Fall 2009

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Course Descriptions

Philosophy of Natural Science (PHIL 450)

John Roberts
This course This course is designed for graduate students in philosophy.  It requires no particular background in science or philosophy of science, but I will assume a very strong background in analytic philosophy

The course will be a survey of main issues in contemporary philosophy of science, with some attention to the history of the field over the past century.  The course will be organized under four main headings: Induction, evidence and confirmation; Scientific explanation; Reduction and reductionism; Scientific realism and anti-realism.

This course meets on Wednesdays from 1:00 to 3:30. This course meets the LS requirement.

Symbolic Logic (PHIL 455)

Thomas Hofweber
This course is an advanced course in logic, and presupposes Phil 155 or equivalent. The topic for this semester is set theory. We will discuss the standard axiomatization of set theory, models of set theoy, ordinals and cardinals, large cardinals, the continuum hypothesis, and other issues

This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00 to 11:15.

American Political Philosophy (PHIL 473)

Bernard Boxill
Prerequisites, junior/senior status and one course in the Department of Philosophy other than PHIL 155. The issue of unity and diversity in America is analyzed through the writings of Jefferson, the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, Calhoun, MacKinnon, DuBois, and Rawls.

This course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30-4:45. This course meets the VT requirement.

Modern Philosophy (PHIL 720)

Alan Nelson
Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding.  We shall focus on the theory of ideas and its consequences for knowledge and belief, but other topics can be taken up according to the interests of the participants.

This course meets on Wednesdays from 4:00-6:30PM. This course meets the HM requirement.

Advanced Studies in Metaphysics (PHIL 730)

Robert Adams
The topic is existence.  What is it for something to exist?  Can things exist at some times and not others?  Are there things that never exist?  What is the relation of existence to quantity and quantification?  Does the logical function of existence claims impose any necessary conditions on existence?  Can it be a trivial truth that numbers, for example, exist?  How are conceptions of existence related to questions about what is metaphysically fundamental?  Readings mainly in contemporary philosophy, but with some attention to older philosophers such as Aristotle, Kant, and Meinong.

This course meets on Tuesdays from 1:00-3:30PM. This course meets the ME requirement.

Epistemology (PHIL 735)

Matt Kotzen and Ram Neta
The Nature of Epistemic Norms: Virtues, Duties, and Goals.  In this seminar, we will explore some recent developments in virtue epistemology, epistemic deontology, and epistemic consequentialism.  We will discuss what each of these projects in epistemology amounts to, the sense (if any) in which they are in conflict with each other and with more “traditional” epistemological programs, and possible parallels between the applications of these views in epistemology and in ethics.

This course meets on Thursdays from 1:00-3:30PM. This course meets the ME requirement.

Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 840)

William Lycan and L.A. Paul
This course will examine fundamental ontological issues in the  philosophy of mind. A significant portion of the course will address  these issues through the lens of recent and forthcoming work on  ontologically nonreductive accounts of mental states. Topics discussed  will include: the numerical difference between mental and physical  states, physical and mental essences, material constitution,  functional realization, causation, mental processes and time, the  nature of matter, nonactual objects of intentional states, and  intrinsically perspectival properties.

This course meets on Mondays from 4:00-6:30PM. This course meets the ME requirement.

Philosophy of Logic (PHIL 855)

Keith Simmons
This is a seminar on the logical and semantical paradoxes.   The course will not presuppose logic beyond what you’ve had in Phil 455.  Any technical material will be fully introduced.  We’ll cover issues in logic, the philosophy of logic, and the philosophy of language.

Since Ramsey, the orthodoxy has been to divide the paradoxes into two groups – the semantical and the logical.  On the semantical side are paradoxes about truth and reference, such as the Liar and Berry’s paradox.  On the logical side are paradoxes about sets and classes, such as Russell’s.  But I think this separation is a mistake, and we should be after a unified solution to these paradoxes.   That’s what I’ll be pursuing in the seminar.  In the seminar we’ll read both classical sources and contemporary work, including parts of a book manuscript I’m currently working on.

This course meets on Thursdays from 4-6:30PM. This course meets the LS requirement.

Value Theory (PHIL 865)

Tom Hill
This course will focus on the work of several contemporary Kantian moral philosophers, such as Christine Korsgaard, Barbara Herman, and Onora O’Neill, with special attention to the relation between value, reasons, and moral obligation.  Some background knowledge about Kant’s ethics would be helpful but Kant’s writings will not be the focus of the course.

This course meets on Tuesdays from 4:00-6:30PM. This course meets the VT requirement.

Research Reading Group in Metaphysics (PHIL990)

Thomas Hofweber
This reading group will focus on recent literature on the foundations of metaphysics and ontology. We will read and discuss selected essays from the recent collection entitled “Metametaphysics”, edited by Chalmers, Manley and Wasserman, OUP 2009, as well as some selections from my book manuscript “Ontology and the Ambitions of Metaphysics”. Time and place to be determined. Please email me if you are not enrolled but would like to participate anyways.

This seminar meeting is TBA.

Dissertation Research Seminar (PHIL 790)

Matt Kotzen

This course’s meeting time 11:00-1:00PM on Tuesdays.