Spring 2014 Courses

101-2 Introduction to Philosophy
11:00 MWF
Paul

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.

101-3 Introduction to Philosophy
11:00-12:15 TR
Southgate

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.

101-4 Introduction to Philosophy
9:30-10:45 TR
Sidelle

Philosophy is both an area, with its own questions and history of discussion of these questions–What is knowledge? What goes into making an action right or wrong? What is it to live a happy (good/worthwhile) life? What is it to act rationally? Can we ever be responsible for our behavior? What is it for a sign to have meaning? Is having a mind the same thing as having a brain? - as well as a certain critical way of looking at things, approaching issues, clarifying concepts, and evaluating positions and arguments. The methods philosophers use in generating and conducting investigation in their own particular subject matter, as well as many of the issues philosophers concern themselves with, can be relevant to all sorts of subject matters, which are not, of themselves, particularly philosophical. Drawing distinctions, identifying underlying assumptions, generating puzzles, coming up with arguments and evaluating them, seeing what a disagreement is really about, distinguishing the letter from the spirit of positions, are among the many tools of philosophy, which can be used in other areas not only in critical evaluation, but in seeing possible issues and questions to raise. In this course, we will look at some quite general and fundamental philosophical issues, as well as some that are more particular, such as the rationality of emotions. We will be particularly concerned to bring out various sorts of philosophical tools and distinctions which are relevant not only to philosophy, but to philosophical reflection or consideration about other areas, and also to see how philosophical assumptions or claims may be present even when one is not 'doing philosophy'.

101-5 Introduction to Philosophy
9:55 MWF
Shapiro

The goal of this class is to teach you how to think critically about fundamental issues. The issues we will discuss concern the justification for our claims to knowledge, the distinction between believing something for a reason and believing something on faith, the nature of mind and the possibility of free will and moral responsibility, and, finally, topics in political and ethical theory, including justice and euthanasia. Assignments include short papers and two exams. Class attendance is mandatory.

101-6 Introduction to Philosophy
11:00-12:15 TR
Gibson

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 freewill if their actions are a part of the natural, causal order.

101-7 Introduction to Philosophy
12:05 MWF
Lecturer

No description available.

104-1 Special Topics in Philosophy-Freshmen
2:30-3:45 TR
Card

The topic of Philosophy 104, which is the core course of a FIG, is evil, approached as an ethical concept and from secular points of view. The first half of the semester examines works that deal theoretically with the concept of evil. The second half examines more specific issues regarding torture, terrorism, genocide, and survival of atrocities, tying these issues to such events as Abu Ghraib, the 9/11 bombings, and the Holocaust. Readings include classical and contemporary work by such thinkers as Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, Jean Amery, Primo Levi, and others that you may not have heard of but who offer important insights into the nature of evil. This will be a Writing Intensive Course, and two Writing Fellows will also work with students in this FIG. Written assignments will consist of three short essays in the first half of the course and one slightly more extended essay in the second half, focusing on an issue regarding torture, terrorism, genocide, or survival.Legal Studies 131, Criminal Justice in America, will give students an insight into the day-to-day functioning of the criminal justice system in the U.S., with attention to the nature of crime and ideas about causes and solutions.

210-1 Reason in Communication
11:00-12:15 TR
Forster

This course is about critical thinking. Some forms of reasoning are more persuasive than others, but many persuasive forms of reasoning are fallacious. We will critically examine various patterns of reasoning (arguments) commonly used in newspaper editorials, political speeches, classrooms, courtrooms, and advertisements with the aim of discerning the difference between good and bad reasoning. This skill in critical thinking may also improve your argumentative writing. This is not a course in formal, or symbolic logic like 211 although there will be some very elementary symbolic logic. We will look at simple examples of causal and statistical reasoning as well moral, legal and aesthetic reasoning. For more information, browse through the required text: Critical thinking, 10th edition, by B.N. Moore and R. Parker, McGraw-Hill.

211-1 Elementary Logic
11:00 MWF
Lecturer

No description available.

211-2 Elementary Logic
12:05 MWF
Vranas

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.

211-3 Elementary Logic
1:00-2:15 TR
Mackay

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.

241-1 Introductory Ethics (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
11:00-12:15 TR
Card

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 (19th C), 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).

241-2 Introductory Ethics (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
9:30-10:45 TR
Fletcher

In this course we will investigate the ethical dimension of human life. What makes an action right or wrong? What obligations do we have to other people or the community and what do we do when these obligations conflict? What makes someone a good or bad person? How do we make ethical judgments and can they be objective? We will examine three historically important theoretical approaches to ethics (virtue ethics, utilitarianism and Kantian ethics), as well as objections that have been raised against each of them.

241-3 Introductory Ethics (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
11:00 MWF
Lecturer

No description available

341-1 Contemporary Moral Issues (Writing Intensive)
9:30-10:45 TR
Brighouse

The purpose of 341 is to acquaint students with rigorous forms of reasoning concerning live contemporary moral issues, and to help them develop the skills necessary to evaluate and intervene in public debates in a way that is intellectually honest and well-informed. This section of 341 focuses mainly on issues relating to childhood, family life, and education; among the issues we discuss are the morality of abortion; the permissible regulation of parenthood; cloning human beings for reproductive purposes; the morality of school choice; the morality of educational inequality, and whether parents should enroll their children in sports leagues(!). Attendance of discussion section is mandatory. Assessment of students’ work will be by papers, essay exams, and some short tests.

341-2 Contemporary Moral Issues
12:05 MWF
Hunt

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.

341-3 Contemporary Moral Issues
11:00-12:15 TR
Hausman

This course will focus on four controversial and difficult moral issues: 1) surrogate motherhood, 2) abortion, 3) income and wealth inequalities, and 4) health care. In addition, to provide some perspective and depth in our consideration of the particular issues and to hone the skills of making and criticizing arguments, this course will provide some introduction to logic and ethical theory. Readings will be available on line at the learn@uw site for the course.

341-4 Contemporary Moral Issues
9:55 MWF
Lecturer

No description available.

341-5 Contemporary Moral Issues
12:05 MWF
Lecturer

No description available

Lec. 93 9:55 MTWR
Lec. 94 9:55 MTWR
Lec. 95 11:00 MTWR
Lec. 96 12:05 MTWR

430 History of Ancient Philosophy
9:55 MWF
Gottlieb

Metaphysics and Epistemology in Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Thales to Aristotle

We’ll be studying in depth, and with close attention to the primary texts, ancient Greek philosophers’ answers to the following questions: What sorts of things are there in the world? Is a world of change consistent with a world of substances? What would be a satisfactory account of unity and diversity? What sort of knowledge, if any, can we have of the world in which we live? Why are reason and logic important? Why become a philosopher, and what’s the difference between the philosopher and the sophist?

There will be three tutorials. Class participants will be asked to write a series of 1500- word essays answering specific and challenging questions on assigned texts or particular topics. They will then come in pairs to see the professor or TA 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.

432 History of Modern Philosophy
11:00 MWF
Messina

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 Galileo, Boyle, Newton, and others. 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, the nature of substance, and the proper analysis of some concepts that were central to the new science, for example, “matter, space, time, cause, and law of nature.” The philosophers we will study in this class offer wildly divergent and often quite compelling answers to these questions. Their ideas and arguments remain an essential reference point for much contemporary philosophy.

440 French Philosophy: Existentialism
9:30-10:45 TR
Southgate

Feeling like life is absurd, that existence is meaningless? Worried that you aren’t living authentically? Then a course in Existentialism is just what you need. Study the classic texts of this intellectual movement that expressed despondency about Western civilization, its decadence, and its values. Along the way you’ll meet the likes of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, and De Beauvoir.

454 Classical Philosophers (Nietzsche)
2:25 MWF
Hunt

This course will be a careful reading and discussion of the major works of Nietzsche. Texts read will come from every period of his productive life, and on all the major topics on which he wrote, with emphasis on the mature works of the 1880s and on topics having to do with value (ethical, political, and artistic). From time to time short essays by other authors will be assigned, either because they are criticizing/interpreting Nietzsche, or because they are setting out a position that contrasts with that of Nietzsche in some interesting way. The ultimate goal of everything we do will be to understand what Nietzsche was saying and to form well-grounded opinions as to the merits of what he was saying. Work for the course will include two papers and a final examination.

454-2 Classical Philosophiers: (Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy)
1-2:15 TR
Fletcher

In this course we will study the nature and value of pleasure in Ancient Greek philosophy. Focusing on the treatments of pleasure in Plato, Aristotle and the Stoic and Epicurean schools, we will explore broader questions about the connection between the soul and the body, as well as the relationship between sense perception and other forms of cognition. We will pay special attention to distinctions between different types of pleasure. What type of psychological phenomenon is pleasure? Do those pleasures that require the body differ fundamentally from those pleasures that belong to the soul alone? Do pleasures differ in their very nature, or only in their source or object? Do pleasures necessarily have objects? Is there an intrinsic difference between good and bad pleasures, or does pleasure get its value from something external, such as its object or the condition of the subject? Is it possible to give a unified account of pleasure, or is pleasure essentially heterogeneous. We will end the course by comparing a few of the most prominent contemporary treatments of pleasure in philosophy of mind and ethics.

481 Meets with 541

482 Meets with 530

503 Theory of Knowledge (fulfills the category A requirement for the major)
1:20 MWF
Messina

In this course, we will examine some topics of current debate in contemporary epistemology. Topics will include (but are not limited to): skepticism, the definition of knowledge (including whether and to what extent the concept of knowledge can and should be defined at all), the structure of knowledge (foundationalism vs. coherentism vs. infinitism), the nature of justification (internalism vs. externalism), the relationship between epistemology and natural science (to what extent can epistemology be “naturalized”?), and the nature and evidentiary value of philosophical intuitions. Our readings will be, for the most paper, journal articles and book chapters by contemporary philosophers.

504 Special Topics: Bayesian Epistemology
1:00-2:15 TR
Titelbaum

Traditional epistemology considers all-or-nothing beliefs: you either believe that it's going to rain today or you don't. Bayesian epistemology supposes that individuals assign degrees of belief to propositions: you might be less confident that it will rain, or more confident without being entirely certain. These degrees of belief can be represented by numbers (I'm 70% confident it will rain today), and then subjected to mathematical constraints (if I'm 70% confident that it will rain today, I should be 30% confident that it won't). We will consider what degrees of belief are, how they relate to actions, what rational constraints on degrees of belief Bayesians propose, and why we should believe those constraints are rationally required. We will then apply Bayesian epistemology to better understand inductive reasoning, confirmation of hypotheses by evidence, and various puzzles and paradoxes. (Assignments include regular problem sets with both mathematical and philosophical questions, and a final paper. Prerequisites are Philosophy 211 or equivalent and a solid ability to work with high school-level algebra.)

505 Justice and Health Care
11:00-12:15 TR
Kelleher

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.

512 Methods of Logic
11:00 MWF
Vranas

If mathematicians are necessarily rational but cyclists are not, is an individual who is both a mathematician and a cyclist necessarily rational or not? This is just one of the numerous puzzles associated with the notions of necessity and possibility, the notions that form the subject of modal logic. This course is a continuation of Philosophy 211 (Elementary Logic) and presupposes thorough familiarity with 211. The main object of the course is to enable students to (1) translate into logical notation English arguments involving the notions of necessity and possibility, and to (2) easily determine whether the translated arguments are valid or not. There is also a lot of philosophical discussion of issues related to modal logic. Detailed information about the course is available at http://mywebspace.wisc.edu/vranas/web/teaching.htm

515 Public Health Ethics
2:30-3:45 TR
Kelleher

This course focuses on ethical issues implicated in a population-level approach to disease prevention and health promotion. Students will explore prominent theoretical approaches to public health ethics and will engage with several ethical tensions. Issues discussed include: the use of coercive or intrusive public health interventions that restrict individual freedom, infringe upon individual privacy, and/or invite individual harm (or risks of harm); the justification of paternalistic measures in societies or sub-populations that seemingly indulge in pleasurable yet unhealthy behaviors; the extent to which societies should hold individuals responsible for their health conditions; the need to choose between the identifiable victims we can save with expensive measures here and now and the more numerous unidentifiable victims we could save in the future with the same monetary investment; the trade-offs between maximizing aggregate health benefits and addressing the special needs of vulnerable social sub-groups and individuals; climate change and intergenerational justice; ethical issues in international pharmaceutical research; and the health-equity implications of prominent social determinants of health.

516 Language and Meaning (fulfills category A requirement for the major)
4:00-5:15 TR
Mackay

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.

520 Philosophy of Natural Sciences
9:30-10:45 TR
Forster

The aim of this course is to address a simple question: What is the difference between good and bad science? We can point to examples of good science, like Newton’s laws of motion. And we can point to astrology as bad examples of science, to the extent that they count as science at all. However, the task of philosophy of science is more ambitious than agreeing on examples of good and bad science. The aim is to tell the difference between good and bad science in general terms, which apply across many examples of science, in a way that could help us judge examples of new science. Science has produced theories about things we cannot see (like electrons) on the basis of what we do see (like television pictures). Another example is the theory of evolution, which makes assertions about common ancestries based on the fossil record and other observational evidence. Another example is the atomic theory, which is based on observed regularities in the behavior of gases and the results of chemical reactions. Do we have good reason to believe that these theories are true, approximately true, in what they assert to exist, or are they merely accurate in their predictions? Is there an objective way in which we judge the true, approximate truth, or the predictively accuracy of scientific theories? If not, then our faith in science may in many instances depend on prejudice, bias, or even fashion. Perhaps science is like religion—relying more on faith than reason.

530 Freedom, Fate and Choice (fulfills category A requirement for the major)
1:00-2:15 TR
Steinberg

In this course, we will carefully examine the "free will debate" which has to do with the relationships between free will, moral responsibility, and determinism. We will study some of the most important recent literature on this debate in addressing questions like:What exactly is free will?Is the universe physically determined? If so, does this rule out our being free? If the universe is not physically determined, does this help in making sense of our being free? If we are not free, does this threaten our being morally responsible for what we do? In addition to focusing on central issues in the free will debate, we will spend some time discussing connected issues involving things like addiction and mental illness. For example, we'll consider whether an addict or a person suffering from a mental illness is free/morally responsible for what she does.

541 Modern Ethical Theories (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
11:00-12:15 TR
Shafer-Landau

This course will consider seminal work in each of the three major areas of moral philosophy: value theory, normative ethics, and metaethics. In the section on value theory, we will consider what makes for a good life, and what is intrinsically valuable. In normative ethics, we will read about various efforts to unify moral thought by reference to a supreme moral principle, such as the Golden Rule, the Principle of Utility, or Kant's Principle of Universalizability. Finally, we will consider certain metaethical questions regarding the status, rather than the content, of morality. Here we will focus on issues of the objectivity of morality and its rational authority.

549 Great Moral Philosophers (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
2:25 MWF
Gottlieb

We will discuss the work of several great moral philosophers including Aristotle, Hume, Mill, Kant, Hobbes and Rawls, and some important contemporary moral philosophers who develop or criticize these different approaches to ethics. The aim of the course is to gain a critical appreciation of the insights of each of these philosophers. How much time we spend on each philosopher and on each topic will depend on the interests of the participants in the course.

There will be three tutorials. Class participants will be asked to write a series of 1500-word essays answering specific and challenging questions on assigned texts or particular topics. They will then come in pairs to see Professor Gottlieb for an hour or so, during which time they will read out and discuss their work. Grades will be assigned to the written work. The point of the tutorial is purely educational. The final grade will be based on the grades for the three tutorials, attendance and good participation in class discussion.

551 Philosophy of Mind (fulfills category A requirement for the major)
11:00 MWF
Shapiro

This course is a survey of classical and contemporary issues in philosophy of mind. Among these issues are: physicalism (is the mind composed of physical stuff? If not, what is it?); conscious experience (why is an analysis of consciousness so hard?); extended minds (can parts of a mind exist outside the head?) personal identity (are you the same individual who existed yesterday?); non–human animal minds (do they have them and how could we know?) and artificial intelligence (will computers ever be capable of thought?). Assignments will include a few papers (roughly 5pp. in length) and a final exam.

555 Political Philosophy (fulfills category B requirement for the major)
1:00-2:15 TR
Hausman

This course will address the central questions in political philosophy in a largely historical format. It will begin with excerpts from Plato's Republic concerning social justice and then will jump to the very different "contractualist" views defended by Hobbes (in the Leviathan), Locke (Second Treatise of Government) and Rousseau (Social Contract and Discourse on the Origins of Inequality). After reading some Hume and Hegel and John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and discussing utilitarian views of government, we will turn to the contemporary classic work by John Rawls. There will be two papers, a midterm and a final examination.

558 Ethical Issues in Health Care
11:00-12:15 T
Fost

No description available

559 Philosophy of Law
2:30-3:45 MW
Paul

This course will explore foundational questions about the nature of the law and our legal system. We will consider competing conceptions of why the law has authority over us and how it relates to our moral obligations. We will then examine whether and how particular patterns of assigning legal responsibility and punishment are justified, focusing on culpability for criminal attempts, strict liability, and the insanity defense.

560 Metaphysics (fulfills category A requirement for the major)
2:30-3:45 TR
Sidelle

This class is an advanced introduction to various topics in metaphysics. We will look at classic readings on topics including the nature of physical objects, possible worlds, time, properties, causation, free will and personal identity. Among the questions we will consider are:

When does some matter constitute a material object? How does material objects persist through time? Can more than one material object occupy a given place at the same time?

Is there something special about the present? Or is time best objectively viewed from an ‘eternal’ position, standing outside of time?

What is it for an object to have a property? How can multiple objects have the very same property at the same time? Are properties somehow ‘in’ objects? Or do they have an independent existence?

What is it for one event to cause another? Can two possible worlds be exactly alike in their pattern of events, but differ in what causes what?

Can free will co-exist with deterministic laws of nature? With any laws of nature at all?

Under what conditions will we still be alive tomorrow? That is, what needs to be the case for one of the people living in the world tomorrow to be me? If I am a dualist, does it have to reside in sameness of the soul? If I am a materialist, does it have to reside in sameness of body, or brain?

562 Special Topics in Metaphysics (Consciousness)
4:00-5:15 TR
Gibson

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. Then we will spend some time studying accounts of mental representation and content. In the last section of the course, we will look at accounts of consciousness that understand the ‘seeming’ or ‘awareness’ that is distinctive of conscious states in terms of a certain kinds of representational states. We would study both ‘first order’ theories (Dretske’s and others) and second order theories (e.g. Carruthers’), which take consciousness to require a kind of apperceptive state wherein one is aware of one’s representational states.

565 Ethics of Modern Biotechnology
2:30-3:45 TR
Streiffer

This course is for graduate students and upper–level undergraduates. It is an in–depth study of a selection of ethical issues arising from the application of modern biotechnology to microorganisms, plants, animals and humans, and examines both agricultural and medical uses of biotechnology. In contrast to much of the public, academic, and industry discussion on these issues, we will aim at a discussion that is informed both by scientific research and by work done in ethical theory, political philosophy, and other relevant disciplines, and whose character is rigorous, clear, nuanced, and unbiased. I do not consider myself either generally for or generally against biotechnology. As a philosopher, however, I am against bad arguments wherever they are found.

581 Meets with 503

582 Meets with 555

830 Advanced Hist. of Philosophy (Pleasure in Ancient Greek Philosophy
4:00-6:00 T
Fletcher

In this course we will study the nature and value of pleasure in Ancient Greek philosophy. Focusing on the treatments of pleasure in Plato, Aristotle and the Stoic and Epicurean schools, we will explore broader questions about the connection between the soul and the body, as well as the relationship between sense perception and other forms of cognition. We will pay special attention to distinctions between different types of pleasure. What type of psychological phenomenon is pleasure? Do those pleasures that require the body differ fundamentally from those pleasures that belong to the soul alone? Do pleasures differ in their very nature, or only in their source or object? Do pleasures necessarily have objects? Is there an intrinsic difference between good and bad pleasures, or does pleasure get its value from something external, such as its object or the condition of the subject? Is it possible to give a unified account of pleasure, or is pleasure essentially heterogeneous. We will end the course by comparing a few of the most prominent contemporary treatments of pleasure in philosophy of mind and ethics.

916 Philosophy of Language (Meaning and Context)
4:00-6:00 R
Mackay

The truth of a sentence depends on the context of utterance. Take the sentence, "It's freezing here". In July, uttered in Madison, it is likely false, but uttered in Antarctica, it is likely true. But uttered in Madison in January, it is likely true. In this seminar we will consider how relativity to context in language should be understood and examine some philosophical applications and extensions of the notion. We will start by examining the reasons why many philosophers have held that the truth of a sentence needs to be relativized to parameters such as worlds and times, and at controversies about how this idea should be implemented. We will then turn to extensions and applications. It has been proposed that relativism about the truth of statements such as future contingents or moral or aesthetic judgements should be understood in terms adapted from the semantics of context-sensitivity. It has also been proposed that there are two kinds of truth at a world w - truth at w considered as actual, and truth at w considered as counterfactual - and this distinction has been used to defend controversial theses in other areas of philosophy, such as the nature of metaphysical necessity and the status of dualism in the philosophy of mind. We will consider both such proposals in the later part of the seminar. The seminar will provide a strong grounding in contemporary philosophy of language and touch on a number of central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind.

920 Philosophy of Science (Ockham’s Razor)
1:15-3:15 W
Sober

This course will mainly consider parsimony arguments in science, though there will be some attention to parsimony arguments in philosophy. After a brief historical overview of attempts to justify Ockham’s Razor before 1900, we will consider more recent attempts to formulate and justify the principle of parsimony in one or another probability framework. To do this we’ll need to look at the basics of Bayesianism and of some ideas from frequentist statistics. Then there will be three case studies from the sciences: the use of parsimony in phylogenetic inference, its role in the on-going controversy in cognitive psychology over whether chimpanzees form mental representations of the mental states of others, and the role of simplicity in the defense of heliocentrism in the Copernican revolution. Then we’ll turn to the subject of how parsimony is and ought to be used in philosophical argumentation. This last topic will encompass a variety of topics–for example, the argument from evil, the mind/brain identity theory, Platonism about mathematics, realism in meta-ethics, and solipsism.

955 Political Philosophy (Equality and Distributive Justice)
2:00-4:00 M
Brighouse

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to contemporary work in on distributive justice. At the center of contemporary philosophical work on distributive justice is John Rawls’s theory of justice, so we shall start the semester by reading Rawls’s Justice as Fairness: A Briefer Restatement, alongside some excerpts from A Theory of Justice; and some of the influential critiques of Rawls’s theory; including G.A. Cohen’s arguments that his theory is insufficiently egalitarian and that Rawls misconceives the subject of justice–the basic structure of society. We shall also look at a rival view of justice so-called “Luck Egalitarianism”, and consider the influential criticisms of that view offered by Elizabeth Anderson; and then at work that criticizes the ‘distributive justice’ paradigm, and the ideal theorizing that we shall have been doing.

The second part of the course focuses on some specific questions about justice and injustice. Inevitably these discussions will require us to integrate abstract normative theorizing with context-specific considerations, and part of my aim is to identify how the ways in which final, context-specific, judgments about what to do draw on the abstract considerations. At present my intention is to look at contemporary debates about the following issues, and to what extent our answers should depend on the facts about the background distribution of rewards:

  1. What justice says about how the costs of raising the next generation should be distributed and on two questions in particular: how much people who are not, themselves, parents should contribute to those costs; and how the remaining costs should be distributed between male and female parents.
  2. What justice says about how educational opportunities should be distributed.
  3. What justice says about how the costs of higher education should be. distributed; specifically on the extent to which those who are, themselves, educated should bear those costs.