The Dennes Room

Spring 2019

Undergraduate courses

R1B  Reading and Composition Through Philosophy. Khatchirian. TuTh 2-3:30, Barrows 50.

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. Wallace. MWF 10-11, Hearst Field Annex A1.

An introduction to some central issues in moral and political philosophy. The course will focus on issues of objectivity, disagreement, and pluralism in the domain of value. Questions to be addressed include: Are there objective moral standards, or are moral and other values relative? What are some specific moral requirements (relating to killing, sex, and helping people in need)? What is involved in leading a meaningful human life? Can morality contribute to making one’s life good? What makes a society just, and worthy of our allegiance? What are the implications of pluralism for social tolerance? When and why should we tolerate moral and political views that we find abhorrent?

Texts will be taken from contemporary sources, and will be made available on the bCourses site for the class.

3  The Nature of Mind. Campbell. MWF 9-10, Stanley 105.

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.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Holliday. TuTh 12:30-2, Li Ka Shing 245.

Logical reasoning is essential in most areas of human inquiry. The discipline of Logic treats logical reasoning itself as an object of study. Logic has been one of the main branches of philosophy since Aristotle; it revolutionized the foundations of mathematics in the 20th century; and it has been called “the calculus of computer science,” with applications in many areas. Logic has also played an important role in the investigation of language and the mind, as the basis for formal semantics in linguistics and automated reasoning in artificial intelligence. Today, Logic is an interdisciplinary subject with many applications.

PHILOS 12A is intended as a first course in logic for students with no previous exposure to the subject. The course treats symbolic logic. Students will learn to formalize reasoning in symbolic languages with precisely defined meanings and precisely defined rules of inference. Symbolic logic is by nature a mathematical subject, but the course does not presuppose any prior coursework in mathematics—only an openness to mathematical reasoning.

The Spring 2019 installment of 12A will concentrate on three systems of symbolic logic: propositional logic (also known as sentential logic); syllogistic logic; and predicate logic (also known as first-order logic). Propositional logic formalizes reasoning involving “propositional connectives” such as ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘not’, ‘if…then’, and ‘if and only if’, as these words are used in mathematics. Syllogistic logic formalizes reasoning involving basic patterns of “quantification” such as ‘all whales are mammals’ or ‘some animals are carnivores’. Finally, predicate logic formalizes reasoning involving a greater variety of patterns of quantification, plus the attribution of properties to objects, both of which are on display in a statement such as ’for every number that is prime, there is a larger number that is prime’.

Students from philosophy, mathematics, computer science, and linguistics will find important connections between the symbolic logic covered in 12A and their other coursework.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Primus. MWF 12-1, Stanley 105.

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.

84  Sophomore Seminar: Voting: The Logic of Democracy. Holliday. Tu 10:30-11:30, Moses 234.

Some of the most important election results in history have turned on something most of us take for granted: the method we use to determine the election result based on voters’ preferences. In a recent election in Massachusetts, a candidate in a 10-person primary race won the election with only 21% of the votes. Is this a rational way to elect our leaders? Are there better ways? These are among the questions addressed in Social Choice Theory, an interdisciplinary field investigated by economists, philosophers, political scientists, logicians, and mathematicians. In this seminar, we will explore questions of social choice, in particular of voting theory, from a philosophical and logical perspective. No previous acquaintance with these topics will be assumed. The only prerequisite is openness to rigorous philosophical and mathematical reasoning about questions of social concern.

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

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

100  Philosophical Methods. Dasgupta. Tu 4-6, 60 Barrows.

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 foundations of ethics. 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.

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 Western philosophical approaches and non-Western traditions (Confucianism, and to some extent Daoism and Buddhism). It will also draw on the writings of other literary or intellectual figures (e.g. Tolstoy, Einstein, Schweitzer), some recent psychological literature (e.g., empathy-altruism hypothesis vs. self-other merging), as well as alternative approaches to the prevalent mode of ethical reflection (e.g., Iris Murdoch, Michael Oakeshott, feminist ethics). Topics to be covered include: pride and humility; anger, resentment and forgiveness; compassion, empathy and sympathy; death, acceptance, and detachment; 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.

115  Political Philosophy. Sluga. TuTh 9:30-11, Wheeler 204.

An examination of fundamental political issues and concepts drawing on both classical and contemporary writings.

121  Moral Questions of Data Science. Kolodny. TuTh 8-9:30, Barrows 56.

This course explores, from a philosophical perspective, ethical questions arising from collecting, drawing inferences from, and acting on data, especially when these activities are automated and on a large scale. Topics include: bias, fairness, discrimination, interpretability, privacy, paternalism, freedom of speech, and democracy.

122  Theory of Knowledge. Holliday. TuTh 2-3:30, Wheeler 204.

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; the problem of induction; and attempts to give an account of how hypotheses are confirmed by evidence.

125  Metaphysics. Dasgupta. TuTh 12:30-2, Barrows 56.

Metaphysics is sometimes said to be the study of three questions: Why does the world exist? What does it contain? What is the place of human beings in the world? We will address all three questions. We’ll start with the first question, of why the world exists, focusing on whether there could be such a thing as a scientific answer to this question. We’ll then move on to second question, of what the world contains. At a very high level of generality, one might say that the world contains matter, distributed throughout space, and changing over time. We’ll examine these three components of the world—space, time, and matter—in some detail. Then we’ll turn to the third question, the place of human beings in the world. Here we’ll focus the discussion around the idea that human beings are, in effect, lumps of matter running complex computer programs in their brains. This raises a number of issues that are usefully approached through the lens of artificial intelligence. First, we’ll look at the relation between a human being and its body. Can one survive without one’s body? Could one upload one’s mind onto a computer system and “live” online? Second, we’ll look at the metaphysics of free will and determinism. Could an algorithm ever count as making a “free” choice? If not, in what sense—if any—is a human being any different? Finally, we’ll look at the relation between appearance and reality. Can a “simulated reality” be counted as real, or is it just mere appearance? If the latter, in what sense is the world as represented by our ordinary senses of sight, smell, etc, any different?

133  Philosophy of Language. Ginsborg. MWF 2-3, Wheeler 204.

This course is an introduction to central topics in the philosophy of language. These include: the nature of linguistic meaning, the relation of meaning to truth and reference, what it is to know a language, the relation of language to thought, pragmatic aspects of linguistic communication, and skepticism about linguistic meaning. We’ll read a number of classic texts in the field, including work by Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein and J.L.Austin, as well as some more recent sources.

Some previous background in philosophy is required, as well as Philosophy 12A (Introductory Logic) or equivalent.

140B  Intermediate Logic. Mancosu. TuTh 9:30-11, Barrows 56.

This course covers some of the most important metalogical results that are of interest to philosophers. It is divided into three parts. The first two parts are mathematical in style whereas the last part is philosophical. In the first part we will cover the basic notions of computability theory and study in detail the Turing machine approach to computability. The second part of the course will give a detailed presentation of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and related results. Finally, we will look at the philosophical relevance of these logical results to various areas of philosophy. Prerequisite: 12A (or equivalent) or permission from the instructor. Course requirements: exercise sets approximately every ten days (counting for 60% of final grade) and a philosophical paper due at the end of the semester (40% of final grade).

142  Philosophical Logic. MacFarlane. TuTh 12:30-2, Wheeler 204.

“Philosophical logic,” as understood here, includes both (a) the philosophical investigation of the fundamental concepts of logic and (b) the deployment of logical methods in the service of philosophical ends. Topics will include quantification, conditionals, modal logic, logical consequence, intuitionistic logic, relevance logic, the relation of logic and reasoning, and vagueness. Students will be expected to learn technical material and to engage with issues in the philosophy of logic. Assignments will include both problem sets and papers. This course is designed for students who enjoyed Philosophy 12A and want to think more about how logic might be extended beyond standard first-order predicate logic, what might motivate alternative logics, and how debates about basic logical rules might be conducted.

Prerequisites: Philosophy 12A or equivalent, and at least one other course in philosophy. The course covers some technical material, but knowledge of logic beyond 12A will not be assumed.

Books: We will use a new textbook by Professor MacFarlane (which will be made available in manuscript) and a course reader.

161  Aristotle. Clarke. TuTh 11-12:30, Wheeler 204.

An in-depth survey of the philosophy of Aristotle. We will study selections from each of the major works. The course divides into four units: (1) The Organon; (2) The Philosophy of Nature; (3) Metaphysics; (4) Ethics and Political Philosophy.

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.

184  Nietzsche. Kaiser. MW 6:30-8, Wheeler 204.

The course will focus on key ideas in Nietzsche’s philosophy, such as his theory of drives, perspectivism, analysis of nihilism, revaluation of values, ‘will to power’, art, and the ‘affirmation of life’. We will discuss, among other works, The Birth of Tragedy, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Genealogy of Morals, and extensive excerpts from Nietzsche’s late notes.

190  Proseminar: Feminism and Philosophy. Crockett. MW 5-6:30, Dwinelle 279.

This seminar will be an examination of various topics at the intersection of feminist theory and philosophy. We will begin by considering some conceptual questions in feminist theory, such as: What is feminism? What is sexism and oppression? What is gender? With this background in hand we will then explore some of the contributions that feminist philosophy has made to areas of traditional philosophical interest, especially epistemology, value theory and ontology. Readings will be drawn primarily from the writings of contemporary scholars.

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.

Enrollment is limited to 15 and by application only. Preference will be given to advanced Philosophy students.

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.

196  Senior Seminar. Kolodny. M 12-2, 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 ( 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. Klempner. Tu 5-6, Dwinelle 134.

198BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Klempner. Tu 6-7, Dwinelle 134.

198BC-3  Berkeley Connect. Gooding. W 5-6, Dwinelle 134.

198BC-4  Berkeley Connect. Gooding. W 6-7, Dwinelle 134.

Graduate seminars

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Hellenistic Epistemology and Philosophy of Mind. Long. Th 2-4, Moses 234.

In this seminar we will explore the similarities and differences between Stoic and Epicurean epistemology and philosophy of mind. Both schools, in contrast with Plato and Aristotle, were rigorously physicalist in their accounts of the mind and its contents, and in setting forth empirical “criteria of truth”. But they differed strongly in their accounts of perception, verification, and mental faculties. To set the scene, I propose to begin with challenges to knowledge issuing from Presocratic thinkers and the negative dogmatism attributed to Pyrrho.

Much of the primary material for the class is to be found in A.A. Long and D.N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, chapters 1, 14-18, 39-42, 53 (Vol. 1 contains translations and commentary); Vol. 2 the Greek and Latin texts). This material will be supplemented with passages from Lucretius’s Epicurean poem, On the nature of things, and from some of the Stoic Epictetus’s Discourses. For general introduction to the topic see the chapters on epistemology, sections 7-9, and on psychology, sections 16 and 17, in K. Algra et al ed., The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy.

Students who are particularly interested in early modern philosophy (e.g. Locke and Spinoza) will have the opportunity to bring them up in discussion or in the seminar paper.)

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Visual Experience. Noë. W 2-4, Moses 234.

The topic of this seminar is the nature of visual experience and its objects. The course will be organized around thinking through the place of pictures and pictoriality in our theorizing about vision.

In part 1 we will consider thinkers who advance some version of a picture conception of seeing (Leonardo, Marr, Jesse Prinz, various neuroscientists) and also those who criticize picture conceptions (Gibson, Dennett, Noë).

In part II, we will turn to alternative accounts of visual experience and its relation to pictoriality. We will read Merleau-Ponty, and perhaps also Dretske, Siegel, and Block, among others.

In the final part of the course I will present new work advancing the idea that vision is pictorial after all, but in a way that has not been previously realized. Among the upshots of this view are: 1) Part of what explains widespread disagreement among philosophers and cognitive scientists about the nature of visual experience is that visual experience, surprising as this sounds, has no stable nature; 2) In particular, visual experience is not a biological phenomenon; when it comes to visual experience, biology and culture are entangled; 3) The problem of visual experience is an aesthetic problem. This last point is both novel and controversial and to understand it we must investigate not only vision and visual experience, but also the nature of the aesthetic and the problem of art.

This is a provisional description of the seminar. I am continuing to refine the syllabus.

This seminar is for philosophy graduate students. However, I welcome students of different levels and from other departments provided they have suitable background. Interested students should plan on attending the first meeting.

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Michel Foucault: The order of things. Sluga/Mancosu. Tu 4-6, Moses 234.

An in-depth reading of Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things within the context of his early work.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Topics in Kant’s Metaphysics and Epistemology. Warren. W 4-6, Moses 234.

The Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, which Kant wrote in 1786, applies the metaphysical and epistemological doctrines of the Critique of Pure Reason in support of a broadly Newtonian physics. We will focus on such topics as the purpose of the Metaphysical Foundations and its account of the need for a grounding for natural science, the relation between the Metaphysical Foundations and the Critique, the role of mathematics in natural science, the contrast between relative and absolute motion, the status of absolute space, the notions of substance and causation, the account of force and the contrast between the mechanical and dynamical theory of matter, and the notions of inertia and of the communication of motion. Alongside the primary texts by Kant (including selections from the Critique and the Prolegomena, and some pre-critical work), we will be reading a number of pieces of the relevant secondary literature.

290-6  Workshop in Law, Philosophy, & Political Theory. Cohen. F 12-3, Boalt 115.

This course is a workshop for discussing work-in-progress in moral, political, and legal theory. The workshop creates a space for students to engage directly with philosophers, political theorists, and legal scholars working on normative questions toward the goal of fostering critical thinking about concepts of value and developing analytical thinking and writing skills. Another aim is to bring together people from different disciplines and perspectives who have strong normative interests or who speak to issues philosophers and theorists should know something about. In Spring 2018, the theme will be democracy. The list of invited speakers is below.

For Spring 2019, the workshop will focus on the themes of sovereignty and human rights.

The format of the course is 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 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 and those not enrolled in the course will leave. Enrolled students will continue the discussion with the guest from 2:10 to 3:00.

This is a cross-listed/room-shared course. Law Students enroll through the Law School

(Law 210.2B), the Philosophy Department (Philosophy 290-6), or the Political Science Department (PS 211). The first class will meet on Friday, January 25

Schedule: Jan. 25: Intro Week Feb 1: Aila Matanock (UC Berkeley: Political Science) Feb. 8: Saira Mohamed (UC Berkeley: Law) Feb 15: Steve Krasner (Stanford: Political Science) Feb 22: David Dyzenhaus (Toronto: Law and Philosophy) March 1: Margaret Moore (Queen’s University: Philosophy) March 8: Jenny Martinez (Stanford: Law) March 15: Sam Moyn (Yale: Law and History) March 22: Jennifer Pitts (Chicago: Political Science) April 5: Quentin Skinner (Queen Mary London: History) April 12: John Tasioulas (KCL: Law, Philosophy, and Politics) April 19: Adom Getachew (Chicago: Political Science) April 26: Jeanne Morefield (Whitman: Politics) May 3: Evan Fox-Decent (McGill: Law)

Note: The class will be meeting in Boalt Hall 115 January 25th through April 19th.

From April 26th through May 3, the class will meet in 202 Barrows.

295  Dissertation Seminar. Warren. TBA, TBA.

Presentations by graduate students of dissertation research in progress.