2022 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: June 21 – July 29
Philos 6 - Introduction to Political Philosophy

Instructor: Ekin Zeytinoglu

Course Description:

We will focus on the question of what constitutes a just political society. In the first half of the course, we will study three central theories of justice: utilitarianism, liberalism, and libertarianism. With the basics of these theories in mind, in the second half of the course we will turn our attention to the subjects of homelessness, oppression, responsibility for justice, and reparations. We will ask: (a) to what extent the theories we started with can help us understand the nature of these issues and (b) to what extent these issues show the limitations of the theories.

Syllabus: Phil 6

Philos 7 - Introduction to Philosophy of Mind


Instructor: Sevcan Gugumcu

Course Description:

In this course, we’ll be looking at ancient and contemporary philosophical ideas on the nature of mind. The central themes of this course are consciousness and perception. Some questions we’ll address include (but not limited to): What is a mind?; What are mental properties?; How do minds have the content they have?; What is the relationship between the mind and the external world?; What is the nature of perceptual experience?; Is direct perception of the external world ever possible? In this course, you will discover various different answers to these questions as well as many others.

Syllabus: Philos 7

Philos 31 - Logic, First Course


Instructor: Christian De Leon

Course Description: The study of logic is the study of systems of reasoning and argumentation. There are basic patterns of infer- ence that we are justified in regularly using and that lend themselves to precise formal characterization. This course is an introduction to a formal language, Monadic First-Order Logic, designed to cleanly characterize those inference patterns. Learning this language will primarily involve learning two skills: (i) translation between sentences of English and formulas of the logical language, and (ii) proving the validity of logical arguments using a system of natural deduction—the Kalish & Montague system.

Syllabus:Philos 31

Philos C119 - Topics in History of Philosophy: Aristotle and Kant on Friendship


Instructor: Melissa Retkwa

Course Description:

The focus of this course will be the discussions of friendship in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals. Friendship is a familiar phenomenon. Nonetheless, parts of Aristotle and Kant’s discussions of it are notoriously difficult to interpret. In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle says that a friend is another self. We will try to understand this idea. And we will consider the role the idea plays in his Book IX chapter 9 explanation of why a virtuous person needs friends. In his Metaphysics of Morals, Kant describes a kind of relationship that he calls ‘moral friendship’. This is supposed to be a relationship in which participants are able to freely share with each other a wide range of feelings and judgments, including ones about “associates, government, religion” that it might be dangerous to share with a wider or unfamiliar audience. Kant may think that it is very important for people to have the opportunity to participate in moral friendships. We will consider reasons for thinking this.

Syllabus: https://bruinlearn.ucla.edu/courses/134877/assignments/syllabus

Philos 129 - Philosophy of Psychology

Instructor: Catherine Hochman

Course Description:

“We will investigate mental representations. Mental representations are used by the mind to carry information about the world. When I visually perceive my coffee cup on the table in front of me, for example, I form a representation of this state of the world. Mental representations are little bits of information in the mind. So far, so good.

But, complexities quickly arise. We will tackle three areas of complexity. First, we will ask how mental representations are distinguished from other mental phenomenon, such as consciousness and sensation. Second, we will investigate different mental representational systems. We will focus on representations that are used in thought, perception, and navigation and ask what characterizes these forms of representation. Lastly, we will study how the systems that produce these different mental representations relate to each other. Are these systems isolated from one another? Or do they influence each other, and if so, how?”

Syllabus: Philos 129

Philos 152A - Topics in Moral Philosophy: Friendship

Instructor: Andrew Flynn

Course Description:

Friendship is an important part of our lives, worthy of reflection and analysis. This course will cover some important historical and contemporary works of moral philosophy centered on friendship. Throughout, we will focus on two main questions, which have been and continue to be disputed. First, what is good about friendship? Although it is widely agreed that friendship is a good thing, there is much disagreement about why it is good, and we will spend time considering different proposals. Second, what relationship does friendship have to morality? On the one hand, we give our friends special treatment, and consequently some philosophers have thought that friendship is at best non-moral and at worst opposed to morality. On the other hand, friendship presents a model of admirable concern for the other, and consequently other philosophers have viewed it as essentially moral. Written work will consist of two homeworks and a short paper.

Syllabus: https://bruinlearn.ucla.edu/courses/134881/assignments/syllabus

Philos M187 - Topics in Feminist Philosophy: Metaphysics and Epistemology: Knowledge and Mutual Understanding in an Unjust World

Instructor: Jae Choe

Course Description:

This course will examine contemporary issues in feminist philosophy. We will consider a range of narrow questions and, in doing so, set the table for a parallel discussion of broader issues surrounding social identity ethics.

Narrow: How have traditional binary conceptions of gender produced oppressive and exclusionary social conditions for some persons? What do we make of the intersection of gender, race, and class? How is it that negative identity prejudices can undermine one’s capacity as a knower? How might one’s sense of self be harmed when a significant aspect of one’s identity is used against her?

Broad: How do identity-based experiences affect our ways of being in the world (e.g., our actions, interactions, what we claim to know)? How might we bridge differences of social identity and identity-based experiences? Given the complexities of intersectionality, on what grounds can outsiders to some identity relate to insiders’ experiences and support their good?

To examine these issues, we’ll cover texts from the traditional western canon, contemporary feminist and intersectional philosophy, social epistemology, and sociology. Each reading will contribute towards illuminating the complexities of gender-based harm and, hopefully, reveal some possibilities for being good to one another with respect to social identity in a contemporary society.

Syllabus: Philos M187

Session C: August 1 – September 9
Philos 3 - Historical Introduction to Philosophy (Online)

Instructor: Piera Maurizio

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 the existence of God? Can we know anything? And we will see some of what has been done to answer such questions.

The lectures for this course have been recorded by Professor Brian Copenhaver and will be available on the course website. You will need to follow the lecture and reading schedule outlined in the class syllabus.

Syllabus: Phil 3

Philos 7 - Introduction to Philosophy of Mind

Instructor: Tristen Cardwell

Course Description:

If we can understand the nature of the mind, then we’ll have gone a long way in understanding the kind of existence we lead. This course is an introduction to just that endeavor. The questions are many: What does it take for something to count as a mind? How do we tell apart things that have minds from ones that don’t? Do minds fit into the physical world, or are they separate from it? What makes your mind belong to you and my mind belong to me? Does the nature of our minds bear on the question of whether we have free will? There are no easy answers. Instead, we will find our footing by appreciating various philosophical positions it is possible to hold with respect to these sorts of questions. By the end of the course, you will come away with an understanding of how some of these positions relate to one another and develop your own appreciation for their respective virtues and challenges.

Syllabus: Phil 7

Philos 22 - Introduction to Ethical Theory


Instructor: Kyle Scott

Course Description:

While stopping just short of the broadest philosophical question, “What is the meaning of  life?”, some ethical theories start with a question almost as large: “What is the best way to live?” Others ask, more narrowly, “How must we treat other people, in the world that we share?” Still others examine the nature of moral requirement: when we say that doing or failing to do something would be immoral, or that something is morally required, what exactly are we saying? What is morality, such that we should care about it?  We will use the resources garnered from our study of the history of ethics to investigate a range of moral questions that arise in contemporary society and contemporary ethical theory, reading work by Aristotle, Mill, Kant, Lorde, Beauvoir, Marx, Fanon among others. As we address all the above questions, we will search for the best answers to them, but we will also think about whether these are sensible questions at all, and we will consider how we might become more comfortable with the possibility that some or all these questions do not have any definitive answers. 

Syllabus: Phil 22

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


Instructor: John Kardosh

Course Description:

Philosophers and logicians have often maintained that there is a close connection between logic and human reasoning. Some have maintained that reasoning is constrained in some way by the laws of logic, while others have maintained only that training in logic can improve reasoning. Even the latter view has been challenged, however. René Descartes argued that training in logic could actually blunt our ability to reason. And more recently the perceived connection between logic and reasoning has been challenged by work in empirical psychology. In this course, we will investigate what, if any, connection there is between logic and reasoning. We will first approach this question from a historical perspective by focusing on the development of logic and theories of reasoning in the medieval and early modern periods. In the last part of the course, we will look at some contemporary research in psychology that purports to shed light on our topic. (Please note: this course assumes no prior background in formal logic.)

Syllabus: Philos C119

Philos 155A - Medical Ethics

Instructor: David Pederson

Course Description:

This course is an intensive introduction to some key ideas and arguments in medical ethics, organized into three parts. In Part 1 (Weeks 1-2), after a brief overview of ethics in general and medical ethics in particular, we will examine end-of-life issues, focusing on euthanasia and the disvalue of death.  Part 2 of the course (Weeks 3-4) will concentrate on two beginning-of-life issues: abortion and pre-natal selection/enhancement.  Finally, in Part 3 (Weeks 5-6), we will consider some broader social, political, and economic questions related to medical ethics: patient autonomy, exploitation, scarce resource distribution, and healthcare as a right.

Syllabus: Phil 155A

Philos 177A - Existentialism: Authenticity and Inauthenticity

Instructor: Vaheh Shirvanian

Course Description:

This course will serve as an introduction to the existentialist philosophical tradition by way of exploring the themes of authenticity and inauthenticity. We will investigate these notions as they figure in the works of the existentialist thinkers Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir but also in the works of thinkers who influenced the existentialist tradition, namely Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, and especially Martin Heidegger. In laying the groundwork for this investigation of inauthenticity/inauthenticity, we will also explore such notions as the they/herd, anxiety, and resoluteness. Our guiding questions will be “What is authenticity? And is it something we should aspire to?”

Syllabus: https://bruinlearn.ucla.edu/courses/134883/assignments/syllabus

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

Instructor: John Kardosh

Program Dates: July 11 – July 22, 2022

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://summer.ucla.edu/program/critical-thinking-summer-institute/