Courses

Title Instructor Cross-listed with Credit
Academic Writing Thomas Rooney 2.0
Advanced Greek Text Reading Seminar - Reading Plotinus' treatise Against the Gnostics (II.9 [33])

This course aims at developing the skills of advanced and intermediate students of Greek for reading philosophical texts . The text to be read is II.9 (33), to which Plotinus’ pupil Porphyry gave the title “Against the Gnostics”. In fact, it is only the final part of Plotinus’ (204/5-269/70) big anti-Gnostic treatise (the Großschrift) consisting of III.8 (30)-V.8 (31)-V.5 (32)-II.9 (33), which Porphyry split into four in order to obtain the perfect Pythagorean number of 6x9 of the treatises.

István Perczel
Csaba Ötvös
Department of Medieval Studies 2.0
Alternative Conceptions of God and Religious Practice

We can define the sacred as the metaphysical reality which gives sense to religious practice. Some identify the sacred with the God of classic theism: a supernatural being who is all knowing, all powerful and perfectly good. However, in this course we explore non-standard conceptions of the sacred, with a particular focus on pantheistic or panentheistic views, according to which the sacred is identical with, or encompasses, the physical universe.

Philip Goff 2.0
Ancient Philosophy

The course gives an overview of key issues of ancient philosophy from the Presocratics to the Hellenistic Age. The course does not require or build on any specific previous knowledge of ancient philosophy. We will read and discuss a selection of texts from different authors and periods, focussing on their argumentative methods and philosophical concepts, interpretative problems discussed in the contemporary literature and the major alternatives in trying to answer these problems.

István Bodnár 2.0
Causation and Free Will

In this course we shall investigate several aspects of the metaphysics of free will, time, and causation. First, we shall discuss the question about the nature of efficient causes of free actions, i.e. whether they are events or agents. Second, we shall consider arguments for and against the compatibility of free will and physical determinism. Third, we shall investigate how temporal, causal and counterfactual asymmetries are related to our free agency. And finally, we shall discuss the possibility of affecting the past by our actions.

Ferenc Huoranszki 4.0
Cognitive Science and Policy Making: Nudging

How can political theory and cognitive science inform policy-making? Can policy be improved by taking elements of these theories into account? What normative issues does cognitive science raise for politics and political philosophy? In order to approach these questions, we will review recent work done in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics that develop accounts of decision-making that are alternatives the classical homo economics model.

Andres Moles
Christophe Heintz
Department of Political Science 4.0
Conscious Thought

By far the dominant view in the 20th century was that thought had nothing to do with consciousness. We can see this as the main theories of thought, e.g. by Donald Davidson and Jerry Fodor, were silent on the subject of consciousness. In the twenty first century a growing number of philosophers have been arguing that thought and consciousness are intimately connected. Proponents of cognitive phenomenology believe that there is a distinctive kind of consciousness involved in thought.

Philip Goff 2.0
Consciousness and the Physical World

Mind and matter don’t seem to fit in the same world; this is the essence of the mind-body problem. Space-filling solid stuff doesn’t seem to belong with invisible inner-experiencing. The neural processing of the brain is best known through third-person scientific investigation; whilst the subjective first-person perspective of the mind is arguably best captured in literature. How are we to make sense of these seemingly incongruous things being unified aspects of a single reality? In this course we consider in detail two options:

Philip Goff 2.0
Continental Philosophy

This course is a survey of the most important thinkers in the continental tradition since Kant. The primary figures are Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and either Sartre or Foucault. The questions range from epistemology and metaphysics to the philosophy of history and ethics.

David Weberman 2.0
Cosmopolitanism and Global Justice

This course explores some of the central issues of political morality as they apply at the international level. Traditionally, political theory has discussed the problems of the relationship between the state and its citizens. In recent decades, its scope has been expanded to cover the morality of the relation between states, and especially the relation between persons globally.

Zoltan Miklosi Department of Political Science 4.0
Departmental Colloquium

The department arranges for about ten colloquia per semester, usually on Tuesdays, in which visiting or CEU faculty give talks on diverse topics followed by discussion with the audience. Students are required to attend 70% of these meetings and are encouraged to participate in the discussion. No further preparation or written work is required.

various 1.0
Doctoral Reading Seminar

In the reading seminar, students read and discuss recent work in a variety of philosophical areas. This is intended to help them keep abreast of recent developments and also widen and deepen their acquaintance with a variety of philosophical subjects. The seminar meets every second week and is organised by a 2nd or 3rd year doctoral student. The seminar is open to all students and faculty and all the department will be informed on the readings, but attendance in ten meetings annually is mandatory for 2nd and 3rd year doctoral students.

various 1.0
Doctoral Work-in-Progress seminar

The aim of the Work-in-progress Seminar is to provide a forum for doctoral candidates to acquire professional skills and receive continuous feedback on their work. The seminars consist of discussions of recent literature in the area of the candidates' research and presentations of the candidates' work in progress.

Ferenc Huoranszki 2.0
Doctoral Work-in-Progress seminar

The aim of the Work-in-progress Seminar is to provide a forum for doctoral candidates to acquire professional skills and receive continuous feedback on their work. The seminars consist of discussions of recent literature in the area of the candidates’ research and presentations of the candidates’ work in progress.

David Weberman 2.0
Early Greek Philosophy and Science

The course will discuss the relationship between science and philosophy from Thales to Plato’s Timaeus, based on the relevant fragments of the Presocratic philosophers and sections from Hippocratic treatises. The primary questions will be the following:

Gábor Betegh 2.0
Epistemology

The course introduces the main topics and issues in contemporary epistemology. First, the framework: why we care for knowledge, and what is its value. Next, the nature and definition(s) of knowledge, in particular the relation of knowledge and epistemic justification. A particular, important and problematic area and kind of knowledge is then taken as an interesting example, namely moral knowledge: do we have it, what is it, and where could it come from. Finally, the classical topic of kinds of justification: a priori vs. a posteriori knowledge.

Nenad Miscevic 2.0
Ethics

Ethics is broadly concerned with questions of how one ought to live. In this introductory course we will reflect on the moral and prudential aspects of ethics. First, we will look at some of the main theories of morally right conduct, including theories of utilitarianism, deontology, pluralism, virtue ethics, and feminist ethics. In the second part of the course we will consider the sorts of things that constitute a life well lived, such as moral perfection, desire-satisfaction, pleasure, and objective well-being understood in terms of capability or rational care.

Emma Bullock
TA: Marko Konjovic
2.0
Ethics of Government Propaganda

Winter Term - Year One and Two Elective Course

AOC: Global Media and Communication

Simon Rippon 2.0
Ethics, Autonomy and Paternalism

Paternalism is standardly taken to be a bad thing: policies and practices are ruled out on the basis that they constitute paternalism, and it is frequently claimed that paternalistic interferences wrongly treat adults as if they were children. Increasingly, however, paternalism is being defended as something that can be morally justified. This module explores the extent to which arguments in favor of justified paternalism carry weight.

Emma Bullock 2.0
Explanation

Sciences aim at explanation. What is an explanation and which different kinds of explanation in sciences can be distinguished? There are different classic approaches to what makes an explanation distinct from a description or prediction. The classic nomological approaches characterized explanations as deductive or inductive arguments, the unification approach classified explanations as allowing to grasp diverse phenomena under one general principle, the causal approach claimed that explanations refer to causes.

Maria Kronfeldner 2.0
Foundations of Political Philosophy

The course deals with a few of the most fundamental problems of contemporary political philosophy, regarding the ground and scope of the authority of the state to make and enforce rules that bind its citizens. Most people would agree that the state indeed has such authority, and that citizens are usually under a moral obligation to comply with the rules made by the government. However, there are deep disagreements concerning the source of this authority as well as about its proper limits: what are the goals that the government may or must rightfully pursue and by what means?

Zoltan Miklosi Department of Political Science 2.0
Greek Reading Seminar I

The primary aim of this course is an in-depth discussion of a fundamental issue in early Greek philosophy, the role of opposites and opposition. This will be pursued by reading a collection of Heraclitus’ fragments. Depending on the level of the participants this can be supplemented in two directions: we can turn to other Presocratic philosophers – most notably Anaximander, Anaximenes, Parmenides and Anaxagoras. The other major avenue to discuss the role of opposites and oppositions in these authors is to turn to Aristotle’s Physics chapter 4 of Book I.

István Bodnár 2.0
Greek Reading Seminar II

The primary aim of this course is an in-depth discussion of a fundamental issue in early Greek philosophy, the role of opposites and opposition. This will be pursued by reading a collection of Heraclitus’ fragments. Depending on the level of the participants this can be supplemented in two directions: we can turn to other Presocratic philosophers – most notably Anaximander, Anaximenes, Parmenides and Anaxagoras. The other major avenue to discuss the role of opposites and oppositions in these authors is to turn to Aristotle’s Physics chapter 4 of Book I.

István Bodnár 2.0
Introduction to Cognitive Science

This course will give a broad overview of the fundamental assumptions and findings in Cognitive Science, the interdisciplinary study of the mind. The lectures in the first half of the course will cover the main ideas that have been driving the study of the human mind for the last fifty years. These will include the view that the mind functions like a digital computer, the view that the mind functions like a neural network, and the view that the mind should be conceived of as a dynamical system closely tied to the environment.

Guenther Knoblich Department of Cognitive Science 2.0
Introduction to Contemporary Political Philosophy

The study of politics includes not only how the political world operates, but also how it ought to operate. The course focuses on John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice and some of the most important objections it has been presented with in the last thirty years. The course addresses some of these questions: what is a fair redistribution? How can taxation be justified? Is justice about giving people what they deserve? Is equality an important political value? Should people who are reluctant to take up employment be subsidised? How can political institutions be justified?

Andres Moles Department of Political Science 4.0
Issues in Applied Ethics

This course provides a forum for discussion of a selection of topics in applied ethics through contemporary literature. In examining these topics, we will discuss principles and problems of broader philosophical significance in applied ethics that turn out to underlie many disagreements. We will also address the broader question of the nature of methodology in applied ethics. Topics discussed will include the ethics of human enhancement, climate change, and markets in human organs.

Simon Rippon 4.0
Killing

There is a prima facie duty not kill people. But, in certain circumstances it seems permissible to do so. The course explores under which conditions killing is morally acceptable and the kinds of constraints that we face when killing someone. We will address some of the following questions: do we have to save the greater number of people? When is killing in self-defence permissible? Is abortion morally acceptable? What constraints do apply when killing in war?

Andres Moles 4.0
Knowledge and the material culture of the sciences

Embarking on an artifact-based study, the scholar presented with a scientific object engages with it in a very different manner that she would with textual resources such as published books and papers, notebooks, letters, or lab memos. Interacting with the very materiality of the objects allows the scholar to experience new dimensions of the artifacts history, presence, and use. Underpinning this intimacy is the idea that scientific objects are bearers of meaning, although not necessarily (and never exclusively) textual.

Mathieu Charbonneau 2.0
Late Ancient and Mediaeval Science (5th-15th c.)

The course this year focuses on ancient, late ancient and medieval cosmology. Through a thread of sources, it tackles the approaches taken throughout these periods towards the understanding of the universe. The course gives a general introduction to the notions of ancient, late ancient and medieval science and considers the way in which they differ from our modern understanding of science. It looks at the various branches of science related to and used within the cosmological enquiries of the various periods.

Anna Somfai Department of Medieval Studies 2.0
Logic

This course will focus primarily on the formal properties of statements and sets of statements. It will be shown how to determine which statements are logical truths or tautologies, i.e., true by virtue of their logical form, and how to determine when a statement follows from, or is entailed by, other statements as a matter of logic alone. We will develop the methods for formally deriving conclusion from premises, or logical truths from no premises at all.

Mike Griffin 2.0
MA Thesis Seminar Mike Griffin 2.0
Medieval Theories of Language and Logic

The class will cover the basic issues of the linguistic and logical theories of the Latin Middle Ages, beginning with the theory of signs of Augustine, and then following up the issues of speculative grammar, and finally the mature logical theories of High Scholasticism. The logical issues which became characteristic of the philosophical paradigm of the Latin West had been forged at the universities between 1100 to 1500, since philosophy (meaning science) relied heavily on linguistic and semantic presuppositions, a re-interpreted heritage of late antiquity.

György Geréby Department of Medieval Studies 2.0
Metametaphysics

Metaphysics is philosophical enquiry into the nature of reality. But what does that involve and how is it done? How on earth can a philosopher, sat in an armchair without doing experiments, possibly hope to find out what the world is like? There was a period of sustained and strong opposition to metaphysics from the 1930s to the 1970s. Since then serious systematic metaphysics has been going on in most analytic philosophy departments. And yet it is not clear that metaphysics has made any progress, and the general public is mostly unaware of its existence.

Philip Goff 2.0
Metaphysics

The course offers a general introduction into some of the major problems of contemporary analytic metaphysics. Metaphysics is a study of the most general categories in order to answer the question: what are the ultimate constituents of reality. In the course we’ll be addressing the following problems. What are properties and how are they related to objects? Under what conditions can a particular object retain its identity? What holds together the totality of particulars in order to constitute one universe, and what explains their changes? Do other universes than the actual exist?

Ferenc Huoranszki 2.0
Modern Political Thought

What values should our political institutions promote? One way to address this question looks at how our values were defended and articulated in the past. Thinking about the past can provide important insights of how we should live together. This course reviews some of the major figures in modern political thought from Hobbes to J. S. Mill.

Andres Moles Department of Political Science 2.0
Neoplatonism and Advaita Vedānta: an Introduction to the Problem

Non-degree Specialization: Eastern Mediterranean Studies

István Perczel
Ferenc Ruzsa
Department of Medieval Studies 2.0
Philosophical Considerations on Psychological Research

Psychological research inevitably involves a variety of assumptions concerning the concepts of language and mentality that it uses: the nature of meaning; the nature of ‘mental states’; what constitutes memory; how voluntary and intentional actions are produced; the relation between reasons, inference, brain mechanism and action; and more. From the earliest times of reflection upon them, these concepts have been infected by misinterpretations, which psychologists are as prone to adopt as is anyone thinking about them.

Hanoch Ben-Yami 2.0
Philosophy of Language

We shall study several central topics in contemporary philosophy of language. Each of these topics is central not only in focusing much discussion but also in influencing the discussion of other philosophical issues. Due to the variety of topics, none will be exhaustively discussed in the course, but the hope is that the main approaches to the problems, their motivation and presuppositions would be clearly delineated. Students who write a paper for the course are expected to choose one of the topics as subject of their term paper and to extend and deepen the discussion in their work.

Hanoch Ben-Yami 2.0
Philosophy of Medicine

The philosophy of medicine is a broad discipline, touching on themes within metaphysics, epistemology and social philosophy. Part one of the module will guide students in unpacking the concepts of ‘health’, ‘disease’ and ‘illness,’ as related to definitions of mental illness, disability and human enhancement. In part two of the module students will test their metaphysical and epistemological intuitions against a number of social, political and cultural concerns about the nature and scope of medicine.

 

Emma Bullock 2.0
Philosophy of Science: Core Contemporary Issues

The way science works raises deep and pressing philosophical questions. Is there a way to demarcate science from non-science? How is scientific knowledge made reliable? Is it giving us access to reality or is it merely a tool for successful prediction? The so-called “analytic” project (following Barker & Kitcher’s terminology) within philosophy of science focused on these and similar (by now) classic issues: the demarcation of science, confirmation, realism, the nature of theories, their relations to each other, laws of nature and explanation.

Maria Kronfeldner 2.0
Rationalism and Empiricism

This course is a survey of 17th and 18th-century philosophy meant to fulfill a core requirement in the 2-year MA program. The main aim of the course is to acquire knowledge of the central issues and arguments of the early modern period. Topics will include knowledge and skepticism, the nature of substance, the relation of mind and body, the scope and limits of scientific explanation, personal identity and freedom and necessity.

Mike Griffin 2.0
Scholastic Philosophy and Theology of Nature

High scholasticism (13th-14th c.) developed sophisticated and original ways to discuss issues

György Geréby Department of Medieval Studies 2.0
Similar Ideas, Images and Arguments: Ancient Greek and Indian Thought
In the course several more or less clear examples of Greek-Indian cultural interaction will be analysed, focusing on philosophy, from Parmenides to Sextus Empiricus and the Neo-Platonists -- from the Rig-Veda to Shankara. We will discuss the essential cultural background, political and trade contacts.
Ferenc Ruzsa
TA: Kata Aklan
Department of Medieval Studies 2.0
Spinoza's Ethics
This is a reading course on Spinoza's masterpiece, the Ethics. Through a careful reading of the text, as well as related material, we will investigate fundamental issue in Spinoza's ontology and modal theory. This will lead us to related discussions of Spinoza's theory of mind, epistemology and his views on causation and freedom. This course is open to all philosophy students, others should seek instructor permission.
Mike Griffin 2.0
Tax and Social Justice

The first half of the course is more theoretical, focusing on the nature of ownership and self-ownership and its implications for how the tax system ought to be arranged. There are roughly three positions we will consider:

Philip Goff 2.0
The Divine Attributes

We will consider the properties attributed to God in the Western philosophical tradition. We will examine both historical and contemporary attempts to formulate doctrines of divine omniscience, omnipotence and absolute goodness, as well as eternality, simplicity, immutability and necessary existence. We will investigate whether these properties are consistent with each other and with free will, contingency and the existence of evil. Along the way, we will explore the broader consequences of these doctrines for philosophy of language, ontology, modality and modal epistemology, and ethics.

Mike Griffin 2.0
The Ethics of Government Propaganda

This course will examine the nature and ethics of government propaganda by reviewing some contemporary (purported) examples of propaganda as well as literature on propaganda and related topics in moral and political philosophy. Government propaganda can be understood loosely as a state-supported strategy of providing partial, distorted or emotionally evocative presentations of information to a population in order to promote attitudes that serve the government's goals.

Simon Rippon School of Public Policy 2.0
The Metaphysics of Time

We will explore the central debates in the philosophy of time:

  1. Presentism (the view that only the present moment is real) versus eternalism (all moments in time are equally real).
  2. Four-dimensionalism (objects are four-dimensional ‘spacetime worms’ stretched out across the four dimensions of space and time) versus three-dimensionalism (an object has only three dimensions and is wholly present at each moment of its existence).

We will explore in detail two familiar challenges to presentism:

Philip Goff 2.0
The Unity of Science (incl. Philosophy Research and Publish Lab)

If the world has a universal order, then the sciences studying it should be unified too. This connection between metaphysical questions (how the world is) and questions of epistemology and philosophy of science (how and what kind of knowledge is and should be produced) has accompanied philosophy ever since pre-Socratic cosmology.

Maria Kronfeldner
TA: Matthew Baxendale
4.0
Theories of Responsibility

The purpose of this course is to introduce students into some basic problems concerning the possibility and conditions of moral responsibility. We shall discuss the following questions: are alternative possibilities or the ability to act otherwise is necessary for moral responsibility? If not, what conditions should be satisfied in order to be responsible? To which extent does agents’ responsibility require that they act rationally? To which extent does responsibility require the capacity of self-control? Is moral luck compatible with responsibility?

Ferenc Huoranszki 4.0

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