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, is therefore essential.
Prior exposure to philosophy is also 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 required, 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 Salomon 203. As far as possible, the class will be conducted entirely by discussion. Students should arrive appropriately prepared with questions, comments, and criticisms. Otherwise, it will be very quiet.
Please note that course requirements are still subject to change. But these are approximately correct. Probably there will be only two short papers, each of them also subject to revision in response to comments.
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 12 February, 7 March, and 11 April; the papers will be due on 19 February, 14 March, and 18 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.
The final requirement for the course is a shortish term paper, which will be due by 5pm on the last day of reading period, 10 May. The paper should be a maximum of 4500 words (roughly 15 pages), but can be as short as 3000 words (roughly 9 pages). The paper should in the style of a submission to the journal Thought, of which I am one of the Associate Editors. Articles published in Thought are brief, direct discussions of tightly specified issues. (Students should look at a few of these papers to get a sense for their style.) The topic of the paper is up to the student but must relate directly to at least two of the papers we have read. It also must be cleared with the instructor no later than 3 May. This means sending me an email outlining the topic.
Students are encouraged to work together, if they wish, on this assignment: I.e., joint papers are acceptable. But no more than two authors on a given paper, please.
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.