Fall 2005

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality and Social Justice. Wallace. MWF 10-11, 159 Mulford.

An introduction to some central issues in moral and political philosophy. The course will be structured around a discussion of objectivity, disagreement, and pluralism in the domain of value. We will begin by addressing arguments for and against the objectivity of moral judgments, and consider their implications for the interpretation of moral discourse and moral practice. Next we will take up a range of concrete moral issues (involving war, killing, sex, and our obligations to those in need), and consider the distinctive normative issues they raise. We will then look at the requirements of living a meaningful human life, and explore their relations to morality. In the final sections of the course we will turn to issues of social and political theory, looking at the nature of a just society and at the problems of pluralism and toleration. Texts will be taken from contemporary sources, and will be collected in a course reader.

5  Introduction to Philosophy of Science. Skokowski. TuTh 11-12:30, 2 LeConte.

This course provides an introduction to topics in the philosophy of science, with readings from primary sources. We start with an introduction to the philosophy of space and time, through the correspondence of Leibniz and Clarke. Next we examine logical positivism, confirmationism, falsificationism, and realism and anti-realism about scientific theories and entities. We then spend some time analyzing Kuhn’s notion of scientific revolutions, and consider a case study in the history of science: the Copernican revolution. We come full circle and revisit the philosophy of space and time from the standpoint of 20th century physics, including empirical and theoretical results, and consider the new world view in the light of special relativity.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Mancosu. MWF 9-10, 22 Warren.

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 wil introduce a deductive system (a natural deduction system), which explicate the intuive notion of ‘follow’ in terms of derivational rules in a calculus. This will be done in satges, 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 to show when a claim does not follow from the premisses 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, Truth, and Logic, University of Chicago Press, 2002. (The text comes with a CD. Do not buy it used! If you do, you will not be able to submit your exercises on line, which you will be required to.)

24  Freshman Seminar. Warren. W 1-2:30, 234 Moses.

Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

We will read and discuss this important work by the British philosopher, David Hume (1711-1776), which critically considers some of the most common arguments for the existence of God. Enrollment is by instructor approval only.

READING (required): Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Hackett)

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Silverman. MWF 2-3, 100 Lewis.

100  Philosophical Methods. Gorton. Th 2-4, 160 Dwinelle.

Philosophical Methods is intended to improve students’ ability to write and read philosophy. These abilities will be exercised through study of and writing on the issue of personal identity. Lectures will cover both the assigned readings on personal identity and more general issues of philosophical methodology and writing. In addition to attending the weekly lecture, students will meet in weekly tutorials with a Graduate Student Instructor to discuss their weekly writing assignment and the readings. The course is restricted to Philosophy majors.

104  Ethical Theories. Vargas. MWF 10-11, 102 Moffitt.

Course will focus on major approaches to ethical theory, including consequentialism, deontology, and virtue theories, with some attention to how these accounts connect to issues in metaethics and moral responsibility. Readings will be by both contemporary and historical figures including Kant, Mill, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Williams, Singer, Railton, Smart, etc.

115  Political Philosophy. Munoz-Dardé. TuTh 9:30-11, 20 Barrows.

122  Theory of Knowledge. Ginsborg. TuTh 12:30-2, 213 Wheeler.

Theory of knowledge, or epistemology, is concerned with the nature and possibility of knowledge. In this class we will consider some of the central questions that are discussed in contemporary theory of knowledge, for example the questions of what distinguishes knowledge from true belief, what considerations can justify a claim to knowledge, and what sorts of replies can be offered to skeptical arguments against the possibility of knowledge. We will be concerned in particular with empirical knowledge, and more specifically the kind of knowledge that we derive from the use of our senses (for example, the knowledge I have, when I see a blue cup, that there is a blue cup in front of me). While we will begin by reading Descartes, most of the readings will be drawn from contemporary sources.

Prerequisite: Philosophy 25B or its equivalent

130  Philosophy of Social Science. Searle. TuTh 9:30-11, 141 McCone.

What exactly is the ontology of social reality and how does it relate to physical and psychological reality? How do explanations in the social sciences resemble and differ from explanations in the physical sciences? What is the role of rationality in the constitution and understanding of social phenomena? What sorts of explanations, laws and theories can we reasonably expect from the social sciences? Why have the social sciences been unable to predict, understand and explain such phenomena as, for example, the collapse of the Soviet Empire?

In this course I expect to use and to extend the theories advanced in my books Intentionality, The Construction of Social Reality, and Rationality in Action.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Searle. TuTh 2-3:30, 131 Morgan.

The aim of this course will be to explore certain traditional problems in the philosophy of mind in terms of recent work in philosophy and cognitive science. We will be discussing such traditional problems as the mind-body problem, the nature of intentionality, and the nature of consciousness in light of recent discussions which use computer models of cognition or which try to cast doubt on our ordinary, common-sense conceptions of the mental. These views include functionalism, artificial intelligence, eliminative materialism, parallel distributed processing, and others.

135  Theory of Meaning. Campbell. MWF 12-1, 213 Wheeler.

We can use language in thinking and talking about the world. What makes this possible is that the signs of language have meaning. How is it that individual words and phrases can be used to identify particular objects? What is the role of consciousness in making it possible for us to think about our surroundings?

Ordinary physical objects, collections of atoms and molecules, do not generally have the ability to represent other objects, or to refer to them. What is it about humans that makes it possible for us to represent our surroundings, to refer to the objects around us? Can we make sense of the idea that non-human animals might be able to represent their surroundings, and refer to the objects around them?

We will begin by looking at Frege’s classical analysis of reference to objects, and the puzzle Frege articulated about the possibility of their being different ways of referring to the same object. We will go on to look at Kripke’s analysis of reference, and the way in which later theorists have developed his approach into a view of meaning as a biological phenomenon. Finally, we will look at the radically different approach proposed by the later Wittgenstein, and at the response to Wittgenstein suggested by Russell’s work on consciousness as acquaintance with one’s surroundings.

136  Philosophy of Perception. Martin. TuTh 12:30-2, 110 Wheeler.

140B  Intermediate Logic (Pt. II). Mancosu. MWF 1-2, 110 Wheeler.

This course covers some of the most important metalogical results that are of interest to philosophers. It is divided into three parts. The first two parts are mathematical in style whereas the last part is philosophical. In the first part we will cover the basic notions of computability theory and study in detail the Turing machine approach to computability. The second part of the course will give a detailed presentation of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and related results. Finally, we will look at the philosophical relevance of these logical results to various areas of philosophy. Phil 140A is not a prerequisite for this course.

161  Aristotle. Silverman. MWF 11-12, 110 Wheeler.

176  Hume. Stroud. TuTh 11-12:30, 30 Wheeler.

Introduction to the central ideas of the philosophy of David Hume (1711-1776) as found in his A Treatise of Human Nature and Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding & Concerning Its Principles of Morals: perception, thought, and knowledge; belief and the idea of causal or necessary connection; skepticism, doubt, and the continued and distinct existence of objects; personal identity; action, motivation, freedom and necessity; morality and its source in human feeling; natural and artificial virtues; origins of justice and government; the human point or value of philosophy.

178  Kant. Warren. TuTh 2-3:30, 110 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 the contrast between appearances and things in themselves. Several short papers and a longer paper will be required. Prerequisite: Philosophy 25B

READINGS: Required: Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, tr. Guyer&Wood, (Cambridge U. P.); Kant, Prolegomena (Cambridge U. P.);
Kant, Logic (Dover) Recommended: Allison, Henry, Kant’s Transcendental Idealism (Yale Univ. Press, 2004)

185  Heidegger. Dreyfus. TuTh 3:30-5, 213 Wheeler.

We will read most of Heidegger’s Being & Time. The book is both a systematization of the existential insights of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and a radicalization of Husserl’s phenomenological account of intentionality. What results is an original interpretation of the human condition and an account of the nature and limitations of philosophical and scientific theory. This account has important implications for all those disciplines that study human beings.

Requirements: Two 7- 8 page papers, and about 30 pages of difficult reading per week. Attendance at weekly discussion section.

Prerequisites: History of Modern Philosophy (25B) or an equivalent course is required. It would also help to have taken, or to take concurrently, Searle’s Philosophy of Mind (132) and/or Kant (178).

Graduate seminars

200  First Year Graduate Seminar. Stroud/Ginsborg. M 2-4, 186 Barrows.

290-2  Intentionality. Noë. W 4-6, 214 Haviland.

Thought is directed to the world. But is it an actual relation with the world? This seminar will explore the possibility and plausibility of a theory of direct thought. Topics we will discuss include: the sense and reference of proper names, the conceptuality of experience, overintellectualizing the intellect, and the extended mind. Among the authors we are likely to read are: Clark, McDowell, Gibson, Burge, Merleau-Ponty and Evans.

This seminar is designed primarily for graduate students in the philosophy department. Other students with appropriate background will be admitted space permitting.

290-3  Causality & Casual Learning. Campbell/Gopnik. Tu 4-6, 234 Moses.

290-4  Gottlob Frege on Concepts and Objects. Sluga. M 2-4, 234 Moses.

The distinction between concepts and objects is crucial to Frege’s entire work. It determines the construction of his logic, his philosophy of mathematics, and his account of meaning and truth. The examination of how Frege wields these two notions can therefore serve as an entry into his work as a whole.

Frege has discussed the distinction between concepts and objects most famously in the essay “On Concept and Object” of 1892. That essay will therefore have to be at the center of our attention. But the distinction is already implicit in the construction of his logic in the Begriffsschrift (of 1879) where it serves to explain the distinction between first- and second level functions. It is absolutely crucial in The Foundations of Arithmetic (of 1884) where Frege argues that numbers are (abstract) objects rather than concepts. What he means here is further elaborated in the essay “Function and Concept” (1891) where Frege interprets concepts as a specific kind of function, e.g., truth-functions. This thesis is, in turn, connected with the claim that the values of truth-functions, the true and the false, are again abstract (logical) objects.

Frege’s assertions about the distinction between concepts and objects are often puzzling and sometimes downright paradoxical as in his claim that “the concept ‘horse’ is not a concept.” Many of these puzzles can be resolved and in doing so we come to see that Frege has made some genuine contributions to our understanding of the notions of concept and object. But we also discover real difficulties in his handling of those notions. While the thesis that value-ranges or, more narrowly speaking, classes are logical objects appears to follow directly from his conception, it is also the source of a logical contradiction from which Frege finds it difficult to extract himself. That contradiction threatens, in turn, his entire project of providing logical foundations for arithmetic.

Much of what Frege says about the distinction between concepts and objects remains, nevertheless, of philosophical interest. This is evident, for instance, from Donald Davidson’s recent book on truth and predication.

Readings: Michael Beaney (ed.), The Frege Reader; Gottlob Frege, The Foundations of Arithmetic; Donald Davidson, Truth and Predication; Class Reader with selected secondary literature.

Requirements: a term paper of ca. 15 pages; if possible a class presentation.

290-5  Autonomy of the Phenomenal. Martin. W 2-4, 225 Wheeler.

Most discussion of phenomenal consciousness, whether dualist or physicalist in intent, assumes that we have a grasp of what the stream of consciousness is, or what it is like, independently of our knowledge of other aspects of the world. This is evident in the discussion of the putative identity of pain with some neural process. In this seminar I want to explore some issues which throw doubt on the autonomy of the phenomenal.

In particular, I’ll aim to address the following four themes:

(A) The Claims of Transparency

Recently it has become popular to insist that introspection of our sense experience confirms that such experience has the ordinary public objects of perception as part of its subject matter. Such a view is presumably rejected by those who suppose that sense perception is nothing but the awareness of non-physical sense-data. Can introspection really support the former view over the latter?

For this topic I want to start with some of the recent words of caution by Michael Tye, look back to GE Moore; and assess some of the recent writings of A.D. Smith.

(B) The Links between Sense Perception and Imagination

I want to return to an old theme from Hume concerning the relation between impressions and ideas and the so-called ‘Copy Principle’. In effect, Hume starts with a conception of there being a difference in kind between sense experience and other experiential episodes such as remembering and imagining, and then constructing an account which denies that there is any such difference. In the analytic tradition, Hume’s stance is endorsed almost universally. I want to explore the problems with Hume’s approach, and alternatives to this.

We will be looking at work by Bernard Williams, Chris Peacocke, Zeno Vendler, David Velleman.

(C) Emotions and Feelings of Emotion

Philosophical theories of emotion have tended to focus on the opposition between identifying emotion with feelings or with judgement. Recent popular accounts have led others to suppose that emotional states are forms of perception.

In contrast, I want to suggest that we should look at the idea that emotional states are not themselves part of the stream of consciousness, and that we need to mark a fundamental distinction between emotions and feelings of emotion. This leads us instead to question how one should identify and individuate the feelings of emotion.

We will be looking at work by Gilbert Ryle, Richard Wollheim, Malcolm Budd, Jesse Prinz.

(D) Pain, Affect and Evaluation

The paradigm example of a simple phenomenal quality in many philosophical discussions is that of feeling pain. I want to explore the idea that pain is not a simple feeling or quality, and that we can understand what pain is only in the context of its psychological and biological function without thereby eliminating the phenomenal aspect of these episodes.

We will be looking at work by Nikola Grahek and Valerie Grey Hardcastle.

290-6  Liberty and Need. Munoz-Dardé. Tu 2-4, 234 Moses.

A common, if tacit, assumption in much political philosophy is that the normative framework of philosophical questions about the political are autonomous of the more specific practical questions addressed in moral philosophy. As a consequence, political philosophers tend to focus on questions of political obligation, property, legitimacy, community and liberty independent of the grounding of these problems in a broader ethical context. Historically, this divorce of the political from the moral is eccentric – the great writers of the Enlightenment addressed political questions all as part of a broader theory of morals. In this seminar I want to return to this older tradition, and address political issues only through more fundamental ethical concerns, without assuming that such notions as political obligation have a clear understanding or a fundamental role in exploring issues.

The seminar divides into three broad elements:

First: Defining Problems. I want to raise questions about the distinctive content of political philosophy by looking at the import of the shift from comprehensive to political liberalism in the work of Rawls. This is often interpreted as a form of retreat on Rawls’s part from a more wholehearted liberalism in the face of a multicultural or relativistic challenge. An alternative reading sees the shift in Rawls as an attempt to be more exact in the commitments that a properly liberal framework should take in political debate. In contrasting these interpretations, we will be drawn back to some earlier problems and concerns within the history of political philosophy. Rousseau occupies a distinctive position within the Enlightenment tradition, not, as sometimes popularly portrayed, for offering an excuse for revolutionary zeal and offering an ostensible rationale for totalitarian impulses in the name of liberty, but because he offers us a distinctive alternative conception of contractualism and the questions that are to be posed or answered in a political theory from the dominant tradition tracing through from Hobbes and Locke to contemporary discussion. We can see Rawls’s liberalism, consistently espoused and maintained in his political liberalism, as tracing back to the Rousseauian tradition.

Second: Foundational Themes. I want to look at some very broad questions about the nature of value and practical reason in order to address questions of how social concerns bear on us individually and provide justification for the social constraints and demands on us.

What seems quite intuitive to many of us is that others can quite properly make demands on us that their needs should be met, and that we in turn can expect and demand that our needs should also be met by others. At the same time, we recognise that there are limits both to the demands we can make on others and that they can make on us. It would be unreasonable for one to make excessive demands on others, and reasonable for us to reject excessive demands of others on us. Early utilitarian thought is attractive in the emphasis it places on the idea that there are moral requirements to meet the needs of others; and historically this had a radical political influence. However, utilitarianism is widely taken to fail as a philosophical account of the political sphere because the associated consequentialist conception both of value and of practical reason fails properly to capture the limits that the demands of others can make on individuals. This raises the question whether any other approach can answer to the intuitive elements of early utilitarianism while better respecting the idea that there are limits on the demands that can be placed on an individual. One way of thinking of recent contractualist theories of ethical and political thought is that they attempt to do just that.

We shall address the question whether there is a distinctively contractualist approach to these social concerns which starts out from the needs of others but seeks to respect the limits on claims of need, by looking at a series of issues. First, questions of how the sheer number of people involved in a given claim can make a difference to what one is rationally or morally required to do. Many philosophers who reject consequentialism still hold that the number of people or claims involved has a direct bearing on what one should do. Is this supposition really so obvious?

We shall then look to questions about equality and the question whether equality or fairness are themselves things of intrinsic value which we are required to pursue in our lives. Intrinsic egalitarians claim that a just society should be organised to engage with and further these values. In contrast, we shall see a needs-based account can explain the political appeal of claims of equality without having to suppose the existence of such values.

This still raises a question about the existence and fostering of distinctively social goods provided by social institutions which claim resources from us that otherwise could be used for meeting needs. How are we to understand how the needs of individuals are to be balanced against the fostering of such goods as universities, museums, public art.

Third: Sample Problems.

I want to address some specific examples of questions of general political concern within the framework we have developed. I want to raise some questions of general concern about individual liberty and communal demands on us, familiar from general political debate but under-discussed within philosophical debate. In particular:

a.) The family. Most politicians make voter capital through claiming to protect and foster families and family life. Should a just society tolerate the institution of the family? Sociological evidence indicates that historical inequalities, advantages and disadvantages are passed on through family structure. Can the institution of the family be tolerated or justified within an individualistic perspective?

b.) Sexual Politics and the Market. Most Western societies regulate market transactions involving sexual behaviour. What justifies such restriction? Is there any particular area of human behaviour which should be removed from and preserved from economic transaction? Is there a special role or understanding of self-ownership which explains the distinctive attitude towards market transactions involving one’s own body?

c.) Charities and begging. Most Western societies regulate and restrict individual begging while encouraging and providing benefits to charitable organizations. Is it preferable for societies to prefer charitable activity over central taxation?

301-1  GSI Teaching Seminar. Sluga. TBA, TBA.

*open only to philosophy GSIs