PHIL 673/675 Fairness and Anti-discrimination in A.I.
Instructor: Patricia Marino
This course focuses on conceptualizing fairness and anti-discrimination in AI with a particular emphasis on proxy discrimination. Proxy discrimination arises when an algorithm has no access to information about socially sensitive features like gender and race, but correlations in the data due to existing inequities lead to discriminatory outcomes. Informally, it is said that algorithms "bake in" background social injustice. Questions include: What do existing anti-discrimination frameworks, typically focused on intentions, tell us about proxy discrimination? How do structural theories of oppression bear on proxy discrimination? How should "fairness" and "unbiased" be understood in the AI context? Is there a way to define "fairness" mathematically?
PHIL 673/675 Philosophy of Quantum Theory
Instructor: Doreen Fraser
Quantum theory is the branch of physics that describes entities and processes at sub-microscopic distance scales. Quantum mechanics has notoriously resisted our best efforts at interpretation. It is not obvious what quantum theory is telling us about the world. This course will begin by examining the classic problems posed by quantum theory (e.g., the measurement problem, non-locality). Most of the course will focus on contemporary approaches to interpreting quantum mechanics that are inspired by quantum information theory. This course is suitable for students with a background in either philosophy, physics, or mathematics; knowledge of quantum theory will not be presupposed. Please contact the instructor if you require permission to enroll in the course.
PHIL 674/676 Epistemology of Ignorance
Instructor: Carla Fehr
Have you ever wondered why white people tend to be so good at not knowing about racism? Why didn’t the medical community know that heart disease was a significant cause of death for women until so recently? Or why still, 60 years after the development and marketing of The Pill for people who could become pregnant, there is no parallel form of birth control for people who can impregnate others? According to the Epistemology of Ignorance understanding how knowledge is produced is aided by the reciprocal investigation of the production of ignorance. This class studies ways that ignorance can be actively produced and maintained to create and reinforce systems of domination and oppression.
PHIL 680A Non-Ideal Philosophy
Instructor: Jennifer Saul
The distinction between ideal and non-ideal theory originates in political philosophy. Although, as we will see, there are many ways of drawing this distinction, non-ideal theories are generally taken to be those which prioritize a grounding in our messy and flawed reality. In recent years, we have seen non-ideal theories developed across nearly all areas of philosophy. This seminar will explore non-ideal theories in many areas of philosophy, hopefully offering useful resources to students no matter what area they end up working in. We will also explore various ways of drawing the distinction, and various ways of troubling the distinction
PHIL 673/675 Ethics of Care
Instructor: Katy Fulfer
Although care is central to our lives, it is largely ignored by our social and political institutions. For many of us the COVID-19 pandemic brought this to the fore, though feminist scholars and social justice activists have long pointed to how care is devalued within Western societies. This course provides an introduction to feminist care ethics. We will study the foundation of “care” as a distinct ethical approach in philosophy, examine the political and economic significance of care, and compare and contrast a Western feminist care approach with other philosophical traditions. We will also examine how philosophers, practitioners, and activists are re-imagining and centering care in their social justice work.
PHIL 674 Cosmology: Plato to Galileo
Instructor: Jacqueline Feke
This course explores the intersection of science and philosophy from antiquity to the early modern period. Responding to their naked-eye observations of the world and divergent philosophical commitments, ancient Greek philosophers and mathematicians constructed competing theories of the cosmos’ composition and structure. This course examines the variety of cosmological theories advanced by ancient Greek philosophers and mathematicians as well as their reception from the medieval Islamic tradition to early modern Europe. Analyzing texts in translation by, for example, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Ptolemy, students will familiarize themselves with the content and range of ancient Greek cosmologies as well as their relation to various epistemological and metaphysical theories. In addition, students will examine these cosmologies’ reception by Ibn Tufayl, Copernicus, and Galileo, who responded to earlier cosmologies in light of their own philosophical commitments and, in the case of Galileo, the observation of phenomena inaccessible before the invention of the telescope.
PHIL 680A Professionalisation
Instructor: Jennifer Saul
In this portion of the seminar, we will cover a wide range of topics relevant both to students and philosophy and to their further careers. Topics will range from (for example) CV and interview preparation to ethical issues in the profession to preparation of submissions to journals and conferences. I hope to also be able to supply sessions on topics requested by students.
Need help or have a question? Please contact Monika Kitor, Philosophy Graduate Coordinator.