Graduate Seminars for Fall 2017

Note: If you are interested in taking one of these seminars but are not a graduate student in philosophy, please contact the instructor first to discuss the advisability of doing so. It might be wiser for you to take one of our 4000/7000-level courses instead.


Phil 8100: Protoseminar (3 credits)
Instructor: Dr. Andrew Melnyk
The goal of this course is to train graduate students entering the department in the most important skills necessary for joining the philosophy profession, and then functioning within it.  We will focus in particular on the writing of philosophy papers suitable for presentation at professional conferences or publication in refereed journals.  The goal of the course will be achieved through (i) weekly written assignments on which students will receive abundant feedback from their instructor (in private meetings) and from their peers (in class) and (ii) a substantial term paper, to be revised in light of the instructor’s written comments.  We will read important work by Quine, Searle, Kripke, Smart, and Chalmers.


Phil 9320: Social and Political Philosophy (3 credits)
Instructor: Dr. Peter Vallentyne
We shall examine the following questions: (1) Under what conditions, if any, does a state have political authority in the sense that residents have a pro tanto moral obligation to obey its directives (e.g. laws)? (2) Under what conditions, if any, is a state’s use of coercion and force to get residents to obey its directives morally permissible (or just, or legitimate)? We will read: Christopher Wellman and A. John Simmons, Is There a Duty to Obey the Law? and Michael Huemer, The Problem of Political Authority.


Phil 9820: Epistemology (3 credits)
Instructor: Dr. Matthew McGrath
This course examines questions about self-knowledge, particularly about self-knowledge of our mental states. We will ask how we know what we feel, think, desire, and intend. Our focus will be on epistemological issues, although the topic overlaps philosophy of mind and empirical issues from psychology. Traditionally, at least since Descartes, our knowledge of our own mental states has been taken to be different from our knowledge of other matters, including of others’ mental states. We have “privileged access” to our mental states. This access has been thought to be privileged in at least two ways: 1) it is access through special means, not available to others; 2) it is a particularly epistemically secure form of access. In this course, we will consider theories of self-knowledge with an eye to whether they accept or reject these claims of privilege for at least some self-knowledge, and if they accept even attenuated versions of them, how the epistemic privileges are explained.


Phil 9830: Philosophy of Science (3 credits)
Instructor: Dr. André Ariew
The subject of the course is the logic of scientific reasoning. The first part of the course covers the logic of scientific reasoning: deductive logic, probability and inductive inferences. We will look at particular problems facing current scientific research. The second and third part of the course concerns core issues in the philosophy of science. In the first, we examine the nature of scientific explanation, including philosophical accounts of causal and non-causal explanation. in the second we will be concerned with theory representation, namely scientific laws and models.