The Graduate Center, City University of New York - Philosophy

Spring 2010 Course Descriptions

Phil 76000 [10414]
The Discovery of Metaphysics
Prof. Peter Simpson
4 credits
Mon. 9:30-11:30
Room 7395

The science of being, dialectic, first philosophy, natural theology, mysticism, nonsense-such are some of the standard characterizations of metaphysics. All of them, in fact, could be said to be true already of Parmenides' famous poem, which is perhaps the first attempt at metaphysics (though Parmenides did not use this word; he spoke boldly of Truth). This poem, with its startling deductions from that deceptively simply premise "being is and never is not," sent shock-waves round the philosophical world when it first appeared, and these shock-waves are still surging in Plato. In Aristotle, by contrast, they have been reduced to ripples, and Parmenides' thesis, like many another neatly dissected error, serves merely to mark the way back to sanity. Aristotelian sanity is based on the slogan "being is said in many ways." How and why being can be said in many ways (if indeed it can), what and how many these ways are, and what sorts of beings thus can and do exist, are the questions that have become the very stuff of metaphysics.

This course will pursue the quest for being through Parmenides' poem, the sophist Gorgias' mockery thereof, Plato's dialogues the Parmenides, Theaetetus, and Sophist (which are not without mockery themselves), and selections from Aristotle's Categories, On Interpretation, Physics, and Metaphysics (which have plenty of dry wit if not also of mockery).

There are many translations of Parmenides' poem, but the one in Jonathan Barnes' Early Greek Philosophy (Penguin, 2001) contains useful discussion and historical background. For Plato and Aristotle, the most useful translations are in the collections of the complete works of each, edited by John Cooper (Hackett, 1997) and Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, 1984) respectively.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group D-Ancient]

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Professional Workshop Series
Prof. Stephen Cahn
0 credits
Mon. 11:45-1:45
Room 7395
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Phil 77800 [10425]
Cosmopolitanism, Justice, and Democracy
Prof. Carol Gould
4 credits
Mon. 4:15-6:15
Room 7314

This seminar will investigate the viability of cosmopolitan approaches to politics, based on conceptions of the equal concern due everyone worldwide. We will begin by analyzing several such approaches, focusing on human rights (e.g., Nussbaum), consequentialist considerations (e.g., Singer), the social connections model (Young), and the extension of care and empathy globally (Slote). We will then consider the challenges to such approaches posed by various particularistic perspectives, e.g. of nationality or political communities (D. Miller, Walzer) or by the emphasis on associative duties or special responsibilities that derive from the relationships people find themselves in (Scheffler, V. Held), and will analyze certain attempts that have been made to mediate between these two apparently inconsistent positions within contemporary political philosophy (e.g., Benhabib, Gould). The course will go on to examine existing, well-developed applications of cosmopolitanism in theories of global justice (Beitz, Pogge, Caney, Fraser). We will then consider the plausibility of extending similarly cosmopolitan approaches to democracy, in new forms of transnational or even global democracy. Thus, after briefly reviewing some leading justifications for democratic decision-making (J. Cohen, Christiano, Estlund), we will consider the arguments for introducing forms of democratic participation and deliberation across borders (Habermas, Bohman). The course will conclude by examining some new institutional models of transnational democracy (D. Held, Archibugi).

The seminar will proceed through extensive class discussion, and will require an oral presentation, as well as an original, analytical term paper (on a topic of the student’s choice).

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]

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Phil 77900 [10426]
Medical Ethics
Prof. Stefan Baumrin
4 credits
Mon. 5:30 – 7:30
Room TBA at Mt. Sinai

This is the Mount Sinai School of Medicine/Graduate Center, CUNY doctoral seminar in Biomedical Ethics.

This course examines "classic" and emerging issues in biomedical ethics paying particular attention to the history of medicine and the nature of scientific thought as it relates to medical ethics. While many issues in biomedical ethics seem timeless such as our concerns about the withholding of treatment, abortion, truth-telling - others have arisen out of the development of an increasingly scientific medicine beginning in the 1700s. It is the availability of well confirmed effective treatments that forces us to wrestle with such questions as the propriety of medical intervention over the objection of the patient, the treatment of children over the objection of their parents, the right of all citizens to health care, the regulation of the sale of body parts for transplantation, and numerous circumstances arising out of assisted reproduction. In the not too distant past it would have seemed bizarre to consider the adjudication of competing rights when one woman contracts to rent the uterus of a surrogate to bear through in vitro fertilization the embryo formed from the egg of a third individual. The current revolution in biotechnology, microelectronics and nanotechnology continuously produces new issues. What is the meaning of confidentially in a world where an enormous amount of information about each of us can be extracted rapidly from numerous searchable databases? What is the moral status of the embryonic stem cell derived from a discarded embryo, or a non-human animal? How are we to regulate cloning and our ability to shape and alter the human genome? We now implant electrodes into the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease and essential tremor. Soon we may be treating depression, disorders of impulse control, anxiety and phobias electronically. Does such technology present different issues as compared with today's drug and surgical therapies? We will also be challenged by the products of bioengineering. We already have prosthetics that remarkably link the brain directly to external mechanical devises and further alter the meaning of disability.

In medical ethics both the past and the future need to inform out vision of proper behavior and decision making In our world of rapidly advancing technology, much medical ethics policies misread and mishandle the present and construct rules with an eye towards an idealized past, while failing to consider a fast approaching future.

An aim of this course is to prepare health care professionals and philosophers to enter into medical institutions with the preparation necessary to be helpful additions to the provision of health care in ethically acceptable ways.

Principal text is the latest edition of Contemporary Issues in Bioethics, Beauchamp and Walters, Wadsworth. And The Blackwell Guide To Medical Ethics, Rhodes, et al, 2007 Plus handouts in the history and philosophy of medicine.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]

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Phil 76200 [10416]
Prof. Christa Acampora
4 credits
Tues. 9:30-11:30
Room 7395

Course description coming soon.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group D-Modern]

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Phil 76900 [10421]
Interpretation and Meaning
Profs. Noel Carroll and Stephen Neale
4 credits
Tues. 11:45-1:45
Room 7395

This course examines the concept of interpretation in a number of different contexts, including: language, art, literature, history (including the history of philosophy) and law.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Groups A or C ]

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Phil 77400 [10422]
Prof. Jonathan Adler
4 credits
Tues. 1:55 – 3:55
Room 7395

NB: Please note the time change. The time has been set so that students enrolling in this course can allso enroll in and attend Profs. Prinz and Block's Mind/Language Seminar.

A study of reasoning on the borderlines of cognitive science and epistemology.

A list of topics that would fit are the following:

  • AI, the Frame Problem, and Common Sense Reasoning.
  • Belief-Revision and Belief-Perseverance (Epistemic Conservatism; Conditionals)
  • Pragmatics and Reasoning.
  • Fist-Personal Reasoning and One’s Future Self.
  • Causal, Probabilistic, and Inductive (Inference to the Best Explanation) Reasoning.
  • Reasoning Cross-Culturally.
  • Inferential and Non-Inferential (or Non-Conscious) Reasoning.
  • Deductive Reasoning and ‘Logical Omniscence’
  • Reasoning and Emotions.
  • Practical Reasoning and Weakness of Will
  • Reasoning and Rationality: Newcomb’s Problem, Sunk Costs, and Prisoner’s Dilemma
  • Philosophical Reasoning, Experimental Philosophy and Meta-Philosophy
  • Reasoning, Dialogue and Argumentation.
  • Non-Human (Animal) Reasoning
  • The Role of the Imagination/Counterfactuals in Reasoning

We will address a majority of these, but certainly not all. However, the list gives a good indication of the range of topics that could reasonably be studied or written about in a term paper. We will address at least: 11, 2, 3, 4, 13, and 14.

Please read for the first class the Introduction to Adler & Rips (if you have a problem getting the book now, send me an e-mail and I’ll send along an attachment of the Introduction) and Nozick, The Nature of Rationality Ch.I-II.

Text: Jonathan Adler and Lance Rips, Reasoning: Human Inference and its Foundations (Cambridge 2008) plus additional readings from journals (library access).

Requirements: A short critical paper (4-5 pages) that provides the basis for the term paper (12-15 pages). My comments on the short paper will help guide you for the long one. Brief report to class on long paper optional.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group B]

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Phil 76500 [10418]
Mind/Language Seminar
Profs. Jesse Prinz and Ned Block
4 credits
Tues. 4:00-7:00
Room TBA at NYU

In this seminar (co-taught by Ned Block and Jesse Prinz), we will be focusing on current research on consciousness and perception. Each Tuesday (from 7-7pm), we will have a leading figure in philosophy of mind come in to discuss recent or forthcoming papers. On Monday afternoons (5-6), we will meet to discuss each visitor's work prior to the Tuesday visit. Attending both sessions is required. Classes will be held at NYU and follow the NYU schedule (Jan 19-May 4). A list of visitors can be found on the NYU course page.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Groups (TBD)]

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Medicine and Social Justice
Prof. Rosamond Rhodes and Dr. Ian Holmes
4 credits
Tues. 5:00-7:00
Room TBA at Mt. Sinai

This course will begin with a review of some of the classical (Aristotle) and contemporary (John Rawls) work on justice and a review of some theoretical work by authors who focus their attention on justice in medicine (e.g., Norman Daniels, Paul Menzel). We will then examine some of the foundational issues that lie at the heart of justice in medicine: the right to health and health care, aggregation and utility, personal responsibility, and prioritarianism. We will also develop some understanding of how medical resources are actually distributed in various societies in today's world. With that much as background, and so as to appreciate the complexity of any scheme for the just distribution of resources, we will go on to consider some of the problems that become apparent when you attend to the special needs of social groups (e.g., the poor, children, women, the elderly, African Americans). We will conclude the course with a close examination of dilemmas and conflicts that are raised by genetic testing, the treatment of premature and compromised neonates, the allocation of transplant organs, and the allocation of resources to alternative medicine.


  1. The Nicomachean Ethics , Aristotle (any translator; any edition) suggested version: WD Ross translation, Oxford World's Classics, ISBN 019283407X
  2. Political Liberalism, John Rawls, 1993, New York, Columbia University Press, ISBN 0231052499
  3. Medicine and Social Justice: Essays on the Distribution of Health Care, Rosamond Rhodes, Margaret P. Battin & Anita Silvers, editors, 2002, Oxford University Press, ISBN 019514354X

Course readings will be supplemented by papers for a new collection.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]

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Phil 76600 [10419]
Scientific Realism
Prof. Michael Devitt
4 credits
Wed. 9:30-11:30
Room 7395


Scientific realism has an existence dimension and an independence dimension. The existence dimension is that, for the most part, the unobservables that science appears to be committed to - atoms, viruses, photons, and the like - really do exist and have the properties specified by science. This is opposed by those - most notably van Fraassen - who are skeptical that science is giving us an accurate picture of reality. The independence dimension is that scientific entities do not depend for their existence and nature on the cognitive activities and capacities of our minds. This is opposed by those - most notably, Kuhn and Feyerabend - who hold that these entities are somehow "constructed" by the theories we have of them.

The course will start by clarifying this metaphysical "definition" of scientific realism and comparing it with the bewildering variety of definitions to be found in the literature. These include epistemic, apparently semantic, and really semantic definitions.


Constructivism about science arises in the context of the alleged incommensurability of rival paradigms like the Ptolemaic and Copernican. Arguments will be mounted against constructivism, incommensurability, and the methodology that leads to them.


Arguments for scientific realism will be examined. The most famous is the argument from success. Why do the observational predictions of theories tend to come out true? The best explanation, the realist claims, is that the theories are (approximately) true. Indeed, if they weren't, this success would be "a miracle." Laudan and Fine have mounted a sustained attack against this argument. Other abductive defenses of realism will be considered along with arguments from scientific practice.

Perhaps the most influential argument against realism is the argument from the underdetermination of theories by the evidence. Any theory is alleged to face many empirically equivalent rivals, rivals equally compatible with all possible evidence. This argument will be criticized by appealing to the Duhem-Quine thesis and to the lack of any known limit to our capacity to create evidence.

The pessimistic "meta-induction" is another influential argument: past theories have been mostly wrong; so probably present theories are too. Realist defenses against this powerful argument will be explored.

The course will finish with some critical remarks about van Fraassen's antirealism.

The course is not an introduction to the philosophy of science.


(i) A brief weekly email raising questions about, making criticisms of, or developing points concerning, matters discussed in the class and reading for that week. 50% of grade.

(ii) A class presentation based on a draft for a paper (topic chosen in consultation with me). The draft to be submitted before Tuesday of the week of presentation. 20% of grade.

(iii) A 2,500 word paper probably arising from the draft in (ii). 30% of grade.


Devitt, Michael. 2009. Putting Metaphysics First. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [978–0–19–928080–3]

Kukla, Andre. 1998. Studies in Scientific Realism. New York: Oxford University Press. [0-19-511865-0]

Psillos, Stathis. 1999. Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth. New York: Routledge. [0-415-20819-X]


Churchland, Paul M. and Clifford A. Hooker. 1985. Images of Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism, with a Reply form Bas C. van Fraassen. Chicago: University of Chicago. [0-226-10654-3]

Devitt, Michael. 1997. Realism and Truth. 2nd edn. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [0-691-01187-7]

Fine, Arthur. 1986a. The Shaky Game: Einstein, Realism, and the Quantum Theory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [0-226-24946-8]

Laudan, Larry. 1996, Beyond Positivism and Relativism: Theory, Method and Evidence. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. [0-8133-2469-6]

Leplin, Jarrett. 1997. A Novel Defense of Scientific Realism. New York: Oxford University Press. [0-19-511363-2]

Kukla, Andre. 2000. Social Constructivism and the Philosophy of Science. New York: Routledge. [0-415-23419-0]

Stanford, P. Kyle. 2006. Exceeding Our Grasp. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [0-19-517408-9]

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group B]

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Phil 76400 [10417]
Aristotle and Contemporary Virtue Ethics
Prof. Iakovos Vasiliou
4 credits
Wed. 11:45-1:45
Room 8203

According to most standard accounts, modern virtue ethics began with Elizabeth Anscombe's essay "Modern Moral Philosophy" in 1958 and has developed over the second half of the twentieth century as an alternative to deontological and consequentialist moral theories. Rather than obligation as the centerpiece of moral theory, as it had been in different ways with the latter two theories, virtue ethics focuses on human flourishing and the virtues of character that constitute it. Aristotle is the patron saint of this movement. Over the last ten years, some have begun to question what virtue ethics is, how it differs from other types of ethical theory, and to what extent Aristotle should be called a virtue ethicist. Like other terms in our contemporary philosophical vocabulary – such as naturalism, externalism/internalism, physicalism – what is meant by "virtue ethics" can be very different depending on who is using the term.

I am interested mostly in what sort of ethical theory virtue ethics is and how it fits with what we actually find in Aristotle. What does it say about the relationships between agents and actions? How does it contrast with deontology or consequentialism? What does it mean for ethics to be "virtue-based", "character-based" or "agent-based/centered", as opposed to "rule-based" or "act-based/centered"? What do issues about rules have to do with virtue ethics? How does practical reason operate differently in virtue ethics as opposed to other types of ethical theory? The course, then, is more about "meta virtue-ethics" than a course that would investigate, for example, how virtue ethics might address substantive ethical issues on its own or in comparison with how deontology or consequentialism might.

We will do a close reading of major parts of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, including his discussions of eudaimonia, the virtues of character, practical reason, moral psychology, decision and deliberation, voluntary action, and the unity of virtues. We will also study some modern discussions of Aristotle, types of ethical theory, and virtue ethics. Contemporary authors we may read include Julia Annas, Sarah Broadie, Jonathan Dancy, Phillipa Foot, Rosalind Hursthouse, Terry Irwin, Christine Korsgaard, Richard Kraut, John McDowell, Martha Nussbaum, Gerasimos Santas, and Jerry Schneewind.

It will be important for us to work from the same translation of the Nicomachean Ethics. For various reasons, we shall use Terence Irwin's translation, second edition, Hackett Press; I ask you all to acquire a copy. We will also consult the Rowe/Broadie translation from Oxford, and the "Revised Oxford Translation", by Ross and revised by Urmson, published in the Complete Works of Aristotle, vol. 2 (ed. J. Barnes, Princeton University Press).

Please read Book I of the Nicomachean Ethics for the first class.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Groups C or D-Ancient]

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Phil 77500 [10423]
Prof. Steven Ross
4 credits
Wed. 2:00-4:00
Room 7395

This is a general survey of the major theories in moral philosophy; the emphasis will be on various conceptions of justification. To that end we look at naturalist projectivism (Hume), non-naturalist non-cognitivism (Hare, Sartre), intuitionism (Moore), utilitarianism, Kant, Aristotle, and Rawls’ Kantian constructivism. The strengths and weaknesses, the various pay-offs and difficulties, of these competing views will be the focus of this course, and hopefully, by the end of the course, we will have some ideas about the nature of justification in ethics, what it can and cannot be, as well.

Our first reading will be from Hume’s Treatise; "Of The Influencing Motives of the Will," "Moral Distinctions Not Derived From Reason," "Moral Distinctions Derived From Sense." Students should read, or re-read, these sections before the first class.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]

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Phil 72000 [10413]
Prof. Rohit Parikh
4 credits
Thurs. 9:30-11:30
Room 7395
  1. Propositional logic: Truth tables, deduction systems, satisfiability, validity,
  2. First order logic (aka predicate calculus): syntax, semantics, truth, satisfiability, deduction, completeness.
  3. Undecidability phenomena. Goedel's theorems. (Maybe something will be said on NP-completeness).
  4. Philosophical logic: Kripke structures, Modal logic, conditionals, Deontic logic.

The emphasis of the course will be on becoming comfortable with the material so that philosophical applications of logic cease to be a mystery (or are at least less of a mystery).

Raymond Smullyan's book on First Order Logic will be used for 1) and 2). It is cheap and students have always liked it. There will be handouts for 3) and 4).

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group E]

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Phil 77600 [10424]
Morality and Memory
Prof. Jeffrey Blustein
4 credits
Thurs. 11:45-1:45
Room 7395

There has been a "memory boom" in historical and cultural studies in the last 25 years, as nations and communities around the world have come to reflect on the crimes of the twentieth-century and their role, as perpetrators and victims, in them. This has led to a greater understanding of the ways in which memory can be used and manipulated to serve the interests of those with political power or who hope to obtain it. There has also been considerable recent work on the philosophical implications of studies of memory in psychology, cognitive science, and the social sciences. And of course there is a long history within philosophy itself of reflection on the epistemological status of memory and, since Locke, its significance for a metaphysics of personal identity. I mention the variety of scholarly inquiries, both within and outside the discipline of philosophy, both to provide context and to more sharply define what we will be doing in this course. There will be some overlap, but this course takes a different direction.

There is a range of philosophical problems – problems in and of morality - that has received relatively little attention from analytic philosophers. To be sure, there is a vast literature that is useful for thinking about these problems philosophically, but a great deal of it falls outside philosophy. Where philosophers have written on the moral problems relating to memory, it has largely been from within the Continental (German/French) philosophical tradition. There is to date only a very small handful of monographs in the analytic tradition that systematically address problems in the morality of memory, and surprisingly few articles. In this course, I draw together some of what I believe is the best and most useful scholarly writing currently available. Given the state of current scholarship, much of it will not be in philosophy. But by itself this is not regrettable. For though this is a course that is anchored in philosophy, the subject is most fruitfully studied by drawing on contributions from other disciplines.

In addition, we will refer to a number of historical and recent examples to make the philosophical discussion more concrete. Some of these will be introduced at the outset, others will be woven through the course. They include: memory of the Holocaust and German cultural identity; political and social uses of memories of 9/11; memory and history in Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union; and truth and reconciliation commissions, most famously, in South Africa.

Here are some of the questions we will explore this semester:

  • What different distinctions are marked by the contrast between history and memory, and what are the moral implications of the contrast?
  • Is memory an unqualified good? Or is there such a thing as a moral virtue of forgetfulness?
  • What is the relationship between collective memory and collective identity, and between individual memory and individual (biographical identity), and what is the moral significance of these relationships?
  • How does a collectivity (a nation, an ethic or religious community) take responsibility for its past, and why should it? How does an individual do so, and why?
  • Can one have an obligation to remember? Is this a philosophically coherent notion?
  • If there is a moral obligation or imperative to remember, to remember what? To remember how? For how long? And why?
  • How can collective memory contribute to the promotion of restorative justice?
  • Can memory be a type of reparation for past injustice?

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group C]

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Phil 76800 [10420]
Intentional States
Prof. David Rosenthal
4 credits
Thurs. 2:00-4:00
Room 8203

We’ll discuss various theories of intentional states and controversies concerningtheir nature. Topics will include the structure of intentional states, the language-of-thought hypothesis, intentional content, anti-individualism, atomist theories of content, meaning holism, content and interpretation, concept acquisition, the expression of intentional states, the ascription of intentional states, the essential indexical, the mental attitudes of intentional states, Moore’s paradox, and, time permitting, desiderative and motivational states and voluntarism.

Here’s a still somewhat tentative list of weekly topics, with a number of the authors we’ll probably read:

  • The Structure of Intentional States and the Nonextensionality of Ascription (Chisholm, Frege, Searle, Fodor)
  • The Language of Thought, Mental Processes, Productivity, and Systematicity (Fodor, Crane, Field, Schiffer, Cummins)
  • Content (I): Internalism and Externalism (Putnam, Burge, Fodor, Davidson, and Stalnaker)
  • Content (II): Atomistic Theories: Causal, Nomic, and Teleosemantic (Dretske, Fodor, Papineau)
  • Content (III): Conceptual-Role Semantics, Inference, and Meaning Holism (Harman, Fodor and Lepore)
  • Content (IV): Interpretationism, the Intentional Stance, and Normativity (Davidson, Dennett, Brandom, Rosenthal)
  • Thought, Language, and Concept Acquisition (Searle, Vendler, Davidson, Fodor, Rosenthal)
  • Verbal and Nonverbal Expression, Consciousness, and First-Person Access (Descartes, Wittgenstein, Rosenthal)
  • Ascribing Intentional States and False Belief (Shoemaker, Perner, Fodor, Baillargeon)
  • No new readings—abstracts of papers due
  • The Essential Indexical (Geach, Chisholm, Perry, Lewis, Rosenthal)
  • Mental Attitudes (I): Mental Attitude and Illocutionary Force (Frege, Austin, Vendler, Searle)
  • Mental Attitudes (II): Moore’s Paradox (Descartes, Searle, Wittgenstein, Shoemaker, Rosenthal)
  • Mental Attitudes (III): Volitions, Emotions, and Voluntarism (Kenny, Dennett, Gordon, Descartes, Williams, Rosenthal)

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Groups A or B]

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Phil 76100 [10415]
Kant's 'Critique of the Power of Judgment'
Prof. Thomas Teufel
4 credits
Thurs. 6:30-8:30
Room 6300

Immanuel Kant’s philosophy is undergoing a renaissance. For much of the 20th century analytic philosophy worked within an empiricist framework that consciously reached back in time past Kant to anoint David Hume its patron saint. With Hume in mind, Bertrand Russell, in 1922, made ‘back to the 18th century’ his “battle-cry.” Surveying Russell’s battlefield in 1969, W.V.O. Quine famously declared that “the Humean predicament is the human predicament.” Over the last 30 years, however, analytic philosophers have become increasingly aware that a Humean conception of the human predicament has its limitations. As a result, today’s philosophical landscape—for all the progress made—is not unlike that which made Kant venture beyond Hume in the first place. This comes at the same time as recent advances in Kant-scholarship have demonstrated that Kant’s response to Hume’s empiricism is less haunted by damning forms of idealism and more epistemologically sophisticated than earlier generations of commentators thought. Not surprisingly, then, Kant’s philosophy has emerged as a vital place to turn for insights into philosophical questions that have neither lost their urgency, nor, since Kant, always received the careful attention he gave them.

We will consider this moment in history through the lens of the third (and last) of Kant’s main critical works, the Critique of the Power of Judgment—the one among Kant’s critical works whose philosophical stock has, perhaps, risen most in recent years (from comparative neglect to considerable prominence). In the third Critique, Kant addresses (among other things) the epistemological and ontological status of two indelible objects of human experience (beautiful things and living beings). Regarding that status, Kant, characteristically, attempts to occupy a middle ground between realism and deflationism. Such a middle ground is as attractive today as it was in Kant’s day. But it is also equally, if not more, elusive. Not only do philosophical positions these days tend to oscillate between the extremes in question (this is particularly evident in the philosophy of biology). But Kant’s own attempt is seen, by many contemporary commentators, to issue, at best, in an unstable hybrid position—making him either a realist or a deflationist malgré lui in matters aesthetic and teleological.

In order to see whether Kant offers a genuine alternative to realist and deflationist accounts of the phenomena of beauty and life, or merely a (perhaps nonetheless interesting) hybrid position, we must investigate the main (new) weapon Kant adds to his philosophical arsenal in the third Critique: his revamped account of our faculty of judgment as well as of it’s guiding principle. Kant introduces this account as much for epistemological reasons (in order to pick up slack from the first Critique) and systematic reasons (in order to relate his concerns in the first Critique to his concerns in the second Critique) as to address the aesthetic and teleological questions mentioned. We will consider all of these roles of judgment (but especially the first and the last) in order to gauge whether Kant’s position in the Critique of the Power of Judgment warrants the attention it has, of late, received.

There are multiple English translations of the third Critique. Because of its felicity to the original German, we will be using: Immanuel Kant, Critique of the Power of Judgment, P. Guyer, ed., P. Guyer and E. Matthews, transl. (Cambridge University Press, 2000). For background, please read Paul Guyer’s (excellent) editor’s introduction for the first class meeting.

[Counts towards course satisfaction of Group D-Modern]

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