Syllabi for Courses I Have Taught at Vassar

Philosophy 102: History of Western Philosophy II

History of early modern from Descartes to Kant

Philosophy 105: Problems of Philosophy

Introductory Course consisting of problems such as skepticism, existence of God, personal identity, free will, moral responsibility, trolley problems, abortion, and famine-relief.

Philosophy 222: Philosophy of Language

Philosophy of Language from Frege and Russell through Kripke and Kaplan.

Philosophy 226: Philosophy of Science

General philosophy of science including issues in realism/anti-realism, theory-ladenness of observation, and the rationality of scientific change.

Philosophy 228: Epistemology

The problem of skepticism, inductive skepticism, and theories of knowledge and justification that are meant to address such problems, such as epistemological externalism, contextualism, and coherentism and foundationalism about justification.

Philosophy 310: Skepticism

A close analysis of closure, regress, and certainty arguments for skepticism and semantic externalist, contextualist, subject-sensitive invariantist, relativist, and dogmatist solutions to such problems.

Philosophy 310: Rationality and Justification

A study of the psychological literature on human reasoning such as heuristics and biases, and then an examination of theories of justification such as externalism versus internalism, coherentism, rule-circularity, Bayesianism, and finally, issues concerning a priori justification.

Philosophy 310: Pragmatism and Relativism

A study of recent epistemological research into epistemic relativism, the pragmatic encroachment/interest-relative invariantist view of knowledge, and relative-truth semantics. Books include Boghossian's Fear of Knowledge, Stanley's Knowledge and Practical Interests, Fantl and McGrath's Knowledge in an Uncertain World , and MacFarlane's work on relative truth and assessment-sensitivity.

Philosophy 311: Language and the Infinite Mind

First half consists of an examination of the empirical evidence for and against the principles and parameters version of universal grammar as a thesis about the mechanisms of language acquisition. Second half consists of an examination of the empirical evidence for and against weak Whorfian hypotheses about the relationship between language and thought, focusing on mathematical, counterfactual, and spatial cognition.

 

For Senior Thesis Work

Handout on Exploratory Reading: When you know your topic, but don't know what to argue.

Handout on Surveying Literature: When you do have a thesis to argue (or the sketch of a thesis)

Handout on Evaluating Arguments: A few points about dialectical issues.

I have advised theses on: Meaning Holism, Contextualism and Subject-Sensitive Invariantism, Foucoult on Power and Facebook, Literal Meaning and Metaphor, Gradable Adjectives, The Existence of Properties, Counterfactuals and Possible Worlds, the Problem of Propositional Attitude Ascriptions, and Scientific Realism.