Spring 2008

Undergraduate courses

4  Knowledge & Its Limits. Anagnostopoulos. MWF 10-11, 160 Kroeber.

This course will comprise an introduction to central topics in Epistemology through historical and contemporary readings. In particular, we will address skeptical doubts about the possibility of knowledge, the nature of knowledge of various kinds, and the basis on which we can have such knowledge. No prerequisites.

7  Existentialism in Literature&Film. Dreyfus. TuTh 3:30-5, 145 Dwinelle.

The course will be organized around various attempts to reinterpret the Judeo/Christian God, and to determine in what sense, if at all, such a God is still a living God. We will study Dostoyevsky’s and Kierkegaard’s attempts to preserve a non-theological version of the God of Christianity, as well as Nietzche’s attempt to save us from belief in any version of God offered by our tradition. We will view and discuss three films that deal with related issues.

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 for showing 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 the book 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.

100  Philosophical Methods. Warren. Th 2-4, 9 Lewis.

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.

108  Contemporary Ethical Issues. Kolodny. TuTh 9:30-11, 102 Wurster.

As a thoughtful person, living in this country, at this time, you have at some point asked yourself some of the following questions.
Should torture be allowed? Is there any difference between terrorism and “collateral damage”? May we kill enemy soldiers or even civilians to protect ourselves? Is capital punishment moral? Is abortion? Whether or not it’s moral, should it be legal? Should we let the majority or the courts decide? Is the government allowed to take your money and use it in ways you don’t want? If you have better grades and higher test scores, do you deserve a spot at UC more? Are you allowed to buy yourself an iPod when you could use the money to save people from starving? Should you buy a hybrid, rather than an SUV, when your individual choice is just “a drop in the bucket” and won’t really affect global warming?

These questions can be difficult for many different reasons. Self- interest, prejudice, and fear can cloud our judgment. Religious authorities that we accept on faith, such as the Bible, can give unclear or conflicting directions. Finally, it can be hard to be sure of relevant facts: for example, whether information gained through torture tends to be reliable, whether the justice system applies the death penalty consistently, or whether burning fossil fuels leads to climate change.

This course, however, is about another set of difficulties, which persist when we set aside our personal feelings, we see how far we can get without relying on faith, and we assume that we know the relevant facts. We may not be able to decide, by our own reflection and reasoning, which answers are correct, and even when we are sure that certain answers are correct, we may not be able to justify them. Our ethical ideas may seem not up to the task. Our aim in this course is to come to terms with these difficulties and to see to what extent they can be overcome.

115  Political Philosophy. Sluga. TuTh 2-3:30, 70 Evans.

133  Philosophy of Language. Searle. TuTh 2-3:30, 50 Birge.

The main purpose of this course is to answer the question ?How does language relate to the world?? In order to do this we will have to explore a lot of related questions, such as those concerning the nature of truth, reference, meaning, speech acts, metaphors, fiction, and pictures. We will also try to develop a general theoretical account of how human linguistic behavior is related to the rest of human behavior and to human mental states.

142  Philosophical Logic. MacFarlane. TuTh 12:30-2, 145 McCone.

“Philosophical logic” includes both (a) the philosophical investigation of the fundamental concepts of logic and (b) the deployment of logical methods in the service of philosophical ends. We’ll tackle five interconnecting topics in philosophical logic:

  1. Quantifiers: You may think you learned everything there is to know about quantifiers in Philosophy 12A. But in fact, there are quite a few quantificational idioms that we can’t understand in terms of the quantification theory you learned. We’ll look at the logic of identity, numerical quantifiers, generalized quantifiers, definite descriptions, substitutional quantifiers, and plural quantifiers.

  2. Modal logic: In addition to talking about what is the case, we talk about what might have been the case and what could not have been otherwise. Modal logic gives us tools to analyze reasoning involving these notions. We’ll get a basic grasp on some of the fundamentals of propositional modal logic, and then delve into some hairy conceptual problems surrounding quantified modal logic, explored by Quine, Kripke, and others. We’ll also look at the famous “slingshot argument,” which was used by Quine and Davidson to reject modal logic and correspondence theories of truth. At this point our work on definite descriptions will come in handy!

  3. Logical consequence: If you ask what logic is about, a reasonable (though not completely satisfactory) answer is that it’s the study of what follows from what, that is, of logical consequence. But how should we think of this relation? We’ll start by looking at Tarski’s account of logical consequence, which has become the orthodox account. On this account, logical consequence is a matter of truth preservation: P follows from Q if there is no model on which P is true and Q false. We’ll talk about how this account relates to the older idea that P follows from Q if it is impossible for P to be true and Q false. Then we’ll consider some alternatives. One alternative is to define consequence in terms of proof. We’ll look at a version of this idea by Dag Prawitz, which yields a nonclassical logic called “intuitionistic logic.” We’ll then look at the suggestion that relevance in addition to truth preservation is required for logical consequence. We’ll see how one might develop a nonclassical “relevance logic,” and we’ll consider some technical and philosophical issues that speak for and against a requirement of relevance. Finally, we’ll consider how, exactly, logic relates to reasoning.

  4. Conditionals: In Philosophy 12A you were taught to translate English conditionals using the “material conditional,” a truth-functional connective. This leads to some odd results: for example, “If I am currently on Mars, then I am a hippopotamus” comes out true (since the antecedent is false). We’ll start by considering some attempts to defend the material-conditional analysis of indicative conditionals in English. Then we’ll consider some alternatives, inculding Edgington’s view that indicative conditionals have no truth-conditions, Stalnaker’s elegant modal account, and the view that indicative conditionals should be understood as conditional assertions. Finally, we’ll look at McGee’s “counterexample to modus ponens,” and consider whether this sacrosanct inference rule is actually invalid!

  5. Vagueness: Finally we’ll turn to the “sorites paradox,” or paradox of the heap, which argues: five thousand grains of sand make a heap; taking one grain away from a heap still leaves you with a heap; so…one grain of sand makes a heap. Philosophical logicians have suggested that it is a mistake to use classical logic and semantics in analyzing this argument, and they have proposed a number of alternatives. We’ll consider three of them: (a) a three-valued logic, (b) a continuum-valued (or fuzzy) logic, and © a supervaluational approach that preserves classical logic (mostly) but not classical semantics. If there’s time, we’ll also look at a short argument by Gareth Evans that purports to show that vagueness must be a semantic phenomenon: that is, that there is no vagueness “in the world.”

Requirements will include both papers and problem sets.

Prerequisites: Philosophy 12A or equivalent, and at least one other course in philosophy. The course covers some technical material, but knowledge of logic beyond 12A will not be assumed.

Books: Course Reader.

148  Probability & Induction. Fitelson. TuTh 11-12:30, 103 Moffitt.

What is probability? How is probability useful for understanding inductive inference? Is there such a thing as inductive logic? If so, how does it relate to deductive logic, and what role does probability play in inductive logic? And, how is inductive logic related to inductive epistemology? These are the main (general) questions we will address in this course. Some specific topics we’ll discuss are: Hempel’s paradox of confirmation, Goodman’s “new riddle of induction”, Carnapian inductive logic, contemporary Bayesian confirmation theory and Bayesian epistemology, and various puzzles and paradoxes involving probability and evidence.

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

All readings for the course will be provided via the course website.

149  Special Topics in the Philosophy of Logic & Mathematics: Theories of Truth. Mancosu. MWF 1-2, 220 Wheeler Hall.

The course is devoted to a detailed study of the two major formal theories of truth developed in the twentieth century, e.g. Tarski’s (1935) and Kripke’s (1975). When trying to articulate the principles capturing the logic of truth predicates in natural language our intuition leads immediately to the request that the theory should yield all biconditionals of the form “‘p’ is true iff p”. But the liar paradox shows that this naïve principle for truth, together with classical logic, leads to contradiction. Tarski’s solution rests on the distinction between object language (L) and metalanguage (ML) and on imposing as an adequacy condition for a theory of truth that the metalanguage be able to prove all the biconditionals of the above form, where p is restricted to sentences of the object language. Since the truth predicate for L is expressible in ML but not in L, the liar, and similar paradoxes, are blocked. Tarski’s approach dominated the field for forty years. Kripke in 1975 developed a formal theory of truth using a three valued logic. In his approach paradoxical statements turn out to be neither true nor false. Kripke’s construction leads to a theory of truth in which the truth predicate for L is expressible in L itself. The importance of Tarski’s and Kripke’s theories of truth cannot be overstated; indeed, they are required for a proper understanding of all other formal theories of truth that have been proposed in the last thirty years (revision theory, etc.). Students taking this course will be required to do a substantial amount of logical work. In the process they will learn topics such as, among others, basics of set theory, many valued logics, fixed points and inductive definitions. Of course, the philosophical implications of Tarski’s and Kripke’s theories will also be discussed. The formal prerequisite is 12A (Introduction to Logic). Familiarity with either Phil 140A or Phil 140B will be an advantage but material covered in those courses will not be presupposed.

Textbook: Vann McGee, Truth, Vagueness, and Paradox. An essay on the logic of truth, Hackett, 1988.

161  Aristotle. Frede. MWF 10-11, 170 Barrows.

The course provides a survey of the main areas of Aristotle’s works in the fields of logic, metaphysics, natural science, psychology and ethics/politics. It will end with a brief review of his poetics and rhetoric. Since Aristotle was concerned with working out the basic principles of each subject and the corresponding methodology, a proper understanding of those princi-ples will be one of the course’s main concerns. Given the wide scope of Aristotle’s interests the course will have to confine itself to selective investigations of the application Aristotle makes of his principles in the different fields of study. Since Aristotle’s works are hard to access because of his terse style the readings will focus in the main on an analysis of the se-lected texts taken from (ed.) J. L. Ackrill: A New Aristotle Reader Requirements: Three 5 page papers, one final examination.

170  Descartes. Rozemond. MWF 11-12, 200 Wheeler.

This course on René Descartes will focus on his metaphysics, in particular his mind-body dualism. How did Descartes defend dualism, and what were his conceptions of mind and body? How did he think mind and body were united and interacted? We will examine his commitment to mechanistic science, his rejection of Aristotelianism,
and consider his use of skepticism and the role of God in his system.

184  Nietzsche. Sluga. TuTh 9:30-11, 101 Moffitt.

186B  Later Wittgenstein. Stroud. TuTh 11-12:30, 145 McCone.

Close reading and detailed discussion of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. The aim of the course is to understand this book and its philosophical significance by responding as directly as possible to the text and pursuing its questions and issues as it presents them. Other works of Wittgenstein will be consulted occasionally for whatever light they throw on this, as will some interpretative commentary, but the emphasis throughout is on Philosophical Investigations.


Regular class attendance with the books.
Participation in class discussion.
Attendance and participation in weekly discussion sections.
On-time completion of work assigned for sections.
On-time completion of five two-page papers on assigned paragraphs of
    Philosophical Investigations.

On-time submission of a final ten-page paper on a topic of your choice (several possible topics will be suggested).

Required Books

L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, tr. G. E. M. Anscombe (Blackwell) L. Wittgenstein, The Blue and Brown Books (Harper)

187  Special Topics in the History of Philosophy: Kant & the Development of German Idealism. Horstmann. TuTh 12:30-2, 210 Wheeler.

The purpose of the course is to give a survey of the development of German idealistic thought from Kant to the early Schelling. It will deal mainly with the metaphysical and the epistemological aspects of this movement and focus primarily on those aspects that are related to Kant’s theoretical philosophy. Topics that are dealt with include: (1) Kant’s criticism of metaphysics and his epistemological program, (2) reactions to Kant’s approach by F.H.Jacobi, K.L.Reinhold and G.E.Schulze. (3) Fichte’s ‘subjective’ idealism, (4) Schelling’s search for ‘lacking premisses’. Primary texts:
- Immanuel Kant: Critique of Pure Reason. - Friedrich.H. Jacobi The Main Philosophical Writings and the Novel Allwill (ed. and trans. George di Giovanni), Montreal 1994. - Karl L. Reinhold: Über das Fundament des philosophischen Wissens (1791). - Gottlob E. Schulze: Aenesidemus, oder über die Fundamente der von Herrn Prof. Reinhold in Jena gelieferten Elementarphilosophie (1792). - Johann G. Fichte: Early Philosophical Writings (ed. Daniel Breazeale), Ithaka 1988. - Friedrich W. Schelling: The Unconditional in Human Knowledge: Four Early Essays (1794 – 1796), Lewisburg 1980.

187-2  Special Topics in the History of Philosophy: Aristotle’s ‘De Anima’. Anagnostopoulos. M 4-7, 202 Wheeler Hall.

Aristotle’s ‘De Anima’_ (On the Soul) is an attempt to provide a general account of the soul and psychological faculties and phenomena within the framework, as much as possible, of his program of natural science. This course will be devoted to a close reading of Aristotle?s De Anima both within its historical context and in light of contemporary debates concerning the work, especially its significance for post-Cartesian philosophy of psychology.

In addition to the usual requirements, participation and presentation of short writing assignments will be required. Philosophy 25A is a prerequisite.

This course requires a Class Entry Code for admission. Please contact the instructor (andreasa@berkeley.edu) for details.

189  Special Topics in Recent European Philosophy: Heidegger’s ‘Being&Time’ Division II. Dreyfus. F 2-5, 242 Dwinele.

Prerequisite: Philosophy 185 (Heidegger).

Graduate seminars

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Assessment Sensitivity. MacFarlane. Tu 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

We will examine the idea that some of the things we think and say are assessment-sensitive—that is, true or false only relative to a “context of assessment.” We will be concerned with three main issues:

  1. How can we make room for assessment sensitivity in existing semantic frameworks? To what extent is provision for assessment sensitivity a natural extension of these frameworks?

  2. How can we make philosophical sense of assessment sensitivity? What does it mean to say that what is asserted or believed is true or false only relative to a context of assessment? What are the costs of saying this? To what extent is this form of relativism subject to the usual philosophical objections?

  3. What is the motivation for positing assessment sensitivity? What phenomena can we explain by doing so? What are the prospects for alternative (and perhaps less radical) explanations of these phenomena?

For the sake of concreteness, we will focus first on “predicates of personal taste” (paradigmatically, “tasty”), and then on epistemic and deontic modals. In addition to newer literature that directly concerns assessment sensitivity, we will read some classic literature (both on semantics and on evaluative concepts, obligations, and possibility) that the newer work builds on.

Prerequisites: This seminar is primarily intended for graduate students in Philosophy and Logic and the Methodology of Science. Other students should seek my permission before continuing. I will not presuppose much background in the philosophy of language, but it would be good if everyone were familiar with the following three articles: Gottlob Frege, “The Thought: A Logical Inquiry” (English translation in Mind 65, 1956, pp. 289-311); H. P. Grice, “Logic and Conversation” (in Studies in the Way of Words, Harvard University Press, 1986); Richard Cartright, “Propositions,” in Philosophical Essays (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987), 33-53.

290-4  Language. Searle. W 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

In this seminar, I want to explore a series of problems in the philosophy of language. Here are three of them: First, I am interested in the investigating the prospects of a more naturalistic conception of language that investigates the biological basis of language. Second, I would like to give a defense of internalism against current externalist attacks on it. Third, I would like to explain some of my current ideas on the relation of language and social ontology.

290-5  Metaphysics, Modality, & Value. Stroud. Tu 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

290-6  Graduate Seminar: Permissibility and Meaning. Wallace/Kolodny. M 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

Permissibility and Meaning. Themes from the Recent Work of T. M. Scanlon What are we thinking about, when we think about the “morality” of actions? A theme of T.M. Scanlon’s recent work is that we may be thinking about more than one thing. On the one hand, we may be trying to decide what to do. Within this deliberative perspective, Scanlon suggests, we focus on questions of permissibility. On the other hand, we may be trying to come to terms with what someone’s action says about him, or about his relations to others. Within this evaluative perspective, we focus on questions of meaning. Scanlon suggests that sustained and careful attention to the distinction between permissibility and meaning, or more broadly between the deliberative and evaluative perspectives, promises to illuminate several central questions in ethics. Does what we intend affect the morality what we do? How should we understand the resonant idea that morality is a matter of treating people as “ends, not means”? What is blame? When is it appropriate? Only when it is for something freely chosen? Does what we ought to do depend on the facts, or only the evidence available to us? Does intending something affect what we have reason to do? To provide background, we will begin by reviewing the central chapters of Scanlon’s What We Owe to Each Other. Then we will focus on Scanlon’s unpublished book, Dimensions of Moral Assessment: Meaning, Permissibility, and Blame

290-7  Graduate Seminar: Unity of the Self in 17th&18th c. Philosophy. Warren/Rozemond. W 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

This seminar will take as its starting point two connected issues: the simplicity of the self and the identity of the self. The former concerns whether or in what sense the mind could be made up of distinct parts, which is sometimes described as a question about unity at a time; the latter concerns whether or in what sense the mind is something that can persist through change of state, i.e., has unity over time. Both of these issues are addressed by Kant in the “Paralogisms” section of the Critique of Pure Reason, and play a central role in the “Transcendental Deduction.” However they were also discussed in depth and considered of fundamental philosophical importance by many philosophers of the early modern period prior to Kant. Issues concerning the simplicity and identity of the self were thought of as tied to a number of concerns: whether the self could be a material thing, whether the self is a substance and whether that question is answerable by us or even intelligible, whether such skepticism about the self’s being a substance led to consequences that were in some way unacceptable, what the nature of thought and self-awareness is, and what this entails regarding these questions about the self. We will be discussing the views of Descartes, Locke, Bayle, Clarke, Leibniz, Hume, and finally Kant, on the unity of the self and some of these related questions. Roughly half the seminar will be devoted to early modern philosophers before Kant, half to Kant.

290-8  Graduate Seminar: Plato’s Meno. Ebrey. Th 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

This course will focus on a close reading of Plato’s Meno. Plato seems to have written the Meno soon after he wrote the early Socratic dialogues and the Meno addresses many of the basic ethical topics found in these dialogues: the search for an ethical definition (in this case, “what is virtue?”), the idea that no one desires what is bad, and the question of whether virtue is teachable. The Meno breaks from Plato’s earlier writings by being the first dialogue in which Plato directly discusses epistemological issues. The topics he raises are of fundamental importance: whether inquiry is possible, how to use hypotheses in philosophy, how to distinguish between knowledge and true belief, and why we should value knowledge. This course will examine these topics through a close reading of the text, using secondary literature as an aid. We will also look at relevant passages from other Platonic dialogues so we can think about how this dialogue fits into Plato’s overall philosophical development. Throughout the course, I will put particular emphasis on how these new epistemological questions raise potential difficulties for the ethical project laid out in the early Socratic dialogues and how Plato’s response to these questions is designed to resolve these difficulties, thereby securing Socrates’ ethical project.

290-9  Graduate seminar: Hegel’s Metaphysics. Horstmann. M 4-6, 189 Dwinelle.

Hegel’s Metaphysics (Graduate Seminar)

The aim of the seminar is to discuss the basic metaphysical assumptions of Hegel’s philosophy and to inquire to what extent these assumptions guide his conception of his ‘system’. The seminar will deal with some of Hegel’s early Jena writings, with his Phenomenology of Spirit and with passages from different versions of his Logic

Topics that are examined include (1) Hegel’s conception of philosophy, (2) the development of the system, (3) the problem of an introduction into the system, (4) Hegel’s criticism of traditional metaphysics, (5) his notion of a Concept (Begriff) and of the Idea (Idee).

Primary texts:

  • G.W.F.Hegel: The Difference between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy (especially the first 40 pages)
  • - Phenomenology of Spirit (especially the Preface and the Introduction) – Science of Logic, Book 3 – Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, 3d edition, especially §§ 1 – 83 and 160 - 244

295  Dissertation Seminar. Ginsborg. F 12:30-2, 204 Wheeler.

Extradepartmental courses

LAW 210-2  Workshop in Law, Philosophy, & Political Theory. Scheffler/Rakowski. Th 1-4, Tu 2:20-4:10, 215A Boalt Hall.