email: dmacbeth@haverford.edu
Phone: (610) 896-1025
Office: GEST 204

Courses

Introductory

Phil 109: Philosophy and the Good Life

What sort of life is good for us? A life of pleasures? A life in which we gain the due respect of others? Maybe different things for different people? How much does being a morally good person matter to a good life? Why be moral at all? In this class we address these and other questions through a thoughtful and critical reading of some classics of the western tradition.

Phil 110: Mind and World

The aim of this course is to come to understand some of the most significant developments in Western philosophy concerning the question of the nature of reality, both of ourselves and of the world around us, and of our knowledge of that world. We begin with Aristotle, then turn to Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, Hume’s skeptical doubts, and finally parts of Kant’s great work, Critique of Pure Reason.

Intermediate

Phil 251: Philosophy of Mind

What sort of a thing is a mind, and what is its relationship to the body? What is it to be conscious? Could a computer ever be correctly described as thinking? Do animals have minds? Through a close and critical reading of Sellars’ Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind and Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, we aim to clarify what we are asking in asking such questions and to provide some philosophical resources for trying to answer them.

Phil 253: Philosophy of Language

Although language has always mattered to philosophy, only in the twentieth century did it become a recognized sub-field of philosophy. In this course we study a selection of classic papers addressing questions concerning, for instance, reference, descriptions, meaning, and truth. Along the way, we will be introduced to some of the characteristic methods and critical turns in the tradition of analytic philosophy.

Phil 255: Virtue Epistemology

Epistemology has traditionally been concerned to answer skepticism and provide an adequate analysis of knowledge. Virtue epistemology is a new movement that focuses first and foremost on knowers. According to virtue epistemologists, we should understand what it is good to believe by appeal to the virtues of an intellectually good person. The aim of this course is to understand and assess this new trend in epistemology.

Phil 260: Historical Introduction to Logic

Our aim in this course is to understand the long history of logic beginning with Aristotle, through Kant, and on to Wittgenstein and Frege. According to the conception of this history to be developed, the seeds of modern logic are sown already by Kant and reach their full flowering in conception of logic and language defended by Wittgenstein in his Tractatus. Frege comes last in our story as providing a revolutionary alternative to the logic of the Tractatus.

Upper-level seminars

Phil 354: Topics in Metaphysics: The Philosophy of John McDowell

John McDowell, one of the foremost philosophers writing today, takes as a central task of philosophy the overcoming of the dualisms that are the legacy of the modern period. In this course we focus first on a close and critical reading of his celebrated Locke Lectures, published as Mind and World. We then turn to a selection of McDowell’s essays on topics to be determined by the interests of the students.

Phil 350: Philosophy of Mathematics

Mathematics has always mattered to philosophy, and according to many the knowledge that is gained in mathematics is a paradigm of knowledge. But how does mathematics work? How can one come to know things—if one can—by engaging in the sorts of practices that mathematicians engage in? And if the practice of mathematics does yield knowledge, knowledge of what? Finally, what can mathematics teach us about our philosophical concerns more broadly conceived? Our aim in this course is to attempt to answer these and related questions.