Winter Quarter

Dept Course No and Title Instructor
This course will offer a general introduction to the main topics and big questions of philosophy. We will approach issues such as: What do philosophers do? How can we know with certainty that we are not daydreaming, or that others have minds? What is the self? Can machines think? What defines a good action and a just society? Are we free? What is beauty? Does God exist? Through the examination of a few classical and contemporary texts, we will also see how different philosophical approaches deal with these themes.   
Philosophy begins in wonder, and often in puzzles or even paradoxes. This course approaches philosophical and theoretical reasoning by studying philosophical puzzles and paradoxes in the context of the history of philosophy. A puzzle is a phenomenon that seems not to conform to received theories within some domain, while a paradox is an unacceptable conclusion or a contradiction derived from acceptable premises. We’ll consider problems regarding the nature of space-and-time, the infinite, truth (cf. the Liar’s claim “This claim is false”), physical reality (per modern physics), and mind and brain and consciousness.
Methodologically: We shall study philosophical puzzles and paradoxes as a way to introduce the formal tools (e.g. patterns of explanation, forms of conceptual analysis, and use of thought experiments) needed to comprehend and evaluate philosophical arguments and theories, and theoretical reasoning more generally.
Substantively: In the first weeks of the course we shall consider several paradoxes and puzzles, looking to their roles in the history of philosophy and science. In the latter weeks of the course we shall study Descartes’ famous arguments in the Meditations, considering the problem of how mind and brain can possibly be related: is the mind-body problem a puzzle or even perhaps a paradox?
Specific readings will be announced as we go: stay tuned! 
(IV and VB )
Technologies are ubiquitous and play a pervasive role in our lives. The aim of the course is to help you develop a better and more articulate understanding of the metaphysical, epistemological, moral, and social-political implications of technologies. The course has two distinct parts. The first part discusses with general issues in the philosophy of technology and covers major positions in the philosophy of technology (especially Aristotle and Heidegger). In the second part of the course, we explore philosophical questions raised by specific emerging technologies.

Central questions discussed in the course are: What is technology and what are artifacts? Does technology control us or do we control technology? Could we upload our minds into a simulation and live forever? Are we in a computer simulation right now? Will robots ever be truly conscious? Is your IPhone a part of your mind? Would it be wrong to genetically enhance (or clone) ourselves? Should we grow meat in labs instead of factory-farms? Should we geoengineer the planet to combat climate change? Is it possible to sin in a video game or to sin with a robot? Should machines make life and death decisions? What ethical commands should driverless cars be given? Does technology make our lives better, or worse?
Selected topics from the history of ethics, e.g., the nature of the good life and the moral justification of conduct.
The early modern period (roughly, 1517-1789), was a time of revolution, of tumultuous social, political, and intellectual change.  In this course, we'll examine three classic works that exemplify the revolutionary philosophical sensibility of this time: Descartes's Meditations on First Philosophy, Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, and Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.  The Meditations revolutionized epistemology; the Dialogues revolutionized philosophy of religion; and the Groundwork revolutionized ethics.  These works all continue to influence on present-day philosophy.  The aim of the course will be to examine both what was revolutionary about these works and also respects in which they remain philosophically vital to this day.   
What constitutes a legal system? What does it mean for a society to have a system as a part of the social fabric. Examines the social status of law and its use as a tool for fashioning society.
What is money?  In what way is it real?  Why does it motivate us and what value does it have?  What role does it have in an economy?  What do banks do?  What do central banks too?  What is the role of money, banks, and public finance in a democracy?  What moral obligations apply to money as a public institution?  This course considers these questions in light of social ontology, moral theory, political philosophy and economics.
The course will introduce students to skepticism and to its connections with epistemic relativism.

In particular, we will look at Descartes' and Hume's formulations of relativism and to some prominent anti-skeptical strategies, put forward by contemporary philosophers like Moore, Wittgenstein, Putnam, Strawson, McDowell, and DeRose. We will also look at varieties of epistemic relativism while reading Wittgenstein, Rorty and MacFarlane.
The problem of evil is standardly conceived to arise from an apparent tension between the existence of an all-perfect God and the obvious fact that bad things—such as earthquakes, the death of innocent children, and bad actions—occur.  The early modern period (roughly, 1517-1789) witnessed a spectacular flourishing of work on this topic, and this course will examine approaches to it  developed by some of the greatest philosophers of this period. Readings will be drawn from the writings of René Descartes, Nicolas Malebranche, Pierre Bayle, Immanuel Kant, Voltaire, and especially, G. W. Leibniz, whose Essays on Theodicy: On the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil will be the centerpiece of the course.  Our ultimate aim will be to determine whether any of these approaches are viable solutions to the problem of evil.
Examines central philosophical questions concerning our own fundamental nature and that of the world around us (e.g., causation and necessity, determination, free will, personal identity, the mind-body problem).

Repeatability: Unlimited as topics vary.

Same as LPS 120.

Visit the Logic and Philosophy of Science website for more information.
What we call "Jainism" and "Buddhism" today emerged as reforming philosophies in approximately the 5th c. BCE in the Ganges plain of India. While both of these non-Vedic views were rooted in the universal importance of daily action (vs. ritual knowledge and practice), they offered distinct frameworks of what is real, how to know, and how to act. In this class, we will explore these two paths through secondary texts, textual translations, while also considering Buddhist and Jain communities that exist today globally and in our southern California neighborhoods.  
The last fifty years of scientific knowledge and technological developments have led to numerous ethical dilemmas that neither medicine nor law alone can adequately address. The emergence of biomedical ethics strains to fill this gap, confronting crucial new questions such as how to define life and death, how to allocate limited resources, how to justify research harms, and how to respect personal freedom amidst the needs of the wider community. This course will provide students the philosophical foundations of western normative ethics, with some reference to non-western views. During the term, we will practice utilizing these ethical tools to examine cases related to: autonomy and confidentiality, pharmaceutical clinical trials, research on animals, reproductive technologies, and end-of-life decisions.