Course Description

We'll be looking mostly at literature in epistemology (but some in ethics, or straddling these fields) from the past decade, addressing higher-order norms, defeaters, akrasia, and disagreement.

Questions we look at will include:

Meetings and Preparation

The seminar meets on Mondays from 11 am - 1 pm 10:30 am - 12:30 pm in the NYU Philosophy Department (5 Washington Place), on the 2nd floor.

The course is open to NYU PhD and MA students in philosophy, and satisfies the PhD distribution requirement for Metaphysics/Epistemology. Others who would like to enroll in or audit the course should get the instructor's permission.

Anyone who is planning to take or audit the seminar: it'd help if you emailed me at so that I can include you on announcements.


24 Feb

For next week, March 2, our main reading will be Mark Schroeder's Oughts, Agents, Actions (local copy). Optional background reading is this survey chapter by the syntactician Misha Becker.

20 Feb

As we discussed in our previous meeting, we're going to shift the seminar meeting time a half-hour earlier, so that henceforth we'll meet from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm. This gives us a bit of breathing room at the end, so that we don't have to vacate the room immediately at the end of our allotted two hours.

The topic for our next meeting, on Monday 24 Feb, will be deontic logic. Especially for those who haven't worked with modal logic before, some of these resources might be helpful background reading:

The main readings covering what we'll be discussing are these: Some further reading for those who want it:

As I said in seminar, don't be intimidated if some or most of this material is more technical than you're ready for. Our aim is to familiarize you with some of the basic technical options, not to get buried in the details. But there aren't presentations available that hide the details. Also, different participants in the seminar will find different amounts of detail accessible. So we'll do the best we can to talk through it and focus on what's fundamental.

5 Feb

As I said in class on Monday, we're going to delay the schedule below by a week to interpose another warm-up article. (So now we're aiming to do deontic logic etc on 24 Feb, linguistic challenges on 2 Mar, and so on.) In our upcoming class on 10 Feb, we still have a bit of unfinished business with the Christensen article to wrap up. (I'll try to post a summary of our discuss of that, and of the first week introductory material, soon.) But the main topic for 10 Feb will be Sophie Horowitz's paper Epistemic Akrasia (local copy).

27 Jan

I just now set out an email to test the mailing list. If you didn't get that message, please send me your name and email and intentions (whether to audit or take the course for credit). As I've told some of you, I have to get permission for those without NYU (or Consortium) affiliations to attend the meetings. The administration is having us tighten access to our seminars.

For next week, please be prepared to discuss Christensen's paper Higher-order Evidence (local copy).

26 Jan

The first seminar meeting is tomorrow. There is no assigned reading for this meeting. Here is my plan for the meetings after that:

Monday 3 Feb. Participants should have read Christensen's paper Higher-order Evidence, which we'll discuss.

Monday 10 Feb. We'll discuss deontic logic and Kratzer on modality.

Monday 17 Feb. No meeting (President's Day)

Monday 24 Feb. We'll discuss linguistic challenges to the view that "ought" is a sentential, scope-taking operator. The main reading for this meeting will be Schroeder's paper Oughts, Agents, Actions.

Monday 2 Mar. We'll discuss Kolodny's paper Why Be Rational?, which has some points of contact with Schroeder's.

Next we'll discuss John Broome's view, which Kolodny was opposing, as Broome developed and presented the view in his 2013 book Rationality Through Reasoning. This will take at least the meetings on 9 Mar and 23 March. (On 16 March is NYU's spring break; class doesn't meet.)

After that, seven meetings remain. I haven't scheduled these yet. I plan for us to discuss some parts of Brian Weatherson's recent book, as well as papers by Sophie Horowitz, Alex Worsnip, Maria Lasonen-Aarnio, and others.