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Spring 2024 Graduate Course Descriptions

Listed below are the Philosophy courses being offered at Purdue University in Spring 2024. The courses are listed by their five-digit course number and course title, followed by a brief description. The tables below each description also include information on the course type (e.g., lectures = ‘LEC’), the enrolment limit of the course, the day(s)/time of the course or each section of it, the classroom in which the course will be taught, and the instructor(s) for the course. Courses that include a recitation section are marked in the tables below as type ‘LEC/REC.’ Details of the recitation sections are not listed. The type ‘DIST’ indicates a fully asynchronous, online course. ‘Grad’ indicates that a graduate student will be the instructor of record. PHIL courses that are cross-listed with other courses are marked as such (e.g., ‘c/l DEPT 10000’).

Have questions about philosophy graduate courses? You can contact our Grad Coordinator, Vickie Sanders, via email at sanders@purdue.edu, or by phone at 765-494-4275.

500 LEVEL COURSES

50500 Islamic and Jewish Philosophy and the Classical Tradition (and Its Critique by Spinoza)

Often medieval philosophy is presented in its Christian guise alone, giving the impression that the medieval philosophical tradition, influenced by the great thinkers of Greek antiquity, is exclusively a Latin tradition, with no substantive contribution by those who wrote in Arabic and Hebrew.  We shall revise this view.

After a few weeks reading and discussing Plato’s Republic, a key foundational text for thinkers working in Arabic-speaking lands, our focus will turn to a select group of philosophers who lived between the 10th-12th centuries, a roughly three hundred-year period that is a high point in medieval Islamic and Jewish philosophy—a time before Greek philosophy was rediscovered in Christian Europe.  Philosophers to be studied in some detail are Farabi, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and Maimonides, and in addressing topics in the philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, cosmology, philosophical psychology, and especially in philosophy of law, ethics, and political philosophy, we will see how these philosophers adapted Greek philosophical insights for their own specific purposes.  

This Greek-inspired religio-philosophical tradition came to a screeching halt with Spinoza, who published (anonymously) in 1670 the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (TTP), a work variously described upon its appearance in print as “harmful and vile,” “most pernicious,”  “subversive,” “blasphemous,” “diabolical,” “full of abominations,” and “godless.”  It’s not difficult to see why, but we shall read the TTP, not just as a ground-breaking, founding document in modern (secular) political thought and biblical criticism, but also as a work engaged, and in debate with the philosophical monotheisms of the medieval past.  The Janus-faced nature of the TTP thus provides a fitting end to the philosophical tradition that commenced with Plato and the Greeks, and in so concluding we will nuance our understanding of the beginnings of modern philosophy. 

Course

Type

Enrolment

Time

Bldg/Rm

Instructor

PHIL 50500

LEC

10

W 2:30-5:20pm

BRNG 7119

FRANK

 

53500 The Maps by Which We Steer: The Philosophy and Science of Belief

Philosopher Frank Ramsey once described beliefs as the “map by which we steer.” Intuitively, beliefs—that Paris is the capital of France, that 5+7 = 12, that theft is wrong, that Bach’s fugues are lovely—are psychological states that aim to depict the world accurately, so that the believer might move through it smoothly. When they succeed in accurately depicting their subject matter, beliefs can be evaluated as true (otherwise they are false). When a believer is confronted with new evidence, their beliefs can be updated rationally (or irrationally). When paired with other mental states like desires, beliefs can lead to action that is reasonable (or unreasonable). When made public, beliefs interact with reputations, signaling important information about the believer’s social identity and their commitment to a group and its values.

Despite their centrality to so much human activity, the fundamental nature of these mental states remains hotly contested in philosophy and cognitive science. In this class we will explore a range of approaches to belief, with an eye towards clarifying the many different roles they appear to play in our cognitive and social lives. In so doing we will consider perspectives from researchers working on the foundations of cognitive science, social epistemology, the psychology of religion, polarization, and more.

Course

Type

Enrolment

Time

Bldg/Rm

Instructor

PHIL 53500

LEC

24

TR 12:00-1:15pm

BRNG 1248

KELLY/WESTRA

 

55300 Mathematical Logic

An introduction to metatheoretic studies of formal axiomatic systems. Basic set theory is de-veloped for use as a tool in studying the propositional calculus. Further topics may includemany-valued logics and basic (metatheory for) modal or predicate logic.

Course

Type

Enrolment

Time

Bldg/Rm

Instructor

PHIL 55300

LEC

10

M 2:30-5:20pm

see note below

TULODZIECKI

 

58000 Philosophy of Space from Aquinas to Einstein

A systematic introduction to theories of space developed before and after the appearance of Isaac Newton’s famous Principia (1673). The first half of the course will examine in some detail the broadly Aristotelian theory of space developed by Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), which attempts to explain bodily motion in the absence of any absolute space. The second half of the course will explore Newton's theories of absolute space and motion, and will conclude with an examination of Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity.

Course

Type

Enrolment

Time

Bldg/Rm

Instructor

PHIL 58000

LEC

10

T 1:30-4:20pm

BRNG 7119

BROWER/RAMIREZ

 

 

600 LEVEL COURSES

68000 Dissertation Workshop

Each week we will read parts of students’ dissertations and provide constructive criticism. The goals are for students to gain feedback on their dissertations and practice commenting constructively on others’ work, while also imposing some external pressure to keep the writing process moving forward. 

Course

Type

Enrolment

Time

Bldg/Rm

Instructor

PHIL 68000

LEC

10

W 11:30am-2:20pm

BRNG 7119

MARIÑA

 

68400 Identity, Personal Identity, and Metempsychosis

The class will be tied together by Locke’s account of personal identity, with discussions of the various figures in the background of that discussion and people who criticize that treatment. These supplementary figures will include Hobbes, Francis Mercury van Helmont, Damaris Masham, Sophie of Hanover, Descartes, Leibniz, and Reid. The goal will be to get clear on identity over time, personal identity, the nature of mind, and the nature of composition. We’ll also ask whether everyone is going to heaven. Two papers, a class presentation, and an analytical bibliography will be assigned.

Course

Type

Enrolment

Time

Bldg/Rm

Instructor

PHIL 68400

LEC

12

R 1:30-4:20pm

BRNG 1206

JACOVIDES

 

 

 

Want to know what else we offer? Check out the Master Course List