Graduate Courses 2016-2017

See the Online Course Information for course locations.

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 567b, Mathematical Logic 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 included.

MW 11:35–12:25

PHIL 606b/CPLT 651b/GMAN 647b, Systems and Their TheoryHenry Sussman

Conceptual systems that have, since the outset of modernity, furnished a format and platform for rigorous thinking at the same time that they have imposed on language the attributes of self-reflexivity, consistency, repetition, purity, and dependability. Texts by Kant, Hegel, Bergson, Kafka, Proust, and Borges.

T 3.30-5.20

PHIL 607b/CLSS 620b, The Central Books of Aristotle’s MetaphysicsDavid Charles

Examination of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Discussion of substance and essence in the central books, Z, H, and Θ, and assessment of recent attempts to interpret his account. Prerequisites: previous study of ancient philosophy and permission of the instructor.

W 3:30–5:20

PHIL 609b/CLSS 609b, Plato’s PhilebusVerity Harte

Discussion of Plato’s Philebus (in translation), the late work in which he examines the competing claims of pleasure and reason to be the basis of human happiness and in which he provides a portrait of the best human life.

M 1:30–3:20

PHIL 624b, Hegel’s Phenomenology of SpiritPaul Franks

A close reading of sections of one of the major works in post-Kantian philosophy, currently receiving renewed attention within analytic philosophy. Themes discussed include varieties of skepticism and responses to skepticism; the relationship of epistemology to questions concerning the structures of social practices of reasoning; the historical character of reason; the relationship between natural processes and social developments; the intersubjectivity of consciousness; and the possibility of a philosophical critique of culture. Attention is paid both to commentaries that focus on historical development and to approaches that view historical narratives as allegories whose deeper meaning may be formulated as a logical or semantic theory.

TH 9:25–11:15

PHIL 626b, Cognitive Science of MoralityJoshua 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.

T 7–8:50pm

PHIL 627b, Computability and LogicSun-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.

M 1:30–3:20

PHIL 642a, Language and PowerJason Stanley

An investigation into the way language shapes our social world, drawing on readings from feminist theory, critical race theory, formal semantics and pragmatics, political psychology, and European history.

M 1:30–3:20

PHIL 643b, Philosophy of Quantum MechanicsElizabeth 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, nonlocality and holism, wave function realism, and the relationship between physics and metaphysics.

T 3:30–5:20

PHIL 648b, Moral and Epistemic DilemmasDaniel Greco

Genuine dilemmas are cases in which one cannot fulfill all of one’s obligations—whatever one does, one will do something wrong. Or in the epistemic case, whatever one believes, one will thereby be irrational, or unreasonable. This course covers recent work on moral and epistemic dilemmas. We discuss both the particular cases alleged to give rise to dilemmas, as well as more general theoretical considerations that have been adduced for and against recognizing a category of dilemmas in normative theorizing. Emphasis is placed on drawing connections between the two literatures.

F 9:25–11:15

PHIL 649a, Personal IdentityKenneth Winkler

The nature of persons, their unity, and the conditions of their identity over time. Readings in classical and contemporary sources, among them Locke, Hume, Shaftesbury, Butler, Reid, Bernard Williams, Derek Parfit, Charles Taylor, Sally Haslanger, and David Lewis. Consideration of the metaphysics of kinds; social construction; philosophical methodology; and the bearing of ethics on metaphysics.

W 7–8:50pm

PHIL 652a, History of Early Modern EthicsStephen Darwall

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were an unusually fertile period in philosophical ethics. Among other things, thinkers of the period attempted to work out and investigate a distinctive ethical conception, the idea of morality and its distinctive demands or obligations. We investigate major and some lesser-known figures, including Hobbes, Francis Hutcheson, Hume, Bishop Joseph Butler, Rousseau, Kant, Adam Smith, and Bentham. The main topics include the nature of moral obligation and moral motivation, whether morality can be based on reason or sentiment, and the relation between the right and the good.

T 7:00-8:50pm

PHIL 655b, Normative EthicsShelly 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).

M 1:30–3:20

PHIL 657b/PLSC 611b, Recent Work on JusticeThomas 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 thought.

M 3:30–5:20

PHIL 664a, Justice, Taxes, and Global Financial IntegrityThomas Pogge

This seminar studies the formulation, interpretation, and enforcement of national and international tax rules from the perspective of national and global economic justice.

M 3:30–5:20

PHIL 674a/PLSC 580a, Borders, Culture, and CitizenshipSeyla Benhabib

The contemporary refugee crisis in Europe and elsewhere; new patterns of migration, increasing demands for multicultural rights on the part of Muslim minorities in the West, and transnational effects of globalization faced by contemporary societies. This course examines these issues in a multidisciplinary perspective in the light of political theories of citizenship and migration, and laws concerning refugees and migrants in Europe and the United States.

PHIL 675b, The Bavarian Rococo ChurchKarsten Harries

A case study, exploring the relationship of architecture, reason, and the sacred. The focus is on the epochal threshold that both separates and joins the theatrical culture of the Baroque from our modern world-picture.

T 1:30–3:20

PHIL 681b, Reconsidering Early Modern RationalismMichael Della Rocca, Julia Borcherding

Reexamination of early modern rationalism and the narrative underlying it. Focus on both canonical and noncanonical figures who seem to bear marks of rationalist thinkers, such as René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, G.W.F. Leibniz, Anne Conway, and Émilie du Châtelet. Attention to the apparent clash between rationalism and empiricism and to related methodological issues.

T 1:30–3:20

PHIL 690b/LING 776b, Implicature and Pragmatic TheoryLaurence Horn

Theoretical and experimental approaches to conversational and conventional implicature. Pragmatic intrusion into what is said; constraints on truth-conditional content in neo-Gricean pragmatics and relevance theory. Arguments for and against the grammatical view of scalar implicature. Evidence from studies on the acquisition and processing of implicature and presupposition. Prerequisite: one course in semantics or pragmatics, or permission of the instructor.

T 9:25-11:15

PHIL 700a/REL 976a, Kant’s Philosophy of ReligionJohn Hare

This course looks at Kant’s writings on the philosophy of religion, from the Critique of Pure Reason to Conflict of the Faculties.

TH 3:30–5:20

PHIL 703a/LAW 20308, Philosophy of Law IGideon Yaffe

This course examines a variety of historically influential responses to basic questions concerning the nature of law and the difference (if any) between law and morality. Readings include works by legal positivists, natural lawyers, legal realists, and critical legal scholars. This course is the first half of a two-course sequence that continues with PHIL 715b. Follows Law School academic calendar.

WF 10:10–11:35

PHIL 705a, First-Year SeminarElizabeth Miller, Michael Della Rocca

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.

W 1:30–3:20

PHIL 706a, Work in Progress IZoltán Szabó

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.

W 1:30–3:20

PHIL 715b/LAW 21408, Philosophy of Law IIGideon Yaffe

This course concerns philosophical topics that arise in connection with particular areas of law. Such topics include the justification of criminal punishment; discrepancy in punishment of attempted and completed crimes; the relevance of ignorance of the law to criminal responsibility; self-defense and other forms of preventive violence; the rationale for double-jeopardy restrictions; the conception of justice of import to tort law; the concepts of causation and intention in tort law; the relationship between promises and contracts; the fundamental rationale for property rights; the grounds for and nature of the individualization of the reasonable person standard; the rationale for variations in standards of proof across areas of law. A selection of such topics is examined through consideration of both philosophical essays written about them and legal materials that bear on them. Follows Law School academic calendar.

WF 10:10–11:35

PHIL 716b, Work in Progress IIJason Stanley

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.

M 7–8:50pm

PHIL 717b, Recent Work and Research in EpistemologyKeith 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 before enrolling.

T 1:30–3:20

PHIL 718a/LAW 20104/PLSC 553a, JusticeBruce 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, Marion Young, Avishai Margalit, and Cass Sunstein. 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. Self-scheduled examination or paper option. Follows Law School academic calendar.

MT 4:10–6

PHIL 719b/REL 965b, Faith and the WillJohn Pittard

An investigation of questions concerning the nature of religious faith, the relationship of faith to the will and to desire, and the merits of various prudential, moral, and existential arguments for and against religious faith. Questions to be treated include the following: Is faith in some sense “meritorious” (to use Aquinas’s language)? Do the commitments of faith essentially involve believing propositions? Can belief be voluntary? Can trust or hope be voluntary? Should we hold religious beliefs to the same epistemic standards that apply to more mundane beliefs? Or should we persist in faith even if these beliefs do not meet conventional rational standards? We explore these questions through writings by Aquinas, Pascal, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, James, Freud, Wittgenstein, and various contemporary philosophers.

W 1:30-3:20

PHIL 725a, Kant: The Critique of JudgmentKarsten Harries

While most readings of The Critique of Judgment focus on issues in aesthetics, this seminar also examines Kant’s different concepts of nature. Issues to be discussed include such questions as: Why does Kant place the beauty of nature above that of art? What is the relationship between the two? What need is there for a metaphysics of nature? Are all sciences in principle reducible to physics? What are the limits of the scientific understanding of nature? What room does the world picture offered by science leave for freedom and thus for ethics? What is the moral significance of beautiful nature? Does the beauty or teleology of nature support claims of the existence of God?

T 1:30–3:20

PHIL 728b/REL 937b, Kierkegaard’s Philosophy of Religion   John Hare

The course explores a number of texts by Kierkegaard, most of them pseudonymous, but also Works of Love, written under his own name. A focus is on what Kierkegaard intends us to think about the three stages of life: the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. No background in philosophy required; some acquaintance with Kant and Hegel helpful.

TH 3:30-5:20

PHIL 731b/REL 922b, Theological Predications and Divine AttributesJohn Pittard

An exploration of philosophical debates concerning the nature of theological language and the nature of God. Topics include theories of analogical predication, divine simplicity, God’s relation to time, divine impassibility, the nature of God’s love, divine freedom, the compatibility of foreknowledge and human freedom, and theories of providence.

Th 1:30-3:20

PHIL 733a/CLSS 843a, Readings in Greek Philosophy: Plato’s PhaedoVerity Harte, Brad Inwood

The course reads and discusses the Greek text of Plato’s Phaedo, set on the last day of Socrates’ life. The Phaedo is notable for a series of arguments for the immortality of soul and for discussions of the Forms, the acquisition of knowledge, philosophical method, and the value of philosophy. This is a core course for the combined Ph.D. program in Classics and Philosophy. Prerequisite: the course is open to all Classics or Philosophy graduate students who have suitable preparation in Attic Greek and some prior study of ancient philosophy. Others interested in taking or attending the class must have the permission of the instructor.

W 3:30–5:20

PHIL 734a/GMAN 651a/PLSC 583a, Contemporary Critical Theory  Seyla Benhabib

An examination of the themes of statelessness, migration, and exile in the works of Arendt, Benjamin, Adorno, Shklar, and Berlin.

T 3:30-5:20

PHIL 742b/LING 671b, Philosophy of LanguageZoltán Szabó, Timothy Williamson

The course focuses on the relationship between philosophy and linguistics. It is aimed at graduate students in both departments who are interested in exploring the different ways questions are approached in the two fields and in developing the skills for cooperative research. We start with three foundational debates of the twentieth century: Quine vs. Carnap on ontological commitment, Russell vs. Strawson on reference, and Ayer vs. Geach on expressivism. The remainder of the class is divided into two parts: the philosophy of semantics and the philosophy of pragmatics. The first part covers the topics of reference and quantification, tense and modality, intentionality, and compositionality. The second deals with context and content, force and mood, implicature, and common ground. The core of the course is a manuscript written jointly with Rich Thomason, which will be supplemented with classic papers in the philosophy of language.

W 1:30–3:20

PHIL 744b/LAW 21779/PSYC 609b, Addiction and the Law: Perspectives from Philosophy, Economics, and NeuroscienceGideon Yaffe, Alan Schwartz, M. Moore, Hedy Kober

This course concerns the bearing of addiction on various forms of treatment under the law, including but not limited to the criminal liability of addicts. The course addresses this broad set of issues through consideration of the import for the law of philosophical, economic, and neuroscientific conceptions of the nature of addiction. Follows Law School academic calendar.

T 2:10–4

PHIL 745b, Antinomy of BeingKarsten Harries

Whenever an attempt is made to comprehend nature without loss, our thinking is led into antinomies. Every attempt to force reality into some logical framework must in the end suffer shipwreck. But that shipwreck opens us to the claims made on us by our fellow human beings and by nature, gives us to understand that we cannot invent what gives our life meaning and direction, but have to receive it. Not that we should tear down the house our reason has built us; but only if we open windows and doors in that house to what lies beyond, does our life become meaningful. Readings in Descartes, Fichte, Heidegger, Kant, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Wittgenstein, and others.

TH 1:30–3:20

PHIL 750a or b, Tutorial

By arrangement with faculty.