Elijah Millgram

Copyright © 2017 Elijah Millgram.
All Rights Reserved.

Senior Seminar: Values and Defeaters
PHIL 4010

Required textbooks:

Optional textbooks:

Additional readings will be made available through the Marriott Library reserve desk. (See Marriott's Course Reserve How to Guide for an intro to using the library reserves.) For best results with JSTOR, either click on a JSTOR link while you're on-campus or click through to the journal from the Marriott catalog, log in, and search JSTOR for the item.

Reading Assignments:

  1. Aug. 22: Introduction: Values, Bounded Rationality, Defeasibility. Optional prereading: Lenman,"Consequentialism and Cluelessness," Philosophy and Public Affairs 29(4), Fall 2000: 342-370. (JSTOR can be accessed on-campus, or by logging onto a library proxy server.) See also XKCD's Map of Optimal Tic-Tac-Toe Moves.

    Further reading: If you want to see what usually goes under the heading of 'value theory' (that is, what we're not going to be doing in this class), I've put a recent survey volume, Hirose and Olson, The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory, on reserve in Marriott.

  2. Aug. 29: The Look and Feel of Bounded Rationality. Reading: Herbert Simon, "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice" (ch. 14 in his Models of Man; online reserve); Gerd Gigerenzer, "Can Ignorance Beat the Stock Market?" (ch. 3 in his Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart; online reserve); Jonathan Bendor et al., "A Behavioral Model of Turnout," American Political Science Review 97(2), May 2003: 261-280 (available through online reserve).

    Optional reading: John Conlisk, "Why Bounded Rationality?" Journal of Economic Literature 34 (June 1996): 669-700 (online reserve); Cliff Landesman, "When to Terminate a Charitable Trust?" Analysis 55(1), Jan 1995: 12-13 (online reserve).

    Further reading: Gerd Gigerenzer, "The Adaptive Toolbox" (online reserve).

  3. Have a great Labor Day -- take your reading to the beach!

  4. Sept. 5: Common Sense vs. a Modest Proposal. Reading: John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, "The Psychological Foundations of Culture," pp. 100-112 (online reserve; the library has titled this excerpt "The Adapted Mind," but the whole chapter is on reserve also). Elizabeth Anderson, Value in Ethics and Economics, ch. 1. Martha Nussbaum, "The Protagoras: A Science of Practical Reasoning" (online reserve).

    Optional reading: Anderson, VEE, Preface; Simon, "Rational Choice and the Structure of the Environment" (look at the latter pages of the excerpt from Models of Man); the rest of the Tooby and Cosmides paper.

    Further reading: Plato, Protagoras.

  5. Sept. 12: The View from Down Here vs. the View from Up There. Reading: Elizabeth Anderson, Value in Ethics and Economics, ch. 3.

    Optional reading: Jeffrey, "Von Neumann-Morgenstern Utility Theory".

    Further reading: Cooter and Rappoport, "Were the Ordinalists Wrong About Welfare Economics?", Journal of Economic Literature 22, June 1984: 507-530; Michael Mandler, "A Difficult Choice in Preference Theory: Rationality Implies Completeness or Transitivity but Not Both". Martin Rechenauer, "The Possibility of Aggregation -- A Primer for Philosophers".

  6. Sept. 19: Incommensurability and Self-Criticism. Reading: Elizabeth Anderson, Value in Ethics and Economics, ch. 4.

    Optional reading: Elizabeth Anderson, Value in Ethics and Economics, chs. 6, 9, Conclusion.

    Further reading: For your amusement, Painting by Numbers: Komar and Melamid's Scientific Guide to Art.

  7. Sept. 26: Bounded Rationality and Expressive Attitudes. Reading: Patrick Wilson, "Hill Climbing" (online reserve); Anderson, ch. 5, plus the first full para. on p. 166 ("Commodity fetishism also provides..."); Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, ch. 8 ("Knowledge, Science, Convergence", online reserve).

    Optional reading: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, I-143, 148-152; Roger Crisp, "Supererogation and Virtue". Review Nelson Goodman, Fact, Fiction, and Forecast, excerpt (online reserve); John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, excerpt (online reserve; read the para. starting "In searching for the most favored description...").

    Further reading: Daniel Fessler, "Emotions and cost/benefit assessment"; John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, "The Past Explains the Present: Emotional Adaptations and the Structure of Ancestral Environments".

  8. Oct. 3: Splitting the Difference (Between Monism and Local Evaluation). Reading: Fred D'Agostino, Incommensurability and Commensuration, Preface, chs. I-III.

    Optional reading: Eric Weisstein, " Lexicographic Order"; Heather Douglas,"The Irreducible Complexity of Objectivity".

    Further reading: Chang, Incommensurability, Incomparability, and Practical Reason.

  9. Have a great Fall Break!

  10. Oct. 17: Lessons from Craig: Commensurability and the State of Nature. Reading: Fred D'Agostino, Incommensurability and Commensuration, chs. IV-VI.

    Optional reading: Richerson and Boyd, Not by Genes Alone.

    Further reading: Edward Craig, Knowledge and the State of Nature.

  11. Oct. 24: Incomparability and Value Respecification. Reading: Fred D'Agostino, Incommensurability and Commensuration, ch. VII; Adam Morton, Disasters and Dilemmas, Introduction, chs. 1-3.

    Optional reading: Millgram, "Specificationism".

    Further reading: Espeland and Sauder, Engines of Anxiety (esp. if you're on your way to law school).

  13. Nov. 7: Sieves, Option Spaces, and Expected Utility Theory as a Bounded-Rationality Heuristic. Reading: Finish Adam Morton, Disasters and Dilemmas.

    Optional reading: Adam Morton, Bounded Thinking.

    Further reading: Nassim Taleb, "The Bell Curve, That Great Intellectual Fraud"; Eldar Shafir, "Choosing versus Rejecting: Why Some Options Are Both Better and Worse than Others".

  14. Nov. 14: Defeasibility: Bounded Rationality Technique? Reading: John Searle, "Desire, Deliberation and Action" (thru sec. 4); Brandom, "Action, Norms, and Practical Reasoning". Cherniak, Minimal Rationality, pp. 127-129 (online reserve); Millgram, Rube Goldbergism, the Geodesic Mindset, and Instrumental Rationality.

    Optional reading: Nancy Cartwright, The Dappled World; Cristina Bicchieri, The Grammar of Society.

    Further reading: Horty, Reasons as Defaults.

  15. Nov. 21: Are Goals a Bounded-Rationality Construct? Reading: Margaret Bowman, Are Our Goals Really What We're After?, through ch. 2.

    Optional reading: Nussbaum, "Narrative Emotions" (online reserve).

    Further reading: de Sousa, The Rationality of Emotion.

  16. Nov. 28: Kantian Moral Theory Meets Bounded Rationality. Reading: Margaret Bowman, Are Our Goals Really What We're After?, ch. 3, Conclusion.

    Optional reading: Bowman, ch. 4; Your Horoscopes, from The Onion (Gemini).

    Further reading: Onora O'Neill, "Consistency in Action".

  17. Dec 5: Is Value Theory Bounded Rationality All the Way Down? Reading: Chrisoula Andreou, "The Real Puzzle of the Self-Torturer: Uncovering a New Dimension of Instrumental Rationality," Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45(5/6), Oct.-Dec. 2015: 562-575 (click through from the Marriott catalog).

    Optional reading: Thalos, "Visionary Syllogisms" (available shortly).

    Further reading: Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow.