Fall 2010

Undergraduate courses

3  Nature of Mind. Lee. MWF 10-11, 145 Dwinelle.

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

6  Man, God & 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. Roush. MWF 11-12, 120 Latimer.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Gelber. MWF 9-10, 100 Lewis.

This course is an introduction to some of the main figures and problems in Ancient Greek Philosophy. We will read texts spanning from the Pre-Socratic through Hellenistic philosophers, but the majority of our attention will be given to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Our goal will be to understand not only what the views these thinkers held were, but why they held them and how they argued for them.

100  Philosophical Methods. Lee. M 2-4, 20 Barrows Hall.

A course to encourage in philosophy majors the practice and development of the skills of reading and writing in philosophy. Readings will be drawn from recent essays on a variety of subjects in different areas of philosophy. These will be discussed in one two-hour classroom meeting each week. Students will be expected to read and discuss the essays in class and to write clearly and accurately about them and about the questions they raise. Each student will meet individually each week with a graduate student instructor for close assessment and discussion of the student’s writing with special attention to how it could be improved. There will be a final paper on a topic of the student’s choice.

104  Ethical Theories. Kolodny. MWF 10-11, 105 Northgate.

This course will survey major treatments of the foundational questions of moral philosophy. We will discuss the work of some or all of the following philosophers: Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Sidgwick, Moore, Scanlon and Korsgaard.

116  Special Topics in Political Philosophy. Munoz-Dardé. TuTh 11-12:30, 30 Wheeler.

As taught this semester, Phil 116 satisfies the ethics requirement for the philosophy major. This course is devoted to some of central questions in political philosophy: authority, neutrality, rights, equality, pluralism, and well-being. It is focused particularly on Joseph Raz’s The Morality of Freedom.

The course is intended for juniors and seniors with substantial background in philosophy. Philosophy 115 or the equivalent is a prerequisite, and the course will presuppose familiarity with Rawls’s /A Theory of Justice.

122  Theory of Knowledge. Roush. MWF 2-3, 213 Wheeler.

By any (reasonable) account, human beings have more knowledge today than ever before due to the progress of science, but there is still philosophical disagreement about what knowledge is, how we should respond to radical skepticism, and how much science itself can tell us about knowledge. In this problem-oriented course we will study contemporary classics of epistemology on the topics of tracking, closure, relevant alternatives, reliabilism, internalism, externalism, and contextualism, among others. We will take epistemology to be responsible for understanding scientific cases of knowledge, and also consider the implications for epistemology of results in experimental psychology suggesting human beings’ lack of awareness of their true reasons for belief.

133  Philosophy of Language. Searle. TuTh 9:30-11, 4 LeConte.

The main purpose of this course is to answer the question, “How does language relate to the world?” In order to do this we will have to explore a lot of related questions, such as those concerning the nature of truth, reference, meaning, speech acts, metaphors, fiction, and pictures. We will also try to develop a general theoretical account of how human linguistic behavior is related to the rest of human behavior and to human mental states.

There are two parts to the course. In the first part, I will explain how I think language ought to be studied philosophically. The philosophy of language is a branch of the philosophy of mind. In the second part of the course, I will teach mainstream philosophy of language, and attempt both to explain and criticize it.

138  Philosophy of Society. Searle. TuTh 2-3:30, 155 Kroeber.

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?

141  Philosophy and Game Theory. Buchak. MWF 1-2, 100 Wheeler.

This course deals with applications of game theory and rational choice theory to philosophical problems, as well as with paradoxes and problems introduced by these theories. After introducing the basic concepts of game theory, the first part of the course will be devoted to problems of cooperation and convention: how people manage to coordinate their actions for mutual benefit, e.g. drive on the same side of the road, carry out a project together, or use language. The next section will explore non-cooperative games, such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma; the possible application of these games to moral problems; and the need for and execution of a social contract. Finally, we turn to problems dealing with groups, such as the problem of collective action, and some issues in group decision making.

176  Hume. Martin. TuTh 12:30-2, 166 Barrows.

184  Nietzsche. Sluga. TuTh 2-3:30, 10 Evans.

The course will seek to give a comprehensive picture of Nietzsche’s thought. To this end, we will follow the evolution of Nietzsche’s thinking from early works like /The Birth of Tragedy/ and /The Use and Abuse of History/ through his middle period represented by /The Gay Science/ and mature writings like /Beyond Good and Evil/ and /The Genealogy of Morals/ to his final effort to unite his thought in the comprehensive visions of /The Will to Power/.

187  Special Topics in the History of Philosophy: Plato’s “Republic”. Gelber. M 2-5, 122 Latimer.

This course will explore a number of perennial problems through a close reading of Plato’s literary and philosophical masterpiece, “The Republic”. While examining the ways these problems arise and the answers that Plato gives to them in this influential text, we will be asking ourselves whether these are answers we could endorse. The issues that we will examine will include: What does being a just or good person involve? Why do we want to be good or just? How should our social institutions be structured in order to promote a just state? What should education be like, and what is it for? Is it ever permissible for the government to lie to the people? Is censorship ever justified? What role should women have in society?

In order to understand Plato’s answers to these questions, we will delve into his moral psychology (the nature of the soul, of virtue, of moral beliefs, and the relation between reason and emotion) as well as the metaphysical and epistemological aspects of Plato’s Theory of Forms.

The format of this course will be a seminar, and enrollment is limited to 20 participants. It will be accessible to anyone who has taken Philosophy 25A or equivalent. At least 8 previously completed units of philosophy are required.

Set translation:“Republic”, translated by Grube, revised by Reeve (Hackett).

Graduate seminars

200  First Year Graduate Seminar. Stroud/Martin. TBA, TBA.

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics. Frede. W 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

The seminar will be concerned with a detailed analysis and critical discussion of the basic principles of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. It will focus on the conception of happiness as the good life, the distinction of character virtues and intellectual virtues as the basis of his phi-losophy of action. It will also elucidate the Aristotelian explanation for the phenomenon of akrasia, his conception and evaluation of pleasure, and take up the controversy whether Aristotle’s explanation of the philosophical life as the supreme good is consistent with his basic principles of the good life. The discussion will focus mainly on the text but also take note of crucial discussions in the secondary literature. Requirements: two 20-minute in-class presentations on the text or relevant secondary literature, one final research-paper.

290-3  Graduate Seminar: A Society of Equals?. Munoz-Dardé. Tu 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

The seminar will be devoted to recent writings on equality, priority and sufficiency. A more detailed description will be posted on bSpace.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Hegel’s “Philosophy of Right”. Sluga. W 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

A careful reading of Hegel’s /Philosophy of Right.

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Philosophy of language: Perspective in Language. Yalcin. Th 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

The seminar will focus on questions which arise in connection with language that exhibits, or appears to exhibit, some relativity to a perspective. We will conduct three case studies, each on a different fragment of language: (1) the language of spatio-temporal position and orientation; (2) the language of probability; and (3) the language of evaluation (probably, aesthetic evaluation). We will use these fragments as windows into some basic issues in the philosophy of language, among them: the role of charity and of eligibility in interpretation, the scope and limits of truth-conditional semantics, the import of the demand that a theory of meaning be compositional, and the epistemological role of intuition in linguistics. We will be especially interested in developing a view about how semantic inquiry and metaphysical inquiry are related. Our case studies will drive us into areas well outside of the usual terrain of the philosophy of language, and the readings will be correspondingly diverse. During our first case study, we will look at aspects of the metaphysics of space and time, and at work on the perception of orientation; during the second, we will look into the metaphysics of probability, and get into issues about the semantics and logic of conditionals; and during the third, several reading will come from meta-ethics and aesthetics. Some people we may read: Chomsky, Egan, Field, Fillmore, Fodor, Gibbard, Gillies, Harman, Hume (on taste), Kant (on gloves), Kolodny, Kripke, Lee, Lewis, MacFarlane, Rothschild, Schroeder, Searle, Skow, Stalnaker, and Yalcin. Graduate students in linguistics are most welcome.

295  Dissertation Seminar. Stroud. TBA, TBA.

302  Teaching Seminar. Sluga. TBA, TBA.