Spring 2009

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Advanced Logic (PHIL 456)

Thomas Hofweber

This course is an advanced course in logic, and presupposes Phil 455 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 from 1:00 to 3:30.

Contemporary Moral Philosophy (PHIL 462)

Ryan Preston

This course focuses on the following question: Given that we could devote our entire lives to fighting social injustice, meeting people’s basic needs, and so on, to what extent are we permitted to carve out space for ourselves and for the people and projects that we care about?  For example, are we permitted to eat at a fancy restaurant, take an exotic trip, or send our children to an elite private school, even if we could adopt a less expensive, and less satisfying, alternative and use the remaining resources to meet strangers? dire needs?  In addition to considering various ways of answering this question, we will read related work on what it means to care about something and on the relation between being morally virtuous and living a good life.  Readings will include work by Harry Frankfurt, Frances Kamm, Thomas Nagel, T.M. Scanlon, Bernard Williams, Samuel Scheffler, and Peter Unger.  There is a prerequisite of at least one college-level philosophy course.  The course is designed for graduate as well as undergraduate students. This course meets on Wednesdays from 1:00-3:30PM.

Political Philosophy: from Hobbes to Rousseau (PHIL 470)

Bernard Boxill

The social contract theories of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the subject of this course. All three philosophers agreed that legitimate society must be based on a social contract. But they also held different views about what this contract ought to be like. Their agreement stemmed from their common view that human beings are or should be free. Their disagreement stemmed from their different views of human nature, Natural law, and freedom. Their work had concrete consequences. The American revolutionaries justified their actions by appealing to Locke, and Rousseau inspired the French and Haitian revolutions. Although all three wrote some centuries ago their work continues to underlie much current theorizing about the nature of the legitimate society. Reference will be made to this theorizing. Our texts are: Thomas Hobbes Leviathan; John Locke Second Treatise on Civil Government; Jean-Jacques Rousseau The Social Contract and Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (aka The Second Discourse). The best reference works are: for Hobbes Gregory Kavka Hobbesian Social and Political Thought; for Locke John Simmons The Lockean Theory of Rights; for Rousseau there is nothing equally satisfactory, but many books and articles have useful insights. Further references for all three authors will be set out in the syllabus. Participation and two papers, one short and one long are required. This course meets on Thursdays from 1:00-3:30PM.

Philosophy of Law (PHIL 480)

This seminar will tackle the issue of rationality, what it means in economics, what it means in philosophy, and the implications of those meanings for the study of law and legal institutions. The seminar is aimed at law students and philosophy and economics graduate students and upper class undergraduates. Grade will be based upon a seminar paper.

This course meets on Wednesdays from 3:20-5:50PM.

Proto-Seminar (PHIL 700)

Susan Wolf and Marc Lange

This is an intensive, team-taught seminar open only to first-year philosophy graduate students (for whom it is a required course). Emphasis will be placed on teaching the skills needed to succeed as a philosopher, especially clarity of oral and written expression. Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussion and to lead several discussions over the course of the term. There will be weekly short writing assignments. Readings will be drawn from a wide range of philosophical fields, including pieces by J. Bennett, C. Boorse, Lewis Carroll, M. Frye, N. Goodman,  D. Hume, D. Lewis, B. O’Shaughnessy, D. Parfit, P. Strawson, B. Stroud, and T. Gendler-Szabo.

This course meets on Thursdays from 10:00-12:30PM.

Theoretical and Practical Reason in Ancient Philosophy (PHIL 710)

Geoffrey Sayre-McCord

How do we come by our notion of reason? In all likelihood, we owe some debt to its creators, Plato and Aristotle. We will concentrate on their construction of the special faculty of reason, or rationality. In both authors, one feature of reason is its relation to a range of objects, from things that can change, the physical world, to a more peculiar kind of object, things that cannot change, e.g., Forms. In both authors, another feature of reason is its peculiar connection with desire, i.e., that reason has its own desires. Yet, Plato sees no need to separate reason into practical reason and theoretical reason. Aristotle, at least late in his thought, does. Why might one distinguish the two? In pursuit of an answer to this question we will examine the metaphysics of Plato and Aristotle, along with their psychology, including their moral psychology. Readings will be drawn primarily from Plato’s Republic and Timaeus, and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, with selections from other treatises. Students are welcome to recommend modern or contemporary readings.

Requirements: A seminar paper on a topic to be chosen in consultation with the instructors.

This course meets on Wednesdays from 4:00-6:00PM

Normative Aspects of Public Policy Analysis (PHIL 805)

Douglas MacLean

Public policies are made by individuals or agencies that in some sense express a society’s values and the will of its citizens.  In order to make wise and justifiable decisions, policy makers must also rely on analytic techniques of decision analysis, such as cost-benefit analysis, game theory, and methods suggested by welfare economics.  This seminar will begin with an analysis of the meaning of some of our basic social values, such as welfare, rights, and distributive justice.  We will then explore some of the ethical and normative aspects of utility theory and policy analysis.  Next, we will examine a case study by exploring some ethical dimensions of public policy proposals for responding to global climate change.  Finally we will examine briefly some ethical dilemmas that most commonly affect public policy professionals.

This course meets on Thursdays from 3:30-6:00PM.

Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 840)

William Lycan

We shall read and discuss some recent work in the general area of consciousness.  Topics will include:  Conscious awareness and its relation to attention; the (alleged) transparency of sense experience; the Representational theory of qualia; phenomenal externalism; phenomenal concepts; phenomenal unities (temporal issues and split-brain patients); “filling in”; and “phenomenal intentionality.”

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

Modern Philosophy (PHIL 820)

Alan Nelson

A study of the philosophies of Leibniz and Newton. The centerpieces will be the Leibniz-Clarke correspondence, Newton’s Principia and his unpublished manuscript, De Gravitatione, but other texts will be examined. The focus will be on some interconnected issues in metaphysics, philosophy of science, and rational theology: the ontological status of space and time, laws of nature, causation, divine agency. We hope to have some guest speakers. Class meetings will be divided between UNC and Duke.

This course meets on Thursdays from 2-4:40PM. It meets on Duke and UNC campuses.

Philosophy of Language: “Origins of Meaning” (PHIL 845)

Dorit Bar-On

The seminar will study a number of perspectives (both philosophical and from neighboring fields) on the question of the origins of meaningful speech.  One main focus will be continuities and discontinuities between linguistic communication and non-linguistic behavior (both human and non-human).

This course meets on Mondays from 3:30-6:00PM.

Contemporary Versions of the Design Argument (PHIL990)

John Roberts

This research group seminar will be about contemporary versions of the design argument, and it will focus mostly on the “cosmological fine-tuning argument” which is sometimes advertised as an argument for the existence of a creator, sometimes advertised as an argument for the existence of many parallel universes, and sometimes advertised as a particularly clever piece of sophistry.  Which one is it really?  We’ll try to find out.  Readings will include essays by Elliott Sober, John Leslie, Roger White, Robin Collins, Tim & Lydia McGrew, Wiliam Dembski, Michael Ruse, and others.

This seminars meets on Mondays from 3-6:00PM. Room location TBA.

Dissertation Research Seminar (PHIL 991)

Matt Kotzen

This course’s meeting time is TBA.