Philosophy Department
Graduate Courses Spring 2003

Advanced Introduction to Ethics: Contemporary Metaethics
Sharon Street
Friday 11-1
Call# 31407

This seminar (which counts as a background course) will provide a high-level introduction to and survey of contemporary metaethics. Among the authors whose works we will consider are Blackburn, Gibbard, Harman, Korsgaard, Mackie, McDowell, Nagel, Parfit, Railton, Rawls, and

Paul Boghossian
Monday 2-4
Call# 31451

This course will consist in an advanced introduction to some of the central issues in Epistemology, broadly construed. Among the topics we will look at (depending on the interests of those attending): theories of justification; the possibility of a priori knowledge; the role and status of epistemic norms; the relation between meaning and knowledge; the nature of rule-following.

John Hawthorne
Tuesday 1:30-3:30 PM
Call#: 31501


Derek Parfit
Wednesday 4:30-6:30 PM
Call#: 30872

[Note: This course is a continuation from Fall 2002. It will meet for the last six weeks of the Spring term.]
The main subjects discussed in this seminar will be personal identity, time’s passage, rationality, and the origin of the Universe.

Political Philosophy
Thomas Nagel
Wednesday 1-3
Call# 31268

The seminar will be on the work of John Rawls.

The course is open to graduate students in the NYU philosophy department. All others must have permission of the instructor to register, and decisions about such requests will be made only after the first meeting of the seminar, once the enrollment of NYU philosophy students is known.

Ethics: Selected Topics
Derek Parfit
Friday 3-5 PM
Call#: 30874

[Note: This course is a continuation from Fall 2002. It will meet for the last six weeks of the Spring term.]
This course will be mainly devoted to Kant’s ethics, contractualism, and consequentialism. Other topics will be reasons for caring and acting, normativity, motivation, naturalism, non-cognitivism and non-reductive normative realism.

Mind and Language Seminar
Hartry Field/Stephen Schiffer
Monday 5-6, Tuesday 4-7
Call# 30882

This year’s topic is “Factually Questionable Discourse,” discourse which, on the one hand, appears to involve true or false statements of fact but for which, on the other hand, there is reason to think that that appearance is misleading. Leading examples of factually questionable discourse are moral (and other evaluative) judgments, vagueness and indeterminacy, and conditionals. The schedule of visitors is:

1/21    Caroline West (University of Sydney)
1/28    Hartry Field (NYU)
2/4      Willian Lycan (UNC, Chapel Hill)
2/11    Terence Horgan (University of Arizona)
2/18     Kit Fine (NYU)
2/25     David Wiggins (Oxford)
3/4       Stephen Schiffer (NYU)
3/11     Tim Maudlin (Rutgers)
3/25     Stephen Yablo (MIT)
4/1       Cian Dorr (NYU)
4/8       Michael Resnik (UNC, Chapel Hill)
4/15     Dorothy Edgington (Birkbeck College, University of London)
4/22     Michael Smith (Australian National University)
4/29     John Hawthorne (Rutgers)   

Topics in Metaphysics
Crispin Wright
Tuesday/Thursday 11-1
Call# 31406

[Note: This course will begin on Tuesday, February 4th 2003.]

Response-dependence and the Euthyphro Contrast:
Many types of thought – about comedy, or attractiveness, for example or, more controversially, about color or value, – although not plausibly taken as directly descriptive of human mental states, would seem to concern matters somehow dependent on them. A key issue for the philosophy of objectivity is to elucidate this idea. One interpretation, arguably originating in Plato's Euthyphro, invites a contrast between areas where best judgements – judgements of thinkers operating under cognitively ideal circumstances – at most respond to ("track") the truth and areas where there is, rather, no conceptual gap between truth and best opinion – where the truth just is what best judges would take it to be. The project for the seminar is to review and continue the development of this idea begun in my Truth and Objectivity, along with certain other approaches, and to explore its ramifications through a series of controversial contexts and issues. Two overarching concerns will be with the interaction between mind-dependence and the issues about realism, and with the tractability of mind-dependent subject matters by natural (physical) science.