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, 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    

This seminar will investigate epistemological and methodological issues in the philosophy of science, focusing on especially on questions about evidence, values, and uncertainty.  According to tradition, science is supposed to be an objective, evidence-driven endeavor free of the distorting influence of political and other non-epistemic values.  However, this “value-free ideal” has been challenged on numerous grounds, for instance underdetermination and inductive risk.  While not new, these challenges have recently resurfaced and taken on new dimensions in connection with policy-relevant sciences such as climate science and toxicology.

Accordingly, my aim for this seminar is to rethink the relationship between evidence, values, and uncertainty or risk.  The plan is to start off with some classics on confirmation theory and theory choice, then dive into some recent debates about evidence and statistical hypothesis testing.  In the second half of the semester, we will grapple with recent challenges to the value-free ideal and examine the role of values, both epistemic and non-epistemic.  In the third half, finally, I hope to look at how these issues play out in the field of climate modeling.  If time allows, we may also think about the bearing of all this on the long-running debate between realists and instrumentalists.

No prior knowledge of science, statistics, or the philosophy of science will be assumed.  Readings will be drawn both from the canon (Hempel, Popper, Kuhn, et al) and diverse contemporary sources (Laudan, Sober, Longino, Mayo, Douglas, Winsberg, …).  Requirements will include several short discussion papers, a presentation or two, and a longer seminar paper.

 

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.

Anticipated Course Schedule, Fall 2019

TBD