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Fall 2009


  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
9:30 -
11:30

Phil 76400 [97420]
Topics in Plato’s Aesthetics
Prof. Pappas
Room 7395

     
11:45 -
1:45

Phil 77900 [96740]
Academic Ethics
Prof. Cahn
Room 6495

Phil 76800 [96732]
Modal Logic
Profs. Mendelsohn/Fitting
Room 6417


Phil 77800 [96739]
Philosophy of Motion Pictures
Prof. Carroll
Room 3309

Phil 80200 [96742]
Proseminar
Profs. Prinz/Vasiliou
Room 7395

Phil 77600 [96737]
Political Sovereignty
Prof. Dahbour
Room 6417

2:00 -
4:00

Phil 78700 [96741]
Feminist/Post-Colonial Epistemology
Prof. Alcoff
Room 7314

Phil 77700 [96738]
British Moralists
Prof. Baumrin
Room 6494


Ling 79200 [96761]
Semantics of Imaginative Discourse
Prof. Orenstein
Room 3305

Phil 76700 [96731]
Scientific Explanation
Prof. Koslow
Room 6496

Phil 76500 [96729]
Subjectivity & Mental Quality
Prof. Rosenthal
Room 7102

4:15 -
6:15

Phil 77100 [96735]
Kripke Beyond Naming/Necessity
Prof. Salmon
Room C415A
Start Date: 8/31/09
End Date: 10/19/09

Phil 76900 [96733]
Dialetheism & Paraconsistency
Prof. Priest
Room 3310B

Colloquium

Phil 77100 [96735]
Kripke Beyond Naming/Necessity
Prof. Salmon
Room C415A
Start Date: 8/31/09
End Date: 10/19/09

5:00 -
7:00

MALS 74300 [96975]
Research Ethics
Prof. Rhodes
Room TBA
Dates: 9/8-12/15, 2009

     
6:30 -
8:30

Phil 76100 [96728]
Late Medieval/Renaissance Philosophy
Prof. Lackey
Room 7314

Phil 77000 [96734]
Metaphysics
Prof. Levin
Room 7395

   


Fall 2009 Course Descriptions


MALS 74300 [96975]
Research Ethics
Prof. Rosamond Rhodes

4 credits
Mon. 5:00 - 7:00
Room TBA

Seminar participants will include CUNY students and MSSM medical students as well as students from the MSSM Masters programs in Genetics Counseling, Clinical Research, and Public Health.
This seminar will explore the complex issues raised by human subject research. The seminar will begin with a review of some of the landmark cases of unethical use of human subjects in research, the policies that shape our current understanding of the ethical conduct of research, and the mechanisms for research oversight that have been instituted. Then, through reading a broad selection of seminal articles and papers from the recent literature, seminar presentations and discussions, we shall engage in a conceptual analysis of a number of controversial and pressing issues. We shall be discussing the moral and public policy aspects of topics such as research design, risk-benefit assessment, informed consent, the use of "vulnerable" subjects, research without consent, confidentiality, inducements, conflicts of interests, disclosure of research findings, tissue use, vaccine development, international research. In addition to exploring the moral landscape of this rich and provocative domain, the seminar should clarify and inform participants' understanding of basic moral concepts such as autonomy and justice. It will also serve as a model for approaching other issues in applied ethics.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Ethics or Social/Political (old curriculum) or Group C (new curriculum)]

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Phil 77800 [96739]
Philosophy of Motion Pictures
Prof. Noel Carroll

4 credits
Tues. 11:45 - 1:45
Room 3309

The Philosophy of Motion Pictures is a seminar devoted to exploring certain fundamental questions about moving images, such as: can cinema be art; does the medium of cinema dictate certain stylistic choices; what is the nature of the moving image; what is the distinction between nonfiction and fiction cinema; can nonfiction cinema be objective; what is the relation of the moving image to morality, politics, and knowledge, including philosophical knowledge; and can the evaluation of movies be grounded objectively? The course will adopt a discussion format. Course requirements include oral presentations and a term paper.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C (new curriculum)]

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Phil 77700 [92232]
British Moral Philosophy
Prof. Stefan Baumrin

4 credits
Tues. 2:00 - 4:00
Room 6494

Moral Philosophy in Britain has had a great history from Hobbes to Ross, particularly in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries from the English Revolution to the French Revolution.

In this seminar we will focus on the moral theories of Hobbes, Clarke, Butler, Hutcheson, Hume and Bentham, but with attention paid also to Cudworth, Cumberland, Locke, Shaftesbury, Wollaston, Price and Smith.

We will then examine the utilitarianisms of J. S. Mill and G. E. Moore, and the deontology of H. A. Prichard and W. D. Ross.

We will examine the original texts and some of the important recent literature about them and the use of their theories in contemporary ethical theory.

Text:

British Moralists, 1650-1800, ed D.D. Raphael, 2 vols, Oxford, 1969.

[I have obtained the Hackett Reprint of the Raphael - it is $25 for the 2 volume set] or

British Moralists, ed L.A. Selby Bigge (Oxford,1899) or the Bobbs-Merrill reprint, ed by B.Baumrin 1964

One should also obtain facsimile copies of Hobbes’s Leviathan and Hume’s Treatise.

Recommended as well is The British Moralists and The Internal 'Ought' 1640 -1740 by Stephan Darwall, Cambridge 1995. The first seminar will concentrate on Leviathan Chs 13-15.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Ethics or Modern (old curriculum) or Groups C or D-modern (new curriculum)]

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Phil 77900 [96740]
Academic Ethics
Prof. Stephen Cahn

4 credits
Mon. 11:45 - 1:45
Room 6495

Just as medical ethics examines moral problems that arise in the world of medicine, and business ethics examines moral problems that arise in the conduct of business, so academic ethics examines moral problems that arise in the process of education. In this course we shall concentrate on higher education and consider a variety of ethical issues raised by professorial practices and university life.

The bulk of the readings will be drawn from Rowman & Littlefield’s series, “Issues in Academic Ethics,” which contains these books:

University-Business Partnerships: An Assessment – Norman Bowie
Unionization in the Academy: Visions and Reality – Judith Wagner Decew
Academic Freedom and Tenure: Ethical Issues – Richard T. De George*
The Kindness of Strangers: Philanthropy and Higher Education – Deni Elliott
Sexual Harassment as an Ethical Issue in Academic Life – Leslie Pickering Francis
Ethics and College Sports – Peter A. French
Free Speech on Campus – Martin P. Golding
Campus Rules and Moral Community: In Place of In Loco Parentis – David A. Hoekema
A Professor’s Duties: Ethical Issues in College Teaching – Peter J. Markie*
Moral Leadership: Ethics and the College Presidency – Paul J. Olscamp*
Peer Review: A Critical Inquiry – David Shatz*
Ethics of Scientific Research – Kristin Shrader-Frechette
Neutrality and the Academic Ethic – Robert L. Simon*
The Moral Dimensions of Academic Administration – Rudolf H. Weingartner*
Diversity and Community in the Academy: Affirmative Action in Faculty Appointments – Celia Wolf-Devine*

Books with an asterisk (*) are required reading. In addition, my own book Saints and Scamps: Ethics In Academia, Revised Edition (Rowman & Littlefield) will introduce the subject. Essays will also be drawn from my Puzzles & Perplexities: Collected Essays, Second Edition (Rowman & Littlefield). A classic work referred to in many of the readings is John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, found in numerous sources and available in a fully annotated edition prepared by the noted Mill scholar C. L. Ten (Rowman & Littlefield).

All these books are on reserve in the Mina Rees Library or are available from the publisher at a specially arranged, deep discount (eight dollars per volume). To obtain the code for placing an order either by telephone at (800) 462-6420 or on the web at www.rowmanlittlefield.com, please contact Professor Cahn, scahn@gc.cuny.edu.

Each student is expected to complete two assignments. The first is to compose three challenging questions for the author that highlight critical issues addressed in each book we discuss in class. The second is to write two book reviews, each approximately 2,500 words in length, and each providing a summary and critique of a book in the series not scheduled to be discussed in class.

As an alternative to the questions and reviews, any student may choose to prepare a 5,000-word review of the entire series, including all fifteen books in their entirety. A successful essay would be appropriate to be submitted for publication in a professional journal.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Ethics (old curriculum) or Group C (new curriculum)]

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Phil 77000 [96734]
Metaphysics
Prof. Micheal Levin

4 credits
Tues. 6:30 - 8:30
Room 7395

This course will introduce a range of topics, as well as some contemporary approaches to them. There will be readings from a variety of authors, mostly contemporary or near-past, including Armstrong, Goedel, van Inwagen, Frankfurt, Lewis, Nehrlich, Dainton, Sider, McTaggart, Russell, Carnap, Hirsch, Melnyk, Sidelle, the instructor, and others, available on eres. (Also Clarke and Leibniz.) There will be 8 short papers.

The problems covered will include:

Space and Time: Are they substances? Does time pass or do all things exist timelessly? Do the future or past exist? The future? Is the continuity of space consistent with motion? What is meant by saying that space and time (matter and energy, electricity and magnetism) are shadows of one underlying reality? What is that reality?

Free Will: Is freedom consistent with determinism? Can we make ourselves? Can selves as well as events be causes? Are there even events as well as substances? What happens when we act, choose, decide and deliberate? What is the nature of the first person/third person asymmetry? Is there a distinction between coercion, compulsion and ordinary preference? What is the relation of freedom to the self? If the future already exists in the sense relativity tells us, is our future behavior up to us?

Ontology: Are there universals as well as particulars? Are there abstract particulars (sets and numbers) as well as concrete particulars? Do compound objects exist, or only simples? Are there simples, or might everything be compound? Do physical objects extend in time as well as space? Are these questions themselves substantial or verbal? What is existence?

Modality: Are there necessities in the world, or is all necessity a property only of propositions? Might you have been a doctor, or only a counterpart of you? How great a difference is there between these two views?

Conscious Experience: Are objects colored? In what sense are color-experiences colored? Is there anything about color-experiences that suggests they are nonphysical? Are there properties of objects dependent on how observers respond to them?

Students taking this course should contact me, telling what courses in metaphysics they have taken, what problems of those listed they are familiar with or interested in, and what their broad philosophical interests are. This will be a great help in refining the syllabus.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Metaphysics (old curriculum) or Group A (new curriculum)]

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Phil 76100 [96728]
Late Medieval/Renaissance Philosophy
Prof. Douglas Lackey

4 credits
Mon. 6:30 - 8:30
Room 7314

In 1775 Edward Gibbon wrote that the decline and fall of the Roman Empire presented “the greatest, and perhaps the most awful, scene in the history of mankind.” In the history of philosophy the greatest and perhaps most awful scene is the decline and fall of the Aristotelian synthesis, which reached its pinnacle in the two magisterial summae of Thomas Aquinas in the third quarter of the thirteenth century. This course will begin with a summary of Aquinas and what he and his Aristotelian predecessors achieved, and then charts the various forces that, like wolves surrounding a stag, brought Aquinas’s great system of interlocking natural kinds crashing down by the middle of the 17th century. These forces included (a) Scotus’s rejection of matter as the principle of individuation (b) Ockham’s exultation of divine omnipotence, and the Ockhamist doctrine that God can violate the basic laws of Aristotelian logic and undermine relations among formal causes, (c) Ockham’s nominalism, and his rejection of universals that brought with it a rejection of natural kinds, (d) the rise of numerous 14th century mystical movements, for whom the difference between a man and a dog is less important than the fact that both of parts of God, (e) the rise of Platonism and Neoplatonism in 15th century Italy and its attendant anti-Aristotelian supernaturalism, (f) the rise of Lutheranism in the early 16th century and the Deus abscondit doctrine, which deprives the created world of any natural goodness, (g) the corresponding Italian rejection of natural law that brings forth the “murd’rous Machiavel,” (h) the rise of vitalist materialism in southern Italy towards the end of the 16th century in Telesio and Campanella and other anti-Aristotelians, (i) last and perhaps least, the development of modern astronomy and physics, those Jovian satellites, those new stars, etc. that cast doubt on particular empirical theses of Aristotle.

The course will also consider various rearguard actions on the part of Aristotelians, Suarez versus the Platonists, Bellarmine versus Galileo, and so forth. Some attention will be given to 17th century anti-modernists, like the Cambridge “Platonists” (Aristotelians, actually) who thought that the New Science was hopeless as a foundation for either biology or psychology. Finally, some attention will be given to relations between philosophical movements and artistic currents, for example, the relation between Nominalism and the development of 15th century Flemish painting, and Neoplatonism and the doctrine of ideal form in Italian Renaissance art.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Ancient (old curriculum) or Group D-ancient (new curriculum)]

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Phil 76400 [97420]
Topics in Plato's Aesthetics
Prof. Nickolas Pappas

4 credits
Mon. 9:30 - 11:30
Room 7395

This is a seminar on selected dialogues by Plato. It will have several targets in mind, of which the most prominent will be a Platonic conception of mimesis and the alternative that would avoid its pernicious effects.

The seminar will begin with a review of the passages that define mimesis in the Platonic dialogues, namely Republic Books 3 and 10 and selections from Sophist. We may also consider passages from Aristophanes (Frogs, Thesmophoriazusae) that shed light on the meaning of mimesis before Plato, and a remarkable fragment from Aeschylus’s satyr play Theoroi.

The secondary literature here very much includes a pair of influential articles by Jean-Pierre Vernant, and more recent selections about classical interpretations of statuary. Those will lead to a look at Attic tragedy, probably the Alcestis of Euripides, with an eye to discovering tragedy’s conception of itself as an act of mourning, and classical sculpture as the art form in which tragedy sees itself.

Other readings will include Plato’s Ion and parts of the Phaedrus, in which he develops the other great theme of his assessment of poetry, namely “inspiration.” Does inspiration counteract mimesis or intensify its dangers?

Finally the Phaedrus may lead, time permitting, to a closer look at Platonic rhetoric as in its own way an alternative to mimesis. If we can we will read Plato’s Menexenus for a remarkable (albeit obscure) example of Platonic mimesis that also works as a fine example of Platonic rhetoric. The Menexenus bears a special relationship to Thucydides and to the funeral speech by Pericles that Thucydides reports; we will read the relevant parts of Thucydides and such secondary sources as Nicole Loraux (from The Invention of Athens).

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Ancient or Aesthetics (old curriculum) or Groups C or D-ancient (new curriculum)]

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Phil 76500 [96729]
Subjectivity and Mental Quality
Prof. David Rosenthal

4 credits
Thurs. 2:00 - 4:00
Room 7102

Aristotle held that mental qualities are commonsense physical properties that the soul literally takes in when we perceive. This results in a strong tie between mental qualities and an independent physical reality. But it also conflicts with the Galilean dictum that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics, since commonsense physical properties such as color and sound seem to resist description in mathematical terms.

Most modern discussions of mental qualities ensure compatibility with physics by denying that mental qualities have any tie with physical reality. Thus Descartes pioneered a strategy of insulating the mental from the physical by construing the mental as accessible only to consciousness. Descartes also held that sensing exhibits only the intentional properties of pure thought, though most have seen such intentionalism about mental qualities (e.g., Harman, Dretske, and Armstrong) as unnecessary overkill in ensuring that mental qualities don’t conflict with a mathematical physics. It’s enough, most have held, simply to detach mental qualities from physical reality, and we can do that by construing them as accessible solely by the way we’re conscious of them.

But denying any robust tie between mental qualities and independent physical properties has striking, sometimes problematic consequences. Thus Locke argued that since mental qualities are accessible solely by way of consciousness, undetectably inverted and absent qualities are possible, a view held before Locke apparently only briefly in late antiquity, but now relatively common (e.g., Chalmers, Block, and Shoemaker, each with qualifications). Seeing mental qualities as accessible only to consciousness is arguably also responsible for such other staples of the contemporary literature as Jackson’s Mary, Levine’s explanatory gap, Chalmers’s hard problem, Kripke’s antimaterialist argument, and Loar’s recognitional concepts. It also affects how we understand such phenomena as blindsight, inattentional blindness, change blindness, masked priming, and our more finegrained awareness of concurrent mental qualities than qualities taken one at a time.

The course will focus on these and related topics, and on how our treatment of them is affected by adopting the received view that mental qualities are accessible only to consciousness. To test that, we’ll ask how things fare when we replace that view by an alternative that’s arguably more satisfactory. In particular, we’ll develop a theory of mental qualities that, like Aristotle’s, allows for access independent of consciousness, but still avoids the anti-Galilean implications of Aristotle’s theory. And we’ll combine that with a theory of consciousness that, while echoing Aristotle’s inner-sense view (DA III.2, EN IX.9), avoids problems that view confronts, such as the nonexistence of higher-order mental qualities and the construal of consciousness as intrinsic, which results in a theoretical inflexibility that precludes handling various phenomena. More generally, the combined theory sidesteps many puzzles that affect current discussions of mental qualities.

Readings will be mainly from contemporary discussions of the arguments and issues mentioned above, supplemented when useful by work in experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Mind or Metaphysics (old curriculum) or Group A or B (new curriculum)]

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Phil 76700 [96731]
Scientific Explanation
Prof. Arnold Koslow

4 credits
Wed. 2:00 - 4:00
Room 6496

We are interested in developing some basic themes, formal as well as pragmatic, about explanation, that are common to a whole variety of different theories and models of explanation. We shall begin with a rigorous, but rapid review of the amazing developments and disappointments that have emerged in the last fifty years of classical philosophical studies devoted to explanation, and then focus on the significant literature of the last decade

We shall study the prospects for a theory of explanation that covers standard as well as probabilistic applications, singular as well as general explanation, including some possible mathematical examples (there's a huge controversy here). En route we shall consider theories of contrastive explanation, inference to the best explanation, explanations with laws, explanations without laws, and explore the connection of explanation to causation, probability, and counterfactuals].

The first three weeks will be devoted to D-H Ruben’s Explaining Explanation (1992), Routledge paperback. And the remaining literature [Aristotle, Hempel, Nagel, Railton, Lewis, Kitcher, Morgenbesser, Mellor, Mancosu, Salmon, Strevens, Woodward, Lipton, Ellis, Bird, van Fraassen, Lotze, and Cartwright] will consist of Xeroxed articles, and manuscript material.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Science or Epistemology (old curriculum) or Groups A or B (new curriculum)]

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Phil 76800 [96732]
Modal Logic
Profs. Melvin Fitting and Richard Mendelsohn

4 credits
Tues. 11:45 - 1:45
Room 6417

Modal logic is usually thought of as the logic of qualified truth: necessarily true, true at all times, and so on. From at least Montague on, quantified modal logic has also been thought of as the natural setting for a logic of intensions. This course will cover the whole range.

We begin with propositional modal logic, presented semantically via Kripke models, and proof theoretically using both tableaus and axiom systems. First-order modal logic will be studied in considerable detail, using possible-world semantics and tableau systems, but not axiom systems. Various philosophical issues will be discussed, amongst which are: the nature of possible worlds, possibilist and actualist quantification, rigid and non-rigid designators, intensional and extensional objects, existence and being, equality, synonymy, designation and non-designation, and definite descriptions in a modal context.

The prerequisites for the course are: a familiarity with classical logic, both propositional and first-order, a certain degree of sophisication, and tolerance and patience.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Metaphysics, Language or Logic (old curriculum) or Groups A or E (new curriculum)]

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Phil 76900 [96733]
Dialetheism and Paraconsistency
Prof. Graham Priest

4 credits
Tues. 4:15 - 6:15
Room 3310B

Paraconsistent logics are logics in which contradictions do not imply everything. Dialetheism is the view that some contradictions are true. In this course we will look at both. We will be concerned with the technical details concerning some paraconsistent logics (a basic understanding of classical logic will be presupposed), and the philosophical motivations, applications, and criticisms, of both views. We will take our agenda from the sections of:

G. Priest, ‘Paraconsistency and Dialetheism’, pp. 129-204 of Handbook of the History of Logic, Vol. 8, eds. D. Gabbay and J. Woods, North Holland, 2007.

This will be supplemented where necessary with material from:

G. Priest, 'Paraconsistent Logic', Handbook of Philosophical Logic, Vol. 6, pp. 287 – 393, eds. D. Gabbay and F. Guenthner, 2nd edition, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002.

G. Priest, In Contradiction, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 2006.

G. Priest, Doubt Truth to be a Liar, Oxford University Press, 2006.

the references therein, and other material to be advised.

Assessment requirements will be discussed and determined in the first class.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Metaphysics, Language or Logic (old curriculum) or Groups A or E (new curriculum)]

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Phil 77100 [96735]
Kripke Beyond Naming & Necessity
Prof. Nathan Salmon

4 credits
Mon. & Thurs 4:15 - 6:15
(August 31st –October 19th)
Room C415A

The seminar will focus on a classic paper and on more recent work by Saul Kripke. We will begin with an examination of Kripke’s famous “A Puzzle about Belief.” Kripke uses the puzzle as part of a defense of Millianism; yet he also argues strongly that one particular prospective answer to the puzzle—in fact, the most natural and straightforwardly Millian answer to the puzzle—is flatly incorrect. Kripke evidently favors an alternative prospective solution, one that is incompatible with garden-variety Millianism. (With defenses like that, Millianism doesn’t need any objectors.) We shall look at some hard constraints that a solution to the puzzle would have to satisfy to be correct. A case will be presented that the answer Kripke rejects satisfies those constraints, while Kripke’s preferred solution violates them.

In addition, we shall look closely at some issues raised in Kripke’s recent paper, “Russell’s Notion of Scope”. Time permitting we shall also look at issues in Kripke’s forthcoming paper, “Frege’s Theory of Sense and Reference: Some Exegetical Notes”.

Some relevant readings:

Tyler Burge, “Frege and the Hierarchy” and “Postscript” thereto, originally (without postscript) in Synthese, 40 (1979), pp. 265-281; reprinted (with postscript) in Burge’s Truth, Thought, Reason (Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 153-210.
Tyler Burge, “Belief and Synonymy,” Journal of Philosophy, vol. 75, no. 3 (March 1978), pp. 119-138.
Alonzo Church, The Calculi of Lambda-Conversion (Princeton University Press, 1941).
Alonzo Church, “Abstract of ‘A Formulation of the Logic of Sense and Denotation’,” Journal of Symbolic Logic, 11 (1946), p. 31.
Alonzo Church, “A Formulation of the Logic of Sense and Denotation,” in Henle, Kallen, and Langer, eds, Structure, Method and Meaning: Essays in Honor of Henry M. Sheffer (New York: Liberal Arts Press, 1951), pp. 3-24.
Alonzo Church, “Intensional Isomorphism and Identity of Belief,” Philosophical Studies, vol. 5 (1954), pp. 65-73; reprinted in N. Salmon and S. Soames, eds, Propositions and Attitudes (Oxford Readings in Philosophy, 1988), pp. 159-168.
David Kaplan, “Reading ‘On Denoting’ on its Centenary,” Mind, vol. 114, no. 456 (October 2005), pp. 933-1003.

Saul Kripke, “A Puzzle about Belief,” reprinted in M. Davidson, ed., On Sense and Direct Reference (McGraw Hill, 2007), pp. 1002-1036.

Saul Kripke, “Frege’s Theory of Sense and Reference: Some Exegetical Notes” (forthcoming).
Saul Kripke, “Russell’s Notion of Scope,” Mind, vol. 114, no. 456 (October 2005), pp. 1005-1037.
Terence Parsons, “Frege’s Hierarchies of Indirect Senses and the Paradox of Analysis,” in P. French, T. Uehling, and H. Wettstein, eds, Midwest Studies in Philosophy VI: The Foundations of Analytic Philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1981), pp. 37-57.
Hilary Putnam, “Synonymy, and the Analysis of Belief Sentences,” Analysis, 14 (1954), pp. 114-122; reprinted in N. Salmon and S. Soames, eds, Propositions and Attitudes (Oxford Readings in Philosophy, 1988), pp. 149-158.
Nathan Salmon, Frege’s Puzzle (Atascadero, Ca.: Ridgeview, 1986, 1991), specifically appendix A.
Nathan Salmon, “Illogical Belief,” reprinted in M. Davidson, ed., On Sense and Direct Reference (McGraw Hill, 2007), pp. 1037-1067; also in N. Salmon, Content, Cognition, and Communication (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 193-223.
Nathan Salmon, “A Problem in the Frege-Church Theory of Sense and Denotation,” Noûs, vol. 27, no. 2 (1993), pp. 158-166; reprinted in N. Salmon, Metaphysics, Mathematics, and Meaning (Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 335-343.
Nathan Salmon, “About Aboutness,” European Journal of Analytic Philosophy, vol. 3, no. 2 (2007), pp. 59-75.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Language or Mind (old curriculum) or Group A or B (new curriculum)]

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Phil 77600 [96737]
Political Sovereignty
Prof. Omar Dahbour

4 credits
Thurs. 11:45 - 1:45
Room 6417

For over a generation, most attention in political philosophy has been given to defining concepts of social justice, human rights, and democratic legitimacy. Little thought has been devoted to whether such liberal, universalistic, or cosmopolitan schemes could be realized within or by existing institutions of state power. The result: there is no adequate understanding of how these or other ideas of justice, rights, and so forth could possibly be instituted under contemporary conditions. This course is about how we got to this impasse and how we might get out of it.

An important initial question for us will be: does sovereignty—as the normative conception of political power—have only instrumental value (in achieving social justice, for instance) or is it (also) intrinsically valuable in some way? In this connection, we will examine whether a conception of sovereignty is implicit in advocacy of self-determination, legitimate authority, consent, and/or democracy. The "philosophical anarchist" contention that it is possible to conceive of social life without any concept of sovereignty will also be considered.

The latter part of the course will survey contemporary debates about "external" sovereignty—the relation of states to other states. A primary concern will be to determine whether there are alternatives to the nationalist and imperialist conceptions of the state that have dominated contemporary history—and whether such values as patriotism and/or cosmopolitanism can be distinguished from these forms of sovereignty. Can a theory of the state be devised that can deal effectively with problems of minority discrimination, global inequity, and environmental interdependence? Is the European Union, or some other contemporary state, worthy of emulation in this regard?

We will begin by reading some classic texts on sovereignty (Bodin, Grotius, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Godwin, Hegel, Mill, Marx, Weber, Schmitt, Arendt) and end by looking at contemporary theories (Habermas, Benhabib, Buck-Morss, Nagel, Miller, Walzer, Brilmayer, Agamben, George, Alperovitz), asking what philosophy can contribute to answering the political question of finding a new form of state power that can address contemporary problems. Along the way, we will read thinkers who can hopefully provide some conceptual clarification about the nature of sovereignty and political power generally (Hinsley, Morris, Simmons, Hampton, Pateman, Wolff, Young, Müller).

This course will be designed to get those new to political philosophy up to speed with regard to recent debates, as well as to enable those with some background to re-examine the sources of these debates. A significant paper, as well as an examination on class readings, will be required. Students should obtain the more common of the first group of readings listed above (Hobbes, etc.) before the first class. More obscure texts (e.g., Godwin), as well as recent sources, will be provided or located as we proceed.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Social/Political (old curriculum) or Group C (new curriculum)]

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Phil 78700 [96741]
Feminist/Post-Colonial Epistemology
Prof. Linda Alcoff

4 credits
Mon. 2:00 - 4:00
Room 7314

This course will consider the relationship of knowledge to power, and of epistemology to power, through recent work in epistemology on questions of gender and of colonialism, as well as work in social epistemology and science studies. What counts as epistemic injustice, to use Miranda Fricker's term? What role has western epistemology played in regard to promoting, and also ameliorating, epistemic injustice? What are the epistemic, and not simply sociological or political, lessons to be learned from the history of preemptive epistemic disauthorization of women and whole groups of people across the globe?

Beyond the critical project, we will look at work that develops normative reconstructions of epistemology. These include, for example, proposals to build in a reflexivity about the social context in which belief formation and justification occurs, to reassess the role of social and political values as epistemic virtues, and to reconsider whether the assumptions in epistemology about the universal nature of justification are epistemically warranted. Innovative concepts such as "border gnosis," "postcolonial standpoint theory," and "pluritopic hermeneutics" will also be explored and assessed.

Readings will include recent work from the following: Miranda Fricker, Sue Campbell, Helen Longino, Susan Buck-Morss, Walter Mignolo, Enrique Dussel, Anibal Quijano, Fernando Coronil, Sandra Harding, Michel Foucault, and Edward Said.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Epistemology or Social/Political (old curriculum) or Groups B or C (new curriculum)]

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Phil 80200 [96742]
Proseminar
Profs. Jesse Prinz and Iakovos Vasiliou

4 credits
Wed. 11:45 - 1:45
Room 7395

Course description coming soon. This course is limited to first-year Ph.D. students only; no auditors allowed.

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Ling 79200 [96761]
Semantics of Imaginative Discourse
Prof. Alex Orenstein

4 credits
Tues. 2:00 - 4:00
Room 3305

Course description coming soon.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Language (old curriculum) or Groups A or C (new curriculum)]

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Contact Us


Philosophy Program, The Graduate Center, CUNY

365 Fifth Ave., Rm. 7113
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 212-817-8615
 
Executive Officer: Prof. John Greenwood (Acting)
Director of Admissions: Prof. Stephen Neale
Director of Placement: Prof. Jesse Prinz
Assistant Program Officer: Rosemarie Iannuzzi