Fall 2013

Undergraduate courses

3  The Nature of Mind. Campbell. TuTh 2-3:30, 141 McCone.

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.

6  Man, God & Society in Western Literature. Madva. MWF 12-1, 141 McCone.

This course will explore fundamental questions about the human condition—including the nature of freedom, the good life, justice, and the individual’s relation to family, friends, romantic partners, the wider community, and God(s)—through the lens of classic literary and religious texts, including Homer, the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, and more recent fiction.

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.

24  Freshman Seminar: Computer Simulation in Science&Philosophy. Roush. W 4-5, 201 Wheeler.

We ask three questions: How does computer simulation work as a method in science? Does artificial intelligence programming simulate minds or make them? Is the universe a giant computer simulation, and if so how would we know? This seminar is part of the On the Same Page initiative.

24-2  Freshman Seminar: Reading the Brothers Karamazov As an Answer to Electronic Isolation. Dreyfus. F 3-4, 201 Wheeler.

A decade ago, Bowling Alone noted our increasing disconnection from social groups. Recently Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together argues that, thanks to instant messaging, the web, social media and texting, we are now hyper-connected, and yet we are even more isolated. But neither book shows us what it would be like to be genuinely in touch with one another. Prophetically, The Brothers Karamazov offers an account of the origin and spread of a kind of total caring that draws human beings joyfully together.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Clarke. MWF 11-12, 145 Dwinelle.

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. Most of the course will be devoted to the thought of Socrates (469-399 BCE), Plato (427-347), and Aristotle (384-322). We will also look briefly at the Presocratics and the Sophists, and at the major philosophical movements of the Hellenistic period: the Epicureans, Stoics, and Sceptics.

Prerequisites: None.

Required texts: (1) Plato: Five Dialogues, 2nd edn., tr. Grube (2) Plato: The Republic, ed. Ferrari, tr. Griffith (3) Aristotle: Introductory Readings, tr. Irwin and Fine (Note: Students intending to take Philosophy 160 in a future semester may want to purchase Plato: Complete Works (ed. Cooper) instead of the two Plato volumes above.)

100  Philosophical Methods. Warren. W 2-4, 88 Dwinelle.

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. This term we will be examining a number of philosophical texts on the problem of personal identity. 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.

Text: Personal Identity, edited by John Perry, University of California Press

104  Ethical Theories. Wallace. MWF 11-12, 219 Dwinelle.

This course offers a survey of some of the main systematic approaches to issues in moral philosophy. We will look at several exemplary texts from the modern history of the subject (by Hobbes, Hume, Sidgwick, and Kant), as well as influential work by important contemporary philosophers (including Korsgaard, Nagel, Scanlon, and Williams). Issues to be discussed include the following: What is it that distinguishes morality from other sets of requirements (e.g. those of etiquette or law or self-interest)? Why should we care about complying with moral demands? What is the relation between the right and the good (both the good of the agent, and the impersonal good)? Is there anything interesting that we can say, in general terms, about what makes actions morally right or wrong?

112  Special Topics in Aesthetics: Music & Meaning. Ginsborg. M 1-4, 124 Morrison.

This course will explore the question of whether music has meaning, and if so, what kind. Can music represent, say, birdsong, or the sea, or merely imitate? If music expresses emotions, then whose–those of the listener? the composer? the performer? We will consider parallels and contrasts between linguistic and musical meaning, theories of how music can be expressive, and the question of whether music can convey political meaning. The course will be taught as a seminar, and students will be expected to participate actively. Each week’s discussion will be structured around the interaction between musical excerpts and readings, drawn from historical and contemporary literature in philosophy, musicology, and the psychology of music. Requirements will include several short papers, a class presentation, and a final paper. Please note that this course is being taught as part of the “Big Ideas” breadth program; for details of the program, see http://bigideascourses.berkeley.edu/. It will be cross-listed as Philosophy C112/Music C128P.

Enrollment in the course is limited and by instructor approval only. If you are interested in enrolling, please send an email, with “Music and Meaning” in the subject line, to ginsborg@berkeley.edu and masmart@berkeley.edu. One of the instructors will get back to you with details of the enrollment procedure.

115  Political Philosophy. Munoz-Dardé. TuTh 11-12:30, 30 Wheeler.

This course is devoted to some of the central questions in contemporary political philosophy: liberty, justice and equality. The course is focused particularly on the work of John Rawls.

122  Theory of Knowledge. Roush. MWF 11-12, 200 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 and justified belief are, 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 skepticism, justification, foundationalism, epistemic intuitions, tracking, closure, reliabilism, internalism, and externalism, 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 the true reasons for their beliefs.

128  Philosophy of Science. Roush. MWF 3-4, 109 Morgan.

This is a course about the epistemology of science. We will ask what makes something a scientific explanation, and what is required for observations to confirm (support) a hypothesis. We will ask how scientific models, experiments, and computer simulations are similar and different, and how scientists learn from each of these tools. We will pay particular attention to the example of climate models and simulations. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy.

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? 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.

136  Philosophy of Perception. Martin. TuTh 12:30-2, 200 Wheeler.

155  Medieval Philosophy. Crockett. MWF 1-2, 110 Wheeler.

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

This course will be a study of some of the major philosophical texts from the Medieval Period with a focus on issues in metaphysics and epistemology. Special attention will be paid to the ways in which the philosophers in this period assimilate Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy into religious thought and how they anticipate certain aspects of modern philosophy. Topics will include the nature of universals, individuation, the nature and existence of God, faith and reason, skepticism, freedom, human nature and human cognition.

160  Plato. Corcilius. MWF 12-1, 110 Wheeler.

This course is an introduction into the main currents within Plato’s philosophy. This will include his conceptions of philosophy, the good life, the soul, causes and explanation, the hypothesis of the Forms, his account of human knowledge and some of the developments and revisions of these conceptions. Towards the second half of the semester the discussion will focus largely on Plato’s moral psychology. Important secondary literature will be made available on bspace. No previous knowledge of Plato required. Students are expected to actively participate and to occasionally give presentations. Required text: Plato. Complete Works. Ed. J. M. Cooper Indianapolis 1997. Hackett Publishing Company. ISBN 0–87220–349–2.

170  Descartes. Crockett. TuTh 11-12:30, 200 Wheeler.

This course will provide an intensive introduction to Descartes’s views on physics, metaphysics and epistemology. We will begin by examining some of Descartes’s early works on method, physics and physiology. We will then turn to an in-depth study of the Meditations, focusing on both Descartes’s epistemological project and his anti-scholastic metaphysics. We will supplement our study of the Meditations with readings from the Objections and Replies, the Principles, and several important pieces of secondary literature. Some of the issues we will discuss in this section include the method of doubt, the Cartesian circle, Descartes’s mode of presentation in the Meditations, the creation and ontological status of the eternal truths, the status of the human being, the nature of substance, and the real distinction between mind and body. After our study of the Meditations, we will examine Descartes’s physics as presented in the Principles.

176  Hume. Martin. TuTh 9:30-11, 289 Cory.

178  Kant. Warren. TuTh 2-3:30, 110 Wheeler.

189  Topics in Recent European Philosophy: Later Heidegger. Kaiser. W 2-5, 30 Wheeler.

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

The course 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 “reflective thinking” as opening up possible ways out of this condition.

Readings will include such central texts 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). Martin Heidegger. The Question Concerning Technology and other Essays (transl. William Lovitt). Additional texts will be made available on bSpace.

The course will be taught as a small seminar aimed at advanced students of philosophy, preferably with some background in Heidegger and/or Nietzsche. Enrollment is limited, and by application only. Students should apply to the instructor directly (at kuk@berkeley.edu) at their earliest convenience; an initial selection will be made at the beginning of June. Applications should include a brief statement outlining the applicant’s philosophical background and interest in the seminar. All applicants will be notified via email as to the result of their application; those admitted will receive course enrollment numbers with which they can enroll in the seminar through TeleBears.

Graduate seminars

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

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Decision Theory: Paradoxes and Alternatives. Buchak. W 2-4, 234 Moses.

This seminar will explore classical decision theory and the alternatives that have arisen in recent years, in response to problems surrounding (1) risk-aversion; (2) non-sharp probabilities; (3) infinite utilities; and (4) acts that are evidence for outcomes but not causally efficacious. We will work through selections from my forthcoming book as well as a number of articles, both classic and recent.

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Aristotle’s Physics I. Clarke. W 4-6, 234 Moses.

We will read Aristotle’s Physics Book I, his inquiry into the principles of nature. Topics include: Aristotle’s philosophical methodology; his engagement with Eleatic arguments against plurality and coming to be; his analysis of change; the concepts of matter and form; hylomorphism. (We will read the text in translation. There will also be a weekly Greek reading group for those interested.)

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Modality, Partiality, and Perspective. Holliday. Th 2-4, 234 Moses.

This seminar will address a number of foundational issues concerning “possible worlds-based” approaches to language and thought: total worlds vs. partial situations; partial modal logic; aboutness; indexicals and indices; centered worlds; de se attitudes; and more.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Time, Experience, and Mental Representation. Lee. M 2-4, 234 Moses.

The main topic for this seminar is the experience of time, and also the mental representation of time more generally. We’ll talk about subjective duration, including empirical models of psychological timing; extensionalism and retensionalism about temporal experience; the flow of time, and the continuity and unity over time of experience. The seminar will begin with an opinionated overview of some more general issues about experience and mental representation which will be relevant, including: quality spaces and phenomenal properties, internalist vs externalist views of experience, different views of computational explanation and mental representation.

Note for those of you who attended my Unity and Temporal Experience seminar : I’ll try to minimize the overlap in content with this seminar, although inevitably there will be at least some.

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Assessment Sensitivity. MacFarlane. Tu 4-6, 234 Moses.

The seminar will focus on the issues discussed in my forthcoming book, Assessment Sensitivity: Relative Truth and Its Applications (PDF). The book attempts to make solid philosophical sense of the fraught idea that truth might be “relative,” an idea with a long philosophical history and few adherents in the analytic tradition. It describes a novel way in which thoughts and linguistic expressions can be contextually sensitive. Familiar context-sensitive words like “here” and “I” are semantically sensitive to features of the context of use. Thus, “here” denotes the location at which the word is being used, “I” denotes the person using it. Similarly, the truth of a tensed sentence like “Obama is president” depends on the time of use. Call this familiar kind of context sensitivity use sensitivity. Assessment sensitivity, by contrast, is semantic sensitivity to features of the context in which a use of the expression is being assessed (in my lingo, a context of assessment). Because a particular use of an expression can be assessed from indefinitely many different contexts, it does not make sense to talk of “the context of assessment” associated with a particular such use. Rather, truth must be relativized to contexts of assessment. Thus, making sense of semantic assessment sensitivity requires making sense of (a certain kind of) “relative truth” – a notion often held to be incoherent.

Part of the work, then, is devoted to explaining how we can make room for assessment sensitivity within existing formal semantic frameworks, and to making an empirical case for the assessment sensitivity of several kinds of discourse that have been puzzled philosophers and linguists, including future contingents, predicates of personal taste, knowledge ascriptions, epistemic modals, deontic claims, and indicative conditionals. And part of the work is devoted to the more philosophical task of fending off principled worries about the kind of “relative truth” that the proposals countenance, and giving us a solid grip on what it means to say that an expression is assessment-sensitive.

The aim is to read and discuss the whole book, which will be the main text for the seminar. Supplementary readings will be suggested for each chapter.

290-6  Graduate Seminar: Problems with Authority: Themes from The Morality of Freedom. Munoz-Dardé. Tu 2-4, 107 Mulford.

We’ll be looking back a quarter of a century at Joseph Raz’s The Morality of Freedom, and some of the central themes that classic text raises for us.

The issues we are to address can be organized under three headings:

(a) Authority & Consent

(b) Neutrality & Paternalism

(c) Consequentialism & Separatness of Person

(a) Authority & Consent One of the distinctive elements of Raz’s The Morality of Freedom is functional theory of authority it offers at the outset. It will be useful to contrast this with Anscombe’s earlier discussion of authority. We’ll finish off this topic looking back to earlier attempts to connect questions of authority and obligation to the existence of institutions.

(b) Neutrality & Paternalism Is it a requirement on a just politic order (or a just such order as conceived by liberalism) to be neutral among conceptions of the good? Raz launches a vituperative attack on what he sees as Rawls’s moral relativism lurking behind the demand for neutrality. We can compare this disagreement to some recent discussions of these issues: first Jonathan Quong’s complaint of paternalism against Raz; secondly van Wietmarschen and Leland’s attempt to understand it purely in terms of epistemic modesty.

(c) Consequentialism & Separateness of Person Despite the manner in which Raz insists his liberalism is different from Rawls, both join forces against traditional utilitarianism, and its modern consequentialist developments. We’ll look at Raz’s discussion of consequentialism and compare that to Williams’s original discussions of integrity. Again we’ll set this earlier discussion in the context of some more recent debate, in this case Larry Temkin’s discussion of separateness of person in his recent book.

290-7  Graduate Seminar: Consciousness by John R. Searle. Searle. Tu 2-4, 234 Moses.

Consciousness is becoming more and more a central topic in analytic philosophy, and I want to pursue both some traditional and more recent issues. Specifically the recent analysis in terms of information theory, by Tononi and Koch, I think is mistaken, and I want to say exactly how. Nagel’s recent book Mind and Cosmos expresses doubts that we can explain consciousness with our existing conceptual resources. I think he is mistaken and I want to say again how exactly how. A third issue that I want to resume is the discussion of the Connection Principle relating consciousness to unconsciousness. I think that these issues are at the very heart of cognitive science explanations. A whole series of issues is raised by recent emphasis on the unconscious as more important than consciousness. Such authors as Libet, Jeannerod, and Wegner should all be considered. We cannot cover all of the issues in one semester, but I would like a general theory of consciousness to emerge.

Anyone wishing to see a simple presentation of my general approach should see my recent TED talk at CERN in Geneva.

295  Dissertation Seminar. Stroud. TBA, TBA.

375  Teaching Seminar. Ginsborg. TBA, TBA.

formerly PHILOS 302