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Fall 2012


  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
9:30 -
11:30
 

PHIL 77200 [18906]
Philosophy of Mind
Prof. Prinz

PHIL 76800 [18903]
Linguistic Pragmatism
Prof. Devitt

PHIL 77100 [19216]
Personal Identity
Prof. Greenwood

11:45 -
1:45

PHIL 77800 [18910]
Philosophy of Education
Prof. Cahn

PHIL 7200 [18899]
Logic
Prof. Mendelsohn


PHIL 77900 [18911]
Rawls
Prof. Schwarzenbach

PHIL 80200 [18913]
Proseminar
Profs. Neale & Vasiliou

 

2:00 -
4:00

PHIL 76100 [18900]
Medeival Philosophy
Prof. Jacobs

PHIL 77600 [18908]
Topics in Contemporary Aesthetics
Prof. Carroll

PHIL 80000 [18912]
TBA
Prof. Kripke
 

PHIL 76300 [18901]
Descartes and Contemporary Issues
Prof. Rosenthal

4:15 -
6:15

PHIL 77700 [18909]
Foucault, Biopolitics & The Security State
Prof. Alcoff

PHIL 77400 [18907]
American Pragmatism
Prof. Godfrey-Smith

Colloquium

PHIL 76700 [18902]
Philosophy of Science or Science Studies?
Prof. Pigliucci

5:30 -
7:00

PHIL 77500 [19505]
Research Ethics
Prof. Rhodes

 

 

 

6:30 -
8:30

PHIL 77000 [18904]
Issues in Metaphysics
Prof. Priest

 

 

 

Students may also take courses at other schools in the Interuniversity Doctoral Consortium. Choose a school from the list below to see the course schedule for the current semester (where available).

The Graduate Center's Current Student Handbook has information about and instructions for registering for classes at other consortium schools.


Fall 2012 Course Descriptions

Phil 77200 [18906]
Philosophy of Mind
Prof. Prinz

4 credits
Tues. 9:30 - 11:30
Room

This course is a survey of core topics in the philosophy of mind.  Topics will include the ontology of the mental, theories of mental representation, concepts, perception, emotion, and consciousness.  This course has no prerequisites and will serve to introduce major perspectives in contemporary philosophy of mind, though people with prior exposure to this area are also welcome.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group B]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 76800 [18903]
Linguistic Pragmatism 
Prof. Devitt

4 credits
Wed. 9:30 - 11:30
Room

Perhaps the most exciting development in recent philosophy of language has been the debate surrounding a movement that is often called “linguistic pragmatism.” Paul Grice is the founding father of this movement. Its seminal work is probably Dan Sperber and DeidreWilson’s Relevance. Other important contributions to the debate have come from, inter alia, Kent Bach, Anne Bezuidenhout, Emma Borg, Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore, Robin Carston, Stephen Levinson, Stephen Neale, John Perry, François Recanati , Mark Richard, Stephen Schiffer, Jason Stanley, and Charles Travis. My aim in this course is, first, to look critically at the methodology of the debate, second, to propose a better one, and third to apply this to the substantive issues. Against that background, we will, for most of the course, examine the theories of many of those engaged in this debate.

The folk distinguish what a person says in an utterance from what the person means, from theintended message of the utterance. Slips of the tongue and spoonerisms provide simple examples. More interesting ones have been at the center of Griceanism: thus, a philosopher writes a reference in which he says that a student has wonderful handwriting and is always punctual but what the philosopher means is that the student is no good at philosophy.

Almost everyone thinks that the folk are onto something with this distinction. Grice’s distinction between what is said and what is implicated is based on it. Sperber and Wilson’s distinction betweenexplicature and implicature is related. And there are other similar distinctions. These distinctions raise many questions. What is the principled basis for putting something on one side rather than the other? It is taken for granted that what is said is constituted not only by linguistic conventions but also by disambiguation and reference determination. But does it involve more, as the pragmatists think? Are they right in thinking that “truth-conditional semantics” should be replaced by “truth-conditional pragmatics”? Is it appropriate to rely on intuitions in judging this? If not, what? What hangs on this difference between “pragmatics” and “semantics”? Most important of all: Why is any distinction in question theoretically interesting? What role does it play in theoretical explanations of linguistic phenomena? The course will address these difficult questions.

The course is not an introduction to the philosophy of language. Anyone wishing to take it who has not already taken a course in the philosophy of language should consult with me before enrolling.

Requirements 
(i) A brief weekly email raising questions about, making criticisms of, or developing points concerning, matters discussed in the class and reading for that week. 50% of grade.
(ii) A class presentation based on a draft for a paper (topic chosen in consultation with me). The draft to be submitted before Tuesday of the week of presentation. 20% of grade.
(iii) A 2,500 word paper probably arising from the draft in (ii). 30% of grade.

Learning Goals 
To identify the main positions in this debate
To grasp and assess the arguments for and against these positions.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A]

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Phil 77100 [19216]
Personal Identity
Prof.  Greenwood

4 credits
Thurs. 9:30 - 11:30
Room

The course will focus on philosophical theories of diachronic personal identity (what makes a person at a later date identical to a person at an earlier date?) and synchronic personal identity (what makes an individual a singular person at any point in time?). After exploring some general issues about identity and personhood, and surveying some classical theories of personal identity, we will consider contemporary psychological and physical theories of personal identity. We will discuss the role played by memory, spatiotemporal continuity of body and brain, core psychology, personal psychology, and unity of consciousness in the determination of personal identity. We will consider the purported implications of thought experiments involving reincarnation, brain division and transplantation, fission and fusion, teletransportation, molecular decomposition and recomposition, and the relevance of psychological studies of split-brain patients and multiple personalities. We will also consider the implications of different theories of personal identity for questions about personal responsibility and desert, and the role (if any) our own concept of our identity (or 'sense of identity') plays in determining our personal identity. If time permits, we will also look at the bearing of current psychological, social and psychiatric  theories of identity on philosophical criteria of personal identity. Regular attendance is required. Duplicates will not be accepted, and fission products will be independently assessed. Multiples will be assessed once only.

Assessment will be based upon a class presentation, written up as a short paper, and a longer paper due at the end of the semester, plus contributions to class discussion.

Students are advised to purchase D. Parfit (1984) Reasons and Persons (OUP paperback). Other required readings will be provided electronically.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A or B]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 77800 [18910]
Philosophy of Education
Profs. Cahn

4 credits
Mon. 11:45 - 1:45
Room 

A critical examination of how educational policies are influenced by issues in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy. Readings include the work of Plato, Rousseau, Mill, and Dewey, as well as such contemporary philosophers as John Searle, David Lewis, Philip Kitcher, and Martha Nussbaum.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 77200 [18899]
Logic
Profs. Mendelsohn

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

 

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group E]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 77900 [18911]
Rawls
Prof. Schwarzenbach

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

The seminar will be an in-depth study of the work of John Rawls, arguably the greatest political philosopher of the 20th century, as well as of central criticisms of his work from diverse directions. In the first half of the semester we will grapple with the main concepts and themes of A Theory of Justice  --- notions such as the basic structure (as subject of justice), the method of reflective equilibrium, the original position and its veil of ignorance, the two principles of justice, the constitutional convention, Rawls’s moral psychology, conception of the person, and so forth. Close attention will be paid to Rawls’s later Political Liberalism as commentary on the main argument (introducing new notionssuch as that of public reason and the burdens of judgment, and noting developments or conflicts between the earlier and later works). The seminar will then move to the famous Rawls-Habermas debate in the second half of the term, and finish with a careful reading of Rawls’s last work on international justice, The Law of Peoples.

Throughout the semester representative criticisms from the libertarian camp (e.g. Nozick or Hayek), from the communitarian position (Sandel, MacIntrye or Taylor), from Marxists (G.A. Cohen, Habermas and others), and from feminists (Okin, Nussbaum, etc.) will be evaluated, as will criticisms of his international position by Beitz, Pogge and others.

In all cases we will seek the best possible interpretation of Rawls’s position, and then see whether this interpretation survives the above criticisms or whether (and to what extent) Rawls’s theory must be revised or even discarded altogether in the face of them.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 80200 [18913]
Proseminar
Profs. Neale & Vasiliou

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

The Proseminar is restricted to and required of students entering the Ph.D. program. Its purpose is to get students accustomed to graduate-level writing, seminar discussion, and presentation skills.

[back to course schedule]


Phil 76100 [18900]
Medieval Philosophy
Prof. Jacobs

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

The course will focus on issues in moral psychology, philosophical anthropology, debates concerning freedom of the will, and metaethics. Our texts will come from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic thinkers. Many of the medievals had subtle, sophisticated views on issues in moral psychology and moral epistemology, and we will find that there are resources in the works of the medievals relevant to numerous significant contemporary debates, as well as being important to the history of philosophy.

There has been steadily growing interest in medieval philosophy in recent years and that interest has begun retrieving several thinkers who had been largely overlooked, and it has also involved looking at medieval philosophers’ views on a wider range of topics than previously, now including ethics and moral psychology, as well as metaphysics and philosophical theology. This course is very much in the spirit of that trend.

Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, and Neoplatonic Aristotelianism all have a pronounced presence in medieval philosophy. Republic, the LawsNicomachean Ethics, and Metaphysics are all strongly relevant background for the course.

As the course proceeds we will see that certain central themes recur and that there are increasingly sophisticated articulations of them and arguments concerning them. The issue of the rationality of what is given in revelation—and thus, the relation between reason and religion—is one of those themes. Another is the relation between intellectual virtue and ethical virtue, and related to that issue, the question of the nature of political rule. Also, the question of the nature of the authority of tradition and its epistemology is addressed by several of these philosophers. By examining works from the three Abrahamic religious traditions we will get a good sense of the different ways in which these themes and issues have been addressed, including the different ways they appropriated the ancient philosophical heritage.

Most of the thinkers we will study had more or less rationalistic dispositions and impressively sophisticated views of the relation between revealed religion and reason. They were meticulously alert to ways in which theistic commitments have implications for matters of moral psychology, freedom of the will, the relation between ethical perfection and intellectual perfection, and even questions concerning such things as the voluntariness, plasticity, and revisability of character.

I am hoping that we can move through Augustine and Boethius fairly swiftly, and not because they are any less important than the other philosophers, but because they, and the works of theirs on the reading list are more likely to be at least somewhat familiar. My guess is that the works by the Islamic thinkers and Jewish thinkers are less familiar, and because they are actually no less philosophically interesting, it will be worthwhile to explore them as patiently as possible, within the confines of a single semester.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group D-Ancient]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 77600 [18908]
Topics in Contemporary Aesthetics
Prof. Carroll

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

In this course, we will explore recent debates about the nature of art and aesthetic experience and the relation thereof, as well as questions about the nature of the avant-garde, including conceptual art, the relation of art and the emotions, and current debates about the nature of depiction and photography.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 80000 [18912]
Identity Through Time
Prof. Kripke

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

Topics to be covered include Quine on identity and four-dimensionalism. Students and auditors should read Quine's "Identity, Ostension and Hypostasis" for the first meeting.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group TBA]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 76300 [18901]
Descartes and Contemporary Issues 
Prof. Rosenthal

4 credits
Thurs. 2:00 - 4:00

We'll go carefully through Descartes's Meditations, supplemented by selections from the Objections and Replies, Descartes's letters, very occasional selections from others of his writings, and some contemporary commentary. The Meditations will be our primary focus.

We'll have two main concerns, pursued concurrently. One will be to develop an accurate understanding of Descartes's views and arguments and evaluate their merits. The other will be to examine connections those views have with some cognate or related debates in the contemporary literature, and see whether either helps us understand or evaluate the other.

Among topics of special focus will be the role of the doubting Descartes enjoins (as against wonder or aporia) and whether that doubting is relevant to epistemological skepticism; his appeal to an analytic over a synthetic method, and whether that amounts to a naturalizing of epistemology; his view of God's arbitrary creation of the eternal truths, and its connection to the Meditation I doubting and to the innateness of some ideas; the status of the cogito (in Meditation 2, not the Discourse)—if it's an argument what its structure is, and if not how to understand it; whether the cogito supports epistemological foundationalism; what it is on Descartes's view for an idea to be innate; his view that physical reality is solely extension, and how we can know about it; how his views about extension differ from Galileo's dictum that the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics, and how each of those views challenges Aristotle's; Descartes's view of such nongeometrical physical properties as color, sound, and others apparently accessible by only one sense modality; his view about the nature of sensing and how it relates to thinking; the apparent circularity of his proof of God's existence; Descartes's view about how the powers of will and understanding function, and of error as due to the will's outstripping the understanding; his view about the status of mathematical and other necessary truths; his view about God's creation of everything (else); and Descartes's views about mind-body materialism and about the relation of mind to body.

Among cognate and related contemporary issues that we'll consider are Moore's paradox (in connection with the cogito); the status of mathematical, necessary, and analytic truths (in connection with the eternal truths); nativism; whether Descartes's views about the faculties of will and understanding square with current views about intentionality—e.g., but not solely, whether one can will what to think, doubt, wonder, and so forth (voluntarism); perceiving physical color or sound as against extension; intentionalism about mental qualities; mind-body materialism; and methodology in philosophical work and in other truth-seeking fields.

We'll also keep in mind several background questions: Is Descartes less concerned with the epistemological questions that figure centrally in much Descartes exegesis than with metaphysical and psychological issues—and if so why is such epistemological exegesis so persistent? Are Descartes's metaphysical views pretty minimalist by today's standards? And are his psychological views more challenging and useful than often appreciated?

We'll rely on Cottingham et al (3 vols.) for texts of all Descartes's work, letters included; it will be good to get vol. 2. The other two, secondary literature, and other contemporary work will be on library reserve, with selections and articles sometimes available in pdfs.

 

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group D-Modern]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 77700 [18909]
Foucault, Biopolitics and the Security State
Prof. Alcoff

4 credits
Mon. 4:15 - 6:15 

This course will provide an extensive analysis of Foucault’s political thought from the publication ofDiscipline and Punish (mid 1970’s) until the end of his life in 1984. In a series of writings, interviews, and lectures that have only recently been translated into English, Foucault developed a highly original and influential account of the ways in which domination operates. In this period Foucault developed his concepts of discipline, bio-power and docility as the key mechanisms of subject-formation in European modernity.  Bio-power refers to the ways in which life is disciplined and regulated, rather than simply commanded and constrained. Foucault suggested that the trope of the ‘security state’ would become the central mechanism for circulations of power and the development of new techniques of disciplining modern subjects, and he produced prescient analyses of neo-liberalism. We will read mostly Foucault’s own writings but also several of the interpretive debates about the implications and salience of Foucault’s account. 

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 77400 [18907]
American Pragmatism
Prof. Godfrey-Smith

4 credits
Tues. 4:15 - 6:15

A survey of work by the 'classical' pragmatists (Peirce, James, Dewey) followed by a look at some more recent thinkers including Rorty, Price, and Brandom. Dewey's 1925 book Experience and Nature will get the most attention. The focus will be on epistemological, metaphysical, and meta-philosophical issues, not on value theory or politics.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A or B]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 76700 [18902]
Philosophy of Science or Science Studies? 
Prof. Pigliucci

4 credits
Thurs. 4:15 - 6:15

Science is an enterprise characterized by a clear pattern of epistemic cumulative progress, and it has become a major player in our lives. Scientists command large amounts of funding for their research, as well as a high degree of trust by the public as a category of professionals. However, a significant fraction of the American public displays contradictory attitudes toward science and scientists, for instance opposing scientifically accepted notions such as biological evolution and anthropogenic climate change while at the same time endorsing pseudoscientific concepts such as the existence of a link between vaccines and autism, or the medical effects of homeopathy.

Philosophers have naturally been interested in the epistemic and social aspects of science, and a rich philosophical literature has emerged beginning with “the great induction debate” between John Stuart Mill and William Whewell. For most of the 20th century this was the practically exclusive domain of philosophy of science, a field dominated by towering figures such as those of Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, firmly rooted in the analytic tradition of doing philosophy. Toward the end of the century, however, new “science studies” emerged out of the continental approach, influenced by postmodernism and deconstructionism, as well as by feminist critiques of science. Moreover, a number of sociologists developed a radical program of critique of science, inspired by a postmodern-type epistemic relativism.

This course will explore the complex and often acrimonious relationship among philosophers of science, science studies proponents, sociologists of science, and scientist themselves. We will seek to understand the differences separating these approaches and how, if in any way, they may be reconciled in order to provide us with a more comprehensive and useful philosophical treatment of science.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group B]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 77500 [19505]
Research Ethics
Prof. Rhodes
Mt. Sinai

4 credits
Mon. 5:30 - 7:00

Seminar participants will include CUNY students and students from Mount Sinai School of Medicine: medical students, MS & PhD students in clinical Research, MS in Genetics Counseling, and MPH programs.

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 discuss 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, and 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 Group C]

[back to course schedule]


Phil 77000 [18904]
Issues in Metaphysics
Prof. Priest

4 credits
Mon. 6:30 - 8:30

The course will look at a number of inter-related issues in metaphysics. These include the question of how it is that the parts of an object to cooperate to produce a unity; the nature of identity and its behaviour in various contexts; being and nothingness; whether an object is the sum of its parts; universals and instantiation; the nature of falsity; ontological dependence and the question of whether reality has an ultimate ground; realism and idealism; and the limits of language. We will be working from a new book ms (not a text book) which I have, provisionally entitled One.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A]

[back to course schedule]


 

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Philosophy Program, The Graduate Center, CUNY

365 Fifth Ave., Rm. 7113
New York, NY 10016
Phone: 212-817-8615
 
Executive Officer: Prof. Iakovos Vasiliou
Deputy Executive Officer: Prof. John Greenwood
Director of Admissions: Prof. Carol Gould
Director of Placement: Prof. Noël Carroll
Assistant Program Officer: Rosemarie Iannuzzi