Graduate Courses

Fall 2023


83101 01 (20522)

12:30-3:15 W

Required of all first-year students. An introduction to the methods of graduate research in philosophy. 

Research and Placement Sem.
83110 01 (20523)

2-4:45 M

This course will teach students how to become professional academic philosophers. Research-related topics will include how to stay consistently productive throughout one’s dissertation career, what to do when one is stuck, how to stay passionate about one’s topic, how to deal with procrastination and writing avoidance, how to receive feedback and incorporate it into one’s work productively, and how to achieve work/ life balance. Professionalization-related topics will include how to give a good talk, how and when to submit to journals, how to interact productively and professionally with colleagues, and how to plan one’s philosophical career. Placement-related topics will include explanations of each step in the academic philosophy job market, including how to prepare one’s job market materials, how to perform well in a first-round interview, how to give a good job talk and teaching presentation, and how to negotiate a job offer. Students will also present their work.

The Kantian Mind
83269 01 (22512)

12:30-3:15 T

A central tenet of Kant’s philosophy of mind that is often underappreciated is that our mental powers are constituted by three faculties: the faculty of cognition, which generates beliefs, the faculty of desire, which generates volitions, and the faculty of feeling, which manifests the agreement (or lack thereof) ‘of an object or of an action with the subjective conditions of life’ (CPrR 144 [5:9fn]). Each faculty gives rise to different kinds of mental states with distinct functions in the general economy of the mind. This course will explore these functions and critically discuss Kant’s account of them in light of contemporary debates in the philosophy of mind.

Rawls and his Critics
83610 01 (20524)

3:30-6:15 pm M

The influence of John Rawls’s work on academic political and moral theorizing, especially on the academic disciplines of political and moral philosophy, would be difficult to overstate. The theoretical ambitions and the clear normative implications of his book A Theory of Justice showed the academy how much could still be accomplished in political philosophy. The book’s systematicity and clarity showed that these accomplishments could be won without loss of rigor. Its obvious connections to Kant and the social contract tradition did much to revive philosophers’ interest in the history of liberal thought. This seminar will begin with a careful study of parts of Rawls’s A Theory of Justice and of some of his later works. Rawls's theory has attracted criticism from a number of quarters. Some of the most interesting criticisms have come from the late Gerald Gaus and his students, who have argued for a quite different and anti-Rawlsian way of reasoning about fundamental political questions, and who have questioned Rawls's focus on what he called a well-ordered society. The latter part of the seminar will be spent reading and assessing some of their criticisms.

Epistemology (Epistemology Survey)
83701 01 (20525)

12:30-3:15 pm Th

This course is a survey of contemporary epistemology designed to bring students up to speed on the central debates in the discipline.

Philosophy of Science
83801 02 (20526)

11-12:15 pm TTh

Science occupies a prominent place in our society. Science, it is said, secures knowledge that other endeavors cannot possibly obtain, and it can transform the world in radical ways. But what is the nature of scientific knowledge? What makes science so special? This survey course is an introduction to the philosophical debates about the nature of modern science. We will cover the central issues in the philosophy of science from logical empiricism to contemporary debates. Topics included in the survey are: the nature of scientific knowledge; progress in science; realism and antirealism; reductionism; laws of nature; explanation and confirmation; the nature of scientific practice; the role of values in shaping scientific research.

Intermediate Logic
83901 02 (20527)

4-6:45 pm T

the F23 version of this (required) course is aimed at philosophy graduate students. Accordingly, the course aims to convey essential ideas in contemporary (current) logic, particularly philosophical logics that are involved in many areas of contemporary philosophy (e.g., language, metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of logic, etc.). Essential to any such discussion is the idea of a formal language (syntax, semantics, consequence/entailment/implication relation). By way of example we begin with a quick review of the language of so-called classical logic (so called not because it is actually the entailment relation used in the classical period but rather in the sense of reflecting the entailment behavior of sparse logical vocabulary in ‘classical’ or ’standard mathematics’). A brief explanation of common ‘metalogical’ results for this sample language (e.g., soundness, completeness) is given, in addition to related metalogical facts about it (which were once, some time ago, at the heart of somewhat confused philosophical debates over language). With sample in hand, we proceed to cover a broad recipe for a vast number of currently important ‘point-based languages’ (e.g., alethic non-/normal modal languages, temporal languages) and various subclassical (extensional) languages. The aim is to give philosophy graduate students a very solid grasp of the basic frameworks involved in such philosophically important languages and ‘logics’.

All of the ideas covered in class will be discussed *in* class in a mix of lecture, problem sets, and group problems; however, the required reading (see below), if done prior to the class, will probably make the class more fruitful for your own work.

*Required* Reading:  Beall and Logan, /Logic: The Basics/ (Routledge), 2nd edition.
Recommend Reading:  Beall and van Fraassen, /Possibilities and Paradox: An Introduction to Modal and Many-Valued Logic/ (Oxford).

Contact Professor Beall with any questions by using ‘Intermediate Logic’ in the Subject heading and send to

Decision Theory
83903 01 (22406)

3:30-6:15 pm Th

A critical examination of current work being done in decision theory, analyzing the rational structure of agent's choices.

Medieval Theories of Universals
93235 01 (20528)

9-11:45 am W

This class will examine theories of universals in the middle ages, focusing on the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but where relevant considering the background to such theories in late antiquity and earlier Islamic philosophy.

Contemporary Continental Phil
93303 01 (22511)

3:30-4:45 pm TTh

An examination of leading issues in contemporary movements in continental philosophy (e.g. existentialism, hermeneutics, poststructuralism) in authors such as Habermas, Gadamer, Sartre, Derrida, and Foucault.

Frege (From Frege to Gödel)
93310 01 (20529)

9-10:15 am TTh

This seminar explores the main technical and philosophical developments in modern logic in the period 1879-1931. Included will be close readings of: Frege, Dedekind, Hilbert, Tarski, Gödel. Technical developments include the 'invention' of the quantifier, the radical change in our understanding of axioms at the turn of the century, the development of the concepts of categoricity and (other forms of) completeness, the indefinability of truth, Gödel's completeness and incompleteness theorems.  Philosophical issues include changing conceptions of the nature of axioms and of theories, the philosophical importance of completeness, incompleteness, and the 'semantic' (aka 'Tarskian') conception of consequence, the importance of the canonization of first-order logic (as opposed e.g. to 2nd-order logic), and general issues regarding the application of formal tools to pre-theoretic notions like consistency, consequence, and related topics.  Logic at the level of our Intermediate Logic course will be presupposed; feel free to ask if you're not sure whether you have the relevant background. 

Properties, Relations, and Propositions 
93503 01 (20530)

Nolan and Speaks
12:30-3:15 pm

Debates in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language (as well as other areas of philosophy) often turn on questions about the existence and nature of properties, relations, and propositions. This seminar will engage contemporary work on, among others, the following questions: Should we believe in the existence of properties, relations, and propositions? If so, why? What are properties and relations, and how do they connect to the entities that have them? What are propositions, and how are they related to properties and relations? Do propositions represent in a way that properties and relations don't? What are the conditions under which properties, propositions, and relations are identical or distinct?

Lowly Virtues
93604 01 (20531)

9-11:45 am M

Some people think virtues necessarily conduce to flourishing. Some (other) people - especially but not exclusively religious people - think that "lowly" traits like humility, submission, forgiveness, meekness, and gentleness are important virtues. But taking up lowly positions, or counting oneself and one's interests as nothing, or submitting to or writing off others' aggression - these are not activities that seem generally conducive to (earthly) flourishing. Indeed, these activities can seem inappropriate; if those in contexts of oppression practice these "virtues", won't this prolong and exacerbate conditions of injustice? In this class, we'll ask whether the lowly virtues really are virtues, whether they are 'inclusive' virtues for people in contexts of oppression as well as contexts of privilege, how we ought best to conceive of the lowly virtues, and what the lowly virtues have to teach us about virtue theory in general. We'll read contemporary philosophical literature on (i) the lowly virtues, but also on (ii) the context-dependence of virtue and the "golden mean", as well as (iii) eudaimonism about the virtues.

Philosophy of Law
93605 01 (22467)

12:30-1:45 pm MW

An overview of central topics in philosophy of law, followed by consideration of a range of theoretical issues in general criminal law.

Philosophy of Cosmology
93894 01 (22131)

11-1:45 pm T

This course will explore philosophical bases of modern physics and cosmology.