Math Logic 2


MWF 11:15-12:05

Introduction to and comparative 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, Frege arithmetic, and others, as well as related logical meta-theory and philosophical issues concerning mathematical and logical entities. Text: William S. Hatcher The Logical Foundations of Mathematics and various shorter pieces. Prerequisites: Phil 310 Intermediate Logic or consent of instructor.


Topics in Philosophy of Science


M 12:30-3:00

This class will focus on puzzles in decision theory. The class will begin by covering the basics of decision theory, and then move on to look at various puzzles, and the variants of decision theory they've resulted in. Topics are will include: (i) Newcomb's Case and related puzzles (and a discussion of causal vs. evidential decision theory), (ii) the Death in Damascus Case and related puzzles (and a discussion of decision instability), (iii) the Pasadena Case/Two-Envelope Paradox and related puzzles (and a discussion of infinitary extensions of decision theory), (iv) the Satan's Apple Case (and a discussion of binding).


Philosophy and Feminist Thought


TuTh 1:00-2:15

This term we’ll focus on issues at the intersection of feminist theory and the philosophy of language.  We’ll begin by looking at speech act theory, and the speech act analysis of pornography, developed by Rae Langton as an elaboration of Catherine MacKinnon’s claim that pornography does not merely cause the subordination of women, but is itself a form of subordination.  We’ll next look at recent work within philosophy, linguistics and psychology on generic constructions (e.g., “ticks carry Lyme disease”), work that is uncovering mechanisms by which pernicious stereotyping might be inculcated and perpetuated.  After that, we’ll turn to the issue of hateful epithets, utilizing some recent work of Mark Richard: how do we characterize the semantic properties of such expressions?  Is the hatefulness they express part of the meanings of such terms, or merely a pragmatic effect?  Does the existence of such terms challenge the adequacy of conventional views of meaning?  Finally, if time permits, we will consider briefly questions about “feminist philosophy of language”: is there/could there be/need there be any such thing?




Tu 7:00-9:30

Death confronts us all. And to most of us, it is a terrifying prospect. But just a little thought about death reveals a host of interesting and difficult philosophical questions. Among the many that we'll discuss in this course are: What is death? Is it possible to survive death and if so, what might such survival consist in? If surviving death is not possible and death marks the permanent end of our existence, is it a bad thing to die? And even if it is often a bad thing to die, might it ever be a good thing to die, and in what way could this be true? Whether death is bad for the one who dies, is death something that it is rational to fear? Is the wrongness of killing explicable in terms of the badness of the death of its victim? If not, how else might it be explicable? Pre-requisites: three courses in philosophy, at least one of which at the 300 level or higher.


Formal Semantics


TuTh 9:30-10:45

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.


Seminar in Metaphysics


W 3:35-6:35



Seminar in Epistemology


Tu 4:00-6:30

This seminar will focus on questions about epistemic normativity.  What is the source of epistemic normativity?  What is it that gives epistemic norms their force?  What is it that makes normative claims in epistemology true or false, or, instead, should these norms be viewed as having some other status?  Readings from Matthew Chrisman, Richard Feldman, Hartry Field, Alvin Goldman, Thomas Kelly, Christine Korsgaard, Derek Parfit, Michael Ridge, Ernest Sosa, Ralph Wedgwood and others.


Seminar in Philosophy of Mind


Th 4:00-6:30

The course will cover various theories of conscious experience.  We will focus on two questions: first, to what extent is conscious experience inherently representational? and second, to what extent is conscious experience inherently reflexive, in the sense that to have an experience entails some awareness of the experience itself?  Readings will include Block, Chalmers, Hill, Levine, Pautz, Rosenthal, Siewert, and Tye.


Seminar in Ethics


 M 7:00-9:30

The topic for Phil 760 in Spring, 2012 will be theories about distributive justice.  The focus will be on some of the views that have been widely debated since the resurgence of interest in this topic due to the work of Rawls and Nozick.  Among the theories that might be discussed (in addition to libertarianism and Rawlsianism) are egalitarianism, utilitarianism, desertism, prioritarianism, and sufficientism.  Part of the project will be the attempt to identify good things to read.  We will probably end up reading things by Rawls, Nozick, Sen, Dworkin, Nielsen, Sadurski, Parfit and many others.  Course requirements: you must do the readings, attend and participate in the seminar meetings, submit midterm and final papers.  In addition, some students may be asked to give seminar presentations.


Seminar - Plato's Republic


M 3:35-6:05

Why should I be just? Even if I do benefit from other people's being just, surely there are occasions on which I would benefit from being unjust. If so, then don't I sometimes have a good reason to be unjust? Plato's greatest work, the Republic, is devoted to answering this question. To defend the practice of justice, Plato must take a stand on most of the major questions in ethics, philosophy of action, political philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology. This seminar will be devoted to an assessment of the entirety of Plato's argument.


Dissertation Seminar


by arrangement

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