2021 Summer Courses in Philosophy


Enrollment is open for UCLA summer courses. Current UCLA Students can enroll at MyUCLA. Visiting students can register at summer.ucla.edu.

*Both Summer Session A and Session C courses will be taught remotely*


Session A: June 21 – July 30
Philos 6 - Introduction to Political Philosophy

Instructor: Daniel Ranweiler

Course Description:

This course is a general introduction to the subject of political philosophy. There are many ways of interpreting the content and scope of this subject, but in this course we will construe it very broadly as the study of the human being in relation to its fellow citizens. In this way our topic includes the grounds of state authority, the nature of justice, and the limits of both. We will read a wide selection of authors, including many classics in the canon of the Western philosophical tradition, but also more recent scholars, at least some of whom have called the legitimacy of this tradition into question.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103500

Philos 7 - Introduction to Philosophy of Mind

Instructor: Megan Robb

Course Description: TBA

Syllabus: TBA

Philos 31 - Logic, First Course

Instructor:  Ian Boon

Course Description:

Broadly speaking, logic is the study of 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 symbolic language for explicitly representing the logical structure of English sentences, and a handful of methods for carefully reasoning with and evaluating statements made in this new language.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103504

Philos C119 - Topics in History of Philosophy: Pleasure in Aristotle's Ethics

Instructor: Vaheh Shirvanian

Course Description:

The course aims to investigate the phenomenon of pleasure as understood by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics. We, among other things, will seek to resolve a tension between two definitions of pleasure provided by Aristotle, to introduce a thesis about the metaphysics of pleasure to which Aristotle subscribes, and to aim to solve various puzzles that arise in the course of applying Aristotle’s account of pleasure to particular kinds of pleasure.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103505

Philos 129 - Philosophy of Psychology

Instructor: Jacob Reid

Course Description:

In this course, students will be introduced to major philosophical issues in the Philosophy of Psychology. The mind has been largely conceived of as a representational organ since ancient times. Like the heart functions to pump blood, the mind functions to represent. The first half of this course will survey accounts of what makes a state representational and when the attribution of such states is apt. The second half of this course will examine the notion of cognition. We will survey accounts concerning the essential characteristics of cognition. Throughout the course we will explore how these accounts effect where we locate mind in nature. We will also reflect on how these accounts square with scientific practice and findings.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103508

Philos 166 - Philosophy of Law

Instructor: Amber Kavka-Warren

Course Description:

This course surveys several issues in philosophy of law that bear on the question of the relationship between law and morality. We’ll begin by asking some general questions: Do clearly immoral laws still count as laws? Does morality fill in some of the content of the law? We will then turn to the issue of equality under the law, looking at the particular example of U.S. Constitutional Law related to racial and gender-based inequality. The course presupposes that you have taken at least one prior course in philosophy.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?action=view&id=103510

Philos M187 - Topics in Feminist Philosophy: Feminist Thought and Epistemic Values

Instructor: Kim Johnston

Course Description:

This course aims to examine how epistemic values like justification, responsiveness to evidence, and correct reasoning interact with and are informed by feminist theory.  The first third of the course will be spent introducing students to feminist thought.  In this unit we will discuss metaphysics of gender and feminist solidarity. The rest of the course will be dedicated to questions raised by feminist thought that are relevant for an understanding of epistemic values. These include:  Do marginalized people have an epistemic advantage? In what way can marginalized people be harmed by the epistemic practices of others? What sorts of epistemic practices should feminists adopt? How should a feminist approach scientific thought?

I will be assuming that everyone has taken a philosophy or a gender studies course before and so has some familiarity with subject matter of the course. If you haven’t, you could likely still succeed in the course, but it is probably a good idea for you to check in with me.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103512

Session C: August 2 – September 10
Philos 3 - Historical Introduction to Philosophy (Online)

Instructor: Melissa Retkwa

Course Description:

This course will provide a historical introduction to Western philosophy. We will read classical texts that deal with topics such as the soul, life and death, God, evil, mind and matter, knowledge. We will think about questions like: Is the soul immortal? Can we prove God exists? And we will see some of what has been done to answer such questions.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103499

Philos 7 - Introduction to Philosophy of Mind

Instructor: Esther Nikbin

Course Description:

One branch of philosophy of mind is concerned with the phenomenon of consciousness: what explains our subjective experience of the world? How can we communicate about these experiences, if they’re subjective? Why do we have them at all? But technological advancements over the past century have brought urgency to these questions. Our brains are becoming targets for modification, and we’re taking rapid steps toward constructing things that, from the outside, seem like they have minds of their own. In this class we’ll discuss the intersection between the former theoretical accounts of consciousness and the latter practical problems we’ll collectively need to face if we’re to keep up with the inexorable march of technology.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103502

Philos 22 - Introduction to Ethical Theory

Instructor: Piera Maurizio

Course Description:

In this class, we will address some fundamental questions about morality (e.g. What makes an action morally right or wrong? Why should we care about morality?). We will study different kinds of answers that have been given to these questions by looking at three influential moral theories in the history of philosophy (utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics), and examine how those theories influence discussion of contemporary moral issues (in particular, how we should treat non-human animals).

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103503

Philos C119 - Topics in History of Philosophy: History of Logic and Reasoning

Instructor: John Kardosh

Course Description:

There is a lively debate among philosophers and psychologists regarding the connection between logic and reasoning. Since antiquity, many philosophers have assumed, largely without question, that training in logic improves reasoning. This assumption was challenged in the 17th century, however, most notably by René Descartes. More recently it has been challenged by research in empirical psychology. In this course, we will examine what, if any, connection there is between logic and reasoning. We will start by tracing the development of logic from antiquity to the late medieval period. We will then turn to Descartes’ critique of logic. Lastly, we will examine some of the central articles in the contemporary debate over the utility of logic. Note: this course assumes no prior background in formal logic.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103506

Philos C127A - Philosophy of Language

Instructor: Torsten Odland

Course Description:

This course is an accelerated survey of some of the foundational questions in philosophy of language, particularly questions having to do with linguistic meaning. The course is divided into four units. We begin with metaphysical questions about meaning: what are meanings? in virtue of what does an object count as meaningful? Then we turn to the metaphysics of languages: what sort of things count as instances of linguistic expressions, and why? Then we will consider some of the most influential proposals in linguistics and philosophy regarding how we might construct a scientific theory of meaning for some natural language, like English or Chinese. We will end by discussing a debate about the meaning of a specific natural language construction: definite descriptions.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103507

Philos 155A - Medical Ethics: Disability and Medicine

Instructor: Ally Peabody

Course Description:

In this course, students will be introduced to some of the major philosophical issues associated with medical ethics. In order to orient ourselves, we will begin with an overview of the three major ethical theories considered in Anglo-American philosophy: consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. The remainder of the course will be spent considering particular case studies relevant in medical ethics debates today: triage care during the COVID-19 pandemic, disability rights, pre-natal selection, physician assisted suicide, and informed consent in medical contexts. A guiding theme throughout will be the challenge posed by disability to medical ethics. We will look at a combination of philosophical texts, contemporary news articles, and bioethics pieces. We will consider the stance of major ethical theories on our topics and investigate compelling objections and arguments.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103509

Philos 177A - Existentialism

Instructor: Tim Buchanan

Course Description:

This course traces one thread of existentialist philosophy in reverse order from Sartre and Beauvoir to Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. Our central concern will be with these authors’ conceptions of the human individual: the metaphysics and ethics of being a person in a world of things. Incidentally, we will ask what makes a philosopher an existentialist, and to what extent the label is a useful one.

Syllabus: https://ccle.ucla.edu/local/ucla_syllabus/index.php?id=103511

Critical Thinking Summer Institute **Open to High School Students Only**

Instructor: Bill Kowalsky & John Kardosh

Program Dates: July 6 – July 23, 2021

Course Description:

The Critical Thinking Summer Institute will introduce both the theory and practice of critical thinking to motivated high school students. In addition to earning credit in Phil 9 (Principles of Critical Reasoning), enrolled students will participate in a workshop on media literacy and attend guest lectures by faculty from UCLA and the University of Queensland.

More information here: https://www.summer.ucla.edu/Institutes/CriticalReasoning