New York University
Department of Philosophy
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Research Seminar on Mind and Language, 2008

The topic of the seminar will be "Fundamental Norms and Normative Guidance."  In particular, we are interested in discussing the following issues:

(1) What is it to be guided by a norm?

(2) What is a norm, such that thought or behavior may be guided by it?

(3) Must some norms be fundamental in relation to other norms applying to the same domain?

(4) Can fundamental norms be objectively valid in some sense, or (conversely) can incompatible norms be "equally correct"?


Open meetings with seminar visitors will take place on Tuesdays (4-7pm) in the Second Floor Seminar Room of the Phiosophy Department. A preparation session, restricted to students enrolled in the course, will meet on Mondays (5-6pm) in the Third Floor Seminar Room.


Weekly Speaker Schedule

January 22: David Velleman
Please read Chapter 3 of How We Get Along.

January 29: Robert Brandom
Please read Lecture One: "Norms, Selves, and Concepts", and Lecture Two: "Autonomy, Community, and Freedom", of Professor Brandom's Woodbridge Lectures. Lecture Three: "History, Reason, and Reality" ties together themes from the first two lectures, and is optional.

February 5: Hartry Field
Please read "Epistemology Without Metaphysics".

February 12: Ralph Wedgwood
From Professor Wedgwood's new book, The Nature of Normativity, please read the following chapters: The Introduction, Chapter Seven, and Chapter Eight (omitting sections 8.1-8.3, pp. 174-184).

February 19: Richard Foley
Please read "Knowledge as Sufficient Information".

February 26: Allan Gibbard
Please read "Notes on Normativity, Disagreement, and Meaning", as well as pp. 15-27 of "Reply to Commentators".

March 4: Timothy Williamson
Please read "Epistemological Conceptions of Analyticity".

March 11: Jonathan Dancy
Please read Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 of Ethics Without Principles.

March 25: Tyler Burge
Please read "Primitive Agency and Natural Norms".

April 1: Paul Boghossian
The main reading for this session is "Epistemic Rules". "Is Meaning a Naturalistic Phenomenon?" is optional. It elaborates on some of the arguments in the "Rules" paper.

April 8: Hannah Ginsborg
Please read "Primitive Normativity and Scepticism about Rules".

April 15: Crispin Wright
The main paper for this session is "Reflections on Rules, Regresses, and Rational Belief". Background reading: "Rule-Following Without Reasons" and "Epistemic Rules" (which was the reading from Paul Boghossian's April 1 session). 

April 22: Peter Railton
Please read "Subject-ive and Objective".

April 29: Nick Sturgeon
Please read "Doubts about the Supervenience of the Evaluative" and "Moral Explanations Defended".