Graduate Courses

Fall 2021 Courses


83101 (17455)

11:00-1:45 M

This proseminar will introduce first-year graduate students to a range of important works in the analytic tradition, with the aim of providing a foundation for advanced study in philosophy.

Colloquium Seminar
83102 (10656)

3:00-5:00 F

A one-hour seminar each semester tied to the talks given in the department's ongoing colloquium series. Required of all first-year graduate students.

Wagner & Nietzsche
83293 (20679)
O'Connor & Norton
2:15-4:45 T
Cross-listed with GE 43293 01, PHIL 43189 01


The topic of this team-taught graduate seminar (crosslisted for qualified advanced undergraduates) will be the thought and work of Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche and their complex relationship.  Neither figure needs an introduction: they both exerted extraordinary influence in their respective realms, reaching far into the twentieth century and beyond, and both left legacies that became entangled in some of the worst developments of the past one hundred years.  We plan to focus, however, on the works themselves: Wagner’s operas, particularly Der Ring des Nibelungen, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Tristan und Isolde, and Parsifal; some of Wagner’s musicological and cultural-critical writings, such as Opera and Drama and Religion and Art; Nietzsche’s own books, beginning with his very first one, The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music (1871), which was inspired by and dedicated to Wagner, and concluding with the scathing denunciation of him in The Case of Wagner, written in 1888, the last frenzied year before Nietzsche’s mental breakdown. The course materials will all be in English.

We will also offer a one-credit companion reading course on selected texts in the original German, discussing them with particular emphasis on their grammatical and stylistic qualities. This reading is intended to help students who already know some German to develop their capacities and to encourage those who have not yet begun studying German to do so.

83603 (20684)

3:30-6:15 M

This seminar will focus on the work of John Rawls, whose book A Theory of Justice remains a landmark work in political philosophy a half-century after its publication.  The course will focus most closely on Theory and on Rawls's later work Political Liberalism, but some of Raws's papers will also receive careful attention.  2021 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Theory of Justice.  To mark the anniversary, Notre Dame is hosting an international conference on Rawls in September.  Students in the seminar will be expected to attend the conference and some meetings of the seminar will no doubt focus on some of the conference papers.  Priority for seating will be given to graduate students in the Philosophy Department, but the seminar will not presuppose any prior acquaintance with Rawls's thought. 

Love in Moral & Political Theory
83604 (20686)

9:00-11:45 R

This research seminar will consider recent debates about love in contemporary moral and political theory.  The seminar will be organized around a manuscript I am writing on the topic.  In each session, participants will be asked to read the relevant background research and provide generative discussion/debate on drafts of each of the chapters.  We will consider four major recent theories about the moral demands love places on individuals, including the theory introduced in the book.  Themes will also emerge including (1) the connection between love and contemporary theories of reasons, (2) interpretations of the parable of the Good Samaritan in moral/political theory and related debates about supererogation, (3) the proper understanding of bias and arbitrariness, (4) apparent conflicts between duties of love and duties of justice, (5) applications of all of the foregoing theories to related debates about ecclesiology, the conditions for democracy, the role of emotions in ethical and political argument, and applications of these theories to contemporary questions about racism, historically rooted inequality, and justice.  

Seminar participants will be expected to be engaged, well-informed discussants in each seminar meeting.  We will talk quite a bit about the research skills that go into preparing a manuscript-length philosophical argument -- especially in value theory -- and seminar participants will have the opportunity to see first-hand various stages in the research, drafting, and revision process.  Each seminar participant will be expected to select a research question in the first few weeks of the seminar and prepare a first draft of an article or chapter-length piece on their research question over the course of the seminar.  Participant work will be workshopped in the final weeks of the seminar using the same techniques we discuss throughout the seminar.  There will occasionally be guest speakers and class gatherings, which will sometimes occur outside of our usual Thursday morning time slot.  

Philosophy of Science
83801 (11367)

11:00-12:15 TR
Cross-listed with HPS 83801 02

This course is an introduction to the major historical figures and movements and the major debates in the philosophy of science from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. We start with the rise of Vienna Circle logical empiricism and post-WWII neo-positivism. The course concludes with a survey such topics as the realism-antirealism debate, confirmation, explanation, laws, theory change, feminist science theory, and science and values Students will be required to do in-class, mid-term and final essay examinations and a minimum fifteen-page term paper.

Intermediate Logic
83901 (14808)
12:30-1:45 TR

This course is an introduction to the metatheory of first-order logic, the central system of logic for both philosophical and mathematical purposes. We begin with the basics of set theory, and then move on to first-order logic proper, covering the completeness theorem and associated results. This material is essential for those who want to understand elementary philosophical debates about the use and the significance of logic, the history of logic, and the connection between languages and models. 

Prerequisite: for graduate students: Formal logic or equivalent; contact the professor if you are unsure about your preparation.

Prerequisite for undergrads: Philosophy or philosophy-associated major or minor + formal logic or instructor approval.

Teaching Methods: TA Practicum
85104 (10222)
Time: TBA

Philosophy Pedagogy Workshop
85105 (13587)
Time: TBA

The Notre Dame Philosophy Pedagogy Workshop brings together interested faculty and graduate students to collectively study ways to be more innovative and effective philosophy teachers.  All faculty and graduate students in the department are welcome to participate, but aspiring first-time graduate instructors (students in their 3rd year of the graduate program) must register for the workshop.

Placement Practicum
85106 (11711)
Time: TBA

Mind and Mental Acts
93236 (20683)
T. Cory
12:30-3:15 W

In this advanced medieval reading seminar, we will read a series of texts from the 13th and 14th centuries on the metaphysical constitution of the mind (mainly intellect) and its activities: Albert, Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, Peter John Olivi, John Duns Scotus, and others TBD.  As time permits, we will also look at some sources such as Alexander of Aphrodisias's De intellectu, Averroes's Long Commentary on De anima, and Augustine's De Trinitate.  Over the course of the semester, we will attempt to reconstruct the major trends and shifts in conceptualizing mental acts in Scholastic thought at this time.  Most of these texts do not exist in English translation; reading knowledge of Latin is required (consult with instructor to assess).

The Soul
93268 (20685)
Kraus & Shields
9:00-11:45 W

What constitutes the unity of an animal? What constitutes the unity of a person? The aim of this course is to explore conceptions of the soul as a principle of unity, drawing from contemporary sources as well as from selected thinkers from the Ancient and the Modern periods. Philosophers of both periods understood the soul to ground the unity of living beings and then also, more specifically, the unity of persons conceived as mental subjects. Yet what such grounding amounts to changes radically throughout the centuries. Aristotle, for instance, considers the soul as a metaphysical principle that gives a being its essential nature and so also as a principle of intelligibility through which such a being can be explained. Kant, by contrast, rejects metaphysical accounts of the soul, but retains a set of related ideas that still function as normative principles through which living beings and psychological persons can be understood.

By drawing on these and other historical conceptions, the seminar will pursue a systematic issue: it will examine the overarching thesis that it is not possible to provide a defensible account of the unity of either persons or living beings more generally without adverting to some workable notion of the soul, at least in terms of its normative dimension. This dimension includes most centrally—though not exclusively—the role of the soul in teleological explanation. The historical figures will include Aristotle, Leibniz, Kant among others, but we will equally dip into contemporary literature on aggregation and unity.

Metaphysics & Philosophy of Logic
93545 (20680)
Beall & Nolan
1:00-3:45 M

This course will focus on a close reading of Ross Cameron's new manuscript  Chains of Being: Infinite Regress, Circularity and Metaphysical Explanation, accepted for publication by Oxford University Press. The book engages with a related set of questions in metaphysics, philosophy of logic, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophical methodology.

The uniting theme of the book is whether dependences of various sorts can be infinite, or whether we can establish on philosophical grounds that they must terminate at some finite stage. The course will cover infinite-regress arguments in philosophy and elsewhere; questions of infinite dependence in logic and the philosophy of mathematics, and what they may reveal about the semantic paradoxes, provability, conditionals, and the foundations of set theory. The course will also examine arguments for and against some metaphysical debates in theories of grounding and metaphysical explanation: whether reality must have a fundamental level in some sense, or whether foundationless chains of dependence are a live possibility.

Contemporary Ethics
93602 (20346)
2:00-3:15 TR

               James P. Sterba, Ethics
                David Wallace-Wells, The Uninhabitable Earth (Tim Duggan Books), Reprint edition 2020
               Bjorn Lomburg. False Alarm (Basic Books) 2020
  Reading Assignments:
              1) A. J. Ayer, The Emotive Theory of Ethics
                   Brand Blanshard, The New Subjectivism in Ethics
              2) John R. Searle, How to Derive 'Ought' from 'Is'
                   Antony Flew, On Not Deriving 'Ought' from 'Is'
              3) Alan Gewirth, The Justificatory Argument for Human Rights
                  Christine Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity 
              4) James P. Sterba, Justification of Morality & the Behavior of Women 
                   Alan Gewirth, The Rational Justification of Morality Revisited
                   Philippa Foot, Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives
              5)  Bernard Williams, Against Utilitarianism
                    Kai Nielson, Traditional Morality and Utilitarianism 
                6)  Michael  Stocker, The Schozophenia of Modern Ethical Theories
                    Peter Railton, Alienation, Consequentialism and the Demands of Morality 
              7) Fred Feldman, Kantian Ethics
                   Christine Korsgaard, Kant on Dealing with Evil
              8) John  Rawls, Welfare Liberalism
                   Charles W. Mills, Race and the Social Contract Tradition
              9) Jan Narveson, Liberty and Equality – A Question of Balance? 
                   James P. Sterba, Our Basic Human Right is a Right to Liberty and it leads to Equality
            10) Martha Nussbaum, Non-Relative Virtues: An Aristotelian Approach
                   Alasdair Macintyre, The Nature of Virtues
            11) Rosalind Hursthouse, Normative Virtue Ethics 
                   Robert N. Johnson, Virtue and Right 
            12) Sean Drysdale Walsh, Teleology, Aristotelian Virtue and Right 
                   Julia Annas, Ancient Ethics and Modern Morality
            Feminism: How is Gender Relevant to Morality?
            13) Carol Gilligan, Moral Orientation and Moral Development 
                   Virginia Held, Caring Relations and Principles of Justice 
            14) Claudia Card, Particular Justice and General Care
.                  James P. Sterba, The Masculine Bias in Traditional Ethics and How to Correct it
            Environmentalism: Who is to Count in Morality?
            15) Peter Singer, All Animals are Equal 
                   Paul Taylor, The Ethics of Respect for Nature 
            16) James P. Sterba, Kantians and Utilitarians and the Moral Status of Nonhuman Life 
                   Karen Warren, The Power and Promise of Ecological Feminism
            Multiculturalism: Morality from whose Cultural Perspective?
            17) Ayaan Hirsi Ali, A Modern Clash of Cultures
18) Madeleine Bunting, Can Islam Liberate Women?
            19) The Uninhabitable Earth 1-53 (53pp)
20) False Alarm 1-48 (48 pp)
21) The Uninhabitable Earth 54-102 (48 pp)
            22) False Alarm 49-86 (47 pp)
            23)The Uninhabitable Earth 103-154 (51pp)
            24) False Alarm 87-183 (40 pp)

Interpretations and applications of probability in physical science
93874 (21459)
12:30-3:15 T

This course consists of three parts. The first provides the basic formalism of probability spaces, consistent with the Kolmogorov axioms. The second part is concerned with different philosophical approaches to probability, with a particular emphasis on subjective and objective interpretations and the role of principles such as the Principle of Indifference and the Principal Principle. The third part discusses lessons learnt from the application of probability in various physical theories; namely, statistical mechanics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. Technical details will be kept to a minimum: the course should be accessible to students with little to no former training in physics.

93897 (20682)
9:00-11:45 T

What does it take to be epistemically rational? Can epistemically rational agents who share relevant evidence disagree, and, if so, why? Why is epistemic rationality valuable (if it is), or why ought we to be rational?

This course will survey contemporary formal and traditional epistemology literature on rationality, although we will be peripherally concerned with practical rationality literature as well. We will focus in particular on the question whether the requirements of epistemic rationality are subjective - whether they are indexed to one's individual standards/commitments/priors - or whether these are objective or agent-neutral.

Dissertation Research Seminar
98690 (13588)
4:00-5:15 M

This seminar is for those graduate students actively working on their dissertations. The focus of the seminar is discussion of work in progress by participants.