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Fall 2017


 

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

9:30–11:30

 

 

 

 

 


PHIL 76700 [36211]
Reference and Experimental Philosophy
Prof. Devitt
Room 7395 

 

 

PHIL 76900 [36214]
Philosophy of Social Science 
Prof. Greenwood
Room 6494 

 

11:45–1:45

 

PHIL 76100 [36202]
Philosophy and its Rivals in the Platonic Dialogues
Prof. Pappas
Room 3207 

 

PHIL 77600 [36205]
Philosophies of Literature
Prof. Carroll
Room 6421 

 




PHIL 82000 [36212]
Proseminar
Profs. Vasiliou & Fricker
Room 7314 

 

 


 

 

PHIL 72000 [36215]
Logic 
Prof. Ritchie
Room 6494 


 

 

 

2:00–4:00

 

 

 

PHIL 77900 [36206]
Socialism and Democracy
Prof. Gould
Room 7314 

---------------------
PHIL 76600 [36207]
Modularity and its Discontents
Prof. Prinz
Room C196.06 


PHIL 80000 [36213]
Frege
Prof. Kripke
Room 7314 

 

 

 

PHIL 77000 [36216]
Perception
Prof. Rosenthal
Room 5383

4:15–6:15



 

PHIL 77500 [36203]
Corrective Justice
Prof. Mills
Room 3207 

 

 

PHIL 77700 [36209]
Anarchism
Prof. Priest
Room 6421

 

 

Philosophy Colloquium Series
Rooms 9204/9205

 

 

 

6:30–8:30

 

PHIL 76800 [36204]
Issues in the Philosophy of Archaeology
Prof. Neale

Room 7395 

 

PHIL 76000 [36210]
Mind, Matter, and Experience in Early Modern Philosophy
Prof. Wilson
Room 7395

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


See Also:
Rhodes "Social Justice, and Public Health Policy" Tuesdays, 4:00-6:30 PM at Mount Sinai
Simpson "Plato Selections" Mondays, 4:15-6:15 PM in the Graduate Center Classics Department 

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 2017 COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Phil 77600 
Philosophy of Literature
Prof. Carroll 

4 credits
Tues. 11:45-1:45
Room 6421









This course is a seminar in which we will survey the basic concepts in the philosophy of literature, including, among others, the very concept of literature itself, narrative, poetry, fiction, interpretation, metaphor, authorial intention, and the novel as well as the relation of literature to the emotions, theater, morality, politics, feminism, race and ethnicity and more, depending upon the interests of the students.  There are no prerequisites.  Students will be expected to make a class presentation and to produce a final paper. 

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]
Phil 76700 
Reference and Experimental Philosophy
Prof. Devitt

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










This course is concerned with the substantive issue “What is the nature of reference?” and with the methodological issue “How should we go about answering that question?” The answer to the methodological question has implications for the method of “armchair philosophy” in general.
 
Substantive. It is usual to think that referential relations hold between language and thoughts on the one hand, and the world on the other. The most striking example of such a relation is the naming relation, the sort that holds between ‘Socrates’ and the famous philosopher Socrates.  Many other sorts of words are best seen as having other sorts of referential relations to the world for which various terms are used; for example, ‘denotation’ and ‘application’.  Usually, philosophers are interested in reference because they take it to be the core of meaning.  Thus, the fact that ‘Socrates’ refers to that philosopher is the core of the name's meaning and hence of its contribution to the meaning of any sentence - for example, ‘Socrates is wise’ - that contains the name.
           
The central question about reference is: In virtue of what does a term have its reference? Answering this requires a theory that explains the term’s relation to its referent. Until the 70s, answers were nearly always along descriptivist lines: the reference of a term was determined by descriptions competent speakers associated with it. Then came the revolution, led by Kripke, which rejected description theories for names and some other terms in favor of some sort of historical-causal theory.
           
Methodological. How should we get to the truth of the matter about reference and language in general? The received methodology, in both philosophy and linguistics, appears to be that we should consult our metalinguistic intuitions (which in philosophy are often thought to be a priori). In particular, theories of reference seem to have been supported in this way.  And the intuitions consulted in philosophy have been those of philosophers themselves.
 
This methodology has been challenged by a group of “experimental philosophers”, starting with the now-classic paper, “Semantics Cross-Cultural Style”, by Machery et al (2004). They tested the intuitions of the folk, showing that they differ from those of the philosophers and vary across cultures. Stephen Stich and Edouard Machery, take this to discredit the whole enterprise of theorizing about reference. It will be argued in the course that the experimental philosophers are right to be critical of the received methodology but wrong to respond by testing metalinguistic intuitions of the folk. Rather, theories of language, including theories of reference, should be tested against linguistic usage. Nicolas Porot and I have recently conducted such an experiment on proper names. We are looking for collaborators for experiments on other terms.
 
Substance. The course will be concerned primarily with theories of reference for singular terms: for proper names like ‘Socrates’, demonstratives like ‘this cat’, pronouns like ‘she’, definite descriptions like ‘the last great philosopher of antiquity’, and indefinite descriptions like ‘a lion’. Anaphoric reference will not be considered.  However, there will be some discussion of “natural kind” terms like ‘gold’ and ‘tiger’ and “artifactual” kind terms like ‘pencil’. Figures to be discussed include Frege, Russell, Kripke, Donnellan, Searle, Evans, Putnam, Burge, Grice, Kaplan, Martí, Neale, Bach, Reimer.
 
Methodology. Our discussion of definite descriptions will raise a lively issue of general significance for the philosophy of language: How should settle whether a linguistic phenomenon is to be handled “semantically” or “pragmatically”?
 
This 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.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A]
[back to course schedule]
Phil 80200 
Proseminar
Profs. Fricker & Vasiliou 

4 credits
Weds. 11:45-1:45
Room 7314









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.
 
Phil 77900 
Socialism and Democracy
Prof. Gould

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










An exploration of core issues at the intersection of socialist theory and democratic theory, and of the prospects for rethinking democratic socialism for the 21st century. The seminar will draw on literature from the history of both Marxist/socialist and liberal democratic thought and will go on to consider leading critiques of both traditions. We will then focus on key conceptual problems in delineating new democratic and cooperative forms of social, economic, and political organization, including worker self-management; structural injustice and ecological justice; the question of markets, coordination, and distribution; the problem of scale (local, national, and global); and the role of feminist notions of reproduction, recognition, and care. Readings will include, among others, works by Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Emma Goldman, Peter Kropotkin, Karl Kautsky, Hannah Arendt, Franz Fanon, Robert Dahl, C. B. Macpherson, Carole Pateman, Andre Gorz, Erik Olin Wright, Jane Mansbridge, G. A. Cohen, Nancy Fraser, and Elizabeth Anderson.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]
Phil 76900 
Philosophy of Social Science 
Prof. Greenwood

4 credits
Thurs. 9:30-11:30
Room 6494









This course will focus on a number of philosophical and meta-theoretical questions concerning the nature of social phenomena and social scientific explanation. We will cover topics common to most social sciences, such as the debate between so-called holists and individualists, the nature of structural and functional forms of explanation; and the place of social values in social science. We will also cover topics specific to particular social scientific disciplines, such as problems associated with the anthropological understanding of alien cultures, the role of isolative experimentation in social psychology, the presumed autonomy of historical explanation, and the instrumentalist conception of theory in economics. We will also consider the historical evolution of the social sciences, including their institutional development in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
 
Throughout the course, a continuous attempt will be made to provide a general philosophical characterization of social phenomena. We will try to explicate what is held––by both lay and professional theorists––to be the ‘common characteristic(s)’ (Durkheim) of the varied phenomena classified as social in nature, such as social action, social cognition, social groups, social structures and the like, and the relations between them (but without presupposing that there is a single characteristic or set of characteristics common to them all).  It is hoped that the working analysis of social phenomena developed will enable us to get a better conceptual grip on the fundamental philosophical questions of social science. It will also hopefully shed some light on the pretensions of new disciplines such as sociobiology, social epistemology, social neuroscience, and evolutionary social psychology, and familiar but puzzling claims to the effect that our identities and emotions are socially constructed, and thus the appropriate subject of social scientific research.
 
Contemporary philosophy of social science is in an exciting state of flux, since many of its traditional guiding assumptions and contrasts, derived from logical positivist/scientific empiricist philosophy of science, have been abandoned or qualified in recent years. By returning to the core philosophical questions about social phenomena and social explanation, it is hoped that the course will be able to shed some fresh light upon traditional problems and debates, and to identify some emerging contemporary issues.
 
Social sciences considered will include sociology, anthropology, social psychology, political science, economics and history. No detailed background in social science is assumed, although any background would be an undoubted asset and a positive source of course enrichment.
 
Readings will be based upon book chapters and papers, which will be posted electronically. 

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group B]
Phil 80000 
Frege
Prof. Kripke

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











Gottlob Frege was the principal founder of modern logic and a philosopher of mathematics (including logic, of course, where he was a founder of logicism) and of language – both of natural language and of formalized language. In this seminar we will concentrate on his philosophy of natural language, although his work on these other areas may be mentioned in as much as they impinge on the philosophy of language. We will pay particular attention to “On Sinn and Bedeutung” (“On Sense and Reference”) and Frege’s later paper, “Thought”, but other papers and writings will also be relevant. For most of Frege’s writings, we will use Michael Beaney’s, The Frege Reader. Among the commentators and reactions to be discussed are Dummett, Kunne, Evans, Blanchette, Burge, Kaplan, Perry, Elbourne, our own Oliver Marshall, and indeed me. 
 
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group ]
Phil 77500 
Corrective Justice
Prof. Mills

4 credits
Mon. 4:15- 6:15
Room 3207








This course will look at corrective justice, a general term I am using to cover a range of variants (overlapping but not always the same)—rectificatory justice, reparative justice, restitutive justice, restorative justice, and so forth—whose common element is the idea of correcting for past wrongs, i.e., historical injustices. Since, with the possible exception of hunter-gatherer societies, we are always living in unjust social orders, the correction of past injustices should, one would think, be a central moral concern for us. But one of the unfortunate consequences of the shaping of the discourse of social justice theory over the past 40+ years by the work of John Rawls has been the reorientation of the field away from such matters to the focus instead on justice in ideal “well-ordered” societies of “strict compliance.” So a simple way of thinking of the course is as a course on justice in “ill-ordered” societies (aka “the world”), in both its material and symbolic aspects, and the moral, metaphysical, epistemological, and political challenges it raises for us. 
 
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]
Phil 76800 
Philosophical Issues in Archaeology
Prof. Neale

4 credits
Mon. 6:30-8:30
Room 7393









In this seminar we will examine work in archaeology and archaeological interpretation drawing on work in the philosophy of science, metaphysics, epistemology, political theory, and the philosophy of language. Topics to be examined include: typologies and systems of classification, theories of measurement, dating methods, archaeological inference, site formation processes, notions of archaeological record, artefact, and culture, stewardship and the ethics of collecting, archaeology and propaganda, the upshot of processualist/postprocessualist disputes, cognitive archaeology and its place in cognitive science, and the relevance (if any) of work in linguistics, semiotics, hermeneutics and analytic philosophy of language to an understanding of archaeological interpretation. 

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group A or B]
Phil 76100 
Philosophy and Its Rivals in the Platonic Dialogues 
Prof. Pappas

4 credits
Mon. 11:45-1:45
Room 3207









As repository of wisdom, teacher, sage counsel to life; something serving the soul in the way that medical science serves the body; philosophy presents itself in Plato’s dialogues as an enterprise surrounded by competitors. Sophists and poets claimed to teach the public, and orators promised to lead. What did philosophers have to offer that was different?
Although this question can be entertained at a general level, it also leads into specific topics associated with Plato’s dialogues, such as
  • the method of division and collection
  • myths in Platonic dialogues and how to read them
  • material in the dialogues (e.g. the story of Gyges) that has been reworked from other sources
  • the representation of rival disciplines in Plato’s Symposium
Taking the question of rivals to philosophy as its guide, this seminar will familiarize itself with some Platonic works, paying special attention to how those works identify philosophy against drama, the interpretation of poetry, mythography, rhetoric, and sophistry.
Readings will include Ion, Sophist, Statesman; selections from Republic; and (time permitting) some or all of Phaedrus, Symposium, and Theaetetus. The seminar will make use of secondary literature in its reading assignments and in class presentations.
 

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group D-ancient]
Phil 77700 
Anarchism
Prof. Priest 

4 credits
Tues. 4:15-6:15
Room 6421









Anarchism is, roughly, the view that there should be no top-down power structure in society, most notably the standard institutions of state. There are right wing (laissez faire) and left wing (collectivist) versions of anarchism. This will be a course about left wing anarchism. We will be reading and discussing primary texts including some by Bakunin, Kropotkin, Rocker, Chomsky, and possibly others, depending on the time available.  

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]
Phil 76600 
Modularity and its Discontents 
Prof. Prinz 

4 credits
Tues. 2:00-4:00
Room C196.06










[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group B]
Phil 77000 
Perception
Prof. Rosenthal 

4 credits
Thurs. 2:00-4:00
Room 5383








We perceive things in respect of properties accessible to the senses, properties that enable us to distinguish among objects and events.  Vision, e.g., discriminates objects and events in respect of the way their colors, shapes, sizes, locations, and motions appear to us; similarly for properties accessible to the other sensory modalities.  But it’s controversial how perceiving achieves such sensory discrimination.  Do perceptual states vary in mental qualitative character?  Do the states have different distinctively perceptual contents of some sort?  Do perceptual states vary in some other type of mental or neural property?
 
Perceiving typically does more than simply discriminate in respect of properties that are accessible to the senses.  It often also classifies and categorizes objects and events as being of various kinds.  And how perceiving does that is also controversial.  Does it involve conceptualization of the relevant objects and events?  Does it involve a special kind of perceptual content?  A special kind of perceptual content?  Does it require calibrating inputs from the various perceptual modalities?  And there’s a crucial question—seldom addressed directly—about how discrimination among properties accessible by the senses operates in tandem with the perceptual classification and categorization of objects and events.  How do these two functions work together?
 
Other issues we’ll discuss include how best to characterize the differences among the perceptual modalities, whether perceiving sometimes occurs without being conscious, and what it is for perceiving to be conscious.
 
But our main focus will be on how perceiving discriminates properties accessible to the senses, how perceiving categorizes and classifies objects and events, how those two perceptual functions differ and how they operate together, and how acceptable answers to those questions constrain satisfactory accounts of the way perceiving differs from nonperceptual cognition.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group B]
Phil 72000 
Logic
Prof. Ritchie

4 credits
Thurs. 11:45-1:45
Room 6494









This course is a philosophical introduction to classical symbolic logic. No prior background in logic is assumed. We will study sentence logic and first-order predicate logic with identity. Topics to be covered include semantics, syntax, and proof procedures. We will also cover the metalogical concepts of soundness and completeness. Along the way, we will take a look at some central problems in the philosophy of logic, motivations for non-classical logics, and the relevance of logic to other areas of philosophy. The goal is to achieve both a practical mastery and philosophical understanding of elementary logic. 

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group E]
Phil 76000 
Mind, Matter, and Experience in Early Modern Philosophy 
Prof. Wilson 

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








Descartes proposed that the world that science investigates is purely corporeal, consisting of aggregates of corpuscles in motion obeying the laws of mechanics. Animal and human bodies, on his view, are machines. Human bodies alone are inhabited by minds that experience emotions and perceptions and that can innovate, grasp meanings and truths, and initiate movement, all in ways that cannot be scientifically understood. 

In this seminar, we will examine the reactions to this proposal, including a variety of extensions of, and alternatives to this basic scheme, in early modern philosophy. Topics will include: the materialisms of Gassendi and Locke, the animism of Margaret Cavendish, the phenomenalism or idealism of Leibniz and Malebranche, and the quasi-pantheistic systems of Spinoza and Newton.
 
[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group D-Modern]