Spring 2013

Undergraduate courses

R1B  Reading & Composition through Philosophy. Barnes. TuTh 11-12:30, 206 Wheeler.

This course aims to teach students with little or no philosophical experience to write superb philosophical prose. We’ll build skills specific to philosophical writing while exploring historical and cutting-edge philosophical problems.

By analyzing others philosophers’ arguments, we’ll develop the skills necessary to engage in a meaningful way with their views, and to formulate in a clear way our own. At the end of the course, students will produce a research paper criticizing another answer to the question, and defending an answer of their own. This class fulfills the second semester R&C requirement.

R1B  Reading & Composition through Philosophy. Barnes. TuTh 2-3:30, 201 Wheeler.

This course aims to teach students with little or no philosophical experience to write superb philosophical prose. We’ll build skills specific to philosophical writing while exploring historical and cutting-edge philosophical problems.

By analyzing others philosophers’ arguments, we’ll develop the skills necessary to engage in a meaningful way with their views, and to formulate in a clear way our own. At the end of the course, students will produce a research paper criticizing another answer to the question, and defending an answer of their own. This class fulfills the second semester R&C requirement.

R1B  Reading & Composition through Philosophy. Barnes. TuTh 3:30-5, 204 Wheeler.

This course aims to teach students with little or no philosophical experience to write superb philosophical prose. We’ll build skills specific to philosophical writing while exploring historical and cutting-edge philosophical problems.

By analyzing others philosophers’ arguments, we’ll develop the skills necessary to engage in a meaningful way with their views, and to formulate in a clear way our own. At the end of the course, students will produce a research paper criticizing another answer to the question, and defending an answer of their own. This class fulfills the second semester R&C requirement.

3  Nature of Mind. Noë. MWF 4-5, 3 LeConte.

This is a course on the nature of mind. The central question we ask: Can we give an account of the mind within the framework of natural science? We will read widely in philosophy and cognitive science as we seek to answer this fundamental question. Among the topics we will cover: the nature of consciousness, the possibility of machine minds, neuroscience as the basic science of human experience, our knowledge of each other.

4  Knowledge & Its Limits. Holliday. MWF 10-11, 101 Barker.

In this course, we will investigate questions about the nature and limits of knowledge: Is knowledge compatible with the possibility of human error? Is the structure of our knowledge like a building that rests on a foundation or like a web held together by its connections? What are the requirements for knowledge? Can one know by accident? How can we acquire knowledge and avoid misinformation from others? Who can we trust?

11  Introduction to Philosophy of Religion. Buchak. MWF 12-1, 2 LeConte.

This course addresses basic questions in the philosophy of religion, primarily from the Western philosophical tradition. For example, does God exist? Should we believe in God? Are there such things as souls, and if so, how do they interact with the physical body? How should a just God punish us for our moral wrongdoing? Finally, is morality based on God’s commands? The course material will be arranged topically, rather than historically, and will be divided into four sections: arguments for and against the existence of God, epistemology, metaphysics, and morality.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Warren. MWF 1-2, 2060 Valley.

This course is intended to introduce the student to the concepts and principles of deductive logic: symbolizing English language sentences and arguments in terms of formalized languages; validity, implication, and equivalence in truth-functional and quantificational logic; systems of deduction, and their soundness and completeness. In addition to the three lectures, each student will attend two sections per week.

Requirements: Lecture and section attendance, weekly problem sets, several in-section quizzes, a midterm and a final.

Text: Warren Goldfarb’s /Deductive Logic/ , Hackett, 2003.

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. Stroud. Tu 2-4, 160 Dwinelle.

A course to encourage in philosophy majors the practice and development of the skills of reading and writing in philosophy. Readings will be drawn from recent essays on a variety of subjects in different areas of philosophy. These will be discussed in one two-hour classroom meeting each week. Students will be expected to read and discuss the essays in class and to write clearly and accurately about them and about the questions they raise. Each student will meet individually with a graduate student instructor for close assessment and discussion of the student’s writing with special attention to how it could be improved. There will be a final paper on a topic of the student’s choice.

Required reading: Joseph M. Williams, “Style: Toward Clarity and Grace” (U. Chicago Press).

Course Reader

104  Ethical Theories. Wallace. MWF 11-12, 60 Evans.

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)? Is there anything interesting that we can say, in general terms, about what makes actions morally right or wrong?

110  Aesthetics. Noë. MWF 2-3, 30 Wheeler.

This course will explore topics in the philosophy of art. What is art? What makes art valuable? Is art really valuable? What is a picture? Why are some pictures works of art, but not others? What is performance? What makes performance art? What does art reveal about human nature? What does art tell us about the mind? We will seek to answer these and other questions. We will read writings on these and related topics by a range of philosophers (mostly from the 20th century).

Many of the readings for this course will come from an anthology entitled Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology, published by Blackwells and edited by Cahn et al.

This course is an upper division philosophy course. it is intended for students with some background in philosophy. Students with knowledge of the arts are welcome, space permitting, provided they are motivated to do philosophy.

112  Special Topics in Aesthetics: Music & Meaning. Ginsborg. Tu 1-4, 124 Morrison.

Philosophy 112. Special Topics in Aesthetics: Music and Meaning

Instructors: Hannah Ginsborg (Philosophy), Mary Ann Smart (Music).

This course will explore the question of whether music has meaning, and if so, what kind. Can music represent, say, birdsong, or the sea, or merely imitate? If music expresses emotions, then whose–those of the listener? the composer? the performer? We will consider parallels and contrasts between linguistic and musical meaning, theories of how music can be expressive, and the question of whether music can convey political meaning. The course will be taught as a seminar, and students will be expected to participate actively. Each week’s discussion will be structured around the interaction between musical excerpts and readings, drawn from historical and contemporary literature in philosophy, musicology, and the psychology of music. Requirements will include several short papers, a class presentation, and a final paper. Please note that this course is being taught as part of the “Big Ideas” breadth program; for details of the program, see http://bigideascourses.berkeley.edu/. It is also being taught under the title Music 128P: Music and Meaning.

Enrollment in the course is limited and by instructor approval only. If you are interested in enrolling, please send an email, with “Music and Meaning” in the subject line, to ginsborg@berkeley.edu and masmart@berkeley.edu. One of the instructors will get back to you with details of the enrollment procedure.

122  Theory of Knowledge. Gabriel. MWF 10-11, 220 Wheeler.

The theory of knowledge or epistemology is concerned with questions such as: How is knowledge possible? What forms of knowledge are there? Can “knowledge” be defined? Can we know that we know anything whatsoever? In this course we will set out from a variety of skeptical problems, that is, problems resulting in paradoxes, which seem to prove that we cannot know anything. We will then discuss various responses to skeptical paradoxes. In the last part of the course, we will concentrate on some prominent analyses of “knowledge” and discuss whether an analysis of “knowledge” is feasible. In this context, we will also look at various contemporary responses to the problem of justification, which identifies justification as the problematic ingredient in our understanding of knowledge.

Texts: There will be a reader with all the texts discussed in the lecture course. Recommended Introduction: Duncan Pritchard: What is This Thing Called Knowledge? Routledge, 2nd Edition 2009.

125  Metaphysics. Stroud. TuTh 11-12:30, 100 Wheeler.

A lecture-and-discussion course on the nature and prospects of metaphysical understanding of the world. Does metaphysics seek a conception of what is really so or how things really are independently of all the ways we think of or experience them? What, if anything, can be discovered about such a world? How are conclusions about it to be reached? We will concentrate on questions about the independent metaphysical reality of (1) the colors of things (2) the relation of cause and effect (2) the necessity with which certain things must be so (4) the goodness or badness or other evaluative qualities of things.

Familiarity with the history of modern philosophy (especially Hume and Kant) will be taken for granted. Extensive reading and discussion of difficult abstract philosophical material is required, along with clear, careful writing of several focussed critical papers throughout the semester.

An upper-division course not recommended for students still near the beginning of their study of philosophy.

READING: Philosophy 125 Reader; Barry Stroud, The Quest for Reality: Subjectivism and the Metaphysics of Colour (Oxford University Press); Barry Stroud, Engagement and Metaphysical Dissatisfaction: Modality and Value (Oxford University Press)

128  Philosophy of Science. Roush. TuTh 11-12:30, 200 Wheeler.

This is a course about the epistemology of science. We will ask what makes something a scientific explanation, and what is required for observations to confirm (support) a hypothesis. We will ask how scientific models, experiments, and computer simulations are similar and different, and how scientists learn from each of these tools. We will pay particular attention to the example of climate models and simulations. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Searle. TuTh 9:30-11, 277 Cory.

The single most important question in philosophy and in intellectual life generally at the present time is this: How, if at all, can we reconcile a certain conception that we have of ourselves as conscious, free, rational, ethical, language using, social and political human beings in a world consisting entirely of mindless, meaningless physical particles? This course is directed to the most essential part of that question, the nature of the human mind. What is consciousness and how can it be caused by brain processes? How does it function causally in our behavior? How do we represent reality to ourselves in our mental processes? What is the nature of perception, memory, knowledge and action? Do we have free will? Does the existence of unconscious mental processes threaten our free will? Can cognitive science extend our understanding of ourselves as human beings? Are our brains really just digital computers? How exactly do our mental processes underlie society and our construction of social institutions, such as money, property, marriage and governments? What is the nature of perception? This course will be concerned with these and other such fundamental questions in the foundations of philosophy, cognitive science and psychology.

135  Theory of Meaning. MacFarlane. TuTh 12:30-2, 200 Wheeler.

An examination of some philosophical problems about the intentionality of language and thought. By virtue of what are some things in the world (for example, sentences and thoughts) about others? Is meaning always a matter of interpretation, or do some things have meaning independently of interpretation? Is conceptual thought prior to language? What would it take for a computer to have thoughts? 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 also on features of our physical and social environments? 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, Block, Fodor, Dretske, and others.

141  Philosophy and Game Theory. Buchak. MWF 3-4, 100 Wheeler.

This course deals with applications of game theory and rational choice theory to philosophical problems, as well as with paradoxes and problems introduced by these theories. After introducing the basic concepts of game theory, the first part of the course will be devoted to problems of cooperation and convention: how people manage to coordinate their actions for mutual benefit, e.g. drive on the same side of the road, carry out a project together, or use language. The next section will explore non-cooperative games, such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma; the possible application of these games to moral problems; and the need for and execution of a social contract. Finally, we turn to problems dealing with groups, such as the problem of collective action, and some issues in group decision making.

146  Philosophy of Mathematics. Mancosu. MWF 11-12, 110 Wheeler.

The course is an introduction to the classics of philosophy of mathematics with emphasis on the debates on the foundations of mathematics. Topics to be covered: infinitist theorems in seventeenth century mathematics; the foundations of the Leibnizian differential calculus and Berkeley’s ‘Analyst’; Kant on pure intuition in arithmetic and geometry; the arithmetization of analysis (Bolzano, Dedekind); Frege’s logicism; the emergence of Cantorian set theory; Zermelo’s axiomatization of set theory; Hilbert’s program; Russell’s logicism; Brouwer’s intuitionism; Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. Prerequisites: Phil 12A (or equivalent) and another course in philosophy

161  Aristotle. Corcilius. TuTh 2-3:30, 200 Wheeler.

This course is an intermediate level introduction into Aristotle’s philosophy. The course consists of an examination of Aristotle’s main philosophical writings. It will cover parts of his logic, his philosophy of nature, his practical philosophy and his metaphysics, with an emphasis on his practical philosophy.

Required text: A New Aristotle Reader, ed. J. L. Ackrill, 1987. Recommended text: The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. J. Barnes 2 vol. 1984 (or later).

163  Topics in Greek Philosophy: The Presocratics. Clarke. MWF 12-1, 220 Wheeler.

This course surveys the ideas and arguments of the first Greek philosophers, known as the “Presocratics”. Topics to be covered: Presocratic theories of the nature of the physical world; paradoxes of motion, change and plurality; views about the sources and limits of human knowledge; the beginnings of moral and political philosophy in the sophists.

181  Hegel. Gabriel. MWF 2-3, 100 Wheeler.

In this course we will examine arguments from the most important texts by Hegel. In particularly, our focus will be on the epistemological and metaphysical topics in the Phenomenology of Spirit and in the Science of Logic. However, we will also discuss some aspects of Hegel’s practical philosophy, in particular the theory of action in the Philosophy of Right. Topics will include: the relationship of epistemology to skepticism, the contrast between self-consciousness and self-knowledge, Hegel’s concept of truth, and Hegel’s theory of action. No prior knowledge of Hegel is required.

Texts: There will be a reader with texts by Hegel and some recent secondary literature. Recommended introductions: Peter Singer: Hegel: A Very Short Introduction. OUP 2001; Frederick Beiser: Hegel. Routledge 2005.

183  Schopenhauer & Nietzsche. Kaiser. TuTh 11-12:30, 122 Wheeler.

Schopenhauer’s pessimism and Nietzsche’s forceful ‘affirmation of life’ seem to be worlds apart from each other. On closer analysis though, many of Nietzsche’s central theses can be understood properly only against the background of Schopenhauer’s thought.

The course offers a comparative study of both philosophers’ interpretations of life and human existence. Topics to be studied include their accounts of the role of art and the function of aesthetic experience; the nature of the drives (will); the relation between the intellectual ego and the bodily self; and the diagnoses and evaluation of nihilism.

Readings from Schopenhauer’s philosophy will be drawn mostly from his famous The World as Will and Representation. The relevant works by Nietzsche span the different phases of his philosophy. We will concentrate on key selections from The Birth of the Tragedy, The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Genealogy of Morals and his posthumously published late notes (Will to Power).

The course is intended for junior and senior philosophy majors. Enrollment by instructor’s approval only. Students who would like to enroll should write a brief email to the instructor (at kuk@berkeley.edu) detailing their background in philosophy and their interest in the course.

186b  Later Wittgenstein. Sluga. TuTh 2-3:30, 130 Wheeler.

187-1  Special Topics in the History of Philosophy: Leibniz on Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Crockett. MWF 12-1, 129 Barrows.

In his New Essays on Human Understanding, the rationalist philosopher Gottfried Leibniz offers a point by point critique of Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Locke’s Essay contains extensive discussion of the “origin, certainty and extent of human knowledge,” which he uses to address problems in epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and philosophy of religion. In this course we will examine Leibniz’s New Essays with the central goal of understanding the key points of difference between Leibniz’s rationalist epistemological and metaphysical views and Locke’s empiricist philosophical views.
While our central text will be Leibniz’s New Essays, we will supplement this with readings from Locke’s Essay, as well as other readings from Leibniz’s philosophical writings.

187-2  Friendship, Family, & Love in Chinese & Western Thinking. Sluga. TuTh 9:30-11, 3205 Dwinelle.

The course will focus on conceptions of friendship as well as related notions like family and love in Chinese and Western philosophy and literature. On the Chinese side we will read texts ascribed to Confucius and Zhuangzi, among others, as well as those by contemporary writers. On the Western side we will concern ourselves with writings by Plato and Aristotle, as well as by a number of contemporary authors. Our interest is both in the question how friendship is understood and practiced and in the question of the special moral considerations to which it gives rise.

188  Phenomenology. Dreyfus. TuTh 11-12:30, 220 Wheeler.

As taught this semester, PHILOS 188 can count towards the 160-187 History requirement (not the 160-178 requirement.

With growing interest in the role of the body in perception, and in the related question of the possibility and nature of non-conceptual content, Merleau-Ponty’s classic work, Phenomenology of Perception, has become increasingly relevant. We will read Phenomenology of Perception in order to understand and evaluate Merleau-Ponty’s arguments against what he calls empiricism (a sort of behaviorism) and intellectualism (Cognitivism), as well as his positive account of what he calls motor intentionality – a kind of intentionality without conceptual content that, Merleau-Ponty argues, is the basic way human beings are embedded in the world.

190  Proseminar: Fact, Value, and Meaning. MacFarlane. TuTh 9:30-11, 234 Moses Hall.

Many philosophers have thought that there is an important difference between factual and evaluative language. When we say that Jim is being cruel, or that he should not pull the cat’s tail, they hold, we are not saying how things are, but expressing our disapproval and trying to influence others. This view has major consequences for how we think about moral and aesthetic argument and disagreements. In this seminar, we will consider the motivations for thinking that evaluative language is nonfactual, and we will look at some difficulties that arise in working out the idea. Readings will be drawn mostly from twentieth century analytic philosophers.

This is a proseminar, which means that the format of the class will be different from most classes in our department. I will not lecture. Instead, we will try to come to grips with the texts by discussing them collaboratively. Participation and occasional presentations are expected. It is essential that you do the reading and think hard about it before each class.

This is an upper-level philosophy course. Students should be philosophy majors and must have taken at least two prior philosophy courses.

Graduate seminars

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Perceptual Attention, Perceptual Disorders and the First Person. Campbell. Th 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

We will be looking at recent work on perception, from both philosophy and psychology. In particular, we’ll be looking at work on visual attention, and trying to gauge what impact this work should have on what we say about visual experience. This has implications for a number of philosophical problems. Conscious attention seems to be demanded by the role of vision in providing grasp of concepts of the objects and properties around us, and in generating propositional knowledge of our surroundings. Conscious attention also seems to be required for intentional action on our surroundings. If there’s time, we’ll also look at recent philosophical and empirical work on Molyneux’s Question.

We’ll go on to look at some perceptual disorders, in particular, perceptual disorders in schizophrenia. We’ll review the phenomenon of intentional binding (a certain compression in your experience of time between your action and its outcome), and how this seems to be different in schizophrenic patients. We’ll also look at some of the perceptual hallucinations and delusions characteristic of schizophrenia.

Finally, we’ll consider the role of perception in an understanding of the first person: an understanding of how to use ‘I’ and related terms. Classically, Descartes held that your understanding of ‘I’ does not at all depend on your ability to perceive your surroundings. We’ll discuss whether the Cogito does establish this, and at different pictures of the role perception might play in establishing one’s own existence.

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Aristotle’s Conception of Animal and Human Agency. Corcilius. W 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

Aristotle’s science of living beings contains a joint or “common” account of animal and human locomotion. At the center of this common account lies a certain conception of animal and human agency, which also forms the basis for Aristotle’s accounts of moral responsibility, of morally good action and akratic behavior. The seminar aims at a philosophical evaluation of this conception. Sections from the following books will be read and discussed: Physics VIII; De Anima III; De Motu Animalium; Nicomachean Ethics III, VI, VII.

Requirements: Phil. 161 or equivalent. Knowledge of Greek is welcome, but not required.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Social Psychology & Philosophy. Madva. Tu 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

Research in social psychology has exploded over the past 30 or so years, generating powerful new methods of measurement and a broad range of surprising and sometimes downright puzzling findings. But while philosophers have taken a keen interest in other areas within the “mind/brain sciences” (such as, e.g., perception, consciousness, language, reasoning, moral psychology, and action), social psychology has been largely neglected. This course will examine how recent findings in social psychology speak to perennial questions in mind, ethics, and political philosophy, including the nature of freedom, moral responsibility, self-knowledge, belief, desire, emotion, and prejudice. We will also take a critical look at the methods, presuppositions, and theories of contemporary social psychology “on its own terms,” i.e., considered apart from its relevance to traditional philosophical issues.

290-5  Graduate Seminar: The Intentionality of Perceptual Experience. Searle. Tu 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

I think many, indeed most, of the philosophical confusions about perception come from a failure to understand the intentionality of perceptual experience. Many philosophers deny that perception has intentionality, and even those who accept it tend to give a false account of the intentionality. A correct account will not only enable us to give an adequate account of perceptual experiences but to refute the standard mistakes in the field, such as phenomenalism, the representative theory, disjunctivism, etc.

This subject obviously opens up into a whole lot of related subjects in epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind, and I intend to pursue several of those.

290-6  Graduate Seminar: Recent Work on Reasons and Normativity. Wallace. M 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

We will look at some recent work in metaethics, focusing on questions about reasons for action and (practical) normativity, which have attracted a very lively contemporary discussion. Issues to be discussed include the objectivity of reasons; the connections between reasons and rational agency; the naturalistic challenge to normativity; the prospects for understanding discourse about reasons without postulating normative facts or truths; and the relations between reasons for action and the agent’s desires.

Works to be discussed include recent contributions by Blackburn, Parfit, Raz, Scanlon, Street, Thomson, and others.

290-7  Graduate Seminar: Kant’s Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Warren. F 3-5, 234 Moses Hall.

The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, which Kant wrote in 1786, applies the metaphysical and epistemological doctrines of the Critique of Pure Reason in support of a broadly Newtonian physics. We will focus on such topics as the purpose of the Metaphysical Foundations and its account of the need for a grounding for natural science, the relation between the Metaphysical Foundations and the Critique, the role of mathematics in natural science, the contrast between relative and absolute motion, the status of absolute space, the notions of substance and causation, the account of force and the contrast between the mechanical and dynamical theory of matter, and the notions of inertia and of the communication of motion. Alongside the primary texts by Kant, we will be spending much of the semester reading Michael Friedman’s forthcoming book, Kant’s Construction of Nature.