Spring 2007

Undergraduate courses

3  The Nature of Mind. Campbell. MWF 2-3, 2060 Valley.

In this course we will be looking at the relation of psychological states, such as desires or memories, to the physical world. There are five units in the course: Foundations (Dualism, Behaviorism and Central-State Materialism), Personal Identity, Functionalism, Consciousness, and Causation. The books required for the course are: David Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). John Perry (ed.), Personal Identity, (Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press 1975).

What is the mind? Are mental states, such as beliefs and desires, memories and hopes, characteristics of a non-physical substance, or are they configurations of the physical world? And if we think that mental states are entirely physical, should we think of them as relating to the ways in which a person tends to behave, or are they rather states of the person’s brain? We shall begin the course by looking at these fundamental questions about the nature of the psychological. What is a person? Is a person merely a biological entity, and the identity of a person just the identity of a physical thing? Do psychological states enter into the identity of the self, or can we explain the continued existence of the self in terms that do not appeal to psychological states? And what is the importance of personal identity? Recently some theorists have argued that we should give it much less weight than we seem to ordinarily; we will look at those arguments. One of the most powerful ideas in contemporary philosophy of mind is functionalism, the idea that the character of a mental state is constituted by its potential for causal relations with other mental states and with behavior. In the third unit we look at the strengths and limitations of this idea. One limitation of functionalism is its trouble in providing an analysis of consciousness. What is the relation between conscious experience and the brain? Is consciousness something over and above the ordinary biological functioning of the brain, or can it somehow be explained in biological terms? We will try to identify the aspects of conscious experience that make it difficult to explain this characteristic of the mental life in physicalist terms. In one way or another, throughout this course we will be going over the relation of the psychological life to the physical. Finally, we will look at how psychological states can be said to have causes and effects. Do we in fact ordinarily take it that psychological states do have causes and effects? And can they do so, if the whole causal story of the world can be told entirely in terms of physics?

5  Science & Human Understanding. Skokowski. TuTh 11-12:30, 126 Barrows.

This course provides an introduction to topics in the philosophy of science, with readings from primary sources. Topics include space and time, logical positivism, confirmationism, falsificationism, scientific revolutions, and realism and anti-realism about scientific theories and entities.

6  Man, God, & Society in Western Literature. Dreyfus. TuTh 3:30-5, 105 Northgate.

Philosophy 6: From gods to God and back This course will compare and contrast the Greek, Medieval and Modern worlds as expressed in their greatest literature. We will follow in detail how in the West polytheism gradually became more and more monolithic until everything was understood in relation to a single God, and then how this synthesis fell apart and left our culture with a choice between nihilism and a return to polytheism. The goal of the course is both to illustrate how to read difficult texts and to provide an understanding of the cultural paradigms that have formed and focused our shared beliefs and practices.
Reading: Homer, Odyssey; Aeschylus, Oresteia; Virgil Aeneid; Dante; Divine Comedy, Pascal, Pensées; Melville, Moby Dick. Requirements: An average of 100 pages of reading per week, two 7-8 page papers, a final exam, and attendance at weekly discussion sections.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Mancosu. MWF 9-10, 2040 Valley.

The course will introduce the students to the syntax and semantics of propositional and first-order logic. Both systems of logic will be motivated by the attempt to explicate the informal notion of a valid argument. Intuitively, an argument is valid when the conclusion ‘follows’ from the premises. In order to give an account of this notion we will introduce a deductive system (a natural deduction system), which explicate the intuitive notion of ‘follow’ in terms of derivational rules in a calculus. This will be done in stages, first for propositional reasoning (only connectives such as ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘if… then…’ and later for the full first-order calculus (including expressions such as ‘for all…’ and ‘there exists…’. In addition, we will also develop techniques to show when a claim does not follow from the premises of an argument. This is done by developing the semantics for the propositional and the predicate calculus. We will introduce truth-tables for the propositional connectives and ‘interpretations’ for sentences of first-order logic. At the end of the course, if time allows, we will also cover some metatheoretical issues, such as soundness and completeness of the propositional calculus. Textbook: J. Barwise, J. Etchemendy,/ Language, Truth, and Logic/, University of Chicago Press, latest edition. (The book comes with a CD. Do not buy it used! If you do, you will not be able to submit your exercises on line, which you will be required to.)

25B  Modern Philosophy. Ginsborg. MWF 11-12, 145 Dwinelle.

The course will cover some of the main metaphysical and epistemological views of five important early modern philosophers: Descartes, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume and Kant. We will be concerned with their views on the existence of God, on the nature of the human mind and its relation to the body, on the possibility of knowledge about the external world, on the nature of bodies, on causation and induction, and on other related topics. We will try to understand these views in the context of the scientific developments of the time, in particular that of the “new science” which supplanted the Aristotelian view of nature in the seventeenth century. But we will also be concerned with whether or not these views are plausible in their own right. The course will require close reading of the texts, and careful analysis and evaluation of the philosophical arguments presented in them.

39L  Freshman&Sophomore Seminar: Perception and Reality. Ginsborg. W 2-5, 108 Wheeler.

Perception and Reality

One of our main ways of finding out about the world is through perceptual experience of it: for example, through seeing, hearing and touching things. But there is a great deal that is puzzling about what perceptual experience is, and about how (or indeed, whether) it makes knowledge possible. Some of the puzzles are best dealt with in experimental psychology and physiology, for example by looking at how the sense-organs and brain function in perception. But some of the questions which arise about perception and its relation to knowledge are primarily philosophical, rather than psychological or physiological. Many important philosophers, including Aristotle, Descartes and Kant, have dealt with these questions, and indeed have treated them as central in understanding the nature of reality and our knowledge of it. Moreover, questions about perception remain central in contemporary philosophy of mind and theory of knowledge. In this seminar we will read and discuss a number of philosophical texts dealing with perception and knowledge, some classical and some more recent. Because the topic is a large one, we will not be trying to cover it comprehensively, but rather to study carefully a few selected texts. While the texts will be difficult and require careful reading, the class will not presuppose any prior knowledge of philosophy; it is intended to give students an opportunity to get acquainted with philosophy in a small class with a lot of emphasis on discussion. Students taking the course should be prepared to participate actively in class discussion. They will be required to write a short paper each week and a longer final paper at the end of the semester.

Admission to the course is by the consent of the instructor only, and is restricted to freshmen and sophomores. Those wishing to take the course will need to submit an application including a short essay (between one and two pages) on a topic set by the instructor. If you are interested in enrolling, you should contact the instructor by email before Friday, December 1. Emails should be addressed to ginsborg@berkeley.edu and should include “Philosophy 39” in the subject line. Those sending emails before the deadline will receive an application form and the essay topic by email, and will have about a week to send back the application. Students will be informed by mid-December whether they are admitted to the course. Students who are admitted to the course and who attend the first class meeting will receive a class entry code and will be able to enroll through TeleBEARS during the first week of classes.

100  Philosophical Methods. Warren. Th 2-4, 122 Wheeler.

This course is restricted to Philosophy majors. It is intended to improve the student’s ability to read and write philosophy. Special emphasis will be placed on developing analytic skills. This term we will be examining a number of philosophical texts on the problem of personal identity. There will be short written assignments each week, as well as a longer final paper, which will focus on the essays we are reading. In addition to two hours of lecture, students will meet in tutorials with a teaching assistant in order to discuss the reading, their weekly writing assignment, and the preparation for the final paper.

Course readings: /Personal Identity/, edited by John Perry, University of California Press.

104  Ethical Theories. Kolodny. TuTh 9:30-11, 60 Evans.

This course is concerned less with specific moral questions than with the nature of morality itself. We will ask three fundamental questions: On what is morality based? What does it command? Why should we obey it? We will read, among others, Hume, Kant, and Sidgwick.

114  History of Political Philosophy. Kolodny. TuTh 2-3:30, 106 Moffitt.

Political science seeks to describe, explain, and predict political phenomena. These questions must be settled empirically: by consulting history, observing differences between countries, taking polls, and so on. Political philosophy asks different questions, which it is less clear that we can settle empirically. Some of these questions are conceptual. What makes a particular form of human interaction political? Other questions are normative. What sort of government should we have? How should we, as individuals, relate to it?

This course surveys the major works of political philosophy of the 17thˆ19th centuries, by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau (in the social contract tradition), and by Hume, Bentham, and Mill (in the utilitarian tradition). To provide context and contrast, briefer readings will be drawn from Aristotle; Filmer (a critic of Hobbes in turn criticized by Locke); and Whewell, De Tocqueville, and Stephen (contemporaries of Mill).

The course will be more interpretive than many philosophy classes. Although we may hope to learn something about the questions that interest us, we will be discussing, in the first instance, the questions that interested the authors. Furthermore, our interpretations will have a different focus from courses on the same texts in other departments. There will be greater emphasis on normative foundations than on institutional design, and greater emphasis on the internal logical structure of the arguments than on their author‚s rhetoric or immediate political aims. For this reason, some experience with philosophical reasoning is essential.

122  Theory of Knowledge. Fitelson. TuTh 12:30-2, 3108 Etcheverry.

This course will be a survey of contemporary epistemology. The first part of the course will involve examinations of various sources of justification and knowledge (including perception, memory, consciousness, reason, and testimony). The second part of the course will be concerned with the structure and growth of justification and knowledge (this will include topics such as inference and the extension of knowledge, foundationalism, and coherentism). The third and final part of the course will be about the nature and scope of justification and knowledge and the problem of skepticism (this will include attempts to analyze knowledge in terms of justification, truth, and other concepts, naturalistic accounts of knowledge, and problems for such analyses like the Gettier problem, and skepticism). We will use both a textbook and a collection of primary texts by various epistemologists (mainly, contemporary ones, but also some ancient and early modern philosophers).

Required texts: “Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction”, second edition, by Robert Audi, Routledge. “Epistemology: Contemporary Readings”, edited by Michael Huemer, Routledge.

Prerequisites: at least one previous philosophy course.

128  Philosophy of Science. Roush. MWF 1-2, 110 Wheeler.

This is a course in general philosophy of science. We study five topics of central importance where formal methods, especially probabilistic approaches, have brought progress. We ask: What makes something a scientific explanation?, What is required for observations to confirm (support) a hypothesis?, Is simplicity a guide to truth?, Is coherence a guide to truth?, and Does the success of science give us reason to believe its theories are true? Topics covered include the problem of induction, some paradoxes of confirmation, and the advantages and disadvantages of Bayesianism. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy.

135  Theory of Meaning. MacFarlane. TuTh 11-12:30, 213 Wheeler.

I can’t see the planet Pluto, but just by uttering the words “Pluto is very cold,” I can say something about Pluto, something whose truth or falsity depends on how things are millions of miles from Earth. How is this possible? What gives our words and sentences semantic properties (meaning, reference, truth)? Clearly, the semantic properties of words depend somehow on our thoughts and intentions: but how? And what gives our mental states their semantic properties? Are the meanings of our words and the contents of our mental states determined by what’s going on inside our brains, or do they depend on features of our physical environments of which we may be unaware? Are they determined by how things are now, or do they depend on facts about our history (or even our futures)? Could there be facts about meaning we could only discover by looking in someone’s brain? Are there objective facts about meaning at all? In exploring these and related questions, we will read the work of Quine, Davidson, Grice, Putnam, Dennett, Searle, Burge, Fodor, Dretske, and others. Prerequisite: two previous courses in philosophy.

136  Philosophy of Perception. Noë. TuTh 12:30-2, 20 Barrows.

What is perception? What is the nature of perceptual consciousness? How can one fit an account of perceptual experience into a broader account of the nature of the mind and the world? The aim of this seminar is to explore these problems. This is a lecture course designed primarily for upper division undegraduate students who have taken at least one course in philosophy. Students in the cognitive sciences (psychology, neuroscience, computer science/robotics, philosophy) are welcome.

138  Philosophy of Society. Searle. TuTh 8-9:30, 277 Cory.

How does human society differ from that of other social animals? How is it possible that there can be an objective reality of such things as money, property, government, marriage, and universities, even though such things exist only because we believe they exist? What is the role of language in constituting human reality, and what is language anyhow? These and other related questions will be discussed in this course. The course deals with the foundations of the social sciences and the differences between social science explanations and natural science explanations. We will cover a large number of topics such as these: Why is the nation state such a powerful form of social organization? Why did socialism fail? Are there human rights, and if so what are they and where do they come from?

140A  Intermediate Logic. Fitelson. TuTh 9:30-11, 110 Wheeler.

This course has two parts. Part One (first 11 weeks) will be more technical in nature. It will involve learning some of the key metalogical results for first-order logic (e.g., soundness, completeness, and compactness). The goal will be to get through Parts 1-3 of Hunter’s “Metalogic” textbook, which concludes with a famous metalogical paradox called “Skolem’s Paradox”. Part Two (last 4 weeks) will be more philosophical in nature. It will involve investigating the historical impact (on 20th century analytic philosophy) of the metalogical results covered in Part One of the course. For instance, we will discuss the influence of “Skolem’s Paradox” on the philosophical development of W.V.O. Quine and Hilary Putnam.

Prerequisites. PHIL 12A, and willingness to engage both in mathematical and philosophical work.

Textbook. Hunter, “Metalogic,” UC Press 1971. All other readings for the course will be provided via the course website.

176  Hume. Stroud. MWF 11-12, 2 LeConte.

A four unit course on the philosophy of David Hume (1711-1776), dealing as thoroughly as possible in the time available with many of the central issues of his major works. Students will be expected to read carefully, to discuss, and to write clearly and perceptively about those works and the problems they raise. No specific prerequisites; completion of at least Philosophy 25B is strongly advised. The richer one’s background in philosophy and the more one reads and thinks and discusses with others, the more one will get from the course. A large body of secondary literature and commentary can be helpful, but the emphasis throughout will be on the words and ideas of Hume himself.

Lectures will discuss primarily but not exclusively the following topics: Introduction-the science of human nature; Operations of the mind: the theory of impressions and ideas; The idea of causation and its source in experience; Belief and the sources of beliefs about the unobserved; The idea of necessary connection; The continued and distinct existence of objects; The self: the idea of personal identity; Paradox, sceptical despair and its cure; Action and its source in feeling or passion; Freedom and necessity; Morality and its sources: not derived from reason; Feeling, sentiment, and sympathy as the basis of morality; The origin and rationale of justice as an ‘artificial virtue’; The origin of government and the source of political obligation; The human point or goal of philosophy.

Course requirements: Three lectures per week; Participation in one discussion section per week; Four five-page papers on selected topics; Final examination.

187  Special Topics in the History of Philosophy. Frede. MWF 12-1, 210 Wheeler.

Philosophy 187: Special topics in ancient philosophy: Greek political philosophy M. W. F. 12-1

After a survey of the political ideas contained in early Greek poetry, philosophy, and the innovations imported by the Sophists, the course will focus on the political theories of Plato and Aristotle. In particular, it will work out an analysis of Plato’s views on the ideal state expressed in the Republic and in the Laws and of Aristotle’s notion of the function of the state, the meaning of citizenship and the different kinds of constitutions in the Politics. Attention will also be given to the changes in the political views of the Hellenistic age – most importantly concerning the Stoic attitude towards the state and citizenship.

189  Special Topics in Recent European Philosophy: Michel Foucault. Sluga. TuTh 9:30-11, 102 Wurster.

The course is meant to serve as an introduction to Foucault’s work and will deal with the three phases in the work that Foucault himself distinguished: his concern with the epistemic structure of knowledge claims in the human and social sciences (roughly, Foucault’s work in the 1960’s); his preoccupation with power, sexuality, and politics (in the 1970’s); and his examination of the processes of self-formation (in the1980’s).

Special attention will be given to Foucault’s middle period. The course will focus on a close reading of The Order of Things, Discipline and Punish, The History of Sexuality, vol. 1,Power/knowledge, and The Use of Pleasure, plus a reader with a selection of shorter writings.

Graduate seminars

290-1  Graduate Seminar: ‘Spatial Representation’. Campbell. Tu 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

How are we to describe the role of spatial representation in thought and perception? What types of spatial representation are there, and how do they bear on perception of objects? What is the relation between spatial representation and first-person thinking? And finally, what is the relation between spatial representation and our understanding of causation? We will also look at the apparent diversity of ways of thinking about space found in different cultures.

Provisional Syllabus: Weeks 1-6 Spatial Perception in Thought about Objects

Gareth Evans. 1982. The Varieties of Reference, chapters 4, 5 and 6. Zenon Pylyshyn. 2003. Seeing and Visualizing: It’s Not What You Think’. Lynn Robertson. 2003. *Space, Objects, Brains and Minds. Quassim Cassam. In press. The Possibility of Knowledge, chapter 3.

Weeks 7-9 Causation and Cognitive Maps

Lucia Jacobs and F. Schenk. 2003. Unpacking the cognitive map: the parallel map theory of hippocampal function. Psych Rev 110:285–315. James Woodward and C. Hitchcock. 2003. ‘Explanatory Generalizations: Part 1, A Counterfactual Account’. Nous 37. 1-24.

Weeks 10-13 Spatial Representation and the First Person

Gareth Evans. 1982. The Varieties of Reference, Chapter 7. Christopher Peacocke. In press. Truth and Understanding, chapter 7.

Weeks 14-15 Alternative Ways of Thinking about Space

Levinson, S.C. (1996). ‘Frames of reference and Molyneaux’s question: Cross-linguistic evidence’. In P. Bloom, M. Peterson, L. Nadel & M. Garrett (eds.), Language and Space 109-169. MIT Press. Majid, A., Bowerman, M., Kita, S., Haun, D. & S. Levinson (2004). ‘Can language restructure cognition? The case for space’. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8(3), 108-114.

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Aristotle’s Biology. Code. F 2-4, 203 Wheeler.

In this seminar we will investigate the philosophical foundations of Aristotle’s biology. After considering the place of biology in Aristotle’s philosophy of nature we will look at specific issues concerning the stuctures involved in biological inquiry and explanation with particular emphasis on the connection between data and theory, and the role of final causes (teleology) in biological explanation. We will the consider some of the key metaphysical concepts that are presupposed by his explanatory and definitional practices in biology, including the nature and role of essentialism and natural kinds.


Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology (Paperback) by Allan Gotthelf (Editor), James G. Lennox (Editor) Publisher: Cambridge University Press (October 30,1987) ISBN: 0521310911

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Plato, Theaetetus. Frede. W 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

Plato, Theaetetus

For various reasons the Theaetetus is not only crucial for an understanding of Plato’s later philosophy, it also sheds significant light on the earlier dialogues because its central question: ‘What is knowledge?’ underlies Plato’s dialogues right from the Socratic investigations on. Plato’s treatment of this question raises significant questions: They concern the sceptical atti-tude expressed in the sophist Protagoras’ maxime that man is the measure of all things, and in the flux-theory of the extreme Heracliteans. A further intriguing problem concerns the status of non-being and saying or thinking what is not. The dialogue’s negative end, despite some promising manoeuvres, leaves open to speculation what are the ultimate conditions of Plato’s epistemology and metaphysics.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Brains and Behavior. Noë. W 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

Putnam’s classic paper “Brains and Behavior” argued that the relation between pain and behavior was causal, not constitutive. Apart from its substantive conclusions – that logical behaviorism is false; that pains and other mental states are not dispositions to behave – the paper is a landmark in twentieth-century philosophical methodology raising important questions about how to do philosophy and calling cherished assumptions into question. Among the issues put into play in this paper are: the role of thought experiments in philosophy; the relation between philosophy and science; the limits of verificationism; the relation between conceivability and possibility; the demarcation between epistemology and metaphysics; the distinction between causal and constitutive relationships.

The aim of this seminar is to explore themes in the contemporary philosophy of neuroscience and consciousness against the background of the issues raised by Putnam’s original paper. Among the questions we shall examine in this setting are: What is consciousness? Can there be experience without “access consciousness”? Are neural systems alone sufficient for consciousness? Are you your brain? These questions are important and worthwhile in themselves; in thinking about them it is hoped that we can also rethink the legacy of Putnam’s “Brains and Behavior.”

Among the philosophical authors we will read in the seminar are: Block, Chalmers, Noë and Putnam.

This is a research seminar for graduate students; students may be expected to make presentations. In exceptional circumstances undergraduates will be permitted to take this course.

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Consciousness and Collective Intentionality. Searle. Tu 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

There is a recent growing interest in forms of mental life involving more than one person. Traditional the philosophy of mind takes a single person as the locus of mental phenomena. In this seminar, we will explore those forms of intentionality that are essentially social. We will examine their relation to consciousness and the role that they play in the existence of social institutions and social facts generally.

290-6  The Genealogy of Morals in Nietzsche, Foucault, and Bernard Williams. Sluga. Th 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

290-7  Graduate Seminar: Recent Work in Moral Philosophy. Wallace. M 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

Recent Work in Moral Philosophy

The seminar will be devoted to a close reading of two new works in systematic moral philosophy: The Second-Person Standpoint by Stephen Darwall, and Climbing the Mountain by Derek Parfit. Darwall’s book explores the “essentially interpersonal” character of moral obligation, investigating the implications of this feature of morality for questions about the authority and normative significance of moral demands. Parfit’s (still-unpublished) manuscript attempts to “develop and combine existing [moral] theories of three kinds: Kantian, contractualist, and consequentialist”; he argues that these three theories, when properly interpreted, converge on a single way of understanding moral requirements. The study of these two books should introduce seminar participants to some of the central questions in moral philosophy, while exposing them systematically to the views of two important contemporary philosophers.

290-8  Graduate Seminar: Kant on Causality. Warren. F 12-2, 234 Moses Hall.

Kant on Causality: We will examine Kant’s early views on causality, as well as the mature theory presented in The Critique of Pure Reason. Kant’s response to Hume and to concerns about freedom will be discussed.

295  Dissertation Seminar. MacFarlane. Th 12:30-2, 180 Barrows.