Graduate Courses & Seminars

Fall 2021


Philos 220: Topics in History of Philosophy

Instructor: Janelle DeWitt
Mondays: 2:00P – 4:50P
Location: Dodd 325

Kant’s Anthropology

Kant defines anthropology as a doctrine of knowledge of the human being “according to his species as an earthly being endowed with reason”, which includes both what nature makes of the human being, and what the human being, as a free-acting being, can and should make of himself.  In this seminar, we’ll be exploring various elements of Kant’s anthropology, with a special emphasis on his empirical psychology.  Possible topics of discussion include Kant’s tri-partite theory of the mind, the nature of emotion in general, particular accounts of emotion (such as jealousy and Schadenfreude), the various forms of self-love, the affects and passions, virtue and vice, and happiness (along with its role in the highest good).  We’ll also touch on some of the historical texts that may have influenced the development of Kant’s thought, including the Stoics and Augustine.

Philos 244: Topics in Value Theory: Rationality and Action

Instructor: Pamela Hieronymi
Wednesdays: 2:00-4:50pm
Location: Dodd 325

The Temporality of Emotions

After some stage setting, this seminar will examine the recent literature concerning “the temporality of the emotions.”  We will start with a brief orientation in the idea of emotions as “reasons-responsive,” the accompanying “wrong kind of reason problem,” and the relevance of this problem to neo-sentimentalist accounts of ethics or value.  We will then turn to our topic, using Berislav Marusic’s current manuscript as a frame for examining the burgeoning literature that has emerged from from his initial articles.  I hope to pay particular attention to what Marusic calls the problem of accommodation to injustice.  [Note: details subject to change!]

An important aim of this seminar is to provide students with an initial familiarity with a current topic in the literature, with which they might further engage.  In addition, this graduate course will develop students’ ability to carefully and critically read, analyze, and discuss philosophical texts in the Anglo-American tradition.  Students will produce clearly organized prose that lucidly conveys its subject matter to an unfamiliar reader.  They will identify possible critiques of arguments and convey those in writing.  Short writing assignments enable individualized feedback, while a longer final paper provides an opportunity for a more extended philosophical critique.

Philos 281: Philosophy of Mind

Instructor: Michael Rescorla
Tuesdays: 2:00P – 4:50P
Location: Dodd 399

Seminar: Propositions

Propositions figure prominently in philosophy of language and mind, where they are commonly taken to serve as the contents of mental states and speech acts. But what are propositions? Why should we believe in them? How do they contribute to our theorizing? This seminar will explore some contemporary theories of propositions, focusing upon theories that descend from the classical treatments of Russell and Wittgenstein. Readings by Chalmers, Jeshion, Keller, Lewis, Merricks, Miller, Soames, Stalnaker, and others.

Philos 287: Philosophy of Language

Instructor: Sam Cumming
Thursdays: 2:00P – 4:50P
Location: Dodd 399


Reference is one of a handful of important semantic relations, and is a perennial topic in philosophy of language. In the seminar, I’ll have a go at defending a number of surprising theses, including:

  • Reference is not determined, or even constrained, by linguistic rule. Instead, it is semantically “basic.”
  • Donnellan’s (1966) examples of “attributive” uses of definite descriptions are quite ordinary referential uses. It is not necessary to have an independent means of identifying something in order to refer to it.
  • All noun phrases, including definite descriptions, indefinites, and those thought of as quantificational, are referring expressions (NB: some refer to pluralities). Bonus: quantifier domain restriction is not required on a referential analysis.
  • The existential quantifier that Russell slots into the meaning of the definite determiner should be traced instead to (certain) predicates (including ‘exists’).

The readings will be a blend of old and new, from the original sources for some of these ideas in the work of Peter Strawson to up-to-date experimental data in linguistics. Around half will be works-in-progress by me. These will gradually be added to my webpage over the summer for those interested in reading ahead.