Recent Courses

Graduate Seminar on Philosophical Writing (I)

Contemporary philosophers are writers, and most of what they publish are articles in academic journals. This course is part of a two-semester course on philosophical writing and methodology that introduces graduate students what a philosophy journal article needs to do and how to write one. This part focuses on the clarity and coherence of philosophical writing and considers the choice of writing styles. Through regular assignments and discussion, students will learn the principles of clear and coherent writing and their psychological basis. (Syllabus)

Philosophy of Science (Advanced Undergraduate/Graduate)

In this course, we will explore one of the most exciting and important periods in philosophy of science. In the 1960s and 70s, historians and historically minded philosophers of science developed compelling alternatives to logical positivism, which provided influential metaphysical and epistemological theories about science. We will begin by reading parts of Galileo’s Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems as well as the logical positivist account of science. These readings provide a historical and philosophical background to the major texts we will study: Norwood Russell Hanson’s Patterns of Discovery, Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and Paul Feyerabend’s Against Method. (Download Syllabus)

Pragmatism (Advanced Undergraduate/Graduate)

In this course, we discuss American pragmatism in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries as well as pragmatism’s revival in the late 20th century. Our discussion will center on the philosophical issues that animated pragmatism in these periods. (Download Syllabus)

Evolution of Human Cognition and Cooperation (Advanced Undergraduate/Graduate)

The evolution of human cognition and cooperation is an interdisciplinary topic involving evolutionary biology, behavioral ecology, psychology, anthropology, archeology, economics, and philosophy. This is an important topic in its own right, but it also has implications for traditional philosophical questions about human nature, the architecture of the human mind, human morality, and social contract theory. This course introduces basic theoretical tools used in the literature, especially evolutionary game theory and multilevel selection theory, and discusses both classic and recent works on this topic. The format of the course will be a research seminar, where the seminar participants will give seminar presentations and lead discussions. (Download Syllabus)

Causation and Explanation (Advanced Undergraduate/Graduate)

This course explores the relationship between causality and explanation. It provides a critical survey of major theories of causation and explanation, and discusses varieties of causal explanation. We will also discuss the proposal that some explanations, such as mathematical explanations, are non-causal. Examples will be drawn from everyday life as well as natural and social sciences, particularly causal models and mathematical models. (Download Syllabus)

Mind and Society (Advanced Undergraduate/Graduate)

What is society? What is the relationship between individuals—their thoughts and actions—and social phenomena? What are social norms? How do they emerge and disappear? And how can we change them? This course examines questions like these as they appear in philosophy of social science and metaphysics. (Download Syllabus)

Models and Representation (Advanced Undergraduate/Graduate)

Scientific modeling has been an enormously successful methodology for learning about the real-world systems: Scientists have successfully learned about the world by studying models of real-world systems. But scientific models are idealized in one way or another: They represent systems that do not exist in the real world, such as an object moving on a frictionless plane or an infinitely large population of organisms. So how can models help scientists learn about the real world? This course examines the epistemology of modeling, together with other basic questions about scientific modeling, in particular, what a model is, and what it is for a model to be a representation. (Download Syllabus)

Senior Seminar: Objectivity, Agnotology, and Trust in Science

This seminar explores three related themes: the historical development of scientific objectivity, the cultural production of ignorance about scientific issues, and the public trust in science. In particular, using the methods of history and philosophy of science, we will study kinds of objectivity and their historical origins, types of ignorance and mechanisms of their production, and a variety of arguments for and against the trustworthiness of science. (Syllabus)

Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking

How do we reason? When is our intuitive reasoning reliable or unreliable? What makes a good argument? How can we tell good and bad arguments? What is a deductive argument, and how should we evaluate its strength? What is an inductive argument, and how should we evaluate its strength? This course introduces basic concepts and techniques of deductive and inductive logic to help you answer these questions. Topics include: informal fallacies in reasoning; system for symbolizing arguments and deriving conclusions from premises; natural deduction; inductive reasoning; probability calculus; inductive fallacies. (Syllabus)

Introduction to Philosophy: The Good Life

What is the good life? Or: How should one live? This is one of the oldest questions in philosophy. This course introduces philosophy by examining various theories about the good life. The readings are drawn from ancient Greek philosophy, Islamic philosophy, classical Chinese philosophy, Medieval and Modern European philosophy, American philosophy, as well as contemporary philosophy. Near the end of the semester we will discuss our philosophical question in the context of pop culture, using the film The Big Lebowski. (Download Syllabus)

Introduction to Philosophy: Contemporary Philosophy and Its Methods

In this course, we learn some important philosophical issues and how philosophers have studied them. We will read contemporary works on epistemology (theory of knowledge), moral philosophy, moral psychology, and philosophy of life. (Download Syllabus)

Introduction to Philosophy of Science

What is science? How does scientific research work? How does science produce, organize, and revise our knowledge about the world? What is the relationship between science and the rest of society? These are some of the philosophical issues about science we’ll discuss in this course. (Syllabi: 2021, 2020)