Spring semester of 2015/2016
Hume's Practical Philosophy: Passion and Virtues
Hume said: "Nothing is more usual in philosophy, and even in common life, than to talk of the combat of passion and reason, to give the preference to reason, and to assert that men are only so far virtuous as they conform themselves to its dictates." Focusing on books 2 and 3 of his Treatise, in this reading group we will see how Hume's theory of the passions and moral theory aimed to overcome such a simplistic picture of human psychology and moral virtue. We will try to understand and evaluate Hume's famous statements that reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions, and that you cannot derive an 'ought' from an 'is'. We will compare Hume's own picture with contemporary Humean and anti-Humean approaches to practical philosophy, as regards the analysis of emotions, the theory of moral judgment, and the nature of virtue and vice.
Bernard Williams's Shame and Necessity
Reading Bernard Williams's Shame and Necessity.
History of Political Thought
As the historian Eric Hobsbawm wrote, “words are witnesses which often speak louder than documents.” This course will examine words and concepts from ancient Greece until the 19th century: dignity, justice, reason, nature, freedom, political community, equality, ideology, democracy, socialism and communism. To imagine the world without such words and the political concepts which they signify is to measure the profundity of the political ideas that shape our world. Beginning with Greek tragedy, the course will examine fundamental questions in the long tradition of political thought. Who is a citizen? Why should we obey the law? When is civil disobedience higher than the law? What is freedom and how is related to equality? What is political obligation? Why do individuals have the right to be treated with dignity and respect? Comprised of three parts: ancient, medieval and modern; the readings are brief selections from classical authors, rather than from secondary sources. Basic concepts such as justice, the rule of law, citizenship, power, liberty, equality, reason and representative government are traced from their origins in Greek thought to their development in the Renaissance to show how they guide political thinking today. The course discussions will emphasize the historical context and main points of different political thinkers and ideas. Because it is a historical class, attendance is important so that intellectual and historical influences of time periods are clear. Readings will be available on SIS. The class will be lecture and seminar format, based on the readings from a designated day.
The aim of the course is to acquaint the students with the philosophical foundations of critical thinking, most common types of faulty argumentation and to give them the skills to apply both at analyzing and re-constructing different kinds of arguments.
Social and Ethical Aspects of Engineering
Mats Volberg, Margit Sutrop, Ave Mets, Edit Talpsepp, Francesco Orsi
The objective of the course are to provide students with: Knowledge of ethical theories (general, enviromental ethics, research ethics, professional ethics etc). Ability to reflect upon ethical issues. Capacity to justify ethical positions. Teamwork and presentation skills.
Introduction to Philosophy of Language
This course introduces the main contemporary theories and basic concepts of the discipline in the analytic tradition.
Introduction to Epistemology
Alexander Stewart Davies
This lecture series will introduce students to the main topics in contemporary epistemology. Topics will include: the analysis of knowledge, sources of knowledge, and the problem of scepticism.
Introduction to Epistemology II
Alexander Stewart Davies
This course builds on the knowledge students gain of contemporary epistemology from Introduction to Epistemology. The aim is to develop student's capacity to critically engage with, rather than merely learn facts about, contemporary epistemology. Generally, this course must be taken simultaneously with Introduction to Epistemology I. Exceptions may be made--but you must discuss this with the course lecturer.
The aim of the course is to introduce advanced formal semantics with the help of an example/area of application that is interesting from both a linguistic and philosophical point of view.
Tiina Ann Kirss
The course introduces the foundational concepts of postcolonial thinking, with examples from the various histories from the "tricontinent," (India, Africa and Latin America) and to grasp the intellectual genealogies of post-colonial thinking. "Postcoloniality" was a condition being experienced and theorized outside of the academy long before the advent of academic postcolonial studies - during and after the post World War II struggles for independence spurred by activist writing and thinking led to the dismemberment of European cultural empires overseas. Topics to be discussed include: the act and process of colonization; colonialism and race; colonialism, sexuality, and domesticity; colonial violence; orientalism, subalternity, the problematic of the modernity; hybridity, mimicry, and cultural production. At the close of the course we will also discuss more recent theoretical proposals topics: "internal colonization" (A. Etkind), and "semicolonialism" (David Lloyd).