- Philos 4 - Philosophical Analysis of Contemporary Moral Issues: Reparations
Instructor: Olufemi Taiwo
In this issues course we will discuss the topic of reparations, in dialogue with the specific case for trans-Atlantic slavery and the associated colonialism on the African continent. Reparations, and moral repair generally construed, are a kind of act that aims to respond to historical harms or injustices. They are a particularly interesting subject from the standpoint of ethical and political philosophy, in that they complicate, challenge, and (hopefully, ultimately) clarify central concepts in these aspects of philosophy, including responsibility, harm, restitution, and welfare. Finally, they provide the occasion for engaging productively with other relevant disciplines, notably history, social science, and even natural sciences like geology and environmental sciences.
Our aim at the level of contemporary moral issues will be to clarify for ourselves the debate around reparations for trans-Atlantic slavery. Our philosophical aim will be to clarify what political and moral relationships are at stake in issues like these, how they can be damaged and what it takes to repair them. These aims, with any luck, will support each other.
- Philos 7 - Introduction to Philosophy of Mind: What Is A Mind? And Who Has One?
Instructor: Gabriel Dupre
Humans and other animals seem to differ from all other earthly entities in one central respect: they have minds. In this course, we will investigate what this means: What exactly is it that separates the minded from the non-minded? We will look at various philosophical proposals in answer to this question. We will then turn to the question of how widespread minds are in nature. Assuming humans and some higher animals have minds, we will ask where we can draw a boundary, if at all? Do insects have minds? Bacteria? Thermometers!?
- Philos 22 - Introduction to Ethical Theory
Instructor: Jenna Donohue
Ethical theories try to answer broad moral questions, such as “What actions are required?,” “Which actions are permissible?,” “What is it to lead a good life?,” and “How must we treat other people, in a world that we share?” In this class, students will be introduced to three of the major prevailing ethical theories: (1) consequentialism, (2) deontology, and (3) contractualism. We will read arguments in favor of these theories, discuss their responses to some of these overarching moral questions, and consider the most serious objections these theories face. After considering these ethical theories, we will consider three applied ethical issues and how each theory considered might respond to the questions raised by the topic. Along the way, we will practice philosophy and work to improve philosophical skills such as asking good questions, explaining philosophical arguments, and criticizing arguments. Students will be expected to engage with these issues both by participating in lecture and section and by completing writing exercises throughout the session.
- Philos 31 - Logic, First Course - A First Course in Symbolic Logic
Instructor: Ian Boon
“What is logic? While it is surely impossible to give an answer to this question that will satisfy everyone, I think that most would agree that logic has something to do with good reasoning and argumentation. But an argument or piece of reasoning can be good in any number of different ways, some of which are more amenable to precise characterization than others. In this class, we will develop a small collection of tools for representing arguments and evaluating them with respect to one of the highest standards of quality that they can possibly meet. You will learn a new language for explicitly representing the logical structure of English sentences (Monadic First-Order Logic), and a small handful of methods for carefully reasoning with statements made in this new language.”
- Philos C119 - Topics in Modern Philosophy: Relationship of Mind and Body in Early Modern Philosophy
Instructor: Antti Hiltunen
In this course, you will learn about how Descartes and Spinoza thought about the relationship between mind and body in humans. Their approach to the mind-body problem differs from the 20th/21st century approach in which consciousness plays a major role. These Early Modern philosophers struggled with questions which arise from the observation that the mind appears to be a thing that acts in some ways independently of the body. We are going to investigate their answers to questions including: In what way does my mind have a special relationship to this particular body and not to other bodies? On which grounds do I know that my body exists? Can the mind interact with the body or not? What are human emotions and how are they dependent on the mind-body relationship? We will examine two systematic answers to these questions by Descartes and Spinoza. You will also improve your skills in interpreting difficult and interesting texts and you will learn how to work in a philosophical framework which might be very different from the one you are used to.
- Philos 129 - Philosophy of Psychology: Mind and Society
Instructor: Gabbrielle Johnson
How, if at all, do humans have objective, value-neutral access to information about the external world? Contemporary empirical work on cases of so-called cognitive penetration, stereotype threat, and implicit bias suggest that in many cases, our background beliefs about social stereotypes and prejudices might unconsciously change and shape the way we view the world around us, the beliefs we form about others, and how we navigate the social world. By reading contemporary works in philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, and computer science, students in this class will explore this topic and aim to answer questions such as: When do social biases affect our perceptions and beliefs about the world? Does it matter if we never have objective access to information about the world? How do the biases that individuals harbor relate to larger societal biases (do they contribute to institutional and structural injustices, are they the results of such injustices, or is it both)? What can we do to mitigate the effects of social biases on individuals and society?
- Philos 155A - Medical Ethics: Beginning and End of Life Issues
Instructor: Melissa Retkwa
In this course we will consider beginning and end of life issues in medical ethics. The first part of the course will provide a survey of several different ethical theories. These will then be used as frameworks for considering and debating issues related to abortion and euthanasia. In conjunction with exploring such issues we will consider the following topics: personhood and moral status, the doctrine of double effect, the difference between harming and benefiting, the badness of death, the difference between doing and allowing harm, the value of autonomy and what it demands at the end of life.
- Philos 185 - Major Philosophers of the 20th Century: Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations
Instructor: Andrew Hsu
Philosophy 185 will be about 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, thePhilosophical 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.
- Philos M187 - Philosophical Analysis of Issues in Feminist Theory: Gender and Social Justice
Instructor: Jonathan Gingerich
What is the nature of gender, and what is its relation to equality and justice? How does gender connect to sex and sexuality, to race, and to class? How do gender and sex inequality relate to colonialism and imperialism? What are the origins of gender inequality, and what would a world characterized by gender equality look like? Does gender equality have anything to tell us about our relationship to technology and the environment? We will explore these questions by reading historical and contemporary essays from philosophy and feminist theory and by reading some feminist novels and stories. By taking this class, students will learn to: carefully read and explain difficult philosophical texts; clearly articulate and defend philosophical views about sex, gender and equality, both orally and in writing; refine and defend their beliefs about what sex equality requires and how to achieve it; and take pleasure in the challenges of careful and rigorous reading and thinking.
- Philos 3 - Historical Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Andrew Lavin
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 6 - Introduction to Political Philosophy: The Ethics of Equality
Instructor: Lauren Schaeffer
This course is an introduction to contemporary debates in political philosophy. What does it mean to treat people as equals? This is a central question across a range of political theories, from classical liberalism to libertarianism, Marxism to anarchism. Each member of a political community is entitled to equal concern and respect. Our interests and lives matter, and they matter equally. What’s at stake is how to treat people as equals. Does that require equality of wealth and income? Equal control over one’s labor and property? And once we settle the question of how to treat people as equals, how may a political community go about ensuring such treatment? Is redistributive taxation permissible? Revolution? We will consider various political theories in conversation taking equality as providing a common foundational value.
By taking this class, students will learn to: carefully read and explain difficult philosophical texts; clearly articulate and defend philosophical views, both orally and in writing; refine and defend their beliefs about what equality requires in political philosophy; and take pleasure in the challenges of careful and rigorous reading and thinking.
- Philos 7 - Introduction to Philosophy of Mind
Instructor: Kim Johnston
The aim of this course is to introduce students to philosophical methodology by way of asking questions about the mind. The questions center around what the mind itself is like and how the mind can causally interact with the world.
This course will be divided into three units. In the first unit we will discuss the mind-body problem and the issue of mental causation. Is the mind part of the body? If it isn’t, how does it interact with the body? What kind of theory can make sense of the mind’s interaction with the body? In the second, we will discuss cognition and consciousness in turn, as the two central features of the human mind. We will look to the computational theory of mind and see what light it can shed on the issue of human cognition and how mental states can exist as causal entities in the world. We will also see some complications coming from consciousness and whether it is consistent with a physicalist view of the mind. The the final unit we will try to discern what role cognition and consciousness play in human perception and action, including the interesting cases of implicit bias and blind sight.
- Philos 22 - Introduction to Ethical Theory
Instructor: Vaheh Shirvanian
- Philos 31 - Logic, First Course
Instructor: Milo Crimi
This course provides a basic introduction to propositional logic and monadic predicate logic using the computer program Logic 2010. Students will symbolize English sentences into formal languages and use a natural deduction system to prove conclusions on the basis of premises. We’ll also consider how to apply these skills to both everyday and mathematical reasoning.
- Philos M102 - Aristotle
Instructor: Michael Skiles
Aristotle dominated the way Western civilizations thought about Ethics, Physics, Logic, Metaphysics, Zoology, and other disciplines for thousands of years; thus, understanding his thought is key to understanding the history of philosophy. Furthermore, many of his views continue to be held by notable philosophers and merit a careful examination. This course broadly surveys some of Aristotle’s most influential ideas in areas of ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind.
- Philos 129 - Philosophy of Psychology: How to Theorize About the Mind
Instructor: Bill Kowalsky
In this course, we will discuss some perennial philosophical and methodological questions that arise when one tries to formulate a scientific theory of the mind. We will ask: what is the relationship between scientific psychology and our pre-theoretic common-sense psychology? What is the relationship between psychology and neuroscience? In what terms might a psychological theory be couched? What must it explain? Is it possible to theorize about the mind without assuming that it comprises a set of independent mental faculties? After having discusses these broad questions in some detail, the class will vote on a topic to discuss more in-depth, from topics including: the difference between perception and thought; the relationship between empirical psychology and rationality; innateness; the unconscious; computation and representation.
- Philos 166 - Philosophy of Law
Instructor: Alexander Patsaouras
The rule of law is a fundamental advance in human history and modern societies are pervasively structured by legal systems and the laws that they promulgate. This course will try to shed light on the role that law plays in our society by focusing on fundamental questions about the nature of law. What are legal systems and what is the normative and metaphysical status of the laws that they promulgate? What is the relationship between law and morality? Are legal obligations a special kind of moral obligation or completely distinct from moral obligations? What is the meaning of statements that describe the content of the law, such as, “The law requires that contracts for the sale of land be in writing?”
- Philos 170 - Philosophy of Mind: Thoughts and Concepts
Instructor: Eric Tracy
This class will pursue the questions of what it is to think and how it is that minds represent. We will pursue these questions oriented by the divide between internalist and externalist theories of mental representation and by the task of integrating minds and representation into a scientific or naturalistic picture of the world. We will pay particular attention to answers drawing on dispositional and computational properties, on the one hand, and those drawing on normative and teleological properties, on the other. Along the way, we will consider questions like the following: Can machines think? What is the normative status of truth and correct belief? Can evolutionary biology tell us something about the nature of representation? How are neurological states related to mental states? Are psychological properties realizable by different kinds of materials? Is representation the core feature of minds, or are consciousness, function, or organization more fundamental? Readings will include classic articles from the twentieth century as well as current work in philosophy of mind.