Graduate Seminars 2018-2019


FALL 2018

Philosophy 275A, Luca Ferrero– Proseminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology
In this proseminar, we will explore the contemporary debate about the metaphysics of agential governance and autonomy started by the seminal contributions of Harry Frankfurt. In addition to Frankfurt’s work on agency and identification, we will read, among others, some works by Gary Watson, David Velleman, Michael Bratman, and Christine Korsgaard.

Philosophy 280, Myisha Cherry – The Moral Psychology of Anger
Anger has been a topic of philosophical concern since the days of the ancients in both the Eastern and Western philosophical traditions. Infamously thought to be irrational and dangerous, philosophers have also produced work defending anger against its historical and contemporary critics. In this course, we will look at these debates, concerns, and other relevant questions from a variety of perspectives and traditions such as: what is the phenomenological, motivational, and communicative components of anger, is anger necessary for morality, how ought we to evaluate anger and its expressions, does anger have a role in politics, how is its expression and uptake structured by practices of sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression, and what insights do feminist and race approaches add to our understanding of anger? This course will deepen our understandings of anger as well as moral psychology at the intersections of social and political philosophy.

Philosophy 283, Eric Schwitzgebel – The Abundance or Sparseness of Consciousness, in the Universe, on Earth, and in Your Own Head
We will focus on the question of how sparse or abundant consciousness is in the universe, on Earth, and in your own mind. On Earth: We will consider the question of what sorts of animals are conscious — that is, what sorts of animals have “phenomenology” or a “stream of experience” or are such that there’s “something it’s like” to be them? Some theorists hold that only cognitively sophisticated human beings can have genuine conscious experience; others hold that even very simple organisms might have conscious experience. In the universe: We will also consider views on what sorts of possible or hypothetical systems would be conscious: What would it take for a computer or robot to have genuine conscious experience? How about hypothetical science fiction aliens? In your own mind: Some people think that the stream of conscious experience is “sparse” in the sense that we can at any moment only consciously experience one or a few things at a time — more or less whatever is in attention. Others hold that human experience is “abundant” in the sense that at any moment we normally have lots of experiences going on at once, including peripheral experiences of your feet in your shoes and the hum of the refrigerator in the background.

Philosophy 283, Howard Wettstein – Henry Bugbee’s The Inward Morning
Bugbee’s book in unique in the philosophy literature, in part because it’s a philosopher’s journal. And in part because it reflects the thought of one trained in analytic philosophy but whose interests are similar to those who work in the continental tradition. It is largely jargon-free, the reflections of a person trying to grapple with the big questions. Reflections on nature, on human nature, on art and religion are interspersed with more usual kinds of philosophical reflections. The book represents a challenge and a great opportunity. I am looking forward to working through it with the group. I have done a previous graduate seminar on this book. Our discussions were memorable, at least from my point of view. Students who were in that seminar are encouraged to join again. There will be new material, including parts of the book that we never got to.

WINTER 2019 

Philosophy 275B, Michael Nelson – Proseminar in Metaphysics and Epistemology 

Philosophy 280, Adam Harmer – Substance in Early Modern Philosophy
This seminar will look at the notion of substance in various early modern philosophers. The central questions driving the seminar will be: What is a substance? Can we/how do we know anything about the nature of substance? Is the term “substance” even meaningful? Philosophers to be included: Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume.

Philosophy 280, Pierre Keller – German Idealism and the Dynamics of Reason in the Copernican Revolution

Philosophy 282, Maudemarie Clark – Nietzsche’s Political Philosophy (co-taught with Andreja Novakovic)
The overriding questions for this seminar are 1) how bad, from a liberal or progressive point of view, Nietzsche’s political philosophy actually is, and 2) to what extent his critique of democracy offers any helpful and /or hopeful diagnoses of the current political situation in the US and Europe. We will start with his most anti-progressive piece, “The Greek State,” read some his more friendly to democracy passages in Human, All-Too-Human, and consider how these readings should affect our reading of his later political philosophy, especially in Beyond Good and Evil.

Philosophy 283, Agniezska Jaworska – Valuing, Caring, and Practical Reasoning

Philosophy 276, Andrews Reath – 3rd and 4th Year Research Workshop  


Philosophy 275C, Coleen Macnamara – Proseminar in Value Theory 

Philosophy 281, Jozef Muller – Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics
We will read book 1 of the Posterior Analytics which concerns Aristotle’s theory of demonstration (apodeixis), that is, of the kind of grasp of truth that qualifies as scientific knowledge (episteme).

Philosophy 282, Andreja Novakovic – Hegel’s Logic (co-taught with Maude Clark)
Hegel’s Science of Logic is the very core of his system, laying out the categories that he took to be fundamental to both nature and spirit.  In this seminar we will read the third and final part, the “Subjective Logic”, in its entirety.  We will focus on Hegel’s accounts of the concept, judgment and syllogism, teleology, and cognition.  We will also consider two broader questions: 1. What are Hegel’s metaphysical commitments? and 2. How is he building on and how departing from Kant’s “Transcendental Logic”?

Philosophy 283, Erich Reck – Thomas Kuhn and the Dynamics of Reason 

Philosophy 276, Andrews Reath – 3rd and 4th Year Research Workshop