511 - Modal Logic
This course is intended to follow Philosophy 310 (Intermediate Logic), and examines various modal logical systems including alethic modal logic, epistemic logic, deontic logic, tense logic, and the logic of propositional attitudes. Emphasis will be on quantification, identity, descriptions, scoped singular terms, and actuality. Text: Hardegree, Introduction to Modal Logic (available on-line). Prerequisite: Philosophy 310, or consent of the instructor. For more information, consult http://people.umass.edu/gmhwww/511.
551 – Metaphysics
This class is an introduction to the metaphysics of modality. We will begin by looking at some of the reasons why possible worlds are theoretically useful. We will then examine a few different accounts of what possible worlds are. Topics will include modal realism, varieties of modal actualism, modalism, the de re/de dicto distinction, essentialism, counterparts and transworld identity.
563 – Ethical Theory
In the first half of this course we will study some of the most important theories in the normative ethics of behavior. Among these will be various forms of utilitarianism and various forms of Kantianism. In each case, one focus will be on clear and accurate formulation of the theory. Another focus will be on understanding and evaluating classic objections to the theories. In the second half of the course we will study some of the most important theories of axiology. Among these will be hedonism, eudaimonism, and various forms of axiological pluralism. Readings from Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Bentham, Mill, Kant, Ross, Moore, and others. Text: an anthology of papers in ethics, title TBA. Requirements: two take-home exams, no term paper. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy.
582 – Philosophy of Science
This class is an introduction to the Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics. The class will consist of (i) a gentle sketch of the theory, and some of its weird consequences, (ii) a discussion of the measurement problem, and of the various interpretations of quantum mechanics that have been offered to solve it, and (iii) a look at some of the issues surrounding the non-locality of quantum mechanics.
591T – Plato's Republic
A close reading of The Republic with an emphasis on Plato's treatment there of topics in moral psychology, metaphysics, and epistemology.
592W – Wittgenstein's Tractatus
An in-depth examination of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s (1921) Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, its historical background, and philosophical influence. Topics include logical atomism, the picture theory of meaning, saying and showing, truth functionality, and mysticism. Texts: Wittgenstein's Tractatus, and secondary literature by various authors. Requirements: presentation, term-paper, in-class participation and weekly reading assignments. Pre-requisite: Three courses in philosophy, including at least one in Formal logic (Phil 110 or higher), or Graduate student standing, or consent of instructor.
594G – Practical Reason
TuTh 2:30 - 3:45
Practical reasoning is reasoning towards making a decision, judgment, or action. This course focuses on contemporary debates regarding the so-called standard model of practical reasoning – the Humean belief-desire model – and its critics. According to Humeans, practical reason is merely instrumental in nature: all actions can be explained by appeal to a brute desire along with some instrumental belief about how to satisfy it. We look at several competing interpretations of Hume’s own historical views, in particular whether he is best seen as an instrumentalist or a total skeptic about practical reason. Next, we discuss three major components of his view – the nature of desires, the Humean account of motivation, and the Humean account of reasons – and take up various recent debates inspired by them, such as internalism vs. externalism about reasons, motivational cognitivism, competing views about desires, and the normativity
of both instrumental and non-instrumental reasoning. Thinkers to be discussed include Hume, Kant, Nagel, Korsgaard, Williams, McDowell, Parfit, Darwall, Scanlon, Foot, Smith, Velleman, Audi, Schroeder, etc.
785 – Philosophy of Mind
Antony & Levine
794A – Agency
Baker & Matthews
The idea of human agency is closely linked to the idea of responsibility. We’ll begin with some historical texts, including passages from Plato, Aristotle and Locke. Then we’ll move on to consider the connection between agency and intention, and read G.E.M. Anscombe. More recent literature attempts to understand agency in terms of subpersonal events or states. In considering this move we’ll read papers by Michael Bratman and David Velleman.
794F – Free Will
891D – Dissertation Seminar
A one-credit seminar for ABD students to meet and discuss their dissertations.