Winter semester starts today

And is it ever wintery, I think there’s a foot of snow out there today. Great time to stay in with some great philosophy books and articles. What are we reading? Here are a few of the MA courses starting this week at WLU:

Gary Foster is teaching 680D Agency and Moral Psychology:

What constitutes human agency?  What is the role of practical reason in human agency?  What role do the emotions play in human agency? What role does agency play in broader considerations of personal identity?  We will consider these questions as well as explore the notion of human freedom and the debate between (roughly) Humean and Kantian perspectives on the relation between (moral) motivation and desire.  We will examine these questions through the work of Harry Frankfurt, Christine Korsgaard, Charles Taylor, R. Jay Wallace, David Velleman, Gary Watson, and others.

Neil Campbell is teaching 684B The Metaphysics of Mind

The nature of mind and its relation to physical events is central to understanding our place in the world and our relations with one another. The metaphysics of mind seeks to understand what, fundamentally, we are, and to provide an account of human action that fits within a broadly naturalistic framework. Central questions and issues under this rubric include reductive v. nonreductive physicalism, the nature of action explanation and its compatibility with neurobiological explanation. Drawing on Jaegwon Kim’s recent
anthology Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind as well as some supplementary texts, we will explore these and related questions in the metaphysics of mind. Topics will fall under 3 broad categories: (1) Emergence and nonreductive physicalism; (2) Explaining human action; (3) Reduction and mental causation.

Rebekah Johnston is teaching 680E Race, Gender & Identity Politics:

In this course we will focus on two related issues about the identity categories of gender/
sex and race/ethnicity. The first issue concerns conceptualizations of these identities
and focuses primarily on the question: what kind of claim are we making when we use
identity categories to describe individuals and groups. Our second issue concerns what
role such identities ought, or ought not, to play in contemporary democratic discourse, activism, and personal subjectivity.

These two main lines of inquiry are intricately related; the proposals about what these identities are will strongly inform the roles they should or should not play in the political sphere and in our self-conceptions. Questions of particular interest will be: are identities compatible with/necessary for rationality and freedom and should we endeavour to preserve and/or transform or to eradicate race and gender as meaningful identity categories?

Ashwani Peetush is teaching 688, the MA Research Seminar.

Should be an interesting semester!  I look forward to spending some sessions in the MA Research Seminar as visitor/participant, and to hear about the projects the MAs are developing.

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