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Graduate Course Information

Fall 2017

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

Course #      Course Title Instructor
PHI575 Philosophy of Social Science


PHI 593/REL 551 Ethics & Health Professions


PHI 651 Logic and Language


PHI 687 LEMM Proseminar:Language/Epistemology/Mind/Metaphysics


PHI 710 Sem: Ancient & Medieval Philosophy - Plotinus Noble
PHI 750 Sem. in Current Phil. Problems: Deontic Modals Dowell
PHI 840 Sem. in Metaphysics:Are Laws of Nature Brute? Heller
PHI 860 Sem. in Ethics: Constructivism in Metaethics Paakkunainen

Class Descriptions

PHI 575 - Philosophy of Social Science
Instructor: Kenneth Baynes
TTH 2:00 - 3:20

           This course offers an advanced survey of current debates about the methodology and aims of the social sciences.  It will include discussion of such topics as the relationship between the natural and social sciences; the relationship between explanation and understanding; the relationship between the individual and larger social structures and institutions; the problems of rationality and relativism; and alternative approaches to the study of society, social norms and conduct (e.g. rational choice theory, interpretivism, functionalism, evolutionary psychology, feminist theory and social constructivism).

PHI 593/REL 551 - Ethics & Health Professions
Instructor: Paul Prescott
W 4:30 - 7:30
Ethical theories in professional, organizational, and political-economic fields in health care. Specific issues: assisted suicide, professional codes, ethics of "cost- cutting" and justice with respect to care.

PHI 651 - Logic and Language
Instructor: Michael Rieppel
TTH 9:30 - 10:50
The aim of this course is to provide students with a broad background in various concepts, methods, and results from mathematical logic that are of philosophical importance. Topics that we will cover include basic set theory, model and proof theory of propositional and first-order logic, modal logic, and applications of formal techniques to the study of meaning in natural language.

PHI 687 - LEMM Proseminar: (Language/Epistemology/Mind/Metaphysics)
Instructors: Kris McDaniel/Kevan Edwards
M 2:15 - 5:00

In this course we will work though two of the most influential texts in 20th Century Analytic Philosophy: Kripke's Naming and Necessity, and Lewis' On the Plurality of Worlds.

PHI 710 - Seminar in Ancient & Medieval Philosophy: Plotinus
Instructor: Christopher Noble
W 5:15 - 8:00
Plotinus (204/5-270 A.D.), the founding figure of Neoplatonism, profoundly shaped philosophical thought in Late Antiquity, as well as the reception of Plato’s ideas in later centuries. This course will focus on Plotinus’ views about the broad structure of reality and their implications for his conception the human good. Our reading of Plotinus’ treatises, the Enneads, will be supplemented with relevant Platonic and Aristotelian source-texts and some recent scholarly literature.

PHI 750 - Seminar in Current Philosophical Problems: Deontic Modals
Instructor: Janice Dowell
T 3:30 - 6:15

Roughly, modal expressions are those that characterize the strength of truth of a proposition.  Examples include: “Necessarily”, “possibly”, “must”, “ought”, and “might”.  This course focuses on modal expressions that have a deontic use. Although such uses themselves come in different flavors—there is a difference between saying what someone ought, prudentially, to do and saying what they ought, morally, to do—we will focus primarily on “most reasons” and moral uses. 

We will begin with a discussion of some of the differences among such uses metaethicists have discussed, evaluative vs. deliberative and subjective vs. objective “ought”s. We will consider Angelika Kratzer’s canonical contextualist semantics for modals, which offers a unified account of such uses. The remainder of the course will focus on assessing recent challenges to that semantics. These challenges have helped inspire new semantic frameworks, such as MacFarlane’s relativism, as well as new interpretations of existing frameworks, such as Yalcin’s expressivism.  They have also inspired contextualist rivals to Kratzer’s own framework, such as those of Finlay and Cariani.  Assessing these challenges and the comparative merits of these rival theories will take us through literature in metaethics, the philosophy of language, and linguistics.  While background in any of these areas would be helpful, none is presupposed. 

PHI 840 - Seminar in Metaphysics: Are Laws of Nature Brute?
Instructor: Mark Heller
TH 3:30 - 6:15

To give a complete, non-redundant description of the world, do we have to include any modal facts in our description? If so, some modality is brute or fundamental. I (Heller) think we need to include at least the law of non-contradiction and some principle of recombination. But I hope that the list of brute modal facts is short. The laws of nature are modal facts. Humeans (e.g., David Lewis) tell us that the laws are not brute, because they are reducible to particular matters of fact – the laws are just the best systematization of those particular matters of fact. If the Humeans are wrong, then there are a lot more brute modal facts than I had hoped. I have some suspicions that the Humeans may indeed be wrong. This class will consider various accounts of the laws of nature with an eye towards the worry about brute modality. ​

PHI 860 - Seminar in Ethics: Constructivism in Metaethics
Instructor: Hille Paakkunainen
W 2:15 - 5:00

This course examines metaethical constructivism, including so-called constitutivism. According to such views, normative facts are somehow constructed out of features of (rational) agents. We’ll focus on major contemporary constructivists and constitutivists such as Christine Korsgaard, Sharon Street, and Michael Smith; along with critical work by e.g. Thomas Nagel, G.A. Cohen, Bill FitzPatrick, David Enoch, and Michael Bukoski. We end by considering how, if at all, metaethical constructivism differs deeply from reductive response-dependence views such as Peter Railton’s. 

Note: You should come to the first class meeting (Aug 30) having read Lecture I of Christine Korsgaard’s (1996) The Sources of Normativity.

You are required to gain access to the following books: 

Korsgaard, C. 1996. The Sources of Normativity (CUP) 

Korsgaard, C. 2009. Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity (OUP)

All other readings will be posted on Blackboard.