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Graduate Courses

Submitted by schnell on Fri, 11/22/2013 - 1:46pm

The department offers a selection of graduate-level courses every year. These are taught by permanent faculty and sometimes visting faculty and post-docs. The Graduate Proseminar (Phil 603) is offered every fall and is required of all entering graduate students.  With permission of the Graduate Program Director, students may take a limited number of individual Directed Study courses and courses in other departments. Phil 677, the logic course required to satisfy the PhD logic requirement, is offered every term.

Previous years' courses:

Detailed outlines for current courses can be found on the Courses page.

Fall 2018

David Dick: Dirty Money

This class will investigate the ethics of giving and receiving money. When, if ever, is it wrong to give money because of its recipient or to accept money because of its source? Is there something distinctive about exchanges of things with monetary value? This class will welcome sources from a number of disciplines to help answer this question, but for students, background in moral and political philosophy will be a plus.

Ali Kazmi: Identity and Necessity

This course will offer a study of some aspects of the concepts of identity and necessity, the related but distinct concepts of analyticity and the a priori, and the interaction of these concepts with quantification. The philosophers whose works will be studied in this course include W.V. Quine, Richard Cartwright, David Kaplan, and Saul Kripke.

Jack MacIntosh: Divine Hiddenness

If religious claims are true, why are they not more obviously true?  In particular, if God exists, why isn't that clear? "Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself," said Isaiah (45:15), but why would a deity do that? The problem has been occasionally, if somewhat obscurely, noted in the past and God's hiddenness been either evaded, accepted, or 'justified.' It has become a central issue in current philosophy of religion, and in this course we shall consider a variety of recent work in this area, particularly that of John Schellenberg (Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason and The Hiddenness Argument: Philosophy's New Challenge to Belief in God).   

Richard Zach: Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem

We will focus on two famous theorems of symbolic logic due to Kurt Gödel: The Incompleteness Theorems. The first of these states, roughly, that every formal mathematical theory, provided it is sufficiently expressive and free from contradictions, is incomplete in the sense that there are always statements (in fact, true statements) in the language of the theory which the theory can’t prove. In order to prove the Incompleteness Theorem, we’ll need to study the expressive power of formal languages and axiomatic theories—this is an important and exciting area in itself. This investigation will lead us naturally to computability. We’ll approach computability not via Turing machines, but via the notion of a recursive function. (We will prove, however, that both notions coincide.)

Ann Levey: Graduate Proseminar (Mandatory)

The aim of this seminar is to sharpen one’s philosophical research and writing skills. We will focus on how to identify
research topics, write research proposals and papers, and prepare research presentations.

Winter 2019

Megan Delehanty: Epistemic Injustice

The term 'epistemic injustice' is best known because of Miranda Fricker's 2007 book Epistemic Injustice, in which she defines epistemic injustice as 'a wrong done to someone specifically in their capacity as a knower'. Fricker identifies two distinct types of epistemic injustice: testimonial and hermeneutical. Others have offered important criticism of Fricker's work. In this course, we will discuss the general concept of epistemic injustice, consider different varieties of epistemic injustice, and examine specific contexts in which issues of epistemic injustice arise.

Allen Habib: Sustainability and Environmental Justice: Sustainability as Intergenerational Distributive Justice

This is a graduate seminar in environmental philosophy, with a focus on sustainability as a matter of distributive justice between the generations of people of the earth. This approach takes the theoretical structure of distributive justice pioneered by Rawls and Miller, and applies it to temporally, as opposed to spatially, extended people. We imagine the various generations of the earth as the pool of people, and the earth as the good to be (justly) distributed among them. Sustainability is then a demand for fair sharing, a constraint on current action so that later people may enjoy their fair share of the earth. Topics will include the currency of intergenerational justice, canvassing proposals such as capital, welfare, opportunity and nature itself; issues with future people as moral patients, such as Parfit's non-identity problem and his 'repugnant conclusion' argument; and the principle of just intergenerational distribution, surveying egalitarian, prioritarian and sufficentarian approaches. There will be weekly reading and short precis assignments, and students will be asked to prepare and present an APA style paper on the course material at the end of the semester.

Mark Migotti and Ken Waters: American Pragmatism and Philosophy of Science

Recently, a number of philosophers of science have started drawing upon the tradition of American Pragmatism, some, such as Philip Kitcher quite extensively, others such as Bas van Fraassen more narrowly. In this seminar, we will explore the work of the classical American Pragmatists--Dewey, Peirce, and James—with the aim of shedding light on issues central to contemporary philosophy of science. We will motivate and orient our historical investigations with a look at contemporary writings in philosophy of science, and then turn to our main focus: a close reading of selected texts of Peirce, James, and Dewey from the perspective just outlined.

Nicole Wyatt: Speech Acts & Pornography

An investigation into Catherine MacKinnon's claim that pornography silences women. We will consider the advantages and disadvantages of treating pornography itself as a form of speech and discuss contemporary literature using speech act theory to expand on MacKinnon's claims about silencing.  Students are advised that the topic of the course requires discussion of explicit material.

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