Take me to a list of past seminar topics
FALL TERM 2012
PP680D Agency & Moral Psychology
What constitutes human agency? What is the role of practical reason in human agency? What role do the emotions play in human agency? What role does agency play in broader considerations of personal identity? We will examine these questions through the work of Harry Frankfurt, Christine Korsgaard, Charles Taylor, Marya Schechtman, R. Jay Wallace, Susan Wolf, David Velleman, David Shoemaker and Jacqueline Taylor.
Instructor: Gary Foster, course outline
PP681F Platonic Ethics
Much of Platonic ethics is concerned with the question: what constitutes a good life for a human being? In this course, we will engage in close readings of several Platonic dialogues which focus either directly or indirectly on this theme. Our focus will be not only on the content of the ethical theories proposed in the dialogues but also on the wide variety of methodological mechanisms employed in their defense as well as the styles of argumentation used by various interlocutors. Topics for consideration may include the status of rhetoric and its relation to power, justice, pleasure, and the good, Plato’s attempts to reject hedonism, the true nature of self-interest, and the role of love in achieving a good human life.
Instructor: Rebekah Johnston
PP681J Nietzsche on the Authority of the State
Nietzsche is primordially a philosopher of culture (Bildung as Kultur) and education (Bildung as Erziehung) whose aim is the revitalization of German culture. For this he seeks to restore the ideal of an Olympian culture under the guardianship of an aristocratic state. Nietzsche traces the roots of modern cultural decadence to the universalist aspirations of democracy. He employs political nominalism ideologically to dismantle the programme of the democratic state and clear the way for the advent of authoritarian commanders. Nietzsche also embraces epistemic nominalism (On Truth and Lies) to support political nominalism philosophically. Nominalism and scepticism correspond to the negative, aporetic side of his argumentation. As someone who intends affirmatively to direct the youth towards a new cultural realm he seeks to keep them from “reeling back into a hopeless infinity of scepticism” (On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life §9). While attacking modern culture as a “necessary lie,” Nietzsche defends his views as a “necessary truth” (ibid). Though a realist, he is not a political skeptic.
Instructor: Renato Cristi, course outline
WINTER TERM 2013
PP683C Climate Change and Virtue Ethics
Instructor: Byron Williston
PP684B The Metaphysics of Mind
The nature of mind and its relation to physical events is central to understanding our place in the world and our relations with one another. The metaphysics of mind seeks to understand what, fundamentally, we are, and to provide an account of human action that fits within a broadly naturalistic framework. Central questions and issues under this rubric include reductive v. nonreductive physicalism, the nature of action explanation and its compatibility with neurobiological explanation. Drawing on Jaegwon Kim’s recent anthology Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind as well as some supplementary texts, we will explore these and related questions in the metaphysics of mind. Topics will fall under 4 broad categories: (1) Emergence and nonreductive physicalism; (2) Explaining human action; (3) The compatibility of psychological explanation with more fundamental physical explanations; (4) The problem of mental causation.
Instructor: Neil Campbell
PP688 Research Seminar
This seminar is only available to MA students. Students will present their evolving research to one another and to faculty. Each student will develop a research project and produce a paper which will be an early draft of their major research paper (PP695*). Students will discuss and defend their projects at various stages of development throughout the term. Evaluation is pass/fail.
Instructor: Ashwani Peetush
SPRING TERM 2013
PP695 Major Research Paper
Under the supervision of a faculty member, students will complete a paper in which they engage in original research on an approved topic. Papers should be at least 7500 words long but must not exceed 8750 words, excluding bibliography but including endnotes. The supervisor will be responsible for assigning a grade to the major research paper.