512 - Mathematical Logic II
Introduction to and compartive study of various logical foundations of mathematics, including classical set-theoretical foundations (ZF, NBG), Quine's "New Foundations" and related systems, higher-order logic and type theory, and others, as well as related logical metatheory and philosophical issues concerning mathematical and logical entities. Texts: Readings may include works by Frege, Russell, Church, Quine, Cocchiarella, Boolos, Potter and treatment of set theoretical foundations from various textbooks and others. Requirements: homework, take-home exams and an optional term-paper. Prerequisite: Phil 310 (Intermediate Logic) or equivalent. Phil 513 (Mathematical Logic I) is not required.
550 – Epistemology
Some beliefs are justified; others are not. What is it that marks the difference? What conditions must be satisfied if a belief is to be justified? The available views about justification may be divided into two types: internalist and externalist. Roughly, internalists believe that the conditions which must be satisfied for a belief to be justified are, in some sense, internal to the agent: for example, on one such view, they must be available to introspection. Externalists disagree: the factors which make a belief justified need not be entirely internal. We will examine this debate in detail. Required texts: BonJour and Sosa, Epistemic Justification: Internalism vs. Externalism, Foundations vs. Virtues; Kornblith, ed., Epistemology: Internalism and Externalism. Additional readings will be made available. Prerequisites: Three courses in philosophy or permission of instructor. Requirements: One short (5-7 page) paper and one longer (12-15 page) paper.
561 – Aesthetics
Why is a snow shovel exhibited by Marcel Duchamps a work of art when the one you use to shovel your walk is not? Is a work of art just a material object? If not, what more is there to it? These and similar questions animate Arthur Danto’s philosophy of art. In this class, we will critically evaluate Danto’s theory by both placing it in its historical context and evaluating its adequacy. In so doing, we will discuss traditional theories of art from Plato to Nietzsche as well as some much more contemporary accounts of such novel areas of artistic endeavor at installation art and web art. Required texts will include: Wartenberg, The Nature of Art, and Danto, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace. Requirements: class attendance, participation (possible seminar report), a short paper (4-6 pages), and a term paper (12-15 pages). Open to philosophy graduate students and to undergraduate philosophy majors who have had at least three philosophy courses. Permission of the instructor is required for all others.
592A – Aristotle
An examination of selected topics in Aristotle's philosophy of nature and metaphysics. Readings include selections from the "Categories," "Physics," "On Generation and Corruption," "De Anima," and Metaphysics".
592W – Wittgenstein
This course will focus on Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, with emphasis on questions about language and mind. We’ll begin with a brief look at Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, an important text in early analytic philosophy. We’ll finish by reading Kripke’s Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. The format of the class will be lecture-discussion. The requirements are (1) Take-Home Exam (due 4/4), (2) Term Paper (due 5/9), (3) Class Participation (attendance expected at every class). Open to philosophy graduate students and to undergraduate philosophy majors who have had at least three philosophy courses. Permission of the instructor is required for all others.
594E – Meta-Ethics
Do we have reasons to be rational? Does this question even make sense? Does the examination of the essential features of doxastic and practical deliberation yield answers to metaethical questions about the semantics, metaphysics, and epistemology of normative judgments? This class will be devoted to these and other fundamental questions about the nature of practical and theoretical reason. We will discuss work by Elizabeth Anscombe, John Broome, Bernard Williams, David Velleman, Michael Smith, Christine Korsgaard, and Rae Langton among others.
594V – Vagueness
The first half of the course will deal with semantic theories of vagueness: how do truth, falsity, and validity apply to vague languages? We will examine the three most prominent theories: epistemicism, supervaluationism, and degree of truth accounts, as well as some less prominent approaches. In the second half of the course, we will turn to metaphysics: what could it mean to hold that the world itself is vague, that there are vague objects, or vague identity? Books: Vagueness, by Timothy Williamson; Vagueness, edited by Keefe and Smith.
703 – 17th Century Metaphysics
W 7:00 - 9:30
Problems in 17 th-Century Theories of Causation: Occasional Causes and Occasionalism
It is well known that, according to Malebranche’s occasionalist system of nature, no finite things (save free agents endowed with intellect and will) have any active causal powers. It would seem, then, that his “occasional causes” are not efficient causes at all. Why does Malebranche nonetheless refer to them as causes?
Recently, the longstanding debate about whether Descartes ultimately endorsed some version of occasionalism, or at least held the view that bodies could be the causes of change neither in other bodies nor in minds, has come in for extended discussion. A number of commentators have focused on Descartes’ Comments on a Certain Broadsheet, where he says that external objects are the “occasions” for the mind itself to form its ideas of sense. Are Descartes’ occasions the occasional causes of Malebranche? In a similar way, did other Cartesians, e.g., Mary Astell, ultimately come to endorse Malebranche’s occasional causes? Does this commit Descartes and Astell to occasionalism?
The course will examine the concept of occasional cause as it is used by Descartes and Malebranche, as well as by the minor 17 th-century figures, Mary Astell, J.B. van Helmont and Margaret Cavendish. We will trace antecedents of the concept in the doctrines of the ancient Stoics and Galen, in Renaissance logic texts, and in the writings of Aquinas and Suárez. In addition to primary material, each week we will also read a couple of articles from the secondary literature by contemporary historians of philosophy.
Texts are available at Amherst Books: The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vols. I and II, trans. Cottingham, et al. ( Cambridge University Press); Nicolas Malebranche: Philosophical Selections, ed. Nadler (Hackett); Margaret Cavendish: Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, ed. O’Neill ( Cambridge University Press). The course packet of primary material contains selections from texts by Cicero, Galen, al-Ghazali, Aquinas, Thomas Wilson, Suárez, Descartes, Cavendish, Gassendi, Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, and Astell. This material together with the articles by contemporary scholars will be available in the metal cabinet in the hallway on the third floor in Bartlett.
Requirements: a short (5-page)paper, a term paper of roughly 15 pages, and seminar presentations. Open to philosophy grad students or by permission of the instructor.
750 – Metaphysics
Is reality one or many? We will attempt a return to one of the central topics of traditional metaphysics -- the dispute between monists and pluralists. On route we will discuss the relation between parts and wholes, the relation of ontological dependence, and the notion of a substance.
760 – Ethics
In discussions of individual welfare, the concepts of happiness, pleasure, enjoyment, and satisfaction are often mentioned. Some philosophers and psychologists seem to treat these as equivalent, yet others have insisted that they are distinct concepts. A philosopher might claim, for example, that enjoyment is directly relevant to the quality of life, but that satisfaction is irrelevant. Someone might claim that while pleasure is nice, it is really enjoyment that improves the quality of a life. In this seminar we will attempt to sort out this tangle. We will attempt to identify and distinguish among these concepts. We will attempt to determine which one (if any) is of fundamental prudential value. We will read widely. The works of Wayne Sumner, Wayne Davis, Daniel Kahneman, Richard Brandt, and many other philosophers (and non-philosophers) may be consulted. Course requirements: regular attendance and informed participation; a mid-term paper; a term paper; possibly in a few instances a class presentation. Distribution credit: ethics. Readings will be announced as we go along.
794L - Laws of Nature
Empiricists (about laws of nature) claim that the laws of nature supervene on the occurrent facts. They often say: laws do not "govern" the world, they merely describe it. We'll look at empiricist theories (early positivist ones and the more sophisticated Mill-Ramsey-Lewis theory), arguments against empiricism about laws, and attempts to articulate an anti-empiricist theory of laws. This will culminate in a reading of Marc Lange's book, Natural Laws in Scientific Practice. Depending on time and student interest, other topics may include: laws, chance, and determinism; ceteris paribus laws and special science laws; and the idea that laws are purely qualitative and are universal in space and time.
794N – Naming and Necessity
This graduate seminar will be a slow and somewhat technical reading of Kripke’s Naming and Necessity. We will pay close attention to the important and substantive footnotes. The class will be conducted as a reading discussion group, in which students will be in charge of raising points for discussion. Requirements: (1) class participation (attendance is expected at every class meeting); (2) a short paper, or a draft of a term paper (due 4/21); (3) a term paper (due 5/9). Prerequisites: Graduate standing in the Philosophy Department or permission of the instructor.