Modal Logic


TuTh 9:30

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 course website.


Math Logic 1


MWF 11:15

Elementary meta-mathematics and logical meta-theory. Topics include completeness and consistency proofs for first-order logic, model theory, elementary number theory (especially Peano arithmetic), and Gödel's incompleteness theorems and related results. Text: Mendelson, Introduction to Mathematical Logic, 4th ed. Requirements: problem sets and exams. Prerequisite: Philosophy 310, or consent of instructor.


Topics in Metaphysics


W 4:40-7:10

In this course we will be reading Sider's forthcoming book, Writing the Book of the World.  Topics to be discussed will include various notions of fundamentality; methodology of metaphysics; the intertwined notions of dependence, truthmaking, reduction; as well as issues involving laws, reference magnetism, theories of time, etc.


Topics in Ethics


Tu 7:00-9:30

In this course we will examine many of the factors moral theorists have thought to be relevant to the moral permissibility and impermissibility of behavior. Among the many questions we will discuss are the following: Are an action's consequences morally relevant to its permissibility? If so, in what ways are they relevant? Is there a moral prohibition against harming others, even in cases in which doing so would bring about the best outcome? If there is such a prohibition, what are its contours? In what ways is consent morally relevant, if at all, to the permissibility of a person's actions? To what extent are we morally obliged to help those in desperate need? Requirements: two take-home exams, no term paper. Prerequisite: two courses in philosophy.


Early Modern Philosophy


Th 4:00-6:30

Cartesianism and its Critics.
In this course, we will attempt to reconstruct some of Descartes? most central views in metaphysics, natural philosophy/physics, and philosophy of mind?-including the scope and limits of our knowledge in these areas.  We will attempt to reconstruct Descartes? views by reading both Descartes? own texts and letters, and those of his early modern sympathetic and adversarial critics, including Princess Elisabeth, Malebranche, Astell, Cavendish, Leibniz, Poullain de la Barre, and Lambert.
Among the doctrines that Descartes? early modern critics and sympathizers attributed to him are the following: (1) a metaphysics of substances (such as this mind, that portion of the material world, and God) and modes (such as this idea and that shape); (2) a dualism of finite mental and physical substances; (3) the ability of one finite substance or mode to cause (partially or fully) changes in the modes of another finite substance; and (4) the ability of God to create and sustain in existence all finite substances, as well as to play a causal role in the changes in the modes of finite substances.  We will see that those critics who sought to overturn Cartesianism, as well as some who sought to defend Descartes? views and to make them consistent, challenged at least one of the above doctrines.  Our aim will be to evaluate these challenges, and to see if these responses are well placed or if Descartes had resources to handle them.
In the final part of the course, we will examine the ways Descartes? metaphysics and philosophy of mind were used as the grounding for seventeenth-century social views.  Some of the issues at stake were: Who ought to receive formal education and who is fit for the pursuit of scientific knowledge (scientia)?


Philosophy of Science


M 12:30-3:00

In this class we'll be looking at various issues regarding philosophical methodology, including: the role of common sense in philosophy, the notion of philosophical analysis, the role of thought experiments, the justificatory status of simplicity, philosophical explanation, and the relationship between science and philosophy. 




Th 1:00-3:30



Naturalism and First-Person Perspective


M 3:35-6:05

Does the first-person perspective raise problems for naturalism? On some views, it seems to. Science, many philosophers believe, is wholly third-personal. On one understanding of naturalism, there is no extrascientific route to metaphysical or epistemological understanding. One consequence of this claim is that first-personal phenomena (such as my promising that I'll stay with you or my wondering how I'll die) must be understood in a third-personal way. There are several ways to try to reduce or eliminate first-personal phenomena, or to deny that first-personal phenomena have ontological significance. This seminar will assess such attempts.
Does naturalism raise problems for the first-person perspective? On some views, it seems to. A scientific examination of the first-person perspective seems to suggest that it does not have the epistemological pre-eminence that is so often assumed for it. There are a number of different ways in which naturalists have attempted to downgrade the importance of the first-person perspective. This seminar will also examine these suggestions.
We shall read a number of contemporary philosophers and psychologists such as John Perry, David Lewis, Daniel Dennett, Thomas Metzinger, Alison Gopnik, Timothy Wilson, Alvin Goldman, Eric Schwitzgebel, as well as papers by the instructors.


Dissertation Seminar


by arrangement

Seminar for students working on their doctoral dissertations.  Chapters in progress are presented for discussion.