Please note that all courses with the letter “a” are offered in the fall semester and all courses with the letter “b” are offered in the spring semester.
PHIL 567a, Mathematical Logic I Sun-Joo Shin
An introduction to the metatheory of first-order logic, up to and including the completeness
theorem for the first-order calculus. An introduction to the basic concepts of set theory is
PHIL 570a, Epistemology Keith DeRose
Introduction to current topics in the theory of knowledge. The analysis of knowledge, justified
belief, rationality, certainty, and evidence.
PHIL 614b/RLST 901b, Martin Heidegger Noreen Khawaja
A comprehensive introduction to the oeuvre of Martin Heidegger. Key texts from Being and Time to
the essay on technology, including the famous “Rectoral Address” of 1933, and writings on poetry,
art, and theology. Consideration of Heidegger’s work in systematic and historical terms. Focus on
his attempt to use philosophy to incite an “essential transformation in the history of Western
spirit” along with its stakes, limitations, and consequences.
PHIL 615b, Hume Kenneth Winkler
A study of Hume’s epistemology and metaphysics and his science of human nature. Topics include
space and time; inductive reasoning; causation; belief in an external world; personal identity;
liberty and necessity; moral judgment; religious belief; and skepticism. Readings in Book I of A
Treatise of Human Nature, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, and Dialogues concerning
PHIL 616b, Philosophy of Spinoza Michael Della Rocca
An in-depth study of Spinoza’s philosophy with attention to his major work, the Ethics, as well as
his political writings, the Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect, the letters, and other
writings. Focus not only on Spinoza’s metaphysics, but also on his views on philosophy of mind,
teleology, action, and emotion. Some attention also to competing methods for interpreting works in
the history of philosophy.
PHIL 617b/JDST 651b, Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School Asaf Angermann
This course is an introduction to the thought and writings of the philosophers known as the
Frankfurt School, who founded and developed the idea of Critical Theory. Taken in its original
meaning as a method or even a practice, rather than a systematic theory, Critical Theory suggests a
way of thinking about the interrelations between philosophy and society, culture and politics, and
on the complex relation between philosophical concepts and social reality. By reading key texts of Frankfurt School authors such as Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Benjamin, Kracauer, and Fromm, the course inquires into the meaning of concepts such as critique, history, freedom, individuality, emancipation, and aesthetic
PHIL 619a, Descartes Karsten Harries
An examination of Descartes as a founder of the modern world picture. Consideration of all his
PHIL 622a/CLSS 622a, Plato’s Republic Verity Harte, Mary Margaret McCabe
Reading and philosophical discussion of the whole of Plato’s major work, The Republic. Core class has readings in translation. Friday discussion section for graduate students.
First class meeting will be on Wednesday September 9th.
W 3:30–5:20 (lecture), F 2:00–3:30 (discussion section for graduate students, readings in Greek)
PHIL 623b, Aristotelian Virtue Theory David Charles
What kind of characteristic is virtue? What makes virtuous activity good to do? In addressing these
questions, we first consider Aristotle’s account of virtue and then those suggested by some
neo-Aristotelian “virtue ethicists” including Anscombe, Foot, Hurst- house, and Thompson. Our main
focus is on the connections among action, value, and practical knowledge.
PHIL 626a, Cognitive Science of Morality Joshua Knobe
Introduction to the emerging field of moral cognition. Focus on questions about the philosophical
significance of psychological findings. Topics include the role of emotion in moral judgment; the
significance of character traits in virtue ethics and personality psychology; the reliability of
intuitions and the psychological processes that underlie them.
PHIL 627b, Computability and Logic Sun-Joo Shin
A technical exposition of Gödel’s first and second incompleteness theorems and of some of their
main consequences in consequences in proof theory and model theory, such as Lob’s theorem, Tarski’s
undefinability of truth, provability logic, and nonstandard models of arithmetic.
PHIL 628b, Propositions, Truth, and Paradox Bruno Whittle
Semantic paradoxes and the question of how to give adequate accounts of truth and of propositions
in light of them. Readings include recent work on languages that contain their own truth predicates
and on attempts to give consistent accounts of structured propositions.
T 7:00–8:50 PM
PHIL 640a, Action and Metaphysics Michael Della Rocca
An examination of central themes in the philosophy of action over the past half-century and their
connection to important trends in recent metaphysics. Topics to be covered include causal vs.
non-causal theories of action, the individuation of actions (and of events), reasons for action,
deviant causal chains, the nature of intention. Exploration of a Parmenidean monism of action.
Special attention to the relation between action and ground, between action and relations, and
between action and meaning. Authors include Davidson, Anscombe, Frankfurt, Bratman, Velleman,
Railton, Peacocke, Sarah Paul, Korsgaard, Lavin, Anton Ford, Bradley, Schaffer, Gideon Rosen.
PHIL 641b, Reductionism Elizabeth Miller
An exploration of some reductive approaches in contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of science
and some challenges to the reductive project. Is there a deep sense in which all the complexity of
reality reduces to some more limited class of fundamental features?
PHIL 643a, Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics Elizabeth Miller
An examination of a wide range of philosophical issues as informed by quantum mechanics.
Evaluation of different, and controversial, interpretations of quantum mechanics and their distinct
ontologies. Subtopics include the measurement problem, non-locality and holism, wave function
realism, and the relationship between physics and metaphysics.
PHIL 644b, Philosophy of Wilfrid Sellars Jay Garfield
History may well see Wilfrid Sellars as the most influential philosopher of the twentieth century,
but his work is little known outside of the world of professional philosophy. Sellars’s thought is
grounded in a nuanced reading of the history of Western philosophy, with a particular focus on Kant
and his response to problems arising in early modern European philosophy. But Sellars’s principal
contributions are in the philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, epistemology, the philosophy
of language, and metaphysics. His critiques of foundationalism, his formulation of functionalism,
and his investigations of intentionality and the relationship of normativity to naturalism shape
all thinking about these issues in the Western philosophical world today. We read Sellars’s most
important essays and explore the system of philosophical thought they constitute. Pre-requisites:
at least one intermediate-level course in epistemology or the philosophy of mind, and at least one
course in the history of modern European philosophy.
PHIL 645b/CPLT 629b/GMAN 563b, Nietzsche and His Readers Paul North
Reading and discussion of Friedrich Nietzsche’s major texts, as well as critiques and interpretations by some of his most influential twentieth-century readers.
PHIL 646b, Philosophy of Language: Situations and Events Zoltán Szabó
The class investigates the promise of unifying event-semantics and situation-semantics and raises
questions about the underlying metaphysics of the theory.
PHIL 647b, Recent Work in Buddhist Philosophy Jay Garfield
The last few decades have seen a gradual rapprochement between Western philosophy and Buddhist
studies, reflecting an increased awareness on each side of the relevance of work on the other. In
this course we read recent books addressing the intersections between Buddhist and Western
philosophy and the contributions each can make to the other. Prerequisite: at least one
intermediate-level course in Western philosophy or in Buddhist studies.
PHIL 655a, Normative Ethics Shelly Kagan
A systematic examination of normative ethics, the part of moral philosophy that attempts to
articulate and defend the basic principles of morality. The bulk of the course surveys and explores
some of the main normative factors relevant in determining the moral status of a given act or
policy (features that help make a given act right or wrong). Brief consideration of some of the main views about the foundations of normative ethics (the ultimate basis or ground for the various moral principles).
PHIL 657b/PLSC 611b, Recent Work on Justice Thomas Pogge
In-depth study of one contemporary book, author, or debate in political philosophy, political
theory, or normative economics. Depending on student interest, this might be a ground-breaking new
book, the life’s work of a prominent author, or an important theme in contemporary political
PHIL 663a/LAW 20662/PLSC 605a, Rethinking Sovereignty, Human Rights, and Globalization Seyla
This course explores conceptions of sovereignty, cosmopolitanism, and human rights as basic
elements of the international political order from the dawn of the modern age to the present in
historical, philosophical, and jurisprudential aspects.
PHIL 671a, Moral Emotions Stephen Darwall
A close study of the role of emotions and attitudes in the moral life and in moral philosophy.
The course investigates the nature of emotions such as shame, guilt, gratitude, love, and respect,
as well as such related phenomena as empathy and sympathy. It considers their relation to
fundamental moral concepts, as well as their epistemological role and capacity to ground moral
judgments and facts.
W 7:00–8:50 PM
PHIL 672a/GMAN 651a/PLSC 583a, Contemporary Critical Theory Seyla Benhabib
A careful examination of Hegel’s theory of the modern state and its elaboration by Habermas and
PHIL 673b, Theories of the Good Shelly Kagan
What features make one outcome intrinsically better or worse than another from the moral point of
view? We examine four values that may be relevant: (1) How are judg- ments of individual well-being
to be combined into an overall assessment of an outcome? (2) Is virtue intrinsically valuable, or only instrumentally so? (3) Does the distribution of well-being matter, and if so, what makes an outcome better or worse with regard to equality? (4) Finally, what is the significance of people getting the particular level of well-being that they deserve?
PHIL 705a, First-Year Seminar Michael Della Rocca, Paul Franks
Required of and limited to first-year students in the Philosophy Ph.D. program. Topic varies from
year to year. Preparation for graduate work. Reading, writing, and presentation skills.
PHIL 706a, Work in Progress Sun-Joo Shin
In consultation with the instructor, each student presents a significant work in progress, e.g., a
revised version of an advanced seminar paper or a dissertation chapter. Upon completion of the
writing, the student presents the work in a mock colloquium format, including a formal question-and-answer period.
PHIL 717a, Recent Work and Research in Epistemology Keith DeRose
A study of some prominent issues in current epistemology, focusing on literature relevant to
research interests of students and the instructor. Topics may include skepticism, internalist vs.
externalist accounts of knowledge and of justification, the structure of knowledge and of
justification (foundationalism, coherentism), contextualism in epistemology, relevant alternative
accounts of knowledge, and the epistemology of lotteries. Students not in the philosophy graduate
program are welcome, but should contact the instructor for permission and further information
PHIL 718a/LAW 20104/PLSC 553a, Justice Bruce Ackerman
An examination of contemporary theories, together with an effort to assess their practical
implications. Authors this year include Peter Singer, Richard Posner, John Rawls, Robert Nozick,
Michael Walzer, Marian Young, and Roberto Unger. Topics: animal rights, the status of children and
the principles of educational policy, the relation of market justice to distributive justice, the
status of affirmative action. Follows Law School academic calendar.
PHIL 720b, Recent Work in Philosophy of Religion Keith DeRose
A study of recent work in the philosophy of religion, with a focus on the problem of evil, the
possible place of human freedom in a world governed by God, and the epistemology of religious, and
particularly, theistic, belief.
M 7:00–8:50 PM
PHIL 722a, Nicolaus of Cusa, On Learned Ignorance Karsten Harries
Nicholas of Cusa’s On Learned Ignorance, despite ways in which what it has to say seems dated,
provides us with a continuing challenge. This is especially true of his insight into the essential
transcendence of reality, so di≠erent from the ontology implied by Descartes’s insistence on clear
and distinct understanding. Special emphasis on his understanding of infinity and perspective.
First class meeting will be on Thursday, September 10, 2015.
PHIL 726b, Knowledge and Action Jason Stanley, Timothy Williamson
In this seminar, we look at several themes connecting knowledge and action. A number of
philosophers, including the instructors, have defended a connection between knowledge and action;
on this view, knowledge is the epistemic guarantee that a reason is good for acting. We consider
different interpretations and modifications of the biconditional, “act on p if and only if you know
that p” (suitably restricted), and consider arguments pro and con for each direction. We look at
various proposals about making distinctions between justifications and excuses in the context of a
defense of the knowledge norm. Our intention is to cover as much as possible of the recent debate.
We also look at the growing debate in “X-Phi” about the role of knowledge and action, which emerges
in part from one aspect of the knowledge norms debate, about stakes sensitivity (a strategy used to
defend one direction of the knowledge norm for action). We also pursue knowledge deeper into
action theory, connecting topics such as skill, knowledge, intention, and belief. Other topics that
may be explored are a comparison of the debate between knowledge norms of action and knowledge
norms of assertion, and some recent papers of Kristie Dotson arguing that a classic theme of black
feminist philosophy is the connection between epistemic states and legitimate reasons for action.
W 7:00–8:50 PM
PHIL 728a/REL 937a, Kierkegaard’s Philosophy of Religion John Hare
This course explores a number of texts by Kierkegaard, most of them pseudonymous, but also Works of
Love written under his own name. A focus of the course is on what Kierkegaard intends us to think
about the three stages of life, namely the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious.
PHIL 730b/LAW 21715, Ethics of War and Peace Scott Shapiro
This course integrates an exploration of Western moral traditions and ethical philosophy with the
unique legal and moral obligations placed upon those in government who make decisions regarding the
use of U.S. military force and those in the military who practice the profession of arms.
Methodology: facilitated seminar discussions and case study analyses spanning the breadth of issues
that arise in armed conflict: just war theory, law of armed conflict, conscientious objection,
military justice, humanitarian intervention, terrorism, and drone warfare, among others. Scheduled
examination or paper option. Follows Law School academic calendar.
PHIL 732b/REL 929b, Theology of Plato and Aristotle John Hare
This course is about Plato’s and Aristotle’s views of the divine. Most of the important work of
both philosophers on this topic is read. One aim of the course is to think about these philosophers
as sources, sometimes congenial and sometimes not, for Christian reflection on a range of questions
including the relation between goodness and the divine, the nature of the soul, the origin or lack
of the origin of the cosmos, and the relation between happiness and virtue.
PHIL 735b/LAW 21712, Nietzsche’s Critique of Modernity Anthony Kronman, Paul Kahn
Nietzsche was critical of many aspects of the modern age that we generally associate with liberal
values. These include equality, tolerance, and the rule of law. What was the basis of his
criticism? What alternative, if any, did he propose? We examine some of the key concepts of
Nietzsche’s philosophy with these questions in mind. Readings include The Birth of Tragedy, The Gay
Science, On the Genealogy of Morals, and other works. Paper required. Follows Law School academic
PHIL 740b/CLSS 880b, Seneca on Society: The Treatise On Benefits Brad Inwood
All major ancient philosophers had well-developed views on social and political relations, and the treatise On
Benefits is the most extensive Stoic work surviving on the topic. This sophisticated essay
integrates Stoic ethical and political thought with ethics and philosophy of mind, situating it in
the concrete social conditions of elite Roman culture in the first century C.E. Open to those
reading in Latin (the Teubner of Hosius is recommended) as well as in the English translation by
Gri∞n and Inwood (University of Chicago Press, 2014), the seminar accommodates a variety of
approaches (primarily philosophical, but also social-historical and literary).
PHIL 750a or b, Tutorial
By arrangement with faculty.