Graduate Seminars for Fall 2016

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. Peter Vallentyne
We will focus on developing and refining the skills necessary for doing professional philosophy: (1) reading a philosophy paper and being able to reconstruct the core arguments, (2) writing a philosophy paper with a clear and interesting thesis and a clear and cogent defense. We will do this in part by reading and analyzing The Trolley Problem Mysteries by Francis Kamm, edited by Eric Rakowski, Oxford University Press, 2016.


Phil 9120: The Empiricists (3 credits)
Instructor: Dr. Marina Folescu
We will be studying Locke's _Essay_ by focusing on the discussion of his metaphysics that Matthew Stuart offers in his book _Locke's Metaphysics_ (Both books are required reading). We will be aiming to cover several themes, e.g.: Locke's criticism of innate knowledge; how all our ideas are either ideas of sensation or of reflection, or both; the distinction between primary and secondary qualities of objects; the role of language in shaping our knowledge of the world.


Phil 9510: Decision Theory (3 credits)
Instructor: Dr. Paul Weirich

The seminar this semester will introduce decision theory and then explore two research topics in decision theory, namely, epistemic game theory and causal decision theory. Decision theory is diverse and multidisciplinary; the seminar will focus on philosophical decision theory, and, in particular, normative decision theory, which formulates principles concerning rational choice.


Phil 9840: Philosophy of Language (3 credits)
Instructor: Dr. Claire Horisk

The seminar topic: Recent work on language and social power. How does language communicate & help to enforce discriminatory social norms & prejudice?


Phil 9850: Philosophy of Biology (3 credits)
Instructor: Dr. André Ariew

The philosophy of biology is a burgeoning philosophical discipline. This course is intended as a survey to some of its current issues. The study of biology raises two general kinds of philosophical questions. There are questions arising from the distinctive subject matter of biology. Biology primarily deals with living things, their processes and structures, and most notably the process of evolution. In Part I of the course we outline a few of the philosophical issues arising out of the distinctive subject matter of biology. There are, in addition, issues arising from the fact that biology is a science. Our understanding of the process of scientific enquiry can be illuminated band expanded by taking the biological sciences as a model. In Part II of the course we discuss the contribution of evolutionary biology to some of the central questions in the general philosophy of science. In Part III, we survey a few special issues that are currently engaging the interests of philosophers of biology. 
Each seminar will address issues arising from two or more readings assigned one week in advance. 
1 Introduction
Part I. Genes/Organisms/Populations
2 ‘Way of Life’ and the Struggle for Existence
3 Two Philosophical Puzzles for Natural Selection
4 Genes
5  Organisms in Evolution
Part II. Laws, Causes, Reduction, Essentialism
6 Laws in Evolution
7 Causes in Evolution
8 Modeling evolution
9 Essentialism
Part III. Special Issues
10 Evolution and Development
11 Adaptation and Intelligent Design  
12  Evolutionary Psychology