The Dennes Room

Fall 2018

Undergraduate courses

R1B  Reading and Composition Through Philosophy. Khatchirian. TuTh 3:30-5:00, Barrows 80.

The goal of this course is to teach students how to read and understand complex philosophical texts, how to articulate that understanding in writing, and how to analyze and critically assess philosophical arguments. Students will be expected to devote significant time and effort to writing.

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Sluga. MWF 10-11, Hearst Field Annex A1.

The course deals with fundamental ethical issues and is intended, at the same time, as an introduction to philosophy. It seeks to addresses questions concerning the self, our relations to others and our commitment to various human communities. It asks, thus: How can I lead a good life? Are there rules for my relations with others? How are we to settle questions of social living together?

We will examine these issues with the help of writings from both Western and Non-Western sources, both classical and modern authors. All the required readings will be made available in a Class Reader.

3  The Nature of Mind. Noë. MWF 11-12, Dwinelle 145.

Introduction to the philosophy of mind. Topics to be considered may include the relation between mind and body; the structure of action; the nature of desires and beliefs; the role of the unconscious.

5  Science and Human Understanding. Dasgupta. TuTh 2-3:30, Evans 60.

This course will survey a range of philosophical topics relating to modern science. Topic 1: Science and Religion. Is there a scientific explanation of our existence? Does the “Fine Tuning” of the laws of physics imply that the universe was designed by a creator to support life? Topic 2: Science and Society. What is the role of science in a democracy? What obligations do scientists have to citizens, and citizens to scientists? Topic 3: The Philosophy of Computer Science. Elon Musk recently said that we probably live in a computer simulation—is he right? What is the “singularity” and how should we prepare for it? What is the ethical status of an artificial intelligence? Topic 4: The Metaphysics of Science. Does science discover a read-made world that exists “out there”, independently of us? When biologists sort organisms into species, are they carving the world “at its natural joints” or do their categories more reflect their own way of thinking? Topic 5: The Epistemology of Science. Scientists typically extrapolate from data, making predictions about the future that have not yet been observed. Is there any non-circular argument that their predictions will be reliable? If not, does this mean that science is ultimately based on faith? The course is designed for students across the university; no prior knowledge of philosophy or science is required.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Mancosu. MWF 9-10, LeConte 1.

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.)

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Clarke. MWF 12-1, Stanley 105.

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.

98BC-1  Berkeley Connect. Ahmed-Buehler. M 5-6, Evans 5.

98BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Ahmed-Buehler. M 6-7, Evans 5.

100  Philosophical Methods. Warren. W 2-4, Evans 60.

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.

108  Contemporary Ethical Issues. Crockett. MWF 4-5, Moffitt 102.

This course will be devoted to in-depth discussion of a variety of problems in moral philosophy raised by real-life questions of individual conduct and social policy. Its contents will vary from occasion to occasion. Possible topics include philosophical problems posed by affirmative action, abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, terrorism, war, poverty, and climate change.

Note: As taught this semester, Philosophy 108 will satisfy the Ethics requirement.

110  Aesthetics. Noë. MWF 3-4, Barrows 170.

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.

117AC  Philosophy of Race, Ethnicity, and Citizenship. Crockett. MWF 1-2, Barrows 60.

This course explores philosophical questions of race, ethnicity, and citizenship, with special attention to the experiences of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, and indigenous peoples of the United States. Topics include the meaning of “race,” “ethnicity,” and “citizenship,” border control and immigration, reparations for past wrongs, discrimination and affirmative action, civic obligation and group solidarity, and the right to vote.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Martin. TuTh 12:30-2, McCone 141.

From the earliest point in our lives we mark a distinction between the social world of animate beings and the inanimate objects about us. The distinctions we make are fundamental to our ways of finding out about the world and responding to what we discover there. But do the distinctions we mark reflect ultimate differences in the nature of the world around us? These are the questions addressed in this course. We will be looking at some of the oldest and most fundamental questions about the mind: the nature of consciousness, knowledge of our own minds and of others’; physicalism and dualism; functionalism.

135  Theory of Meaning. Campbell. TuTh 9:30-11, Barrows 56.

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.

149  Special Topics in Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics: Nonclassical Logic. Holliday. TuTh 11-12:30, Dwinelle 88.

A logical and philosophical exploration of alternatives to the classical logic students learn in 12A. The focus will be on intuitionistic logic, as a challenger to classical logic for reasoning in mathematics, and quantum logic, as a challenger to classical logic for reasoning about the physical world. Prerequisite: 12A or equivalent.

153  Chinese Philosophy. Shun. TuTh 12:30-2, Wheeler 204.

The goal of the course is to introduce the three main traditions of thought in China – Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism – through a study of selected texts. We will begin with a study of early Chinese thought, with focus on Confucianism (Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi) and Daoism (Zhuangzi), though there will also be references to other schools of thought, including Moism (Mozi) and Yangism (Yang Zhu). We will then move on to a study of Neo-Daoist thought (Guo Xiang) and Chan (or Zen) Buddism (The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch), focusing on two representative thinkers/texts. While we will attend closely to the primary texts (in English translation), the emphasis is on philosophical ideas in the texts.

170  Descartes. Primus. TuTh 11-12:30, Barrows 56.

In this course, we will carefully work through Descartes’s Meditations, reading excerpts from the Objections and Replies and other works by Descartes (and some of his predecessors and contemporaries) along the way. Our aim will be to understand and assess Descartes’s views on such central topics as skepticism, certainty, truth, essences, substance, God, eternity, intellect, will, perception, and the special union of mind and body that is a human being.

Required texts: The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, Vols. 1-2. Translated by Cottingham. Stoothoff, and Murdoch. Published by Cambridge University Press. Other texts will be made available on bcourses.

178  Kant. Warren. TuTh 2-3:30, Barrows 56.

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 transcendental idealism and the contrast between appearances and things in themselves. Several short papers and two longer papers will be required.

189  Special Topics in Recent European Philosophy. Kaiser. M 9-12, Moses 234.

Later Heidegger: On the Essence of Art (Poetry), Technology, and Language

A study of key notions and texts from Heidegger’s later philosophy in light of critical challenges and other philosophical responses. We will work out the inner relations between art (poetry), technology, and language in key texts from Heidegger’s late philosophy (amongst these are Art and Space, What are Poets for?, The Thing, Question Concerning Technology, Hölderlin’s Earth and Sky, Dialogue on Language). In these texts, Heidegger argues for a “retrieval” of ancient Greek notions (Heraclitus’ fragments on “phusis,” “logos,” “polemos,” and “beauty”—harmonia aphanes—and the original sense of “techne”), as well as learning Eastern ways of thinking and experiencing. These themes are supposed to help us “unconceal,” “unlock,” and “free” us from our contemporary one-dimensional thinking. Art, poetry, and an ongoing interpretative engagement with Hölderlin’s law of “foreign and own” are revealed to be crucial for our path towards a “poetizing” thinking, ‘appropriation’, and eventual “releasement.”

Adorno’s ‘Parataxis’ takes aim at Heidegger’s ‘elucidation’ of Hölderlin’s poem ‘Remembrance’. And the importance of Heidegger’s later thoughts for Eco- Phenomenology, Eco-Feminism, and a proper understanding of Avant-garde art will also be thematized. A question to be addressed will be the challenge of the ‘Black Notebooks’

The essay collections Poetry, Language, Thought and Elucidations of Hölderlin’s Poetry by Martin Heidegger have been ordered for the course. Additional texts will be made available later on bCourses.

Enrollment is limited to 15 and by application only. Preference will be given to advanced Philosophy students or those who have already taken a course on Heidegger.

To apply, students should submit a brief statement (a few sentences) to the instructor via email ( ), explaining their interest in this seminar and their background in philosophy. Those accepted for the seminar will be notified and given their course enrollment code via email soon thereafter.

As taught this semester, Phil 189 may satisfy the more inclusive history requirement (which is: 153, 155, 156A, 160–188).

190  Proseminar: Fundamental Political Concepts. Sluga. F 2-5, Evans 35.

An examination of fundamental political concepts including those of politics, political realism, state, democracy, and populism. The reading material will include the manuscript of a new book provisionally entitled The Empire of Disorientation and related texts.

Note: As taught this semester, Philosophy 190 will satisfy the Ethics requirement.

198BC-1  Berkeley Connect. Gooding. Tu 5-6, Barrows 50.

198BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Gooding. Tu 6-7, Barrows 50.

198BC-3  Berkeley Connect. Klempner. W 5-6, Latimer 121.

198BC-4  Berkeley Connect. Klempner. W 6-7, Latimer 121.

Graduate seminars

200  First Year Graduate Seminar. Dasgupta/MacFarlane. W 10-12, Moses 234.

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Mental Causation. Campbell. Tu 2-4, Moses 234.

The mind-body problem can be framed in a number of different ways. The problem is standardly framed as a consequence of a demand for unity, or integration, in science:

(1) The view is that ideally, we will have a single integrated framework for explaining all that happens, perhaps a single set of axioms and boundary conditions from which all else can be derived. In these terms, the issue is whether, as panpsychists would have it, the fundamental axioms must include mention of the psychological as such. Or is it rather, as reductionists say, that the fundamental axioms can be stated in entirely physical terms, and such psychological truths as there are can be derived from those fundamental axioms together with definitions of the psychological in physical terms?

This way of framing the problem, though it is widespread, faces the objection that the demand for unification in science is here being overplayed. There are many reasons, some of which we shall cover in the class, for thinking we should have a pluralistic view of explanation in science generally. Indeed, physics itself seems to be pluralistic in its orientation.

We will set out the kind of pluralism implicit in causal modeling approaches to scientific explanation. When we reject unificationism, the mind-body problem, as it is usually framed, evaporates. But this does not of itself mean that we can forget about problems relating mind and body. The principal remaining problem arises when we distinguish between thinking of causation in terms of counterfactual dependence and thinking of causation in terms of mechanisms. There is no great difficulty in thinking about mind-brain causal relations in terms of counterfactual dependence. But as we shall see, when we consider physical-physical causation, and when we consider mental-mental causation, we seem to need, in addition to the conception of causation as counterfactual dependence, a conception of causation as mechanism, or process. The second formulation of the problem is:

(2) Can we make sense of the idea of causal mechanisms linking mental and physical? It seems impossible to do so, and this has classically been thought of as a principal form of the mind-body problem. This problem stays in play even on a pluralist picture.

I will argue that in the cases of mental-physical and physical-mental causation, we can make sense of causation without causal mechanisms. So this second way of framing the problem also evaporates.

This way of organizing the mind-body problem eliminates the role of mental-physical identities. Physicalists are sometimes inclined to argue, e.g., ‘let’s suppose that pain is C-fiber firing. After all since physicalism is true, some such identity must be true’. Dualists respond, ‘Since no such identity could be true, there must be two things, the mental and the physical’. We shall see, though, that property-identities really only make sense in the context of a mechanistic analysis of causation; with a property identity, one is trying to provide a fine analysis of how a particular mechanism operates. Outside the context of mechanistic explanation, we have no way of assessing the correctness of substantive property-identities.

We will review a wide range of literature on mental causation and the mind-body problem.

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Social Choice Theory for Philosophers and Logicians. Holliday. Th 2-4, Moses 234.

In this seminar, we will discuss proofs of various impossibility results in social choice theory, especially from a logician’s perspective, and we will assess the philosophical significance of these results and their assumptions. The seminar is aimed at graduate students working in areas in which social choice results have been invoked (e.g., political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of science, formal epistemology) who want to understand the philosophical import of these results, as well as students working in logic who want to see how logical methods can illuminate an important applied area. No previous exposure to social choice theory will be assumed.

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Arguments from Illusion. Martin. W 2-4, Moses 234.

Forty years ago, in ‘Conflicting Appearances’, Myles Burnyeat sought to provide a synoptic overview of the history of arguments from illusion, and the surprising persistence of this mode of debate in Western philosophy. One of Burnyeat’s targets was JL Austin, who had presented one of the most notorious attacks on the argument from illusion in Berkeley a quarter of a century before, the lectures posthumously published as Sense & Sensibilia.

Burnyeat agreed with Austin that arguments from illusion lack cogency. But he found lacking Austin’s preparedness to explain the persisting attractions of this trope.

Does Burnyeat’s diagnosis of the problem carry conviction, though?

Starting out from Burnyeat’s own discussions, we’ll look at examples of the arguments from conflicting appearances/argument from illusion from early Modern philosophy, to early Analytic, to more recent debates.

With Burnyeat, we’ll be concerned with what further assumptions might be in play, and what further costs derive from these inexplicit additional commitments.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Remnants of Contractualism: Consent, Reasonable Rejection, Aggregation and Risks. Munoz-Dardé. W 4-6, Moses 234.

This year the seminar will be organized around some contractualist themes in contemporary philosophy. The issues we are to address can be organized under four headings. First, the role of consent. Second, Scanlonian contractualism, in contrast to consequentialism. Third, the weight of numbers: Aren’t aggregative concerns intuitively compelling in certain social policy contexts? Does that show that we must move beyond a pure individualistic perspective to one in which consequential outcomes are part of the measure of justice? We’ll finish by considering how these questions bear on how to think of the imposition of risks on others.

More details on:

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Early Modern Theories of the Passions. Primus. Tu 4-6, Moses 234.

This seminar will focus on early modern discussions of the passions, otherwise known as “sentiments,” “affections,” “affects,” and “emotions.” Some of the questions we will ask include: What is the relation of passions to beliefs, judgments, perceptions, and sensations? Can passions or emotions be attributed to (non-human) animals? How might passions incite, sustain, or hinder action? How can passions be controlled or diminished? Do emotions sometime enhance, rather than derail, epistemic progress? How do we understand the emotional language that sometimes figures in theological discussions?

Readings will be drawn from works by Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Régis, Conway, Malebranche, Masham, Cordemoy, de la Forge, Astell, and others.

290-6  Graduate Seminar: Workshop in Law, Philosophy, and Political Theory. Wallace/Cohen. F 12-2, Boalt 141.

This course is a workshop for discussing work-in-progress in moral, political, and legal theory by invited scholars. The central aim is to enable 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 and perspectives–including economists, sociologists, and political scientists as well as journalists–who have strong normative interests or who speak to issues philosophers and theorists should know something about. This semester our theme is “free speech in the era of social media.”

The format of the course is as follows. For the sessions with guest presenters, lunch will be served starting at 12:00 noon; we’ll begin at 12:15 p.m. A designated commentator will lead off with a 15-minute comment on the paper. The presenter will have 5-10 minutes to respond and then we will open up the discussion to the group. The first part of the course will be open to non-enrolled students, faculty, and visitors who wish to participate in the workshop discussion. We’ll stop for a break at 2:00 p.m. and those not enrolled in the course will leave. Enrolled students will continue the discussion with the guest from 2:10 to 3:00 p.m.

Students enrolled or interested in enrolling should visit the bCourses site:

Schedule of Presentations:

August 24: Introduction

August 31: Seana Shiffrin, UCLA

September 7: Jennifer Rothman, Loyola University

September 14: Henry Brady, UC Berkeley

September 21: Heather Whitney, NYU

September 28: Ilya Somin, George Mason University

October 5: Robert Post, Yale University

October 12: Sigal Ben-Porath, University of Pennsylvania

October 19: Leslie Kendrick, University of Virginia

October 26: T. M. Scanlon, Harvard University

November 2: Erwin Chemerinsky, UC Berkeley

November 9: Tim Wu, Columbia University

November 16: Susan Brison, Dartmouth College

November 30: Conclusion

295  Dissertation Seminar. Warren. TBA, TBA.

Presentations by graduate students of dissertation research in progress.

375  Teaching Seminar. Clarke. F 3-4:30, Moses 234.

A hands-on training seminar for new philosophy GSIs that addresses both practical and theoretical issues.