Phil 200: Proseminar Fall Quarter, 2008
Professor: Eric Watkins Thursday 2:00-4:50, HSS 7077
Office Hours: Tuesday 12:30-1:30 and by appt. E-mail:
Office: HSS 8018 Tel: (858) 822-0082

I. Course Description:

The proseminar is for first year philosophy graduate students only. Instead of having a single topic, it covers a wide range of central issues in mainstream analytic philosophy from the past several decades. A UCSD Philosophy faculty member will visit the class each week to provide an expert's perspective on each topic. In addition to providing familiarity with "classic" or at least important articles, it is designed to help students hone their reading, writing, presentation, and thinking skills to a level that is sufficient for graduate course work.

II. Reading Assignments (subject to change)

Sept. 25  Introduction Student Presenters
Guest Faculty Member
Oct. 2 Harry Frankfurt, "Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility"
Derk Pereboom, "Alternative Possibilities and Causal Histories"
Dana Nelkin
Oct. 9 Tim Maudlin, "The Passing of Time"
Craig Callender, "The Common Now"
Craig Callender
Oct. 16 W.V.O. Quine, "Two Dogmas of Empiricism"
Paul Boghossian, "Analyticity Reconsidered"
Gila Sher
Oct. 23 John Earman, "Kant, incongruent counterparts, and absolute space"
Oliver Pooley, "Handedness, parity violation, and the reality of space"
Chris Wüthrich
Oct. 30 John Rawls, "Justice as Fairness"
John Rawls, "Two Concepts of Rules"
Dick Arneson
Nov. 6 Sidney Shoemaker, "Self-reference and self-awareness"
Gareth Evans, The Varieties Of Reference, Ch. 7 (esp. Sections 7.2, 7.3, 7.4)
Rick Grush
Nov. 13 Bernard Williams, "Internal and External Reasons"
Christine Korsgaard, "Skepticism about Practical Reason"
David Brink
Nov. 20 Barry Loewer, "Humean Supervenience"
Craig Callender & Jonathan Cohen, "A Better Best System Account of Lawhood"
Jonathan Cohen
Dec. 4 David Chalmers, "Can Consciousness be Reductively Explained"
Paul Churchland, "Reduction, Qualia, and the Direct Introspection of Brain States"
Paul Churchland
III. Texts:

Required: All texts will be made available electronically.

IV. Requirements

Six Short Papers (60%): Each paper should focus on clarifying the main thesis and central argument(s) of one of the assigned articles. It may well also be necessary to explain distinctions and to state objections and replies to objections. In addition to being accurate, it is of the utmost importance that papers be clear, precise, and well-organized. Each paper should be no less than 1000, but no more than 1200 words. (With normal fonts and margins, this will be roughly 4 pages). You may write more than six papers and drop your lowest grade. You may also write a paper on an article that you are responsible for presenting in class. Papers are due by midnight Wednesday, the day before class. They should be sent to me as an attachment to an e-mail (Word or PDF format).

For some helpful tips on writing philosophy papers, I would recommend the following web-page:

Class Presentation (25%): Each student will be responsible for two or three 15-minute presentations. A sign-up sheet will be distributed the first day of class.  

A presentation consists of setting out some central argument(s) in a portion of the assigned reading (typically an article or book excerpt), together with raising questions and framing discussion. The actual time spent initially presenting the material should be no longer than 15 minutes, although the presenter should be prepared to help guide the subsequent discussion. It is often helpful to prepare a handout. Presenters should feel free to meet with me some time in the week before their presentations. The presentation grade will be based on either the second presentation alone or on the average of the two presentations, whichever grade is higher. I will also try to provide written feedback on both presentations.

Class Participation (15%): An ideal participant will contribute to the discussion with helpful questions (clarificatory or otherwise) and objections or suggestions that are useful and to the point. Frequency of participation can vary significantly even among ideal participants. For example, one person can make an excellent contribution with a few well-timed and very insightful comments, and another can make an excellent contribution by more frequent comments and clarificatory questions that help solidify and deepen our understanding of the material. These are just examples; there are many ways to contribute. The main thing is not to be afraid to speak up. At the same time, we have a number of participants, so you should never feel that you have to “take over” the discussion either. Please feel free to talk me any time during the term about how you are doing in this area.