Spring 2016

Undergraduate courses

R1B  Reading & Composition through Philosophy. Khatchirian. TuTh 9:30-11, 224 Wheeler.

The goal of this course is to teach students how to read and understand complex philosophical texts, how to articulate that understanding in writing, and how to analyze and critically assess philosophical arguments. Students will be expected to devote significant time and effort to writing.

We will cover a range of topics. First, we will ask: what is a mind, and what is it to have a mind? Next, we will examine the connection between knowledge of one’s own mental states and knowledge of the mental states of others. We will then turn to some questions in moral philosophy: What general principles, if any, tell us what is the morally right or wrong thing to do? When does an agent deserve praise for doing the right thing? Finally, we will turn to Hume’s famous problem of induction, or, the problem of justifying our inferences from observed matters of facts to unobserved matters of fact, and we will examine contemporary responses to this problem.

This course fulfills the university’s second-semester reading and composition (R&C) requirement.

3  Nature of Mind. Campbell. MWF 2-3, 2 LeConte.

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.

4  Knowledge & its Limits. Perry. MWF 11-12, 141 McCone.

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. Crockett. MWF 12-1, 2 LeConte.

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. Yalcin. MWF 1-2, 2060 Valley.

An introduction to the concepts and principles of deductive logic. Students will learn how to formalize basic patterns of argument and how to evaluate them for correctness systematically. The course covers the the syntax and semantics of propositional and first-order logic. Time permitting, we will touch upon some metalogical results. Throughout we emphasize philosophical applications of logical tools and distinctions.

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.

98BC-1  Berkeley Connect for Freshmen & Sophomores. Fusco. 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. Fusco. M 6-7, 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.

100  Philosophical Methods. Lee. M 2-4, 110 Wheeler.

The course is designed to acquaint students with the techniques of philosophical reasoning through detailed study of selected philosophical texts and through extensive training in philosophical writing, based on those texts. Should be taken as early as possible after declaring the major.

104  Ethical Theories. Vargas. TuTh 12:30-2, 20 Barrows.

115  Political Philosophy. Sluga. TuTh 9:30-11, 220 Wheeler.

Analysis of political obligation and related problems.

122  Theory of Knowledge. Stroud. TuTh 11-12:30, 210 Wheeler.

An upper-division course in the philosophical theory of knowledge. Not a general survey of the field, but an investigation of three fundamental epistemological questions about perceptual knowledge. -How does what we perceive give us knowledge of what is so in the world around us at that very time? -How does what we have perceived give us knowledge of what is so but is not being perceived at the moment? -How does what each of us perceives about other people give us knowledge of the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes of those people? There is a long tradition in philosophy according to which the most anyone is ever aware of in sense-perception alone are certain features of our perceptual experiences, not the ways things are in the independent world we all believe in. This has made it look as if perceptual knowledge of those aspects of the world is, strictly speaking, impossible. This course investigates the support for this conception of perceptual experience and its “skeptical” implications for our knowledge of familiar objects around us, our knowledge of things we are not perceiving to be so at the moment, and our knowledge of other people’s thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. The challenge is to understand how, given the distinctively philosophical character of the epistemological problems, we nonetheless do have perceptual knowledge of these aspects of the independent world. Two lecture-discussion classes and one discussion section each week. Students will be expected to write three five-page papers, one on each of the three topics, as well as whatever writing is assigned in connection with discussion sections. Lectures and discussions will presuppose close reading of the material contained in a Philosophy 122 reader (available at the beginning of the semester) as well as supplementary reading suggested at different points during the semester.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Searle. TuTh 9:30-11, 2060 Valley.

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.

133  Philosophy of Language. Perry. MWF 1-2, 30 Wheeler.

We will consider central issues in the philosophy of language, including meaning, reference, truth, speech acts and intentionality. Readings will include selections from Locke, Mill, Frege, Russell, Carnap, Kripke, Austin, Searle, Grice and others.

140A  Intermediate Logic. Mancosu. MWF 10-11, 122 Wheeler.

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

Philosophy 12A (or equivalent) is a pre-requisite for this course.

142  Philosophical Logic. MacFarlane. TuTh 12:30-2, 130 Wheeler.

The course aims at introducing students to the basic topics in philosophy of logic. Among the topics to be treated are the notions of validity, truth and truth functionality, quantification, and necessity.

153  Chinese Philosophy. Shun. TuTh 2-3:30, 122 Wheeler.

The first part of the course will be devoted to a study of early Chinese thought, with focus on Confucianism (Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi) and Daoism (Zhuangzi), though there will also be references to other schools of thought. While we will attend closely to texts, including a discussion of the connotations of key terms and an analysis of important passages, the emphasis is on philosophical ideas in the texts. All readings will be in English translation and the course does not require prior knowledge of Chinese.

The second part of the course will be devoted to a philosophical discussion of themes in moral psychology that relate to Chinese thought. We will start with a methodological discussion of the way to bridge Chinese traditions of thought and contemporary philosophical discussions (primarily in the Anglo-American tradition). We will then engage in a sustained discussion of a cluster of related themes in moral psychology, such as: purity and sincerity, tranquility and equanimity, detachment, death and grief, resentment and forgiveness, acceptance as a way of coping with adversities, idea of ‘losing the self’, etc.

The overall goal of the course is to provide an understanding of Chinese traditions of thought in their proper historical and cultural contexts, and to illustrate a way of doing philosophical work with these traditions that does justice to their distinctive characteristics and insights.

172  Spinoza. Crockett. MWF 3-4, 20 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.

178  Kant. Warren. TuTh 2-3:30, 123 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 25B [History of Modern Philosophy (17th&18th centuries)

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

190  Proseminar: Later Heidegger. Kaiser. TuTh 11-12:30, 234 Moses.

The seminar will focus on the relations between language, art, poetry, and technology in Heidegger’s later philosophy. His diagnosis of our ‘forgetfulness of being’ will be explored in the context of his interpretations of Hölderlin and Nietzsche, both of whom grappled with the ‘nihilism’ latent in modernity (‘destitute times’/’The desert grows’). Particular attention will be paid to Heidegger’s focus on the role of works of art and poetry, ‘things’, and ‘mindful thinking’ as opening up possible ways out of this condition. However, our discussion of Heidegger’s texts will also have to take into account some of the deeply troubling ‘thinking’ entries recently published in the so-called ‘Black Notebooks’.

Readings will include such central essays as The Origin of the Work of Art, What are Poets for?, The Question Concerning Technology, The Thing, and On the Way to Language.

Required texts: the essay collections Martin Heidegger. Poetry, Language, Thought (transl. Hofstadter), and Martin Heidegger. The Question Concerning Technology and other Essays (transl. William Lovitt). Additional texts will be made available on bCourses.

Enrollment is limited, and by application only. The seminar is aimed at advanced students of philosophy, preferably with some background in Heidegger and/or Nietzsche. Students should apply to the instructor directly (at kuk@berkeley.edu). Applications should include a brief statement outlining the applicant’s philosophical background (courses taken) and interest in the seminar. All applicants will be notified via email as to the result of their application before the beginning of the new term; those admitted will receive course entry codes (CECs) with which they can enroll in the seminar through TeleBears.

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

198BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Chislenko. Tu 6-7, 223 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-1  Berkeley Connect. Chislenko. 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-3  Berkeley Connect. Winzeler. W 5-6, 210 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-4  Berkeley Connect. Winzeler. W 6-7, 223 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.

Graduate seminars

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Rule-following and the normativity of meaning. Ginsborg. F 3-5, 234 Moses.

In his 1982 book, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Kripke claims that the relation between the meaning of an expression and its use is normative rather than descriptive. This claim has prompted a lively debate about the so-called “normativity of meaning” and the associated thesis, also sometimes ascribed to Kripke, that mental content is normative. Do ascriptions of meaning and content have implications for how people ought to use expressions or what propositional attitudes they should be in, and, if so, what are the implications for reductionist accounts of meaning and content? In this seminar we will investigate this debate with an eye to the question of what it might mean to say that meaning is normative: in particular, what Kripke meant by it, and what Kripke’s interpreters have understood him to mean by it. By looking at the normativity thesis in the context of Kripke’s interpretation of Wittgenstein, we will try to get clearer about some of the positions in the debate and about whether meaning really is normative in a sense which poses a threat to semantic reductionism. We will begin by reading Wittgenstein and Kripke; subsequent readings are yet to be determined, but are likely to include writings by some of the following: Boghossian, Millikan, McDowell, Stroud, Horwich, Brandom, Gibbard, Hattiangadi, Glüer and Wikforss.

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Some Varieties of Mental Causation. Campbell. Tu 2-4, 234 Moses.

Elliott Sober remarked that our ordinary concept of causation is an ‘amiable jumble’ of different ideas. He was talking particularly about causation in biology. Generally in current discussions of physical causation, people take it that ideas relating to probability, counterfactuals and processes or mechanisms all likely have some role to play in understanding what causation is, though of course it’s always instructive to see someone trying to do the whole thing in terms of one key concept alone. When we consider mental causation, the ways in which mental states cause one another, do we have just the same amiable jumble, or are there quite different ideas that need to be injected? My main point in this book is that there are some quite stark differences between physical causation and causation in the mind:

(1) In understanding physical causation, we seem to need a concept of ‘causal process’. Similar arguments that seem to show this also apply to the mental case. But here the concept of ‘causal process’ that we need seems strikingly different to the physical conception.

(2) In understanding high-level causation in the physical world, we seem to need a notion of ‘systematic relatedness’ of cause variables and effect variables, but the concept of ‘proportionality’ that we need in the mental case seems not quite the same as the concept we need in the physical case.

(3) In explaining what physical causation is, we seem to need some concept of ‘intervention’. But there are differences between the types of intervention that are available in the physical case and those that are available in the psychological case. There is some overlap, however.

What underlies these differences between causality in the mind and physical causation is the difference between the mind as a target of imaginative understanding, and the physical as a target of scientific explanation, not dependent on taking the ‘point of view’ of another.

Of course, what we say on these points has ramifications for virtually every topic in the philosophy of mind, from functionalism to the philosophy of perception, personal identity and freedom of the will. The key issues in all these areas are usually framed as though we have a univocal concept of causation, which applies to both mentalistic and physical phenomena. A better understanding of mental causation won’t of itself dissolve the original puzzles, but without it we couldn’t resolve them. We’ll work through some of the key questions in philosophy of causation as they apply to the mentalistic case, such as the relation between causality and law, or causality and process, and we’ll look at their application to some urgent practical questions in psychiatry, as well as more familiar philosophical issues.

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Aristotle on perception and phantasia. Corcilius. Th 2-4, 234 Moses.

Aristotle’s theory of science crucially relies on the assumption that sense perception provides us with a reliable cognitive grasp of particular physical objects, i.e. ordinary middle sized 3-D objects such as chairs, tables, dogs, people, mountains, and so on. However, in his zoological account of sense perception in the De Anima Aristotle almost gives the impression as if he was more interested in modally specific sense perception and its causal ancestry than in the perception of objects. How does he arrive from the affection of peripheral sense organs by external objects to the perception of objects? And what exactly is the perception of objects for Aristotle? In this seminar we will examine these questions, approaching his account of sense perception at first as a part of his natural philosophy. Thus, after a very brief historical survey of earlier theories, we will start with some of the basics of his (qualitative) metaphysics of nature insofar as they are relevant for our purposes, most importantly his account of motion / change as the common actuality of the active and passive relata of change, and his idea of the perceptual soul as a principle of change. Hopefully, this will give us a sense of what he might have thought the task of a theory of perception consist in. We will then examine his account of sense perception proper, proceeding roughly along the following stages: perception and affection / the capacity – approach to perception / the material basis of perception / different kinds of ‘objects’ of perception / the individuation of the senses / perceptual discrimination and basic perceptual content / perceptual awareness as the presence of the perceptual form in the perceiver / object perception/ the roles of the imagination in perception. Here are some (short) passages for a preparatory reading for the first few sessions: (1) De Anima I 2-5 (the discussion of the predecessors on the soul), (2) Physics III 1-3 (the definition of motion / change, or process, kinêsis), (3) De Anima II 1-4 (the most common definition of the soul, and the so-called causal definition of the soul via the powers of the soul), (4) De Anima II 5 (general introduction into the treatment of the power of perception, remarks on the relation between process and perception), (5) Physics VII 2-3 (further remarks on the relation between processes and perception, and the relation between processes and forms and states).

Requirements: Phil. 161 or equivalent.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Meaning, Understanding and Commitment. Stroud. W 4-6, 234 Moses.

An exploratory seminar on the conditions, or possibility, of understanding central aspects or domains of human thought “from outside” them, without accepting or commitment to what is held to be so within the domain in question. Particular topics to be explored in detail include: the use, meaning, and understanding of words; knowing and saying what a certain expression means; the relation between understanding an expression and competence in linguistic performance; taking something as a reason to believe, or to do, something; believing, or doing, something for a reason; making evaluative judgements; holding perceptual beliefs; having perceptual knowledge; believing that certain things are necessarily so. For further exploration are the philosophical implications of finding oneself unable to understand or explain a particular domain of thought “from outside” it, without presupposing competence and commitment within it.

Readings from the works of Nagel, Davidson, Wittgenstein, Dummett, Kripke, Quine, McDowell, Scanlon, Dworkin, Dretske, Stroud, and others.

Active participation is expected of those in attendance.

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Agency, Responsibility, and Context. Vargas. Tu 4-6, 234 Moses.

There is a growing body of empirical and philosophical research that suggests that ordinary human agency (including moral dispositions) is profoundly affected by the structural, material, and social conditions in which agents operate. The aspiration of this seminar is to think carefully about the implications of this idea. If our moral dispositions and agential capacities aren’t just features of individual agents considered in themselves, but features of agents in contexts, this has consequences for a range of issues in moral psychology, the theory of moral responsibility, and political and legal philosophy. So, we’ll be looking at questions of blame, culpability, norm adoption, and egalitarianism in light of these and related ideas. We’ll also be considering what obligations we may have for shaping our contexts of action in light of findings about the “ecological” nature of human beings. Readings will draw from work moral psychology, ethics, decision theory, the history of philosophy, philosophy of action, and political philosophy. The seminar will start with recent work by John Doris and the instructor. Other readings may include selections from Bichierri, Hacking, McGeer, Pettit, Pippin, and Scheffler, as well as works in the social sciences, and feminist and critical theory approaches to agency.

290-6  Graduate Seminar: Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory. Cohen/Hoekstra. F 12-3, 202 Barrows.

A workshop for presenting and discussing work in progress in moral, political, and legal theory. The central aim is to provide an opportunity for students to engage with philosophers, political theorists, and legal scholars working on normative questions. Another aim is to bring together people from different disciplines who have strong normative interests or who speak to issues of potential interest to philosophers and political theorists. To this end, we will devote a few sessions to the work of economists, historians, psychologists, sociologists, or other social scientists.

Format: for the first two hours, a student will lead off with a 15-minute comment on the presenter’s paper and the presenter will have 5-10 minutes to respond before we open up the discussion to the group. The first two hours will be open to non-enrolled students and faculty. For the third hour, the guest presenter will continue the discussion with students enrolled in the course. Enrolled students must serve as a discussant for at least one presenter’s work in progress and write several short response papers as well as a final paper of 15-20 pages.

The course is room-shared with the Law School and the Philosophy Department. This course will follow the UC Berkeley general academic calendar. The first class meeting is January 22nd and the the final class meeting is April 29th.

295  Dissertation Seminar. Lee. TBA, TBA.