The Dennes Room

Spring 2022

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality and Social Justice. Frick. MWF 12-1, TBA.

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?

7  Existentialism in Literature and Film. Novakovic. TuTh 9:30-11, TBA.

In this course, we will explore central themes in Existentialism as a postwar philosophical movement and how these themes are reflected in works of literature and film. Of special interest will be the relationship between social context and individual freedom. Included will be selections from Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, and Simone Weil.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Holliday. MWF 2-3, TBA.

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.

18  Confucius for Today. Shun. MWF 3-4, TBA.

The teachings of Confucius (6th to 5th century B.C.) have had a profound influence on Chinese and East Asian cultures, and have attracted significant interest throughout the world. In what ways are they still of relevance to life in the twenty-first century? The course will consider the contemporary relevance of Confucius’ teachings for a range of selected topics. The first three weeks will be devoted to an introduction to the historical background of Confucius’ teachings, the key terms in Confucian thought, and important themes in the Analects of Confucius. The remainder of the semester will be devoted to a range of topics related to contemporary life such as: family relations, etiquette and good manners, compassion, humility and modesty, confronting hardship and loss, death, anger, tranquility, learning and liberal education, as well as the idea of spirituality. In addition to the Analects of Confucius, we will read some contemporary works on related topics (including selected philosophical articles), and will also consider elaborations on Confucius’ ideas by later Confucians, including Mencius (4th century B.C.), Zhu Xi (1130-1200) and Wang Yangming (1472-1529), as well as (time permitting) related ideas from Buddhist and Daoist thought.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Primus. MWF 11-12, TBA.

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-2  Berkeley Connect. Khokhar. M 6-7, TBA.

98BC-1  Berkeley Connect. Khokhar. M 5-6, TBA.

100  Philosophical Methods. Lee. Tu 4-6, TBA.

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 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

107  Moral Psychology. Bailey. MWF 10-11, TBA.

An investigation of central issues in moral psychology, such as: free will, weakness of will, self-deception, moral motivation, emotions, virtues, moral education.

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

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.

121  Moral Questions of Data Science. Kolodny. MWF 9-10, TBA.

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.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Lee. TuTh 12:30-2, TBA.

This course will focus on the philosophy and science of conscious experience. What is consciousness? Can it be explained scientifically, and if so, what would a mature science of it look like? Optimistic philosophers and scientists have proposed theories of consciousness, while pessimists argue that there are fundamental philosophical obstacles to achieving a fully satisfactory theory. We will consider a number of proposed theories, and assess some of the alleged obstacles, including the notorious “hard problem” of consciousness.

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

An advanced introduction to the philosophy of language. We will consider questions like: What is distinctive of language as a system of representation and communication? In virtue of what can pieces of language be true or false? How do we model the way the meaning of a whole sentence depends on the meanings of its parts? What is information? How can we model its transfer in conversation? How does language-specific knowledge interact with general reasoning in communication and action? How do meaning and communication depend on context? What is it, in general, to know a language? What kind of limits, if any, does language place on our conception of reality?

This should not be your first or second course in philosophy. Phil 12A is strongly recommended.

140A  Intermediate Logic. Warren. MWF 2-3, TBA.

Major concepts, results, and techniques of modern logic. Basic set theoretic tools. Model theoretic treatment of propositional and first-order logic (completeness, compactness, Lowenheim-Skolem). Philosophical implications of these results.

154  Arabic Philosophy. Clarke. TuTh 11-12:30, TBA.

An examination of philosophy in the Islamic world from the 9th to the 12th centuries CE, covering topics in metaphysics, natural philosophy, epistemology, and the philosophy of religion.

161  Aristotle. MacFarlane. TuTh 11-12:30, TBA.

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 a remarkably wide-ranging philosopher, this means that we will cover a wide variety of philosophical topics.

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

170  Descartes. Crockett. MWF 10-11, TBA.

181  Hegel. Novakovic. TuTh 12:30-2, TBA.

This course will be an introduction to Hegel’s philosophy. We will read selections from the Phenomenology of Spirit, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, Lectures on the Philosophy of History, and others. Hegel is a notoriously difficult writer, so one aim of this course is to teach you how to read Hegel, how to interpret his texts so that you can do it on your own. Another aim is to address central questions in his work: What is his “dialectical” method? What are the relationships between consciousness, self-consciousness, reality, and recognition? Why is he so critical of morality? Why does he consider history to be a rational process? What does a fully rational society look like? And why are the family, the market, and the state essential institutions in such a society?

H196  Senior Seminar. Ginsborg. W 2-4, TBA.

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 Hannah Ginsborg ( 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 Hannah Ginsborg ( for an enrollment code, but do not need to give any additional information about courses or thesis topic.

198BC-1  Berkeley Connect. Paris. Tu 5-6, TBA.

198BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Paris. Tu 6-7, TBA.

198BC-3  Berkeley Connect. Dolan. W 5-6, TBA.

198BC-4  Berkeley Connect. Dolan. W 6-7, TBA.

Graduate seminars

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Individual, Social, and Ethical Choice. Holliday. M 11-1, TBA.

In this seminar, we will discuss axiomatic theories of rational individual choice and social choice and their connections with ethical theories. For individual choice, we will discuss axioms on choice functions, preference relations, and utility representations. For social choice, we will discuss axiomatic characterizations of utilitarianism, Rawlsian leximin, and other social welfare functionals, as well as the status of interpersonal comparisons of utility and welfarist assumptions.

Prerequisites: 12A (or equivalent) or consent of the instructor.

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Art, Philosophy, and Entanglement. Noë. Tu 12-2, TBA.

“At the very beginning of history we find the extraordinary monuments of Paleolithic art, a standing problem to all theories of human development, and a delicate test of their truth. (Collingwood 1924, 52)” Collingwood wrote these words almost a hundred years ago. His challenge is clear. If we’ve been making art since the dawn of our history, then art is not merely a product of that history, but one of its conditions. In this seminar I encourage us to take this challenge seriously. Art is a not an add-on, a mere cultural extra, but a basic and central part of what makes culture possible. “Art,” as Collingwood also wrote, “is the primary and fundamental activity of the mind.” (1925, 14) This is at once a statement about art, and a statement about the mind: art is not a late-addition to the human repertoire, and the work of art, its making and uses, belongs to our basic character as human beings.

This idea — exploring it, testing it — is at the heart of a new book — unpublished, still in progress — by Alva Noë called The Entanglement: Art Before Nature. The first part of the seminar will be devoted to working through this text. In the second part of the class we will turn to some of this work’s still unfinished business. Among the key questions we will ask: What does the entanglement of art and life, explored in the book, imply about the nature of nature itself? What are the prospects for scientific psychology? Authors we may read in this second part of the course may include Hubert Dreyfus and Charles Taylor, Thomas Kuhn, Merleau-Ponty, and Hilary Putnam..

290-3  Graduate Seminar. Clarke. Tu 2-4, TBA.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Sense and Sensibility: the British Moralists. Bailey. M 2-4, TBA.

Readings will cover debates about the nature, sources, and authority of morality in early modern Britain (and, to some extent, beyond), with a focus on the sentimentalist tradition. Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, and Smith will be our primary authors, but we will also read bits of Mandeville, Balguy, and Sophie De Grouchy. Will satisfy the history requirement, given the focus on Hume’s moral theory. Focal questions to include: How does the notion of moral sense evolve over the course of the 18th century? Is the idea of a moral sense or senses ultimately defensible? Do the British moralists successfully respond to the “morality critics” who preceded them? Is sentimentalism compatible with radical criticism of contemporary mores?

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. Sluga. Th 12-2, TBA.

Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, published just over 100 years ago, remains a key text of 20th century philosophy. The book has exerted a significant influence on the development of early analytic philosophy (especially Russell and the Vienna Circle), it has fascinated artists and writers, and it is essential for understanding Wittgenstein’s own later philosophy. Its dense formulations call, however, for close study. The seminar aims at a systematic reading of the book from its metaphysical beginnings, through its theory of representation and its account of logic, to its devastating concluding reflections on ethics and philosophy.

290-6  Graduate Seminar: Topics in Kant’s Theoretical Philosophy. Warren. Th 2-4, TBA.

290-7  Graduate Seminar: Workshop in Law, Philosophy & Political Theory. Cohen/Grewal. F 12-3, TBA.

295  Dissertation Seminar. Primus. TBA, TBA.