Contemporary analytic philosophy began with certain discoveries in formal logic, and much of the work we shall be reading is informed in one way or another by logic: Arguments, premises, and conclusions are often stated using the concepts of formal logic. A working understanding of basic logic, such as one would acquire in Phil 0540, will be very helpful for this course. A course in logic is not a formal prerequisite, but those who have had absolutely no exposure to logic should consult the instructor before registering.
Prior exposure to philosophy is essential: Much of the material we will be reading is difficult. As usual with 1000-level courses, then, at least one prior course in philosophy is really quite essential and two are really preferred.
There are no textbooks for the course. All readings are accessible from the course website (though you will need the username and password for many of them). That said, we will be reading quite a few papers that are collected in Donald Davidson's Inquiries Into Truth and Interpretation, so it would be worth getting a copy, really.
The course will meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 1pm, in Gerard House 119. Typically, there will be lectures on Monday and Wednesday and class discussions on Fridays, though the discussion day will sometimes move around. On such days, students should arrive appropriately prepared with questions, comments, or criticisms. Otherwise, it will be very quiet.
There will be three short papers of about 3-5 pages, with a maximum length of 1500 words. Lists of 'topics' will be distributed on 15 February, 16 March, and 18 April; the papers will be due on 22 February, 23 March, and 25 April, respectively. The 'topics' will be short quotations from various of the papers we read, and the object of the exercise will be expository: You will be asked to explain the passage and its significance.
Undergraduates will have a choice between writing a longer term paper, of 12-15 pages, and taking the final examination. Those intending to do further serious work in philosophy, such as philosophy concentrators, may more benefit from thinking hard about a single, specific problem; those who are taking the course as an elective, or who are just looking for a general familiarity with the area, may probably benefit more from reviewing the material as a whole. Students will be required to inform the instructor which option they have selected by no later than 25 April. If no explicit choice is made then the student will have to take the final.
Graduate students will be required to write a term paper, 15-20 pages, in lieu of the final.
Term papers are due on the day of the final, 18 May.
Warning: I do not accept late work, under any circumstances. On the other hand, I am extremely flexible about due dates. That is to say: If someone should need an extra day or two, she need only ask; no reason even need be given. If someone should need more time than that, then some reason does need to be given, but the request will usually be granted. Since I am so flexible, there can be no excuse for one's not asking for an extension. It's really just a matter of respect.