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Reading Groups

Spring 2013

Philosophical Methodology Reading Group

Various subfields within philosophy study the methods of other disciplines, e.g., biology, to determine the distinctive and successful methodologies within that field. However, philosophy also has (hopefully) successful methodologies—both unique to philosophy and shared with science. In this reading group, we hope to delve deeper into the merits of different methodological approaches to philosophy, often by using particular debates in metaphysics as a case study. We will also discuss the merits and demerits of experimental philosophy, the relation between philosophy and work produced in other disciplines, and the effects of ethical knowledge on moral behavior. If you often wonder what you’re doing when you’re doing philosophy, then this is the reading group for you!

Here's a tentative schedule:
1/27: Robert Brandom - "Reason, Expression, and the Philosophic Enterprise"
2/10: Antti Kauppinen - "The Rise and Fall of Experimental Philosophy"
2/24: Eric Schwitzgebel and Fiery Cushman – “Expertise in Moral Reasoning?”
3/10: L.A. Paul – “A New Role for Experimental Work in Metaphysics”
3/24: Karen Bennett - "Construction Area (No Hard Hat Required)"
4/7: David Chalmers - "Ontological Anti-Realism"

The first meeting of this group will be Sunday, January 27 from 2-4 at Java Monkey (425 Church Street,  Decatur, GA 30030), a coffee shop across the street from the Decatur Marta station (east on the Blue Line from campus).

Email Morgan Thompson ( to be put on the philosophical methodology reading group email list (through which you will receive PDFs of the readings for each meeting).

Political Philosophy Reading Group

States have, throughout history, identified certain ways of living as being good for their citizens and attempted to promote those ways. Those ways of life (or conceptions of the good) are normally promoted by states through laws and policies that impose some restrictions on how people can act and what life choices they can make (among others). The education system is also used to inculcate in people values and character traits that are conducive to those conceptions of the good. But looking at the vast and persistent disagreement about what the good life constitutes, we might wonder: is the state justified in favoring some conception of the good over another? If so, why, and which conception(s) of the good should be favored? In this reading group, we will examine this issue by reading papers arguing for state promotion of some conception of the good (perfectionism) and against it (anti-perfectionism).

Here is the tentative reading list (Most of the readings are taken from the anthology Perfectionism and Neutrality, edited by Steven Wall and George Klosko):

1. The Morality of Freedom, selections, by Joseph Raz
2. Perfectionist Liberalism and Political Liberalism, by Martha Nussbaum
3. The Structure of Perfectionist Toleration, by Steven Wall
4. Political Liberalism, selections, by John Rawls, and Political Liberalism, by Charles Larmore
5. Equality, Liberty and Perfectionism, by Vinit Haksar
6. Liberal Neutrality: A Compelling and Radical Principle, by Gerald F. Gaus

We will meet fortnightly, starting from week 3, on Fridays, at 1pm. The meetings will be held at Saxby's, which is located on the first floor of GSU Libary North. Email Chetan Cetty ( to be added to the mailing list for this group (through which you will receive PDFs of the readings for each meeting).

Hegel's Aesthetics Reading Group

Hegel's Aesthetics is an important, under-appreciated part of Hegel's philosophy and of philosophical aesthetics generally. Much attention, often harshly critical, has been paid to the so-called 'end of art thesis,' Hegel's contentious claim that "art, considered in its highest vocation, is and remains for us a thing of the past." This bold turn of phrase, however, belies a nuanced appreciation of modern art and its role in meaningful life. Even Heidegger, who was skeptical of the work's most famous sentences, called it "the final and greatest aesthetics in the Western tradition." It contains thoughtful readings of diverse artistic practices and a compelling general account of art's functions in modernity. Further, it is essential for anyone interested in the history of aesthetics. Hegel responds directly and implicitly to Winckelmann, Schiller, and Kant; later, the likes of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Adorno, and Danto would join the ongoing conversation.

If any of this piques your interest, please join us in discussing the Aesthetics this spring. We'll normally meet in the philosophy department's smaller seminar room (at 34 Peachtree) on Mondays at 2 PM. For specific readings and meeting details, please email Carson Monetti ( or request access to our Google Drive folder, which includes an updated schedule and other useful documents.