Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

See the Online Course Information for course locations.

Please note that all courses with the letter “a” are offered in the fall semester and all courses with the letter “b” are offered in the spring semester.   A student must obtain the instructor’s permission before taking a course marked by a star.  All seminars require the instructor’s permission. For additional abbreviations see the  Key to Course Listings.

Introductory Courses

DRST 003/004 Directed Studies: Philosophy (DS)

An examination of major figures in the history of Western philosophy with an aim of discerning characteristic philosophical problems and their interconnections. Emphasis on Plato and Aristotle in the fall term. In the spring term, modern philosophers include Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche.


David Charles, John Hare, Igor De Souza, Adam Eitel, Robin Dembroff, Francey Russell, Andy Werner


Daniel Greco, Zoltán Szabó, Kenneth Winkler, Asaf Angermann, Francey Russell, Andy Werner

PHIL 115a, First-Order Logic Kenneth Winkler

An introduction to formal logic. Study of the formal deductive systems and semantics for both propositional and predicate logic. Some discussion of metatheory.  QR
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

History of Philosophy

PHIL 125a / CLCV 125a, Introduction to Ancient Philosophy  Brad Inwood

An introduction to ancient philosophy, beginning with the earliest pre-Socratics, concentrating on Plato and Aristotle, and including a brief foray into Hellenistic philosophy. Intended to be taken in conjunction with PHIL 126.  WR, HU
TTh 11:35am-12:25pm

PHIL 126b, Introduction to Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant Keith DeRose

An introduction to major figures in the history of modern philosophy, with critical reading of works by Descartes, Malabranche, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Intended to be taken in conjunction with PHIL 125, although PHIL 125 is not a prerequisite.  HU
TTh 10:30am-11:20am

Ethics and Value Theory

PHIL 175a, Introduction to Ethics Shelly Kagan

What makes one act right and another wrong? What am I morally required to do for others? What is the basis of morality? These are some of the questions raised in moral philosophy. Examination of two of the most important answers, the theories of Mill and Kant, with brief consideration of the views of Hume and Hobbes. Discussion of the question: Why be moral?  HU
EPE: Intro Ethics
MW 10:30am-11:20am

PHIL 176b, Death Shelly Kagan

There is one thing I can be sure of: I am going to die. But what am I to make of that fact? An examination of a number of issues that arise once we begin to reflect on our mortality. Consideration of the possibility that death may not actually be the end. Are we, in some sense, immortal? Would immortality be desirable? An attempt to get a clearer notion of what it is to die. And, finally, an evaluation of different attitudes to death. Is death an evil? Is suicide morally permissible? Is it rational? In short: how should the knowledge that I am going to die affect the way I live my life? Authors include Fischer, Perry, Plato, and Tolstoy.  HU
MW 10:30am-11:20am

PHIL 177b / AFAM 198b / CGSC 277b / EDST 177b / EP&E 494b, Propaganda, Ideology, and Democracy Jason Stanley

Historical, philosophical, psychological, and linguistic introduction to the issues and challenges that propaganda raises for liberal democracy. How propaganda can work to undermine democracy; ways in which schools and the press are implicated; the use of propaganda by social movements to address democracy’s deficiencies; the legitimacy of propaganda in cases of political crisis.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:25pm

PHIL 178a, Introduction to Political Philosophy Thomas Pogge

A survey of social and political theory, beginning with Plato and continuing through modern philosophers such as Rawls, Nozick, and Cohen. Emphasis on tracing the development of political ideas; challenges to political theories.  HU
MW 9am-10:15am

PHIL 180b / PLSC 191b, Ethics and International Affairs Thomas Pogge

Moral reflection taken beyond state boundaries. Traditional questions about state conduct and international relations as well as more recent questions about intergovernmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the design of global institutional arrangements.  HU
MW 9am-10:15am

PHIL 185b / PLSC 180B / LAST 180b / ER&M 418b / EP&E 357b  Immigration Ethics  Deigo von Vacano

Examination of the ethical dimensions of immigration. Normative, political theory, and political philosophy perspectives on contemporary United States and International immigration debates are assessed and discussed. Central themes of comparative/transnational and race/ethnicity issues.
T 1:30-3:20pm

Intermediate Courses

History of Philosophy

PHIL 203a / EALL 212a, Ancient Chinese Thought Michael Hunter

An introduction to the foundational works of ancient Chinese thought from the ruling ideologies of the earliest historical dynasties, through the Warring States masters, to the Qin and Han empires. Topics include Confucianism and Daoism, the role of the intellectual in ancient Chinese society, and the nature and performance of wisdom.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

PHIL 204a / GMAN 381a, Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason Paul Franks

An examination of the metaphysical and epistemological doctrines of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Prerequisite: PHIL 126 or DRST 004.  HU
MW 9am-10:15am

* PHIL 205a / EALL 213a / HUMS 292a, Philosophy, Religion, and Literature in Medieval China Lucas Bender

Exploration of the rich intellectual landscape of the Chinese middle ages, introducing students to seminal works of Chinese civilization and to the history of their debate and interpretation in the first millennium. No previous knowledge of China is assumed. Instead, the course serves as a focused introduction to Chinese philosophy, religion, and literature.  HU
M 2:30pm-4:20pm

PHIL 209a / GMAN 216a / LITR 216a / JDST 328a, Thinking Martin Buber   Hannan Hever, Asaf Angermann

An overview of the intellectual contributions of Martin Buber, one of the most influential Jewish thinkers in the 20th century. Study of his writings, including philosophical tractates; political analyses especially of Zionist ideology and the movement’s activities; literary writing and Hassidic tales, collections, and adaptations; his challenging writing on the Israeli-Arab conflict; and many theological innovative, paradigm-changing publications. HU

T 3:30-5:20

PHIL 214b, The Philosophies of Hegel and Schelling Paul Franks

The competing versions of absolute idealism developed by Hegel and Schelling in the early 1800s. The relationships between philosophy and a history that culminates in modernity, and between philosophy and religion; the possibility of absolute knowledge and systematicity; the role of kabbalah in philosophy.  HU
TTh 1pm-2:15pm

PHIL 221a / HUMS 328a, Time and French Philosophy,   Andrew Werner

This course will introduce students to some of the most important and interesting French philosophers of the 20th century by examining their accounts of time. Topics will include the following: that human beings are in time is a sign of our mortality, our finitude – but does it bear on our essence as conscious beings? We seem to be able to determine the future, and to remember the past – what do these facts about us mean for an account of the nature of time? And just how are we able to determine the future and remember the past? HU


PHIL 222b / HUMS 265b  Ethics and Self-Knowledge  Francey Russell

Study of how the concepts of self-knowledge and self-ignorance are theorized in the history of philosophy, with special emphasis on what, if anything, is the connection between self-knowledge, ethics, and politics. Consideration of whether self-knowledge makes better people, whether self-ignorance makes happier people; and the relationship between self-informed and social concepts and norms. Authors may include Sophocles, Plato, Augustine, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, and Du Bois. HU
TTh 2.30-3.45

PHIL 260a / AMST 260a, American Philosophy Kenneth Winkler

A survey of American philosophy from colonial times to the middle of the twentieth century. Topics include European justifications of colonization and conquest; the spiritualist metaphysics of George Berkeley and Jonathan Edwards; slavery and abolition; and transcendentalism (Emerson, Thoreau). Particular attention to classical pragmatism, with readings in Peirce, James, Dewey, and their critics. Some discussion of recent reinterpretations of pragmatism by such writers as Quine, Richard Rorty, and Cornel West.  HU
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

Metaphysics and Epistemology

PHIL 267a, Mathematical Logic Sun-Joo Shin

An introduction to the metatheory of first-order logic, up to and including the completeness theorem for the first-order calculus. Introduction to the basic concepts of set theory. Prerequisite: PHIL 115 or permission of instructor.  QR
Math: Logic/Foundations
MW 11:35am-12:25pm

PHIL 270a, Epistemology Daniel Greco

Introduction to current topics in the theory of knowledge. The analysis of knowledge, justified belief, rationality, certainty, and evidence.  HU
TTh 9am-10:15am

* PHIL 272a, Philosophy of Mind Zoltán Szabó

A survey of contemporary issues in the philosophy of mind, including arguments for and against materialism and accounts of intentional states, qualitative states, and mental causation.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

PHIL 276b / PHIL 310, Metaphysics Robin Dembroff

Examination of some fundamental aspects of reality. Topics include time, persistence, modality, causation, and existence.  HU
MW 9am-10:15am

PHIL 277b, Frege and Analytic Philosophy Jason Stanley

Gottlob Frege’s view of arithmetic as an abstract reality no less real than the ordinary objects of sight and touch. His attempt to place arithmetic on an absolutely firm foundation, and wider views of meaning and representation that emerged from the attempt. Frege’s contributions to logicism, analytic philosophy, and the notation for quantification and variables; his influence on the emerging discipline of logic and on later study of the meaning properties of natural languages. Prerequisite: PHIL 115 or equivalent, or with permission of instructor.  HU
TTh 11:b5am-12:50pm

*PHIL 295b / RLST 295b /JDST 272b  Al-Ghazali and Maimonides  Frank Griffel

The lives and thought of the philosopher theologians Al-Ghazali and Maimonides. Comparison of their lives and writings, focusing on their integration of Aristotelian philosophy into the theology of Islam and Judaism. HU
F  9:25-11:15am

* PHIL 305a / CGSC 313a / PSYC 313a, Philosophy for Psychologists Joshua Knobe

Introduction to frameworks developed within philosophy that have applications in psychological research. Principal topics include the self, causation, free will, and morality. Recommended preparation: a course in philosophy or psychology.  HU, SO
TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm

Ethics and Value Theory

* PHIL 323a / EP&E 264a / GMAN 318a / PLSC 323a, Exile, Statelessness, Migration Seyla Benhabib

An interdisciplinary examination of exile, statelessness, and migration. Consideration of the meaning of exile as opposed to migration or banishment; whether a stateless person is also in exile, how the theme of exile is rooted in the Jewish condition of “Galut;” and how these conditions throw light on democratic societies. Authors include Hannah Arendt, Judith Shklar, Judith Butler, and contemporary authors such as Linda Zerilli and Bonnie Honig. Prerequisites: strong background in political philosophy, 19th or 20th century intellectual history, literary studies, or permission of the instructor.  HU, SO
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

PHIL 326a / RLST 402a, The Philosophy of Religion John Pittard

The relation between religion and ethics, traditional arguments for the existence of God, religious experience, the problem of evil, miracles, immortality, science and religion, and faith and reason.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:25pm

PHIL 334a / PLSC 281a / RLST 273a, Ethical and Social Issues in Bioethics Stephen Latham

A selective survey of issues in biomedical ethics. Comparison of different points of view about biomedical issues, including religious vs. secular and liberal vs. conservative. Special attention to issues in research and at the beginning and end of life.  SO
MW 10:30am-11:20am

PHIL 340b, Aesthetics of Resistance  Asaf Angermann

Introduction to twentieth-century political aesthetics. Discussion of the ways in which aesthetic theory and aesthetic practice can challenge and resist political oppression. Focus on aspects of philosophical aesthetics in dialectical materialism, phenomenology and existentialism, post-structuralism, post-colonial theory, philosophy of race, and philosophy of gender. HU

W 7:00-8:50pm

PHIL 342b / PLSC 282b Markets and Morals  Alexandre Gajevic Sayegh

Detailed discussion of crucial questions that arise at the intersection of ethics and economics, as well as critical analysis of theories of social justice and market failures. Topics include the moral limits of markets, the reliance on economic incentives to change behavior, the equality/efficiency trade-off, and the distributive role of taxation in society.

W 3:30-5:20pm

PHIL 364b Philosophy of John Rawls  Daniele Botti

Study and critical discussion of the political philosophy of John Rawls, with particular emphasis on his theory of domestic justice. Consideration of Rawls’s intellectual trajectory, from A Theory of Justice (1971) to Political Liberalism (1993) and Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (2001).

MW 1:00-2:15pm


History of Philosophy

PHIL 402a / GMAN 227a / HUMS 330a / LITR 330a, Heidegger’s Being and Time Martin Hägglund

Systematic, chapter by chapter study of Heidegger’s Being and Time, arguably the most important work of philosophy in the twentieth-century. All major themes addressed in detail, with particular emphasis on care, time, death, and the meaning of being.  HU
MW 11:35am-12:50pm

PHIL 410b / EALL 308b / HUMS 305b, Sages of the Ancient World Michael Hunter

Comparative survey of ancient discourses about wisdom from China, India, the Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Topics include teaching, scheming, and dying.  HU
TTh 11:35am-12:50pm

* PHIL 412a / GMAN 211a / HUMS 314 / LITR 441a, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud Rüdiger Campe

The revolutionary ways in which Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud redefined the ends of freedom. Key works of the three authors on agency in politics, economics, epistemology, social life, and sexuality. Agency as individual or collective, as autonomous or heteronomous, and as a case of liberation or subversion. Additional readings from Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Weber.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* PHIL 415b, Hume and Reid Kenneth Winkler

Study and discussion of the epistemology and metaphysics of David Hume and Thomas Reid, with some consideration of their present-day significance. Topics include the nature of representation; space and time; causation and induction; skepticism and justification; personal identity; liberty and necessity; and the overall shape of a science of human nature. Readings in Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature and his Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, and in Reid’s Inquiry concerning the Human Mind and his Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man. Prerequisite: At least one prior course in philosophy.  HU
W 7pm-8:50pm

* PHIL 417a / EP&E 487a / GMAN 212a / HUMS 261a, Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School Asaf Angermann

Introduction to the thought and writings of the philosophers known as the Frankfurt School, who founded and developed the idea of Critical Theory. The method of Critical Theory as a way of thinking about the complex relations between philosophy and society, culture and politics, and philosophical concepts and social reality. The meaning of concepts such as critique, history, freedom, individuality, emancipation, and aesthetic experience.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* PHIL 419a, Descartes Michael Della Rocca

An examination of Descartes as a founder of the modern world picture. Consideration of all his major works. Prerequisites: two courses in philosophy.  HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* PHIL 483b / CLCV 483b, Plato’s Metaphysics Verity Harte

A broad look at central topics in Plato’s metaphysics followed by in-depth study of the conception of reality underlying the classificatory method at work in his Sophist, Statesman, and Philebus. Prerequisite: Previous study of ancient philosophy, Plato’s philosophy, or permission of the instructor.  HU
W 3:30pm-5:20pm

* PHIL 484b, Teleology and Mechanism Paul Franks

Examination of teleology, with special emphasis on Aristotle, Kant, Schelling, and Hegel, as well as recent discussions of invisible hand explanations, which explain the appearance of purposiveness. Additional exploration of conceptions of mechanism, both in the history of modern philosophy and science, and in recent debates about so-called new mechanical philosophy.  HU
Th 9:25am-11:15am

Metaphysics and Epistemology

* PHIL 427b, Computability and Logic Sun-Joo Shin

A technical exposition of Gödel’s first and second incompleteness theorems and of some of their consequences in proof theory and model theory, such as Löb’s theorem, Tarski’s undefinability of truth, provability logic, and nonstandard models of arithmetic. Prerequisite: PHIL 267 or permission of instructor.  QR, HU
Math: Logic/Foundations
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

* PHIL 430a, Social Epistemology Daniel Greco

Survey of recent work in social epistemology, the branch of philosophy that concerns the social dimensions of knowledge. Topics to be addressed include the epistemic significance of disagreement, judgment aggregation, and how various social institutions look when viewed through an epistemological lens (e.g., epistemic arguments for democracy, error-minimization arguments for trial-by-jury).  Prerequisites: Two prior courses in philosophy and instructor’s permission.   HU
F 9:25am-11:15am

* PHIL 434b, Disagreement and Higher-Order Evidence John Pittard

Investigation of the epistemic significance of disagreement. Whether one can reasonably maintain confident belief in the face of disagreement with apparently qualified thinkers; recent responses to that question from conciliationists and anticonciliationists. Related issues in the theory of rationality.  HU
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

* PHIL 438a, Philosophy of Logic Sun-Joo Shin

Exploration of valid reasoning, mainly in the context of propositional and predicate logic. Topics include the well-known debate on the justification of modus ponens; Tarski’s analysis of logic consequence; and the relatively recent and provocative claim (made by Etchemendy) that Tarski’s analysis of logical consequence fails in capturing ordinary and intuitive concept of logical consequence.   Prerequisite: PHIL 267 or permission of the instructor.   HU
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

* PHIL 439b, Modal Logic Sun-Joo Shin

Basic philosophical concepts and logical tools underlying different modal systems, mainly focusing on necessity and possibility. Topics include propositional logic and its natural deductive system; modal operators and development of the simplest natural deductive system; extensions of the basic propositional modal system; intensional semantics; a diagrammatic method to check validity or invalidity; and quantified modal logic (QML). These topics lead to interesting philosophical issues and several non-standard logical assumptions. Prerequisite: basic knowledge of deductive systems.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

* PHIL 444b, Social Ontology Robin Dembroff

Study of conceptual and methodological foundations of social ontology, as well as particular topics within social ontology, such as the nature of gender and race. Prerequisites: at least one, but preferably two philosophy courses.  HU
M 1:30-3:20pm

Ethics and Value Theory

* PHIL 450a / EP&E 478a, The Problem of Evil Keith DeRose

The challenge that evil’s existence in the world poses for belief in a perfectly good and omnipotent God. The main formulations of the problem of evil; proposed ways of solving or mitigating the problem and criticism of those solutions. Skeptical theism, the free-will defense, soul-making theodicies, and doctrines of hell.  HU
T 1:30pm-3:20pm

*PHIL 451b / AFAM 404b Epistemic Oppression  Kristie Dotson

Feminists of color have grappled with knowledge-related problems for centuries, but because of differing metaphilosophical and background assumptions, their insights concerning epistemic oppression can be difficult for typical philosophy and academic audiences to identify and understand. This course equips students with the ability to detect and comprehend women of color feminist epistemological projects for more comprehensive ways of understanding epistemic oppression.  HU

T 7:00-8:50pm

* PHIL 454a / EP&E 479a, The Moral Theories of Moore and Ross Shelly Kagan

An examination of two of the most important works of moral philosophy of the twentieth century, Principia Ethica by G. E. Moore and The Right and the Good by W. D. Ross.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* PHIL 455b / EP&E 334b, Normative Ethics Shelly Kagan

A systematic examination of normative ethics, the part of moral philosophy that attempts to articulate and defend the basic principles of morality. The course surveys and explores some of the main normative factors relevant in determining the moral status of a given act or policy (features that help make a given act right or wrong). Brief consideration of some of the main views about the foundations of normative ethics (the ultimate basis or ground for the various moral principles). Prerequisite: a course in moral philosophy.  HU
Th 1:30pm-3:20pm

* PHIL 457b / EP&E 235b / PLSC 283b, Recent Work on Justice Thomas Pogge

In-depth study of one contemporary book, author, or debate in political philosophy, political theory, or normative economics. Focus varies from year to year based on student interest and may include a ground-breaking new book, the life’s work of a prominent author, or an important theme in contemporary political thought.  HU
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

* PHIL 464a / PLSC 291a, Justice, Taxes, and Global Financial Integrity Thomas Pogge

Study of the formulation, interpretation, and enforcement of national and international tax rules from the perspective of national and global economic justice. Previous courses in one or two of the following: law, economics, political science, or political philosophy.  HU
M 3:30pm-5:20pm

* PHIL 467b / PLSC 338b, The Ethics of Climate Change Alexandre Gajevic Sayegh

The response of the United States to global climate change and questions of climate justice. The importance of bridging the gap between theories of climate justice and real world climate policy. Topics include the effort to fairly mitigate and adapt to climate change; the responsibility to act upon climate change by countries and individuals; and how economics, environmental, and social sciences should contribute to the conceptualization of action-guiding moral and political theories.  SO
F 1:30-3:20pm

* PHIL 468a, Metaethics Stephen Darwall

A study of moral theorizing and moral discourse. The linguistic role of words like good, bad, right, and wrong; whether propositions that use these terms can be true or false. What ethical claims mean, if anything, and what kinds of reasoning or evidence might justify such claims.  HU
T 7pm-8:50pm

Tutorial and Senior Essay Courses

* PHIL 480a or b, Tutorial Daniel Greco

A reading course supervised by a member of the department and satisfying the following conditions: (1) the work of the course must not be possible in an already existing course; (2) the course must involve a substantial amount of writing, i.e., a term essay or a series of short essays; (3) the student must meet with the instructor regularly, normally for at least an hour a week; (4) the proposed course of study must be approved by both the director of undergraduate studies and the instructor.

* PHIL 490a and PHIL 491b, The Senior Essay Daniel Greco

The essay, written under the supervision of a member of the department, should be a substantial paper; a suggested length is between 8,000 and 12,000 words for one-term projects, and between 12,500 and 15,000 words for two-term projects. Students completing a one-term project should enroll in either 490 in the fall or 491 in the spring. Students completing a two-term project should enroll in both 490 and 491. The deadline for senior essays completed in the fall is December 5; the deadline for both one- and two-term senior essays completed in the spring is April 21.

Graduate, Divinity, and Law School Courses that Count toward the Major

Some Graduate, Divinity, and Law School courses are open to qualified undergraduates with permission of the instructor and the director of graduate studies or the dean or registrar of the Divinity or the Law School. (See “Courses in the Yale Graduate and Professional Schools” in section K of the Academic Regulations.) With permission of the director of undergraduate studies, relevant Graduate, Divinity, and Law School courses may count toward the major. Course descriptions appear in the Graduate, Divinity, and Law School bulletins.