PHIL-GA 1000; Pro-seminar; Thursday 10-1; Hartry Field/Don Garrett
This course is for first year PhD students in the Philosophy Department only.
PHIL-GA 1002; Topics in Ethics & Political Philosophy; Tuesday 10-12; Daniel Viehoff
Traditional and contemporary theories of the relation between individuals and the state or community. Topics include political obligation, distributive justice, social contract theory, individual rights and majority rule, the nature of law, political and social equality, and liberty and coercion.
PHIL-GA 1008; Topics in Bioethics: Neuroethics; Monday 7-9PM; Matthew Liao
Neuroethics has two branches: the neuroscience of ethics and the ethics of neuroscience. The former is concerned with how neuroscientific technologies might be able to shed light on how we make moral decisions, as well as on other philosophical issues. The latter is concerned with ethical issues raised by the development and use of neuroscientific technologies. Topics include whether neuroscience undermines deontological theories; whether our moral reasoning is inherently biased; whether there is a universal moral grammar; the extended mind hypothesis; the ethics of erasing memories; the ethics of mood and cognitive enhancements; “mind-reading” technologies; borderline consciousness; and free will and addiction.
PHIL-GA 1180; Philosophical Logic; Thursday 1-3; Kit Fine
I wish to develop the theory of arbitrary objects and arbitrary reference and to consider its application to a number of different topics in philosophy, linguistics and possibly psychology. Among the particular topics I should like to consider are: what is arbitrary reference and does it require reference to arbitrary objects?; the connection with causal modeling in the style of Pearl and with scientific modeling in general; the connection with abstraction, especially as that idea was developed in nineteenth century mathematics; the connection with independence friendly logic; the role of arbitrary objects in mathematical reasoning and reasoning in general; the possible use of arbitrary objects in providing a ‘non-instantial’ semantics for general statements; and (possibly) the role of arbitrary objects in the construction of ‘mental models’. No background is required though some technical sophistication would be helpful.
PHIL-GA 1210; 20th Century Continental Philosophy; Wednesday 2-4; John Richardson
Most of the course will be devoted to a careful reading of Heidegger's Being and Time, with attention to the interpretive and philosophical questions it raises. The last 2-3 weeks will take a quicker look at some of the most important of Heidegger's later essays (after his 'turning').
PHIL-GA 2285; Ethics: Selected Topics: Equality & Egalitarianism; Thursday 5-7; Liam Murphy/Samuel Scheffler
Equality and Egalitarianism
The focus of this seminar will be on the nature of equality as a moral and political value. We will pay special attention to the relation between equality and justice and to the relation between equality and responsibility. We will also consider the status of equality as an ideal of social and political relations. Readings will include selections from some or all of the following authors, among others: Elizabeth Anderson, G.A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, Thomas Nagel, John Rawls, Thomas Scanlon, Seana Shiffrin, and Jeremy Waldron.
This course is only open to Philosophy graduate students. Students in other programs must get prior permission from the instructors to enroll.
PHIL-GA 2295; Research Seminar on Mind and Language; Monday 4-5; Tuesday 4-7; Cian Dorr/Jim Pryor
Our topic for Spring 2018 will be Formal Frameworks for Semantics and Pragmatics. We'll be investigating a range of questions in semantics and/or pragmatics which involve or are relevant to the choice between different kinds of overall structure for theories in these areas.
In most sessions, the members of the seminar will receive a week in advance, copies of recent work, or work in progress from a thinker at another university. After reading this work, students discuss it with one of the instructors on the day before the colloquium. Then at the Tuesday colloquium, the instructors give a summary review and raise criticisms or questions about the work. The author responds to these, and also to questions from the audience.
The schedule of speakers will be posted when available.
PHIL-GA 2297; Vagueness/Indeterminacy; Thursday 3-5; Stephen Schiffer
Meaning & Vagueness
A striking feature of presentations of foundational theories in semantics and meta-semantics is that they nearly always ignore vagueness, even though virtually every utterance is vague to at least some extent. Perhaps ignoring vagueness is a harmless idealization akin to Galileo’s ignoring friction in his theory of bodies in motion. Perhaps not. I will ask what happens to those theories when they attempt to take vagueness into account. Early meetings of the seminar will aim to bring us well-enough up to speed both on the issues and theories of vagueness and on the leading foundational programs in the philosophy of language and linguistic semantics. We will look at how these programs deal with vague expressions when they’re ignoring vagueness, and then we’ll ask whether—and if so how—they might be adjusted to accommodate vagueness. We’ll find the need to challenge several widely-held assumptions about meaning, content, truth conditions, propositional attitudes, and semantic compositionality.
PHIL-GA 2320-001; History of Philosophy: Advanced Introduction to Ancient Epistemology; Monday 11-1; Jessica Moss
Advanced Introduction to Ancient Epistemology
Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers devoted a lot of attention to knowledge and belief; or at least, they devoted a lot of attention to things that seem from their descriptions in some ways very like knowledge and belief as we think of them nowadays, and in some ways very different. This class will survey Ancient epistemology, focusing in part on the question of how and why its concepts and projects diverge from those of contemporary epistemology.
We will spend most of the time on Plato and Aristotle (reading selections from the Meno, Republic, Theaetetus, Posterior Analytics, Nicomachean Ethics, and De Anima, among others), with some sessions on the Presocratics, Stoics, and Sceptics.
Questions will include: Why does Plato think that epistêmê requires the ability to give an explanation, or a definition? Does this show that epistêmê is understanding rather than knowledge? (Or something else altogether?) Why do both Plato and Aristotle associate epistêmê with a restricted realm of objects, Forms, or necessary matters? Does doxa in Plato or Aristotle correspond to belief as epistemologists understand it now? Why do they associate it so closely with perception, and with contingent matters? Are Plato and Aristotle interested in the notion of justification at all, and if not why not?
This course is only open to Philosophy graduate students. Students in other programs must get prior permission from the instructor to enroll.
PHIL-GA 2320-002; History of Philosophy: Leibniz’s Metaphysics; Tuesday 2-4; Anja Jauernig/Marko Malink
We will be discussing some ‘greatest hits’ of Leibniz’s metaphysics. Topics will include: the conceptual containment theory of truth, the complete concept doctrine, the principle of the identity of indiscernibles, superessentialism, the actual world as the best possible world, the distinction between necessary and contingent truths, freedom and determinism, the monadology, levels of reality, and the relation between monads and bodies. Readings: Ariew and Garber (eds.), Leibniz: Philosophical Essays, plus selected additional readings to be made available on NYU Classes.
PHIL-GA 3003; Topics in Epistemology: Inference; Wednesday 4-6; Paul Boghossian/Crispin Wright
Topics in Epistemology — Inference
We will examine a number of fundamental issues concerning the phenomenon of inference, including:
I: What is inference?
IA: What distinguishes inferences among movements of thought in general?
IB: In what sense, or to what degree, are we agents in and responsible for our inferences?
II: When is a belief that is formed inferentially, thereby justified?
IIA: Warrant transmission and the transparency of mental content
IIB: In what epistemic relationship must an inferrer stand to the transition itself if she is to acquire warrant for its conclusion?
IIC: When all is in good order vis-à-vis issues under IIA and IIB, when does warrant transmit?
IID: Case Studies: — Moore’s ‘proof’, McKinsey, Putnam on brains-in-vats
III: Prospects for inferentialism about basic logic, the possible epistemic analyticity of basic logic, and relations between them—
IIIA: Metasemantic issues — the relation between inference patterns and the identity of the concepts they configure
IIIB: Epistemological issues — the prospects for successful inferentialist explanation of our (presumed) knowledge of basic logic
Readings will include works by Broome, Wright, Hlobel, Siegel, Dummett, Boghossian, Campbell, Burge, Shroeter, Gerken, Sainsbury, Tye, Carroll, Pryor and others.
PHIL-GA 3005; Topics in Ethics; Thursday 4-6; Peter Unger
This course will be organized around two main issues, though we will discuss some other matters as well.
One main issue will concern what one must do, morally speaking, toward saving the lives of others, both when such saving will come at relatively little cost to one and also, as will happen only rarely, when it will cost one the loss a limb or, even, the loss of one’s life.
The other main issue will concern the value for us of living a long life, the longer the better, providing that the quality of our lives is usually quite high, and we are usually quite happy people. With this issue, we will discuss the question of the quite certain cessation of our lives, during the next century or so, and what is an appropriate attitude for us to take toward our termination.
PHIL-GA 3010; Topics in Philosophy of Mind: Philosophy of Perception; Monday 5-7; Ned Block/Ian Phillips (Princeton)
Philosophy of Perception
Co-taught with Ian Phillips who is at Princeton this year. Topics may include: whether perceptual discrimination is more basic than perceptual attribution; whether there is a joint in nature between perception and cognition; whether we see causation and agency or just colors, textures, shapes and motion; singular content, hallucination and disjunctivism; the role of Bayesian updating in perception; the predictive coding paradigm; what ensemble perception shows about theories of perception; twin-earthability and phenomenal representation; whether consciousness is an illusion; the relation between consciousness and attention; whether the phenomenology of perception includes confidences; the normativity of perceptual experience; naïve realist vs representationalist vs enactivist views of perceptual content; whether there is or even could be unconscious perception; whether perception is iconic; whether perception is non-conceptual and non-propositional; whether all seeing is seeing-as; what change-blindness tells us about perception
PHIL-GA 3400-001; Thesis Research: ABD Seminar; Wednesday 12-2; Kit Fine
This course is only open to PhD students in the Philosophy Department.
PHIL-GA 3400-002; Thesis Research: Third Year Workshop; Tuesday 12-2; Robert Hopkins
This course is only open to PhD students in the Philosophy Department.