HPS 2675       Philosophy of Space and Time        Spring 2009
Phil 2660

Tally of first week votes on topics

Access this site at http://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/teaching/2675_time/general.html

This seminar will concentrate on problems of time. Topics will be drawn from both the philosophy literature (e.g. tensed vs. tenseless theories of time, presentism vs. eternalism, McTaggart’s argument for the unreality of time) and the philosophy of science literature (e.g. the problem of the direction of time, the relations amongst the so-called ‘arrows of time’). Attempts will be made to bring the two literatures into fruitful interaction.

John Earman, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Room 1017CL, 412 624 5885 jearman@pitt.edu
John D. Norton, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Room 817 CL, 412 624 1051 jdnorton@pitt.edu
Room G28 CL
Wednesday 9:30-12:00 noon

Your Part

Term paper
To be submitted in hard copy (two copies) by noon Friday April 24 in 1017CL; or e-versions in email to the two Johns by 5pm.

Our policy is NOT to issue incomplete grades, excepting in extraordinary circumstances. We really do want your papers completed and submitted by the end of term. We do not want them to linger on like an overdue dental checkup, filling your lives with unnecessary worry and guilt.

In return for the rigidity of the deadline, the seminar will not meet in the final week of term (Wednesday April 22) to give you extra time to complete the paper.

The paper may be on any subject of relevance to the seminar.

To assist you in commencing work, we ask you submit a paper proposal to us by Wednesday April 1. The proposal need only be brief. It should contain a short paragraph describing the topic to be investigated and give a brief indication of the sources you intend to use. Do talk to us about possible topics in advance!

Instead of writing a term paper, we offer the option of writing weekly reactions of a few pages to an assigned reading. The reaction should be submitted in or before the seminar in which the reading will be discussed. No late submissions will be accepted. Each reaction piece should select one substantial reading and provide a short critical analysis or response to its content. A passive summary is not appropriate. For full credit, you must submit responses on 10 of the 14 weeks of term with only one reaction per week. That means that if you choose this option you must be submitting responses regularly during term; no last minute scrambles at the end of term to make up for responses not submitted earlier.

Take your turn presenting material
The seminar will be structured around weekly readings drawn from this list.

In presenting a reading, you should presume that the seminar has read the reading. You should spend a short amount of time reviewing the principal claims and arguments of the reading. This is not intended to replace the seminar's reading of the text, but merely to provide a basis of common agreement on its content and upon which subsequent discussion is erected. Your principal burden is to provide a critical analysis and response to the reading. This analysis can take many directions. Is the project of the paper clear? Are the theses clear? Are the arguments cogent? How does the reading relate to other readings and issues in the seminar? Are there plausible counter-theses? What arguments support them?

You should plan to present for at most 30 minutes, leaving at least 15 minutes for discussion. If discussion starts prematurely, the discussion time may be interleaved with the full 45 minutes allocated. Most presenters provide handouts so that few notes need to be taken. We encourage you stand at the blackboard, make strong eye contact with the seminar and deliver the material, writing as needed on the blackboard. This promotes a more engaging presentation than when you sit at the table with your head buried in your notes talking to them.

Attendance and participation
We look forward to seeing and hearing you each week in the seminar.