Spring 2017

Undergraduate courses

2  Morality and Social Justice. Kolodny. MWF 9-10, Dwinelle 145.

We will survey the basic questions of moral and political philosophy, as well as some classic attempts to answer them. We will ask, among other things: What is the morally right thing for me to do? Why should I do it? Is there a fact of the matter what it is, or does it just depend on my feelings or upbringing? Why should I do what the government tells me to? Why should I tolerate alien moral beliefs and practices? We may read, among others: Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Bentham, Mill, and Nietzsche.

3  Nature of Mind. Campbell. MWF 3-4, Dwinelle 145.

Use of electronic devices (laptops, tablets, phones and so on) is not allowed in class, except by those with DSP needs.

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 nonphysical 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.

12A  Intro to Logic. Mancosu. MWF 10-11, LI KA SHING 245.

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 will introduce a deductive system (a natural deduction system), which explicates the intuitive notion of ‘follow’ in terms of derivational rules in a calculus. This will be done in stages, 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 for showing when a claim does not follow from the premises 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, Proof and Logic”, latest edition. (The book comes with a CD. Do not buy the book used! If you do, you will not be able to submit your exercises on line, which you will be required to.)

25B  Modern Philosophy. Crockett. MWF 11-12, Lewis 100.

In this course we will study the philosophical views of the most important and influential thinkers in early modern philosophy (roughly, the 17th and 18th centuries). This period in western thought was nothing short of extraordinary in that it saw the overthrow of a philosophical and scientific worldview that had dominated the west for over one thousand years. Prior to the 17th century, philosophy had been a blend of church doctrine and classical philosophy, and its methodology had been quite narrowly defined. The unfortunate effect of both the church’s influence on scholarly endeavors and the strictly defined methodology was that philosophical and scientific creativity was largely stifled. By the 17th century, however, the medieval worldview was beginning to crumble due in large part to a variety of subversive scientific discoveries. Advances in physics, astronomy and chemistry undermined central assumptions of classical science, which resulted in the wholesale abandonment of medieval philosophy more generally. Thus the scientific revolution of the 17th century set off an explosion of inspiration and creativity in the world of philosophy. It forced thinkers to make a new start in answering fundamental questions about the world such as: What is the nature of mind? What are the limits of human knowledge? What is a person? What is the basic stuff in the world? These thinkers were the radicals of their day, and their views have shaped the way we practice contemporary philosophy. In fact, many of the philosophical questions we ask today could not have been formulated before these thinkers began to challenge philosophical orthodoxy. For that reason, studying the moderns is of central importance for understanding contemporary philosophy, and for understanding the nature of philosophical revolutions more generally.

98BC-1  Berkeley Connect. Sethi. M 5-6, Barrows 50.

98BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Sethi. M 6-7, Barrows 50.

100  Philosophical Methods. Buchak. W 2-4, McCone 141.

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.

107  Moral Psychology. Shun. TuTh 2-3:30, Barrows 56.

The course will examine a range of psychological phenomena related to the ethical and spiritual life of humans, drawing on both contemporary philosophical approaches as well as non-western (primarily Confucian) perspectives on these phenomena. Topics to be covered include: pride, modesty and humility; anger, resentment and forgiveness; compassion, empathy and sympathy; death, grief and acceptance; purity, detachment and tranquility; ethical self-cultivation and ethical self-indulgence. The unifying theme underlying the exploration of these topics is the idea of ‘no self’, that is, the idea that ethical self-transformation involves a move away from different forms of undue focus on the self.

110  Aesthetics . Noë. TuTh 11-12:30, Barrows 56.

This course will explore topics in the philosophy of art. What is art? What makes art valuable? Is art really valuable? What is a picture? Why are some pictures works of art, but not others? What is performance? What makes performance art? What does art reveal about human nature? What does art tell us about the mind? We will seek to answer these and other questions. We will read writings on these and related topics by a range of philosophers (mostly from the 20th century). Many of the readings for this course will come from an anthology entitled Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology, published by Blackwells and edited by Cahn et al.

116  Special Topics in Political Philosophy. Sluga. TuTh 9:30-11:00, Moses 234.

The course will examine some of the basic concepts of politics such as that of politics itself, the state, government, political conflict and cooperation, and power. It will focus, in addition, on technology and its role in politics, asking how governmental practices, forms of government, the conduct of war, and, indeed, the meaning and function of politics are affected by technological developments and what political challenges those developments pose.

As taught this semester, Phil 116 satisfies the ethics requirement for the philosophy major.

122  Theory of Knowledge. Holliday. TuTh 2:00-3:30, Moffitt 103.

An upper-division course in the philosophical theory of knowledge. Not a general survey of the field, but an investigation of fundamental epistemological issues raised by science: the underdetermination of theory by data and its relation to skepticism; the problem of induction; and attempts to give an account of how hypotheses are confirmed by evidence.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Khatchirian. TuTh 9:30-11:00, McCone 141.

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. Yalcin. TuTh 12:30-2, Barrows 56.

This course is an advanced introduction to the philosophy of language. Phil 12A is strongly recommended.

161  Aristotle. Clarke. TuTh 12:30-2:00, Moffitt 103.

This course is an in-depth introduction to the philosophy of Aristotle. We will study selections from each of his major works. Since Aristotle was an remarkably wide-ranging philosopher, this means that we will cover a wide variety of philosophical topics. The course divides into four units: (1) The Organon; (2) The Philosophy of Nature; (3) Metaphysics; (4) Ethics and Political Philosophy.

Prerequisites: Philos 25A or an equivalent lower-level course in ancient Greek philosophy.

Required text: Aristotle: Selections, trans. Terence Irwin and Gail Fine (Hackett, 1995).

172  Spinoza. Primus. MWF 9-10, Moffitt 106.

In this course, we will study the distinctive metaphysical, epistemological, psychological, and ethical positions Spinoza argues for in his Ethics. We will analyze his arguments for monism and necessitarianism, evaluate his response to skepticism, assess the philosophical viability of his accounts of the human mind and human passions, and see whether the resultant picture of what constitutes a good human life is coherent (or attractive).

186B  Later Wittgenstein . Stroud. TuTh 11-12:30, Barrows 166.

A course of close reading and detailed discussion of central parts of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations (1953). Other works by Wittgenstein and some interpretative commentary will be introduced occasionally, but the emphasis throughout will be on reading, understanding, and discussing this book. The book embodies a conception of philosophy as a certain kind of intellectual activity, not simply defense of philosophical doctrines or theories, so the course is likely to be most interesting and of the greatest value to those students willing to respond in open discussion to the thoughts and lines of inquiry presented there. Those responses themselves can serve as part of the “data” for philosophical investigation. This requires active engagement in discussion in class and in weekly discussion-sections and in any other settings that present themselves to interested students. The course is meant to be as much as possible an exercise in doing philosophy, not simply in studying or commenting on the philosophical views of others.

189  Special Topics in Recent European Philosophy. Sluga. TuTh 2-3:30, Etcheverry 3109.

A comprehensive discussion of the work of Michel Foucault, tracing his development from the epistemological investigations of The Order of Things, through his concern with power and power relations in the 1970’s, to the ethics of the care of the self of Foucault’s later years.

190-1  Proseminar: History and Philosophy of Science. Primus. M 1-4, Moses 234.

This course is designed for students who want to learn about the development of modern science as well as engage directly with some broader philosophical questions the historical texts raise, questions including: What kind of knowledge does science provide? How do experiments provide evidence for theories? Is there a scientific method? What is special about scientific explanation?

This seminar is intended for philosophy majors who have had at least two philosophy courses. In special cases, however, permission to take the seminar may be granted by the instructor.

190-2  Proseminar: Ethics and the Environment. Crockett. MW 5-6:30, Dwinelle 210.

In this seminar we will examine a wide range of perspectives on the ethical dimensions of our relationship with the natural world and its constituents–animals, plants, ecosystems, etc. Topics of readings and discussions will include: animal rights, the value of species and organisms, land and wilderness ethics, deep ecology, social ecology, environmental justice, ecofeminism, biocentric ethics, sustainability, population and consumption, and obligations to future generations.

This seminar is intended for philosophy majors who have had at least two philosophy courses, and is limited to 15 students. In special cases, however, permission to take the seminar may be granted by the instructor.

Admission to the seminar is by instructor’s approval only. If you are interested in taking the seminar please apply directly to me via email (crickett@berkeley.edu) briefly detailing in a couple of sentences the courses you’ve taken and your interest in this seminar. Also mention if you are not a major. You will be notified of your admission status by early December.

196  Honors: Senior Seminar . Kolodny. W 2-4, Barrows 102.

A collaborative writing workshop. Students in the honors program will develop their thesis, which they will have started to write in the fall in Philos H195. Other students will develop a paper from a previous course into a form suitable for a writing sample for applying to graduate school. Students will present drafts, followed by comments by an assigned respondent, and open discussion. As time permits, philosophical background for the work in progress may be read and discussed.

Enrollment is by instructor approval. Students who are not in the honors program, but who are interested in enrolling should email Niko Kolodny (kolodny@berkeley.edu) with: (1) a list of courses taken or in progress in philosophy, together with grades received (or an unofficial transcript); and (2) a draft, outline, or description (as much as possible at this admittedly early stage) of the paper to be developed. Students who are in the honors program should email Kolodny for an enrollment code, but do not need to give any additional information about courses or thesis topic (which they already gave when they first enrolled in the honors program).

198BC-1  Berkeley Connect. Khatchirian. Tu 5-6, Dwinelle 134.

198BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Khatchirian. Tu 6-7, Barrows 80.

198BC-3  Berkeley Connect. Carey. W 5-6, Barrows 80.

198BC-4  Berkeley Connect. Carey. W 6-7, Barrows 50.

Graduate seminars

290-1  Causation and Perception. Campbell. Th 2-4, Moses 234.

290-2  Hellenistic Ethics. Long. F 2-4, Moses 234.

This seminar will focus on such notions as nature, agency, reason, friendship, and freedom in Hellenistic ethics, especially Stoicism. We will work with texts translated in volume 1 of Long/Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, supplemented by excerpts from Seneca and Epictetus, and a selection of recent articles.

290-3  Topics in Philosophy of Perception. Lee. Tu 2-4, Moses 234.

This course will cover some ongoing debates in philosophy of perception, with a particular focus on foundational debates about the nature of perceptual processing and their repercussions for theories of conscious perception.

We will start with the classical inferential/computational framework, looking closely at: the notion of a perceptual representation, including the notion of tacit or implicit representation of rules and information; the notion of perceptual computation; the levels of description of perceptual processes (e.g. Marr’s 3 levels); the explanatory role of content in perceptual processing; the structure of perceptual representations. We’ll draw on this to look at the recent debate about the nature and viability of Bayesian models of perceptual processing. We will also cover some recent debates about the nature of perceptual experience, including the debate about “perceptual credences”: does perceptual experience assign probabilities or levels of confidence to hypotheses about the environment? We will also discuss what bearing, if any, different models of perceptual processing have on the debate about the metaphysics of conscious perceptual states (e.g. is disjunctivism incompatible with the classical computational model?).

The reading for the course will include chapters from Nico Orlandi’s recent book “The Innocent Eye: why Vision is not a Cognitive Process”.

290-4  Expertise. Noë. W 4-6, Moses 234.

290-5  Logicism & Neologicism. Mancosu. W 2-4, Moses 234.

Description: Kant claimed that our knowledge of mathematics is synthetic a priori. Frege agreed that our knowledge of arithmetic is a priori but claimed it was analytic rather than synthetic. In addition, Frege was a platonist and held that our knowledge of arithmetic is about a special domain of mind-independent, non-spatiotemporal objects – the natural numbers – and their characteristic properties and relations. Frege thought he could establish the a priori nature of arithmetic and platonism about its subject matter through his logicism, namely the claim that arithmetic is definitionally reducible to logic. This led him to also claim that numbers are logical objects (extensions of concepts).

In the first part of the seminar, we will look at the philosophical underpinnings and technical elaboration of Frege’s logicism. We will see how Frege motivated his logicism against rival empiricist, formalist, and Kantian views of arithmetic, and how he took his logicism to answer the philosophical problems raised by platonism. We will look at some of the details of his technical theory. And we will see how Russell showed Frege’s theory of extensions to be inconsistent, causing Frege to abandon the project.

The second part of the seminar is devoted to an attempt to revive Frege’s project that goes under the name of Neo-logicism or, now more commonly, Neo-Fregeanism or Abstractionism. A mathematical result established by Wright and foreshadowed by Frege, known as Frege’s theorem, shows how little the technical development of Frege’s logicism actually depends on the theory of extensions shown inconsistent by Russell. There has been much debate about the significance of this work. Wright and Hale, who espouse a neologicist position, have argued that it shows that Frege’s logicist program can be salvaged, with slight modifications, into a philosophically satisfying account of arithmetic. Boolos, Heck, Dummett, and others have argued the contrary position. The discussion has been raging since the publication of Wright’s book “Frege’s conception of numbers as objects” (1983) and it is still the focus of great interest in much contemporary philosophy of mathematics. In addition to study some classic sources (including Wright’s 1983 book), we will also discuss several very recent contributions to Neo-logicism.

Prerequisites: The seminar is open to all graduate students in Philosophy and Logic and Methodology of Science. Interested undergraduates, visiting students, etc. should seek the permission of the instructor before enrolling. I will presuppose that everyone has had a good introductory course in first-order logic, at the level of Philosophy 12A. Previous coursework in logical metatheory, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language, Kant, and Frege may be helpful but are not required.

290-6  Kant’s Metaphysics and Epistemology. Warren. Tu 4-6, Moses 234.

290-7  Workshop in Law, Philosophy, & Political Theory. Kutz. F 12-3, 202 Barrows.

This course is designed as a workshop for the presentation and discussion of work-in-progress in moral, political, and legal theory. The central aim of the course is to provide an opportunity for students to engage directly with philosophers, political theorists, and legal scholars working on normative questions. Another aim is to create a space that brings together people from different disciplines who have strong normative interests or who speak to issues philosophers and theorists should know something about.  Toward this goal, we will devote a few sessions to featuring the work of economists, sociologists, and even a biologist (to talk about the ethics of genetic editing).   The format of the course will be as follows. For the sessions with guest presenters, lunch will be served starting at 12:00. We’ll begin at 12:15. A designated commentator will lead off with a 15-minute comment on the presenter’s paper. The presenter will have 5-10 minutes to respond and then we will open up the discussion to the entire assembled group.  The first part of the course will be open to non-enrolled students and faculty who wish to participate in the workshop discussion. We’ll stop for a break at 1:45 and those not enrolled in the course will leave. Enrolled students will continue the discussion with the guest presenter from 2:00 to 3:00. This is a room-shared course. Students may enroll through the Law School or the Philosophy or Political Science Departments.

290-8  Foundations of Moral Philosophy. Kutz. Tu 2:10-5, 2240 Pied 102.

This course aims to provide a “graduate level introduction” to contemporary moral philosophy. That is, it is intended to supply students with little or no prior philosophical background with a working knowledge of major themes and debates in moral philosophy. It takes its organizing theme the topic of claims of moral, political, and legal rights, and looks to how deontological (Kantian) and consequentialist (Mill’s utilitarianism) theories can support or limit those claims. In this part of the seminar, we will move back and forth between concrete examples of rights (for example, rights against torture, and rights to free speech), and more abstract treatments in both the classical and contemporary canonical literature. We will also take up questions of moral knowledge and the relevance of perspective (including gendered perspectives).

290-9  Plato’s Euthydemus. McCabe. W 2-4:50, DOEL 308C.

The seminar will work through Plato’s unjustly neglected dialogue, the Euthydemus, examining its analysis of sophistry and the relation (or the failure of relations) between the sophistic arguments and the Socratic discussion of virtue and knowledge. We shall consider the connections between the Euthydemus and other Platonic dialogues (notably Meno, Republic and Theaetetus) and reflect on Aristotle’s account of the sophistic arguments in his Sophistical Refutations.

295  Dissertation Seminar . Warren. TBA, TBA.