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College of Liberal Arts
Rochester Institute of
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Rochester Institute of Technology


Department of Philosophy

Last updated 27 October 2014

Current and/or upcoming
“variable topic” philosophy courses



Fall 2014–2015

PHIL 416 Seminar: Art and Intention. Intentions are key components of contemporary philosophical accounts of mind and action. Within philosophy of art there is a major tradition that recognizes intentions as central players in the production, appreciation, and interpretation of art. The seminar is divided into three parts. In the first part we become acquainted with some classical philosophical views on art and aesthetics. In the second part we enter directly into the ongoing philosophical debate concerning the role of intentions in artworks and thus concentrate our attention on contemporary aesthetics and art theory. In the third part of the seminar we extend our examination of the debate concerning intentionalism to two central philosophical issues: the ontological status of artworks, and morality’s role in the production and appreciation of artworks. (Prerequisite: 2 courses in philosophy.) (Instructor: Aguilar.)

PHIL 449 Special Topics: Law, Technology, and Privacy. This course will critically examine challenges to privacy brought on by recent advances in technology. We’ll inquire into whether philosophical, legal, and social responses are keeping pace with innovation accelerating at the rate of Moore’s Law—a pace that leaves us struggling to cope with how easy it is to obtain, analyze, and share personal information. Rather than beginning with the assumption that any particular theory of privacy is correct, we will consider multiple outlooks. Students will draw their own rationally informed conclusions as we consider different answers to the following guiding questions. What is privacy? What are privacy interests? What are privacy rights? What are privacy harms? Why are privacy debates so contentious? As the term progresses, we’ll apply theoretical insights to concerns expressed over: social media, biometric data collection, GPS trackers, public records, drone and robotic surveillance, RFID, and Google Glass. We’ll also examine how privacy debates intersect with First and Fourth Amendment issues. (Prerequisite: At least one prior course in philosophy.) (Instructor: Selinger.)



Spring 2014–2015

Great Thinkers: Gilles Deleuze. This class will map how Deleuze formulated, invented, and fabricated the concepts that came to define what we can now call Deleuzian philosophy. We will take two Deleuze texts from early on in his career — Différence et Répétition (DR) and Logique du sens (LS) — as the guiding texts of our mapping. We will also look at relevant sections from Deleuze’s work on Lucretius, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, and Bergson. One of Deleuze’s most important contributions to the philosophy is his innovative and stimulating understanding of the history of philosophy, and part of the student assessment will be to read and present on the ways in which Deleuze’s reading of the history of philosophy contributes to philosophy written “in his own name”. (Prerequisite: at least one prior course in philosophy) (Instructor: Johnson.)

Seminar in Philosophy: A Tangled/Entangled World. The term “entanglement” has been adopted to describe an extremely interesting phenomenon in sub-atomic physics, wherein particles interact in such a way that their states cannot fully be described individually, but rather only in terms of their quite describable joint state. This, though, is but one of the more dramatic manifestations of ways in which optimal description of the world, and of the role of people in it, may best be understood as “tangled”. In this course we will touch on quantum entanglement, but only as it reflects a more general possibility: that an improvement of our understanding of the world might emerge from a generally “holistic” approach that emphasizes process, interaction, and evolution of systems rather than analyses of those systems into discrete particles, discrete causes, and discrete effects. Topics on the table include process philosophy, quantum entanglement, biological evolution, the “ecological” understanding of perception, and “distributed” cognition. Likely authors include Alfred North Whitehead, Abner Shimony, Stephen Jay Gould, J.J. Gibson, Karen Barad and Andy Clark. Since this course is a seminar, students will have an important role in determining how the semester proceeds. (Prerequisite: At least two prior courses in philosophy.) (Instructor: Sanders.)