Spring 2014

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Sluga. MWF 9-10, 60 Evans.

The course seeks to provide a comprehensive picture of ethics by comparing a variety of views from Western and Non-Western sources. There will be a number of tests during the semester as well as a written final exam. All textual material will be contained in a class reader.

3  The Nature of Mind. Lee. TuTh 2-3:30, 145 Moffitt.

This course will be an introduction to some of the major debates in Philosophy of Mind. Is consciousness a purely physical phenomenon? Is the brain a computer and the mind its software? Are our common-sense ideas about how to explain people’s behavior compatible with contemporary scientific views about the structure of the brain? How can the mind represent the external world?

4  Knowledge & Its Limits. Holliday. MWF 10-11, 2 LeConte.

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? Whom can we trust?

11  Introduction to Philosophy of Religion. Crockett. TuTh 11-12:30, 145 Moffitt.

The aim of this course is to apply the concepts and methodology of contemporary philosophy to basic questions in the philosophy of religion, with an emphasis on the Western philosophical and religious traditions. This includes questions concerning the nature and existence of God, the contrast between faith and reason, the nature of religious experience, the possibility of life after death, the incomprehensibility of God, and the relationship between God and morality. The course readings will primarily be contemporary, though there will be some historical readings, and the course material will be arranged topically rather than chronologically. This is a lower division course and so no prior experience in philosophy is required.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Warren. MWF 12-1, 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, 4 LeConte.

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.

84  Sophomore Seminar: Street Art. Yalcin. Tu 5-6, 203 Wheeler.

The idea of this seminar is to broach two questions: (1) What is street art? (2) When, where, and how can it be morally permissible? The first question is broadly speaking metaphysical: it is about the nature of certain sorts of things in our social world. This part of the seminar will to some extent engage the classic, much larger question of what art is, but via the special case of street art. The second question is an ethical question. Street art characteristically appears without permission on private property, or in public spaces that are centrally controlled. It often involves violations of law. When exactly is it wrong? A special case we will discuss is this: some street artists are especially known for removing advertising and replacing it with their artwork. Is this kind of thing wrong, or always wrong? Or can it be a legitimate form of protest? With whom exactly does legitimate control of the public visual space lie?

Students of philosophy, art, art history, urban planning, and areas allied to these would be natural candidates for this course. But I will not be presupposing any specific background knowledge. So the course should make sense for any interested student prepared to think critically about these issues.

98-1  Berkeley Connect for Freshmen & Sophomores. Bruce. M 6-7, 262 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

The course control number for this section is #67228.

98-2  Berkeley Connect for Freshmen & Sophomores. Bruce. M 7-8, 262 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

The course control number for this section is #67751.

100  Philosophical Methods. Yalcin. Th 12-2, 166 Barrows.

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 each week with a graduate student instructor for close assessment and discussion of the student’s writing with special attention to how it could be improved.

108  Contemporary Ethical Issues. Kolodny. TuTh 9:30-11, 289 Cory.

Note: As taught this semester, Philosophy 108 will satisfy the Ethics requirement.

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.

125  Metaphysics. Lee. TuTh 11-12:30, 200 Wheeler.

This course will be a survey of some ongoing debates in metaphysics. Questions we will consider will include: Why does the universe exist? Is time’s passage an illusion? Is space a container and the world its contents? What is it for an object to exist at more than one time? Do other possible worlds exist?

129  Special Topics in the Philosophy of Science: The Philosophy of Space and Time. Ryckman. TuTh 11-12:30, 78 Barrows.

I. TOPICS: Absolute and relational theories of space, time, and motion: the problem of motion from Descartes, Newton and Leibniz to Einstein and beyond. How the principle of relativity leads from space and time to space-time. Mach’s attempt to ‘relativize’ inertia and its influence on Einstein in formulating the general theory of relativity. Space-time substantivalism and relationism. The problem of determinism in Einstein’s “Hole Argument”, and the physical meaning of general covariance. Background independence as a requirement for fundamental physical theory, including quantum gravity.

II. PREREQUISITES: Some background in philosophy, physics or mathematics will be helpful. While no detailed knowledge of relativity physics or higher mathematics is presumed, discussion of the philosophical issues will occasionally necessitate introducing small doses of reasonably advanced mathematics (the mathematics of the general theory of relativity). However, most of the central concepts can be explained in pictures (as mappings) with a bit of set theory. Leave math anxiety at the door.

III. REQUIRED READINGS.

– In addition to the following books (first three in paper editions), there will be a course reader, containing readings from Descartes, Berkeley, Euler, Mach, Poincaré, and Einstein.

• Newton: Philosophical Writings. Edited by Andrew Janiak. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

• G.W. Leibniz and Samuel Clarke: Correspondence. Edited by Roger Ariew. Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Co., 2000.

• Robert Geroch. General Relativity from A to B. University of Chicago Press, 1978.

• Tim Maudlin. Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time. Princeton UP, 2012.

133  Philosophy of Language. Searle. TuTh 9:30-11, 155 Donner Lab.

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.

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.

135  Theory of Meaning. Campbell. MWF 10-11, 240 Mulford.

This course reviews central issues in theory of meaning, in particular the relation between meaning and reference to objects. What explains our ability to refer to objects? Is the ability to think about an object a matter of standing in an appropriate causal relation to it? And if we take this view, does it help us to understand how thought might be in the end a biological phenomenon? We will look at basic lines of thought set out here by Kripke and Putnam, and theorists such as Dretske and Fodor who have built on their ideas. We will also look at the contrasting view of meaning and reference presented by the later Wittgenstein. We will begin, however, with the classical views of Frege and Russell. Please note that lectures and discussions will assume that everyone present has completed one course in logic (in this the 135 course is different to the 135 course given in previous years).

138  Philosophy of Society. Searle. TuTh 2-3:30, 200 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?

140A  Intermediate Logic. Holliday. MWF 2-3, 110 Wheeler.

Major concepts, results, and techniques of modern logic. Basic set-theoretic tools. Model-theoretic treatment of propositional and first-order logic (completeness, compactness, Lowenheim-Skolem). Philosophical implications of these results.

141  Philosophy and Game Theory. Buchak. TuTh 12:30-2, 30 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.

153  Chinese Philosophy. Shun. TuTh 2-3:30, 219 Dwinelle.

The course will focus on early Chinese philosophical thought, including different schools such as Confucianism, Daoism, Moism and Yangism. We will discuss the connotations of key philosophical terms, analyze important passages, and consider the relation between and the influence among different early Chinese thinkers. While attending closely to texts, the emphasis is on philosophical ideas in the texts. The goal is to develop an understanding of the basic ideas of the different schools of thought as well as the relevant analytic skills. The course does not require knowledge of Chinese, and all readings will be in English translation.

Required readings: D. C. Lau (trans.), Confucius: the Analects (The Chinese University Press); D. C. Lau (trans.), Mencius (The Chinese University Press); Burton Watson (trans.), Mozi (Columbia University Press); Burton Watson (trans.), Chuang Tzu (Columbia University Press); Burton Watson (trans.), Hsun Tzu (Columbia University Press).
Recommended reading: A. C. Graham, Disputers of the Tao (Open Court)

161  Aristotle. Clarke. TuTh 11-12:30, 241 Cory.

This course is an intermediate-level introduction to Aristotle. Topics include: logic and knowledge; the philosophy of change; the soul; being and substance; the notions of actuality and potentiality; the argument for a ‘prime mover’; virtue, pleasure, and friendship; the ideal political system.

Required text: Irwin and Fine (trans.), Aristotle: Selections (Hackett, 1995).

172  Spinoza. Crockett. TuTh 2-3:30, 210 Wheeler.

This course is a close examination of the structure of Spinoza’s philosophical system. Most of our time will be spent on a careful reading of Spinoza’s Ethics Demonstrated in Geometric Order, in which Spinoza argues for a comprehensive philosophical system that encompasses metaphysics, epistemology, psychology and ethics. Our primary goal will be to come to a deep understanding of Spinoza’s philosophical views, the relation of these views to those of his contemporaries, and the relevance of his views to contemporary philosophical theories. Our reading of the Ethics will be informed by important pieces of correspondence between Spinoza and his contemporaries.

186b  Later Wittgenstein. Stroud. TuTh 11-12:30, 210 Wheeler.

A course of close reading and detailed discussion of central parts of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. The aim is to understand Wittgenstein’s later work and its philosophical significance by responding as directly and as sympathetically as possible to the problems and lines of thought presented in that book. Some other works of Wittgenstein and some interpretative commentary will be consulted occasionally, but the focus throughout will be on that book. Because the book embodies a conception of philosophy as a certain kind of activity, the goal of the course is to encourage philosophical reflection and engagement by everyone through careful attention to the text, active participation in back-and-forth classroom discussion. The course is meant to be as much as possible an exercise in doing philosophy, not just commentary on a philosophical work.

187  Special Topics in the History of Philosophy: Heidegger on Mitsein (Being-with) and Alterity. Kaiser. Tu 9-12, 234 Moses Hall.

On ‘Mitsein’ and Alterity: Heidegger’s Critique of Intersubjectivity

This course will offer a systematic study of Heidegger’s important notion of ‘Mitsein’ (‘Being-with’). Mitsein is crucial to Heidegger’s conception of Dasein in its essential tension between the poles of authenticity and inauthenticity, as well as for Heidegger’s later thinking on art, technology and language (as the ‘house of being’). But it has also been at the heart of controversies amongst both foes and followers of Heidegger’s philosophy. Thinkers as diverse and significant as Hannah Arendt, Emmanuel Levinas, Herbert Marcuse, Hans Jonas, Jürgen Habermas, and Charles Taylor have all been profoundly influenced (positively or critically) by Heidegger’s ontological approach to grounding ethics. For some it epitomizes Heidegger’s failed attempt to capture the deeply social aspect of intersubjectivity, a failure that led to his dangerously inadequate grasp of the political dimension of human existence. To others it became a stepping stone to developing their own notions of ‘love of the world’ or ‘amor mundi’ (Arendt), ‘alterity ‘(Levinas), and ‘responsibility’ (Jonas).

We will study the relevant sections of Being and Time (in particular §§25-27 and 74) and trace Heidegger’s development of these ideas in his thinking (looking at excerpts from Basic Concepts of Metaphysics and other lectures, as well as such influential later essays as The Thing and The Question Concerning Technology). After that we will focus on important critical objections as well as interesting new perspectives on intersubjectivity and community by the above named philosophers and other, more contemporary thinkers.

Requirements: • Active participation in the seminar discussion • 2 short response papers on the assigned texts • a 12-15 page final paper

188  Phenomenology. Madva. TuTh 2-3:30, 220 Wheeler.

As taught this semester, this course satisfies the 160-187 (but not the 160-178) requirement for the major.

This course will consist primarily in close readings of two great works in the phenomenological tradition, Heidegger’s Being and Time and Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. We will address questions such as: the essence of human experience, or the first-person point-of-view; the relationships between human beings and their physical and social environments; the role of the body in enabling or constituting experience; what it means to be an “authentic” versus “inauthentic” self; the appropriate attitude to take to human finitude and mortality; the relations between first-personal and scientific approaches to human experience; and the philosophical methodology best suited to address all of the above questions.

We will also read selections from other writers, such as Husserl, Sartre, and Beauvoir. Depending on student interest, we will conclude the course either by looking back to the historical precursors of 20th-century phenomenology, such as Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, or by looking forward to the role of phenomenology in contemporary debates in philosophy of mind, action, and cognitive science.

198-1  Berkeley Connect for Juniors & Seniors. Rieppel. Tu 5-6, 262 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

The course control number for this section is #67466.

198-2  Berkeley Connect for Juniors & Seniors. Rieppel. Tu 6-7, 262 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

The course control number for this section is #67469.

198-3  Berkeley Connect for Juniors, Seniors, and Junior Transfers. Winzeler. Tu 7-8, 262 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

The course control number for this section is #67472.

198-4  Berkeley Connect for Juniors, Seniors, and Junior Transfers. Winzeler. W 5-6, 233 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

The course control number for this section is #67475.

Graduate seminars

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Political Rule. Kolodny. M 12-2, 234 Moses.

The political philosophy of this and the past century has tended to focus on the question: What ends should the state pursue? Formally, the answer is: the appropriate production and distribution of goods, construed broadly to include not simply material goods, but also security, liberty, opportunity. More substantive answers come when we specify which goods and how they are to be distributed. This tendency is manifest in the most celebrated work of 20th century political philosophy, John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice. That theory is, essentially, that the “basic structure” of society is just just when it distributes liberties equally and socioeconomic goods according to the “difference principle.” However, the roots of this tendency reach deeper into the utilitarian tradition, which answers the question, “What ends should the state pursue?” with “The greatest happiness for the greatest number.”

A different and earlier tradition, however, largely devoted itself to a different question. Whatever ends the state pursues, it pursues them by issuing commands to others that are in some sense “binding”: authoritative, or obligating, or enforceable, or coercive, or some such. Who, if anyone, has the “right” (the permission, or the normative power, or the exclusive claim) to issue such commands to whom? Who, if anyone, has the right to rule over whom? This is the central preoccupation of the debate between Sir Robert Filmer and John Locke, for example.

Now, perhaps this tradition is misguided. Perhaps, so long as the state is achieving the appropriate ends—which, recall, already includes an appropriate distribution of wealth, liberty, opportunity, and so forth among rulers and ruled—who rules whom, or whether anyone rules anyone, is a matter of indifference. Our question is whether this is the whole story. Supposing that otherwise the right ends are being achieved, is there any valid concern about the very fact that some rule over others? What, if anything, might the concern be, and what, if anything, might answer it?

We will approach these questions by asking two more familiar questions (albeit in reverse order): What, if anything, justifies the state? And what, if anything, justifies democracy, in particular?

The spine of the course, for better or worse, will be the instructor’s work in progress. But we will also read work of greater and more lasting value, by John Rawls, Joseph Raz, Ronald Dworkin, T.M. Scanlon, and Philip Pettit, among others.

290-3  Graduate Seminar: The Nature of Nature. Dreyfus/Noë. W 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

Science, from its beginning, has taken inspiration from what Bernard Williams called the Absolute Conception of Reality. This is a conception of the world as “it really is” entirely apart from how it appears to us: a colorless, odorless, meaningless and value-free domain organized in accordance with timeless and immutable mathematical laws. Modern science shapes a conception of the cosmos, its subject matter, that excludes us. And so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it has proved difficult, over the centuries, to find a place for us, and for phenomena such as meaning, experience, value, purpose, not to mention religion and art, in the natural order so conceived. Maybe it’s just a matter of time. Newer sciences such as neuroscience and linguistics are moving in, step by step, on the sought after comprehension of ourselves. Or maybe the problem runs deeper than that and stems from our very conception of nature itself and so also of what a natural science is supposed to be and so what the right sort of explanations are supposed to look like?

In this seminar we ask after the nature of nature. It is our aim to raise questions and to indicate possible ways forward.

Among the authors whose work we will read are Thomas Nagel, Bernard Williams, Hilary Putnam, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Evan Thompson.

This is a research seminar designed primarily for graduate students of philosophy. Others are welcome space permitting.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Political Philosophy: Michel Foucault & the Surveillance State. Sluga. M 2-4, 234 Moses.

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Conditions of Thought. Stroud. Tu 4-6, 234 Moses.

An open-ended discussion-seminar exploring some necessary conditions of thought and some epistemological and metaphysical consequences of those conditions’ being fulfilled. Areas of discussion, with special attention to the connections between them, include: awareness, discrimination, and the possession of concepts; predication, propositional thought, and the unity of judgement; assent, belief, inference, and recognition of reasons; belief, understanding, intention, and a capacity for propositonal thought; predicational competence and perceptual knowledge; conditions of self- and other-ascription of attitudes; self-consciousness, self-knowledge, and recognition of reasons.

No week-by-week agenda fixed in advance. I welcome presentations by participants on topics in these or related areas.

290-7  Graduate Seminar: Primary & Secondary Qualities in Early Modern Philosophy. Warren. Tu 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

The distinction between primary and secondary qualities is central to the development of philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries. We will begin by examining some of the late scholastic discussions concerning modes and qualities more generally. In the rest of the semester, we will be looking closely at a number of early modern figures, including Galileo, Descartes, Boyle, Locke, and Clarke. On what basis do these scientists and philosophers draw the distinction between primary and secondary qualities, and where do they draw the line between them? To what extent is the distinction based on a priori metaphysical or epistemological considerations; to what extent is it based on what an empirical physical theory says the world is like? What is the relation of the distinction to corpuscularianism and to mechanistic explanation? Secondary qualities are sometimes characterized as being reducible to primary qualities; sometimes, as powers to bring about ideas of certain sorts; sometimes, as merely subjective and as lacking any reality. What is the relation between these different characterizations of secondary qualities?

290-8  Graduate Seminar: Metaphysics&Metasemantics. Yalcin. W 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

This course will mix issues in metaphysics with issues in the foundations of semantics (the semantics of both artificial languages and natural language). It is about some problems concerning the relationship between reality and our ways of representing or modeling it.

Some of the questions we’ll ask: What is it to model reality? How do we separate semantic facts about the way that a model is to be interpreted from the substantive theses we use the model to articulate? Are there metaphysical questions that cannot be framed except in a partially question-begging way, and if so, what is the right methodology in such cases? How do we distinguish the artifactual features of a model from the genuinely explanatory features? In what way are the symmetry properties of a model a guide to what it is “really representing”? What is the nature of the relation between natural language and the artificial technical languages we devise in order to limb the structure of reality? What is the appropriate response to cases where natural language seems to be presupposing a "false metaphysics”? Does it even make sense to talk about natural language semantics as somehow coming with substantive metaphysical presuppositions? What is the right understanding of the models used in natural language semantics to “interpret” natural language?

Readings will come from Stalnaker, Kripke, Chomsky, Humberstone, Dasgupta, Lee & Yalcin.

295  Dissertation Seminar. Stroud. TBA, TBA.