Fall 2008

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Sluga. TuTh 9:30-11, 2060 Valley.

4  Knowledge and its Limits. Roush. MWF 2-3, 2040 Valley.

In this course we think about knowledge: How do we know we’re not in a Matrix? Is our knowledge built on a foundation or are we floating on a raft, or does our knowledge have the structure of a teepee? What are the requirements for knowledge? How much do we need to trust others in order to know? Can we trust ourselves? Do animals have knowledge?

6  Man, God, and Society in Western Literature. Dreyfus. TuTh 3:30-5, 145 Dwinelle.

This course will compare and contrast the Greek, Medieval and Modern worlds as expressed in their greatest literature. We will follow in detail how in the West polytheism gradually became more and more monolithic until everything was understood in relation to a single God, and then how this synthesis fell apart and left our culture with a choice between nihilism or a return to polytheism. The goal of the course is both to illustrate how to read difficult texts and to provide an understanding of the cultural paradigms that have formed and focused our shared beliefs and practices.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Fitelson. MWF 12-1, 145 Dwinelle.

Logic is about reasoning, the difference between good and bad reasoning, and how to tell the difference between good and bad reasoning.

In this course, we will develop techniques for laying bare the structure of arguments (“reasonings”). This will enable us then to characterize, in some precise ways, the difference between good and bad reasoning, and to formulate rules of correct reasoning. These three things — a conception of structure of arguments, a precise characterization of good and bad arguments in terms of their structure, and a system of rules of correct reasoning — constitute a “system of logic.” We will actually consider several systems of logic. After all this, students should be in a better position to properly formulate and evaluate logical arguments.

The course will focus on deductively correct reasoning. That is, we will consider “good reasoning” to be reasoning in which the truth of the premises absolutely guarantees the truth of the conclusion (as in typical correct mathematical reasoning). This will briefly be put into perspective in relation to inductively good reasoning, in which the premises give significant, but not conclusive, support for a conclusion.

Textbook: Modern Logic by Graeme Forbes, Oxford University Press, 1994.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Ebrey. MWF 11-12, 10 Evans.

In this course you will be introduced to philosophy by engaging with the ideas and arguments of the three most important ancient Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. They will help us consider how we should be living our lives, what justice is, how we can acquire knowledge, what knowledge is, what one gains from asking “what is it?” questions, what change is, whether we can understand anything in the natural world, and a host of other philosophical questions that were deeply influential on the rest of western philosophy. Along the way, you’ll work on the following skills: making and understanding arguments and objections, reading difficult texts carefully, and writing clearly and precisely about philosophy. You will be learning to do philosophy by engaging with its foundational works.

100  Philosophical Methods. Buchak. Th 12-2, 220 Wheeler Hall.

This course is restricted to Philosophy majors. It is intended to improve the student’s ability to read and write philosophy. Special emphasis will be placed on developing analytic skills. There will be short written assignments each week, as well as a longer final paper, which will focus on the essays we are reading. In addition to two hours of lecture, students will meet in tutorials with a teaching assistant in order to discuss the reading, their weekly writing assignment, and the preparation for the final paper. This term, the readings will focus on problems related to free will.

104  Ethical Theories. Glasgow. TuTh 12:30-2, 101 Barker.

The fundamental concepts and problems of morality are examined through the study of classical and contemporary philosophical theories of ethics. Topics covered will include: what makes right acts right and wrong acts wrong, whether morality is rational, the nature of moral discourse, and whether morality is an illusion.

109  Freedom & Responsibility. Wallace. MWF 10-11, 126 Barrows Hall.

Philosophy 109: Freedom and Responsibility

R. Jay Wallace

A systematic examination of freedom and responsibility. The following topics will be addressed (among others): the nature of freedom of will, freedom of action, freedom of thought, and autonomy; moral responsibility and its conditions; naturalism, determinism, and their relevance for human freedom; weakness and strength of will. Readings will be drawn from both historical and contemporary sources. The goal of the course is to provide a comprehensive introduction to historical and contemporary debates about the issues of freedom and responsibility. Prerequisite: at least eight units in philosophy.


G. Watson, ed., Free Will (Oxford, 2003): 0-19-925494-X Anselm, Three Philosophical Dialogues (Hackett, 2002): 0872206114 V. Chappell, ed., Hobbes and Bramhall on Liberty and Necessity (Cambridge, 1999): 0521596688 R. Jay Wallace, Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments (Harvard, 1994): 978-0674766235

132  Philosophy of Mind. Searle. TuTh 9:30-11, 50 Birge.

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? This course will be concerned with these and other such fundamental questions in the foundations of philosophy, cognitive science and psychology.

R Searle, J. Intentionality Cambridge 0-521273021 R Searle, J. The Mind, a Brief Introduction Oxford 0-195157346 R Searle, J. The Rediscovery of the Mind MIT 0-26269154X O Lyons, W. Matters of the Mind Routledge 0-415937884 O Crane, T. The Mechanical Mind Routledge 0-415290317 O Searle, J. The Mystery of Consciousness A NYRB 0-940322064 O Searle, J. Minds, Brains and Science Harvard 0-674576330 R Reader available at Copy central

135  Theory of Meaning. Campbell. MWF 9-10, 102 Moffitt.

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. Prerequisite: two previous courses in philosophy.

138  Philosophy of Society. Searle. TuTh 2-3:30, 101 LSA.

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?

138 - Books

Hollis, M. The Philosophy of Social Science Cambridge 0521447801 R Searle, J. The Construction of Social Reality Free Press 0684831791 R Searle, J. Intentionality Cambridge 0521273021 R Searle, J. Rationality in Action MIT 0262692821

Reader available at Copy Central.

142  Philosophical Logic. Fitelson. MWF 3-4, 110 Wheeler.

The goal of this course is “logic literacy”. Contemporary philosophy is steeped in logic: to read journal articles and take part in discussions, one needs to know a certain amount of logic. We will study i) the basic techniques of logic, including syntax, semantics, proof theory, metalogic, and a bit of philosophy of logic; and ii) a number of extensions of standard logic that are important in philosophy (for example, intuitionist logic, modal logic, counterfactuals). The course will be more broad than deep: we will examine many different systems, but will not spend a lot of time proving difficult metalogical results about these systems (except for completeness in propositional modal logic.

178  Kant. Warren. TuTh 2-3:30, 130 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 two longer papers will be required. Prerequisite: Philosophy 25B

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

189  Topics in Recent European Philosophy. Dreyfus/Kaiser. W 2-5, 116 Haviland.

“The Origin of the Work of Art” in the Context of Heidegger’s Later Thinking

In this undergraduate seminar we will focus on Heidegger’s account of works of art as cultural paradigms, and his turn to Hölderlin as an exemplary poet who produces and preserves meaning in “destitute times”. This will also involve examining Heidegger’s complex views on technology and its role in our modern world.

The essay collections Poetry, Language, Thought and Elucidations of Hölderlin’s Poetry by Martin Heidegger have been ordered for the course. A few additional texts will be made available later in a reader or on b-space.

Enrollment is limited to 20 (by application only). Preference will be given to Philosophy majors or those who have already taken a course on Heidegger.

To apply to enroll students should submit a brief statement (less than a page long) to the instructors via email (dreyfus@berkeley.edu and kuk@berkeley.edu) by May 27th, explaining their interest in this seminar and their background in philosophy. Those accepted will be notified and given a course enrollment code via email soon thereafter.

Graduate seminars

200  First-Year Graduate Seminar. Campbell/Stroud. TBA, TBA.

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics. Frede. M 4-6, 121 Wheeler.

The Posterior Analytics builds on Aristotle’s logic as developed in the Prior Analytics by focusing on demonstrative proofs. But Aristotle is here no longer concerned with the structure of proofs, rather than with the conditions of proof. There is therefore little use made of the theory of the syllogism, instead Aristotle discusses the starting points of all sciences: definitions, existential assumptions, general axioms. Thus the Posterior Analytics contains Aristotle’s philosophy of science because he is sorting out the different kinds of starting points and points out the various problems of ascertaining them. Given the density and complexity of the text the seminar will not cover the entire work, but focus on what is most important about the Aristotelian conception of an exact science. For readers of Greek there will be an extra hour of study of the Greek text.

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Kant’s ‘Critique of Judgment’. Ginsborg. M 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

The seminar will be concerned primarily with the part of the book dealing with Kant’s aesthetics, and more specifically his theory of the beautiful. We’ll be trying to understand the theory in its own right, but also its connections to Kant’s broader epistemological project, and in particular to his theory of judgment as it applies in theoretical knowledge. If time permits, and depending on the interests of the participants, we’ll also look at some of Kant’s theory of biological teleology. The readings will primarily be drawn from the book itself, but we will also be reading extracts of Henry Allison’s 2001 book, “Kant’s Theory of Taste”, and some articles by the instructor. We’ll be using the translation by Guyer and Matthews (Cambridge, 2000). Participants should have some prior acquaintance with Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason”.

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Real Presence: Consciousness, Depiction, and Art. Noë. Th 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

The focus of this graduate seminar is the nature of depiction and the experience of pictures. What do you see when you look at a picture? What is a picture? And what makes some pictures works of art? Pictures introduce the problem of intentionality, so an underlying project of the seminar is to understand and explain intentionality. A further guiding concern is the value of art, and art criticism, for philosophy (as philosophy). We will also consider the question of dance (what do you see when you look at a dance?).

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Fallibility in science and the courtroom. Roush. W 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

Our belief-forming processes are fallible; even in our best epistemic states we still might be wrong. Fallibilism reassures us that our imperfect reliability doesn’t mean that any belief is as good as any other. Nevertheless, there are three areas of discussion where this point is not fully observed: the pessimistic induction over the history of science, worries about the use of fallible testimony and fallible jurors in the courtroom, and the debate over Intelligent Design “theory” in the public schools. This is because we do not fully understand how to take our fallibility into account. In this seminar, we discuss fallibilism and a proposal for a new rationality constraint, and apply these ideas to the debates above.

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Ancient Political Thought/Ancient Society & Law. Sluga/Long. F 2-5, 308C Doe Library.

290-7  Graduate Seminar: Decision Theory. Buchak. W 1-3, 234 Moses Hall.

What are the constraints on rational preferences? This course will consider various answers and approaches to this question within decision theory.
In decision theory, the question of what it is rational to prefer or decide is tied up both with what it is rational to believe and with what it is rational to desire. The first section of the course will examine proposed constraints on beliefs, desires, and preferences at a time by a single individual. We will examine standard decision theory and its axioms, as well as various ways to argue for these axioms. We will also examine significant challenges to the theory. The second section of the course will consider constraints on preferences, beliefs, and desires across time, including both forward-looking constraints, such as “reflection principles,” and backwards-looking constraints, such as following through on commitments; and related puzzles. The third section of the course will consider constraints across persons. We will consider whether the existence of disagreement - with a peer, or with one’s counterfactual self - should compel a rational epistemic agent to change her beliefs. Finally, we will examine what, if any, relations there are among problems of decision making across time, across persons, and across possible worlds.

This course is intended for graduate students in philosophy; no background in decision theory or formal epistemology is required. One of my goals in teaching this course is to introduce “newcomers” to the subject. I will simplify the technical material for easier accessibility, but students wishing to go more in depth will have the opportunity.

295  Dissertation Seminar. Roush. M 12:30-2, 201 Wheeler.

302  Teaching Seminar. Noë. Th 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.