||Topics in Philosophy of Language
This course is an high-level survey of central issues in the philosophy of language. Our main concern will be with the notion of meaning. In the first part of the course we will look at various ways of motivating and developing a powerful approach to meaning in terms of truth-conditions. In the second, longest part of the course, we will look at different questions that arise for this approach to meaning. Which specific questions we will focus on will depend on how things evolve and on the interests of class participants, but they may include: Can a truth-conditional theory of meaning be a theory of understanding? Can it account for the behavior of presuppositions and donkey anaphora? Can we assign truth-conditions to all well-formed, meaningful sentences? Is a truth-conditional theory of meaning genuinely explanatory? How can speakers know the truth-conditions of sentences in their language? Are truth-conditions enough to account the complexities of communication?
This class is only open to graduate students in philosophy or to undergraduates who
have taken three prior courses in philosophy. I will only consider making exceptions for students with a strong enough background in linguistics, computer science, and cognate fields. Although this is not a technical class, you will be at an advantage if you have done some formal logic before. I strongly encourage undergraduate students who have not yet taken Phil 110 (Intro to Logic), or a similar class, to contact me as soon as possible.
||Topics in Philosophy of Mind
|An investigation into several aspects of the metaphysics of mind: conceivability arguments, problems with formulations of physicalism, the option of pan-psychism, and other related issues.
||Topics in Ancient Philosophy
|Plato’s Republic is an intricate and sophisticated work of ethics, psychology, metaphysics, epistemology, and, of course, politics. In this seminar we will undertake a close reading of this powerful dialogue, guided by Julia Annas’ commentary and an assortment of secondary literature.
||Selected Philosopher - Hume
This course examines several major themes in Hume’s philosophy, including his views about causation, belief, the external world, personal identity, free will, moral psychology, moral sentimentalism, and the overall relationship between his skepticism and naturalism. One main aim of the course is to familiarize students with several important debates in contemporary Hume scholarship. These include: Is Hume a projectivist, reductionist, or skeptical realist about causality (i.e., the “New Hume” debate)? What are Hume’s views about the nature of justification and so-called ‘natural belief’ in things like, say, the existence of an external world? What are Hume’s views about reason and its relationship to the passions, morality, and human action? And what is the overall relationship between Hume’s negative skeptical project and his positive defense of naturalism?
The main textbooks for the course are Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature, ed. by David Fate Norton and Mary J. Norton (Oxford Press, 2000), An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, ed. by Tom Beauchamp (Oxford University Press, 1999), and An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. by Tom Beauchamp (Oxford University Press, 1998).
||Seminar in Epistemology
|The Epistemology of Ethics
This course will examine attempts to explain how moral knowledge is possible. Much, but not all of the course, will focus on such attempts within the confines of some version of moral realism, and the problems these raise. We will read work by Harman, Sturgeon, Boyd, Copp, Daniels, Railton, Street, Setiya, and others.
||Seminar - Propositions