kimhi     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): SCTH 55605

PHIL 55803. Aristotle's Metaphysics M-N. 100 Units.

In the last two books of his Metaphysics (M-N), Aristotle critiques his predecessors' and contemporaries' views about mathematical objects and first principles. He also gives his own account of the nature of mathematical objects. There is much that should be of great interest here; yet M and N are under-examined and under-appreciated. This neglect is not without reason, as the text is exceedingly dense and appears to be quite disorganized, and in many cases it is unclear what view Aristotle is targeting. We will undertake a close reading of M-N, with the aim of finding structure where we can, making the best possible sense of the arguments, identifying likely targets, and seeing what light Aristotle's criticisms can shed on his own mathematical and metaphysical views. While knowledge of Greek is not required for this course, we will discuss the Greek (as inclusively as possible) whenever it bears on a matter of philosophical interpretation.

Instructor(s): Katz, Emily     Terms Offered: Spring

PHIL 56909. Kant's Transcendental Deduction and Its Contemporary Reception. 100 Units.

This seminar will be devoted to a close reading and discussion of certain portions of Kant’s First Critique, focusing especially on the Transcendental Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding. We will explore a handful of proposals for how to understand the project of the First Critique  that turn especially on an interpretation the Transcendental Deduction, including especially those put forward by Henrich, Kern, Rödl, Sellars, Strawson, Stroud, and McDowell. The aim of the course is both to use certain central texts of recent Kant commentary and contemporary analytic Kantian philosophy to illuminate some the central aspirations of Kant’s theoretical philosophy and to use certain central Kantian texts in which those aspirations were first pursued to illuminate some recent developments in recent epistemology and the philosophy of mind.

Instructor(s): J. Conant     Terms Offered: Spring

PHIL 57201. Spinoza's Psychological Politics. 100 Units.

Spinoza's philosophy is classical in conception, in that it aims to show us how to live wisely. But his ethical interpretation of wisdom is shaped by a psychological account of human affect and a firm sense of the empowering role of politics. To live wisely we have to understand our affects and use them to create co-operative ways of life. At the same time, we have to take account of the ways in which our affects are shaped by political circumstances and ideals.  This seminar will examine Spinoza's account of the shifting relations between these variables. Drawing on several of his writings (Ethics, Theologico-Political Treatise, Political Treatise, Correspondence) we shall examine his central conceptions of affect, imagination, understanding, power and politics. Our discussions will also address a sequence of questions. What constructive and destructive roles does imagination play in political life? How is social co-operation related to understanding? How far can Spinoza's conception of imagination help us to develop a compelling theory of ideology? Is politics, as Spinoza conceives it, fundamentally agonistic? What part does politics play in the blessed life envisioned at the end of the Ethics? What makes this way of life more empowering than any other?

Instructor(s): S. James     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): SCTH 51401

PHIL 58108. The Philosophy of Howard Stein. 100 Units.

Howard Stein’s impressive body of work is notable for its tight integration of history of science with philosophy of science.  Topics include: theories of spacetime structure (Newtonian and relativistic), the conceptual structure of quantum mechanics, the methodology of science in general and the character of scientific knowledge, and the history of physics and mathematics.  Readings by Stein will be supplemented by primary historical texts and secondary philosophical literature, including selections from a forthcoming edited collection on Stein. (II)

Instructor(s): T. Pashby     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): CHSS 58108

PHIL 59950. Workshop: Job Placement Seminar. 100 Units.

Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter.

Instructor(s): M. Boyle     Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring
Prerequisite(s): This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2017/2018. Approval of dissertation committee is required.