Courses

Title Instructor Credit
Academic Writing Thomas Rooney 2.0
Ancient Philosophy

The course gives an overview of key issues of ancient philosophy from the Presocratics to the Hellenistic Age. The course does not require or build on any specific previous knowledge of ancient philosophy. We will read and discuss a selection of texts from different authors and periods, focussing on their argumentative methods and philosophical concepts, interpretative problems discussed in the contemporary literature and the major alternatives in trying to answer these problems.

István Bodnár 2.0
Causation and Free Will

In this course we shall investigate several aspects of the metaphysics of free will, time, and causation. First, we shall discuss the question about the nature of efficient causes of free actions, i.e. whether they are events or agents. Second, we shall consider arguments for and against the compatibility of free will and physical determinism. Third, we shall investigate how temporal, causal and counterfactual asymmetries are related to our free agency. And finally, we shall discuss the possibility of affecting the past by our actions.

Ferenc Huoranszki 4.0
Conciousness in the Physical World

Mind and matter don’t seem to fit in the same world; this is the essence of the mind-body problem. Space-filling solid stuff doesn’t seem to belong with invisible inner-experiencing. The neural processing of the brain is best known through third-person scientific investigation; whilst the subjective first-person perspective of the mind is arguably best captured in literature. How are we to make sense of these seemingly incongruous things being unified aspects of a single reality? In this course we consider in detail two options:

Philip Goff 2.0
Conscious Thought

By far the dominant view in the 20th century was that thought had nothing to do with consciousness. We can see this as the main theories of thought, e.g. by Donald Davidson and Jerry Fodor, were silent on the subject of consciousness. In the twenty first century a growing number of philosophers have been arguing that thought and consciousness are intimately connected. Proponents of cognitive phenomenology believe that there is a distinctive kind of consciousness involved in thought.

Philip Goff 2.0
Continental Philosophy

This course is a survey of the most important thinkers in the continental tradition since Kant. The primary figures are Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and either Sartre or Foucault. The questions range from epistemology and metaphysics to the philosophy of history and ethics.

David Weberman 2.0
Departmental Colloquium

The department arranges for about ten colloquia per semester, usually on Tuesdays, in which visiting or CEU faculty give talks on diverse topics followed by discussion with the audience. Students are required to attend 70% of these meetings and are encouraged to participate in the discussion. No further preparation or written work is required.

various 1.0
Doctoral Reading Seminar

In the reading seminar, students read and discuss recent work in a variety of philosophical areas. This is intended to help them keep abreast of recent developments and also widen and deepen their acquaintance with a variety of philosophical subjects. The seminar meets every second week and is organised by a 2nd or 3rd year doctoral student. The seminar is open to all students and faculty and all the department will be informed on the readings, but attendance in ten meetings annually is mandatory for 2nd and 3rd year doctoral students.

various 1.0
Doctoral Work-in-Progress seminar

The aim of the Work-in-progress Seminar is to provide a forum for doctoral candidates to acquire professional skills and receive continuous feedback on their work. The seminars consist of discussions of recent literature in the area of the candidates’ research and presentations of the candidates’ work in progress.

Ferenc Huoranszki 2.0
Doctoral Work-in-Progress seminar

The aim of the Work-in-progress Seminar is to provide a forum for doctoral candidates to acquire professional skills and receive continuous feedback on their work. The seminars consist of discussions of recent literature in the area of the candidates’ research and presentations of the candidates’ work in progress.

David Weberman 2.0
Epistemology

The course introduces the main topics and issues in contemporary epistemology. First, the framework: why we care for knowledge, and what is its value. Next, the nature and definition(s) of knowledge, in particular the relation of knowledge and epistemic justification. A particular, important and problematic area and kind of knowledge is then taken as an interesting example, namely moral knowledge: do we have it, what is it, and where could it come from. Finally, the classical topic of kinds of justification: a priori vs. a posteriori knowledge.

Nenad Miscevic 2.0
Ethics

This is an introductory course on ethics that engages with both normative and metaethical theory. Normative ethical theory is a first-order theory about how we should determine the answers to substantive ethical questions. We will address two of the central questions in normative ethics: 1) what should we do? and 2) what is it to live a good life? In answering these questions we will draw on theories of hedonism, consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics. Metaethical theory focuses on the metaphysics and epistemology of morality.

Emma Bullock 2.0
Ethics, Autonomy and Paternalism

Paternalism is standardly taken to be a bad thing: policies and practices are ruled out on the basis that they constitute paternalism, and it is frequently claimed that paternalistic interferences wrongly treat adults as if they were children. Increasingly, however, paternalism is being defended as something that can be morally justified. This module explores the extent to which arguments in favor of justified paternalism carry weight.

Emma Bullock 2.0
Explanation

Sciences aim at explanation. What is an explanation and which different kinds of explanation in sciences can be distinguished? There are different classic approaches to what makes an explanation distinct from a description or prediction. The classic nomological approaches characterized explanations as deductive or inductive arguments, the unification approach classified explanations as allowing to grasp diverse phenomena under one general principle, the causal approach claimed that explanations refer to causes.

Maria Kronfeldner 2.0
Greek Reading Seminar I

The primary aim of this course is an in-depth discussion of a fundamental issue in early Greek philosophy, the role of opposites and opposition. This will be pursued by reading a collection of Heraclitus’ fragments. Depending on the level of the participants this can be supplemented in two directions: we can turn to other Presocratic philosophers – most notably Anaximander, Anaximenes, Parmenides and Anaxagoras. The other major avenue to discuss the role of opposites and oppositions in these authors is to turn to Aristotle’s Physics chapter 4 of Book I.

István Bodnár 2.0
Greek Reading Seminar II

The primary aim of this course is an in-depth discussion of a fundamental issue in early Greek philosophy, the role of opposites and opposition. This will be pursued by reading a collection of Heraclitus’ fragments. Depending on the level of the participants this can be supplemented in two directions: we can turn to other Presocratic philosophers – most notably Anaximander, Anaximenes, Parmenides and Anaxagoras. The other major avenue to discuss the role of opposites and oppositions in these authors is to turn to Aristotle’s Physics chapter 4 of Book I.

István Bodnár 2.0
Issues in Applied Ethics

This course provides a forum for discussion of a selection of topics in applied ethics through contemporary literature. In examining these topics, we will discuss principles and problems of broader philosophical significance in applied ethics that turn out to underlie many disagreements. We will also address the broader question of the nature of methodology in applied ethics. Topics discussed will include the ethics of human enhancement, climate change, and markets in human organs.

Simon Rippon 4.0
Killing

There is a prima facie duty not kill people. But, in certain circumstances it seems permissible to do so. The course explores under which conditions killing is morally acceptable and the kinds of constraints that we face when killing someone. We will address some of the following questions: do we have to save the greater number of people? When is killing in self-defence permissible? Is abortion morally acceptable? What constraints do apply when killing in war?

Andres Moles 4.0
Logic

This course will focus primarily on the formal properties of statements and sets of statements. It will be shown how to determine which statements are logical truths or tautologies, i.e., true by virtue of their logical form, and how to determine when a statement follows from, or is entailed by, other statements as a matter of logic alone. We will develop the methods for formally deriving conclusion from premises, or logical truths from no premises at all.

Mike Griffin 2.0
MA Thesis Seminar Mike Griffin 2.0
Meta-Metaphysics

Metaphysics is philosophical enquiry into the nature of reality. But what does that involve and how is it done? How on earth can a philosopher, sat in an armchair without doing experiments, possibly hope to find out what the world is like? There was a period of sustained and strong opposition to metaphysics from the 1930s to the 1970s. Since then serious systematic metaphysics has been going on in most analytic philosophy departments. And yet it is not clear that metaphysics has made any progress, and the general public is mostly unaware of its existence.

Philip Goff 2.0
Metaphysics

The course offers a general introduction into some of the major problems of contemporary analytic metaphysics. Metaphysics is a study of the most general categories in order to answer the question: what are the ultimate constituents of reality. In the course we’ll be addressing the following problems. What are properties and how are they related to objects? Under what conditions can a particular object retain its identity? What holds together the totality of particulars in order to constitute one universe, and what explains their changes? Do other universes than the actual exist?

Ferenc Huoranszki 2.0
Philosophical Considerations on Psychological Research

Psychological research inevitably involves a variety of assumptions concerning the concepts of language and mentality that it uses: the nature of meaning; the nature of ‘mental states’; what constitutes memory; how voluntary and intentional actions are produced; the relation between reasons, inference, brain mechanism and action; and more. From the earliest times of reflection upon them, these concepts have been infected by misinterpretations, which psychologists are as prone to adopt as is anyone thinking about them.

Hanoch Ben-Yami 2.0
Philosophy of Language

We shall study several central topics in contemporary philosophy of language. Each of these topics is central not only in focusing much discussion but also in influencing the discussion of other philosophical issues. Due to the variety of topics, none will be exhaustively discussed in the course, but the hope is that the main approaches to the problems, their motivation and presuppositions would be clearly delineated. Students who write a paper for the course are expected to choose one of the topics as subject of their term paper and to extend and deepen the discussion in their work.

Hanoch Ben-Yami 2.0
Philosophy of Medicine

The philosophy of medicine is a broad discipline, touching on themes within metaphysics, epistemology and social philosophy. Part one of the module will guide students in unpacking the concepts of ‘health’, ‘disease’ and ‘illness,’ as related to definitions of mental illness, disability and human enhancement. In part two of the module students will test their metaphysical and epistemological intuitions against a number of social, political and cultural concerns about the nature and scope of medicine.

 

Emma Bullock 2.0
Philosophy of Science: Core Contemporary Issues

The way science works raises deep and pressing philosophical questions. Is there a
way to demarcate science from non-science? How is scientific knowledge made
reliable? Is it giving us access to reality or is it merely a tool for successful prediction?
The so-called “analytic” project (following Barker & Kitcher’s terminology) within
philosophy of science focused on these and similar (by now) classic issues: the
demarcation of science, confirmation, realism, the nature of theories, their relations to

Maria Kronfeldner 2.0
Rationalism and Empiricism

This course is a survey of 17th and 18th-century philosophy meant to fulfill a core requirement in the 2-year MA program. The main aim of the course is to acquire knowledge of the central issues and arguments of the early modern period. Topics will include knowledge and skepticism, the nature of substance, the relation of mind and body, the scope and limits of scientific explanation, personal identity and freedom and necessity.

Mike Griffin 2.0
Religious Experience and the Metaphysics of the Sacred

We can define the sacred as the metaphysical reality which gives sense to religious practice. Some identify sacred reality with the God of classic theism (by definition all knowing, all powerful and perfectly good), but in this course we explore non-standard conceptions of the sacred:

Philip Goff 2.0
Seminar in Ancient Philosophy Gábor Betegh 2.0
Spinoza's Ethics
This is a reading course on Spinoza's masterpiece, the Ethics. Through a careful reading of the text, as well as related material, we will investigate fundamental issue in Spinoza's ontology and modal theory. This will lead us to related discussions of Spinoza's theory of mind, epistemology and his views on causation and freedom. This course is open to all philosophy students, others should seek instructor permission.
Mike Griffin 2.0
Tax and Social Justice

There are certain distinctive ethical issues concerning taxation which are somewhat underexplored in political philosophy. Our main focus in this course will be the nature of ownership and self-ownership and its implications for how the tax system ought to be arranged. There are roughly three positions we will consider:

Philip Goff 2.0
The Divine Attributes

We will consider the properties attributed to God in the Western philosophical tradition. We will examine both historical and contemporary attempts to formulate doctrines of divine omniscience, omnipotence and absolute goodness, as well as eternality, simplicity, immutability and necessary existence. We will investigate whether these properties are consistent with each other and with free will, contingency and the existence of evil. Along the way, we will explore the broader consequences of these doctrines for philosophy of language, ontology, modality and modal epistemology, and ethics.

Mike Griffin 2.0
The Ethics of Government Propaganda

This course will examine the nature and ethics of government propaganda by reviewing some contemporary (purported) examples of propaganda as well as literature on propaganda and related topics in moral and political philosophy. Government propaganda can be understood loosely as a state-supported strategy of providing partial, distorted or emotionally evocative presentations of information to a population in order to promote attitudes that serve the government's goals.

Simon Rippon 2.0
The Metaphysics of Time

We will explore the central debates in the philosophy of time:

  1. Presentism (the view that only the present moment is real) versus eternalism (all moments in time are equally real).
  2. Four-dimensionalism (objects are four-dimensional ‘spacetime worms’ stretched out across the four dimensions of space and time) versus three-dimensionalism (an object has only three dimensions and is wholly present at each moment of its existence).

We will explore in detail two familiar challenges to presentism:

Philip Goff 2.0
The Unity of Science (incl. Philosophy Research and Publish Lab)

If the world has a universal order, then the sciences studying it should be unified too. This
connection between metaphysical questions (how the world is) and questions of
epistemology and philosophy of science (how and what kind of knowledge is and should be
produced) has accompanied philosophy ever since pre-Socratic cosmology. Contemporarily,
most would associate a belief in a unity of science with the Vienna Circle and logical
positivism (Neurath and Carnap as probably most well known in that respect), and with

Maria Kronfeldner 4.0
Theories of Responsibility

The purpose of this course is to introduce students into some basic problems concerning the possibility and conditions of moral responsibility. We shall discuss the following questions: are alternative possibilities or the ability to act otherwise is necessary for moral responsibility? If not, what conditions should be satisfied in order to be responsible? To which extent does agents’ responsibility require that they act rationally? To which extent does responsibility require the capacity of self-control? Is moral luck compatible with responsibility?

Ferenc Huoranszki 4.0
Thought Experiments in Theoretical and Practical Philosophy

Thought experiments are sometimes seen as the typical and central tool of philosophy, both theoretical and practical-political. Since ancient times they have played an important role, but have also been criticized as too armchair-ridden and abstract. Recently, the critics, self-style „experimental philosophers“, have turned to cognitive science as a possible source of scientific criticism of thought experimenting. The course gives a critical overview of the debate.  It gives equal attention to thought experiments in theoretical philosophy as to those in ethics and politics.

Nenad Miscevic 2.0
Topics in the Philosophy of the Human and Social Sciences

The way scientists and scholars study human beings, their culture and society has often been considered to be different from the way other objects of science are studied, be it because of the reflexivity, freedom or normativity involved in studying human beings. In addition, none of the academic disciplines is studying humans as humans, be it biological disciplines such as evolutionary biology, social sciences or the humanities.

Maria Kronfeldner 4.0
Truth in Narratives: History and Fiction

Much of our knowledge comes in the form of narrative. In this course we will look at two different, though not completely or cleanly distinct, categories of narratives: historical and fictional. The questions we will raise about these narratives are the following: In what sense are historical narratives true, given the fact that their components are selected and their connections “constructed”? Is there any relation between fictional narratives and truth, given the fact that fictional narratives are made up?

David Weberman 4.0
Understanding

The point of departure is the suspicion that the notion of understanding is unjustly neglected by mainstream epistemology (past and present) whose central focus is knowledge. But what is understanding? There are various conceptions of what it is that we will sift through. And is it reducible or irreducible to knowledge (i.e., know-that and know-how)? If not, why not? Readings will be a mixture of older German philosophy (Dilthey, Heidegger, and Gadamer) and contemporary analytic philosophy

David Weberman 2.0
What are we Aware of in Perception?

Common opinion holds that, in normal perception, we are aware of objects that surround us in the physical world. Many philosophers, especially since the seventeenth century, have said rather that we are aware of data in our own minds which are caused by the objects outside us. In the second half of the twentieth century, the view that we are directly aware of the external world came back into fashion.

Howard Robinson 2.0
Wittgenstein

The course will based on a close reading of parts of the Philosophical Investigations. I intend to focus on the discussion of rule following and understanding, roughly from §143 on. However, given students’ interests, we may also read some other sections. Questions of meaning, knowledge, understanding, reasons, the role of practice and others come up along the way in this most influential and controversial philosophical text of the twentieth century.

Hanoch Ben-Yami 2.0