PHIL-GA 1000; Pro-seminar; Monday 4-7; Jane Friedman & Jessica Moss
This course is for first year PhD students in the Philosophy Department only.
PHIL-GA 1002; Topics in Ethics & Political Philosophy; Tuesday 3-5; Daniel Viehoff
The course will likely cover recent work on democracy and related issues.
PHIL-GA 1003; Logic for Philosophers; Wednesday 12-2; Kit Fine
Introduction to logic. Topics will include the basic theory of propositional logic, fuzzy logic, multi-valued logic, boolean logic, modal logic, temporal logic, and more, including a general account of first-order predicate logic, covering the issues of validity, provability, completeness, incompleteness and logical independence, while taking every opportunity to explore fun logical paradoxes.
PHIL-GA 1102; Advanced Introduction to Philosophy of Language; Thursday 11-1; Stephen Schiffer
The seminar will offer a high-level introduction to the philosophy of language whose aim is to bring graduate students as much up to speed in the subject as can be managed in one semester. We will of course study pivotal works by those who determined the issues that defined the philosophy of language during the past one hundred twenty-five years—Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Tarski, Carnap, Quine, Austin, Strawson, Grice, Kripke, Lewis, Putnam, Davidson, Dummett, Kaplan, Chomsky, Montague and others, and the syllabus will include such (overlapping) issues as:
- the relation between linguistic and mental intentionality; speaker-meaning and expression-meaning; speaker-reference and expression-reference; semantics and metasemantics; semantics for formal languages of logical systems and for natural languages
- compositional semantics and our ability to understand previously unencountered sentences
- conversational implicature and the semantics/pragmatics distinction
- intention, convention and normativity in the theory of meaning
- inflationist vs. deflationist theories of meaning and content
- the importance of the liar and other semantic paradoxes to natural language semantics
PHIL-GA 1103; Advanced Introduction to Philosophy of Mind; Wednesday 6-8; Ned Block & David Chalmers
Registration for this small discussion seminar requires approval by instructors.
PHIL-GA 2299; Theory of Meaning: Iconic Representation; Tuesday 5-7; Robert Hopkins & Gabriel Rabin
Pictures differ from words. Pictures show, words tell. Pictures capture appearances, words need not. Words must be understood sequentially, pictures can be taken in at a glance. A good description captures its subject, gets it right; a lifelike picture must go further, itself resembling what it depicts. Or so one might think.
What is the difference between representation by pictures and representation by words, or between iconic representations generally (pictures, both moving and still; sculptures and other 3D models; mimetic gestures; imitations of sounds, etc.) and the rest? What are the representational kinds? Are the key divisions between external representations mirrored internally – are perceptions and mental images in some way iconic, as beliefs and thoughts are not?
A central question of the course will be how to distinguish iconic representation: by content (what they represent), by structure (do the parts also represent, and how does their content relate to that of the whole?), by features that determine content (‘syntax’, in one use of the term), by how they express that content (e.g. by resemblance), and by communicative use.
We also look into more specific issues. Can still pictures depict time? How do the distinctions between syntax and semantics, and between semantics and pragmatics, apply to iconic representations? Is it possible to depict the impossible? Is there such a thing as pictorial metaphor? Can there be a formal semantics for iconic representations? If so, what would it look like? What is the role of convention in iconic representation?
The course is intended as an advanced introduction to iconic representation.
PHIL-GA 2320.001; History of Philosophy; Wednesday 4-6; John Richardson
The course will focus on Friedrich Nietzsche. We'll spend part of the time reading and discussing extended portions of a variety of his major works, and the rest considering various topics, pulling his treatments of them from the whole range of his works and Nachlass.
PHIL-GA 2320.002; History of Philosophy; Thursday 1-3; Julia Borcherding
In this course, we will explore the work of some of the women philosophers of the early modern period. Figures will in include Anne Conway, Margaret Cavendish, Emilie du Châtelet, Damaris Masham, Mary Astell, Catharine Trotter Cockburn, and Mary Sheperd. (And if, at this point, you’re asking yourself: “Who are these people?” that is an excellent reason for taking this course!)
We will focus on a variety of philosophical issues, including moral and political issues such as women’s equality, education, and autonomy, as well as metaphysical issues such as mind-body dualism, monism, vitalism and causation. In addition, we will explore some methodological and metaphilosophical themes, such as questions regarding canonization and feminist approaches to the history of philosophy.
PHIL-GA 2297; Vagueness/Indeterminacy; Tuesday 1-3; Kit Fine & Hartry Field
The central topic of this course will be: does vagueness require a non-classical logic, and if so, of what kind?
A related question concerns the notion of borderline case, which many have thought central to the phenomenon of vagueness. What sense, if any, can be made of the notion of an indeterminate or borderline case, especially in the light of the fact that it too is vague and that no amount of iteration seems to lead to anything precise? The issues involved here look different on non-classical approaches than on classical.
Another related question concerns cognitive relations (believing, hoping, etc.) to vague propositions. One issue here is that any non-classicality in logic requires a non-classicality in degrees of belief; and there is some motivation for (a different kind of) non-classical degrees of belief even in connection with classical logic.
A final issue, which connects with the above issues in a variety of ways, is whether there can be vagueness in the world as opposed to in language and thought. (A big part of answering this will be clarifying it.) Also, if in the world, can there be vague objects as well as vague properties.
We will begin by looking at some of the standard classical approaches, such as epistemicism and supervaluationism. We will then look at several rather different non-classical logics, to investigate whether they handle the phenomena of vagueness better than the standard classical ones do. If there’s time at the end, we will look at the prospects for getting some of the benefits of the non-classical approaches within a more sophisticated classical framework.
PHIL-GA-3302; The Colloquium in Legal, Political, and Social Philosophy; Wednesday 2-4; Thursday 4-7; Samuel Scheffler and Jeremy Waldron
Enrollment in the Colloquium requires permission of the instructors. Those interested in registering should submit a request to Professor Waldron, via his assistant Lavinia Barbu (firstname.lastname@example.org) by August 1st.
Each week on Thursday a legal theorist or moral or political philosopher presents a paper to the group, which consists of students, faculty from the Law School, the Philosophy Department, and other departments of NYU, as well as faculty from other universities in or close to New York. The choice of subject is left to the paper’s author, within the general boundaries of the Colloquium’s subjects, and the discussions are therefore not connected by any structured theme for the term as a whole, though in past years certain central topics were canvassed inseveral weeks’ discussion. The Colloquium aims, not to pursue any particular subject, but to explore new work in considerable depth and so allow students to develop their own skill in theoretical analysis. Each week’s paper is distributed at least a week in advance, and participants are expected to have read it.
Students enrolled in the Colloquium meet separately with Professor Waldron for an additional two-hour seminar on Wednesday. One hour is devoted to a review of the preceding Thursday’s Colloquium discussion, and one hour in preparation for the Colloquium of the following day. Students are asked to write short papers weekly, and each student is asked to make two or more oral presentations to the seminar during the term. Each student is asked to expand one of his/her weekly papers, or oral presentations, for a final term paper.
Speakers for next year's colloquium are: Eric Beerbohm, Richard Brooks, Jan-Werner Mueller, Antony Duff, Veronique Munoz-Darde, Tommie Shelby, Michele Moody-Adams, Meir Dan-Cohen, Amia Srinivasan, Melissa Schwartzberg, Martha Nussbaum, Thomas Nagel, and Nancy Fraser.
PHIL-GA 3400.001; Thesis Research: Third Year Workshop; Monday 4-6; Michael Strevens
This course is only open to PhD students in the Philosophy Department.
PHIL-GA 3400.002; Thesis Research: ABD Seminar; Tuesday 11-1; Laura Franklin-Hall
This course is only open to PhD students in the Philosophy Department.
PHIL-GA 1008; Topics in Bioethics: Moral Intuitions; Monday, 6:45-8:45; Mathew Liao
Moral intuitions play a key role both in ethical reflection and in everyday practice such as deciding whether one should withdraw aid to a patient in persistent vegetative state. In recent years, questions about the nature and epistemic status of moral intuitions have received much attention not only in philosophy but also in social psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary theory. In this course, we shall examine and discuss key, new and work-in-progress, articles from this growing literature. We shall critically review some of the most influential philosophical and empirical research in the field and consider its potential philosophical, ethical and practical significance. The topics we shall discuss include: the evidentiary status of moral intuitions; the role of emotion and cognition in intuition; evolutionary and neuroscientific ‘debunking’ arguments; the relation between ethical theory and moral psychology; whether intuitions are heuristics; whether intuitions are biased; and whether and how we can improve our intuitions so that we can make better practical judgments.