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Course Description

Appeals to something called ‘the world’ (and sometimes to other ‘possible worlds’) are central and pervasive in contemporary analytic philosophy. Metaphysicians take themselves to be studying the basic structure and components of ‘the world’; epistemologists and philosophers of perception take themselves to be studying our epistemic and perceptual relation to ‘the world’; in meta-ethics, philosophers ask whether our moral assertions do, or do not, purport to express truths about ‘the world’; philosophers of language often speak of words as referring to (denoting, naming, picking out) ‘items (objects, properties, relations) in the world’; and semantic theorizers often couch their accounts in terms of ‘possible world(s)’. What do these philosophers mean by ‘world’ or by ‘the world’? The basic premise of this course is that the answer to this question is far from clear. As we will see, what is meant by ‘(the) world’ is often left obscure, and when attempts are made to explicate the notion, they run more or less immediately into serious difficulties. One possibility we will explore is that the difficulties are rooted in a failure to take seriously what is arguably the most fundamental insight of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, which is that the objective world, or the world as objectively understood, is not a world ‘as it is in itself’—that is, as it is apart from our sense-making practices and the (worldly-historical) conditions of those practices—and that philosophical difficulties arise when philosophers forget that. In addition to portions of The Critique of Pure Reason, we may read works by Gideon Rosen, Saul Kripke, Cora Diamond, David Lewis, Charles Travis, Andy Clark, Rebecca Kukla, Daniel Stoljar, and Jeffrey King. 

Basic Enrollment Requirements: Unofficial Transcript – Bachelor’s Degree or progress towards a Bachelor's Degree + 3.0 GPA.

Instructor Approval: Not Required.

Remission Eligible: Yes; first day of term; all university policies apply.

Refund Policy: Course Policy 1

Affiliated With:

School of Arts & Sciences