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David Sosa, Chair 2210 Speedway, WAG 316, Stop C3500, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4857

Galen Strawson

Professor DPhil, Oxford 1983

Galen Strawson


  • Phone: 512-471-6776
  • Office: WAG 219
  • Office Hours: Thursdays 1:30- 3.00 p.m.
  • Campus Mail Code: C3500


Professor Strawson taught at the University of Oxford from 1979-2000, where he was a Fellow of Jesus College. He was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading, UK from 2001–2012, and and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York Graduate Center from 2004-2007. He has held visiting research positions at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, Canberra (1993, 2012); the University of Copenhagen (2003, 2011); Princeton University, where he was a Council of the Humanities Old Dominion Fellow (2011); and the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris (2012). He has taught as a Visiting Professor at NYU (1997), Rutgers University (2000), MIT (2010) and Princeton (2011). He is the author of Freedom and Belief (Oxford 1986, 2nd  edition 2010), The Secret Connexion: Realism, Causation and David Hume (Oxford 1989), Mental Reality (MIT Press 1994, 2nd  edition 2009), Selves: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics (Oxford, 2009),The Evident Connexion: Mind, Self and David Hume (Oxford, 2011, revised paperback edition 2013), Locke on personal identity (Princeton 2011, revised paperback edition 2014). He is principal author of Consciousness and its Place in Nature, ed. A. Freeman  (Imprint Academic, 2006). A selection of his philosophical papers, Real Materialism and Other Essays, was published in 2008 (Oxford). 


philosophy of mind, metaphysics, moral psychology, Locke, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42810-42820 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 201
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Description (one to three paragraph description of course content):

 This course examines epistemological issues as they arise intertwined with metaphysical issues in the philosophy of mind: including, centrally, the (so-called) mind-body problem. It moves on to questions about persons and personal identity. These lead in turn to issues of agency and responsibility, and from there to central questions in ethics about (for example) the relative importance of consequences and goals, duties, virtues; even, perhaps, about the meaning of life


List of Proposed Texts /Readings:

[from the following] Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics), Descartes (Meditations 2 and 6), Elizabeth of Bohemia (letters), Locke (Essay 2.27, 4.3.6), Hume (Treatise 1.4.6 and Appendix, Enquiry §8), Kant (Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals), Emerson (Essays), Nietzsche (passim), William James (from Principles of Psychology vol 1); A. Camus, P. & P. Churchland, D. Davidson, D. Dennett, J. Doris, H. Frankfurt, F. Jackson, D. Kahneman, C. McGinn, I. Murdoch, T. Nagel, D. Parfit, G. Ryle, M. Schechtman, J. Smart, G. Strawson, J. Searle, R. Taylor, M. Tye, G. Watson, B. Williams, L. Wittgenstein, S. Wolf, V. Woolf


Proposed Grading Policy:

One 6-7 page paper: 40%

Mid-term Exam: 30%

In-class Final Exam: 30%

PHL 387 • The Situated Self

43520 • Spring 2014
Meets TH 330pm-630pm WAG 312
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Title:      The Situated Self

Graduate standing and consent of graduate adviser or instructor required.

Course Description

The question to be addressed is Socrates’ question: how should we live? More particular questions are likely to include the following:   (1) Should we expect a (non-trivial) single answer to Socrates’ question? (2) What is the proper place and scope of the notion of character in ethics? (3) What is the place and scope of the notion of the self in metaphysics and ethics? (4) What is the place of the notion of narrative in ethics—in moral psychology and psychology in general? (5) How should we react to the situationist data in social psychology? (6) What is the scope of intentional action in human mental activity (ethical or not)? (7) Correlatively, to what extent is human mental activity best understood as passive, fundamentally a matter of reactivity? (8) How do answers to questions (5), (6) and (7) bear on the question of moral responsibility?


Term paper (up to 20 pages) relating to one of the topics covered 80%, due around 12 December; two in-class presentations 10% each


[illustrative selection] Aristotle, B. Dainton, D. Dennett, J. Doris, H. Frankfurt, Alasdair MacIntyre, R. Moran, F. Nietzsche, D. Parfit, M. Schechtman, S. Shoemaker, G. Strawson, C. Taylor, D. Velleman, G. Watson


This course satisfies the Ethics requirement.


PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42595-42605 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm WAG 302
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The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, René Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 301L • Early Modern Philosophy

42195-42200 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm GAR 1.126
(also listed as CTI 310 )
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this course examines metaphysical and epistemological issues in early
modern philosophy from Descartes (1596–1650) to Kant (1724–1804)

specific topics include scepticism, the existence of the external world, the relation between mind
and body (between consciousness and matter), ‘realism’ and ‘idealism’, ‘empiricism’ and
‘rationalism’, perception, primary and secondary qualities (e.g. shape and color), personal
identity (the nature of the self or subject of experience), induction, causation, free will, Kant’s
deontological ethics (other possible topics include: substance, miracles, nature and existence of
God, a priori knowledge, the analytic-synthetic distinction, essence, possibility, the nature of

PHL 384F • First-Year Seminar

42730 • Fall 2012
Meets TH 630pm-930pm WAG 312
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Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.


Course Description

Topics in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind



Various articles or book excerpts including Frankfurt, G. E. Moore, Nagel, Parfit.



Term paper relating to one of the topics covered 80%, due around 12 December, two in-class presentations 10% each

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