Fall 2019

Phil 5500A Joshua Shepherd Advanced Philosophy of Psychology
Date & Time TBD
The mind can be understood as a bundle of capacities: perception, memory, attention, action control, and more. Psychology studies these capacities in the lab, and builds theories about how these capacities work. Philosophy of psychology works alongside psychology, posing questions about the nature of these capacities in light of ongoing empirical work. What is perception? Memory? Metacognition? In this seminar we will read and discuss cutting edge work regarding the nature of mental capacities, with the aim of developing a sophisticated, empirically-based understanding of key components of the mind.
Phil 5500B
Gabriele Contessa
The Proper Role of Markets
Date & Time TBD
What role should markets play in our society? A first possible answer is that markets should play a central role, as markets allocate resources efficiently and promote desirable values, such as prosperity and freedom. A second possible answer is that markets should play a limited role, as unfettered markets lead to unacceptable outcomes, such as the corruption of social norms or unjust inequalities. A third possible answer is that, while markets are not problematic in and of themselves, specific markets are problematic because they tend to lead to exploitation or they promote the wrong values. This seminar will explore some variations on these possible answers.
PHIL 5700 Fall Colloquium
Fridays, 1:00-3:00
Students prepare for and attend the departmental colloquium series (typically including 10 to 12 sessions in one term), submitting in writing a critical analysis of some aspect of the presentation or discussion for each colloquium they attend.
Phil 5850
Gordon Davis
Proseminar, Philosophical Naturalism
Date & Time TBD
(Mandatory for first year MA students). Students in this seminar will engage with contemporary philosophical research by exploring relations and interactions between two broad fields:  philosophy of mind, language, and knowledge; and moral, social, and political philosophy.  Specific topics will vary from year to year.

Winter 2020

Phil 5000A
Melissa Frankel
Philosophy with Children
Date & Time TBD
Phil 5000B
Jay Drydyk
Development Ethics
Date & Time TBD
Students in this seminar will learn about the full range of ethical issues that arise in social and economic development. In response to decades of failed development projects, a consensus has developed about what development should be. Worthwhile development must enhance people’s well-being in ways that are equitable, empowering, and environmentally sustainable; it must also promote human rights and cultural freedom, with integrity (vs. corruption). By implication, these are also seven dimensions in which development can fail, ethically. The class will explore each of these dimensions in depth, including the philosophical debates about the key concepts. (For example, which conceptions of social justice are most illuminating for judging whether a particular development process has been ‘equitable’? This discussion will culminate in evaluating particular cases of development with these theoretical considerations in mind.
Phil 5200A
Eros Corazza
Myself and I
Date & Time TBD
We will discuss myself and I. But mainly “myself” and “I”. You will not learn much about myself, but quite a bit about “myself”.  Questions to be discussed will concern the nature of self-knowledge and what it means for a person to have a notion or concept of oneself and the way one can come to gain self-knowledge.
In so doing we will touch on issues pertaining to personal identity, self-reference, etc. And why/how the pronoun “I” seems to play a central role in these enterprises.   We will also touch on questions pertaining to herself and “herself” and what is now known as de se beliefs.   Authors to be read include Castañeda, Chisholm, Perry, and Lewis. We will also try to make some connections with the classical works of Descartes, Locke and Leibniz.
Phil 5200B Myrto Mylopoulos Skilled Action
Date &Time TBD
Reflection on skilled action in a range of areas, including sports, the performing arts, and everyday life, reveals a number of fascinating questions for philosophy of action, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and even moral psychology. Among the questions we will examine in this course are the following: What is the nature of skill, and how does it relate to automaticity, habit, and intentional action more generally? What is the best way to understand the species of knowledge that skilled performers possess, and that novices lack? Does an appeal to the notions of ‘knowledge how’ and ‘knowledge that’ help us here? What is the role, if any, of consciousness, attention, and metacognition in the control of skilled action? Do they simply interfere with the smooth execution of skill, as is commonly supposed, or might they be important, and even necessary for it? Finally, what can be said about the relationship between skill and moral capacities? Can the development of certain of these capacities, such as that for self-control, or virtue more generally, be usefully modelled as a form of skill acquisition? We will explore these questions, and others, through the lens of contemporary philosophy and, where relevant, cognitive psychology and neuroscience.
PHIL 5750W
Winter Colloquium
Fridays, 11:30 – 1:30
Students prepare for and attend the departmental colloquium series (typically including 10 to 12 sessions in one term), submitting in writing a critical analysis of some aspect of the presentation or discussion for each colloquium they attend.
Phil 5900W
Christine Koggel
Research Seminar
Date & Time TBD
Mandatory seminar course for all first-year MA students. The primary objective of this seminar is to develop topics for theses or research essays. This will be done in the following stages:

  • presenting an extended search for literature on the topic of a paper you have written previously, prioritizing what you find;
  • presenting to the class one paper or chapter, to identify a possible research topic;
  • presenting a few other key articles or chapters, situating your view in relation to these;
  • presenting a short seminar paper beginning to develop and defend that position;
  • writing an abstract to propose how the short paper will be developed into a full paper, in light of discussion and comments received;
  • writing an MA research proposal, consisting of a bibliography and 1000 word statement of the subject matter and aims of thesis or research essay, towards the Thesis and Research Essay Approval Form;
  • writing the longer paper, aiming either for a writing sample or part of a first thesis chapter.

Students will consult with potential supervisors during this process.