Fall 2022 Graduate Course Descriptions

*This schedule is tentative and subject to change without notice

PHIL 700 [01]

Seminar in Selected Problems (Topic: Philosophy of Education)

Monday 12:30 – 3:15 p.m.
Humanities Building 501
Macy Salzberger

The primary goals of this course are to familiarize ourselves with a sample of contemporary debates in philosophy of education, carefully evaluate their arguments, and develop rationally defensible positions of our own. Topics we may discuss include the aims of education, how our aims should inform the contents and modes of instruction, the relationship between ideal and non-ideal theorizing in education, the meaning and importance of educational justice and opportunity, and the moral responsibilities of individual instructors. This course is intended as an advanced introduction to philosophy of education; no background in philosophy of education is required.

PHIL 700 [02]

Seminar in Selected Problems (Topic: Myth of the Given)

Tuesday 4:00 – 6:45 p.m.
Humanities Building 108
Mohammad Azadpur

In this course, we begin with a study of Wilfrid Sellars’s famous attack on the Myth of the Given, followed by the appropriations of his alleged Hegelian project by the so-called “Pittsburgh School”. More specifically, we focus on the inferentialism of Robert Brandom and the neo-empiricism of John McDowell as two possible ways of inheriting from Sellars. We examine the central writings of Brandom and McDowell, their public debates, as well as their receptions by other important contemporary philosophers, such as Richard Rorty, Hubert Dreyfus, Jürgen Habermas, Sabina Lovibund, Akeel Bilgrami, Hannah Ginsborg and Anil Gupta. 

PHIL 715 [01]

Seminar in Philosophical Writing

Tuesday 12:30 – 3:15 p.m.
Business Building 222
Arezoo Islami

Philosophy is an activity in which we engage with others; it is a practice of reason. One purpose of this course is to inspire you to become more skillful writers and readers of philosophy as well as more committed and compassionate philosophers. Another purpose is to create a diverse and inclusive group in which you engage with one another in a constructive, respectful, and inclusive manner, in accordance with the values of our department. We will begin the course by reading Jim Pryor's classic papers on reading and writing philosophy and Jay F. Rosenberg's The Practice of Philosophy. Using tools acquired from this exploration, we turn to a selection of papers from different areas of philosophy with an emphasis on the clarity of writing and the quality of arguments. The key focus will be on argument analysis in reading and interpreting philosophical essays. Using the skills and knowledge gained by reading, we turn to the methodology of writing philosophical papers and developing efficient writing habits.

PHIL 725: Philosophical Foundations of Law 

Monday 4 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.

Itzel Garcia

This seminar will focus on the debate between H.L.A. Hart and Ronald Dworkin regarding the role of morality in our legal systems. We will read through Hart’s The Concept of Law and through most of Dworkin’s Law’s Empire, critically assessing each against each other, and in light of contemporary debates in applied jurisprudence—especially debates pertaining to the subject of law enforcement.

PHIL 770 [01]

Seminar in a Classical Author (Topic: Philosophy of Hegel)

Wednesday 9:30 – 12:15 p.m.
Online synchronous
David Landy

This course will take the form of a close reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit through the lens of two long-awaited recent developments in Hegel scholarship: the publication of Terry Pinkard’s translation of the Phenomenology and that of Robert Brandom’s A Spirit of Trust: A Reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology. The interpretive theme that we will explore is that the Phenomenology is a treatise on the philosophy of mind the core thesis of which is that mental representation is an essentially social phenomenon.

PHIL 795 [01]

Early Modern Philosophy (Topic: Exploring the Canon)

Thursday 12:30 – 3:15 p.m.

Marcus Hall 413

Alice Sowaal

The canon in early modern philosophy is currently being explored in new ways. In our seminar we will: (1) examine methodological questions about how canons are shaped; (2) research philosophers who have been previously excluded from the canon; (3) research hitherto ignored influences on canonical philosophers.

Some of our methodological questions will be historical: What historical events and prejudices led to the early modern canon as it now manifests? Other methodological questions will be quite practical: How do scholars produce critical positions on a philosopher when there is no collection of secondary philosophical literature against which to situate their interpretation? Still other methodological questions will be about the nature of philosophy itself: must philosophy be articulated in treatises and essays, or can it be developed in poetry, drama, novels, memoir, and sermons?

PHIL 828 [01]

Philosophical Issues in Artificial Intelligence

Thursday 4:00 – 6:45 p.m.

Humanities 108

Carlos Montemayor

This course will cover the implications of artificial intelligence for policy, industry, and society at large, including issues concerning social justice. The main question of the course is, in what sense(s) is artificial intelligence “artificial” and “intelligent.” We will explore this issue through the relation of two fundamental capacities of the human mind: phenomenal consciousness and attention. Ethical issues are normative, and the question of how phenomenal consciousness and attention are normative will be analyzed in detail, in the context of analogous questions regarding artificial intelligence.

PHIL 858 [01] - Contemporary Political Philosophy

Wednesday 4 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.
Marcus Hall 217 
Jeremy Reid

This course will cover three main topics in contemporary social and political philosophy, each of which I take to be genuinely difficult and think deserve further discussion: The first topic is the relationship between collective and individual responsibility, and parallel issues about how we should evaluate individual actors in unjust and oppressive systems. Adolf Eichmann managed train schedules in Nazi Germany and was later executed for crimes against humanity––how should we evaluate his actions and character, and think about the justice of his trial? How should our practices of blame and holding responsible be affected by the adverse circumstances in which people were raised? How should we think about what our individual responsibilities are with respect to systemic problems (e.g. sweatshop labor for consumer products, and harm to animals),and how should we think about what nation-states are responsible for with respect to global problems (e.g. climate change and poverty)?

The second topic is about deep moral disagreement. Is reasonable moral disagreement possible? Is moral agreement something that we should expect or aim for? Is it possible to live and cooperate with people who have moral beliefs substantially different from our own? What are the virtues and structures that make dialogue between people with different moral views possible, and what are the vices and structures that impede that dialogue? How does Rawls’s later political philosophy seek to address the problem of deep moral disagreement and how does he think we can have a stable democracy in a society of people who have very different conceptions of justice and the good life?

The third topic concerns equality, complexity, and the open society. We will look at some recent empirical work on the moral psychology of cooperation and anti-tyrannizing, the nature of complex systems, and then consider their philosophical implications for good governance, the possibility of political expertise, equality as an ideal, and experiments in living as a political framework. Is our evolved moral psychology compatible with the norms of a market society? Which kinds of equality are relevant for assessing the justice of a society? What aspects of our political and economic life are susceptible to central governance? Can perspectival diversity be recruited to improve and bolster the open society?

For each section, the goal is to show why the problem is genuinely difficult and then to explore what some good first steps to solving the problem might be. My hope is that these issues will also start turning your cognitive wheels while laying foundations for future research.

Major texts we will cover include Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, David Miller’s National Responsibility and Global Justice, John Rawls’s Political Liberalism, and Jerry Gaus’s The Open Society and Its Complexities. We will also read articles by Iris Marion Young, C. Thi Nguyen, Cheshire Calhoun, and Elizabeth Anderson (among others).

PHIL 896

Directed Reading in Fundamental Philosophical Texts

Friday 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. (exact dates TBD)

This is the M.A. exam course. We recommend that students take it in the second or third semester of graduate work, after completing at least one graduate seminar. The course is administered by the graduate coordinators, but students will choose a study group supervised by other faculty. The two sections listed will be effectively combined, so please register for whichever one has fewer students.  N.b., a mandatory course orientation will take place on Friday, August 26th at 3 p.m. A Zoom link will be emailed to all registered students beforehand. Additionally, there are four required study group meetings that take place over the course of the semester. These group meetings are held on Fridays at 3 p.m. (exact dates TBD). Please email Professor David Landy with any questions at landy@sfsu.edu