Just War and Pacifism (352.01)—T2
The Just War tradition began life 2000 years ago as a response to the early Church Fathers who were pacifists. Throughout its history, the various versions of the Just War has been discussed in opposition to the various versions of pacifism. We begin with some of the classic texts by Augustine, Aquinas, Vitoria, and Suarez on the nature and limitations of a just war. We then spend several weeks on Michael Walzer's influential book, "Just and Unjust Wars" (1977). And then follow that with several weeks on Jeff McMahan's recent book, in part responding to Walzer, "Killing in War" (2009). We will then spend at least a week each on the most recent literature on jus ad bellum (justice in the initiation of war), jus in bello (justice in the conduct of war), and jus post bellum (justice at the end of war). Finally we will spend the last four weeks of the term on the contemporary literature on pacifism, especially the emerging doctrine of contingent pacifism. Throughout we will also discuss parallel debates in international criminal law and transitional justice.
Kantian Moral Theory (352.02)—T2
This seminar will examine leading Kantian approaches in ethics – such as those of John Rawls, Onora O’Neill, Barbara Herman, Christine Korsgaard, Allen Wood, and others – and their relation to Kant’s ethics.
Social Epistemology (352.03)—T3
This seminar will focus on contemporary debates in social epistemology around issues of epistemic injustice such as the following: stereotyping and stigmatization, silence and miscommunication, problems in testimonial dynamics, the formation of epistemic virtues and vices, hermeneutical problems in the pursuit of knowledge, the role of the imagination in social perception, etc. We will read Epistemic Injustice (Oxford University Press, 2009 ) by Miranda Fricker, and Social Epistemology (Oxford University Press, 2010), edited by Adrian Haddock, Alan Millar, and Duncan Pritchard. We will also read essays by Linda Alcoff, Elizabeth Anderson, Lorrain Code, Patricia Hill Collins, Charles Mills, and Nancy Tuana, among others.
Robert B. Talisse
This seminar surveys a range of philosophers who have called themselves pragmatists, ranging from the “classical” pragmatists ( Peirce, James and Dewey), through mid-century (Lewis, Goodman, Quine, and Sellars) and contemporary pragmatists (Rorty, West, Putnam, Brandom, Price, Misak). Though we will have occasion to discuss a broad variety of topics, our focus will be on meaning, truth, inquiry, value, and the nature of philosophy. One aim is identify the common themes and theses that unify this somewhat motley collection of thinkers. Another is to determine whether there are any distinctively pragmatist claims that are viable. Students will be required to write two conference-length papers (roughly 3500 words each) and to give an in-class presentation. The following texts are required for the seminar: William James, Pragmatism (Hackett); John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy. (Beacon); Robert Talisse and Scott Aikin, eds. The Pragmatism Reader (Princeton University Press); Cheryl Misak, ed. New Pragmatists (Oxford); Huw Price, Naturalism Without Mirrors (Oxford).
The Individual in German Idealism (352.05)—H4
Kant left us the legacy of never treating persons as means. Hegel, by contrast, celebrated the use of individals in the process of spirit's self-relaization. The seminar will focus on the complex issues surrounding the role of value of individual persons according to post-Kantian thought. Reading will include selections from Fichte's Science of Knowledge (1794), Hegal's Phenomenology of Spirit and The Science of Logic, and Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation.
Heidegger’s Being and Time (353.01)—H5
Spinoza is in many ways the philosopher who comes closest to fulfilling the ideals of philosophy. His incisive use of synthetic reason faces and overcomes many of the seeming dilemmas that have perennially bedeviled thinkers – from the ancient concerns with the one and the many or constancy and change to the enduring worries about knowledge and skepticism, body and soul, freedom and determinism, emotions and reason, God and nature, power and right, individuals and society This seminar (an H3 in our distribution scheme) examines Spinoza’s project and seeks to assay his contributions to our own philosophical understanding. Besides the Ethics we will study the political and hermeneutical works and the early writings on the good life and on Cartesian philosophy.
The seminar emphasizes the skills of the professional philosopher: analysis of arguments, philosophical dialogue, group presentations, and preparation of a philosophical paper. Seminar papers will be presented to the group in draft form and revised in the light of comments received from the participants. So, beyond in depth study of major texts and their arguments, the aim is enhancement of the participants’ practical experience in the writing, speaking, and framing arguments of their own.
Liberalism, Diversity, and Culture (352.02)—T2
This course will begin with a brief survey of important principles associated with liberalism, such as justice, equality, liberty, autonomy, rights, and tolerance. We will explore how political systems based on those principles should accommodate diverse human groups and sub-cultures that have been vulnerable to subordination and oppression. We will focus on groups such as those based on gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. Course authors may include: Anderson, Barry, Benhabib, Greenawalt, Kukathas, Kymlicka, Macedo, Mills, Narayan, Nussbaum, Okin, Rawls, Shelby, and Young.
Philosophy of Race and Racism (352.03)—T4
David Miguel Gray
We will address several current issues in philosophy of race and racism with a focus on developing the inter- and intra-disciplinary skills to pursue research in this field. We will first investigate recent work in cognitive anthropology and developmental psychology to aid in our understanding of folk-biological concepts and how these concepts contribute to our racial categories. We will also focus on recent psychological and philosophical work concerning implicit bias and implicit association tests. Then, we will address various metaphysical stances that have been taken concerning the nature of races. We will then examine two sets of issues dealing with race and language, namely whether or not racial terms refer and how we should best account for the use of racial epithets. Finally, we will focus on anti-racist movements in the U.S. and strategies employed in pursuit of egalitarian goals.
Rethinking Prisons (352.04)—T2
The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, but more than 25% of the world’s prisoners (New York Times, April 23, 2008). We have both the largest number of prisoners, and the highest rate of incarceration, of any country in the world. In this course, we will consider the social, political, economic and legal reasons for mass incarceration in the US, and we will explore the specific contributions of philosophical analysis to the discussion of prisons in other disciplines. Readings may include work by Angela Davis, Colin Dayan, Loïc Waquant, Joy James and Dylan Rodriguez.
Kant’s First Critique (353.01)—H3
A careful, systematic reading of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, in which Kant influentially developed and defended a revolutionary approach to philosophical inquiry, transcendental (critical) idealism, and elicited its novel implications about the subject; the relation between subject and object of cognition; the relation between reason, understanding, imagination, and sensation; the inadequacies of both empiricisms and traditional rationalisms as theories of thought and action; the ineliminability but uniquely effective defusion of philosophical illusion; the nature and applicability of central philosophical concepts such as time, space, substance and cause (persistence and change), soul, freedom, world, external and internal, God, logic, possibility, actuality, and necessity, unity, concept and judgment, knowledge and skepticism, etc., sometimes clarifying his arguments by highlighting his conscious relation to significant predecessors such as Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, and Hume, always offering a unified interpretation and (often) defense of his method and its applications, but explaining some major scholarly disagreements along the way. (To ready you for the course, I composed a sentence as long as some of Kant’s.)
Earth and World (352.01)—H5
In his essay “Toward Perpetual Peace,” Kant suggests that ethics is founded on the finite surface of the earth. In this course, we will begin with an exploration the role of “earth” in Kant’s ethics, especially insofar as he articulates—and attempts to resolve—the tension between ethics and politics. Later thinkers also draw a distinction between earth and world that implicitly or explicitly attempts to address this tension. Here, we will follow the themes of ethics, politics, earth and world in works by Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Arendt, and Derrida. Specifically, we will read Kant’s “Toward Perpetual Peace” and “Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View,” parts of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, and parts of Heidegger’s Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics, along with Arendt’s The Human Condition, and Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign volume II.
Adorno and Critical Theory (353.02)—H5
Ralph Ellison (353.03)—H5