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

Sinan Dogramaci

Assistant Professor PhD, NYU

Sinan Dogramaci

Contact

  • Office: WAG 408B
  • Campus Mail Code: C3500

Biography

Professor Dogramaci recently completed his dissertation at NYU. While his specialization is epistemology, his current research projects also engage with central questions from the philosophies of logic, mind and language. His paper "Knowledge of Validity" was recently published in Nous (2010). Please click on the link to his personal website for drafts of recent papers.

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

41805-41815 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 201
show description

This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We'll study formal languages for representing sentences
in logically precise ways, we'll study algorithms for evaluating arguments as logically valid or invalid, and
we'll get an introduction to some of the surprising discoveries logicians have made about what tasks no
algorithm can possibly do.

PHL 321K • Theory Of Knowledge

42985 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 800am-930am WEL 4.224
show description

We’ll read about, discuss, and aim to critically evaluate arguments for different positions on some major debates concerning knowledge and rational belief. Some likely topics include:

  • (Skepticism)  A paradox is created by the existence of apparently strong arguments that we have little to no genuine knowledge. Since we surely do have knowledge, the argument must be have a false assumption, but there is much debate over exactly what the false assumption is.
  • (Relativism and Contextualism about Truth and Knowledge)  What does it mean to say that truth, or knowledge, is relative? The position risks quickly turning out to be incoherent or self-defeating. How can it be defended by a compelling argument? Is relativism, or so-called contextualism, best understood as a thesis about how the world is constructed, or rather as a thesis about the functioning of our language?
  • (Permissible Disagreement)  To what extent can reasonable people disagree after they’ve been exposed to all the same evidence and arguments? Is it that no difference of opinion at all is tolerable? Or, could any conclusion at all be rationally permissible? Or, if the answer is somewhere in between, where can we draw principled lines?
  • (Education—or Indoctrination?—in Childhood and Early Life)  Sometimes we can trace the origins of one or another lifelong belief to various contingencies of our upbringing. When, if ever, does such reflection on the origins of a belief undermine the rationality of maintaining that belief? We’ll examine arguments for and against the ability of such reflections to undermine beliefs.
  • (Psychological Studies of How People Form Their Beliefs)  What do recent psychological studies of human cognition reveal about the status of our beliefs as rational or irrational? Some psychological models, so-called “dual process” theories, propose we have two belief-forming mechanisms. Are these models plausible, and if so, what do they teach us about the quality of our beliefs? Some psychologists have also used findings of neuroimaging technology to raise questions about the validity of our moral theories. Some philosophers have criticized these psychologically inspired critiques of morality.
  • (Value of Knowledge and Truth)  Assuming there is some difference between knowing something and just having a true belief, what could make knowledge more valuable than mere true belief? Does knowledge play any special role in justifying actions?
  • (Finding Ourselves in a Finely-Tuned Universe)  Some philosophers have asked, why does the universe exist? Some have answered this question by drawing on discoveries in modern physics suggesting that the laws of nature have been finely-tuned in ways that make a universe like ours a highly likely one. Philosophers have then debated whether this is any good evidence for an intelligent designer, or is not.

This course is scheduled to meet at 8am and attendance is mandatory!

PHL 344K • Intermediate Symbolic Logic

43080 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 930am-1100am WEL 3.260
show description

This course will focus on a number of the most important 20th century results in so-called metalogic, the results that concern the powers and limitations on formal logical systems. We will prove the completeness of classical predicate logic, the Compactness and Lowenheim-Skolem theorems, and the incompleteness of arithmetic.

The course will be technically demanding. Students who have no previous experience with mathematical proofs will have to be willing to work hard and learn as they go.

To get a sense of the level of the course, read some of the textbook on Amazon.com, and try doing some of the problems at the end of the first chapter.

 

Text: Computability and Logic, 5th ed., Boolos, Burgess and Jeffrey.

 

Proposed Grading Policy:

There will be (roughly) nine problem sets, distributed over the course of the semester as described in the

schedule below. These will determine your course grade. The final overview problem set counts double.

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

43240-43250 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 201
show description

This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We'll study formal languages for representing sentences
in logically precise ways, we'll study algorithms for evaluating arguments as logically valid or invalid, and
we'll get an introduction to some of the surprising discoveries logicians have made about what tasks no
algorithm can possibly do.

PHL 383 • Metaethics To Metaepistemology

43515 • Spring 2014
Meets W 330pm-630pm WAG 316
show description

This seminar is taught by Sinan Dogramaci and Miriam Schoenfield.

Graduate standing and consent of graduate advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

Metaepistemology is to epistemology as metaethics is to ethics. In a number of areas where metaethicisits have developed well-known arguments, positions and distinctions, we will apply those to the younger subject of metaepistemology.

Major topics are likely to be:

(1) Realism and Relativism in Ethics and Epistemology,

(2) The Normative Role of Plans, and 

(3) Luminosity, Guidance, and Rule-Following

Grading

Term Paper

Texts

Articles by many authors, including: 

On Relativism and Realism: G Harman, JJ Thomson, R Dworkin, S Street, P Boghossian, K Taylor, J MacFarlane, and T Cuneo

On Plans: A Gibbard, H Field, M Chrisman, K Schafer, and M Schoenfield

On Luminosity, Rules and Guidance: T Williamson, A Srinivasan, A Sepielli, M Yamada, M Lasonen-Aarnio, B Weatherson, D Christensen, P Boghossian and C Wright.

 

This course satisfies the M&E requirement.

PHL 301 • Introduction To Philosophy

42760 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 930am-1100am BUR 112
show description

Course Information:

We’ll survey a number of classic philosophical problems. In some form or other, these problems have gripped humans for millennia, but we will usually engage with modern formulations of them.

We’ll ask:

• How could free will be possible if the laws of physics fully govern the behavior of the atoms we’re composed of?

• What is the nature of time and space? How come space travel seems so much easier than time travel? Is time travel logically impossible?

• Are there objective moral facts? What explains our moral judgements and moral behavior?

• How can you know God exists? How does modern science, not only evolutionary biology, but cosmology too, bear on the issue?

• How can you know you’re not in the Matrix?

• When, if ever, it is morally permissible to let another human die?

• Is it morally permissible to eat meat?

• Is abortion morally permissible?

 

We’ll read about, talk about, and write about these issues.

 

The main goal of the course is not only to expose you to some of the subject matter of philosophy, but also to introduce you to the method of philosophical investigation, namely making and evaluating arguments.

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

42455-42469 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm CAL 100
show description

This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We'll study formal languages for representing sentences
in logically precise ways, we'll study algorithms for evaluating arguments as logically valid or invalid, and
we'll get an introduction to some of the surprising discoveries logicians have made about what tasks no
algorithm can possibly do.

PHL 383 • Fringe Epistemology

42710 • Spring 2012
Meets W 500pm-800pm WAG 312
show description

Fringe Epistemology: Knowledge by Testimony, Memory and Introspection

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or Instructor required.

Description:

The epistemology of perception and the apriori having stolen the show for too long, this course will examine epistemological issues that are especially puzzling, or especially illuminating or suggestive, in the areas of knowledge by testimony, memory and introspection. One theme of the course will be to explore the extent to which plausible views about the epistemology of one of these areas (or of perception or the apriori) impose constraints on what to say in another area. Is it possible to give a uniform treatment of how all the different sources generate epistemic justification? While uniformity is theoretically desirable, we'll see that certain problems seem to spoil any such hopes. My own views, which I hope to develop further by sharing them with the class (for your friendly, if destructive, criticism), is that the epistemic role of testimony holds the key to explaining all epistemic norms.

While an extensive background in epistemology is not required for participation in the course, novices are advised to consult me for a few articles that can be read over winter break and serve as a primer to current epistemology. (For example, you might read a few articles from section IV of Epistemology, 2nd ed., the Blackwell Anthology.)

Grading Policy: 

One term paper, for the vast majority of the weight of the final grade.One or two class presentations (depending on the class size) for a smaller weight of the final grade.

Texts: 

Recent articles by various authors.On Testimony: Jennifer Lackey, Elizabeth Fricker, Miranda Fricker, Edward Craig, Tyler Burge, Michael DummettOn Introspection: Crispin Wright, Sydney Shoemaker, Brie Gertler, Alex Byrne, Quassim Cassam On Memory: Michael Huemer, David Owens, Jennifer Lackey, Robert Audi, Tyler Burge, Michael Dummett.

This course satisfies the M&E requirement.

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

42350-42360 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 420
show description

This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We'll study formal languages for representing sentences in logically precise ways, we'll study algorithms for evaluating arguments as logically valid or invalid, and we'll get an introduction to some of the surprising discoveries logicians have made about what tasks no algorithm can possibly do.

The textbook is Formal Logic: Its Scope and Limits, 4th ed., by Jeffrey. You can read part of the book on Google Books, to get the flavor of the course (we'll cover all chapters except the last).

Though this course assumes no background knowledge, it is not an especially easy course. The course will require you to develop and apply your natural skills for thinking clearly and precisely about abstract matters.

Grading is based on problem sets and exams.

PHL 384F • First-Year Seminar

42630 • Fall 2011
Meets T 630pm-930pm WAG 312
show description

Prerequisites:

This course is restricted to first year graduate students in philosophy

Description:

In this course we'll study articles and book chapters that are now widely agreed to have been among the 20th century's "greatest hits", focusing on philosophy of language and mind, metaphysics and epistemology. One main sequence of weekly topics will take us from Frege through Kripke, another sequence will concern perception and consciousness, and a third sequence will concern contemporary discussions of skepticism about knowledge.

 

Grading policy:

Mid-semester paper 40%, Final paper 40%, and two in-class presentations during the term each worth 10%. Class participation and written responses to questions assigned on the readings can shift a grade that was borderline.

 

Texts:

The Kripkean revolution: papers by Frege, Russell, and Kripke. Perception, Consciousness and the Mind-Body problem: papers by Smart, Papineau, Dretske and Tye.

Knowledge Skepticism: papers by Moore, Dretske, Pryor, Wright, and Williamson. Further details TBA.

 

 

 

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

42965-42975 • Spring 2011
Meets MWF 1100am-1200pm WAG 302
show description

This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We'll study formal languages for representing sentences in logically precise ways, we'll study algorithms for evaluating arguments as logically valid or invalid, and we'll get an introduction to some of the surprising discoveries logicians have made about what tasks no algorithm can possibly do.

The textbook is Formal Logic: Its Scope and Limits, 4th ed., by Jeffrey. You can skim the book on Google Books, to get the flavor of the course. We will cover all chapters. Grading is based on problem sets and exams.

PHL 363 • Scientific Method

43105 • Spring 2011
Meets MWF 100pm-200pm GAR 2.128
show description

This course explores a number of foundational issues in the philosophy of science and confirmation theory. The following is a tentative selection of topics.
(Topic 1) What justifies the so-called scientific method? Does it have a justification that privileges it over pure dogmatism, or is our choice of method arbitrary? We'll study David Hume's and Nelson Goodman's skeptical challenges to the science method.
(Topic 2) A closely related topic is this: exactly when does a certain batch of evidence serve to confirm a certain theory, and how much does it confirm it? We'll briefly survey some classical qualitative theories of confirmation, before turning to a more quantitative theory of confirmation: Bayesian Confirmation Theory. This part of the course will involve some technical probability theory.
(Topic 3) Is what sense is physics the fundamental science, the one to which chemistry, biology, and possibly others reduce? Are there special sciences that are irreducible to physics, such as economics or psychology?
(Topic 4) What is the role, in science, of giving explanations? What makes something a good explanation in science?

The course presupposes no specific background in science, philosophy or probability theory: we'll do everything from scratch. However, it will be a tough course, requiring hard work and dedication from students! (If you want to get a sense of the technical material that we will be studying in topic 2, have a look at chapters 1-9 of this online textbook we'll be using: http://www.nyu.edu/classes/strevens/BCT/BCT.pdf)

Grading will be based on (i) homework problems on probability, (ii) two exams, and (iii) an essay.

PHL 358 • Philosophical Logic

42525 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 208
show description

Description: This course will focus on a number of the most important 20th century results in so-called metalogic, the results that concern the powers and limitations on formal logical systems. We will prove the completeness of classical predicate logic, the Compactness and Lowenheim-Skolem theorems, and the incompleteness of arithmetic.

The course will be technically demanding. Students who have no previous experience with mathematical proofs will have to be willing to work hard and learn as they go.

Text: Computability and Logic, 5th ed., Boolos, Burgess and Jeffrey. (You can get some sense of the level of the course's technical difficulty by browsing the text on google books.)

Grading: Bi-weekly homework assignments 60%; mid-term 20%; final 20%.

PHL 310 • Knowledge And Reality

42995 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WAG 302
show description

This course is an advanced introduction to philosophical issues concerning the nature of
belief, truth, and knowledge with an emphasis on the latter. Topics to be discussed include,
but are not limited to, the following:
• What is knowledge? For example, what is the difference between knowledge and
mere true belief?
• What are the basic sources of knowledge (i.e., perception, memory, testimony of
others)?
• Why, if at all, should we value the acquisition of knowledge?
• Is it really possible to know anything at all?

PHL 310 • Knowledge And Reality

43185 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm CAL 221
show description

PHL 310: Knowledge and Reality
Fall 2009
Professor: Sinan Dogramaci
Email: sinan.dogramaci@gmail.com
Of?ce Hours: Wednesday, 3:30pm, 408B Waggener Hall. Or by appt.


Course Information:
Are there any absolute truths and is it possible for us to know them? The purpose
of this course is to make sense of that question, and maybe take a step or two
towards some answers.
We?ll begin by comparing notions of absolute truth and relative truth. What does
the distinction amount to, and what kind of truth is really out there?
Next we?ll turn to the topic of god. Does the elegant design of the world we see
around us constitute a compelling argument in favor of god?s existence? If the
argument is less than compelling, is it still permissible to believe in god? We?ll go
on to discuss the signi?cance of the fact that smart people often disagree with
one another about religious matters.
Our ?nal two topics will concern radical skepticism about our knowledge of the
world. First we will examine the classic philosophical argument that we cannot
really know whether there is an external material world containing rocks, trees,
tables and chairs. And second we?ll examine the argument that we cannot, on the
basis of past experience, draw any conclusions about the future. We?ll evaluate
the power of both kinds of skeptical argument, and we?ll study some standard
replies to each.


Books and Readings:
There is only one book you?ll need to buy for this class: Paul Boghossian?s Fear
of Knowledge. The rest of the readings will be made available as PDFs.

Assignments and Grading:
Students will write three short papers, each one 5 - 6 double-spaced pages. This
will be the only graded material for this class. Pluses and minuses will be used.
I will be grading your papers blindly. In other words, you will not write your name
anywhere on your paper, you?ll only write an identi?cation number, and I will read
and grade each paper without knowing who wrote it.
Class participation is extremely welcome. Ask questions and share your
thoughts. Never worry that your question sounds dumb, because (a) it won?t
affect your grade, and more importantly (b) it?s almost certainly not a dumb
question.
If your ?nal grade from the papers is right on a borderline then it can be adjusted
up or down. Multiple unexcused absences from lecture will put it below the
borderline. A dramatically upward progress of grades on the three papers can put
it above the borderline.

Late Papers:
Any paper handed in after the start of the class when it is due will be docked one-
third of a letter grade. An additional one-third of a letter will be docked every 24
hours after that. Medical excuses for late papers require written notice from your
doctor to avoid docking.


“Plagiarism is Totally Insane”1:
Don?t plagiarize! This course will have a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism.
Plagiarism happens whenever your paper includes words or ideas that come
from someone else, and you do not explicitly say what is coming from someone
else (e.g. like I do with my footnote to the heading above). Students are caught
plagiarizing all the time. If you plagiarize in this course, it will be caught, you will
automatically fail the course, and you will be reported to the dean.
Disabilities:
“Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations
from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students
with Disabilities, 471-6259.” (quoted from a memo from Vice Provost Ritter.)
1
 I am taking this heading title from my friend Seth Yalcin?s syllabus for a similar course he taught at NYU.

 

Course Schedule:
Relativism and Constructivism
Aug 1 Boghossian, Fear of Knowledge, ch. 1
Sept 1 Whorf, “Science and Linguistics”;
Goodman, “The Way the World Is”;
Feyerabend, “Rationalism, Relativism, and the
Scienti?c Method”
Sept 3 continue above readings
Sept 8 Boghossian, Fear of Knowledge, ch. 2
Sept 10 ch. 3
First Paper Topics Are Distributed Today
Sept 15 ch. 4
Sept 17 ch. 5
Sept 22 ch. 6
First Paper Is Due at Start of Class Today
Sept 24 ch. 7
Sept 29 ch. 8 & 9
Oct 1 class discussion of papers
Arguing for and against God?s existence
Oct 6 William Paley, “The Watch and the Watchmaker”
Oct 8 Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Oct 13 continued
Oct 15 continued
Oct 20 continued
Oct 22 Swinburne, “The Argument from Design”
Second Paper Topics Are Distributed Today
Oct 27 Dawkins, The God Delusion, ch. 4
Disagreeing about God
Oct 29 G.A. Cohen, “Paradoxes of Conviction”
Nov 3 Van Inwagen, “It is always wrong, for anyone,
anywhere, to believe anything upon insuf?cient
evidence”
Second Paper Is Due at Start of Class Today
Nov 5 Feldman, “Reasonable Religious Disagreements”
Nov 10 Kelly, “The Epistemic Signi?cance of Disagreement”
(Read the statement of the "No independent weight view" (9-10),
the discussion of "The Appeal to Symmetry" (14-20), and Kelly's
"positive argument for the No Independent Weight View" (20-26).)
Nov 12 Elga, “On Overratting Oneself...and Knowing It”
Skepticism about Knowledge of the External World
Nov 17 Stroud, “The Problem of the External World”
Nov 19 Moore, “Proof of an External World”
Nov 24 Vogel, “Cartesian Skepticism and Inference to the Best
Explanation”
Skepticism about Knowledge of the Future
Dec 1 Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding,
Section IV
Dec 3 Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding,
Section V
Third Paper Topics Are Distributed Today
time allowing Hans Reichenbach, “The Pragmatic Justi?cation of
Induction”
time allowing Van Cleve, “Reliability, Justi?cation, and the Problem of
Induction”
Third Papers Are Due by 3:30pm, December 15th

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