Fall 2011

Undergraduate courses

R1B  Reading & Composition through Philosophy. Engen. TuTh 11-12:30, 106 Mulford.

R1B  Reading And Composition through Philosophy. Engen. TuTh 2-3:30, 221 Wheeler.

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Sluga. MWF 9-10, 50 Birge.

3  Nature of Mind. Campbell. MWF 2-3, 145 Dwinelle.

In this introductory course we will be looking at the relation of psychological states, such as desires or memories, to the physical world. There are five sections in the course: Foundations (Dualism, Behaviorism and Central-State Materialism), Functionalism, Consciousness, Intentionality, and Personal Identity. 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? Can a mental state be explained by its potential for causal relations with other mental states and with behavior? 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? How can we explain our ability to think about the world? What is a person? These questions will be explored in the course of beginning to understand the nature of the mind.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Roush. MWF 10-11, 159 Mulford.

This is a first course in logic. We study first-order logic: boolean connectives and conditionals, formal proof, logical consequence, validity and soundness of arguments, quantification. We learn how to argue for logical properties using models and formal proof methods.

24  Freshman Seminar: Philosophy and the Meaning of Life. Wallace. W 12-1, 234 Moses.

In this seminar we will take a philosophical look at some ancient questions about the meaning of life. What is it that makes life worth living, from the agent’s point of view? What is the relation between morality and the good life? (Can one live well, as an individual, only if one complies with moral requirements? Or does morality sometimes interfere with the conditions for living a meaningful life?) Can life have meaning if there are no objective values? What is the significance of our mortality for the question of life’s meaning? Finally, what is the relation of philosophy itself to the meaning of life? Is there any truth in the dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living?

Readings will be taken primarily from contemporary philosophical sources.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Corcilius. MWF 12-1, 145 Dwinelle.

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. It provides an overview of the classical currents of ancient Greek philosophical thinking from the pre-Socratic beginnings to the hellenistic period. The bulk of the course will be spent on the analysis of the philosophical motives, methods and views of Socrates (469 - 399 BC), Plato (427-347 BC), and Aristotle (384-322 BC). Since the ancient Greeks identified many of the philosophical problems (and models for their resolution) we are still concerned with today, the course may also serve as an introduction to philosophical thinking generally.

100  Philosophical Methods. Warren. W 2-4, 88 Dwinelle.

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.

Text: Personal Identity, edited by John Perry, University of California Press

104  Ethical Theories. Wallace. MWF 10-11, 101 LSA.

This course offers a survey of some of the main systematic approaches to issues in moral philosophy. We will look at several exemplary texts from the modern history of the subject (by Hobbes, Hume, Sidgwick, and Kant), as well as influential work by important contemporary philosophers (including Korsgaard, Nagel, Scanlon, and Williams). Issues to be discussed include the following: What is it that distinguishes morality from other sets of requirements (e.g. those of etiquette or law or self-interest)? Why should we care about complying with moral demands? What is the relation between the right and the good (both the good of the agent, and the impersonal good)?

116  Special Topics in Political Philosophy. Munoz-Dardé. MWF 11-12, 210 Wheeler.

This course will be taught in seminar format, with two weekly meetings and enrollment limited to fifteen students. It is devoted to some of central questions in political philosophy: consent, authority, neutrality, rights, equality, pluralism, and well-being. The primary focus will be on contemporary philosophical thought in the liberal tradition, with special emphasis on the work of Rawls and Raz.

NOTE: as taught this semester, Phil 116 satisfies the ethics
requirement for the philosophy major.

122  Theory of Knowledge. Stroud. TuTh 11-12:30, 159 Mulford.

An upper-division course on the philosophical theory of knowledge. Not a general survey of the field, but an examination and discussion of the nature and source of three fundamental epistemological problems.

How does what we perceive by the senses on a particular occasion give us knowledge of what is so in our immediate environment at that time?

How does what we perceive or have perceived in the past give us reason to believe something about what we have not yet perceived?

How does what one person perceives to be true of another person give the perceiver reason to believe something about what the other person thinks or feels?

It has proved difficult to find philosophically satisfying explanations of knowledge or reasonable beliefs of these kinds. This course will concentrate on the distinctive philosophical character of the problems, on the conceptions of human perception, thought, belief, and knowledge that appear to be responsible for the ‘sceptical’ outcome in each case, and on how, if at all, these obstacles are to be overcome.

Two lecture-discussion classes and one mandatory discussion section each week. Lectures and discussions will presuppose close reading of material available in a Philosophy 122 Reader. Barry Stroud’s The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism would be useful as background.

In addition to whatever writing is assigned in connection with discussion sections, students will be expected to write three five-page papers during the semester, one on each of the three philosophical questions. Possible paper topics will be suggested in each case.

133  Philosophy of Language. Searle. TuTh 9:30-11, 145 Dwinelle.

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.

There are two parts to the course. In the first part, I will explain how I think language ought to be studied philosophically. The philosophy of language is a branch of the philosophy of mind. In the second part of the course, I will teach mainstream philosophy of language, and attempt both to explain and criticize it.

134  Form & Meaning. Yalcin. MWF 12-1, 220 Wheeler.

How is the meaning of a whole sentence determined by the meanings of its parts, and by its structure? This question is addressed in empirical semantic theories for natural language. The character and content of such theories has been a central concern both of the philosophy of language and of recent linguistics, and it is the central focus of this course. Students will become familiar with truth-conditional semantics for natural language in the model-theoretic tradition stemming from the classic work of Frege and Tarski and developed by Montague, Davidson, Lewis, and others. We will investigate the proper treatment of predicates, modifiers, quantifiers, modals, conditionals, names, descriptions, and attitudes within this kind of approach to linguistic meaning. Along this the way we will: develop a sense of what it means for a semantic theory to be compositional; ask how debates within a compositional semantic theory interact with foundational questions in the philosophy of language; and develop a conception of how natural language semantics relates to syntax, to pragmatics, and to psychological theories of human cognition.

Philosophy 12A (introduction to logic) is a prerequisite to this course.

136  Philosophy of Perception. Martin. MWF 1-2, 220 Wheeler.

138  Philosophy of Society. Searle. TuTh 2-3:30, 213 Wheeler.

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?

170  Descartes. Crockett. TuTh 12:30-2, 110 Wheeler.

This course will provide an intensive introduction to Descartes’s views on metaphysics, epistemology, and physics. We will begin by examining some of Descartes’s early works on method, physics, and physiology. We will then turn to an in-depth study of the Meditations, focusing on both Descartes’s epistemological project and his anti-scholastic metaphysics. We will supplement our study of the Meditations with readings from the Objections and Replies, the Principles, and several important pieces of secondary literature. Some of the issues we will discuss in this section include the method of doubt, the Cartesian circle, Descartes’s mode of presentation in the Meditations, the creation and ontological status of the eternal truths, the status of the human being, the nature of substance, and the real distinction between mind and body. After our study of the Meditations, we will examine Descartes’s physics as presented in the Principles.

178  Kant. Warren. TuTh 2-3:30, 220 Wheeler.

In this course we will examine some of the major metaphysical and epistemological themes of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. We will be focusing particularly on Kant’s views on the following topics: a priori knowledge and how it is possible, space and time, objectivity and experience, self-knowledge, and transcendental idealism and the contrast between appearances and things in themselves. Several short papers and two longer papers will be required.

Prerequisite: Philosophy 25 [History of Modern Philosophy (17th&18th centuries)]

Texts: Required: Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, transl’d by Norman Kemp Smith; Kant, Prolegomena, transl’d by Gary Hatfield;
Recommended: Henry Allison, Kant’s Transcendental Idealism 2nd ed’n (Yale Univ. Press, 2004mm

189  Special Topics in Recent European Philosophy: Later Heidegger. Kaiser. M 2-5, 79 Dwinelle.

The goal of this seminar is to come to an understanding of the close connections between art, poetry and technology in Heidegger’s later philosophy. These topics will be explored through a close look at his engagement with the works of Nietzsche and Hölderlin, especially the former’s diagnosis of our nihilistic predicament (“The desert grows”) and the special status that he assigned to art.

But it is not Nietzsche —according to Heidegger he ultimately failed to free himself (and us) from the fetters of metaphysics—who can point the way out of our ‘forgetfulness of being’. It is in reflective thinking, art, poetry (especially that of Hölderlin) and ‘dwelling with things’ that the ‘saving power’ is to be found.

Readings will include essays and excerpts from Heidegger’s lectures on Nietzsche and Hölderlin; we will also look at such central texts as “The Origin of the Work of Art”, “The Question Concerning Technology”, and “Building, Dwelling, Thinking”.

The seminar is aimed at advanced students of philosophy, preferably with some background in the work of Heidegger and/or Nietzsche.

Enrollment is limited, and by application only. Students may apply to the instructor directly (at kuk@berkeley.edu). Applications should include a brief statement outlining the applicant’s philosophical background and interest in the seminar. All applicants will be notified via email as to the result of their application; those admitted will receive course enrollment numbers with which they can enroll in the seminar through TeleBears.

Graduate seminars

200  First-Year Graduate Seminar. Ginsborg/Stroud. TBA, TBA.

290-3  Graduate Seminar. Campbell/Martin. Th 2-4, 234 Moses.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: The Experience of Time and the Unity of Consciousness. Lee. M 2-4, 234 Moses.

This class will address the following questions : What is it for a “stream of consciousness” to exist? What kind of structure does conscious experience have, both at a time and over time? What is it to experience time passing? Is there such a thing as “subjective time”, or “phenomenal time”, to be distinguished from the objective physical time that events occur in? What support, if any, does the experience of time provide to different views of the metaphysics of time? We will look carefully at the notions of an “experience” and a “subject of experience”, and the idea of one experience being “unified” with another by being part of a larger experience. We will relate these ideas to certain fundamental questions about the timing and temporal structure of conscious experience (e.g. is it discrete, continuous, or something else?), including a discussion of the “unity” of experience over time. Following on from this, we’ll take a look at some different views of temporal experience, including Husserl’s “tripartite” conception. We’ll then ask whether there are aspects of temporal experience that aren’t captured by any of these views – an experience of temporal passage that isn’t an experience of temporal relations between events, or a purely subjective aspect to temporal experience, that might deserve the name “phenomenal time”. Finally, we’ll take a look at the experience of time as a source of evidence in debates about the metaphysics of time: does experience support the claim that there is an objective “moving present”, or some kind of deep asymmetry between past, present and future? Although the focus of the class will be more philosophical than empirical, we will be taking a look at some of the empirical literature on the representation of time in the brain where it is relevant, in addition to discussing relevant philosophical literature.

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Regulation of Intimacy: The Politics of Sex. Munoz-Dardé. W 2-4, 234 Moses.

Should we recognize a private sphere of relations among individuals, sexual and intimate relations, which we consider beyond any regulation by the state? Should there be state recognition or regulation of the family, and the relations within the family? What, if anything, is wrong with prostitution? And should any such wrong be reflected in laws which govern prostitution? Should marriage have standing as a state institution? These practical questions raise a number of more general ethical concerns which will be our focus in this seminar: i.) Should some things not be for sale? ii.) In what sense, if any, is the personal political? iii.) Are there basic rights of self-ownership? iv.) Is consent the key to legitimate interaction? v.) What is involved in one person ‘objectifying’ another? vi.) Are there circumstances in which paternalism is permissible or even required?

After a couple of introductory sessions in which we set up the economic, sociological and anthropological background of the main concerns of this set of issues (to the extent that there is a solid body of evidence on these matters) we will move on to consider the following topics:

  1.  Commodification and Value
  2.  Paternalism
  3.  Self-Ownership & Trespass
  4.  Consent
  5.  Objectification
  6.  Treating as a means
  7.  Respect for Persons
  8.  Conclusion: A Humean, Sociological Hypothesis

290-6  Graduate Seminar: Logic, Epistemology, and Natural Language. Yalcin. Tu 2-4, 234 Moses.

We will cover some recent work on topics at the intersection of the philosophy of language, philosophical logic, and epistemology.

We will begin by considering the role of logical notions in natural language semantics. After a review of recent work highlighting some of the nontrivial differences between natural language and classical logic, we will ask: in what sense does natural language have a logic? We’ll then turn to the question how the notion of logic appropriate to natural language relates to the notion of traditional epistemological concern. When epistemologists speak of logic as normatively constraining belief, do they have in mind the same notion of logic? If not, how are the notions related?

In the second part of the course, we will turn to the relationship between logic and belief, and to the related issue of how to model belief. First, what are the demands of logic on belief? How should these demands be understood if we represent belief as coming in degrees—that is, if we speak of credence instead? Second, what metaphysical picture is appropriate to such a representation of belief? Is credence in the head?

In the third part of the course, we will turn to some debates about knowledge that have been thought to depend partly on issues about natural language. The two main questions will be these: First, how are knowledge and credence each related to rational action? Second, is knowledge a state which is somehow relative to a question, or to an inquiry, and if so, what is the upshot of this for questions of traditional epistemological concern?

Readings will come from Harman, Hawthorne, Stanley, Sturgeon, Rothschild, Leslie, Christensen, Moss, and Yalcin, among others.

295  Dissertation Seminar. Ginsborg. TBA, TBA.

302  Teaching Seminar. Sluga. TBA, TBA.