550 – Epistemology
Tu 1:00 - 3:30
This course will focus on recent work connected to the problem of skepticism about the external world: How can we know anything about the world around us if it’s possible that we’re just dreaming or the victims of massive sensory deception? We will consider whether our ordinary beliefs about the world provide better explanations than skeptical scenarios do, and whether “inference to the best explanation” might help in dealing with the skeptical challenge. Other topics to be discussed may include Moorean responses to skepticism, a priori responses to skepticism, and general principles relating knowledge of one proposition to knowledge of another. We will read work by authors such as Bonjour, Dretske, Hawthorne, Mc Dowell, Peacocke, Pryor, Wright, Van Fraassen and Williamson.
591G – Ancient Greek Moral Psychology
TuTh 11:15 - 12:30
591W – Early Modern Women Philosophers
W 3:35 - 6:05
594K – Self-Knowledge
Th 1:00 - 3:30
This course will examine a wide range of views on self-knowledge, with an eye to the role that self-knowledge may play in a variety of philosophical projects. We will also look at some of the psychological literature here to see what implications it has for the philosophical views under discussion. Authors examined will include Neera Badhwar, Alvin Goldman, Hilary Kornblith, Richard Moran, Richard Nisbett, Eric Schwitzgebel, Sydney Shoemaker, Robert Stalnaker, Shelley Taylor, Timothy Wilson and others.
594S – Formal Semantics
We usually understand novel sentences – e.g., this one – with little
or no hesitation. How do we accomplish this? According to the received opinion,
our linguistic knowledge divides into two modules – roughly, words and
rules – which in turn correspond respectively to Lexical Grammar and
Compositional Grammar. The present course concerns Compositional Semantics – the
study of how the meanings of compound expressions are derived from the meanings
of their parts. We pursue this enterprise within the framework of Categorial
Grammar – more specifically, within the framework of Type-Logical Grammar.
Topics will include: set theory, type theory, lambda-calculus, categorial syntax
and semantics, type-logical syntax and semantics. Prerequisite: graduate status,
or consent of the instructor. Requirements: homework assignments.
Web Site: http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~gmhwww/595/index.htm
760 – Ethics
M 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
In recent years a number of philosophers have proposed variant forms of consequentialism. In most cases, the new form of consequentialism has been
developed specifically in response to some objection to traditional forms of
consequentialism. Thus we have Ted Sider's Self-Other Utilitarianism, and Amartya Sen's Agent-Relativized Utilitarianism, and Douglas Portmore's Dual-Ranking Act Utilitarianism. Also such things as satisficing Utilitarianism, Social Proximity Adjusted Utilitarianism, the Utilitarianism of Rights, and Negative Utilitarianism. Some of the most perplexing forms of consequentialism are the “person affecting” forms that have been developed in order to deal with problems concerning people who don't yet exist and who might never exist. These weird new forms of consequentialism will be the main focus of the seminar.
Two associated questions will also be discussed in the seminar: First, what is meant by saying that a normative theory is a form of “consequentialism”? And second, is it possible to recast *every* normative theory as a form of consequentialism? Course requirements: active participation; mid-term and final paper; annotated bibliography. The course will carry seminar and ethics distribution credit.
784 – Philosophy of Science
M 3:35 - 6:05
This class will examine different kinds of idealizations that are employed in formal epistemology, and the prospects for extending these theories in less idealized ways. The class will start with an overview of Bayesian epistemology. It will then move to examine various recent proposals for modifying this framework, including: (i) proposals regarding how to properly characterize the objects of belief in such theories (such as the proposal offered by David Chalmers), (ii) proposals to incorporate imprecise or interval valued degrees of belief (recently advocated by Brain Weatherson and Scott Sturgeon, and criticized by Roger White), (iii) proposals to use primitive conditional probabilities, non-standard probabilities, and the like (such as the proposals offered by Alan Hajek and Kenny Easwaran), (iv) proposals to work with "inductive probabilities" instead of degrees of belief (such as the proposal offered by Patrick Maher), (v) proposals regarding how to extend Bayesianism to deal with various problematic cases, such as fission, fusion, duplication, temporal uncertainty, and the like.
791K – Kant's Ethical Theory
Th 4:00 - 6:30
This course offers a comprehensive introduction to Kantian ethics, both historical and contemporary. We will focus on Kant’s most influential ethical work the 1785 Groundwork along with various selections from the Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, Religion, Metaphysics of Morals, etc. In addition, we will examine recent applications of Kant’s views to contemporary issues in moral and political philosophy. A central aim of the course will be to acquaint students with the large and influential secondary literature arising from Kant’s ethical theory, including thinkers such as John Rawls, Christine Korsgaard, Barbara Herman, Onora O’Neill, Thomas Hill, Henry Allison, Paul Guyer, Karl Ameriks, Allen Wood, Thomas Pogge, Stephen Darwall, Marcia Baron, J.B. Schneewind, and others.
NOTE: This course can satisfy distribution requirements either for "Ethics" or for "History", depending upon the subject matter of the final term paper.
794T – Truth
Tu 4:00 - 6:30
An examination of theories of truth with an emphasis on deflationist and relativist theories.