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Spring 2017 Graduate Courses

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PHI 549 Applied Ontology

Professor Barry Smith
Class# 24197

Course Structure: This will be a three credit hour on-line graduate seminar. It will be taught on Mondays from January 30 to May 8, 2017 through the medium of a series of 2-hour long videos incorporating presentation of PowerPoint slides and question-answer sessions. Links to course videos will be provided each Sunday at 9am. Students will be required to watch the video class some time within 48 hours. In each week (starting on Mondays at 9am) class participants will be able to post questions, discussion comments and responses to the class email forum relating to the video from the relevant week. The final session or sessions (depending on the number of class participants) will consist in youtube videos (ca. 20 minutes in length) created by the students in the class.

Course Description: An ontology is a structured collection of terms used to tag data with the goal of making data deriving from heterogeneous sources more easily searchable, comparable or combinable. Ontologies allow information to be shared across communities of scientists with different sorts of expertise. The Gene Ontology, for example, allows researchers on aging to use data from cell biology, yeast biology, cancer biology, genetics, and gerontology, because all of these disciplines create data that are tagged using Gene Ontology terms. The course will provide an introduction to ontology from an application oriented point of view, focusing on the best practices for ontology development and on the development of plug-and-play ontology modules for re-use in different areas. Examples will be drawn primarily from biology and medicine, but no expertise in this disciplines is presupposed.

Example Ontologies:
    Information Artifact Ontology
    Gene Ontology
    OBO (Open Biomedical Ontologies) Foundry
    The Environment Ontology
    Ontology for General Medical Science

Text: Robert Arp, Barry Smith and Andrew Spear, Building Ontologies with Basic Formal Ontology, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, August 2015

Further readings are provided here:

Example videos are provided here:

Requirements: This course is open to all persons with an undergraduate degree and some relevant experience (for example in data scientists, information engineers, terminology researchers). No prior knowledge of ontology is required. In order to receive a grade and course credit students will be required to have reviewed in a timely manner all provided videos and any accompanying recommended reading. Grading will be on the basis of contributions to the on-line class discussion forum and on the quality and content of a 20 minute youtube video (with accompanying essay and PowerPoint slide deck) on some topic in the field of applied ontology. Each student will be required to create one such video for presentation in the final class session on May 8. Examples of student videos created in comparable classes in the past are available here and here.

Grading will be based on:

1. Forum participation (25%)
2. 20 minute youtube video (25%)
3. Associated PowerPoint slides (25%)
4. Associated essay (25%)

PHI 579 Special Topics — Topics in Ethics

Professor Nicolas Bommarito
Thursday, 1:00 - 3:50 PM
Class# 22436

In this course we will examine contemporary work in virtue ethics. 

PHI 579 Special Topics — Social Norms and Informal Institutions: Social & Political Philosophy

Professor Ryan Muldoon
Wedesday, 1:00 to 3:50 PM
Class# 22435

This course will be an introduction to social philosophy, which a focus on the theory of social norms.  We will examine contemporary accounts of conventions, social norms, and other informal institutions that work to define a set of self-enforcing rules of social behavior. This will involve a mix of philosophical literature and work from the social sciences. The course will be run in a seminar format. Grades will be based on presentations, active participation, and a 20-30 page final paper.

PHI 588 Contemporary European Philosophy

Professor Kah Kyung Cho
Friday, 1:30 - 4:20 PM
Class# 24198

Text: Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings, edited by David F. Krell (Harper & Row Publishers)
            (UB Bookstore should have both new and used copies)


    General Introduction by D. F. Krell, pages  1 - 35

    Chapter I.    Introduction to Being and Time, pages 38 – 89

    Chapter II.   What is Metaphysics, page 91 – 112  

    Chapter III.  On the Essence of Truth, page 113 - 141      

    Chapter IV.  The Origin of the Work of Art, page 143 - 187

    Chapter V.   Letter on Humanism, page 189 - 242

    Chapter VI.  Modern Science, Metaphysics & Mathematics, page 243 - 282

    Chapter VII. The Question Concerning Technology , page 283 - 317

    Chapter VIII. Building, Dwelling, Thinking, page 320  - 339

    Chapter IX   What Calls for Thinking, page 341 - 367

    Chapter X.   The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking, page 369 - 392                    

(After the above Ten Chapters (weeks) are finished, the remaining 2 to 3 weeks are reserved for the discussion of “Humanism” based on the handouts from other sources than Heidegger.)

Assignments and Grading: The Basic Writings has ten Chapters, each chapter is between 30 to 50 pages long.  Each student is required to make an up to 45 minutes long presentation on his or her chosen chapter; each class presentation is worth 30 points.

Before your own presentation, please prepare a one-page summary of your chapter, make a Xerox copy and distribute it to all other students at least 4 – 6 days in advance

Attendance and participation in discussion is also 30 points. Final paper (8 to 10 pages, double spaced, is 40 points worth)

PHI 596 Graduate Dissertation Seminar

Professor Lewis Powell
Monday, 1:00 - 3:50 PM
Class# 24199

The Graduate Dissertation Seminar is a course designed to assist students as they make progress on their dissertations, and approach the job market.  The course focuses on presenting one’s work, giving and receiving feedback to other students on their work, and professionalization.

PHI 604 Teaching Philosophy

Professor Neil Williams
Monday   4:00 - 6:50 PM
Class# 20338

The aim of this course is to provide strategies and information that will aid you in becoming a better philosophy instructor.  And, where appropriate, prepare you for your first assignments as full instructors of courses, in charge of the: course syllabus, text selection, lectures, assignments, grading, and so on. The course will not only prepare you for your first teaching assignments, it will provide a series of techniques that will help improve you as instructor.

The course will be graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U). PHI 604 is not considered a seminar or independent study. Credit for PHI 604 cannot be counted towards the MA in Philosophy (but will count towards the PhD if the student enters the PhD program).

 **Successful completion of PHI 604 is (typically) a necessary condition for summer teaching, and is a requirement of the PhD program.**

PHI 605 Supervised Teaching

Professor Barry Smith
Time, TBA
Class# 14262

PHI 619 Modal Logic

Professor Thomas Bittner
Tuesday, 1:00 - 3:50 PM
Class# 24195

Studies logical systems designed to express concepts of necessity and possibility. Develops semantic accounts employing systems of possible worlds. Examines philosophical topics and problems related to necessity and possibility.

Graduate Tutorial Sections

See HUB Registration site for Individual Tutorial Course Sections with Philosophy Department Faculty to be Arranged with Permission of Instructor:

PHI 599 Graduate Tutorials (Arranged with Professor)

PHI 702 Master’s Thesis Guidance (Arranged with Professor)

PHI 704 Dissertation Guidance (Arranged with Professor)