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COURSES (2023-2024)

Metaphysics and Epistemology
The course covers a range of topics in recent and contemporary metaphysics
and epistemology. These may include some of the following: universals;
causation; freedom and determinism; personal identity; possible worlds;
truth; scepticism; definitions of knowledge; justification of beliefs;
induction; a priori knowledge.

Philosophy of Science
This course will offer an overview of recent and current themes in the
Philosophy of Science. Topics that will be typically studied are:
induction and theories of confirmation (including Bayesianism and
explanationism); theories of scientific explanation and causation; the
status of laws of nature; naturalism, models and the problem of
representation in science; scientific realism and anti-realism; values and
science.

Modern Philosophy
The course covers European philosophy in the 17th and 18th century. It
discusses both rationalists (mainly Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz) and
empiricists (mainly Locke, Berkeley and Hume) and ends with Kant. It deals
with topics in epistemology and metaphysics, but also ethics and political
philosophy.

Fundamentals of Analytic Philosophy
This course presents the history of analytic philosophy from its
beginnings until the mid 20th century. It covers the following
philosophers: Frege, Russell, Moore, the early Wittgenstein, logical
positivists, the late Wittgenstein, and Quine. It mainly explores their
contribution to issues about language, knowledge and science.

Philosophy of Mind and Language
The course covers various topics about mind and language. As regards mind,
these may include: dualism; analytic behaviourism; central state
materialism; functionalism; anomalous monism; eliminative materialism. As
regards language, the topics may include: sense and reference; definite
descriptions; names; Wittgenstein; indeterminacy of translation;
Davidsonian semantics.

Philosophy of Technology
The course examines a series of critical approaches to two interlinked
ideas; the idea of the inherent neutrality of technological artifacts, and
the idea of technological determinism, that is, the idea of the inevitable
development of technology in virtue of an inner logic. We discuss how
technological configurations can be understood not only in terms of their
internal properties, but as embedded in nexuses of power relations, and,
thus, as socially constituted; how the perception and understanding of the
world is constitutively mediated by technological artifacts; how specific
technological configurations fashion different kinds of selfhood, and how
the very distinction between the human and the technical can collapse.

Philosophy of Biology and the Life Sciences
The aim of the course is to systematically study the central problems of
the philosophy of biology. Three kinds of topics will be studied: First,
conceptual and philosophical issues that arise within the life sciences:
What is natural selection and what exactly is selected (genes, organisms,
or groups of organisms)? What does it mean for a characteristic of an
organism to constitute an adaptation? What exactly does it mean that
something has a function, and how 'teleological' is this way of thinking?
What are biological species? What is a gene? Is biology a radically
different science from chemistry and physics? Second, more general issues
in the philosophy of science, applied to the life sciences (biological
explanation, reductionism, genetic causation). Third, philosophical
questions that arise from the application of the evolutionary way of
thinking to traditional philosophical problems: Can aspects of human
behavior (e.g. altruism) be explained biologically? Can evolutionary
thinking be applied to explain human nature, the human mind, morality?

Phenomenology
Phenomenology explores in detail the ways in which things manifest
themselves to us. The course will provide a systematic introduction to the
major figures of the phenomenological movement, including Husserl,
Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, as well as to contemporary
developments in the phenomenological research. We shall consider issues
about of perception, memory, emotion and imagination, essence and
existence, substance and properties, time and its experience, the
interpersonal and the bodily dimension of knowledge, the structure of
human action, the possibility and limits of knowing and owning oneself.

Hermeneutics
Analytical philosophy of science has – with very few exceptions –
systematically avoided the treatment of the concrete problems that emerge
when dealing with meaningful material, so that literally no attention is
paid to a great range of disciplines that deal with text interpretation.
All those disciplines, summarized under the collective term “Humanities,”
are practically excluded from the endeavours of philosophers of science,
largely because there is a hesitance to reconstruct and normatively
appraise their activities employing the standard tools of the analytic
philosophy of science, most importantly the analysis of the relationship
between theory and evidence. Rather than providing a criticism of the
great array of «postmodernist» approaches, the aim of this course is
positive: it attempts to show that the problem of text interpretation can
be dealt with in a way that respects the standards prevailing in the
general philosophy of science. Hermeneutics as the methodology of
interpretation is concerned with problems that arise when dealing with
meaningful human actions and the products of such actions, most
importantly texts. As a methodological discipline, it offers a toolbox for
efficiently treating problems of the interpretation of human actions,
texts and other meaningful material. Hermeneutics looks back at a long
tradition as the set of problems it addresses have been prevalent in human
life, and have repeatedly and consistently called for consideration:
interpretation is a ubiquitous activity, unfolding whenever humans aspire
to grasp whatever interpretanda they deem significant. Due to its long
history, it is only natural that both its problems, and the tools designed
to help solve them, have shifted considerably over time, along with the
discipline of hermeneutics itself. The course focuses on the main problem
areas and presents some proposals that have been put forward for tackling
them effectively.

MA Dissertation
In writing their MA thesis, students become acquainted with the literature
on its topic, which will be a relatively narrow research issue in
contemporary philosophy or in philosophy of science, they critically
assess the views and arguments that can be found in the literature and
produce what is in effect an extended philosophical essay on that topic.