Central Problems in Philosophy
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, Grove, NY, 1954, p. 13.
|PHIL-SHU 150-001 (14602)||1555 Century Avenue, Room 204||Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:45am–11:00am|
|Brad Weslakefirstname.lastname@example.org||1555 Century Avenue, Room 1226||Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00am–12:00pm, or by appointment.|
This course is an introduction to philosophy through the study of selected central problems. Our approach will be historical, comparative and interdisciplinary.
The aim of this course is for students to significantly improve their capacity to:
- Extract, explain and evaluate the arguments contained in philosophical texts.
- Understand the central arguments and theories contained in the assigned readings.
- Contribute to constructive philosophical discussion.
- Write clear, concise, and well organised philosophical essays.
- Three 6–8 page papers.
- Attendance and participation.
The final grade will be determined approximately as follows:
|Attendance and participation:||10%|
|First Paper:||Tuesday 15 March|
|Second Paper:||Tuesday 19 April|
|Third Paper:||Thursday 12 May|
Attendance and Lateness
Students are required to attend all classes on time. An explanation for every absence or late attendance must be submitted in writing to the instructor. Every failure to attend class on time will count against the component of the final grade awarded for attendance and participation, unless an explanation is received and approved at least one day prior to the class in question. Requests for exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis, and typically granted only when related to an illness or other unforeseeable change in life circumstance. Students who have been excessively absent will be considered to have unofficially withdrawn and will be given a final grade of F.
It is a condition on passing this course that students read and adhere to the NYU Shanghai policy on academic integrity as described in the current NYU Shanghai Academic Bulletin.
Meeting 1: What is Philosophy? (Tuesday 26 January)
Section I: Perception and Reality
Meeting 2: Descartes I (Thursday 28 January)
- Selections from Descartes, René.  2006. Meditations, Objections and Replies, Hackett, Indianapolis.
Meeting 3: Descartes II (Tuesday 2 February)
- Stroud, Barry. 1984. “The Problem of the External World”, in The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 1–38.
Meeting 4: Vasubandhu I (Thursday 4 February)
- Selections from Vasubandhu. c400. Viṃśatikākārikā and Viṃśatikāvṛtti.
- Translation I: Kochumutto, Thomas A. 1982. A Buddhist Doctrine of Experience: A New Translation and Interpretation of the Works of Vasubandhu, the Yogācārin, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.
- Translation II: Anacker, Stefan. 2005. Seven Works of Vasubandhu: The Buddhist Psychological Doctor, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.
Spring Festival Holiday: 8–12 February
Meeting 5: Vasubandhu II (Tuesday 16 February)
- Selections from Siderits, Mark. 2007. Buddhism as Philosophy: An Introduction, Ashgate, Aldershot.
Meeting 6: Nyāya I (Thursday 18 February)
- Selections from Akṣapāda Gautama. c500BCE. Nyāyasūtras and Vātsyāyana. c400CE. Bhāṣya and Uddyotakara. c600CE. Vārttika.
- Translation: Jhā, Gaṅgānāṭha. [1912-1919] 1984. The Nyāya-sūṭras of Gauṭama with the Bhāṣya of Vāṭsyāyana and the Vārṭika of Uḍḍyoṭakara, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.
Meeting 7: Nyāya II (Tuesday 23 February)
- Logue, Heather. 2015. “Disjunctivism”, in Matthen (Ed), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Perception, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 198–216. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199600472.013.013.
- Dasti, Matthew R. 2012. “Parasitism and Disjunctivism in Nyāya Epistemology”, in Philosophy East and West, Vol. 62, No. 1, January, pp. 1–15. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/pew.2012.0012.
Section II: The Self
Meeting 8: Locke I (Thursday 25 February)
- Locke, John.  2011. “Of Identity and Diversity”, in Strawson (Ed), Locke on Personal Identity: Consciousness and Concernment, Princeton University Press, Princeton, pp. 163–231.
Meeting 9: Locke II (Tuesday 1 March)
- Mackie, John L. 1976. “Personal Identity”, in Problems from Locke, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 173–203.
Meeting 10: Locke III (Thursday 3 March)
- Wilkes, Kathleen V. 1993. “Being in Two Minds”, in Real People: Personal Identity without Thought Experiments, Oxford University Press, Oxford. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198240808.003.0005.
- Parfit, Derek. 1987. “Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons”, in Blakemore and Greenfield (Ed), Mindwaves: Thoughts on Intelligence, Identity, and Consciousness, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 19–26.
Meeting 11: Vasubandhu I (Tuesday 8 March)
- Vasubandhu. c400. Ātmavādapratiṣedha.
- Translation I: Kapstein, Matthew. 2001. Reason’s Traces: Identity and Interpretation in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Thought, Wisdom Publications, Boston.
- Translation II: Duerlinger, James. 2003. Indian Buddhist Theories of Persons: Vasubandhu’s Refutation of the Theory of a Self, RoutledgeCurzon, London.
Meeting 12: Vasubandhu II (Thursday 10 March)
- Ganeri, Jonardon. 2007. “The Imperfect Reality of Persons”, in The Concealed Art of The Soul: Theories of Self and Practices of Truth in Indian Ethics and Epistemology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 157–184.
Meeting 13: The Self and Suffering I (Tuesday 15 March)
- Parfit, Derek. 1995. “The Unimportance of Identity”, in Harris (Ed), Identity: Essays Based on Herbert Spencer Lectures Given in the University of Oxford, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 13–45.
Meeting 14: The Self and Suffering II (Thursday 17 March)
- Velleman, J. David. 2006. “So It Goes”, in The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy, Vol. 1, pp. 1–23. URI: http://www.amherstlecture.org/velleman2006/.
Section III: Virtue and Character
Meeting 15: Aristotle (Tuesday 22 March)
- Selections from Aristotle. c330BCE. Nicomachean Ethics.
- Translation I: Bartlett, Robert C. and Collins, Susan D. 2011. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
- Translation II: Crisp, Roger. 2000. Nicomachean Ethics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
- Broadie, Sarah. 2006. “Aristotle and Contemporary Ethics”, in Kraut (Ed), The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Blackwell, Malden MA, pp. 342–361.
Meeting 16: Special Session on Cognitive Penetration (Thursday 24 March)
- Silins, Nicholas. 2016. “Cognitive Penetration and the Epistemology of Perception”, in Philosophy Compass, Vol. 11, No. 1, January, pp. 24–42. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/phc3.12292.
Meeting 17: Confucius I (Tuesday 29 March)
- Selections from Confucius. c500BCE. The Analects.
- Translation: Slingerland, Edward. 2001. “The Analects”, in Ivanhoe and Norden (Ed), Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, Seven Bridges Press, New York.
Meeting 18: Confucius II (Thursday 31 March)
- Slingerland, Edward. 2001. “Virtue Ethics, The Analects, and the Problem of Commensurability”, in Journal of Religious Ethics, Vol. 29, No. 1, January, pp. 97–125. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0384-9694.00070.
Spring Recess: 4–8 April
Meeting 19: Character I (Tuesday 12 April)
- Harman, Gilbert. 1999. “Moral Philosophy Meets Social Psychology: Virtue Ethics and the Fundamental Attribution Error”, in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 99, pp. 315–331.
Meeting 20: Character II (Thursday 14 April)
- Slingerland, Edward. 2011. “The Situationist Critique and Early Confucian Virtue Ethics”, in Ethics, Vol. 121, No. 2, January, pp. 390–419. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/658142.
Section IV: Biology and Identity
Meeting 21: Human Kinds (Tuesday 19 April)
- Hacking, Ian. 1986. “Making Up People”, in Heller, Sosna and Wellbery (Ed), Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought, Stanford University Press, Stanford, pp. 222–236.
- Hacking, Ian. 1995. “The Looping Effects of Human Kinds”, in Sperber, Premack and Premack (Ed), Causal Cognition: A Multidisciplinary Approach, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 351–383. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198524021.003.0012.
Meeting 22: Race I (Thursday 21 April)
- Bamshad, Michael J. and Olson, Steve E. 2003. “Does Race Exist?”, in Scientific American, Vol. 289, No. 6, December, pp. 78–85.
- Bolnick, Deborah A. 2008. “Individual Ancestry Inference and the Reification of Race as a Biological Phenomenon”, in Lee, Koenig and Richardson (Ed), Revisiting Race in the Genomic Age, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick NJ, pp. 70–85.
Meeting 23: Race II (Tuesday 26 April)
- Haslanger, Sally. 2000. “Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?”, in Noûs, Vol. 34, No. 1, March, pp. 31–55. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0029-4624.00201.
Meeting 24: Race III (Thursday 28 April)
- Dikötter, Frank. 2013. “The Discourse of Race in Twentieth-Century China”, in Kowner and Demel (Ed), Race and Racism in Modern East Asia: Western and Eastern Constructions, Brill, Leiden, pp. 351–368. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/9789004237414_015.
Meeting 25: Ancestry I (Tuesday 3 May)
- Velleman, J. David. 2005. “Family History”, in Philosophical Papers, Vol. 34, No. 3, November, pp. 357–378. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/05568640509485163.
Meeting 26: Ancestry II (Thursday 5 May)
- Haslanger, Sally. 2009. “Family, Ancestry and Self: What is the Moral Significance of Biological Ties?”, in Adoption and Culture, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 91–122.
Meeting 27: Culture I (Tuesday 10 May)
- Callan, Eamonn. 2005. “The Ethics of Assimilation”, in Ethics, Vol. 115, No. 3, April, pp. 471–500. URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/428460.
Meeting 28: Culture II (Thursday 12 May)
- McPherson, Lionel K. 2006. “The Racial Refusenik’s Issues, and Ours”, in Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 2, May.
- Blum, Lawrence. 2006. “Comments on Eamonn Callan”, in Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 2, May.
- Callan, Eamonn. 2006. “A Rejoinder to McPherson and Blum”, in Symposia on Gender, Race and Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 2, May.
Updated: 7 May 2016