This course introduces some fundamental problems, positions and theories of 20th and 21st century theoretical philosophy. Both epistemological issues (questions concerning knowledge) and metaphysical issues (questions concerning the nature of existence) are discussed, but two other themes are always implicitly or explicitly present: the nature of language and meaning, and the relevance (and status) of contemporary science. Although we cannot cover all work of relevance, I hope to sketch a useful picture of some key developments.
The core readings for the course includes texts by William James, Karl Popper, Bertrand Russell, Thomas Kuhn, Michel Foucault, Linda Zagzebski, David Chalmers, Quentin Meillassoux, Sally Haslanger and David Lewis. This course is text-oriented, and you are expected to read the relevant texts before each week’s lecture. The lectures will be used to examine the underlying issues, and to provide critical and historical perspective.
To help with pre-lecture preparation, most weeks you will be emailed a number of questions to think about while reading the texts. Some of these questions will be used for group discussion.