Course Descriptions – Spring 2011

Philosophy 101, Introduction to Philosophy: Reflections on the Human Condition (HU)

LEC 403, MW 11:00 – 11:50, MER 131
LEC 404, MW 2:00 – 2:50, ENG 105
Instructor: Edward Hinchman, hinchman@uwm.edu
Enrollment in one of the large lectures requires enrollment in a discussion section.

This course is an introduction to Western Philosophy. Students need not have any background in philosophy, or any plans for further study. The course has three broad aims:

  1. to introduce students to the tradition of philosophical argument in the West via primary texts,
  2. to teach students how in general to make and evaluate philosophical arguments,
  3. to demonstrate to any student who cares to participate actively how exciting and even fun philosophy can be.

Since philosophy is simply informed public reflection on what we're up to as we try to do and believe what we ought to do and believe – as Socrates put it, "What we are talking about is how one should live" – I hope that by the end of the term the third aim of the course will have taken priority over the other two.

Philosophy 101, Introduction to Philosophy: Selected Topics & Issues (HU)

LEC 001, M 6:30 – 9:10, CRT 309
LEC 002, R 6:30 – 9:10, CRT 309
Instructors (001/002): TBA

We will look at a representative selection of topics from the history of philosophy and current philosophical debates: ethics, social and political philosophy, the scope and nature of our knowledge of the world, the nature of the self and mind.

Philosophy 111, Informal Logic: Critical Reasoning (HU)

LEC 001, MW 11:00 – 12:15, TBA
LEC 002, MW 2:00 – 3:15, TBA
LEC 203, Online Web
Instructor: Matthew Knachel, knachel@uwm.edu

Logic is reason turned inward: it is the systematic study of correct and incorrect reasoning. As discursive creatures, we humans make assertions and back them up with reasons—we construct arguments. Since this activity is central to all fields of study, the tools that logic develops for identifying and analyzing good and bad arguments are universally applicable; anyone can benefit from a study of logic by becoming a more self-aware reasoner. It is possible to approach the study of logic more or less formally. A more formal approach to the subject abstracts from natural language and deploys sophisticated mathematical tools in the analysis of arguments. This course takes a less formal approach, focusing more on ordinary-language arguments found in everyday reasoning, and giving only a small taste of more formal techniques.

Philosophy 204, Introduction to Asian Religions (HU)

LEC 401, MW 1:00 – 1:50, END 103
Instructor: Matthew Knachel, knachel@uwm.edu
Enrollment in the large lecture (LEC 401) Philosophy 204 also requires enrollment in a discussion section.

We will examine various East-Asian religious traditions through the philosophical lens of Western metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. That is, we will try to situate their views on the nature of reality, our ability to know it, and what it means to live a good life, not only in relation to one another, but against the background of (presumably) more familiar Western religious and philosophical traditions.

Philosophy 211, Elementary Logic (HU)

LEC 401, MW 10:00 – 10:50, MER 131
LEC 402, MW 12:00 – 12:50, MER 131
Instructor: Richard Tierney, rtierney@uwm.edu
Enrollment in one of the large lectures (LEC 401/402) requires enrollment in a discussion section.

The Island of Knights and Knaves is a place where only Knights and Knaves live. A Knight is a person who always tells the truth. Knaves, on the other hand, never tell the truth. Harry, who lives on the island, says: "If I am a Knight, then I'll eat my hat." Did you know that you can prove from the above information that Harry will eat his hat? Did you know: 1) Given that Sarah loves either Jim or Tom and that if she loves Jim then she loves Tom, you can prove that she loves Tom? 2) that if everyone loves a lover and there is even one lover in the world, then everyone loves everyone? Learn how to solve these and other puzzles in Philosophy 211, where we will study formal deductive logic -- the science of what follows from what.

The concepts and techniques encountered in the study of deductive logic are of central importance to any analysis of argument and inference. They reflect fundamental patterns of proof found in science and mathematics, they underlie the programs that enable computers to "reason" logically, and they provide tools for characterizing the formal structures of language. This is an introductory course intended for students who have had no previous work in logic. There will be 3 exams and weekly homework assignments.

Philosophy 212, Modern Deductive Logic (HU)

LEC 001, TR 2:00 – 3:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Michael Liston, mnliston@uwm.edu
Prereq: grade C or better in Philos 211 (P)

The task of the first logic course - Philosophy 211 - was to develop a means for evaluating deductive arguments. This task involved the use of a formal language for expressing the logical structure of English sentences and the use of various formal techniques, including truth tables and deductions, for evaluating arguments. Once an English argument was translated into the formal language, formal techniques were used to solve an apparently informal problem, i.e., the problem of finding out whether it is possible for the conclusion of an argument to be false while all its premises are true. In Philosophy 212 we will continue this inquiry into the evaluation of deductive arguments. We will concentrate on two central areas. First, we will deal with statements and arguments that are more quantificationally complex than those studied in Philosophy 211. Second, we will address the issue of the adequacy of the formal system. Explicit definitions of validity of arguments and formal systems will be used for the investigation, via informal reasoning and proof, of what can be achieved by a deductive system. Philosophy 211 with a grade of 'C' or better is a prerequisite for this class.

Philosophy 215, Belief, Knowledge, & Truth: An Introduction to Theory of Knowledge (HU)

LEC 001, TR 9:30 – 10:45, CRT 309
Instructor: Michelle Mahlik, mmahlik@uwm.edu

In this course we will explore both historical and contemporary approaches to the question of the scope and limits to human knowledge. What is knowledge? What makes a belief true? How are beliefs justified? What are the implications of our understanding of knowledge for human activities and relationships? We will discuss the position of philosophical skepticism, the view that we actually know nothing at all, as well as possible responses. Further topics include feminist epistemology, naturalism, and the application of epistemology to other fields, such as religion and ethics.

Philosophy 232, Topics in Philosophy: History of Science from Galileo to Einstein (HU)

LEC 001, MW 11:00 – 12:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Stephen Leeds, sleeds@uwm.edu
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

This is a course on the history of science from the 17th to 20th centuries, concentrating mostly on physics, astronomy, and chemistry. The instructor believes that the great discoveries of this period should be accessible to everyone, not just scientists; for this reason, the course presupposes no background in physics. The student will however be expected to have, or anyway develop, a tolerance for a certain amount of mathematical argument, since so much of the reasoning by which Newton, Maxwell and the rest arrived at their discoveries was mathematical.

Philosophy 232, Topics in Philosophy: Theories of Human Nature (HU)

LEC 202, Online Web
Instructor: Miren Boehm, boehmm@uwm.edu
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

What is this enigma called “human”? It is hard to imagine a subject more important than the study of human nature. What are we? What is our origin? What is our destiny? Different answers have been offered to these questions throughout human history and if we were to put together all of these answers into a single view we would have to say that we are part angel, part demon, part rational, part animal, part nothing, part infinite, and more. In this class we shall examine the main theories in Western philosophy and religion, and to a lesser extent in Eastern thought. We begin with biblical views of human nature and Greek conceptions of our nature. These two are the most important sources for our self-understanding in the Western tradition. We then look at Hindu and Buddhist views of human nature followed by an in depth study of the Western, modern philosophical and scientific tradition: Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Schopenhauer, Marx, Freud, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus and Darwin. Towards the end, we approach the question of human nature by examining the mind/body problem and here we discuss some of the most prominent positions on the relationship between the mind and the brain: dualistic interactionism, materialist monism and functionalism. And finally we raise the question of free will. Are we really free agents, or are we entirely determined by antecedent causes? And can determinism and free will be reconciled?

Philosophy 232, Topics in Philosophy: Personal Identity and the Self (HU)

LEC 203, Online Web
Instructor: Luca Ferrero, ferrero@uwm.edu
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

What makes us a person and why does personhood matter? What makes each of us a particular person with a distinctive individual identity? How is this identity preserved in time? Is the biological death of the body also the death of the person? Does each of us have something as a unique and unified 'self'?

Does personal identity depend on the continuity of memories, beliefs and psychological traits? Or the continuity of a body? Or the persistence of an immortal and immaterial soul? What do we learn about the nature of persons from the investigations of cases of amnesia, brain bisection, multiple personality disorders, and sci-fi thought experiments?

What is death? Should we fear our own death? What would immortality of a person amount to? Is immortality desirable?

Philosophy 241, Introductory Ethics (HU)

LEC 401, MW 11:00 – 11:50, END 103
Instructor: Nataliya Palatnik, palatnik@uwm.edu
Enrollment in the large lecture also requires enrollment in a discussion section.

Most people agree that morality involves standards that should be taken seriously in guiding conduct and assessing our claims against others. Yet various moral philosophers have offered very different accounts of what morality is and why we should care about it. We will study four basic philosophical approaches to morality and consider how they have shaped the history of ethical thought as well as their influence on moral philosophy today. We will first consider ethical rationalism, which takes moral principles to describe an independent order of values fixed in the nature of things, and the ideal-spectator approach, which takes morally wrong actions to be those an impartial sympathetic observer would disapprove of. We will then turn to Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy, which grounds morality in rational principles which all reasonable agents possess in common in virtue of their status as rational beings, and contractualism, according to which the correct moral principles are those which would be agreed to by all reasonable beings as a basis for their community. We shall see how these basic approaches get reflected in theories of social and economic justice.

Philosophy 243, Moral Problems (HU)

LEC 001: War and Torture, TR 3:30 – 4:45, CRT 109 (1/24-2/26)
LEC 002: Sex and Marriage, TR 3:30 – 4:45, CRT 109 (2/28-4/9)
LEC 003: Pornography & Censorship, TR 3:30 – 4:45, CRT 109 (4/11-5/12)
Instructor: Elizabeth Silverstein, silvers2@uwm.edu
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

Note: LEC 001, 002, & 003 are worth one credit each. You do not have to enroll for all three sections.
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

Each section of the course will begin with the presentation of ethical tools that will be useful in our examination and discussion of particular moral problems related to the chosen topics: war and torture; sex and marriage; and pornography & censorship. The goal of the course(s) is to come to a deeper understanding of the issues involved in complex moral problems and too be able to better assess and argue for one's position with regard to such issues.

243-001: War & Torture

This five-week course will address moral issues related to war, particularly the use of torture. Questions that will be addressed include: Is war always wrong? Is there such a thing as a "just" war? How should we define torture? Is torture ever justified? Do humans have an inalienable right not to be tortured?

243-002: Sex & Marriage

This five-week course will examine moral problems related to sex, sexuality, and marriage. Questions that will be addressed include: What is the purpose of sex? Why are some sexual encounters morally problematic and not others? What is adultery, and is it always wrong? Is homosexuality immoral? What is marriage? What is its purpose? Is marriage a right? If it is who has the right to marry?

243-003: Pornography & Censorship

This five-week course will examine issues related to free speech and censorship primarily through a discussion of pornography. In this course we will discuss issues such as: What is pornography? How is it different from art? Who should make such distinctions? Is the production or consumption of pornography morally wrong? If so, what explains why they are wrong? Even if they are wrong, is this a case in which people may have a right to do wrong? Is it moral for a government to pass laws restricting the production and consumption of pornography?

Philosophy 244, Ethical Issues in Health Care: Contemporary Problems (HU)

LEC 001, R 6:00 – 8:40
Instructor: Kristin Tym, ktym03@gmail.com
Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max.

This course will provide a general overview of many of the challenging ethical issues faced in health care delivery today. We will begin the course with an introduction of ethical theories and other approaches to moral decision-making. These theories and approaches will then be applied to ethical problems currently confronting health care providers, patients and their families, and society at large. Issues we will consider include informed consent and confidentiality, futility and withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment, euthanasia and assisted suicide, assisted reproduction, genetics, allocation of scarce resources and research ethics.

Philosophy 250, Philosophy of Religion (HU)

LEC 401, MW 12:00 – 12:50, END 103
Instructor: Elizabeth Silverstein, silvers2@uwm.edu
Enrollment in the LEC 401 also requires enrollment in a discussion section.

The vast majority of people when questioned will say they believe in God. In this course we will examine this common belief in depth. Topics covered will include: arguments for God's existence, the rationality of belief in God, the problem of evil, the compatibility of human free will the existence of an all powerful God, and the rationality of religious faith.

Philosophy 317, Metaphysics (HU)

LEC 001, MW 2:00 – 3:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Fabrizio Mondadori

In this course we shall raise, discuss, and attempt to answer, the following (inter-related) questions: (1) whether or not it is possible to change the past (and what is meant by the claim that it can, or cannot, be changed); and (2) whether or not the effect can precede its cause, i.e., whether or not there can be such a thing as backward causation. We shall read texts by Aristotle, St. Thomas, Michael Dummett and David Lewis.

Philosophy 324, Philosophy of Science

LEC 001, MW 12:30 – 1:45, CRT 309
Instructor: Aaron Schiller, schillea@uwm.edu
Prereq: jr st & 3 cr in philos.

As arguably the most successful method of attaining knowledge about our world ever devised, science raises many important philosophical questions. What makes something a science? How do the explanations that science provides us work? How are scientific theories proven, if indeed they ever can be? Does science discover or create its facts? These questions and more will be at the center of a topical survey of philosophical thinking about science.

Philosophy 341, Modern Ethical Theories

LEC 001b, TR 12:30 – 1:45, CRT 309
Instructor: Andrea Westlund, westlund@uwm.edu
Prereq: jr st; & 3 cr in philos.

This course will treat a range of issues in contemporary ethics and the theory of practical reason. Its main focus will be on normative ethics or, in other words, on theories about how we should live. What makes an act right or wrong? What sort of person should one strive to be? How do moral requirements bear on our more personal commitments, and how should conflicts between different types of obligation be resolved? We will spend some time on each of the main types of normative theory, including contemporary versions of utilitarianism, Kantianism, and virtue ethics. In each case we will begin by exploring the historical precursors to these more contemporary approaches. Likely readings include selections by Christine Korsgaard (paired with Kant), J.J.C. Smart and Bernard Williams (paired with J.S. Mill), and Philippa Foot (paired with Aristotle).

Philosophy 351, Philosophy of Mind

LEC 001 TR 3:30 – 4:45 CRT 309
Instructor: Andrea Schiller, schillea@uwm.edu
Prereq: jr st, 3 cr philos; or grad st.

The philosophy of mind is concerned with the nature of mind and thought. Some of its questions are: What is the mind? How does it fit into the rest of the universe? How can one tell that another has a mind? What is it to think? Could a machine think? When one thinks, what is it that one is thinking? How does thought relate to perception and action? Though we will begin by reading some foundational texts in the history of Western philosophy, the majority of our time will be spent reading contemporary philosophers. By the end of the term, students will have solid foundation in one of the most fundamental areas of philosophy.

Philosophy 432, History of Modern Philosophy

LEC 001, TR 11:00 – 12:15, TBA
Instructor: Margaret Atherton, atherton@uwm.edu
Prereq: jr st & 3cr in philos.

The philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries in Western Europe put a highly characteristic stamp on philosophical thought, one that is still influential today. The period, characterized as "Modern" because it ushered in a new approach to knowledge, particularly knowledge of the natural world, but also a knowledge of human nature. Philosophers of this period, starting with Descartes, struggled to find an understanding of the makeup of the natural world and of the way in which we can know this natural world while simultaneously struggling to find the place of religion within these new developments. The period is also called the Age of Enlightenment, reflecting widespread confidence in human ability to understand the natural order and human nature within that order. We will follow the leading philosophers of this period as they develop various and unique accounts of what there is, how we know it, and what we are like as knowers, tracing the implications of their respect for science, their increasing curiosity about the nature of the human mind and their struggles to understand the relationship between science and religion. We will hope to understand the work of these philosophers both as foundational to the development of the sciences of their time and as providing the framework within which we continue to address their issues. We will be reading selections from leading philosophers of this time, including Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley and Hume, but because this was also a period in which philosophy was carried out by many people in many different venues, we will also be reading brief excepts from some of the little known women philosophers of the period.

Philosophy 435, Existentialism

LEC 001, MW 11:00 – 12:15, CRT 309
Instructor: William Bristow, bristow@uwm.edu
Prereq: jr st & 3cr in philos.

The French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre argues that we human beings are “condemned to freedom”, by which he means that the tasks of choosing and determining ourselves are inescapable for us, even though we are tempted to relieve ourselves of the burdens that accompany these tasks. Existentialism is a philosophical, literary and cultural movement in the West that begins to take shape in the nineteenth century and flourishes most fully in the twentieth century. Existentialist thinkers and artists attempt to characterize and to highlight the distinctively human predicament that has its root in this burden of human freedom, and they end up representing it in very different ways. All existentialist thinkers are struggling against a common set of threats that the modern western world makes pressing for human beings: the threats of meaninglessness, of despair, of nihilism, of pessimism, of the loss of self in “inauthenticity” or “conformity”. In this course, we study the rise and development of existentialist thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries through examining both philosophical and artistic works. We will read texts from among the following authors: the Danish religious thinker Søren Kierkegaard, the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the Russian novelists Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy, and the twentieth century philosophers Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Because film has been an especially rich medium for investigating existentialist themes, we will also study at least two existentialist films.

Philosophy 519, Special Problems in Metaphysics and Epistemology: Possible Objects

LEC 001, M 5:00 – 7:40, CRT 607
Instructor: Fabrizio Mondadori
Prereq: jr st & 3cr in philos. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max.

If I say, “There could have been more objects than there actually are”, the “objects” I am - in some sense – talking about are possibilia, i.e., more precisely, possible but non-actual objects – in the broadest possible sense of “object”. (Things, however, take a quite different turn if I say, instead, “There could have been fewer objects than there actually are”.) They may be characterized as objects which would (or, more weakly: might) have been actual, if things had been otherwise. This characterization supposes, of course, that the objects in question already qualify as possible: it is just a consequence of the fact that those objects count as possible to begin with, and hence, that they are actualizable. A number of questions arise here. First, is there any reason to accept an ontology that comprises, side-by-side with so-called actual objects, possible objects as well? Second, are there as many kinds of possible objects as there are kinds of possibility (e.g. logical and physical possibility: we may want to say, for instance, that some, but not all, non-actual objects qualify at once both as physically impossible and as logically possible)? Third, the claim that a possible object is non-actual need not at all imply that it does not exist: how are the property, if such there be - of being non-actual (actual) and of being non-existent (existent) related? Fourth, if the view is put forth that a possible object is non-actual, but – in spite of this – exists, what kind of existence should be ascribed to it? Fifth, if it is neither actual nor existent, does it make any sense to say of it that it is? Note that different answers to these questions may be required if the possible objects at play are possible individuals, or else possible states of affairs, or else possible worlds. Finally, a distinction must be drawn between the notion of a possible object, that of an unreal object, that of an imaginary object, that of a fictional object, and that of a fictitious object. Quine has said of intensions (he would undoubtedly have said the same of possible objects) that they are “creatures of darkness”, and that they should be “exorcised”. We shall not quite follow his (implicit) advice here – viz., Quine the lot, and give it over as unintelligible. We shall instead attempt to prove the correctness of St. Paul’s prediction (in I Cor. 4:5) that the “hidden things of darkness” will eventually be “brought to light”, and thereby be made intelligible. We shall read texts by the chimera; Meinong; Russell; Marcus; Kripke; Williamson; Priest; Kaplan; and David Lewis.

Philosophy 532, Philosophical Problems: Pragmatism

LEC 001, TR 3:30 – 4:45, CRT 607
Instructor: Robert Schwartz, schwartz@uwm.edu
Prereq: jr st, 3 cr in philos. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max.

Recently there has been an enormous resurgence of interest in Pragmatism, not only in philosophy, but in political science, sociology, cultural studies, and many other areas of intellectual pursuit. This course will examine main themes, problems, and trends in Pragmatism. It will focus on the writings of Peirce, James, and Dewey. The implications of their ideas to current controversies concerning truth, knowledge, relativism, and inquiry will be explored. Questions will also be raised about the goals and methods of philosophy.


Philosophy 532, Philosophical Problems: Language, Meaning, Mind

LEC 002, MW 3:30 – 4:45, CRT 607
Instructor: Aaron Schiller, schillea@uwm.edu
Prereq: jr st, 3 cr in philos. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max.

A controversial issue in the philosophy of language is that of the complex relationship between the meaningfulness of a language and the directedness of the mind. Does language have meaning because minds are directed at the world? Or are minds somehow directed at the world because of language? Taking the relations between language, meaning, and mind as our theme, issues to be discussed include: the elements of linguistic meaning such as sense and reference, the Wittgenstienian idea that meaning is use, speech act theory, the status of fictional and metaphorical discourse, the structure of directedness as such, and more.

Philosophy 681, Seminar in Advanced Topics: Kant's Theoretical Philosophy

SEM 001, MW, 2:00—3:15, CRT 607
Instructor: William Bristow, bristow@uwm.edu
Prereq: sr st & 12 cr in philos at 300-level or above; or grad st. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max. Consent required to audit.

“The Critique of Pure Reason" by Immanuel Kant is certainly one of the most important works in the area of epistemology and metaphysics in the history of Western Philosophy. In this course we study the work carefully. Some of the main questions that are addressed in the work are: How is rational (or a priori) knowledge possible? How is empirical knowledge possible? What is the nature of space and of time? How do we know (if we do) that the natural world is causally ordered? If nature is causally ordered, how is human freedom possible? -- We will read the Critique itself, of course, but also selections from secondary works.

Philosophy 685, Senior Capstone Research Seminar: The Will

SEM 001, R 5:00—7:40, CRT 607
Instructor: Luca Ferrero, ferrero@uwm.edu
Prereq: sr st; declared Philos major; or cons instr. Retakable w/chg in topic to 6 cr max. Consent required to audit. Satisfies L&S research requirement.

What is the nature of the will, of our capacity for choice and intentional action? What is the role of our volitional capacities in relation to other rational faculties? In this seminar, we will try to answer these questions by considering issues such as: What is the relation between the conclusion of practical reasoning, intention, and action? Is perverse action really possible or is willing necessarily ‘under the guise of the good’? Is willing constrained by normative or rational pressures? Is it possible to believe something at will? What is the best philosophical account of defective willing, as exhibited in cases of weakness of will, compulsion, and addiction? Is the operation of the will under some rational pressure for unity and consistency, both at a time and over time? What is the role of the will in the constitution of the subject’s identity?

Philosophy 712, Fundamentals of Formal Logic

LEC 001, TR 2:00 – 3:15, CRT 309
Instructor: Michael Liston, mnliston@uwm.edu
Prereq: grad st.
Taught with Philos 212-001.

We will work through standard soundness, completeness, and other metatheoretic results for first order logic. (See also Philosophy 212.)

Philosophy 758, Seminar in Major Philosophers: Hume

LEC 001, T 11:00 – 1:40, CRT 607
Instructor: Miren Boehm, boehmm@uwm.edu
Prereq: grad st; cons instr. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max.

This is an in depth study of David Hume’s masterpiece, A Treatise of Human Nature. We shall move through the text in order, discussing first Book I, “Of the Understanding”. Here we examine Hume’s theory of ideas, his account of space and time, his account of causal reasoning, his account of the self, and his discussion of skepticism and the resulting assessment of our human nature and our relation to the natural world. Then we move to Book II, “Of the Passions” and discuss Hume’s account of the passions and the will. Finally we turn to Book III, “Of Morals” and examine Hume’s theory of virtues (and vices), and justice. (I am thinking we read the whole Treatise from cover to cover, but will see…)

Philosophy 920, Seminar in the Philosophy of Science: Scientific Realism, Antirealism, and Other Isms

SEM 001, W 6:30 – 9:10, CRT 607
Instructor: Michael Liston, mnliston@uwm.edu
Prereq: grad st & cons instr. Retakable w/chg in topic to 9 cr max.

Several disputes in contemporary philosophy of science are described as disputes about scientific realism – disputes concerning the extent to which, if any, we are entitled to hope, believe, or accept that science will tell us what the world is like. Realists tend to be optimistic; antirealists do not; some think the disputes depend on problematic presuppositions about truth and inference. These disputes raise important metaphysical and epistemological questions about the nature of science, scientific explanation, and scientific inference, and about what science can or cannot tell us about the world. In the seminar we will follow the twists and turns the debates took since the late 1880-s to the present. We will begin with objections to the reality of atoms and forces made by some philosopher-physicists (Duhem, Hertz, Poincaré) of the late 19th century and look at logical positivism/empiricism (Carnap, Schlick, Hempel) as a comprehensive development of those objections. We will then move on to reactions to logical positivism, both realist-inspired (Putnam and Boyd) and historicist-inspired (Kuhn). The second half of the course will be devoted to various interpretations of science and the realism question that have been proposed since the 1980-s by philosophers like Cartwright, Fine, Rorty, Van Fraassen, and Worrall.