Graduate Course Schedule

For a full list of graduate-level philosophy courses, please see the Graduate School Course Catalog. Listed below are the course offerings for the current and upcoming semesters.

Graduate Course Schedule, Fall 2018


Marcus Rossberg  Phil 5301: First-Year Proseminar  Tues 9:30-12

We will closely study and discuss recent philosophical articles, drawn from a wide range of philosophical areas.  The focus of the course is not a specific topic or field, but philosophical writing and the development of analytical and critical skills in general.  Course requirements include: two short presentations and writing a short essay each week.


Keith Simmons  Phil 5307: First-Year Logic Seminar  Wed 1:30-4

We will study propositional and quantified modal logic.  I’ll begin at the very beginning.  We will study a variety of modal systems from both the semantic and the proof-theoretic points of view.  The systems include K, T, D, S4, B, S5.  We will also study the metalogic of these systems.

We’ll go on to explore modal logic in three directions:

(i)  further topics in quantified modal logic (including: expanding domains; modality and existence; identity and descriptions;  intensional objects; counterpart theory).

(ii)  applications (possible world semantics; counterfactuals).

(iii)  philosophical issues (the problem of interpreting quantified modal logic; the metaphysics of modality: what are possible worlds?; the interpretation of two-dimensional semantics; the epistemology of modality: imagination, conceivability, and possibility).

Our main text is Hughes and Cresswell, A New Introduction to Modal Logic.


William Lycan   Seminar on Moral Realism  Tues 12:30-3

We will discuss the following topics:  Recent antirealist arguments; moral epistemology; the semantics of moral language; the relation between morality and conation; naturalist vs. nonnaturalist realisms; morality and evolution; moral virtue and realism; divine command theories; relativisms taken seriously as such.


Alexus McLeod  Seminar in Early Chinese Philosophy  Mon 12:30-3

Early Chinese Philosophy—Naturalism, Transcendence, and Substance

In this seminar we will look specifically at the issue of “naturalism” and the controversial topics of transcendence and substance in early Chinese philosophy from the Spring and Autumn period through the Western Han.  We will approach these questions specifically in Confucian, Daoist, Mohist, and “Huang-Lao” texts.  Readings will include canonical texts in the early Chinese tradition such as the Analects of Confucius, Xunzi, Mozi, Daodejing, Zhuangzi, Huainanzi, and Chunqiu Fanlu, as well as contemporary work on these texts by philosophers such as Roger Ames, Chenyang Li, Franklin Perkins, Brook Ziporyn, May Sim, Jeeloo Liu, and others.  We will also be reading chapters of my forthcoming book on the topic (co-authored with Joshua Brown), Transcendence and Substance in Early Chinese Thought.


Susan Schneider PHIL 5300 AIMS Independent Studies

This advanced research seminar focuses on individual or joint projects involving the AI, Mind and Society (AIMS) research group. (See In the first week of class students meet with Schneider individually to discuss their project and identify readings and issues to explore. (Please feel free to come talk to Schneider about details before the semester begins.) The seminar is a mix of one-on-one meetings, self-winding individual research (including meetings with cognitive science faculty who can inform the project), and group meetings on themes of mutual interest. Each student is expected to produce a seminar paper at the end of the term, in order to submit the paper to professional journals and/or to conferences. Along the way, student are also expected to give an early version of the paper as an informal talk to the group towards the end of the term, before the paper is handed in. The focus of the seminar is to strive to achieve professional-level work on themes relating to issues involving AI, mind and society. This includes work in metaphysics, applied ethics, or “practical philosophy” that bears on these issues.


Lynne Tirrell  Toxic Speech  Thurs 9:30-noon

This is a course in language and politics, with an emphasis on understanding how discursive norms and practices shape individuals, society, even who lives and who dies. The 20th century was a period of notable genocides around the world: Armenians, the Holocaust, Holodomor (Ukrainians), Nanking, Cambodia, East Timor, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, and more.  The 21st century has seen a rise in what Rwandans call “divisionist ideology,” with nationalism and xenophobia becoming increasingly common. Language alone does not create or enact genocide, but studying the role of changing discursive practices in a society that turns genocidal can teach us how everyday practices of speaking about ourselves and others might contribute to enabling the participation of ordinary people in a genocide.

Analyses of speech and harm tend to focus on hate speech, examining how hurled epithets and casual uses of derogatory terms and slurs feed oppressive systems. While studying this literature, we’ll also take a wider angle on the ways speech can be toxic and generate changes to ideology, practice, and action. We’ll consider what sorts of remedies might be possible. The genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda 1994 will be our core (but not exclusive) case. Philosophy of language readings will include Wittgenstein, Austin, Sellars, Lewis, and Brandom, some work on metaphor and euphemisms (Tirrell, Camp), plus work on derogatory terms and slurs (Jeshion, Swanson, Camp, more), including my “Genocidal Language Games” and more recent work. In addition to survivor testimonies and articles about Rwanda, we’ll read Victor Klemperer’s The Language of the Third Reich, Jacques Semelin’s Purify and Destroy, and Jason Stanley’s How Propaganda Works. To end with hope, we’ll seek constructive remedies to the harmful effects of toxic speech, including challenging (Brandom), blocking (Langton), inoculation (Tirrell, McGuire), and look for clues to moral repair (Carse & Tirrell, Walker). Students will be responsible for regular short essays, maybe on a private class blog, leading a short kick-off discussion for at least one class, and one long seminar paper.


Upcoming Graduate Courses, Spring 2019


PHIL 5330 Seminar on Epistemic Vice            T 12:3003         Heather Battaly

Epistemic vices, like closed-mindedness, arrogance, and epistemic injustice, are qualities that make us bad thinkers. The seminar will address: (1) what makes a quality an epistemic vice and theoretical issues; (2) analyses of individual epistemic vices; and (3) the draft papers for the forthcoming Vice Epistemology volume (eds. Kidd, Battaly, and Cassam) which will be presented at UConn’s Conference on Epistemic Vice in April. The plan is for students in the seminar to comment on the papers at the conference. (1) On what makes a quality an epistemic vice. Must epistemic vices inhibit knowledge and produce false belief? Must epistemic vices be blameworthy character traits? If bad vision, epistemic injustice, and intellectual arrogance are all epistemic vices, are they so because of features they all share? Or is there more than one type of epistemic vice? Are epistemic vices stealthy—does an agent’s having a vice like closed-mindedness make it difficult for her to detect this vice in herself? What does group epistemic vice look like? Can we rehabilitate epistemic vices? If so, how? (2) On analyses of individual epistemic vices. We are likely to discuss epistemic vices such as: closed-mindedness, intellectual arrogance and servility, epistemic laziness, epistemic injustice, epistemic intemperance and self-indulgence, and epistemic insouciance. In addition to those already mentioned, likely readings include work by Battaly, Bloomfield, Cassam, Crerar, Dillon, Fricker, Kidd, Medina, and Tanesini.


PHIL 5340 Metaphysics: Identity-in-Difference              R 9:30-12      Don Baxter

The general topic of the seminar will be identity, which will quickly lead us into metaphysical issues about change, becoming, composition, resemblance, universals, instantiation, relative identity, identity in the loose and popular sense, existence, contingency, negative facts, distinctions of reason, infinite divisibility, time, temporal parts, et al., plus issues in the philosophy of language concerning reference, substitution, quantification, and vagueness. We may pay special attention to instantiation–the “non-relational tie” between universals and particulars.

We will begin with a few fundamental problems that will help us understand and keep track of the variety of solutions they have generated. Some readings will be drawn from the history of philosophy with snippets likely from Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Boethius, Suarez, Leibniz, Locke, Butler, Hume, Reid, Bradley, Frege. Also we will read essays by the likes of Quine, Geach, Chisholm, Lewis, Armstrong, Evans, van Inwagen, as well as a number of other recent and contemporary published and unpublished essays.

I will present and defend my theories of many-one identity (including composition as identity), of aspects, and of instantiation as partial identity. These views are often cited but rarely given more than a cursory refutation, so knowledge of their details may give our students an advantage in some current debates. I will try to show how they contribute to a general theory of “identity-in-difference.” Requirements for the seminar will be a 15-20 page research paper, with a topic proposal and rough draft turned in along the way, as well as a seminar presentation.


PHIL 5312   Philosophy of Science      M 11:30-2         Thomas Bontly    No Description Provided


PHIL 5397   Alienation & Freedom: Frantz Fanon’s Philosophy of Human Science, Politics, and Liberation 

M 5:30-8           Lewis Gordon

Frantz Fanon is now a canonical thinker in a variety of disciplines.  The purpose of this course will be to read his past published work in light of and alongside the recently published collection Alienation and Freedom, which includes his dissertation, plays, psychiatric writings, and additional political writings, for a coherent critical portrait of what his thought offers for philosophy, critical theories of human science, political theory, decolonial thought, and theories of liberation.  Students will be expected to select a recent critical secondary text on Fanon’s thought in her or his discipline or field to place in conversation with the primary texts.


PHIL 5342 Philosophy of Language: Force and Content                     W 1:30-3          Lionel Shapiro

Our topic will be the distinction between the “force” and the “content” of speech acts and mental acts.  This is widely regarded as one of Frege’s great innovations, but both the historical claim and the evaluative one have recently become the subject of debate.  After a look at some of the history, we’ll examine arguments for and against a force-content distinction.  Among the issues to be discussed will be the nature and unity of propositional contents, the nature of assertion, the so-called “Frege-Geach problem” (typically posed as a challenge to versions of expressivism), and the relation between content and self-consciousness.  Contemporary readings will be drawn from the “analytic” philosophy of language as well as the German idealist tradition.