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Graduate Course Information

Spring 2019

For a complete listing of Graduate Philosophy courses, click here.

Course #      Course Title Instructor
PHI 618 Hegel, Marx & Nietzsche


PHI 622 20th Century French/German Philosophy


PHI 687 Language/Epistemology/Mind/Metaphysics


PHI 730 Seminar in Modern Philosophy 


PHI 750 Seminar in Current Philosophical Problems Anderson
PHI 840 Seminar in Metaphysics McDaniel
PHI 860 Seminar in Ethics - Motivation Paakkunainen

Class Descriptions

PHI 618 - Hegel, Marx & Nietzsche

Instructor - Kenneth Baynes

TTH  12:30 - 1:50

This course will examine the ideas of the three most influential European philosophers of the 19thcentury whose ideas continue to shape much contemporary thought. We will begin with Hegel’s charge (in the Phenomenology of Spirit) that Kant’s conception of transcendental philosophy is insufficiently historical and thus “dogmatic”.  Marx in turn criticized Hegel’s idealism as an inversion of the relation between thought and reality.  Finally, Nietzsche dismissed previous “Germanic philosophy” as a form of asceticism that was ultimately “life-denying”.  Each philosopher thus claims to offer an improvement upon his predecessor(s) by reassessing the relationship between philosophy and life (or history, or praxis, or reality).  Our more modest aim will be to get a clearer view of the possible connections between philosophy and the world through a reading of these very different thinkers.  Attention will be devoted to epistemological, moral, political and religious dimensions of their works.


PHI 622 - 20th Century French/German Philosophy

Instructor - Gregg Lambert

T  5:00 - 7:40

Twentieth-century French and German philosophical criticism of the legacy of the Enlightenment and its conceptions of subjectivity and epistemology. First in a series planned over the next five years, this seminar will take up and address the central concerns of Post-Enlightenment thinkers in the French and German traditions on both continents. The first seminar will address the critique of European Humanism and Subjectivity. The format of the course is a “seminar” and is designed for longer presentations and also to accommodate visiting speakers during the spring semester. Each seminar session will consist of a lecture on the assigned readings for the week, followed by an  in-depth close reading and discussion of central passages, student presentations, and/or lectures by visiting speakers invited to campus. One of the outcomes of the course will be an undergraduate conference organized in conjunction with a joint-seminar offered at Cornell University and supported by the CNY Humanities Corridor in the Humanities Center.  The Conference will likely take place during the reading week of the spring semester. Additional work will be required of graduate students.
Some of the readings will be available via a Dropbox folder. Students are responsible for purchasing books and materials not included:
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition
Braidotti, Rosi. The Posthuman
Derrida, Jacques The Animal Therefore That I Am
____. The Politics of Friendship
Foucault, Michel. Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth
Lambert, Gregg. Philosophy After Friendship
Levinas, Emmanuel. Humanism of the Other Man
Mbembi, Achilles. Critique of Black Reason
Wolfe, Before the Law: Animals in the Biopolitical Frame


PHI 687 - Language/Epistemology/Mind/Metaphysics

Instructor - Kevan Edwards

TTH  2:00 - 3:20

Selected major philosophical problems in philosophy of language, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and/or metaphysics, as examined in the works of at least three major philosophers. Writing intensive.


PHI 730 - Seminar in Modern Philosophy

Instructor - Frederick Beiser

W  6:45 - 9:30

This course will be a survey of some of the major political writings of German philosophy during its great creative period: 1789-1830.  We will examine the political writings of Kant, Fichte, Schiller and the early German romantics; we will end with Hegel’s philosophy of history, which takes issue with all his forbears.  These writings are some of the most accessible by these authors, and they can serve as an easy introduction to German idealism.  The issues in this period revolve around two great questions: the power of reason in politics, and the role of art in politics. 


PHI 750 - Seminar in Current Philosophical Problems

Instructor - Luvell Anderson

T  3:30 - 6:15

In contemporary philosophy of language, there has been a recent trend to pay serious attention to “the social” in investigations of language. More and more analyses are drawing on things like power, gender, race, class, and sex to think about the semantics and pragmatics of expressions and discursive practices. This represents a bit of a divergence from how philosophers of language, at least in the analytic tradition, have theorized about language. A central aim of this course is to figure out how much of a divergence this actually is. Are there two distinct methodologies represented in what we might provisionally distinguish as Standard Philosophy of Languageand Social Philosophy of Language

In this course, we will attempt to establish broad descriptions of the methodologies of each, comparing and contrasting with an eye towards determining whether they are co-conspirators or conflicting enemies. We will then turn our attention to a few topics in the literature that have garnered much attention among philosophers of language that appear to call for greater attention to the social embeddedness of our discursive practices.


PHI 840 - Seminar - Metaphysics

Instructor - Kristopher McDaniel

M  3:45 - 6:30

We will examine the metaphysics of ordinary objects, and probably some unordinary ones too.  Some questions we will consider:  when does composition occur?  What should we say about vagueness?  How do objects persist?


PHI 860 - Seminar in Ethics - Motivation

Instructor - Hille Paakkunainen

W  3:45 - 6:30

This seminar examines some central debates about the motivation of action, including rational action and morally good action. We discuss the Humean Theory of Motivation and some challenges to it, as well as some neo-Kantian and neo-Aristotelian views. In the process, we consider several associated and influential further theses about motivation. One of the most important of these is the idea that desires and beliefs have different “directions of fit” such that beliefs alone can’t motivate action. Another is “motivational internalism,” the idea that there is some necessary or internal connection between moral or normative judgments and motivation. Yet another is the idea that motivational concern for morality de dicto amounts to objectionably “fetishizing” morality, in a way that virtuous or morally good people would not do. Yet another is the thesis that desire, intention, or action must take place “under the guise of the good”—roughly, that when one desires or intends something or acts in a certain way, one must conceive of what one is desiring, intending or doing as somehow good. Issues about the nature of practical reasoning and practical rationality will recur.  Throughout, we will keep an eye out for points of interaction between various theses about motivation and further debates in metaethics and practical reason. 



FALL 2018

For a complete listing of Graduate Philosophy courses, click here.

Course #      Course Title Instructor
PHI 651 Logic and Language


PHI 693 Proseminar: Moral and Political Philosophy


PHI 750.1 Sem. in Current Phil. Problems: Philosophy of Mind - Central and Recent Issues on Consciousness 

Van Gullick

PHI 750.2 Sem. in Current Phil. Problems: The Metaphysics of Ethics 


PHI 750.3 Sem. in Current Phil. Problems:  Philosophy of Action Frost
PHI 880/PSC 880 Sem. in Social & Political Philosophy: Justice & Equality Baynes

Class Descriptions

PHI 651 - Logic and Language

Instructor: Michael Rieppel

TTH 9:30 - 10:50 

The aim of this course is to provide students with a background in various concepts, methods, and results from mathematical logic that are of philosophical importance. Topics that we will cover include basic set theory, topics in the model- and proof-theory of propositional logic, first-order logic, and modal logic, and applications of formal techniques to the study of meaning in natural language.

This course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students, and will move at a fairly rapid pace. Undergraduates must have taken PHI 251 or an equivalent introductory logic course; additional background in logic, mathematics, or relevant areas of philosophy is beneficial.


PHI 693 - Proseminar: Moral and Political Philosophy

Instructors: Ben Bradley/David Sobel

T 3:30 - 6:15

This course covers topics in normative ethics, metaethics, and political philosophy, focusing on relatively contemporary material. By design the course is a rather rushed introduction to a few selected topics in recent moral and political thought rather than either an in depth investigation into a single topic or an attempt to canvas the entire range of topics in contemporary moral and political philosophy. The course is designed to prepare students for further graduate coursework in ethics and political philosophy. There will be regular writing assignments and a substantial term paper.


PHI 750.1 - Seminar in Current Philosophical Problems: Philosophy of Mind Central and Recent Issues on Consciousness

Instructor: Robert Van Gulick

M  3:45 - 6:30

Central and recent issues of Consciousness.  Critical examination of some central issues of consciousness with the focus on new and recently published literature.  Topics will include current neuro-cognitive theories of consciousness, the unity of consciousness, cognitive phenomenality and phenomenal intentionality – and possibly animal consciousness, panpsychism, and illusionism.


PHI 750.2 - Seminar in Current Philosophical Problems: The Metaphysics of Ethics

Instructors: Ben Bradley/Kris McDaniel

W  2:15 - 5:00

Philosophers sometimes make use of metaphysical theses to defend, undermine, or articulate ethical theses. This course will look at some recent literature with this feature. We will look at how metaphysical views about identity, vagueness, time, and causation are appealed to in ethical arguments. The last several weeks will be spent on Matti Eklund’s recent book on normative concepts.


PHI 750.3 - Seminar in Current Philosophical Problems: Philosophy of Action
Instructor: Kim Frost
W  5:15 - 8:00

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of action, with a focus on critique of the idea that there is a “will” that is the source of all voluntary, intentional, rational, and distinctively human action. Questions we shall address include the following: What is it to do something voluntarily, or deliberately, or intentionally? What's the difference between intentional actions and things we do involuntarily, or accidentally, or unintentionally, or automatically? How is it that when we are doing something intentionally, we usually know what we are doing, and what our reasons are for doing it, without having to look and see? What is it to have reasons for action? Is it to have certain beliefs and desires, or something more (or other) than that? What is it to act for a reason? Is it just for one’s body to be caused to move by one's mental states, or is it something more (or other) than that? What is intention? Is it a mental state, with a distinctive causal role, or something else?


PHI 880/PSC 880 - Seminar in Social & Political Philosophy: Justice and Equality
Instructor: Kenneth Baynes

TH  3:30 - 6:15

The seminar will explore various topics in current (i.e., “post-Rawlsian”) discussions about justice and equality.  These may include a review of discussions concerning the appropriate metric of equality—should egalitarians be primarily concerned with welfare, resources, capabilities or the opportunity for one or another of these; debates between distributive and relational accounts of equality (including “luck egalitarianism” and the relational accounts of Elizabeth Anderson, Axel Honneth, and others); debates about the place of individual responsibility and desert in accounts of social justice; egalitarianism and global justice; and (depending on interest) recent debates about conflicts between religious liberty and equality (as in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby) as well as questions about state neutrality and whether religion is “special”—that is, deserves accommodation by the state and/or exemption from state regulation.