Graduate Courses Spring 2016

  • PHIL 503: Medieval Philosophy

    G. Sinkler | Thursdays 3:30PM to 6:00PM
    The seminar is a "core" seminar. It will introduce students to philosophy as practiced during the Middle Ages in the Latin-speaking West. We will begin with two concepts which anchor medieval philosophical work: the concept of God, and the concept of transcendentals. The latter concept will be used to help us organize our thinking about medieval epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and "logic" as exemplified in the work of authors such as Augustine, William of Sherwood, Thomas Aquinas, William Heytesbury and John Buridan. (A reading packet will be provided.) 

  • PHIL 505: Leibniz and Locke

    J. Whipple | Tuesday 3:30PM to 6:00PM
    Leibniz and Locke are two of the philosophical giants of the early modern period. In this seminar we will attempt to understand these great thinkers on their own terms, in historical context, and in relation to each other. The primary texts for the seminar are Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Leibniz’s New Essays on Human Understanding. Topics will include methodology in the history of philosophy, the debate over innate ideas, primary and secondary qualities, substance, dualism, the thinking matter hypothesis and immortality, real and nominal essence, consciousness, personal identity, knowledge of the external world, and faith and reason. Seminar requirements include weekly reading responses, a short paper, a presentation on a piece of secondary literature, and a seminar paper. 

  • PHIL 534: Philosophy of Mind

    D. Sutherland | Friday 2:00PM to 4:30PM
    Concepts We talk a great deal about concepts in philosophy, but what are concepts? This seminar will explore theories of concepts – theories of their structure and content. We will look at a few particularly prominent issues, including content externalism and conceptual role semantics/inferentialism. We will also look at the way in which cognitive scientists think about concepts by focusing on their role in recent theories of mathematical cognition. We will end on a larger issue about the difference between the two approaches to concepts and what the relation between philosophy and cognitive science ought to be. 

  • PHIL 538: Dimensions of Meaning/Slurs and Derogation

    A. Gray | Monday 2:00PM to 4:30PM
    This course has two connected parts: Dimensions of Meaning: When a speaker utters a declarative sentence she asserts a proposition – she puts forward a claim about how things are. Often, though, she does more than that. Think of the difference, for example, between asserting "Helen won a prestigious award” and "Even Helen won a prestigious award”. In some sense, the two utterances assert the same thing. But they clearly differ along some important dimension of meaning. Philosophers and linguists have identified several different dimensions along which meaning can exceed the proposition asserted – conversational implicature, conventional implicature, and presupposition, being the most commonly identified dimensions. In this section of the course we will examine the motivation for introducing these distinct dimensions, the standard accounts of these dimensions, and challenges for the standard accounts. Slurs and Derogation: Slurs, as a class of words, and derogation, as a kind of speech-act, are linguistic phenomena which encode, reflect, and contribute to the oppression of marginalized groups. It has been suggested that the tools of philosophy of language and linguistics can shed light on what is distinctive - and what is distinctively damaging and dangerous - about slurs and derogation. Much of the debate has focused on whether, and where, to place the negative content of slurs along the dimensions of meaning discussed in the first half of the course. In this section of the course, we will survey the contemporary debate about the linguistic properties of slurs and derogatory language.

  • PHIL 590: Research Seminar

    N. Huggett | Time TBD
    Work-in-progress seminar where students in the topical, prospectus, or dissertation phase present recent writing.