Spring 2018

Undergraduate courses

3  The Nature of Mind. Campbell. MWF 9-10, Hearst Field Annex A1.

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.

4  Knowledge & Its Limits. Holliday. TuTh 2-3:30, Evans 60.

In this course, we will investigate questions about the nature and limits of knowledge: Is knowledge compatible with the possibility of human error? Is the structure of our knowledge like a building that rests on a foundation or like a web held together by its connections? What are the requirements for knowledge? Can one know by accident? How can we acquire knowledge and avoid misinformation from others? Whom can we trust?

12A  Introduction to Logic. Warren. MWF 1-2, Evans 10.

This course is intended to introduce the student to the concepts and principles of deductive logic: symbolizing English language sentences and arguments in terms of formalized languages; validity, implication, and equivalence in truth-functional and quantificational logic; systems of deduction, and their soundness and completeness. In addition to the three lectures, each student will attend two sections per week.

Requirements: Lecture and section attendance, weekly problem sets, several in-section quizzes, a midterm and a final.

Text: Warren Goldfarb’s Deductive Logic, Hackett, 2003.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Primus. MWF 10-11, Lewis 100.

In this course, we will study works by central figures in 17th and 18th century philosophy, including Descartes, Elisabeth, Spinoza, Locke, Conway, Leibniz, Hume, and Kant. Topics will include the relation of the self to the world, the possibility and extent of one’s knowledge, the nature of bodies and causation, and the relationship of theology to philosophy.

98BC-1  Berkeley Connect. Hutchinson. M 5-6, Dwinelle 83.

98BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Hutchinson. M 6-7, Dwinelle 83.

100  Philosophical Methods. Crockett. W 4-6, Moffitt 102.

This course is intended to improve the student’s ability to read and write philosophy. Special emphasis will be placed on developing analytic skills.

This class is restricted to Philosophy majors.

107  Moral Psychology. Shun. MWF 3-4, Wheeler 204.

The course will examine a range of psychological phenomena related to the ethical and spiritual life of humans, drawing on both contemporary philosophical approaches and Confucian thought. Topics to be covered include: pride, modesty and humility; anger, resentment and forgiveness; compassion, empathy and sympathy; death and acceptance; purity, detachment and tranquility; as well as other selected topics. 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.

This class is restricted to Philosophy majors during Phase I enrollment.

128  Philosophy of Science. Dasgupta. TuTh 11-12:30, Wheeler 204.

This course will investigate how our concepts of space, time, and chance have been shaped by developments in modern science. Topics may include: (1) What does physics teach us about the structure of space? (2) Is there a scientific explanation of the flow of time? (3) Are quantum mechanical chances objective or just measures of subjective uncertainty? (4) What about chances in high-level sciences like biology and economics? Along the way, we’ll use these discussions as gateways into more general issues in the philosophy of science such as realism vs anti-realism, the nature of scientific laws, and the demarcation problem. By the end, we’ll have worked our way towards a certain picture of how the different sciences hang together as a unified whole.

As taught this semester, Phil 128/190, can satisfy group A of the Epistemology/Metaphysics requirement.

This class is restricted to Philosophy majors during Phase I enrollment.

133  Philosophy of Language. Yalcin. TuTh 2-3:30, Wheeler 204.

This course is an advanced introduction to the philosophy of language. Phil 12A is strongly recommended. It is strongly recommended to have taken two classes in Philosophy.

This class is restricted to Philosophy majors during Phase I enrollment.

135  Theory of Meaning. Campbell. TuTh 9:30-11, Dwinelle 219.

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.

Please note that lectures and discussions will assume that everyone present has completed one course in logic (in this the 135 course is different to the 135 course given in previous years).

This class is restricted to Philosophy majors during Phase I enrollment.

143  Modal Logic. Holliday. TuTh 11-12:30, Barrows 60.

An introduction to the logical study of modality in its many forms: reasoning about necessity, knowledge, obligation, time, counterfactuals, provability, and other modal notions. Covers core concepts and basic metatheory of propositional modal logic, including relations to first-order logic; the basics of quantified modal logic; and selected philosophical applications ranging from epistemology to ethics, from metaphysics to mathematics.

Pre-requisite: PHILOS 12A or equivalent.

161  Aristotle. Clarke. TuTh 12:30-2, Wheeler 204.

This course is an in-depth introduction to the philosophy of Aristotle. We will study selections from each of his major works, covering a wide range of philosophical topics. The course divides into four units: (1) The Organon; (2) The Philosophy of Nature; (3) Metaphysics; (4) Ethics and Political Philosophy.

This class is restricted to Philosophy majors during Phase I enrollment.

173  Leibniz. Crockett. MWF 11-12, Wheeler 204.

This course will be a detailed examination of the philosophical writings of the 17th century philosopher G.W. Leibniz, with an emphasis on his metaphysical views in relation to those of Descartes and (especially) Malebranche. Topics will include Leibniz’s theodicy, as well as his views on the relation between mind and body, the nature of space and time, the relation between our representations of the world and the world as it is in itself, the nature of substance and material reality, the relation between God and creation, the nature of inter- and intra-substantial causality, the nature of ideas and intellectual cognition, and the unity of organic entities.

This class is restricted to Philosophy majors during Phase I enrollment.

185  Heidegger: Being and Time. Kaiser. MW 6:30-8, Wheeler 204.

Since its publication in 1927, Heidegger’s major work Being and Time has been many things to its various recipients. Although the work became enormously important for the development of phenomenology, hermeneutics, existential thought, and post-structuralism, its main concern was a revolution in what Heidegger regarded as the central concept of philosophy since antiquity: that of being. Because he viewed the traditional understanding of this concept as superficial and misguided, his plan was (in part) to work out a new fundamental ontology. Its design was (I) to reveal the proper meaning of being on the basis of temporality as its transcendental horizon and (II) to point out the crucial missteps in the tradition (Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant) that led to the deeply problematic contemporary conception of being. Heidegger never finished this ambitious project, but the work’s first part—with its extensive analysis of human understanding as the basis of the conception of being—was sufficient to make Being and Time an essential text for friend and foe alike.

The course will be devoted to a close study of this challenging, influential, and fascinating work. We will focus on the connection between the question of being, the analysis of human nature, and the phenomenological method that Heidegger presents as the necessary foundation of his project in Division I of Being and Time. We will also cover his analysis of death, conscience, resoluteness, and Dasein’s authentic potentiality for being ‘whole’, i.e. the first three chapters of Division II.

Main text: Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, translated by John Macquarrie/Edward Robinson, paperback reprint (Harper Perennial Modern Thought Series, 2008). However, we will also consult the revised edition by Dennis J. Schmidt of the Joan Stambaugh translation of Being and Time (SUNY Series in Contemporary Philosophy, 2010).

This class is restricted to Philosophy majors during Phase I enrollment.

190  Proseminar: Epistemology. Khatchirian. W 10-11, F 9-11, Dwinelle 279 / Moses 234.

In this seminar, we will address some central questions in epistemology and examine contemporary responses to these questions. Topics will include: Can the concept of knowledge be analyzed, or should we think of knowledge as an unexplained explainer? Is truth an epistemic goal? Is it the only fundamental epistemic goal? Does knowledge require foundations? Are there epistemic virtues, and if so, do they play a role in explaining knowledge? Is there a priori knowledge? If so, how can we explain it?

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 course may be granted to non-majors.

Admission to the seminar is by instructor approval. If you are interested in taking the seminar please email me at arpy@berkeley.edu, briefly indicating (1) if you are a philosophy major, (2) what philosophy courses you have taken, and (3) why you are interested in taking this seminar. You will be notified of your admission status by early December.

As taught this semester, Phil 190 satisfies group A of the Epistemology/Metaphysics requirement.

196  Senior Seminar. Kolodny. M 12-2, Barrows 186.

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. Lawrence. Tu 5-6, Dwinelle 250.

198BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Lawrence. Tu 6-7, Dwinelle 250.

198BC-3  Berkeley Connect. Andrews. W 5-6, Dwinelle 255.

198BC-4  Berkeley Connect. Andrews. W 6-7, Dwinelle 255.

Graduate seminars

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Why Is There Anything Except Physics?. Dasgupta/Lee. Tu 2-4, Moses 234.

High-level sciences like biology and economics study patterns in the arrangement of high-level properties, such as the distributions of genotypes in a population of organisms, or the prices of a range of commodities. But in a certain sense, patterns of properties are cheap: we can define up countless other high-level miscellany, such as the disjunctive property of being a boom economy or a butterfly. Is there anything special about the ones we actually focus on? In what sense is there anything other than the patterns of properties studied in fundamental physics? To examine this question we will discuss a range of literature from meta-metaphysics, philosophy of science, and cognitive science.

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory. Kolodny/Cohen. F 12-3, 141 Boalt.

A full course description can be found here: https://bcourses.berkeley.edu/courses/1467146.

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Vagueness, Truth, and Meaning. MacFarlane. Tu 4-6, Moses 234.

In this seminar we will consider whether vagueness poses a fundamental challenge to the dominant framework for natural language semantics, truth-conditional semantics. We will begin by discussing the aims and methods of truth-conditional semantics, and the role it is supposed to play in explaining the use of language in communication and thought. We will then consider how vagueness can be accommodated in this framework. We will consider the view that vagueness poses no special problems, as well as several quite different proposals for modifying semantics or pragmatics to make room for vagueness. While much prior work on vagueness considers it from the point of view of logic and metaphysics, we will be looking at it as philosophers of language, asking in particular what a theory of meaning must look like if it is to explain how we communicate as we do using vague language.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Morality, Value, and Future People. Wallace. W 2-4, Moses 234.

We will look at some questions about the nature and source of our responsibilities with regard to future generations. How should we assess overall states of affairs when thinking about the well-being of the people who will exist in them? Can we arrive at a “population axiology” that is free from paradox or contradiction? Do we have a responsibility, as individuals, to bring about states of affairs that are better rather than worse in this dimension? Is our concern for future generations a concern for the individual humans who will come into existence, or for the population as a whole, or for the species that they belong to? Might our concern for future generations be grounded at least as much in our interest in the quality of our own lives as in morality? Does it matter, at all, whether the human species eventually becomes extinct?

In thinking about these issues, we will discuss recent texts by Johann Frick, Hilary Greaves, Derek Parfit, Samuel Scheffler, and others.

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Kant on Causality. Warren. Th 2-4, Moses 234.

290-6  Graduate Seminar: Abilities, Competence, Know-How. Stroud. W 4-6, Moses 234.

An exploration of the essential role of abilities, expertise, and competence in the understanding of human thought, experience, meaning, understanding, knowledge, reasons, and intentional agency. What abilities must we possess to be capable of the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, reasons, intentions, and actions we are all familiar with? How does possession of a general ability or competence explain our coming to think, understand, believe, know, intend, or do the specific things we do on particular occasions?

Active participation is expected of those in attendance. Suggestions of readings and offers of presentations on particular topics are welcome.

295  Dissertation Seminar. Lee. TBA, TBD.