Descriptions - Fall 2021

UK Department of Philosophy


PHI 100-001   Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality  Sandmeyer 

                                                                                       MWF  2:00-2:50

In this class, we will study three interrelated conversations in the history of philosophy about metaphysics (the study of being) and epistemology (the study of knowledge). We will begin our study by examining a problem which Socrates and the ancient sophists address, particularly whether the search for knowledge is necessary or possible, even. Second, we will study Plato's and Aristotle's conceptions of knowledge and reality, focusing specifically on their distinctive metaphysics. Lastly, we will analyze the differences evinced in Descartes' rationalist theory of ideas and Hume's naturalistic account of the mind. This class aims to achieve three equally important outcomes: (i) the acquisition of a solid foundation in writing at the college level; (ii) the development of distinct skills for reading at the college level; and, (iii) competence in the clear expression of one's ideas verbally (to the degree this can be practiced in these COVID times). This course fulfills the UK Core Requirement: Intellectual Inquiry in the Humanities.


PHI 100-002-011, 201   Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality

An introduction to philosophical studies with emphasis on issues of knowing, reality and meaning related to human existence.


PHI 100-012   Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality (Honors)Batty

                                                                          TR  12:30-1:45

This is course is an introduction to philosophy.  It focuses on two main subfields of philosophy: metaphysics and epistemology.

Metaphysics is the area of philosophy that deals with the question: what is there and what is it like?  Some of the questions we will consider are:

If everything in the world is determined by previous events, can we say that we ever act freely?  If we can’t, should this worry us?

Are you the same person today as the person who first visited the University of Kentucky as a prospective student?  If so, how so?

Epistemology is the area of philosophy that deals with the question: what is the nature of knowledge and reasonable belief?  Some of the questions we will consider are:

Are there rules about how we ought to come to believe things?  Do you always need to believe something on evidence?  Would it be wrong to believe something on insufficient evidence?

What is knowledge?  Why is knowledge valuable?

Can I know that you’re not a zombie—a mindless shell?  How do we know about the minds of others?

In examining these questions, we will draw on readings by important figures in the history of philosophy as well as contemporary authors.


PHI 111-001 - Intro to Special Topics: The Ethics of Human LifeChambers   

                                                                               TR   11:00-12:15

The Ethics of a Human Life Have you ever wondered whether being born was really a good thing? Or, when you were a child, did you ever think adults didn’t really take you seriously but should have? Have you ever loved someone, but not been able to say why you kept loving them after you’ve met a more attractive or more charming stranger? Have you ever worried about whether having casual sex with someone means you’re taking advantage of them, or them you? Do you think you should get married if you know that many marriages end in divorce? Are you afraid to grow old? To die? Or have you ever worried about what will happen to everyone you love after you die? Chances are that you’ve already faced some of these questions. In this discover seminar, we will look at the surprising ways that moral philosophers have tried to answer these questions, and we will think about how the arguments they make can help us better understand the ethical shape of a human life as a whole.


PHI 120-0001, 004-006, 008, 009, 201Introduction to Logic

A course which treats argumentation, syllogistic and sentential logic.  The focus will be on the use of formal methods in the construction and criticism of actual arguments, the aim being to inculcate standards of good reasoning, e.g. clarity, consistency, and validity.  Credit is not given to students who already have credit for PHI 320.


PHI 120-007 Introduction to LogicBursten   TR  9:30-10:45

What is the difference between an argument and a shouting match? How does your reasoning affect whether someone should believe your conclusions? Why do computer programs work? The answer to all of these questions is the same: Logic. Logic is the study of reasoning, and in this class students will learn the foundational principles of logical thinking needed to become better thinkers, reasoners, and arguers. Logic is an essential tool for problem-solving in areas as diverse as the law, computer science, biology, and history. This course introduces students to the study of logic. Students will learn to identify and interpret the premises and conclusions of arguments, they will develop the ability to recognize and respond to informal rhetorical fallacies, and they will apply basic logical concepts, such as truth, validity, soundness and cogency in their academic, professional, and everyday lives.

This class satisfies the UK Core: Quantitative Foundations requirement. This class satisfies the Logic requirement for philosophy minors.


PHI 130-001-004 Introduction to Philosophy: Morality and Society   

An introduction to philosophical studies with emphasis on a critical study of principles of moral action and social and political values.


PHI 193-001 Philosophy and the Circus -Wallace  TR  2:00-3:15

How is juggling like being a good person? What does the trapeze have to do with truth? What does the circus have to do with the self? Intended for students with little to no experience in either circus or philosophy, this class uses the acquisition of beginner circus skills (such as juggling, aerial arts, and acro-balancing) as a springboard for basic philosophical inquiry. This class is fully participatory: we won't just be learning about the circus, we will be learning HOW to circus. Don’t know how to juggle? Don’t know who Aristotle is or what he said? No worries. No background in either circus arts or philosophy is required. A sense of wonder, a healthy curiosity about the world, and an appetite for adventure are strongly encouraged. This course takes place in the Circus Space in Barker Hall.

This class satisfies UK Core Intellectual Inquiry in Arts and Creativity.


PHI 260-001 History of Philosophy I:  From Greek Beginnings to the Middle Ages

                                                                     Staff   MWF  11:00-11:50

This course is a chronological survey of leading thinkers and ideas in western philosophy from the early Greeks to the Middle Ages. Although we will read broadly across a wide range of authors, the lion’s share of attention will be devoted to Plato and Aristotle, whose work far excelled anything written earlier in scope and sophistication and laid the foundation for most of what followed during the Hellenistic, Roman, and medieval eras


PHI 270-001   History of Philosophy II: Renaissance to the PresentLook   TR   11:00-12:15

Western philosophy from early modern to recent times including systematic work in logic, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics by such philosophers as Occam, Descartes, Hume and Kant.


PHI 305-001  Health Care Ethics - Staff   TR          9:30-10:45

PHI 305-002  Health Care Ethics - Staff   MWF   12:00-12:50

PHI 305-003  Health Care Ethics - Staff   MWF    11:00-11:50

PHI 305-004  Health Care Ethics - Staff   MWF    10:00-10:50

PHI 305-201  Health Care Ethics - Nenadic  1st 8 weeks


A consideration of the ethical issues and difficult choices generated or made acute by advances in biology, technology and medicine.  Typical issues include:  informed consent, healer-patient relationships, truth telling, confidentiality, problem of birth defects, abortion, placebos and health, allocation of scarce medical resources, genetic research and experimentation, cost containment in health care, accountability of health care professionals, care of the dying and death.


PHI 310-001 Philosophy of Human NatureBohannon   TR    9:30-10:45

PHI 310-002 Philosophy of Human NatureStaff   MWF   11:00-11:50  

A course introducing philosophy at the upper division level which studies various issues involved in analyzing what it means to be human, in the interest of developing a coherent conception of man.  Answers will be sought to questions like these: Is there a human nature?  What would differentiate the properly human from the nonhuman?  What kind of relations tie a human being to environment, society, and history?


PHI 315-001 Philosophy and Science FictionStaff   MWF   1:00-1:50

An examination of fundamental questions in metaphysics and epistemology through a comparison of works of philosophy and science fiction. Questions will be discussed such as: Can there be time travel? Can computers think? Can there be non-human persons, and if so how would we identify them? Can there be ways of knowing that are radically different from our own, and what might they be like? How much can a person change while remaining the same person.


PHI 320-001 Symbolic Logic ISundell   TR  2:00-3:15

A systematic study of sentential logic, elementary quantification, and the logic of identity.  The student will acquire specific skills in symbolic methods of analysis which are necessary for further study in logic as well as useful in addressing complex issues in philosophy and other areas.


PHI 334-001 Business Ethics - Staff   MWF  9:00-9:50

PHI 334-001 Business Ethics - Staff   MWF  10:00-10:50

PHI 334-001 Business Ethics - Staff   MWF  11:00-11:50

PHI 334-001 Business Ethics - Staff   MWF  12:00-12:50 

An introduction to moral problems that arise in contemporary business practice and the ethical frameworks proposed to resolve them.  Topics will include areas such as truth-telling and integrity; social responsibility; property rights and their limitations; and justice in personnel and labor practices. Recitation sections will meet on Fridays at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 and 12:00.


PHI 335-001 The Individual and SocietyBradshaw   MWF  11:00-11:50  

Politics and associated ideas such as justice and freedom have been the subject of intense debate throughout western history. Our aim in this course will be to examine the philosophical aspects of this debate. We will discuss questions such as: 

  • Is there a natural order to society? 
  • Is there a single best form of government? 
  • What precisely is the source of the authority of government? What are the limits to this authority? 
  • What aims should the state seek? If they include (for example) liberty, equality, and justice, how are these to be understood, and what should be done when they conflict? 
  • How is the authority of the state related to other traditional forms of authority, such as those of the family, religion, and individual conscience? 
  • Is private property legitimate? Is there anything problematic about the unequal distribution of property? If so, how should this problem be addressed?
  • Is there a role for government in enforcing morality? If so, what is it, and how far does it go?
  • What is distinctive about the American political tradition, and what is its legacy for us today?

Since this course satisfies the UK Core requirement in U.S. Citizenship, Community, and Culture, special emphasis will be placed on the American political tradition, including the U.S. Constitution and Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic, Democracy in America. We will also read other important political philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, and Marx. The course will end with a reading of Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel, a book that addresses contemporary ethical and political debates.


PHI 336-001 Environmental Ethics - Sandmeyer   MWF   11:00-11:50

PHI 336-002 Environmental Ethics - Sandmeyer   MWF   2:00-2:50

In Environmental Ethics, we study the theory of our ethical relation to the nonhuman world, the social and political contexts in which these ethical theories function, and the idea of sustainability.  Some basic questions we ask include the following: How does an environmental ethic differ from traditional ethical theories? Do nonhuman animals or ecosystems have moral worth, and if so, how can competing moral claims between distinct moral entities be adjudicated? What is the human place in nature? How ought we to conserve the natural world? What is sustainability, and in what sense is this an ethical theory?

Student Learning Outcomes: At the conclusion of class, students will be able to

  • demonstrate skills necessary to read complex and dense texts comprehendingly
  • explain and defend one's own ethical standpoint according to basic theories & concepts
  • summarize and critique ethical positions from the perspective of traditionally underrepresented groups
  • describe the system of public lands protection in the United States and analyze the philosophical ideas underlying the main public lands management agencies in the Federal Government
  • identify and assess one's own concrete interaction to their surrounding world, especially in reference to the concept of sustainability


PHI 337-001 Introduction to Legal PhilosophyMarquis   TR  3:30-4:45

This course introduces students to the task of thinking philosophically about the law. This refers primarily to considering how law’s interaction with life places an ongoing responsibility on legal theorists to rethink legal concepts and laws to make them more accountable to people’s actual lives and thus to be more truly universal. The first part of the course focuses on traditional philosophical treatments of law: natural law theory and its considerations of law as an instrument of the common good; and law in Enlightenment thought, especially social contract theory, which stipulates law’s role in securing freedom and equality versus the legalization of gross inequalities such as slavery and slave-like oppression. We also read Enlightenment women’s critiques of the legalization of women’s second-class status and of their political disenfranchisement. Next, we turn to the rise of modern jurisprudence, which focuses on mapping the “mechanics” of positive law. Finally, we consider concrete contemporary areas of law. Here, we cover civil rights and racial injustice. A major area of our focus will be gender-based discrimination, including LGTBQ discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse and violence against women. We may also consider these topics and legal questions as they relate to Covid-19.


PHI 340-001  Introduction to Feminism and PhilosophySuperson   TR  12:30-1:45

This course offers an introduction to basic feminist thought from a philosophical perspective explored through topics such as oppression and privilege, gender roles, intersectionality, images of women in society, violence against women (woman battering and rape, transgender violence), and male socialization.  The main goal is to explain the oppression of women through these issues, though a subsidiary goal is to offer ways to examine ways to overcome women’s oppression.  The course emphasizes gender and issues affecting all women.  This course fulfills the UK General Education Requirement: Community, Culture, and Citizenship in the USA.

Assignments will include papers and class participation, depending on format (TBA).


PHI 343-001 Asian PhilosophyStaff   TR   11:00-12:15

Asian philosophy is taken to include theories and arguments derived from Buddhist, Chinese, Japanese, and Islamic culture. The focus will be on a number of philosophical questions such as the nature of personal identity, reality, death and the afterlife, morality, the role of society, and meditation. We shall explore notions such as Buddha nature, compassion, creation, emptiness, evil, karma, love, maya, nirvana, shari`a, yoga, and zen. Although this is not a course on religion, it will be necessary to know something of the religious context within which much of Asian philosophy operates, and so there will be some discussion of Asian religions also. Material will be drawn from the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Changes, and the Qur’an.


PHI 350-001 Metaphysics and Epistemology - Wallace   TR   11:00-12:15  

If I remove one small molecule from a table, does the table still survive? What about two small molecules? Keep going. Surely at *some* point the table ceases to exist, for there can't be a table made of zero molecules! But how can any one small molecule ever make the difference between a table existing and not existing? Does it matter if the object is a rock? A table? A cat? A person? Why? And does it matter if the parts removed are taken all at once or slowly over time? More generally, how can something *change* and yet still be the *same* over a period of time? And how do we know? This is an intermediate-level undergraduate course in metaphysics (the study of what there is) and epistemology (the study of what we know and how we know it), which focuses on certain puzzles and paradoxes of space, time, and possible worlds.


PHI 380-001 Death, Dying and Quality of Life  - Leaman   TR  9:30-10:45

One thing we can be sure of is that we are going to die, and there are various ways to understand this fact. This course will examine a range of issues that arise when we reflect on our mortality. We will consider some of the understandings of death in a variety of religious philosophies both Eastern and Western, including immortality, rebirth, the nature of the soul and so on. What attitude should we adopt to death and how far can it be said to be evil? Are suicide, euthanasia and abortion wrong, and in what circumstances is it acceptable to kill someone? Is there are a quality of life so low that it would be better not to be alive, or not to have lived? We shall also examine some of the cultural features of death and dying. The course will be assessed through examination, essay and presentation.


PHI 380-002 Death, Dying and Quality of Life  - O’Dell  MWF   1:00-1:50

A philosophical and interdisciplinary investigation of a cluster of prominent issues about the meaning of life and death, caring for dying persons, and the quality of life of the terminally ill.  Among topics included are:  death definitions and criteria; allowing to die vs. killing; euthanasia and suicide; life prolongation, ethics of care of the terminally ill; and rights of the dying.


PHI 503-001 Topics in Ancient Philosophy: Ancient Ethics - Bradshaw 

                                                                     MWF  2:00-2:50

This course will examine ethics as it developed from Plato through late antiquity. Prominent themes will include the human good, the nature of virtue, freedom and responsibility, justice, wisdom, friendship, pleasure, natural law, human perfection as a “likeness to God,” and the relationship between expedience and morality. The latter part of the course will examine the rise of Christian ethics and its adaptation of key concepts and arguments from pre-Christian philosophy. Important topics for this part of the course will include sexual ethics, marriage, the role of women in society, mercy and forgiveness, obligations to the poor, and Christian love or charity (agape). The main readings will be Plato, Philebus; Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics; Cicero, De officiis; Thomas Cahill, The Gifts of the Jews; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata; and Ambrose of Milan, De officiis (a work written as a Christian counterpart to that of Cicero).


PHI 509-001 Topics in Modern Philosophy-Kant’s EthicsBird-Pollan  TR  2:00-3:15

This course will focus on a careful reading of Kant’s Critique of Judgment (1790), a central text in the history of ethics as well as in the philosophy of science, especially biology. Kant’s text has often been read as closing the gap between the Critique of Pure Reason and the Critique of Practical Reason. Investigating the text will allow us to understand the shape and structure of Kant’s system as a whole.

Some prior knowledge of Kant would be beneficial but is not necessary.


PHI 515-001   Contemporary PHI  Analytic Turn  - Bursten      TR  12:30-1:45

In 1959, Bertrand Russell wrote, "Ever since I abandoned the philosophy of Kant and Hegel, I have sought solutions of philosophical problems by means of analysis; and I remain firmly persuaded, in spite of some modern tendencies to the contrary, that only by analysing is progress possible." Russell's approach to philosophical progress, known as analytic philosophy, is both a method of approaching philosophical dialogue and a historical movement encompassing many philosophers from the early 20th century through today. What “analysis" consists in, however, is still a matter of some debate. The hallmarks of analytic philosophy are logical analysis and the centralization of language as an object of philosophical study, but analytic philosophy has addressed problems in nearly every philosophical sub-discipline, from ethics and feminist theory to the metaphysics of time and the philosophy of art. 

In this historically-oriented class, students will be introduced to the exchanges of ideas that created analytic philosophy and its offshoots, including contemporary logic and the philosophy of science, and they will practice philosophy in the analytic mode. At the end of this course, students will be able (1) to identify the structure of analytic arguments; (2) to summarize important historical dialogues in the history of analytic philosophy; (3) to compare the views of central figures and famous arguments in the history of analytic philosophy; (4) to criticize arguments from analytic philosophy orally and in writing, and (5) to write an essay in the analytic style. 

This class satisfies Group A requirements for philosophy majors. This class satisfies Contemporary Metaphysics and Epistemology requirements for Ph.D. students in philosophy.


PHI 522-201 Advanced Critical ThinkingLook   Fully Online

We are bombarded with arguments in our daily lives. That is, we are told that we ought to believe things for various reasons - that we ought to buy this car for these reasons; that we ought to vote for this politician for those reasons. Yet, what makes an argument a good argument? What allows us to make good decisions? This course will focus on the nature and principles of correct judgment. More exactly, we will be concerned with both the formal and informal ways in which arguments can be shown to be good or bad. We will also examine the ways in which human beings are likely to be deceived and fall prey to fallacies. And we will look at the various cognitive biases that affect our judgments and practical decisions. This course may not be used to satisfy any requirement in the Philosophy BA, MA, or PhD.


PHI 530-001 Ethical TheorySuperson   TR   9:30-10:45

This course is on some of the major ethical theories, including that of Hobbes, Bentham, Mill, Kant, and Hume.  We will read portions of works from these historical figures, in addition to contemporary journal articles on some main issues raised in the historical works.  For each theory, we will aim to answer the following questions:  Where does morality come from?  What is morality?  What is the ideal moral person like?  Why should we be moral?

Course Assignments:  Grades will be based on papers and participation.  Format TBA.


PHI 545-001 Philosophy of ReligionLeaman   TR   11:00-12:15

The course will examine relevant issues from the following four texts:

The Daodejing/Laozi

The Book of the Decisive Treatise about the connection between law and wisdom/Averroes

Dialogues concerning natural religion/Hume

Zen and the birds of appetite/Merton

Assessment will include presentations and essays, and the aim will be to explore issues in the philosophy of religion from a range of different cultural backgrounds and continents. All the texts are short but complex and the aim is to develop an understanding of religious approaches to a range of conceptual problems.


PHI 630-001 Seminar in Value Theory:  Stranger Danger  - Chambers   T   4:00-6:30

Stranger Danger: Why we need relational morality and how we can get it

Contemporary moral theories tend to situate persons toward one another as if they are all strangers. Both the Utilitarian and the Deontologist ask what we owe one another just in virtue of being persons. What the stranger conception of morality often overlooks is the web of moral obligations we find ourselves in just in virtue of the different kinds of relationships we stand in to others. Some people are my friends, my partner, my children, my students, my neighbors, or my fellow citizens. A moral theory can’t account for what I should do on any given day if it abstracts away from these relations. In this seminar, we will look at some familiar relations we stand in to others, what obligations arise from those relations, and which moral theories succeed or fail to account for these relational obligations.


PHI 650-001 Seminar in Metaphysics  & Epistemology: Philosophy of Perception - Batty  

                                                                       M    4:00-6:30

This course is a graduate-level investigation of several contemporary debates in analytic philosophy of perception.  Among the questions we may consider are:

  • What accounts for the distinctive ‘feel’ of perceptual experiences?
  • Is there such a thing as unconscious perception?
  • Given the recent interest in the effects of sensory loss, what can philosophers of perception learn from the impact, and nature, of such loss?
  • What is the relationship between perception and action?

In examining these questions and others, we will consider how philosophical debates about perception have been shaped by a focus on vision.  In doing so, we will consider the other sensory modalities as well as the emotions.


PHI 680-001 Special Topics in Philosophy: Meaning  - Sundell    R   4:00-6:30

What is the connection between language and the world it describes? Is meaning a property of an individual speaker, or of a whole speech community? Are meanings determined in isolation, or as part of an interconnected semantic web? Do we understand each other by decoding one another’s intentions, or by our knowledge of shared linguistic conventions? Is meaning stable across speakers, theories, and time, or is it variable, shifty, and dynamic? Is word meaning under our control? If it is, what should we do with that power? 

In this seminar, we address some of the central, defining questions in 20th century and contemporary philosophy of language. We’ll explore a range of related issues, including externalism and internalism, holism and atomism, conventionalism and intentionalism, and psychological and social understandings of language. Readings will include some classics—Kripke, Putnam, Davidson, Grice, Chomsky, Lewis—as well as contemporary authors working in and responding to this tradition, including Elisabeth Camp, Laura and François Schroeter, Herman Cappelen, Sally Haslanger, and others. 


ST 500-001 Introduction to Social TheorySchatzki  TR  12:30-1:45

This course is an introduction to social theory for advanced undergraduates and graduate students.  It aims to give students an overview of the type of theory known as critical social thought.  By “critical social thought” is meant the use of theoretical ideas and concepts to diagnose—critically and skeptically—both the state of human sociality and the sociocultural dimension of the human condition.  Part One will take up classic representatives of prominent genres: Marx and Engels’s The German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto, Max Horkheimer’s The Eclipse of Reason, Shulumith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex, and Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth.  Part Two will examine a selection of more recent critical works: Bernard Stiegler’s For a New Critique of Political Economy, Mark Rifkin’s Beyond Settler Time, Helmut Rosa’s Social Acceleration. A New Theory of Modernity, Achille Mbembe’s Necropolitics, and Rosi Braidotti’s Posthumanism. After this, Part Three will turn the critical gaze at questions of epistemology and, probably, ecology/environment.  On knowledge we will read essays from Michel Foucault, Donna Haraway, Patricia Collins, Depesh Chakrabarty, Sandra Harding, and Zaid Ahmad.  I have not yet decided what to look at regarding ecology/environment.



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