Benjamin Callard

Benjamin Callard
Lecturer in Philosophy
Rosenwald Hall, Room 218-A
Office Hours: Autumn Quarter, Mondays: 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
773.834.9934
University of California, Berkeley PhD (2007); Tufts University MA (1998); Brandeis University BA, with highest honors (1993)
Teaching at UChicago since 2008
Research Interests: Ethics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology

Benjamin Callard is a Lecturer in Philosophy. He received his BA from Brandeis, his MA from Tufts, and his PhD (2007) from Berkeley. Ben’s areas of specialization are ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. He also has strong interests in the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.

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Selected Publications

Papers:

“Can Math Move Matter?” Inquiry, October 2018

“The Conceivability of Platonism,” Philosophia Mathematica 15, no. 3 (October 2007): 347-356

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Recent News

Ben debated Jason Bridges on the question "Do Minds Exist" in the 2018 Night Owls event series, and gave a talk, "The Value of Freedom," at the 2017 Humanities Day Conference.

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Recent Courses

PHIL 20000 Introduction to Philosophy of Science

An introductory exploration of some of the central questions in the philosophy of science. These will include: what is (the definition of) a science--such that the natural, formal, and social sciences all count as sciences, but (for example) philosophy and literary criticism do not? How, in the natural sciences, do theory-building and observation relate to each other? Can some of the sciences be reduced to other sciences? (What is reduction of this kind supposed to involve?) What is evidence? What are the old and new problems of induction? What is a scientific (or indeed any other form of) explanation? What is a law of nature? Do the sciences make real progress? (B)

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 24599 Introduction to Frege

(FNDL 24599)

Gottlob Frege is often called the father of analytic philosophy, but the real reason to study him is not his historical significance, but, rather, that in his work one encounters a philosophical intelligence of the very first order. This course is an introductory survey of his most important ideas, in philosophy of mathematics, logic, philosophy of language, and metaphysics. To help us in our project of understanding and assessing these ideas we will read discussions of Frege by Michael Dummett, Tyler Burge, Joan Weiner, Nathan Salmon, Michael Resnik, Danielle Macbeth, Hans Sluga, Patricia Blanchette, John Searle, Crispin Wright, and others. (B)

2018-2019 Spring
Category
History of Analytic Philosophy

PHIL 26000 History of Philosophy II: Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy

(HIPS 26000, MDVL 26000)

A survey of the thought of some of the most important figures of this period, including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities required; PHIL 25000 recommended.

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 23000 Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology

In this course we will explore some of the central questions in epistemology and metaphysics. In epistemology, these questions will include: What is knowledge? What facts or states justify a belief? How can the threat of skepticism be adequately answered? How do we know what we (seem to) know about mathematics and morality? In metaphysics, these questions will include: What is time? What is the best account of personal identity across time? Do we have free will? We will also discuss how the construction of a theory of knowledge ought to relate to the construction of a metaphysical theory-roughly speaking, what comes first, epistemology or metaphysics? (B)

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Metaphysics
Epistemology

PHIL 23000 Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology

In this course we will explore some of the central questions in epistemology and metaphysics. In epistemology, these questions will include: What is knowledge? What facts or states justify a belief? How can the threat of skepticism be adequately answered? How do we know what we (seem to) know about mathematics and morality? In metaphysics, these questions will include: What is time? What is the best account of personal identity across time? Do we have free will? We will also discuss how the construction of a theory of knowledge ought to relate to the construction of a metaphysical theory-roughly speaking, what comes first, epistemology or metaphysics? (B)

2017-2018 Spring
Category
Metaphysics
Epistemology

PHIL 25120 Introduction to Philosophy of Religion

(RLST 25125)

This course explores the Western philosophical tradition of reasoned reflection on religious belief. Our questions will include: what are the most important arguments for, and against, belief in God? How does religious belief relate to the deliverances of the sciences, in particular to evolutionary theory? How can we reconcile religious belief with the existence of evil? What is the relationship between religion and morality? In attempting to answer these questions we will read work by Plato, Augustine, Anselm, Hume, Nietzsche, and Freud, as well as 20th century discussions in the 20th Century analytic tradition. (B)

2017-2018 Spring
Category
Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 26000 History of Philosophy II: Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy

(HIPS 26000)

A survey of the thought of some of the most important figures of this period, including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities required; PHIL 25000 recommended.

2017-2018 Winter
Category
Medieval Philosophy
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)

PHIL 23501 Philosophy of Mind

(HIPS 20401)

This is a survey of some of the central questions in the philosophy of mind. These questions include: What is consciousness? How can mental states represent things in the world? How do our minds relate to our bodies? Do we have free will? Can we blame someone for the beliefs or desires she has? What are the emotions? To help us with these questions, we will focus on 20th century analytic work (by Putnam, Nagel, Searle, Jackson, Dennett, Chalmers, Block, Dretske, and others), but we will also read important historical texts on the nature of the mind by Aristotle, Descartes, and Hume. (B)

2017-2018 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 21601 Introduction to Analytic Philosophy

This course is an exploration of the analytic tradition in philosophy. We will have three goals. First and foremost, we will philosophize in the analytic style. Second, we will try to get a sense of the history of the tradition, beginning with Frege, Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein, continuing through the logical positivist and ordinary language movements and the subsequent repudiation of these movements (by Strawson, Rawls, Searle, Nagel, Kripke, Lewis, and many others), and ending with a review of the current state of play. Third (and drawing on the history), we will try to answer these meta-questions: what is distinctive about analytic philosophy? How does it relate to the history of the subject? (Was Descartes an analytic philosopher? If not, why not?) What in the philosophy of Hegel, Bradley and others were Moore and Russell reacting to? What is the difference between analytic and continental philosophy? (Why was Husserl a continental philosopher while Frege--his interlocutor--was not?)

2016-2017 Spring
Category
History of Analytic Philosophy

PHIL 26000 History of Philosophy II: Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy

(HIPS 26000)

A survey of the thought of some of the most important figures of this period, including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities required; PHIL 25000 recommended.

2016-2017 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 23005/33005 Metaphysics and Ethics of Death

What is death, and what is its significance for our lives and how we lead them? In this course we will tack back and forth between the metaphysics of death (What is nonexistence? Are death and pre-birth metaphysically symmetrical?) and the ethical questions raised by death (Is death a misfortune-something we should fear or lament? Should we be glad not to be immortal? How should we understand the ethics of abortion and capital punishment?) Our exploration of these issues will take us through the work of many figures in the Western philosophical tradition (Plato, Augustine, Descartes, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger), but we will be concentrating on the recent and dramatic flowering of work on the subject.

2016-2017 Winter
Category
Metaphysics
Ethics/Metaethics

PHIL 23000 Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology

In this course we will explore some of the central questions in epistemology and metaphysics. In epistemology, these questions will include: What is knowledge? What facts or states justify a belief? How can the threat of skepticism be adequately answered? How do we know what we (seem to) know about mathematics and morality? In metaphysics, these questions will include: What is time? What is the best account of personal identity across time? Do we have free will? We will also discuss how the construction of a theory of knowledge ought to relate to the construction of a metaphysical theory-roughly speaking, what comes first, epistemology or metaphysics? (B)

2016-2017 Autumn
Category
Metaphysics
Epistemology
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For full list of Ben Callard's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.