Fall 2007

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Aristotle (Phil 412)

C.D.C. Reeve
The focus of the course this semester is Plato’s Republic and associated dialogues (including the Protagoras, Gorgias and Symposium). A central topic is Plato’s attitude to hedonism.

This course will meet on Wednesday from 4:00-6:30.

Philosophy of Science (Phil 450)

Marc Lange
This is an advanced survey of several of the most central and perennial topics in the philosophy of science. Topics will include the confirmation of scientific theories, scientific explanations, causal relations, laws of nature, chance in nature, scientific realism and anti-realism, and the reduction of macrosciences to microsciences. Readings will include classic papers by Hempel, Cartwright, Reichenbach, Goodman, Sellars, van Fraassen, Sober, Fodor and others. Undergraduates and graduate students may receive somewhat different assignments to complete. (Graduate students take note: Many of the readings appear on the philosophy department’s philosophy of science bibliography list.) The course does not presuppose any background at all in the philosophy of science specifically, but although I welcome undergraduates, the course should definitely not be taken by undergraduates who have no prior experience in philosophy.

This course will meet on Thursday from 1:00-3:30.

Philosophy of Physics (Phil 451)

John T. Roberts
This course will be taught in conjunction with PHYS 313, and will be team-taught by Professor John Roberts of the Philosophy department and Professor Henrik van Dam of the Physics department. The course will be an introduction to the physics and philosophy of space and time. The class will include introductions to the special and general theories of relativity, to problems concerning the philosophical interpretation of these theories, and to more general philosophical puzzles about the nature of space and time.

This course will meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:00.

Philosophy of Psychology (Phil 453)

Joshua Knobe
Philosophers have long been concerned with questions about how people ordinarily think about the self and the world, but investigations of these questions have traditionally been pursued in the absence of experimental data. In recent years, however, there has arisen a new, more interdisciplinary approach to these issues, with philosophers and psychologists working together to develop a better understanding of how people ordinarily think. We will be looking at some of the fruits of this interdisciplinary research program, focusing especially on research relevant to moral philosophy and the philosophy of mind.

This course will meet on Tuesday from 1:00-3:30.

Symbolic Logic (Phil 455)

Thomas Hofweber
Symbolic logic as proven to be extremely influential in a variety of 20th century disciplines, like philosophy, linguistics, the foundations of mathematics, and computer science. This course is an introduction to the main topics and results in formal logic for graduate students. We will first cover the syntax and semantics of various formal languages, and the selection of proof systems for them. Then we will discuss and prove some of the central results in the meta-theory of first order logic: completeness, compactness, the Lowenheim-Skolem theorems, complete theories, notions inexpressible in first order logic, and some applications to first order mathematical theories, like non-standard models of arithmetic. Finally we will cover the syntax and variety of semantics for second order logic.

This course will meet on Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30.

Honors Seminar (Phil 691H)

John T. Roberts
This course is to be taken by senior philosophy majors working on Honors Theses in Philosophy. Most of the work for this course will consist of study for writing a thesis and the writing itself. Students in the course will also meet regularly to present their work in progress to one another and receive feedback on it. For more information about writing an Honors Thesis in philosophy, please see: http://www.unc.edu/%7Ejtrosap/DUS/Honors.htm

This course will meet on Wednesday from 6:00-8:30.

Metaphysics: Modalities (Phil 730)

William Lycan
We will be concerned primarily with the foundations of possible-worlds semantics, and discuss several metaphysical theories of worlds: Lewis’ concretism, Ersatzer accounts, fictionalism, and possibly a contemporary Meinongian view. Side issues will include the ontological status of counterfactuals, the relation between fictional entities and possibilia, and criteria of ontological commitment.

This course meets on Wednesday from 1:00-3:30.

Epistemology: Reasons (Phil 735)

Ram Neta & Dorit Bar On
lWhat’s the difference between (i) there being a reason for you to do something (or believe something), (ii) your HAVING that reason to do something (or believe something), and (iii) your doing something (or
believing something) FOR that reason? This course will address this question, and various related questions. We will read articles by Elizabeth Anscombe, Donald Davidson, Bernard Williams, Christine Korsgaard, Thomas Scanlon, Michael Smith, John Broome, and other contemporary philosophers.

This course meets on Thursday from 1:00-3:30.

Moral Theory: Utilitarianism and Its Critics (Phil 760)

Susan Wolf
For many people, utilitarianism is the first and most natural moral framework that suggests itself when one moves from pretheoretical moral intuition and judgment to philosophical moral theorizing. A consideration of utilitarianism’s strengths and weaknesses can provide a lens through which to examine and assess most of the major topics and problems in normative ethics. After a brief examination of some classical utilitarian texts, the course will focus on contemporary criticisms and defenses of utilitarianism in all of its forms. Authors will include Sidgwick, Mill, Williams, Stocker, Scheffler, Foot, Scanlon.

This course meets on Tuesday from 4:00-6:30.

Systematic Philosophy: Normative Dimensions of Policy Analysis (Phil 785[805]) (PLCY 780)

Douglas MacLean
This is a seminar on the ethical foundations of theories and methods for analyzing public policies. Policies are decisions made by individuals or groups that in some sense express the will of the citizens they represent. In order to assess current policies and make wise policies in the future, policymakers rely on analytic techniques such as decision analysis, cost-benefit analysis, game theory, and the normative claims of welfare economics. We will briefly survey these techniques and how they are applied. Our primary goal, however, is to examine how well they measure and express citizens’ preferences and values and take into account respect for rights and the demands of justice.

This course meets on Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30.

Colloquium Seminar (Phil 790)

Thomas Hofweber
This seminar is constituted by the series of colloquia sponsored by the department during each semester. Graduate students in the first three years of the program should sign up for one section of this seminar each semester.

This course meets on TBA.

Colloquium Seminar (Phil 790)

Susan Wolf
This seminar is constituted by the series of colloquia sponsored by the department during each semester. Graduate students in the first three years of the program should sign up for one section of this seminar each semester.

This course meets on TBA.

Seminar: Ethical Theory (Phil 860)

Geoffrey Sayre-McCord
This seminar will focus on issues in contemporary metaethics, with a special emphasis on those surrounding moral realism. Inevitably, then, it will be taking up questions of the semantics, epistemology, and metaphysics of morals. The syllabus is available HERE.

This course will meet on Monday from 4:00-6:30. [NOTE: It will not meet on August 27 and it will meet earlier in the afternoon on October 8.]

Current Research Reading Group (Phil 990)

Alan Nelson
Wittgenstein. We’ll read all the way through -Philosophical Investigations-. Should there be enthusiasm for other works of Wittgenstein’s as well, we can find some way to shorten our consideration of the -Investigations-.

This course will meet on Thursday from 4:00-6:30.