Fall 2014 Courses
Jump to: Fall 2014 Graduate Courses
101-1: Introduction to Philosophy
No description available
101-2: Introduction to Philosophy
This course is an introduction to philosophical questioning and the Western philosophical tradition. Through reading classical and contemporary texts, we will be examining central topics in this tradition: proofs for the existence of God, the meaning of life, the nature of art and beauty, and the nature of morality. By exploring these topics and works, students will develop a conception of what philosophy is, become familiar with its history, and acquire the skills needed to identify, evaluate, and construct arguments. In so doing, they will be laying the foundations for a fruitful engagement with philosophy and for critical thinking generally.
101-3: Introduction to Philosophy
The aim of this course is to introduce the student to philosophy, both the subject matter and the method. We will study some different areas in philosophy and the problems and questions addressed in those areas. But we will also study how philosophers go about answering these questions – what kinds of arguments they give, what reasons led them to their views. We will evaluate whether their arguments are good ones, and try to understand what work needs to be done to build adequate theories. The different areas of philosophy we will study include the following : Epistemology or the theory of knowledge which is concerned with questions about the nature and extent of Knowledge; Philosophy of Religion, where we will examine arguments for and against the existence of God; Ethics, where the focus will be on whether there really is such a thing as right or wrong, and if so, what makes something right or wrong; and finally, Free Will, where we will examine whether human beings can have free will if their actions are a part of the natural, causal order.
101-4: Introduction to Philosophy
This course aims to introduce students to the general methodology of philosophical inquiry, through reflection on some of the classic questions in philosophy. What, if anything, can we know about the external world? Is there a single objective morality, or are moral codes simply social constructions that are true only relative to times and places? Is there any meaningful sense in which we have free will? What makes someone count as the same person over time? What is it to have a mind? We will read both classical and contemporary selections on these topics, and through our investigations, learn how to formulate rigorous philosophical arguments of our own and to critically evaluate those of others. Above all, the emphasis will be on questioning our assumptions and articulating reasons (if we can) for things we might already believe without knowing why.
101-5: Introduction to Philosophy
This course provides an overview of some central questions of philosophy, and of their investigation. Topics include logical reasoning; the ethical status of relief aid and abortion; moral obligations and value; the nature of persons; the justification for claims to knowledge and certainty; the existence of the universe; and belief vs. nonbelief in God.
101-6: Introduction to Philosophy (Honors students only)
101-7: Introduction to Philosophy
104-1: Special Topics in Philosophy-Freshmen (Love, Sex and Friendship)
Love, sex, and friendship are at the center of what makes most people's lives meaningful for them. We shall consider how to define love, what kinds of love are good, and whether love can sometimes be bad. We will examine how to define sex, the distinction between normal from abnormal sex, sexual identity, sexual exploitation and objectification, sexual consent, and the relationship between sex and the meaning of life. We shall ask whether sex is only good when accompanied by love, and whether it is always good when accompanied by love; and also what kinds of sexual relationship are morally permissible, and what kinds are not. We shall look at what a good friendship is, and what obligations friends have, both toward one another and toward those not in the friendship. We shall also consider the love that parents and children do and should have for one another, and the duties that hold in that relationship. Most of the readings will be philosophical, but we shall also read some history, sociology, and fiction.
104-2: Special Topics in Philosophy-Freshmen (The Good, the True and the Beautiful)
(Open only to FIG Students)
THE GOOD, THE TRUE, AND THE BEAUTIFUL: PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS ON THE EXAMINED LIFE
In one of Plato’s early dialogues, the Apology, the seventy-year old Socrates stands before the Athenian jury that is about to condemn him to death and defends the life he has led. In one of the most famous sayings in the history of philosophy, he tells his judges, who were annoyed by his constantly questioning the values and beliefs of his fellow citizens, that “the unexamined life is not worth living”.
But what exactly is it to lead an “examined life”? What are the things that are supposed to be “examined” in such a life, and how are we supposed to examine them? And how do you know whether or not you are, in fact, leading an examined life?
In this FIG, we will look closely at what Socrates had in mind—and, more generally, at what philosophy is all about and the different ways of investigating the values that can inform a person’s life. There is no better way to do this than by studying some of history’s greatest philosophers as they inquire into the nature of goodness, truth, beauty, and other values that determine how we are to lead our lives. We will read Plato, Aristotle, Pascal, Hume, Kant, Sartre, and others, including some writings by contemporary philosophers. Among the questions we will discuss are:
- What is the good life? What is the relationship between being good and being happy?
- What makes an action the morally “right” thing to do?
- Do we have an obligation to obey the state when it commands us to do (or not do) certain things?
- What is friendship? Why is it important for a good life?
- What is beauty? What makes something beautiful?
- What does it mean for a belief to be true? What is the difference between having a true belief and having knowledge?
- What is the nature of faith? What difference might the belief in God make in a person’s life?
- What is wisdom?
104-3: Special Topics in Philosophy-Freshmen (Food Ethics)
We will begin with a brief survey of various ethical theories regarding what morality is and how we can determine what sorts of things are moral or immoral. With these theories in hand, we will begin to consider a variety of moral issues related to food, including: animal rights and whether we ought to be vegetarians; what we ought to do about population growth and increases in human consumption; whether we have a moral obligation to feed those who cannot feed themselves; whether there are moral implications of eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs); what should be done to make food production and transportation less harmful to organisms and the environment; and how we can better handle waste related to food.
104-4: Special Topics in Philosophy-Freshmen (Facing Death)
Death is something that we will all inevitably face, and yet it is not obvious what sort of thing death is and what attitude it is appropriate to have towards it. In this class, we will examine the topic of death primarily through reading philosophical texts from Ancient Greece and Rome, as well as Ancient China and India, alongside modern reflections on death in philosophy and literature. Philosophical questions will include: Is death always bad, and if so, what makes it bad? Is it rational to fear death? Would immortality be preferable? Is there such a thing as an afterlife, or is death the end of our existence? Can things that happen after we die affect us? Does death give meaning to life, or rob it of meaning?
141: The Meaning of Life
Does your life have any meaning? If so, why? In this course, we will explore these and related questions, such as: is God required to give meaning to life? What is the relationship between living a happy life, a virtuous life, and a meaningful life? Does death undermine life's meaning, or is our mortality essential for life to have any meaning at all? Is a meaningful life within everyone's reach, or are some people doomed to live a meaningless life? Does engaging in meaningful activities always enhance our well-being, or are we sometimes faced with a choice between being better off and living a more meaningful life?
210-1: Reason in Communication
No description available.
210-2: Reason in Communication
No description available.
211-1: Elementary Logic
Suppose I say, "The cheese was in the fridge when you left. If no one removed the cheese, it's still in the fridge. I'm the only one who could've removed the cheese, and I didn't. So the cheese is still in the fridge." This argument concerning the whereabouts of the cheese contains some premises followed by a conclusion. The argument is structured so that if the premises are true, the conclusion is true as well.
In this course we will represent arguments in symbols to reveal their structure, then study argumentative structures that guarantee a true conclusion from true premises. We will also learn how to prove that an argument with a particular structure is valid. The techniques we will learn are necessary for every area of contemporary philosophy, and are relevant to areas of economics, mathematics, computer science, rhetoric, and the law.
211-2: Elementary Logic
This course is an introduction to formal logic, the study of valid reasoning. We will study methods for proving that an argument is either valid or invalid. Validity, as we will understand it, depends on the form of arguments rather than on their content; we will therefore work with a formal, symbolic language in which the form of sentences is made explicit. We will study both truth–functional and quantificational logic and use a deductive proof procedure for each
211-3: Elementary Logic
A hotel manager put up a sign reading: "No one is permitted on these premises unless accompanied by a registered guest". Apparently the manager failed to realize that from he statement on the sign it follows that no unaccompanied registered guest is permitted on the premises! In general, the question of which statements follow from other statements is quite tricky. This course addresses this tricky question by (1) introducing a symbolic language into which one can translate a great many ordinary English sentences and almost all mathematical sentences, and by (2) using an automated proof procedure to show that certain sentences follow from other sentences.
220: Philosophy and the Sciences
This is a first course in philosophy of science, aimed at undergraduates who are interested in science. There are no prerequisites. The course helps fulfill Humanities and Social Science distribution requirements. The goal of the course is to understand what makes science tick. We’ll start by developing two tools – deductive logic and probability theory. We’ll then use these tools to investigate questions like the following: What makes a proposition scientific? How are science and religion related? What is the difference between causation and correlation? What does objectivity mean? What does it mean for an observation to provide evidence for or against a theory? Can science explain everything? Can science discover what the difference is between right and wrong? Is science a “value-free” enterprise, or do values play an essential role? Are there biases (both conscious and unconscious) in the scientific process?
241-1: Introductory Ethics (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
This course introduces students to ethical theory through key works by four of the most influential philosophers in the history of moral philosophy: John Stuart Mill (19thC), Immanuel Kant (18th C.), Aristotle (4th C. BCE), and Nietzsche (19th C.) with brief selections from such lesser lights as Jeremy Bentham and Bishop Joseph Butler and some contemporary reflections from feminist and African American philosophers. Questions addressed by these writers range from “What is the good life?” and “What is the difference between right and wrong?” to “Is everyone basically selfish?” and “What is the importance of ethics, anyhow?” Course objectives are to offer a solid foundation in ethical theory for students who may wish to do further work in this or a related area and to develop skills in ethical reasoning for everyone who takes the course. No prior philosophy is presupposed. There will be three bluebook essay exams (review questions distributed in advance).
241-3: Introductory Ethics (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
In everyday life, we make a variety of ethical judgments, for example, that it is kind to help others or that it is right to keep promises. What justifies us in making such judgments, can such judgments be objective, and why and how should we live up to them? To answer these questions we shall examine various representative moral theories including Utilitarianism, Kantian Theory and Virtue Ethics, and we shall also consider the views of human nature that underlie them. The main readings for the course will be recognized classics from the history of ethics. However we shall also be considering these in the light of contemporary philosophical developments and concerns, including those of African American philosophers and feminist thinkers
241-4: Introductory Ethics (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
No description available.
243-1: Ethics in Business
Profit-seeking business as we now know it came into existence after centuries of moral thinking which looked askance at any activity which is aimed solely at material gain. It is not surprising that some people think that most business activity is somewhat shady, while others think that business takes place in a peculiar world of its own where distinctions between right and wrong can have no meaning at all. In this course we will rethink our moral assumptions and apply them to business as it is actually done. We will discuss the moral legitimacy of corporate enterprise, the moral arguments for various sorts of business regulation, and some of the difficult decisions which people in business must sometimes face. Readings for the course illustrate and clarify the issues covered in the course. Course requirements will include two written essays and a final exam.
341-1: Contemporary Moral Issues (Writing Intensive)
No description available.
341-2: Contemporary Moral Issues
The course will address four contemporary moral issues: surrogate motherhood, abortion, income and wealth inequalities, and health care. In order to treat the issues systematically, it will also provide a brief introduction to Kant's moral philosophy, libertarianism, utilitarianism, and Rawls' theory of justice. This is a writing intensive lecture (but it does not provide comm-B credit), and it aims to help students to analyze, criticize, and present arguments rigorous in clear and precise prose.
341-3: Contemporary Moral Issues
When are we justified in forcing people to do things that they might not want to do? In the first five weeks of this course, we will critically examine several "liberty–limiting principles" ideas which, if they are true, will tell us when it is right to use force. During the remainder of the course, we will apply these principles to contemporary issues in which the use of coercion is involved, including: abortion, gun ownership, legalizing drugs, the redistribution of wealth, and censoring hate speech. The point of the course will be to help the student to do his or her own thinking on these issues.
341-4: Contemporary Moral Issues
No description available.
Lec. 91 9:55 MTWR
Lec. 92 11:00 MTWR
Lec. 93 12:05 MTWR
Lec. 94 9:55 MTWR
430: History of Ancient Philosophy
In this course, we will examine how ancient Greek philosophers approached fundamental questions about knowledge and reality. What is the nature and origin of the world? Did it come to be by chance, intelligence or some other cause? How do the senses and reason contribute to our understanding of the world? Is it possible to be certain about anything at all? What is the connection between language and reality? We will focus on Plato and Aristotle, but we will also study some of their philosophical predecessors, such as Parmenides and Heraclitus, as well as the post-Aristotelian philosopher Epicurus.
432: History of Modern Philosophy
In this course, we will read and discuss selections from the works of some influential 17th and 18th century philosophers: Descartes, Malebranche, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Though these thinkers are a diverse bunch, one thing that unites them is their preoccupation with a set of philosophical issues connected with the scientific revolution ushered in by scientists like Galileo and Newton. The scientific revolution, which was closely associated with the so-called mechanical philosophy, raised troubling questions about free will, the mind-body relationship, God’s place in nature, the sources and limits of knowledge, and the ultimate nature of reality. The modern philosophers we will study in this class thought deeply about these questions, and though their answers often diverge widely from one another (and sometimes from common sense), they helped to shape philosophy as it is practiced today.
441: Environmental Ethics
No description available.
454: Classical Philosophers (Aristotle’s Ethics)
Every human being wishes to lead a happy life, according to Aristotle, but what sort of life is a happy one? In this course we’ll consider Aristotle’s answers to the following questions (among others): What is happiness? Is happiness the same as pleasure? What qualities contribute to a happy life? Are courage, justice, generosity, truthfulness, friendliness and wit all needed to lead a happy life? If so, how are these acquired? Is a special mentality needed? Does it require a certain type of thinking and emotional life? Are friends needed? If so, what makes a good friend? What kind of society is necessary for human beings to be happy?
The main text for the course will be Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (translated by T. H. Irwin), but we’ll also read other texts of Aristotle where these are pertinent.
There will be ample opportunity for discussion. There will also be three tutorials. Class participants will be asked to write a series of 1500-word essays. They will then come in pairs to see the professor for an hour or so, during which time they will read out and discuss their work. Grades will be awarded to the written work. The point of the tutorial is purely educational and fun.
N.B. Students may take more than one 454 class provided the classes are on different topics.
481: Meets with 523
482: Meets with 549
503: Theory of Knowledge (fulfills the category A requirement for the major)
We will survey epistemology by focusing on three problems that are currently "hot" in the field. Readings will be from academic articles written by contemporary philosophers. Topics covered will include: knowledge (what does it take to know something?), justification (how can our beliefs be justified?), skepticism (do we know a material world exists?), closure (do I know anything that's entailed by what I know?), internalism vs. externalism (does the justification of my beliefs depend on anything besides my other beliefs?), and disagreement (should any two people with the same evidence draw the same conclusion?). Previous experience reading and writing philosophical papers is required.
504: Special Topics: Theory of Knowledge (fulfills the category A requirement for the major)
Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason offers a revolutionary theory of knowledge. Kant is known, among other things, for pioneering the use of “transcendental arguments” against skepticism, distinguishing between the respective roles of sensibility (perception) and the understanding (conceptualization) in knowledge, arguing that knowledge requires both an a priori (non-empirical) and an a posteriori (empirical) component, denying us knowledge of reality in itself, and postulating a reciprocal dependence relation between the capacity for objectivity and the capacity for self-consciousness. Kant’s theory has been extremely influential. To this day, there are philosophers who draw on (what they take to be) Kantian insights in defending and elaborating their own theories of knowledge. In this class, we will examine works by contemporary epistemologists who are in a broad sense ‘Kantian’; we will also look at some recent criticisms of their ideas. After gaining familiarity with the relevant sections of Kant’s Critique, we will read works by, among others, P.F. Strawson, Wilfrid Sellars, Barry Stroud, John McDowell, Gareth Evans, Quassim Cassam, and Tyler Burge.
505: Justice and Health Care
This course will examine ethical issues in the distribution, financing, and delivery of health care (primarily in reference to the United States, but with potential reference to other advanced nations). The class is broken into three units. The first unit explores key issues in U.S. health policy and forms the empirical foundation for the ethical analyses that follow. The second unit explores ongoing debates in moral and political philosophy over putative rights to health and health care. The last unit investigates the nature, justifiability, and methods of health care rationing, which many believe to be an unavoidable requirement of the near-universally shared goal of health care cost containment.
511: Symbolic Logic
This is a course about (not in) first-order logic: although the course starts with a review of first-order logic, the review is at an abstract level and presupposes knowledge of the mechanics of first-order logic (in gods”). The bulk of the course covers the main metalogical results, both positive (namely the soundness, completeness, compactness, and Lowenheim-Skolem theorems) and negative (namely Godel’s two incompleteness theorems). The emphasis is on understanding the results and becoming able to apply them, not in proving them. The course concludes with an examination of some philosophical implications of Godel’s incompleteness theorems.
516: Language and Meaning (fulfills category A requirement for the major)
The course will cover some of the main themes in the philosophy of language. The human ability to communicate information about the external world through language is remarkable and raises a number of philosophical questions. Topics to be considered include: what it is for a linguistic expression to be meaningful; how it could come about that a linguistic expression – which is at some level just an arbitrary group of sounds or symbols – could have a meaning; how both the mind and the external world interact with language to determine meaning; how speakers use and manipulate language in different settings to communicate different kinds of information; and the way in which the meaning of a term depends on context.
523: Philosophical Problems-Biological Sciences
This course will examine a range of philosophical questions concerning the theory of evolution. We’ll try to understand what common ancestry and natural selection each mean in evolutionary biology and how biologists are able to provide evidence for hypotheses about each. This will engage the broader question of how what we observe in the present can give us information about what has happened in the distant past. Are there past events that we are cut-off from knowing about? In connection with natural selection, we’ll examine the concept of altruism. How can natural selection cause altruistic behaviors to evolve, if altruists are always less fit than selfish individuals? We’ll also consider the on-going conflict between evolutionary biology and creationism / intelligent design, and, more generally the relationship of science and religion. Finally, we’ll consider the relevance of evolutionary theory to explaining features of human mind, behavior, and culture, and to ethical questions.
541: Modern Ethical Theories (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
This course is for upper-level undergraduates. It is an in-depth study of modern ethical theories, focusing on general theories of normative ethics: (1) Consequentialism, (3) Deontology, (4) Contractarianism, (5) Virtue Ethics, and (6) Particularism.
549: Great Moral Philosophers (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
This course will focus on four texts: Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, David Hume's An Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism.
551: Philosophy of Mind (fulfills category A requirement for the major)
No description available.
555: Political Philosophy (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to a range of contemporary thinking about topics in political philosophy. We shall focus on contemporary theories of justice, and, in the first part of the course, shall read John Rawls’s restatement of his influential theory of justice as fairness. Then we shall look at a series of alternative views including libertarianism, communitarianism, a liberal group rights approach and look at a form of conservatism. We'll then look at a series of more policy-oriented issues mainly concerning equality of opportunity, including how higher education should be funded, the role of markets in education, and the distribution of the costs of rearing children. The class is run through a combination of lecture and discussion, and you will be expected to write three papers, participate in online discussions, and in the second half of the semester groups will make in class presentations.
558: Ethical Issues in Health Care
No description available
560 Metaphysics (fulfills category A requirement for the major)
MODALITY and PERSONS
In this course, we will be discussing and investigating a number of related issues in metaphysics: possible worlds and their nature, identity across possible worlds (closely related to the issue of essentialism), and personal identity across time. We may also look more briefly at another issue or two, such as the nature of causation.
Possible worlds have become a standard device in philosophical discussion of necessity (truth in all possible worlds) and possibility (truth in some possible worlds), counterfactuals (the truth of the consequent in the 'nearest' possible worlds in which the antecedent is true), contents of propositional attitudes (sets of possible worlds) and elsewhere. One question concerns the nature of possible worlds - what are they? According to David Lewis, they are worlds, just like the one we live in, except (in a sense to be explained) very far away. Other philosophers have less robust conceptions of what these 'worlds' are. We will look at this debate. Another important question concerns the identity of individuals across worlds. When we say that Obama might have lost the election, we are saying, in worlds-talk, that there is some possible situation in which Obama lost. But to evaluate this, we need to understand what it is for someone in another possible world (situation) to be Obama. So this gives rise to the general question of under what conditions things in different possible worlds are identical, which, in more familiar English, is the question of the extent to which things could be different from, or have to be like, the way they in fact are - or in even more familiar English: What makes something the thing that it is? In effect, the question of identity across worlds is the question: What is the very nature of this thing? - What has to be the case in order for this thing to exist at all? We will be looking at various theories concerning this.
In the rest of the class (‘Persons’), we will look at the problem of personal identity through time - Each of you was once in the first grade: What makes it true that that first grader has persisted, is not dead? Under what conditions does a person continue, or cease, to exist? Various things of importance seem to hinge on facts about personal identity: desert or punishment for some earlier deed seems to require that you – not someone else – performed that deed. We seem to have special concern for our own future selves, but not necessarily for others. It seems to be irrational for me to do things that will make things worse for myself later on, like gambling away my retirement money, but if I do this with your money, it seems not irrational, but instead immoral. We will focus on theories of personal identity, and then move to Derek Parfit’s challenge to the ties between personal identity and these other matters that seem to depend upon it. We will look at Eric Olsen’s recent work, which argues, against prevalent psychological views, that persons are essentially animals.
581: Meets with 541
582: Meets with 555
835: Advanced Hist. of Philosophy (Spinoza)
Our primary focus in this seminar will be on a close reading of Spinoza's philosophical masterpiece, the Ethics. We will concentrate on the work's metaphysical, theological, epistemological, and moral doctrines. These include his identification of God and Nature, his determinism and necessitarianism, his account of the mind-body relationship in a human being, the passions, and the life of reason, virtue, and happiness. If there is time, we will also read some of the major portions of the Theological-Political Treatise and study his views on religion, the state, miracles, prophecy, and the Bible.
902: Proseminar in Philosophy
No description available.
911: Seminar: Logic (Imperative Logic)
This is a seminar primarily in philosophical (not in symbolic) logic, and it should be accessible even to those who have never taken an advanced course in formal logic. The seminar deals with imperatives, like "open the window", and starts with the following puzzle. On the one hand, it seems that imperatives (in contrast to declaratives like "the window is open") cannot be true or false, so there cannot be a logic of imperatives. On the other hand, it seems that imperatives can enter into logical relations: "open the window and close the door" seems to logically entail "open the window". The seminar examines various attempts to solve this puzzle.
941: Seminar: Ethics (Ethics of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche)
Like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the philosophers Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche form an exciting and natural progression, as each later philosopher responds to the previous one. We will spend the first week reviewing Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. To appreciate Nietzsche’s project, it is essential to appreciate his “great teacher”– the philosopher of pessimism – Schopenhauer (whose work is worth study for its own sake, and he writes with the clarity of an English philosopher, not at all like a German philosopher). We will read most of Schopenhauer’s “prize essay” “On the Basis of Morality” and all of Bk IV in Vol. I of The World as Will and Representation (Payne translation) plus excerpts from Books I, II, and III. Schopenhauer is fun to argue with. In the second half of the seminar, we will read selections from Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy, Beyond Good and Evil, Gay Science, all of his Genealogy of Morals, and miscellaneous further excerpts (using Walter Kaufmann’s edited volumes: Basic Writings of Nietzsche and The Portable Nietzsche). Nietzsche’s critique of morality is the most challenging and engaging critique that I know of. We will see what we can learn from it as well as where and how we can argue with him. Each student will present two short papers to the class for discussion (with copies distributed to all seminar members) and will do one longer paper (12-15 pages double-spaced) to be turned in on the last day of class.
951: Philosophy of Mind (Naturalism, Representation and Consciousness)
In this course, we will focus on issues regarding whether consciousness can be accounted for in a purely physical world. We will begin studying classical and contemporary arguments for dualism and physicalism. (E.g., Descartes, Smart, Jackson, Kripke, Lewis, Chalmers). The rest of the seminar will be dedicated to studying the viability and, perhaps, limitations of representational theories of consciousness. Such account try to understand the ‘seeming’ or ‘awareness’ that is distinctive of consciousness in terms of certain kinds of representational states. We will first study the kinds of causal and information-theorectic theories of meaning used in theories of consciousness (Stampe and Dretske). (For those interested in philosophy of language, we would be studying the sorts of accounts meaning that can go back and forth between language and mind.) And then, using such accounts of meaning, we would go to work on the various kinds of representational theories of consciousness. We will study ‘first order’ theories (e.g., Tye and Dretske), which hold that a state is conscious just in case, when you are in it, you are conscious of something, e.g., you are sensing something. Then there are second order theories (e.g. Rosenthal, Carruthers, and others), which take consciousness to require a kind of apperceptive state wherein one is aware of one’s representational states. And we will study ‘self-representing’ accounts (Gennaro, Van Gulick), which holds that conscious states are first order states which contain a self-referential aspect, so the state both represents itself and something external to the state.
960: Metaphysics Seminar (Objects and Modality)
This seminar will focus on issues at the intersection of the metaphysics of material objects and modality. One issue that has been the focus of recent attention in metaphysics are puzzles concerning the apparent coincidence of material objects – two (or more) material objects in the same place at the same time, composed of the same matter, for instance, a statue and a lump of clay, or a person and an animal (or a brain). The objects seem to differ modally – in what they are essentially, and their persistence conditions – that’s what makes it seem that there are two objects. The puzzle is how they could differ modally, given their shared composition. And there are other related puzzles. So we will look at various solutions to these puzzles, with special emphasis on how different views of essences and modality may make some replies more or less plausible. This will include the dispute between counterpart theory and transworld identity, as accounts of modality de re, and whether one can have a ‘nonmodal’ theory of material objects. Another issue concerns the proposed essentiality of origin, made famous by Kripke. We will look at various arguments for and against particular origin-essential claims, and the related four-worlds paradox, which also leads to issues about whether the correct modal logic for metaphysical modality should be as strong as the S4 system, according to which whatever is necessary is necessarily necessary. We will also look at different views in the more general philosophy of essence – conventionalism vs. realism, possible worlds vs. Kit Fine’s view that essences are not to be understood in terms of ‘properties had in all possible worlds’, counterpart theory vs. transworld identity, what significance should be placed on the necessary a posteriori. No background familiarity with any of these issues will be assumed.