Philosophy 115: Seminar on Philosophical Methods
Where: Philosophy seminar room (H&SS 7077)
When: Wednesday, 10-12:50
Instructor: Jonathan Cohen
(joncohenREMOVETHIS@aardvark.ucsd.edu (omit text in caps, which reduces automated spam))
office: (858) 534 6812
Office hours: Mondays 2:00-4:00, in H&SS 7066 (and by
appointment; please feel free to call)
The three required books for the course are absolute classics of 20th
century analytic philosophy.
These books cover topics in philosophy of science, metaphysics,
philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind.
All of them were enormously important in the sense that they raised
powerful challenges against fundamental assumptions in several areas
of philosophy, and in many cases managed to overturn prevailing
philosophical opinion (no small feat, given how infrequently
philosophers are convinced by arguments!).
Moreover, these works introduced new philosophical tools and methods
that have figured extremely widely in argumentation in all areas of
philosophy since their publication.
In short, these books are philosophical must-reads.
- Goodman, Fact, Fiction, and Forecast
- Quine, Word and Object
- Kripke, Naming and Necessity
I am told they are currently on sale at the bookstore; in addition,
copies have been placed on reserve at Geisel.
This upper-division, majors-only course provides intensive instruction
in the methods of philosophy and philosophical writing; it is designed
to tune up your critical capacities and raise the level of your
philosophical reading and writing skills in a hurry.
As such, it will be a demanding course.
You'll be required to keep up in the reading (a relatively small
number of pages, but those pages are filled with dense arguments),
write a short expository paper almost every week, and meet every week
for a tutorial with either me or the TA.
I realize that this is a lot of work for you; it will also be a lot of
work for the instructors.
But this intensive instruction is extremely effective in making
students into much better readers and writers of philosophy.
The course is ideally suited to philosophy majors who want to
improve their writing -- whether in order to do better in other undergraduate
philosophy (and non-philosophy) courses, to prepare for graduate
school in philosophy, or just to get more out of reading and thinking
It would also be excellent preparation for students who hope to take
There will be approximately 8 short papers (each around 6 pages).
Your grade will be determined mainly by your performance on these
papers, but I'll use class/tutorial participation to decide borderline
N.B.: You must hand in all assigned papers and attend all tutorials
to receive a passing grade for the course.
Please familiarize yourself with the
University's policies on academic integrity; you will be held to
||Weeks 1-4||Goodman, ch. I-IV|
|Weeks 5-7||Quine, ch. I-II|
||Weeks 8-10||Kripke, lectures I--III|