NYU Philosophy Department
All Philosophy classes will be held in the Department Conference Room,
MainBuilding, room 503 - Unless otherwise specified.
W 4:15 - 6:15pm
The course will focus on Aristotle's (philosophical)
biology and psychology. After a few weeks preparing the context in his metaphysics
by examining key concepts such as substance, actuality, and reason/cause,
we'll turn to his account of living things. This biology has often been
judged deeply flawed, especially in its insistence on teleological and 'essentialist'
explanations of organisms, which many take to have been refuted by Darwinism.
By inspecting the logic of these explanations, and comparing it with that
of evolutionary accounts, we'll reassess this common criticism. We'll then
turn to Aristotle's 'philosophy of mind', i.e. his analysis of cognitive
or mental powers. Here again our interest will be in the relation to current
positions; among other things, we'll look at the recent debate whether Aristotle
offers a 'functionalist' analysis of mind. At the end we may look briefly
at the way both biology and psychology orient Aristotle's ethics.
T 4:15 - 6:15pm
Justification is a normative property. Different
theories of justification, foundationalism, coherentism, reliablism, etc.,
disagree about which facts make it the case that something has this normative
property. But the theories also differ structurally. The holistic and linear
conceptions of justification disagree not only about what makes something
justified, but also about the kind of thing that gets justified in the first
instance, a system of beliefs or particular beliefs.
By looking at various epistemological theories,
we get a model for thinking about similar questions in other areas. What
makes it the case that something has a moral or mental property? What does
"making it the case" come to? And what are the primary bearers
of moral properties (agents, actions or states of affairs) and mental properties
(theories, beliefs, or experiences)?
We will be concerned with issues specific to epistemology,
for example, questions about the relation between experience and justification
and the nature of the priori, but we will try to keep an eye on these structural
issues that reappear in other areas of philosophy. The readings will be
at least primarily twentieth century, some of the classics and some brand
new, and we hope to have a few visitors in to tell us what they are working
T 2:00 - 4:00pm
Topics will include the nature and importance of
personal identity, time's passage, why The Universe exists.
R 4:15 - 6:15pm
Graduate Seminar: Essence and Modality
This seminar will deal with certain fundamental
questions concerning the intelligibility and significance of modal and essentialist
notions. In the first part, I shall examine the criticisms of these notions
made by Quine and the various responses to them. In the second part, I shall
develop my own 'ultra-essentialist' view, according to which essentialist
claims are conceived as going beyond modal claims, and show how this has
interesting implications for the nature of metaphysics.
Philosophy of Law
M/W 11:00 - 12:30pm
Cross-listed with the Law School's course L06.3005,
Introduction to Legal Philosophy.
The course surveys twentieth-century contributions
to legal philosophy. In addition to the central debate between H.L.A. Hart
and Ronald Dworkin over the concept of law, we discuss Natural Law Theory,
Legal Realism, Critical Legal studies, Feminist Jurisprudence, Critical
Race Theory, and some aspects of Postmodern Legal Theory. The course begins
with a very brief introduction to the methods of moral and political theory.
There is a take-home examination, with a paper option for half the credit
for the course. The course will meet Mondays and Wednesdays, from 11 to
12:30pm, in room 208; note that classes begin a week early at the law school.
Ethics: Selected Topic
W 2:00 - 4:00pm
The seminar will focus on objectivity in ethics.
We will be addressing the question whether there is any objectivity to be
had in ethics; but first we need to get clear on what the question is. We
will see that philosophers have different conceptions of objectivity in
ethics and, hence, a different understanding of the above question. Although
the focus of the seminar will be on objectivity, it will provide a general
overview of the major issues and positions in metaethics. And some attention
will be paid to the question whether there is any viable distinction to
be drawn between normative and metaethics. Readings will include selections
from the work of John Mackie, Bernard Williams, Thomas Nagel, Simon Blackburn,
and Allan Gibbard.
Ethics: Selected Topics
R 2:00 - 4:00pm
Topics will include reasons for caring and for
acting, rationality, normativity, motivation, naturalism, non-cognitivism,
non-reductive realism, contactualism, self-defeating theories, distributive
Ethics: Selected Topics
R 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Cross-listed with the Law School's course L06.3519,
Topics in Legal, Moral, and Political Philosophy.
Topic for fall, 1998: Distributive Justice and
Some Issues in Tax Policy
The course will examine selected issues in taxation
policy from the perspective of the philosophy of distributed justice. We
will begin with a survey of the major positions in contemporary discussions
of distributive justice. Tax policy issues to be discussed will include
tax equity norms, progressivity in tax rates, the choice of tax base, and
the taxation of gratuitous transfers of wealth. Readings will include works
by Rawls, Nozick, and writers in the utilitarian tradition, as well as recent
work by Louis Kaplow and other tax policy theorists.
Please note: Philosophy students must obtain the
permission of the instructors before registering for this course.
Ethics: Selected Topics (Philosophical Problems of Race and Racism)
W 9:00-11:00 a.m.
NYU Law School - Vanderbilt Hall Rm. 313
Cross-listed with the Law School's course L06.3550.
To be arranged
To be arranged