Spring 2015

Undergraduate courses

R1B-2  Reading & Composition through Philosophy. Rieppel. TuTh 12:30-2, 125 Dwinelle.

R1B-1  Reading & Composition through Philosophy. Rieppel. TuTh 11:00-12:30, 111 Kroeber.

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

4  Knowledge & Its Limits. Perry. TuTh 12:30-2, 60 Evans.

We all are acquainted with people who think they know far more about important things than they really do. But what if we are such people? How do we know whether our beliefs are really knowledge, or just an accumulation of superstition and half-truths inherited from parents, culture, peer-groups and the like? Philosophers have taken such self-questioning to extremes. Do I know that there is an external world? That I really exist? That the world wasn’t created five years, or five minutes, ago, with lots of misleading evidence about being older? We will look at the structure of knowledge, doubts philosophers have had about it, and helpful positive accounts of its nature that have emerged.

11  Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. Buchak. MWF 11-12, 105 North Gate.

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? What is the relationship between religious belief and scientific knowledge? How should a just God punish us for our moral wrongdoing? What is forgiveness, and what does it mean to say that God forgives? 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. Mancosu. MWF 10-11, 160 Kroeber.

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 explicates 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, Proof and Logic”, 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. Crockett. MWF 11-12, 145 Dwinelle.

In this course we will study the philosophical views of the most important and influential thinkers in early modern philosophy (roughly, the 17th and 18th centuries). This period in western thought was nothing short of extraordinary in that it saw the overthrow of a philosophical and scientific worldview that had dominated the west for over one thousand years. Prior to the 17th century, philosophy had been a blend of church doctrine and classical philosophy, and its methodology had been quite narrowly defined. The unfortunate effect of both the church’s influence on scholarly endeavors and the strictly defined methodology was that philosophical and scientific creativity was largely stifled. By the 17th century, however, the medieval worldview was beginning to crumble due in large part to a variety of subversive scientific discoveries. Advances in physics, astronomy and chemistry undermined central assumptions of classical science, which resulted in the wholesale abandonment of medieval philosophy more generally. Thus the scientific revolution of the 17th century set off an explosion of inspiration and creativity in the world of philosophy. It forced thinkers to make a new start in answering fundamental questions about the world such as: What is the nature of mind? What are the limits of human knowledge? What is a person? What is the basic stuff in the world?

These thinkers were the radicals of their day, and their views have shaped the way we practice contemporary philosophy. In fact, many of the philosophical questions we ask today could not have been formulated before these thinkers began to challenge philosophical orthodoxy. For that reason, studying the moderns is of central importance for understanding contemporary philosophy, and for understanding the nature of philosophical revolutions more generally.

98BC-1  Berkeley Connect for Freshmen & Sophomores. Crawford. M 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.

98BC-2  Berkeley Connect for Freshmen & Sophomores. Crawford. 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.

100  Philosophical Methods. Buchak. W 2-4, 30 Wheeler.

107  Moral Psychology. Shun. MWF 2-3, 220 Wheeler.

Using Robert C. Solomon’s “Spirituality for the Skeptic” (Oxford University Press, 2002) as a starting point, the course will examine a range of psychological phenomena related to the ethical and spiritual life of humans. Topics to be discussed include: self-respect, honor and dignity, anger and resentment, forgiveness, reverence, death, grief, fate and destiny, solitude, invulnerability, tranquility, spirituality. Readings will include articles on both contemporary philosophical approaches as well as non-western (primarily Confucian and Daoist) perspectives on these topics.

115  Political Philosophy. Sluga. TuTh 11-12:30, 242 Hearst Gym.

125  Metaphysics. Lee. TuTh 12:30-2, 20 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?

135  Theory of Meaning. MacFarlane. TuTh 2-3:30, 213 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.

138  Philosophy of Society. Searle. TuTh 9:30-11, 106 Moffitt.

143  Modal Logic. Holliday. TuTh 9:30-11, 30 Wheeler.

An introduction to the logical study of modality in its many forms: reasoning about necessity, knowledge, obligation, time, counterfactuals, provability, and other modal notions. Covers core concepts and basic metatheory of propositional modal logic, including relations to first-order logic; basics of quantified modal logic; selected philosophical applications ranging from epistemology to ethics, metaphysics to mathematics.

163  Special Topics in Greek Philosophy. Clarke. MWF 11-12, 110 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.

174  Locke. Crockett. MWF 3-4, 210 Wheeler.

This course will be a close examination of one of the most important and influential books of the early modern period: John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The Essay was a central source of (modern) empiricism in the 17th and 18th centuries, and paved the way for later empiricist philosophers such as Berkeley and Hume. In it Locke discusses 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 study the arguments of the Essay while also keeping in mind the scientific and philosophical contexts in which the work was written.

185  Heidegger. Kaiser. TuTh 11-12:30, 30 Wheeler.

Since its publication in 1927 Heidegger’s major work Being and Time has been many things to its various recipients. Though the work has made major contributions to existential thought, hermeneutics, and post-structuralism its main concern is a revolution of what Heidegger regarded as the central term of philosophy since antiquity: the concept of being. Because he viewed the traditional understanding of this concept as superficial and misguided, his plan was (in part) to work out a new fundamental ontology. Its design was (I) to reveal the true meaning of being on the basis of temporality as its transcendental horizon and (II) to point out the crucial missteps in the tradition (Aristotle, Descartes and Kant) that led to the misconception. Heidegger never finished his ambitious project, but the work’s first part with its extensive analysis of human understanding as the basis of the conception of being was sufficient to make this work a major challenge to friend and foe alike.

The course will be confined to a close study of the difficult text itself, focusing on the connection between the question of being, the analysis of human nature, and the phenomenological method that Heidegger presents as the necessary foundations of his project in Division I. We will also cover his analysis of death, conscience, resoluteness, and Dasein’s authentic potentiality for being ‘whole’, i.e. the first three chapters of Division II.

Text to be used: Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie/Edward Robinson, paperback reprint 2008, Harper Perennial Modern Thought Series. However, we will also extensively consult the revised edition by Dennis J. Schmidt of the Joan Stambaugh translation (Suny Series in Contemporary Philosophy, 2010).

186B  Later Wittgenstein. Stroud. TuTh 11:00-12:30, 210 Wheeler.

Close reading and detailed discussion of central parts of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. Other works by Wittgenstein and some interpretative commentary will be consulted occasionally, but the emphasis throughout will be on reading and understanding this book. The book embodies a conception of philosophy as a certain kind of intellectual activity, so the course is likely to be of interest and value only to those willing to respond in open discussion to the problems and lines of thought presented there; those responses are themselves part of the “data” for philosophy. This requires active engagement in discussion in class and in weekly discussion-sections and in any other setting that presents itself. This is meant to be as much as possible a course in doing philosophy, not simply in studying or commenting on somebody else’s philosophy.

190  Proseminar: Kierkegaard. Dreyfus. TuTh 9:30-11, 234 Moses.

Søren Kierkegaard thought of himself not as a philosopher but an “existential thinker". He was interested in how commitments open up worlds and constitute selves which are drawn to face anxiety in leaping from one sphere of existence to a higher one.

Readings will include: “Fear and Trembling”, “Sickness unto Death”, and “The Concept of Anxiety”.

This course is open to Junior and Senior Philosophy Majors and will be limited to 15 students.

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

198BC-1  Berkeley Connect for Juniors, Seniors, and Junior Transfers. Fusco. Tu 5-6, 222 Wheeler.

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.

198BC-2  Berkeley Connect for Juniors, Seniors, and Junior Transfers. Fusco. Tu 6-7, 61 Evans.

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.

198BC-3  Berkeley Connect for Juniors, Seniors, and Junior Transfers. Khatchirian. W 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.

198BC-4  Berkeley Connect for Juniors, Seniors, and Junior Transfers. Khatchirian. W 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.

Graduate seminars

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Plato’s Timaeus. Corcilius/Clarke. M 2-4, 234 Moses.

In his dialogue Timaeus Plato presents his philosophy of nature. Roughly speaking, the dialogue tells a ‘likely’ or ‘reasonable’ story about how intelligible structure comes to be present in the physical world. The story consists of a teleological creation myth in which we are told how the Demiurge, Plato’s divine master-builder, endows the world with order, structure and regularity because it is good. The result is the Cosmos, a divine living being distinctively marked by harmony and proportion. However, Plato’s craftsman does not create the universe out of nothing. Like every other craftsman he has to work with given materials. But the resistant nature of the still unformed and chaotic material imposes significant constraints on the process of the creation of the physical world. Thus, the Demiurge arranges everything in the best way as far as this is possible, which means, as far as the character of the found materials permits. The Timaeus provides a fairly complete picture of the Cosmos from the creation of the heavenly bodies down to the affairs of humankind. For Plato, the description of the Cosmos is not a purely theoretical project. The dialogue does not distinguish between science and value statements and it appears that this is intentionally so: for Plato, the story of the origin of the universe seems to be directly related to the question of the right human life.

We will use the English translation of Donald Zeyl, in J. M. Cooper (ed.), Plato: Complete Works (Hackett, 1997). There will be an optional Greek reading group for those interested.

Reading for the first session: (1) Timaeus 17a1-27d4; (2) T. K. Johansen, Plato’s Natural Philosophy (Cambridge, 2004), Chapter 1; (3) Sarah Broadie, Nature and Divinity in Plato’s Timaeus (Cambridge, 2012), Chapter 5.

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Topics in Philosophical Logic. Holliday. Tu 1-3, 234 Moses.

In this seminar, we will study alternative approaches to the semantics of propositional, first-order, and modal logic that are related to intuitionistic Kripke semantics. Topics will include: supervaluationist semantics; data semantics for epistemic modals; attempts to find a common semantical framework for classical and intuitionistic logic; possibility semantics; inquisitive semantics; truth-maker semantics; information-state semantics.

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. Noë. Th 2-4, 234 Moses.

This seminar will be devoted to a close reading of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. The central concern of the course will be to understand Merleau-Ponty’s importance for contemporary philosophy as well as cognitive science.

We will use the new Donald A Landes translation of Phenomenology of Perception (Routledge 2012). Two other books are required: Komarine Romdenh-Romluc’s Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Merleau-Ponty and Phenomenology of Perception (Routledge 2011), and Reading Merleau-Ponty, edited by Thomas Baldwin (Routledge 2007). These three books have been ordered at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way, in Berkeley.

We will begin in the first class with the famous “Preface” to the Phenomenology of Perception and then reread it for the last meeting in light of having read the whole text. For the first class, please also read the first chapters of Romdenh-Romluc and Baldwin.

This is a graduate research course and is intended for graduate students of philosophy. It will be open to others only by permission of the instructor.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Causation, Time, and Freedom. Perry. Tu 4-6, 234 Moses.

My plan for this seminar is to read some new things on the problem of freedom and determinism, or, as I prefer, causation. One wlll be a draft of a book I am trying to write, Wretched Subterfuge. Jenann Ismael is also working on a new book on the topic, which I hope we can read. She may also may be able to attend a number of the seminars. Finally, there is a new anthology coming out editted by John Fischer, and I’ll try to get ahold of some of the papers in it. In addition, we’ll read some of the classics, from Hume to van Inwagen, Ginet, and Wes Holliday. As you can see, I don’t have the details worked out, but this will give potential members of the seminar what I have in mind. If you want to read my essay “Wretched Subterfuge,” to see what sort of ideas I will be trying to develop you can download a C.V. with a link from http://john.jperry.net. Go to item #124 (and #99 and #113, if interested).

290-5  Graduate Seminar: The Moral Nexus. Wallace. W 2-4, 234 Moses.

We will look at the general phenomenon of relational normativity, as well as the specific suggestion that morality might be a unified domain of relational norms. The basic idea is that some reasons or requirements have a constitutive connection with the claims or entitlements of another party. It is natural to think that some of the requirements of special relationships like friendship have this character, and it is also familiar from contractual arrangements within private law. According to the relational interpretation, this kind of relational structure is also characteristic of moral requirements, which are connected to the claims of other individuals that the agent should comply with them. A consequence is that if I violate a moral requirement, I will not merely have done something that is wrong, I will have violated a claim that someone has against me, thereby wronging them in particular.

We will discuss the attractions of understanding morality in these terms, as well as the challenges that the relational interpretation faces. Among other things, we will look at some of the differences between morality and other relational domains, such as friendship and private law, which might lead to skepticism about a relational account of the moral. We will also look at some broader normative implications of understanding morality in relational terms, for issues such as imperfect duties and duties to future generations.

Texts will include relevant work by Robert Adams, Stephen Darwall, H. L. A. Hart, Derek Parfit, T. M. Scanlon, Michael Thompson, Gary Watson, and Susan Wolf, as well as new draft material on the topic of the seminar by the instructor.

290-6  Graduate Seminar: Modalities of Discourse. Yalcin. W 4-6, 234 Moses.

We’ll look at some new puzzles about the interaction of modality with quantification and description, using them as excuses to learn about the following topics: quantification, description, reference, counterfactual modalities, the language of knowledge, logical consequence, the semantics-pragmatics boundary, and debates about the broad shape of an adequate theory of meaning for natural language—in particular, the issue of whether it takes a dynamic form. We’ll also make contact in important ways with a question of particular interest to a number of philosophical projects, namely, the question how certain fragments of talk can fail to be fully factual.

295  Dissertation Seminar. Campbell. F 12-2, 234 Moses.