Graduate Courses Spring 2018

  • PHIL 401 - Theory of Knowledge - Sutherland

    This course will focus on a priori knowledge – knowledge whose justification does not depend on particular sense experiences. Since before Plato, some philosophers have believed that we can know truths, even substantive truths about the world, simply by reflecting or reasoning, without depending on sense experience. Candidates for a priori knowledge include logic, mathematics, ethics, and metaphysics. The dominance of empiricism put a priori knowledge out of fashion, but it has received more interest in the last few decades. This course will look at Plato, Kant, and a few other philosophers and then look at contemporary debates concerning a priori knowledge.
  • PHIL 410 - Introduction to Formal Logic - Jarrett

    In contemporary philosophy much use is made of technical machinery of various sorts. Many topics in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of science, for example, rely on a familiarity with tools from logic, mathematics, probability theory, etc. In this course we will focus on developing a good understanding of these tools.
  • PHIL 425 - Studies in 19th-Century Phil - Sedgwick

    Our topic this term will be “Practical Agency: Kant versus Nietzsche”
    What is it to be a practical agent? Do we have freedom, and if so, what is its nature? In this course, we will consider these questions by studying classical texts of two central German philosophers of the late 18th and 19th centuries. We will begin with a sympathetic and in depth study of Kant’s moral philosophy, then move on to consider Nietzsche’s radically different approach.
    Principal texts: Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason. Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals. Prerequisite(s): One 200-level course in philosophy or consent of the instructor.
  • PHIL 501- Topics in Ancient Philosophy - Meinwald

    Plato’s criticisms of the arts and Aristotle’s Poetics as a response. So the topic is in aesthetics, but done in a way that is embedded in moral psychology.
  • PHIL 528 - Social/Political Philosophy - Laden

    John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice is perhaps the most important work of political philosophy published in English in the 20th century. It is also a really terrific piece of philosophy: a single, complex 600-page argument. We will spend the semester working through Theory, occasionally supplementing it with Rawls’s later work, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement.
  • PHIL 532 - Metaphysics - Almotahari

    There are certain notions that have their home in metaphysics but often appear in other branches of philosophy: necessity, contingency, supervenience, essence, ground, truthmaking, dependence, and fundamentality. Substantive theses across all branches of philosophy (yes, including the one you work in) are often formulated in terms of one or more of these notions. I like to think of these notions as representations of the Sellarsian hooks with which things (in the broadest possible sense of the term) hang together (in the broadest possible sense of the term). We will try to develop a sharper understanding of each notion (with an emphasis on essence and ground) by exploring the relationships between them and by considering the work they can do. Along the way, a certain picture will emerge: a post-Quinean form of Aristotelianism.
  • PHIL 534 - Philosophy of Mind - Goodman

    This seminar will focus on the question of whether different kinds of representations represent in different ways. Questions we will ask: How do pictures, maps and sentences represent? What are the differences between linguistic, pictorial and map-like representation? Are these differences of format? What implications do differences of format have for the content of representations? (Do pictures have the same kind of content as sentences but represent this content in different ways, or do they have a distinctive kind of content?) A guiding interest will be the question of the extent to which mental representation is diverse in its format and content?