Graduate Courses Fall 2017

  • PHIL 404 - Philosophy of Science

    Tu. / Thur. 2 pm - 3 pm | Jarrett  

    This class is devoted to an exploration of philosophical issues arising in connection with quantum mechanics.  It is intended to be of interest (and accessible) to graduate students and advanced undergraduates in philosophy as well as to those in physics.  As far as technical material is concerned, the course will be largely self-contained.  We will develop in class a good bit of formal machinery in order to give suitably precise characterizations of matters of interest, but no extensive special background in the subject will be presupposed.  We will focus on questions that arise in the attempt to give an adequate elucidation of the logical and conceptual structure of the theory, questions that appear most dramatically in connection with such topics as Bell’s Theorem and the infamous measurement problem.  These questions challenge our most fundamental ideas about the structure of our world and our place in it; and the principal goal of the course is to provide formulations of such questions in a manner that affords the student a genuine understanding of what is at stake in debates over the “interpretation” of quantum mechanics.

    No other 400-level courses should be taken without consulting the DGS.

  • PHIL 505 - Modern Philosophy: Kant’s Critical Theoretical Philosophy

    Thursday 3:30 to 6pm | Sutherland
    This seminar will cover Kant’s theoretical philosophy in the Critique of Pure Reason.  We will introduce Kant’s philosophy without presupposing much prior knowledge of Kant, reading the Transcendental Aesthetic and a good deal of the Transcendental Analytic.  We will then turn to his philosophy of mathematics, which motivated and shaped his entire critical philosophy.  Kant stated that he would stake his entire philosophy on the answer to the question “How is synthetic a priori knowledge possible?”  and held mathematical claims such as 5 + 7 = 12 to be the surest examples that there is such knowledge.  But the importance of mathematics to his philosophy goes much further.   In Kant’s view, the world is mathematical in character, and Kant’s account of human knowledge explains why and how mathematics applies to the world, from simple claims like “There are three oranges in the bowl” to Newtonian mechanics.   We will focus on the simplest mathematical truths, such as 5 + 7 = 12 and the fact that the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees, to understand both why Kant thinks they are synthetic a priori and why and how they apply to objects of experience.   No prior knowledge of mathematics is assumed.  

  • PHIL 526 - Ethics

    Tuesday 3:30 to 6pm | Fleischacker
    Empathy has become a hot topic in recent years;  we’ll here examine its nature and ethical role.  Both ot these things are contested, and we will explore the arguments in detail.  We’ll begin with David Hume and Adam Smith on what they called “sympathy,” then move to contemporary literature.  Readings will include Peter Goldie, Jesse Prinz, Stephen Darwall, Alvin Goldman and Paul Bloom’s 2016 book, Against Empathy.  Pre-requisites:  Graduate standing in Philosophy, or permission of the instructor.

  • PHIL 538 - Philosophy of Language: Speech Acts and Linguistic Meaning

    Friday 3:30 to 6pm | Gray

    In this course we will explore two related questions: What is a speech act? What is linguistic meaning?

    In a speech act, a speaker uses a linguistic expression to do something: make an assertion, ask a question, make a promise, etc. We will ask: What kinds of speech acts are there? What does it take to perform a speech act? Are speech acts characterized in terms of speakers' intentions or normative conventions? 

    What a speaker can do with her words depends on what the words mean. The other topic in the course is the nature of linguistic meaning. We will examine the motivation for, and structure of, contemporary formal accounts of linguistic meaning. This will include discussions of truth, compositionality and context-dependence. 

    The goal of the course is to understand how these two sets of issues relate to each other. In particular, we will examine recent literature which calls into question the assumption that the object of a speech act (what is asserted, promised, etc) should be identified with the meaning of the sentence used in performing that speech act. Is there a gap between what our words mean and what we do with them?

  • PHIL 590 - Research Seminar

    Wednesday 1 to 3:30Hilbert

    This seminar is intended for all students at the topical, prospectus, or dissertation stage. Students should take it once during their third year, when working on the topical. Students past the topical stage are recommended to take it once a year.

  • PHIL 591 - Teaching Methods in Philosophy

    Friday 1 to 1:30pm  | Curry

    All students teaching for the first time at UIC should take this one credit seminar. All students are welcome to register.

  • PHIL 593 - Independent Research

    Students who have completed their coursework should register for 593 to bring their total credits to 12.

  • PHIL 599 - Thesis Research

    Students who have successfully defended their topical should register for 599.