First year graduate seminar, Fall 2007. Open only to first-year philosophy graduate students. Participants will be expected to make two presentations during the semester.
Adam Elga (follow link for contact information, office hour). Class meeting time: Mondays 10:30am-12:30pm. Location: 119 1879 Hall
Seminar description: It's a familiar pattern: the difference between X and not-X matters a great deal to us. But when some metaphysical analysis reveals what the difference between X and not-X really comes to, it no longer seems worth caring about. That's a way in which metaphysics can inform ethics. We will explore several instances of this pattern, and also alleged influence in the other direction: cases in which a metaphysical analysis is rejected because of its implausible ethical consequences. Topics include:
Readings: To access the readings (all available electronically, as linked below), you will need a userid (the userid is "guest") and a password (announced in class). If you would like to preview the readings, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: In many cases, only a subsection of the linked reading is required. In those cases, the required page range is listed to the right of the reading.
Can desires be irrational? Is bias in one's own favor rationally required?
Parfit, Derek. Reasons and Persons. Chapter 6: The best objection to the self-interest theory Sections 45-46.
Is it reasonable to prefer that bad experiences be in one's past?
Parfit, Derek. Reasons and Persons. Chapter 8: Different attitudes to time Sections 62-65. (Vanessa)
Parfit, Derek. Reasons and Persons. Chapter 8: Different attitudes to time Sections 66-70. (Richard)
Does time pass?
Williams, Donald. The myth of passage (Josh)
Markosian, Ned. How fast does time pass? (Josh)
Can de-tensers make sense of the desire that painful events be over and done with?
Prior. Thank goodness that's over Middle paragraph on p. 84.
Mellor, D. H. 'Thank goodness that's over' (Helen)
Lewis, David. Attitudes de dicto and de se. Sections III, IV, and the last 3 paragraphs of section IX.
Physical and psychological criteria for personal identity: brain/body transplant cases and teletransportation cases.
Williams, Bernard. The self and the future (Helen)
Parfit, Derek. Reasons and Persons. Chapter 10: What we believe ourselves to be (Vanessa)
Radical consequences of a time-neutral perspective, including the consequence that one should not fear death.
Parfit, Derek. Reasons and Persons. Chapter 11: How we are not what we believe
Velleman, David. "So It Goes": Parfit finally meets the Buddha -- on Tralfamadore! (Andrew)
Optional background: van Inwagen, Peter. Four-dimensional objects
Duplication and fission cases, and what to say about them.
Parfit, Derek. Reasons and Persons. Chapter 12: Why our identity is not what matters, sections 87-89. (Richard)
Parfit, Derek. Reasons and Persons. Chapter 12: Why our identity is not what matters, sections 90-94. (Andrew)
The overlap proposal.
Lewis, David. Survival and identity (Helen)
Parfit, Derek. Lewis, Perry, and what matters
Johnston, Mark. Fission and the facts. Read section 5.
How should you divide your expectations when you expect to divide?
Lewis, David. How many lives has Schrodinger's cat? (Josh)
Metaphysics as choice-making rather than fact-finding.
Carnap, Rudolph. Empiricism, semantics, ontology (Andrew)
Sider, Theodore. Criteria of personal identity and the limits of conceptual analysis, sections 1-7. (Richard)
Burgess, John. Mathematics and bleak house, sections 6-7.
What is the difference between making something happen and merely allowing it to happen? Does that difference matter morally?
Bennett, Jonathan. Morality and Consequences. Lecture I.
Bennett, Jonathan. Morality and Consequences. Lecture II.
McGrath, Sarah. Causation and the making/allowing distinction. (Vanessa)
Boorse, Christopher, and Roy Sorensen. Ducking harm
Sider, T. Four-dimensionalism. Chapter 5
Johnston, Mark. Relativism and the self
Johnston, Mark. Human Beings
Bennett, Jonathan. The Act Itself. Chapter 4: Making/allowing
Bennett, Jonathan. The Act Itself. Chapter 5: Moral significance
Bennett, Jonathan. The Act Itself. Chapter 6: Positive/negativeAdam Elga | Princeton University