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Spring 2016

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

9:30–11:30

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHIL 76800 [30217]
Naturalized Metaphysics
Prof. Devitt
Room 7314

 

 

 

 

11:45–1:45

 

PHIL 78500 [30210]
Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Cahn
Room 3207

 

 

PHIL 77800 [30213]
Classics in the Philosphy of Art
Prof. Carroll
Room 7395

 




PHIL 76500 [30218]
Survey of Logic for Philosophers
Prof. Hamkins
Room 5417


 




 

 

 

2:00–4:00

 

PHIL 76200 [30211]
Eudaimonism
Prof. Vasiliou
Room 3209

 

 

PHIL 76600 [30214]
Physicalism, the Mind-Body Issue, and Consciousness
Prof. Papineau
Room 8202

 

 

PHIL 80000 [30220]
Naming & Necessity Revisited
Prof.
Kripke
Room 3306

 

 

PHIL 76300 [30222]
Quine & Sellars
Prof.
Rosenthal
Room 6421

4:15–6:15



 

PHIL 76700 [30212]
Pragmatism & Neo-Pragmatism
Prof. Godfrey-Smith

Room C196.06


 

PHIL 77700 [30215]
Rereading Marx
Prof. Priest
Room 9116


 

 

 

Colloquium

 

 


PHIL 78600 [30223]
Locke
Prof. Gordon-Roth
Room 7395
 

6:30–8:30

 

 

 

PHIL 77900 [30817]
Foucault: Bio-power and the Security State
Prof. Alcoff
Room 7314

 

 


 

PHIL 76900 [30224]
Intention & Acts of Meaning
Profs. Neale & Harris
Room 7395

 

 


Cross Listed Courses:
Rhodes, Public Health Policy, Medicine and Social Justice (Mt. Sinai) (C) Phil 77600
Baumrin, Medical Ethics, (Mt. Sinai) (C) Phil 77900

See Also:
Jurist, Contemporary Psychoanalytic Theory (CCNY) Psyc 80103

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. 
 

Spring 2016 COURSE DESCRIPTIONS


Phil []
Philosophy of Religion
Prof. Cahn

4 credits
Mon 11:45 - 1:45
Room




This foundational course in philosophy of religion can serve as the basis for undertaking more advanced work in the field or for including the subject as an area of teaching competence. Among the works to be studied are Plato's Euthyphro and Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion as well as essays by leading contemporary philosophers of religion, including Alston, Jantzen, Plantinga, Rowe, Stump, Swinburne, and Zagzebski. All readings will be found in my edited books Ten Essential Texts in the Philosophy of Religion (Oxford, 2005) and Exploring Philosophy of Religion, 2nd edition (Oxford, 2016).
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A]
Phil []
Classics in the Philosophy of Art
Prof. Carroll

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


This course focuses upon in-depth readings in the history of the philosophy of art in the west including texts by Plato, Aristotle, Francis Hutcheson, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Tolstoy and Clive Bell. The aim of the course is to supply the student with a basic working knowledge of the history of aesthetics in the west.  The course does not presuppose prior course work in philosophy.  The course is a seminar; so students are encouraged to participate in class discussion which will contribute to their grade.  Students will also be required to write a final paper.
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]
Phil []
Naturalized Metaphysics
Prof. Devitt

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


   What metaphysical questions should we take seriously? How should we go about answering them? The course will be a naturalistic critique of the approaches of Modern Philosophy, of Logical Positivism and, to some extent, of contemporary “Analytic Metaphysics”. An issue that will receive a lot of attention is realism about the external world. Is there a world of stones, trees and cats existing objectively and independently of the mental? Realists think so, Idealists think not. Some Realists have thought that the external world can be inferred from our “ideas.” Some Idealists have thought that familiar objects are mere bundles of ideas; others, that they are mere “appearances” of “things in themselves” that are forever beyond our ken. Examining the realism issue raises many others. What is it for a person or theory to be committed to the existence of something? Are there properties (“universals”) or property instances (“tropes”) as well as “particulars.” Is there a something-we-know-not-what (a “substratum”) in which the properties of an object “inhere?” Are “secondary qualities” in the object or in the mind? Traditional answers to these questions have largely exemplified the approach of a priori “First Philosophy”. The course will argue that this is the wrong approach. Reflecting the influence of Quine, it will be argued that we should reject a priori knowledge and be entirely empirical: our epistemology and metaphysics should be naturalized. A consequence of moving to naturalism is to reverse the order of explanation. Where the apriorist approach of Modern Philosophy puts epistemology before metaphysics, naturalism puts metaphysics before epistemology. (Also, where the apriorist approach of the twentieth century “linguistic turn” puts semantics before metaphysics, naturalism puts metaphysics before semantics. But this will not be discussed in any detail). Although the apriorist approach was dominant in the tradition, we shall also see signs there of the naturalistic approach. Indeed, before Quine, there seems to have been little attention to the distinction between these approaches.Recent years has seen the rise of “Analytic Metaphysics”. This approach to metaphysics has been defended by Jonathan Schaffer in the context of a vigorous attack on Quine’s approach. Analytic metaphysics has been trenchantly criticized by James Ladyman and John Ross from a naturalistic perspective. The course will consider these views.
    The course will discuss parts of the historical texts and various contemporary readings, particularly several from Quine.
    The course is suitable for graduate students in philosophy. If you are not one, please see me before enrolling.
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A or B]
Phil []
Pragmatism & Neo-Pragmatism
Prof. Godfrey-Smith

4 credits
Mon. 4:15-6:15
Room


The first third of the course will survey ‘classical’ pragmatist ideas (Peirce, James, Dewey) and the rest will look at work influenced by pragmatist ideas in more recent years. Authors discussed in the second part of the course will include Quine, Rorty, Blackburn, Brandom, Kitcher, Price, and others (TBD). The focus of the course will be on issues in  epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and metaphilosophy, with a briefer look at some moral and political issues.
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A or B]
Phil []
Locke
Prof. Gordon-Roth

4 credits
Thurs. 4:15-6:15
Room


John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding was the single most widely read academic text in English for a full fifty years after its publication, and Locke's answers to important and currently debated philosophical issues are still cogent today. In fact, John Locke is known as the father of modern empiricism, and Locke’s thoughts on persons paved the way to current theories of personal identity. In this course we will read Locke’s magnum opus, and we will explore not only Locke’s thoughts on nativism and personal identity, but also the role of language, the limits of knowledge, the dangers of enthusiasm, and the debate over substance dualism. Along the way, we will question whether Locke is rightly called an “empiricist,” and the extent to which Locke is committed to the corpuscular hypothesis. The central objective of this course is to deepen and broaden our understanding of Locke’s metaphysical and ontological commitments, within the framework of his epistemic modesty, while gaining a better appreciation for Locke’s influence on current philosophical debates.
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group D-modern]
Phil []
Mathematical Logic
Prof. Hamkins

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


This seminar will be a graduate-level survey of topics in logic for including propositional logic, modal logic, predicate logic, model theory, completeness, incompleteness, computability theory, set theory and the higher infinite. The material will thus be a mixture of philosophical logic and mathematical logic, and a goal of the course will be to develop the student’s ability to treat the main ideas of logic with clarity and precision.
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A or E]
Phil []
TBA
Prof. Kripke

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





This course is a review of Naming and Necessity. It will explain its background against certain earlier writers (Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Searle). But it will deal primarily with the doctrines needed to be protected from misinterpretation in the later literature, sometimes by well-known authors.

We will also discuss how some statements and characterizations made do need modification, correction, or further elaboration. I hope to discuss some controversial questions such as my arguments for the contingent a priori, the more generally accepted necessary a priori (where some of my examples may be controversial), and my arguments concerning the mind-body problem.

As was the case last semester, we will have some distinguished philosophers as guest speakers to present their views to the seminar.

Prior acquaintance with my book will not be presupposed (although many or most of you may know it). For those taking the course for credit, evaluation will consist in a term paper which Prof. Padro will grade in consultation with Prof. Kripke. For the first class, students should read (or reread) the first lecture of Naming and Necessity.
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group ]
[back to course schedule]
Phil []
Intention & Acts of Meaning
Profs. Neale & Harris

4 credits
Thurs. 6:30-8:30
Room





The aim of this seminar is to critically examine the thesis that theories of speech acts and semantic composition doing justice to the intricacies of natural language and its use must take intentional acts of meaning as the basic building blocks. This task requires examining the strengths and weaknesses of traditional convention-based theories of speech acts, truth-conditional theories of semantic content, file change semantics, theories of context change potential, intention, and norms of assertion. The principal readings will be works by Anscombe, Austin, Searle, Grice, Lewis, Schiffer, Stalnaker, Heim, and Williamson, as well as drafts of works in progress by Daniel Harris and Stephen Neale.
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A]
[back to course schedule]
Phil []
Physicalism, the Mind-Body Issue, and Consciousness
Prof. Papineau

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



We will discuss different aspects of physicalism, particularly in the context of debates about mind and consciousness.

Topics to be covered will include the following. Arguments for physicalism, paying particular attention to the historical dimension and the relevance of the causal closure of the physical. Consciousness-based challenges to physicalism: Kripke, the explanatory gap, the knowledge argument, the conceivability argument, two-dimensional semantics. Ways of defining ‘physical’, Hempel’s dilemma, the status of neutral monism. Varieties of physicalism: token and type identity, functionalism, non-reductive physicalism, supervenience and grounding. Mental causation and problems of causal exclusion.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A or B]
Phil []
Foucault: Bio-Power and the Security State
Prof. Alcoff

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

 

This course will provide an extensive analysis of Foucault’s political thought from the publication of Discipline and Punish (mid 1970’s) until the end of his life in 1984. In a series of writings, interviews, and lectures recently translated into English, Foucault developed a highly original account of domination. In this period Foucault developed his concepts of discipline, bio-power, the carceral society, homo-economicus, and docility as the key to subject-formation in European modernity. Bio-power refers to the ways in which life—social and individual and biological--- is disciplined, constituted, 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. He also began an analysis of neo-liberalism as the contemporary form of ‘governmentality’ with associated ideas and practices about how individuals should optimize their ‘potential.’ We will read mostly Foucault’s own writings but also some 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 []
Rereading Marx
Prof. Priest

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

Now that the tumultuous events of the twentieth century are passing into history, the time is appropriate to go back and read what Marx said, as opposed to what people claimed he said. In this course we will read a significant part of Marx' corpus, starting with his earliest writings, through to his last works, The aim will be to determine what is to be learned from it at the start of the twenty-first century.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]

Phil []
Quine & Sellars
Prof. Rosenthal

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




It’s commonly held that one cannot do justice to the intentional content of thoughts or the semantic properties of speech acts in purely extensional terms.  So we’ll begin by examining W. V. Quine’s arguments in support of extensionality along with his related denial of analyticity and, more generally, his claim of "the baselessness of intentional idioms and the emptiness of a science of intention" (Word and Object, 221).

In apparent contrast with Quine, Wilfrid Sellars held that we can understand thoughts to be internal states posited as having intentional content, whose occurrence is initially established by folk-theoretical reasoning.  Only subsequently, he argues, do we come to have first-person access to such states, when we come to be able to report noninferentially that we are in such states.  And he sought to sustain this theory-based realism about intentionality by appeal to a functionalist view about both the content of such states and the semantic properties of speech.

Our overall goal will be to get clear about exactly what these claims of Quine and Sellars amount to, what systematic support they offer for their claims, whether that support holds up, and the extent to which their views about intentionality and meaning do actually conflict.  We’ll also consider what bearing these views have on various other matters, such as intention-based theories about speaker’s meaning, issues about indexicals and self-reference, the tenability of holism about meaning and belief, and the relation of thought to speech.

In examining Quine's rejection of traditional claims about intentionality and meaning, we’ll pay particular attention to his use of the assignment of logical form as a theoretical tool in understanding language and his claims about both indeterminacy of translation and the distinct thesis of inscrutability of reference.  We’ll then take up Sellars' views about meaning and intentionality, on their own and against the background of Quine's concerns about meaning and intentionality.  How does Sellars’ theory-based realism about meaning and intentionality square with Quine’s theoretical strictures about them?  Would other theories of intentionality run afoul of those strictures?  If so how and why?

Along the way we’ll take up Quine’s and Sellars’ views about various related issues, such as the logical form of ascriptions of thoughts and speech acts, whether to understand such ascriptions theoretically (Sellars), as a mere dramatic idiom (Quine), or in some other way, and the nature of quantification, its bearing on ontology, and its interaction with nonextensional contexts. And we’ll consider the consequences their views have for our conceptions of thinking and speech and the relation of third-person ascriptions of intentional states to our first-person conscious access to those states.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A or B]
Phil []
Eudaimonism
Prof. Vasiliou

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

Eudaimonist is a label attached to almost all of the ethical theories of the ancient Greeks. In Eudaimonist Theories eudaimonia ("happiness") is the "highest good", meaning that it is that for the sake of which we do all that we do. Gregory Vlastos, one of the foremost Plato scholars of the twentieth century, says that once Socrates staked out the "Principle of Eudaimonism" – in his description, that happiness is desired by all human beings as the ultimate end of all of their rational actions – it becomes foundational for almost all subsequent ancient ethical theories.

In this seminar I want to take a critical look at what eudaimonism is and at how eudaimonia functions, particularly in Plato and Aristotle.  What exactly makes one ethical theory eudaimonist and another not?  While it is well known that Plato, Aristotle, the Epicureans, and Stoics all have different views about what eudaimonia is, it is much more rarely asked whether eudaimonia plays different roles in their different ethical theories, so that we find not only distinct conceptions of eudaimonia, but also distinct forms of eudaimonism.  In addition to Plato and Aristotle, we shall consider the views of the Epicureans, Stoics, and some contemporary neo-Aristotelian positions, such as those of Hursthouse and Foot, which tie the human virtues to happiness.

Readings will include selections from Plato's Gorgias, Meno, Republic, Euthydemus, Lysis, and Philebus, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, the Epicureans, Stoics, and contemporary philosophers.  There will be significant engagement with secondary literature to see how scholars have understood ancient eudaimonism. While there is no official prerequisite, some acquaintance with ancient ethics will be helpful.
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C or D-Ancient]