(unless otherwise specified, MWF classes are 50 minutes,
and TuTh classes are 75 minutes)
513 – Math Logic I
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.
550 – Epistemology
Some beliefs are justified; others are not. What is it that makes 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 features which a belief must have if it is 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 features which make a belief justified need not be entirely internal. We will examine this debate in detail. We will read work by BonJour, Comesana, Conee, Feldman, Goldman, Kornblith, Sosa, Stroud, Williamson and others. 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.
582 – Philosophy of Science
Th 1:00 - 3:30
This class is an exploration of the main accounts of the laws of nature, the pros and cons of these approaches, and the consequences of adopting these approaches for other issues. This will include an in-depth look at the Humean account of laws advocated by David Lewis (and its variants), the primitivist account of laws dvocated by Tim Maudlin, and the counterfactual account of laws advocated by Marc Lange.
583 – Philosophy of Religion
Tu 7:00 - 9:30
592M – Early Modern Metaphysics
Cartesian Mind-Body Problems
Since the seventeenth century, critics have charged that Descartes’ metaphysics and physics are both incompatible with his commitment to mind-body causal interaction. In 1675, Simon Foucher argued that Descartes was committed to this inconsistent triad: (1) mind and body causally interact; (2) mind and body are essentially distinct substances; and (3) there must be an essential likeness between a cause and its effect. Leibniz argued that mind-body interaction violated the law of conservation of motion—a main principle in Descartes’ physics. Princess Elisabeth challenged Descartes to demonstrate how an incorporeal soul could voluntarily move its body, such that this motion could be explained by the mechanical philosophy. For in mechanism, motion requires the contact of surfaces of the mover and the body it moves. In exploring these mind-body problems, we will analyze Descartes’ causal principles; examine his views about mind-body “union,” reconstruct
the details of, and critically evaluate, his accounts of sensation and voluntary motion. Near the end of the course, we’ll determine if mind-body problems eventually led Descartes to embrace a form of Occasionalism, viz., the view that inanimate bodies have no causal power and God alone moves them. We’ll conclude by examining one of the social/political uses to which Descartes’ metaphysics of mind and body were put in the seventeenth century: Poullain de la Barre’s Cartesian defense of the equality of the sexes. Requirements: seminar presentations, one short (5-page) paper, and a final paper (15 pages). Required texts: The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vol. I & II trans. Cottingham, et al.; The Correspondence Between Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia and René Descartes, trans. Shapiro; François Poullain de la Barre, Three Cartesian Feminist Treatises, trans. Bosley. Contemporary articles, as well as chapters
from Tad Schmaltz’s recent Descartes on Causation, will be made available.
593F – Feminist Theory
Tu 1:00 - 3:30
We human beings rely heavily on each other in our efforts to gain knowledge; arguably, there is very little that any single person could know if limited to information gathered all by themselves. But if we depend on other people for information, how do we know who to trust? What if the things that we take to indicate expertise are actually misleading? Some feminist epistemologists have been arguing recently that this epistemological question is especially pressing when we consider highly stratified societies. In such societies, it's argued, marks of privilege are apt to be mistaken for marks of epistemic authority. In this course, we examine these arguments. The main text for the course will be Miranda Fricker's book, Epistemic Injustice. This will be supplemented by articles in mainstream epistemology and in feminist epistemology.
595S – 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 Grammar, more specifically 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: Phil 511, or graduate status, or consent of the instructor. Requirements: homework assignments. Click
here for website.
760 – Ethics
M 7:00 pm
The topic for Phil 760 in the Spring of 2010 will be a puzzle in normative ethics that is both profoundly important and widely overlooked or carelessly dismissed. The puzzle can be introduced by appeal to a simple question:
WTD: What should people do when they want to do the right thing, but don’t know what they should do?
I intend that both ‘should’s in WTD to be understood to be moral ‘should’s. That is, I take the question to be a request for moral guidance, not for prudential, legal, etiquettical or other non-moral guidance. I do not take WTD to be equivalent to the question: ‘What would be a prudentially wise thing for a person to do when he does not know what morality requires of him?’ I take this latter to be an interesting question, too. But it is not the question I mean to be discussing. I am interested in the question about what morality requires of us when we don’t know what morality requires of us.
WTD could arise in the case of people who think they know the truth about the normative ethics of behavior. Take me, for example, I think some form of desert adjusted hedonic act utilitarianism is true. Yet in virtually every interesting real-life case I am sure I don’t know the relevant utilities of any of my alternatives. Indeed, I generally am pretty much in the dark about what my alternatives are. Thus, even though I think I know in abstract terms what I should do (“whatever would maximize desert adjusted utility”) it often happens that I don’t know for sure what my alternatives are, and I have no idea which of my alternatives is the one that satisfies this criterion. What does morality require of me then?
WTD could arise in the case of people who know quite a bit about their alternatives and their utilities. Their problem might be that they don’t know which moral theory is true. They don’t know what would make one of their alternatives morally right. Still, people like this might be interested in doing the right thing. What does morality require of them? (Adam Elga presented a paper on this topic here on October 9.)
There is a fairly large and interesting literature on this topic, though very few philosophers have made it a central focus of their research. Part of the project in the seminar will involve trying to discover and sort out possible answers to the question.
Course Requirements: Regular attendance and participation; Mid-Term Paper; Final Paper; Annotated Bibliography. Credits: Seminar and Ethics.
701R – Rawls
791G – Agency and Action in Greek Philosophy
795R – Supervenience and Reduction