Philosophy and Logic


MWF 11:15-12:05

Non-Classical Logics.


Topics in Metaphysics


Th 1:00-3:30

It is often taken for granted that there are certain distinctions among properties: intrinsic/extrinsic, qualitative/haecceitistic, categorical/dispositional, physical/mental, natural/non-natural, Humean/unHumean, moral/non-moral, etc.  These distinctions play an important role in many philosophical theses.  What is the status of these distinctions?  Can some of them be “reduced” to or “analyzed” in terms of others?   In this class we will look carefully at a few of these distinctions (guided by class interest).  Although different considerations arise in each case, our investigations will reveal some common themes.


Topics in Epistemology


Tu 1:00-3:30

This course will involve a close reading of Peter Carruthers’s new book, The Opacity of Mind: An Integrative Theory of Self-Knowledge.  Carruthers has an extraordinarily interesting view, and he presents a wide range of argument and evidence in its favor.  Following Carruthers, we will discuss a good deal of psychological evidence about the nature of introspection, as well as its significance for a wide range of issues in epistemology and philosophy of mind.


Topics in Ancient Philosophy

de Harven

W 3:30-6:00

What motivates action?  Can we ever act against what we judge to be best?  If error is always a case of ignorance, how can people be held responsible for their actions?  We will explore answers to this and other paradoxes, the unity of the virtues and the counterintuitive thesis that it’s better to suffer than to do harm, which are at the heart of Socratic intellectualism.  Readings will include Plato’s dialogues Euthyphro, Laches, Apology, Crito, Protagoras, Euthydemus, Gorgias, and Republic; as well as Aristotle’s treatment of these Socratic themes in Nicomachean Ethics and, finally, the Stoics’ renewal of the Socratic commitment to virtue as sufficient for happiness.  In addition to the original ancient texts we will read some secondary literature; and, as a contrast to the intellectualist position, we will consider Plato, David Hume and Bernard Williams. 


Early Modern Philosophy


W 12:30-3:00

This course will focus on women’s contributions to European philosophy in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries.  Topics may include a variety of issues in metaphysics, epistemology, social and political philosophy, and rational theology, e.g., substance, causation, mind-body problems, mechanism versus vitalism, God, scepticism, sense perception, the gendering of cognitive and moral capacities, as well as women’s fitness for education and for careers in the arts, sciences and politics.  The philosophers we will study may include: Marie de Gournay, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, Mary Astell, Margaret Cavendish and Anne Thérèse de Lambert.  We will examine their views in relation to those of Michel de Montaigne, René Descartes, Nicolas Malebranche, Thomas Hobbes, and François Poullain de la Barre.


Philosophy of Action

Garcia TuTh 11:15-12:30

This course focuses on the nature of action and of rational agency.  In the first half of the course, we will discuss both defenders and critics of what is widely known as the “standard story of action”, viz., the Causal Theory of Action (CTA). According to CTA, actions are causally explained in part by the agent’s reasons understood in terms of various psychological and mental items, e.g., a desire for y, a belief that doing x will bring about y, some relevant intention, etc.  Various non-causalists argue that this approach leaves no room for the agent – as opposed to just mental or psychological states occurring within her – in the explanation of action. Some of the main topics include: the nature of intentional action, practical self-knowledge, the belief/desire model of motivation, wayward causal chains, practical reasoning, and weakness of will.  In the second half of the course, we will look at different accounts of rational agency, including recent constitutivist approaches (Korsgaard/Velleman/Raz) and group agency (Gilbert/Bratman)).

Some of the thinkers to be discussed include Aristotle, Anscombe, Davidson, Mele, Goldman, Audi, Smith, Ginet, Hornsby, von Wright, Schueler, Sehon, and Alvarez.  Required textbooks: Anscombe’s Intention and Davidson’s Essays on Actions and Events


Set Theory


TuTh 9:30-10:45

Elementary introduction to the theory of sets (specifically Zermelo-Fraenkel Set Theory). Sets, relations, functions, natural numbers, proof by induction, cardinal numbers. Comparison with other theories of plurality. Pre-requisite: Phil 310 (Intermediate Logic).


Seminar in Philosophy of Science


M 12:30-3:00

One of the dominant accounts regarding what we ought to believe is the Bayesian account. A number of arguments have been offered in favor of this account. But are these arguments any good? If so, which ones? This class provide an introduction to Bayesianism, and then will focus on examining these arguments, and the various criticisms of these arguments that have been raised.


Seminar in Philosophy of Mind


Tu 4:00-6:30

The seminar will be structured around the manuscript of my new book, Mind Over Matter: How Reasons Move Us.  I develop there a novel account of human agency, one that respects both our scientific understanding of ourselves as natural beings, and our everyday understanding of ourselves as persons, beings who act with purpose and meaning.  Many philosophers have argued that these two forms of understanding – what they term the “naturalistic” perspective and the “intentional” perspective, respectively – cannot be integrated.  The problem is supposed to be that notions essential to the intentional perspective – particularly notions of justification and of meaning – are inexplicable in the terms of natural science.  I disagree; the main purpose of my book will be to show that these two perspectives are not only compatible, but that the naturalistic perspective can actually illuminate the intentional perspective.


Seminar in Ethics


 Tu 7:00-9:30



Seminar in Philosophy of Religion


Th 4:00-6:30

The theme of this seminar is Personal Identity and the Possibility of Resurrection.  During the first half of the semester, we’ll read articles by philosophers like Peter Van Inwagen, Dean Zimmerman, Lynne Baker, Alvin Plantinga, and Trenton Merricks.  During the second half, we’ll read parts of Mark Johnston’s Surviving Death, an ingenious “naturalistic” view of personal identity.

Open to graduate students in the Philosophy Department.

Course Requirements:  Class participation
  Outline or precis of term paper (November 29)
  Term paper (January 7)


Seminar – Mereology


M 3:30-6:00

A thorough exploration of both the formal and philosophical aspects of mereology, the theory of parts and wholes.  Philosophical topics include:  universal composition; ontological innocence of composition; composition as identity; the possibility of gunk; and un-mereological modes of composition.  Requirements:  Either two medium length papers (about 10 pages each) or one term paper (about 20 pages).


Dissertation Seminar


by arrangement

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