Summer Courses

Summer 2017

Session A
Philos 2 - Introduction to Philosophy of Religion

Instructor: Brian Hutler

This course provides an introduction to the major themes in philosophy of religion, corresponding to four major subjects in philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, morality, and political philosophy. Beginning with metaphysics, we will consider the traditional arguments for and against the existence of god, including the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, the teleological argument, and the problem of evil. Turning next to epistemology, we will discuss the basis or grounds for religious knowledge and belief—that is, can knowledge of religious truths, such as the existence of god, can be based on empirical or rational evidence of the sort used to justify scientific beliefs? Or must religious belief be justified in some other way? We will cover the main epistemological theories in western religious thought include rationalism, evidentialism, pragmatism, and fideism. We will also consider some nonwestern theories, such as Islamic mysticism and Buddhist (or Tibetan) epistemology. Third, we will discuss the relationship between religion and morality, focusing in particular on the question of what is the moral status of religious rules and religious convictions, especially when they appear to conflict with secular morality. We will also discuss what is, or might be, the practical significance or utility of religious belief and practice for human life. Finally, we will turn to political philosophy, discussing the place of religion in a just political community. There have traditionally been two main approaches to thinking about the relationship between religion and politics: the “communitarian” approach according to which the political community should largely coincide with a cultural or religious group, drawing its legitimacy in part from the religious beliefs of its citizens; or the liberal approach according to which religion and the state should remain separate, leaving space within the private domain for a variety of religious beliefs and practices.

Philos 5 - Philosophy in Literature: Self, Freedom, Responsibility

Instructor: Jonathan Gingerich

This course will focus on a selection of central questions about what it means to be human. The questions we will consider include: What is the role of art in a good life? What is the relationship between happiness, predictability, and freedom? What sort of freedom and responsibility must I have in order to be satisfied with who I am? How does my experience of my body promote or undermine my experience of freedom? What is the nature of guilt? What are the significance of race and gender to theories of the self? What role should philosophy play in figuring out how to live? This course will address these questions by reading novels, short stories, and plays as well as by viewing movies and paintings. Lectures will provide a philosophical framework for approaching and engaging with these literary texts. Students will be encouraged to draw on their own life experience to deepen their engagement with the philosophical literature that we read. By taking this class, students will learn: how to think philosophically about literature and movies, how to communicate clearly and persuasively about theoretical topics (orally and in writing), how to think independently about arguments and decisions, how to read literary texts with the aim of identifying their philosophical assumptions and arguments, how to write a philosophy essay, and how to take pleasure in the challenges of careful and rigorous reading and thinking.

Philos 6 - Introduction to Political Philosophy

Instructor: Laura Gillespie

In this introduction to political philosophy we will focus on the topics of fairness, freedom, oppression, and resistance. It is a course about what constitutes just relations among citizens and between citizens and the state; about what constitutes oppression and what constitutes a meaningful freedom; about how we, as citizens and persons, are entitled to respond to oppression when we encounter it in the world; and, finally, about how (if at all) our thinking as political philosophers, theorizing about justice and freedom, should be informed by the lived realities of injustice and oppression. The course begins with several sessions dedicated to acquiring a basic understanding of one extraordinarily influential account of what constitutes a just state—that of John Rawls, as expressed in his Justice as Fairness. With the basics of Rawls’ view in mind we will go on to read and discuss a series of papers in contemporary political philosophy on topics such as punishment, racial and gendered oppression, homelessness, immigration, and civil disobedience, each of which in some way appeals to or critiques that view. We will end the course with a careful look at Charles Mills’ The Racial Contract, in which Mills raises fundamental questions about the tradition of liberal democratic political theory in which the rest of the course readings are situated. We will, in short, familiarize ourselves with one framework for understanding justice, put that framework to use in helping us think through a series of social justice issues in our own society, and then end by considering some the possible limitations of such a framework.

Philos 7 - Introduction to Philosophy of Mind

Instructor:  Gabbrielle Johnson

This course introduces students to the philosophy of mind. In it, students will explore critical philosophical views concerning the relationship between the mind and the physical world, the nature of consciousness, as well as the mysteries of the unconscious mind. The course will be divided into two units. In the first unit, we’ll start with the most basic questions concerning mental states, namely, what is a mind and in virtue of what does a being have one? After broadly surveying and contrasting various philosophical views attempting to answer these questions, we’ll home in on two fundamental features of the mind: consciousness and cognition. The detailed investigation of these two so-called ‘marks of the mental’ will occupy the remainder of the course. Regarding consciousness, we’ll explore the mystery of how subjective experience arises from mental processes. Regarding cognition, we’ll explore the information processing that allows us to reason about and navigate through the world around us. With time permitting, in the end, we’ll explore the possibility of unconscious cognition—that is, that there might be a suite of mental operations of which subjects are not aware—and the implications this possibility has for the objectivity of perception and thought. The course does not presuppose expertise in any particular field, and it introduces topics from a diverse point of view, pulling materials from philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, computer science, vision science, and cognitive science.

Philos 8 - Introduction to Philosophy of Science

Instructor: Gabriel Dupre

The contemporary sciences have generated an immense amount of knowledge . Discoveries about the natural and social world and highly confirmed, deeply explanatory, theories enable technologies that were inconceivable mere decades ago. To deny these successes, or to attribute them to mere chance, would be a skepticism of an extreme sort. However, science is not infallible. Sometimes, scientific consensus turns out to be wrong. The opposite extreme to skepticism is dogmatism, and dogmatism about science can be just as irrational and harmful as skepticism about science. Science is a social phenomenon, produced by human beings, with all their limitations. Interesting science goes beyond the observable data and so always involves a risk of being wrong.. This fact is compounded by various distorting factors, such as corporate influence, institutional prejudices and simple desire for fame of practicing scientists. In this course, we will examine how best to strike a balance between the two extremes of skepticism and dogmatism. We will examine how exactly the knowledge-generator of science works and the conditions under which it fails. To do so, we will split our time between reading philosophy of science and science itself. We will investigate the various claims that philosophers have made by testing them against actual science, with extended discussions of case studies from the biological and psychological sciences, finishing with a sustained investigation of the controversial area of evolutionary psychology, the attempt to understand the human mind through Darwinian theory. I hope that students taking this course will come away with an appreciation of the subtleties and complexities of scientific theorizing. This should serve to temper both dogmatism and skepticism. Now more than ever, given the political realities of 2017 America, an appreciation of the epistemology of science is hugely important. I hope that this course can go some way to instilling this.

Philos 22 - Introduction to Ethical Theory

Instructor: Melissa Retkwa

In this course we will aim to do two things. First, we will look at some of the answers that have been given to broad ethical questions, questions about what, at a very general level, makes a person and her activity good. Second, we will consider the topic of friendship. After familiarizing ourselves with the ways in which some philosophers have gone about answering the broad questions, we will read what they have to say about relationships of intimacy and equality (friendships). We will think some about what the value of friendship is for us, what particular ethical demands are made on us and what particular ethical powers are bestowed on us in light of its value, and what problems recognizing friendship’s value might pose for certain ethical theories. By considering friendship, we will start to see how it is possible to move from answers to the broad questions to more concrete ethical ideas.


Philos 31 - Logic, First Course

Instructor:  Antti Hiltunen

In this course you will learn a new language, symbolic logic. You will be able to reason symbolically from premises to their logical conclusions. We will also translate English language into our logical language so that we will see what English sentences really logically entail. Students will learn the art of rigorously analyzing the validity of arguments and testing whether an assertion is a tautology or not. This course will provide background skills which are essential in any field which relies on exact reasoning and abstract arguments. More specifically, we will cover both sentential logic and monadic predicate logic.

Philos 100A - History of Greek Philosophy

Instructor: Lee-Ann Chae

In this survey of ancient Greek philosophy, we will consider some central problems in ethics and metaphysics, as raised by the three main figures of the classical era – Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. Questions in ethics will include whether we willingly or knowingly do the wrong thing, whether we should obey the state, and what the aim or purpose of a human life is. Metaphysical topics will include an examination of Plato’s Theory of Forms, and Aristotle’s criticism of it.

Philos C119 - Topics in Modern Philosophy: Arc of History

Instructor: William Reckner

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” This quotation may or may not have originated with Dr. King, but 19th century philosophers, both in Europe and in America, were widely concerned with the “arc” of human history, with the forces driving its development, and with questions about whether and how human history is progressing towards some sort of moral or political ideal. This question came to special prominence through Kant and Hegel, and it carried through into the work of Marx and Nietzsche. Moreover, the idea of a moral arc of history played an important role in Frederick Douglass’ arguments against slavery and for equal rights for African Americans. In this course, we will examine these different ideas about the dynamics and progress of human history, with a special emphasis on issues of racism and racialized oppression.

Philos 129 - Philosophy of Psychology: Honeybees, Computation, and Concepts: Mental Representations in Psychology

Instructor: Andrew Jewell

The driver in front of me on Interstate 495 puts on his left-turn signal. What is he going to do? The obvious answer is that he put on his signal because he intends to merge left, and he wants the people behind him to know that. And he is going to merge left. This example is ordinary, but it illustrates a very important feature of our understanding of the world. In the example, I use the attribution of mental states to explain and predict the behavior of the people around me. And my predictions are successful. And my explanation is true. But what sort of thing are we ascribing to explain and predict behavior? And how does the ascription of mental states explain?

This course will introduce a number of fundamental topics in the philosophical study of psychology. The questions that we will ask in this course include:
1. How do personal-level psychological explanations of behavior relate to subpersonal computational, neurological or physical explanations of behavior?
2. An important feature of explanation in psychology and cognitive science is the attribution of representational content to mental processes, states, and events. What is representational content and how does it figure in these explanations?
3. It is necessary to hold certain psychological states (e.g. a belief that today is a lovely day) that one have certain concepts (e.g. the concept DAY). What is a concept? It seems that we learn concepts, but it has been alleged that our conceptual repertoire is fixed at birth. Do we have reasons to think this is true?

Philos 166 - Philosophy of Law: Law and Morality in a Democratic Society

Instructor: Sabine Tsuruda

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, it is rather strange and paradoxical to find us consciously breaking laws. One may well ask, “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer is found in the fact that there are two types of laws: there are just laws, and there are unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “An unjust law is no law at all.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963.

What is law? Are we obligated to follow the law? If so, why? Can an unjust law ever command our respect? How should democracy inform our interpretation and understanding of the law? In this course, we will start by inquiring into these questions about the nature of law through an introduction to natural law theory, legal positivism, interpretivism, and critical race theory. We will then deepen and expand our understanding of these theories by investigating relationships between law, morality, and democracy in the law of contracts and free speech.

Philos 174 - Topics in Theory of Knowledge: Some Problems of Self-Knowledge

Instructor: Andrew Hsu

Many philosophers have thought that we have special ways of knowing about ourselves—ways that contrast with the ways that others know about us. Famously, Descartes seems to have thought that when I think about myself, my judgments are incorrigible—at least, if I think of myself under a special concept (a concept “I” applying to myself as “thinking thing”), Indeed, Descartes sometimes make it sound as if there is no fact about myself of which I am not aware in this special way. Later philosophers had reservations about Descartes’ views, but many retained the idea that we do have special knowledge of at least some facts about ourselves. Remarkably, some think the special, first-personal knowledge extends all the way to knowledge of our own physical actions. We’ll study some reflections on self-knowledge by philosophers working in the mid-twentieth century to the present. The topics to be covered include: (i) What is first-personal thinking? What are the words or concepts used in this form of thinking? What conditions does one have to meet to use those words and concepts? (ii) Are there any special ways of knowing about oneself associated with first-personal ways of thinking? Is it possible—and how is it possible— for there to be first-personal ways of knowing the same things that others can, in their way, also know about oneself? (iii) Some philosophers have said that first-personal knowledge is nonobservational in character. Is that possible—and how is it possible?

Philos 185 - Major Philosophers of 20th Century: Ludwig Wittgenstein and Philosophical Investigations

Instructor: Andrew Hsu

We’ll study the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein (b. Vienna, Austria 1889, d. Cambridge, UK 1951). Our main text will be the best known writing of his later period, the Philosophical Investigations (published posthumously in 1953). Wittgenstein is generally counted as one of the founders of the analytic tradition of philosophy. He is as significant to the development of that tradition as Frege, Moore, Russell or members of the logical empiricist school (such as Carnap and Reichenbach). The extent and significance of his influence on contemporary analytic philosophy is, however, controversial in several ways. Above all, many contemporary philosophers reject his conception of philosophy. It is interesting and valuable to study Wittgenstein for that reason: He discusses topics in contemporary philosophy from an unfamiliar and critical perspective. Philosophical Investigations ranges over topics in philosophy of language, logic, mind and even philosophy of mathematics and it connects those topics in surprising ways. The book is—by design—difficult to survey or summarize in the usual ways. I’ll discuss several strands which run through the text: Wittgenstein’s conception of philosophy, his ideas about clarification, explanation and definition and his discussions of rule following and, to the extent that time permits, “private language”.

Session C
Philos 3 - Historical Introduction to Philosophy

Instructor: Milo Crimi

Philosophy 3 is a historical introduction to Western philosophy based on classical texts dealing with such topics as rational argument, causality, mind and matter, God, the soul, evil, life and death. The course is a regular offering of UCLA’s Philosophy Department during the academic year. When offered online in summer session, the course covers the same material and applies the same standards of evaluation.

Philos 7 - Introduction to Philosophy of Mind

Instructor: Kevin Lande

I am a puzzling thing and so are you. I feel a slight tickle on my left ankle; I see the Santa Monica pier; I remember my childhood home; I think and imagine. I also weigh 165 lbs., am 5’11”, have two legs, two arms, and two kidneys. I have more than a dozen molecules and more than a dozen memories. What is this thing—”I”—that is both mental (that feels, sees, and thinks) and physical (that has a weight and height; that can walk but cannot jump to the moon)? How do my mental aspects relate to my physical ones? This course invites you to reflect on the nature of the mind and how the mind fits into nature. These questions are fundamental to our understanding of ourselves. We all carry unspoken assumptions about these matters. Those assumptions guide our science and how we think it best to treat each other. The goals of the course are: (1) To unsettle you, by shedding light on the ways in which we do not have a clear idea of what we are or how we fit into the natural world. (2) To give you a strategy for thinking through the big questions about who we are by breaking them down into sub-problems. This course is not designed as a comprehensive historical survey of philosophical views on the mind. Rather, the emphasis of the course will be on your engagement with some key questions and arguments. I will not presuppose any prior familiarity with the assigned materials or other philosophical texts.

Philos 22 - Introduction to Ethical Theory

Instructor: Michael Skiles

What is good? How should we pursue the good as individuals and communities? What should we do when the pursuit of our own good conflicts with that of others? What do we owe to others in our community who disagree about what we should do? Ethics seeks to identify and examine the principles we can use to answer these questions. This course will introduce students to major works and approaches in ethics. By expositing and evaluating the ethical theories of philosophers such as Plato, Hume, Kant, Mill, and Rawls students will also develop analytical skills and engage in the practice of philosophy.

Instructor: Eric Tracy

We humans use language to express our thoughts, conduct inquiry, and refer to things in the world. We also use language, given a social background, to communicate and coordinate, to act together, and to manipulate, deceive, and subordinate. This class will examine the nature and roles of language for human beings, focusing especially on the connections between language and thought and language and action, including linguistic manifestations of and effects on social structure. We will investigate the nature of reference and the nature of communication, as well as the relations between language and theory, meaning and intention, communication and ethics, vagueness and context, and, finally, speech and oppression, specifically examining pornography and slur terms. Throughout the course, we will attend to the implications of the theories and arguments we discuss for the possibility of communication by nonhuman animals and machines. Readings will be drawn mostly from 20th Century philosophy, including feminist philosophy, the theory of reference, and speech act theory, and will touch on issues in the philosophy of science, metaphysics, and ethics.

Philos 31 - Logic, First Course

Instructor: David Bordeaux

We encounter arguments in many contexts: a scientist may argue that a new experiment confirms a theory, a lawyer may argue that that the testimony of the witnesses establishes the defendant’s guilt, a mathematician may argue that some accepted axioms entail an unexpected theorem, or a political theorist may argue that the history of political crises shows that they are created by an unwillingness to compromise. In each case, someone reasons from some initial assumptions or previously established results to some conclusion. What makes for a good argument? It certainly helps if the initial starting points are true, but a good argument requires more than that. If I say “I’m a Dodgers fan, so they’re going to win the World Series”, I’ve made an argument, albeit not a very convincing one. My starting point, that I’m a Dodgers fan, is true, but that isn’t enough to establish my conclusion. In addition to having true starting points, we want an argument to have the right structure: the pieces of the argument need to fit together in such a way that the starting points actually support the conclusion. Logic is the study of arguments, and it aims help us analyze the structure of arguments, and see whether the pieces of an argument fit together in the right sort of way. In this class, we will begin by defining “argument” more precisely and characterizing the structural features that we might like our arguments to exhibit. We will learn how to represent sentences and arguments using a system of symbols that helps us to analyze their logical structure, and we will learn how to use various tools to critique the structure of arguments. Actual arguments are tremendously diverse, and logical systems that work very well for analyzing some kinds of arguments don’t always work well for other kinds. The tools we’ll cover in this introductory course work very well for a large and important class of arguments, and provide a foundation for studying other kinds of arguments using other systems of logic.

Philos 116 - 19th-Century Philosophy: Nietzsche

Instructor: Gavin Lawrence

This course focuses on Nietzsche–and his work The
Genealogy of Morality,
written in 1867.

This is one of Nietzsche’s most influential works.
It is challenging in many ways: in methodology; in the revisionary
account it offers of morality and the origin of moral concepts (especially of
Nietzsche’s bugbear, Christian morality); in its account of psychology; and the
possibilities of future human development.

We will examine something of the general philosophical and historical background: the influence
of Feuerbach, and more especially of Schopenhauer; of the development of German
science especially in medicine, physiology and psychology.  We will begin our study of Nietzsche himself
by analyzing two early essays, `Homer’s Contest’ and `The Greek State’.

The main focus will be the Genealogy and its
two central questions: the genealogy of morality and its key concepts, beliefs,
and institutions; and the valuation of values.  We shall also be reading parts of other works:
in particular works written in the previous year, the fifth book of the Gay
Science, and parts of Beyond Good and
Nietzsche’s style is sparkling and often posturing.  But below the surface lie serious argumentative
moves–it just takes a bit to extract them, and then to evaluate them.

Some of his
views are very off-putting, yet they are challenging and have influenced many
modern philosophers–for good or ill.
His is a distinctly modern voice, and part of the aim of the course is
to articulate clearly what his views are (no easy task!), and to separate out
what seems valuable and to critique what is objectionable.

Nietzsche is often discussed in a more continental vein. This course is cast more in the
analytic spirit.  But the contrast
between so-called continental and analytical philosophical approaches can be

Philos 129 - Philosophy of Psychology: Mental Representations in Psychology

Instructor: Andrew Jewell

The driver in front of me on Interstate 495 puts on his left-turn signal. What is he going to do? The obvious answer is that he put on his signal because he intends to merge left, and he wants the people behind him to know that. And he is going to merge left.

This example illustrates a very important feature of our understanding of the world. In the example, I use the attribution of mental states to explain and predict the behavior of the people around me. And my predictions are successful. And my explanation is (apparently) true. But what sort of thing are we ascribing to explain and predict behavior?

This course will introduce a number of fundamental topics in the philosophical study of psychology. The questions that we will ask in this course include:

1. How do our ordinary, common-sense, psychological explanations of behavior (e.g. as seen in the example that I sketched above) relate to sub-personal computational, neurological or physical explanations of behavior? Is our common-sense psychology correct? Or do we have reason to doubt it?

2. An important feature of explanation in psychology and cognitive science is the attribution of representational content to mental processes, states, and events. What is representational content and how does it figure in these explanations? Can representational content be understood in purely biological or causal terms?

3. It is necessary to hold certain psychological states (e.g. a belief that today is a lovely day) that one have certain concepts (e.g. the concept DAY). What is a concept? It seems that we learn concepts, but it has been alleged by powerful argument that our conceptual repertoire is fixed at birth. Do we have reasons to think this claim is true?

Philos 151A - History of Ethics: Selected Classics in Ancient Ethical Theories -- Plato, Aristotle

Instructor: Gavin Lawrence

work is perhaps the greatest work of ethics written, along with Plato’s Republic and Kant’s Groundwork.  Its central
question is to determine what counts as the
most successful human life
. the optimal human life under optimal
conditions.          Determining the answer to this question Aristotle takes to be
fundamental to politics (and his Politics):  for the central aim and task of political
science–and the true politician–is to organize society in such a way that the
citizens can lead the optimal human life.

final specification of this reveals his commitment to a mistaken metaphysics,
but this error does not mar the plausibility–I would say the correctness– of
his basic strategy, and the illumination of much of what he says.  Some of the topics we will be considering in
detail are:

(1) the argument of Book 1, with special attention to his
appeal to the notion of the human ergon
(work; `function’));

(2) the acquisition and definition of virtue–the “doctrine
of the mean” (Book 2);

(3) the account of the intellectual virtues, and especially
practical wisdom (Book 6);

(4) the final account of the most successful human life, and
where Aristotle goes wrong and why; and how we can emend him.  The ethical importance of the notion of free
time. (Book 10.6-8).

permitting, we may also consider his account of justice (Book 5); of weakness
of the will–akrasia (Book 7.1-10);
and of pleasure (Book 7.11-14; Book 10.1-5).

A main
theme of the course is to bring out how much Aristotle’s approach offers an
intuitive, yet radical, alternative to the main strands of modern moral
philosophy.  It is, like Kant’s, a
practical reason approach, but of a rather different kind.

Philos 155 - Medical Ethics: Ending, Creating, and Selecting for Life

Instructor: Alexander Patsaouras

Advances in biological and medical technology have increased our power to create, terminate, and alter the genetic structure of human life. These advances have put pressure on our understanding of the nature and value of human life and our responsibilities towards that value. What, if anything, gives to human life its special value? What is the proper way to orient to that value in moral decisionmaking? What limits does respect for the value of human life, both your own and that of others, place on your ability to determine the direction you want your life to take? This course will address these questions as they arise in the context of three issues in medical ethics: (i) euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, (ii) abortion, and (iii) the genetic selection of human embryos.

Philos 177A - Existentialism

Instructor: TBD

Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour. Preparation: one philosophy course. Analysis of methods, problems, and views of some of the following: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Jaspers, Sartre, Marcel, and Camus. Possible topics include metaphysical foundations, nature of mind, freedom, problem of self, other people, ethics, existential psychoanalysis. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor. P/NP or letter grading.

There are no summer courses this quarter.