Spring 2023

Undergraduate courses

R1B  Reading and Composition Through Philosophy. Crockett. TuTh 3:30-5:00, Dwinelle 89.

2  Individual Morality and Social Justice. Wallace. MWF 2-3, Dwinelle 145.

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 1-2, Lewis 100.

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. Mancosu. MWF 9-10, Physics 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 explicate 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 to show 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.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Primus. MWF 12-1, Hearst Annex A1.

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. Dolan. Tu 5-6, Evans 75.

98BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Dolan. Tu 6-7, Evans 75.

100  Philosophical Methods. Warren. W 4-6, Dwinelle 219.

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.

104  Ethical Theories. Wallace. MWF 10-11, Social Sci 56.

This course offers a survey of some of the main systematic approaches to issues in moral philosophy. We will look at several exemplary texts from the modern history of the subject (by Hobbes, Hume, Sidgwick, and Kant), as well as influential work by important contemporary philosophers (including Anscombe, Foot, Korsgaard, Railton, Scheffler, Wallace, Williams, and Wolf). Issues to be discussed include the following: What is it that distinguishes morality from other sets of requirements (e.g. those of etiquette or law or self-interest)? Why should we care about complying with moral demands? What is the relation between the right and the good (both the good of the agent, and the impersonal good)? Is there anything interesting that we can say, in general terms, about what makes actions morally right or wrong? Can the phenomenon of moral obligation be made sense of in the context of modern cultural and intellectual ideas?

107  Moral Psychology. Bailey. TuTh 12:30-2, Dwinelle 219.

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

126  Philosophy of Physics. Rubenstein. MWF 1-2, Dwinelle 88.

This course is an introduction to various philosophical issues which arise in physics, concerning the nature of motion, laws, forces, space, time, and probability. The first half of the course will be concerned with classical mechanics; the second half will introduce special relativity and quantum mechanics.

Questions to be discussed include: Are there instantaneous velocities? Are the laws of physics true, or are they just predictively useful approximations? Are forces like gravity real, or are they just mathematically convenient fictions? Is Newtonian mechanics really deterministic? Is space a thing (and what would that even mean)? What makes time different from space? In what sense does time have a direction? Is the present special? Does time ‘flow’, and if so, how can this be explained? Does quantum mechanics teach us that the world is fundamentally indeterministic? Or that there are many parallel worlds? Or that space and time are an illusion?

As taught this semester, Phil 126, can satisfy group A of the Epistemology/Metaphysics requirement.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Lee. TuTh 2-3:30, Dwinelle 219.

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.

134  Form and Meaning. Yalcin. TuTh 9:30-11, Social Sci 60.

As taught this semester, Philosophy 134 will satisfy Group D of the Theory of Knowledge/Epistemology/Metaphysics requirement.

How is the meaning of a whole sentence determined by the meanings of its parts, and by its structure? This question is addressed in empirical semantic theories for natural language. The character and content of such theories has been a central concern both of the philosophy of language and of recent linguistics, and it is the central focus of this course. Students will become familiar with truth-conditional semantics for natural language in the model-theoretic tradition stemming from the classic work of Frege and Tarski and developed by Montague, Davidson, Lewis, and others. We will investigate the proper treatment of predicates, modifiers, quantifiers, modals, conditionals, names, descriptions, and attitudes within this kind of approach to linguistic meaning. Along this the way we will: develop a sense of what it means for a semantic theory to be compositional; ask how debates within a compositional semantic theory interact with foundational questions in the philosophy of language; and develop a conception of how natural language semantics relates to syntax, to pragmatics, and to psychological theories of human cognition.

Philosophy 12A (introduction to logic) is a prerequisite to this course.

142  Philosophical Logic. MacFarlane. TuTh 11-12:30, Social Sci 56.

We will think about the limitations of, presuppositions of, and alternatives to classical first-order predicate logic, focusing on the following questions: Are there quantificational idioms that cannot be expressed with the familiar universal and existential quantifiers? How can logic be extended to capture modal notions like necessity and obligation? Does the material conditional adequately capture the meaning of ‘if’—and if not, what are the alternatives? Should logical consequence be understood in terms of models or in terms of proofs? Can one intelligibly question the validity of basic logical principles like Modus Ponens or Double Negation Elimination? Is the fact that classical logic validates the inference from a contradiction to anything a flaw, and if so, how can logic be modified to repair it? How, exactly, is logic related to reasoning? Must classical logic be revised in order to be applied to vague language, and if so how? The course requires both problem sets and a philosophical paper. Prerequisite: Philosophy 12A.

144  Social Choice Theory. Holliday. MWF 11-12, Wheeler 222.

Individuals in a group often have conflicting preferences between alternative courses of action, e.g., concerning the choice of a leader for the group, the choice of public policies, and so on. Moreover, actions often affect individuals differently: some may gain while others may lose, and the magnitudes of gains and losses may be unequal for different individuals. These observations lead to two of the basic questions of Social Choice Theory. First, what are good methods of group decision making in the face of conflicting preferences? Second, can we evaluate the overall social welfare of some alternative course of action in terms of the welfare of each individual in the group under that alternative?

In this class, we will study methods of voting as answers to the first question and methods of utility aggregation as answers to the second. Social Choice Theory assesses these methods using precise criteria or “axioms” that aim to capture aspects of fairness, equality, efficiency, etc. Logical reasoning is used to prove the compatibility or incompatibility of various criteria, as well as to characterize a voting or aggregation method as the unique method satisfying some criteria. Students should be comfortable with rigorous logical reasoning at the level of Philosophy 12A (Introduction to Logic).

Topics concerning voting will include: arguments for and against majority rule in two-candidate elections, including May’s Theorem; Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem; voting methods including Plurality, Instant Runoff, Borda, and Condorcet methods; the Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem on strategic voting; Sen’s Liberal Paradox for preferences and rights; alternatives to preferential voting, including approval voting; probabilistic voting methods or “lottocracy.” Topics concerning social welfare evaluation will include: individual utility theory; interpersonal comparisons of utility; Harsanyi’s Theorems; aggregation methods including utilitarianism, Rawlsian leximin, prioritarianism, Nash’s bargaining solution, sufficientarianism; critiques of welfarist approaches to social choice.

As taught this semester, Phil 144 satisfies the elective requirement for the logic minor.

146  Philosophy of Mathematics. Mancosu. MWF 12-1, Wheeler 102.

This is an introduction to the classics of philosophy of mathematics with emphasis on the debates on the foundations of mathematics. Topics to be covered: infinitist theorems in seventeenth century mathematics; the foundations of the Leibnizian differential calculus and Berkeley’s ‘Analyst’; Kant on pure intuition in arithmetic and geometry; the arithmetization of analysis (Bolzano, Dedekind); Frege’s logicism; the emergence of Cantorian set theory; Zermelo’s axiomatization of set theory; Hilbert’s program; Russell’s logicism; Brouwer’s intuitionism; Gödel’s incompleteness theorems.

Prerequisites: Phil 12A or equivalent.

161  Aristotle. Clarke. TuTh 9:30-11, Dwinelle 219.

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

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

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

170  Descartes. Crockett. MWF 3-4, Dwinelle 219.

Philosophy 170

Fall 2020

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room 170 Descartes Crockett MWF 11-12 Wheeler 102 An intensive introduction to Descartes’s views on physics, metaphysics and epistemology through examination of Descartes’ early works on method, physics and physiology. This includes an in-depth study of the Meditations, focusing on both Descartes’ epistemological project and his anti-scholastic metaphysics supplemented by readings from the Objections and Replies, the Principles, and several important pieces of secondary literature. Issues discussed include the method of doubt, the Cartesian circle, Descartes’ mode of presentation in the Meditations, the creation and ontological status of the eternal truths, the status of the human being, the nature of substance, mind-body dualism and Descartes’ physics as presented in the Principles.

190  Proseminar: Hannah Arendt. Kaiser. Tu 4-7, Moses 234.

This seminar will focus on Hannah Arendt’s later (and more ‘philosophical’) writings. We will analyze her understanding of action, speech, and language, as they relate to her conception of the ‘political’, understood as ‘the common space of appearance’. Only within the dynamic intangible ‘web’ of human relationships can we disclose ourselves to others as distinct and unique. Moreover, the revelatory quality of action and speech displays itself in true togetherness, a theme developed in Arendt’s major work The Human Condition.

Though initially the emphasis is on action and speech in their revolutionary potential as ‘new beginnings’ within a participatory political context, Arendt also worked out key concepts such as freedom, will, responsibility, and truth within their wider moral and historical horizons. Special attention was paid to the role of thinking and the capacity for judgment in her phenomenological analysis of a life increasingly endangered by ‘world and (technological) earth-alienation’, totalitarianism, violence, and last not least ‘the banality’ of evil: Amor mundi (love of the world) needs ‘thinking without banisters’ as much as reflective judgment based upon a sensus communis if despair is not to outrun hope, especially in ‘dark’ or ‘crisis’-stricken times. Thus thinking, willing, and judging figure prominently in her later celebrated lectures, essays, and most of all the (unfinished) sequel to her earlier book on the vita activa, The Life of the Mind.

Seminar discussions will build on a close reading of these later works and some of Arendt’s most influential shorter essays. But we will also trace the impact on Arendt’s thinking of other philosophers, including Aristotle, Augustine, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Jaspers, Merleau-Ponty, and Wittgenstein. A discussion of the relevance of Arendt’s seminal work for a broad range of contemporary philosophical movements (including feminist philosophy) will conclude the seminar.

As taught this semester, Phil 190 may satisfy the more inclusive history requirement (which is: 153, 155, 156A, 160–188).

190  Proseminar: Ethics and the Environment. Crockett. MW 6:30-8, Dwinelle 225.

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.

Since this is a seminar, the expectation is that participants will come to class prepared to discuss in a respectful and collaborative way the ideas and arguments expressed in the readings.

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.

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

H196  Senior Seminar: A Collaborative Writing Workshop. Kolodny. M 12-2, Moses 234.

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 Niko Kolodny (kolodny@berkeley.edu) for an enrollment code, but do not need to give any additional information about courses or thesis topic.

198BC-1  Berkeley Connect. Paris. W 5-6, Dwinelle 279.

198BC-2  Berkeley Connect. Paris. W 6-7, Dwinelle 263.

Graduate seminars

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Topics in Kant’s Theoretical Philosophy. Warren. Th 12-2, Moses 234.

This semester we will discuss Kant’s theory of the categories. This topic, which is central to Kant’s metaphysics and epistemology, will be examined by focusing on both primary literature (selections from the Critique of Pure Reason, the Prolegomena, Kant’s Lectures on Metaphysics, and some pre-Critical work), as well as some of the important secondary literature (by Henry Allison, Béatrice Longuenesse. Klaus Reich, and others). The questions we will consider include the following: What are the categories? What does it mean to say that, for Kant, they have their origin in the forms of judgment? Why does Kant think that the use of the categories needs to be justified, and how does he propose to do this? What is the relation between categories and self-consciousness or apperception? What does Kant mean by claiming that the categories are concepts of an object?

The seminar is intended for students who have already had a course on the Critique of Pure Reason.

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Objectivity. Dasgupta. M 2-4, Moses 234.

This seminar will examine various conceptions of objectivity as they pertain to issues in metaphysics, epistemology, meaning, and ethics. These issues include whether the world has an objective, perspectival-independent nature; whether there are objectively correct and incorrect methods by which to form beliefs or achieve scientific consensus; whether utterances (or thoughts) have meanings (or contents) independent of their interpretations; and whether there are objectively correct and incorrect ways to live. While these are a disparate collection of topics, one aim of the seminar is to look at whether and how conceptions of objectivity in one domain bear on those in others. Readings will be tailored to the interests of seminar participants but could include selections from Paul Boghossian, Heather Douglas, Matti Eklund, Hartry Field, Christine Korsgaard, Helen Longino, Cheryl Misak, Hilary Putnam, Richard Rorty, Ted Sider, and Bernard Williams.

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Plato’s Parmenides. Clarke. Tu 12-2, Moses 234.

A close reading of Plato’s Parmenides. The dialogue is traditionally divided into two parts. In the first, a young Socrates presents a theory of forms reminiscent of the theory found in the Phaedo and Republic. This theory is then subjected to criticism at the hands of Parmenides, who raises a series of problems for Socrates’ attempts to explain how these forms relate to perceptible things. In the second part, Parmenides leads another young interlocutor (‘Aristotle’) through a labyrinthine dialectical exercise, generating what has been described as ‘perhaps the best collection of antinomies ever made’. In this seminar we will pay special attention to the question of the dialogue’s overall unity, as well as considering the significance of the frame and Plato’s characterizations of the dramatis personae. Philosophical themes to be discussed include the metaphysics of universals and particulars, unity and plurality, parts and wholes, place and time. We will read the dialogue in the English translation by Gill and Ryan, alongside a selection of modern secondary literature.

290-4  Graduate Seminar–Political Philosophy: The case for political realism vs. political moralism. Sluga. W 12-2, Moses 234.

In his late writings Bernard Williams sought to make a case for political realism as against a political moralism he identified with Kant, Rawls, and Habermas. But what is political realism? The seminar will explore this question through reference to Williams’ In the Beginning was the Deed and Truth and Truthfulness. We will also be looking at writings by Raymond Geuss, Michel Foucault, John Dunn, Ci Jiwei, and a few others.

290-5  Graduate Seminar: Causation. Campbell. M 10-12, Moses 234.

One main question of the seminar will be whether we can think of causation as one and the same phenomenon as it relates to the psychological life and as it relates to physical phenomena. That is, is causation the same thing when we’re talking about mental causation as it is when we’re talking about physical causation?

We’ll review a number of models of causation, including interventionist, mechanistic and process models. We’ll look at whether these models can be applied equally well to mental and to physical interactions. And we’ll look at the contrast between general causation (‘credit squeezes cause unemployment’) and singular causation (‘her employer’s inability to borrow money cost Sally her job’).

Finally, we’ll look at how ordinary causal thinking plays a part in (a) our ability to think about time, including the distinctively human ability to think in terms of linear time, (b) ordinary moral or practical thinking – how causal considerations play a role in the trolley problem, for example, and (c) our understanding of natural languages.

290-6  Graduate Seminar: Sellars. MacFarlane. Th 2-4, Moses 234.

Wilfrid Sellars memorably said that the aim of philosophy is “to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.” We will try to understand his attempt to do that, reading a selection of his classic papers from the 1950s and 60s. Among other topics, we will discuss Sellars’ inferentialist account of meaning, his critique of traditional empiricism and its “Myth of the Given,” his expressivist accounts of the language of appearance and modality, his nominalist metaphysics, his scientific realism, and his Kantianism. We will try to understand his work in relation to earlier thinkers who influenced him, and we will see how different aspects of his thought influenced later thinkers with diverse philosophical views. Our overarching aim will be to think about what is still alive in Sellars’ thought, what might have been overlooked by the subsequent tradition, and what looks different in light of contemporary developments.

290-7  Graduate Seminar: Sources of Nonclassical Logic. Holliday. F 1-3, Moses 234.

Do epistemic modals, indicative conditionals, vagueness, or future indeterminacy lead us to nonclassical logic (and if so, which one)?