2019 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.

Session A
Philos 6 - Introduction to Political Philosophy

Instructor: Brad McHose

Study of some classical or contemporary works in political philosophy. Questions that may be discussed include What is justice? Why obey the law? Which form of government is best? How much personal freedom should be allowed in society?


Philos 7 - Introduction to Philosophy of Mind: Selves, Ghosts & Machines

Instructor: Andrew Jewell

This course is about the relationship between human beings and the natural world. Are human beings natural? Alternatively, do we in some way stand outside the natural order? In order to answer these questions, we will consider what we are. We will discuss the following topics:

The Self: What is the nature of the self? What makes you – the individual sitting here
reading this at the beginning of the course – the same as the individual who will
receive a grade at the end of the course? Is it enough for the same body to be there?
The Mind: Descartes famously held that he just was his mind, but what is a mind? Is
it immaterial? Or is it simply a part of the natural world (e.g. a part of the brain)?
Consciousness: Does human conscious experience present a special problem for the
view that the mind is part of the natural order? What about bat consciousness?
Rationality: We can think about the world. And what we think about can lead us to
act rationally. This is an extraordinary ability that many philosophers and scientists
think can be explained in terms of computation. Is it true that we can account for this
ability in purely computational terms?
The Unconscious: It is widely thought that there are mental states and processes that
are not available to consciousness. We will consider one famous example, implicit
bias, and what it might show us about the extent of the unconscious.
Animal Cognition: Are human beings and other (perhaps “higher”) animals similar in
having beliefs, desires, and so on? Are we capable of similar sorts of cognition or do
humans have powers that are unique in the animal kingdom?


Philos 22 - Introduction to Ethical Theory

Instructor: Andrew Flynn

This course will introduce you to major ethical theories by considering the question: “Why be moral?” We’ll read very influential works by three philosophers who continue to influence how we think about morality: Aristotle, Kant, and Mill. We’ll try to understand how these thinkers answer that question in different ways. Then, we’ll consider some skeptical alternatives.


Philos 31 - Logic, First Course

Instructor:  Bill Kowalsky

In this course, we will learn a new language: symbolic logic. Using this formal language, we will study some forms of logically valid inference: inferences in which conclusions follow from premises by logic alone. We will develop ways to formally prove that a conclusion follows logically from premises. Additionally, the symbolic language we develop in 31 is adequate to capture a substantial part of English, and we will practice translating English sentences into our symbolic language. Thus, this class also aims to provide skills for analyzing claims and arguments in everyday life. This course will also provide important background skills for any field that relies on exact reasoning or abstract argumentation. Our course will cover sentential logic and monadic predicate logic.


Philos C119 - Topics in History of Philosophy: The World Soul

Instructor: Zachary Biondi

Does the world as a whole have a mental component? Is the universe alive? Can we find some form of consciousness in the cosmos itself? The idea of the “world soul” might initially strike us as ridiculous, but for many thinkers at many times, it communicates something deep and insightful about the experience of oneself and of nature. This course will be an exploration of the idea. What does the world soul have to teach us?


Philos 129 - Philosophy of Psychology

Instructor: Gabriel Dupre

Psychology is the systematic study of thought and intelligent behavior. In this course, we will look at some of the conceptual foundations underpinning such a discipline. One central difficulty in studying the mind is that two conceptual frameworks seem applicable, and it is unclear how, and whether, these should be integrated. On the one hand, minded creatures are assumed to be parts of the natural world, and as such their behavior should be governed by natural laws. On the other, minded behavior appears to be rational, i.e. predictably responsive to the beliefs and desires of the creature whose behavior it is. This latter way of viewing minded behavior seems to be normative: creatures are not merely buffeted around by physical forces, but behave in ways appropriate to the situation. Contemporary psychology has not shown that one or the other of these conceptual schemes is the correct one. Instead, both seem appropriate, and the tension between them is downplayed. We will look at various debates about the nature of the mind, as discussed in the psychological literature, with an eye to understanding these two perspectives.


Philos 166 - Philosophy of Law

Instructor: Alexander Patsaouras

The rule of law is a fundamental advance in human history.  Modern societies are pervasively structured by legal systems and the laws that their political institutions enact.  This course will shed light on the role that law plays in our society by focusing on fundamental questions about the nature of law.  What is a legal system?  Is a legal system a system of rules?  If so, what kinds of rules?  What is the relationship between law and morality?  Are legal obligations a special kind of moral obligation?  If not, what kinds of reason for action do legal systems generate?  How do the answers to these questions determine how judges should interpret legislation?  Should judges interpret legislation in the same manner as a person interprets ordinary conversation?


Philos M187 - Topics in Feminist Philosophy: Metaphysics and Epistemology

Instructor: Sarah Beach

This course examines gender and oppression, with a focus on metaphysics and epistemology. We will explore the following topics: the concept of ‘woman’, internalized oppression, structural oppression, feminist epistemology, epistemic injustice, intersectional feminism, transnational feminisms, and transfeminism.


Session C
Philos 3 - Historical Introduction to Philosophy (Online)

Instructor: Melissa Retkwa

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: Luca Struble

Study of some classical or contemporary works in political philosophy. Questions that may be discussed include What is justice? Why obey the law? Which form of government is best? How much personal freedom should be allowed in society?


Philos M24 - Language and Identity

Instructor: Christian de Leon

How do we use language to project our own identity? How do we use it to perceive or shape the identity of others? The question of how language interacts with our identification in various gender, racial, and sexually-oriented groups in society is broad, fascinating, and difficult. This course offers an introduction to the investigation of that question using the resources of contemporary philosophy and linguistics.

The course will be broken into two units, one for each half. In the first, we will discuss an approach grounded in Pragmatics and Speech Act Theory. The study of pragmatics aims to understand the non-literal aspects of linguistic communication. We regularly (intentionally and unintentionally) communicate more than what our words literally mean. How is it that non-literal communication is used to signal our and others’ places in society? We will investigate how complex communication impacts our social lives. Speech act theory aims to understand the sense in which we use language not just to communicate, but to do things, to act. We will discuss the different kinds of action that can be taken using language, with particular focus on the systemic suppression of minority groups. To what extent is acting with our words the result and/or cause of various hierarchical relationships?

The second unit will move us to consider other properties of language that impact our identities. We will discuss some of the different linguistic practices and strategies used across social groups. On what basis do we (or should we) engage in a given practice? To what extent do the features of a language impact our attitudes toward its speakers? Of particular interest will be the question of how an individual expresses their identity linguistically.


Philos 31 - Logic, First Course

Instructor: Luca Struble

We will study formal, or symbolic, logic, concentrating on the use of a symbolic language and the development of a formal system of derivation. No prior knowledge of philosophy or mathematics is required. The parts of logic we will study are Sentential Logic and Monadic Quantification Theory.


Philos C119 - Topics in History of Philosophy: Relationship of the Mind and Body in Early Modern Philosophy

Instructor: Antti Sakari Hiltunen

In this course, you will learn how Descartes and Spinoza thought about the mind-body relationship. Their approach to the mind–body problem is fascinatingly different from the 20th / 21st century discussion which has focused largely on the problem of qualitative consciousness. In contrast, Descartes and Spinoza struggled with the question of what it is for the mind and body act together. It seems that my body is capable of acting independently of my mind, but also that my mind’s life must be somehow specially related to my body. We are going to investigate their answers to questions including: Is my mind distinct from my body? What it is for my mind to be united to this body and not to other bodies? Can the mind interact with the body? How do emotions and feelings depend on the mind-body relationship? How does mental agency and selfcontrol involve having a body? We will examine two systematic answers to these questions by Descartes and Spinoza. You will improve your skills in interpreting difficult and interesting texts. Finally, you will learn how to work in a philosophical framework which might be very different from the one you are used to.


Philos 166 - Philosophy of Law: Negligence Law & Accidents

Instructor: Jordan Wallace-Wolf

This course will survey the American law of negligence in an effort to determine its justification. Roughly, speaking, the law of negligence is a system of doctrines and case law that is designed to ensure that persons conduct their various activities with the right kind of concern for the interests of others. The investigation into its justification will take us into a variety of theories, including economic theories, theories about restorative justice, and others. As the course progresses, we will be continually refining our idea of what, if anything, morality requires with regard to harmonizing the pursuit of our own goals with the potential for our activities to cause setbacks to others. Put more succinctly: persons have important interests in taking part in various activities, but these activities may get in the way of others if not carried out properly, or, with “due care.” Ultimately, this course will try to develop the an argument that negligence is a moral wrong and that negligence law is aimed at addressing this wrong. To do this, we have to expand our understanding of what a wrong is and also modify our understanding of how law addresses moral wrongs.

An important point of emphasis is that this not a course in law. Negligence is complicated and the legal terrain is vast and tangled. We are going to be looking just at some very basic parts of it in order to raise some philosophical questions about how just/fair this system of law is. In other words, we are not going to be learning the law to become lawyers or understand court documents. Instead, we are going to be learning the law just enough to think about whether it is justified, fair, or worth having. We will be thinking as informed citizens rather than legal experts.


Philos 177A - Existentialism

Instructor: John Kardosh

This course is a thematic and historical introduction to existentialism. “Existentialism” is a term often used to describe a diverse philosophical and literary movement that flourished through mid-twentieth century Europe. Most of the figures we’ll be studying in this course either preceded this movement, e.g., Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, or did not consider themselves a part of it, e.g., Heidegger. They are, nevertheless, often grouped under this label because much of their work concerns a set of related themes, such as nothingness, death, freedom, individuality, and authenticity/inauthenticity. While we will touch on each of these themes throughout the course, as well as various others, it is the last on the list, authenticity, that we will use to focus our inquiry. Our main question will be ‘how does one live authentically/inauthentically?’

We will start by examining the conflict between the individual and the public and the challenge to ‘universal morality’ in Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. We will then turn out attention to Division I of Heidegger’s Being and Time. By unpacking the structure of what Heidegger calls “care,” we will gain insight into how he conceives the distinction between the authentic and inauthentic self. Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir’s discussion of “bad faith” offers the most direct answer to our main question, and for this reason they present a natural stopping point for our inquiry.


Philos 183 - Theory of Knowledge: Truth

Instructor: Paul Tulipana

This course examines a number of doctrines and debates concerning the nature and value of truth—doctrines and debates that exist at the intersection of ethics, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of language. What’s valuable, in private life and in public, about true beliefs? What’s bad about false ones? We will also consider questions about the nature and value of certain virtues related to truth and truth-telling—accuracy, sincerity, authenticity, and candor