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Fall 2024 Course Listing


Prof. McCready-Flora – ICM5H          

Monday & Wednesday 9:00-9:50+ disc sec                         Minor 125           

This course introduces students to Philosophy via one of its crown jewels (Plato’s Republic), which sets out and discusses enduring philosophical issues with wondrous finesse and compelling strangeness. Supplementary readings complement and contest Plato, teaching students the rudiments of a new field through a series of highly rewarding intellectual encounters.

We will consider, in part: the nature and value of justice and other virtues; propaganda and the ethics of its use; the nature of mind; the good life; the good society; goodness itself; what exists and how we know; the social preconditions of science and art; the place of emotion in human life; the ethics of censorship; death and the afterlife; democracy and other social orders; and philosophical tools such as counterexamples, thought experiments, deduction, analogy and narrative.

Provided you give it your all, this course prepares you to: discern the form and structure of arguments, weigh evidence for and again a claim and apply generous but exacting scrutiny to your own and others’ reasoning; hold lively, productive conversations on matters of intellectual import; acquire and sharpen the fine art of argumentative prose; and (last but not least) continue your philosophical education as a Major or Minor in UVA’s world-class Corcoran Department of Philosophy.



Prof. Boone –                                     

Tuesday & Thursday 9:30-10:45                                            Minor 125     

A philosophy course with a practical aim: to develop the student's ability to recognize and evaluate arguments. The course will not cover symbolic logic in any detail (for this take PHIL 2420), but will concentrate on actual arguments given in ordinary language. Some time will be spent studying those fallacies, or errors in reasoning, which occur most frequently in discussion and argument. The goal of this course is to give the student a working knowledge of logic which has an application to daily life.



Prof. Langsam – HLL6Y                   

Tuesday & Thursday 3:30-4:20+disc sec                              Wilson 301

This course is concerned with the question of whether there are characteristics that all human beings have in common other than obvious biological similarities. In particular, we shall address issues such as the following: 1) is rationality a part of human nature, and, if so, what is the nature of human rationality, and how does the rational part of human beings relate to their other characteristics? 2) what is the relation of human nature to morality: is it in the nature of human beings to act morally and/or to recognize moral obligations, or, on the contrary, are moral requirements in some sense contrary to our nature? 3) are human beings social animals: is it natural for human beings to live with others in societies and be governed by political institutions, or are such living arrangements contrary to our nature? Readings will include contemporary and historical writers.



Prof. Stangl – RLS5EF                      

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-2:50+ disc sec                          Warner 209

This course is an exploration, from the point of view of philosophical theory, of a number of ethical problems at the beginning and end of life. Questions to be addressed will include: What is the significance of death and the value of life? Under what conditions, if any, are abortion and euthanasia morally permissible? At what point ought we to discontinue medical treatment of the terminally ill, and who should be empowered to make this decision? Are we under any moral obligation to prevent the death of those threatened by hunger and easily treatable disease?


PHIL 2060 PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS IN LAW [3]                                                                     

Prof. Adams – NA9FW         

Monday & Wednesday 8:00-8:50+ disc sec                                       Minor 125

Do we have a duty to obey the law? The law thinks so, and breaking the law is often severely punished. But as citizens we often also think law is bad, mistaken, unjust, and that we should disobey the law or even overthrow the government. More specific questions also arise when we accept the rule of law. What sorts of actions should be criminalized and what sorts of punishments are justified? Why do our mental states matter to the law? What is an attempt, and how can we regulate failures? What processes should we use when making legal judgments? What is the relation between law and morality? Law and politics? In this course, we will look at these and similar philosophical problems for life under law.



This course satisfies History area requirements.

Prof. Secada – JES2F                        

Monday & Wednesday 11:00-11:50+ disc sec                       Monroe 130     

This course is an introduction to the history of philosophy from its beginnings in the Greek colonies of Asia Minor to the Renaissance and the end of the Middle Ages. The lectures do not aim to offer a comprehensive summary; you will find that in any of several histories of philosophy, one of which is required reading for the course. In the lectures we will instead discuss a few selected major philosophers and we will concentrate on some of their doctrines and arguments. We will, however, look at cultural developments which took place during this period and we will study philosophical works in their more general social and historical setting. The course seeks to provide historical as much as philosophical knowledge and understanding. Requirements include several short quizzes and a term paper. 



This course satisfies Logic area requirements.

Prof. Cameron – RPC4D                   

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-9:15                                              Wilson 301

A basic introduction to the concepts and techniques of modern formal logic. The aim of this course is to give the student a working knowledge of both sentential and quantifier logic. Students will learn how to translate claims and arguments from English into a formal system, and to test arguments for validity.



Prerequisites: Instructor Permission - First and Second Years only.

Prof. Merricks – TDB8N                   

Monday & Wednesday 11:00-11:50                                        Dell 1 105           

This course will examine a number of different topics that have been of perennial interest to philosophers of religion and philosophical theologians. These topics include arguments for and against God's existence, the problem of evil, the relationship between human freedom and divine foreknowledge, and how to think about personal immortality and the nature of the human person.



Prof. Barnes- EJB5R                         

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-8:50+ disc sec                              Clark 107

In this class, we’ll first discuss the question ‘what is health?’ How do we define what it means to be healthy? Is there a difference between physical and mental health? Is there a difference between health and overall well-being? Is health a biological concept or is it something normative? Then we’ll look at specific puzzles that arise in health care related to how we understand health and disease. For example, how do we measure health outcomes? How do we deal with the inherent subjectivity of some aspects of health, such as pain? What is the relationship between what we consider ‘healthy’ and what our culture values or stigmatizes?



Prof. Eaker – ELE3A                        

Tuesday & Thursday 3:30-4:45                                             Monroe 118

This course explores the history and the philosophical implications of Darwin’s revolutionary idea—that the unguided process of natural selection could explain the magnificent variety and adaptedness of living things and their descent from a common ancestor. We will look at Darwin’s historical, scientific and cultural context, and the evidence and arguments by which Darwin supported his theory. Philosophical topics will include:  How are scientific theories supported by evidence? What makes evolutionary theory an accepted scientific theory? What are its moral implications? What does it tell us about human nature, how we should treat one another, and how we should relate to the environment upon which we depend?


PHIL 3110 PLATO [3]

This course satisfies the History requirement for those who have or will take PHIL 2120 – Modern

Prof. McCready-Flora – ICM5H       

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15                                           Warner 113

This course introduces students to the dialogues of Plato, with an emphasis on those of particular argumentative and philosophical interest. Expect treatments of the divine and our relation to it; love; the nature and possibility of human knowledge; what makes anything one; why the world exists at all, and in particular why it takes the form it does; humanity’s place in the cosmic order; and the nature of the soul. Our aim will be to engage Plato as a fellow philosopher through close reading and subtle reasoning. This means understanding his assumptions, scrutinizing his argumentation and proposing alternatives to his conclusions. No knowledge of Greek required, but some prior coursework in Philosophy very much encouraged.


PHIL 3150 17th CENTURY PHILOSOPHY [3]               

This course satisfies History area requirements for those who have or will take PHIL 2110 – Ancient

This course satisfies the Second Writing Requirement.

Prof. Lolordo– AL4H                        

Tuesday & Thursday 3:30-4:45                                              Cabell 058     

In this course, we’ll look at how a group of 17th century philosophers answered three sets of questions, and how their answers fit together.  First, what is the nature of the mind?  Of God?  Of the material world?  In particular, is there an immaterial soul – or is the mind just another part of the material world?  Second, what does all this imply about human nature?  Are human beings special in some way, perhaps in virtue of our unique rationality, or are we just another species of animals?  Are human beings the only moral agents?  If so, why?  And where do moral obligations derive from?  Third, how did all this impact their political views?  At the abstract level, how did views of human nature and the foundations of morality impact views on the purpose, legitimacy, or origin of state power?  More concretely, how did views of human nature and the foundations of morality feed into arguments against slavery and arguments in favor of the rights of women?  We’ll look at a fairly wide range of philosophers in this class.  Some are probably familiar, at least in name (e.g. Descartes), others probably not (e.g. Amo).  This will help us see the extremely wide range of questions up for philosophical debate at the time.  It will also help us see that there is a wider range of people doing philosophy in early modern Europe and elsewhere than has traditionally been thought, and that they had very different, even opposed, social and political goals in doing so. 



Instructor Consent Required

This Course satisfies the Second Writing Requirement

Prof. Langsam – HLL6Y                   

Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-1:45                                            Cocke 115           

What is the nature of the mind and why do we find its nature so puzzling? We shall critically examine various theories about the nature of the mind; we shall also discuss the nature of particular kinds of mental states and events, such beliefs, desires, feelings, sensory experiences, and others. We shall be especially concerned with the relationships between the mind and body, and, more generally, between the mental and the physical. Most of the readings will be contemporary philosophers. (This course satisfies the major concentration requirements in Metaphysics and Epistemology.


Prof. Cameron – RPC4D                   

Tuesday & Thursday 12:30-1:45                                           Cabell 489           

Science fiction is a distinctively philosophical genre. Science fiction stories can cause us to question the bounds of what is possible, explore ethical questions that arise in alien circumstances, explore the nature of the self and the very nature of reality, and so on. This course has two main goals: (1)We will use science fiction literature to explore philosophical issues, thereby pursuing philosophical inquiry from an unusual perspective; (2)We will use philosophy to explore the nature of science fiction as a genre, and thereby to gain insight into the nature of art.



Prof. Motchoulski – AAM5JM         

Tuesday & Thursday 5:00-6:15                                             Cocke 115


Prof. Adams – NA9FW                     

Monday & Wednesday 2:00-3:15                                           Cabell 338           

How should we live together? This question is at the core of political philosophy and is the main focus of the course. This question has various components, including: Who counts as one of us? How should we make decisions? Who should be in charge? How should we use our power? How should we treat others? How can we flourish? And who gets a say in how to answer these questions? The course focuses on contemporary democratic answers and considers to what extent our ideals have been realized in our shared life.     



Prof. MacKenzie

Tuesday & Thursday 3:30-4:45                                              Cabell 389     

In this course, we will consider some of the liveliest topics of debate in contemporary ethical theory.  Among the questions that may be considered are: Are there moral facts, and if so what sorts of facts are they, how do we come to know them, and how do we explain their authority?  What would it mean to say that a life “has meaning” and what might entitle us to say such a thing?  Can we make sense of prohibitions to perform certain kinds of actions even when doing so would reduce the overall incidence of that very kind of action?  Do contemporary conceptions of our moral obligations leave us sufficient space to be true to our own ideals and loves?  Are we responsible for bad outcomes that we knowingly choose not to prevent others from bringing about?  Can we be held responsible for unchosen elements of our own character?  Are there “morally tragic” cases in which we will do wrong no matter what we choose to do?



Prof. Payton – MRT4RJ                    

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-9:15                                             Cocke 115

In this class, we'll be talking about philosophical issues at the intersection of sexuality, sexual experience, and gender experience. What is sexual consent? What is the relationship between sexual consent and sexual morality? What is sexual orientation, and what is its relationship to sex and gender? Is there such a thing as biological sex? Is there a difference between sex and gender?



Prof. Barnes – EJB5R                        

Tuesday & Thursday 11:00-12:15                                          Cocke 115

This class explores philosophical issues in the nature of mental health and mental illness. Topics may include: What is the difference between a mental illness and a physical illness? How do we understand the difference between mental difference and mental dysfunction? Does our current approach to understanding mental health overly pathologize or medicalize people? What is a social contagion? What does it mean to be mentally healthy? What is the relationship between mental health and agency, or mental health and moral responsibility?





Prof. Secada – WO5N                         

Monday 1:00-3:30                               Cocke Hall 108                      

This is a seminar on Descartes’ Meditations. By closely reading the text of the Meditations, this seminar will study the metaphysics and epistemology of Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Topics that will be covered include skepticism and the Cartesian circle; the cogito; the reflection on a piece of wax; ideas and their material falsity; the proofs of the existence of God; causation; the individuation, essence and existence of substances; the distinction and relation between a mind and a body. Descartes’ thought will be examined in its Late Scholastic historical context, particularly the philosophies of Francisco Suarez (1548-1617) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), but we will also place the Meditations in the context of earlier meditative treatises, uncovering its relation to such works as St. Francis of Sales’ Treatise on the Love of God (1616), St Bonaventure’s Road of the Mind to God, and St Therese of Avila’s Inner Castle, and using it to address issues regarding the nature of philosophy and philosophical understanding. Some consideration will also be given to Descartes’ influence on subsequent philosophers, such as Spinoza, Malebranche, Leibniz or Berkeley.  Requirements will include a term paper, seminar presentations, and short written summaries and discussions.


PHIL 7500 1st YEAR SEMINAR: Metaphysical Survey

Required for all first year Philosophy graduate students.

Prof. Payton – MRT4RJ                    

Thursday 1:00-3:30                                         Cocke Hall 108

In this seminar we will examine core questions in social metaphysics, with a special focus on the roles of normativity and language in this literature. Topics will include: the mechanics of social construction; metalinguistic negotiation and conceptual ethics in social metaphysics; realist and deflationist approaches to social metaphysics.

This seminar is also designed to introduce first-year PhD students to graduate school in philosophy. This means that, in addition to our core philosophical subject matter, we will discuss topics related to completing a PhD at UVA, as well as elements of professional engagement. The assignments in this course are designed to give students a good amount practice reading, writing, presenting, and discussing philosophy at the graduate level.



Prof. Boone – TBD                            

Tuesday 1:00-3:30                                          Cocke  Hall 108         

This seminar will examine central issues related to reduction and emergence in philosophy of science. What is the relationship between higher and lower levels of organization in nature? How does and should mereology figure into scientific explanation? We will examine these and other foundational questions while drawing on examples from many scientific disciplines. We will cover classical work, though contemporary debate will be our primary focus.



This course satisfies M&E area requirements

Prof. Merricks – TDM8N                    

Wednesday 1:00-3:30                                      Cocke Hall 108

This is a course on the ontology of material objects. Our primary texts will be Objects and Persons by Trenton Merricks, Ordinary Objects by Amie Thomasson, and Objects: Nothing out of the Ordinary by Daniel Z. Korman.