Kevin Davey

Kevin Davey
Associate Professor, Graduate Admissions Director and PhD Placement Director (2023-24)
Stuart Hall, Room 207
Office Hours: Autumn Quarter:
773.702.7737
University of Pittsburgh PhD (2004); Monash University (Australia), B. Sc., Honors (1992)
Teaching at UChicago since 2005
Research Interests: Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Physics, Formal Epistemology, Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics

Kevin Davey received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003, and also has Masters degrees in both physics and mathematics. His main areas of interest are the philosophy of science, the philosophy of mathematics, logic, epistemology and the philosophy of physics. In the general philosophy of science and epistemology he is particularly interested in understanding the character of non-deductive inference, both within and outside the context of science. In the philosophy of mathematics, he is currently engaged in a close study of the origin of proof in both the western and non-western mathematical traditions, and the light that sheds on contemporary debates about the nature of mathematics. In logic, he is currently looking at the way we reason about truth, focusing both on philosophical questions about the nature of the truth predicate and technical questions about formal theories of truth.

Recent Courses

PHIL 59950 Job Placement Workshop

Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter.

This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2024. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2023-2024 Spring

PHIL 22100/32100 Space and Time

(HIPS 22100, CHSS 32100)

This course is an introduction to some traditional philosophical problems about space and time. The course will begin with a discussion of Zeno’s paradoxes. We will then look at the debate between Newton and Leibniz concerning the ontological status of space and time, and will examine reactions to this debate by physicists such as Mach. We will then go on to discuss the question of what sense is to be made of the claim that space is curved, looking at the work of Einstein. Students will be introduced to the basics of the special and general theories of relativity at a qualitative level. If time permits, we will also look at questions about the multiverse, and/or Boltzmann’s conception of the arrow of time. (B) (II)

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 29408/39408 Intuitionistic Logic

This course will be an introductory survey of the philosophical and mathematical foundations of intuitionistic logic, perhaps the most serious rival to classical logic. We will pay attention to its philosophical motivations, especially by examining some of the more philosophical works of Brouwer. The course will also involve a mathematically rigorous presentation of the metatheory of intuitionistic logic, using forcing and Kripke frames. (B) (II)

Students should have completed Elementary Logic, or a similar class in the mathematics department.

2023-2024 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 59950 Job Placement Workshop

Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter.

This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2023. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2023-2024 Autumn

PHIL 59950 Job Placement Workshop

Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter.

This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2023. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 29405/39405 Advanced Logic

(HIPS 20905, CHSS 39405)

This class will explore dependent type theory, with a focus on the identity relation. Different ways of thinking of the identity relation will be examined, culminating in a presentation of the Univalence axiom and a discussion of its role as a potential foundation for mathematics. (B) (II)

Although background material will be discussed in the first lectures, students will be expected to have some familiarity with the lambda calculus and the theory of types. Interested students without this background should contact the instructor in advance to discuss possible material to read to help prepare for the course.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 23951 Introduction to Eastern Philosophy

This course will be an overview of Eastern philosophy, focusing on the historical development of Buddhist and Confucian ideas from their early Indian origins to the present day. (A)

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 59950 Job Placement Workshop

Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter.

This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the Autumn of 2022. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2022-2023 Autumn

PHIL 20405/30405 Further Topics in Logic

One of the most curious ideas in the foundations of logic to emerge over the last several decades is the idea that logic is in some sense reducible to the theory of types and computer programs. This course will introduce students to the technical material needed to understand such claims and tackle the question of whether this new way of thinking of the foundations of logic is plausible. The course will cover such topics as the lambda calculus, intuitionistic logic, the Curry Howard correspondence, and Martin-Lof type theory. Students will be assumed to have a grasp of the basic theory of first order logic. Some exposure to undergraduate level mathematics will also be helpful. (B) (II)

Students will be assumed to have a grasp of the basic theory of first order logic. Some exposure to undergraduate level mathematics will also be helpful.

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 53506 Non-Deductive Inference

(CHSS 53506)

This course will examine modern non-Bayesian ways of understanding non-deductive inference. Topics include the problem of induction, Pierce’s theory of abduction, inference to the best explanation, and the general connection between explanation and non-deductive inference. (III)

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

PHIL 23951 Introduction to Eastern Philosophy

This course will be an overview of Eastern philosophy, focusing on the historical development of Buddhist and Confucian ideas from their early Indian origins to the present day. (A)

2021-2022 Autumn

PHIL 49702 Revision Workshop

This is a workshop for 2nd year philosophy graduate students, in which students revise a piece of work to satisfy the PhD program requirements.

All and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years.

2019-2020 Spring

PHIL 22401/32401 Modern Logic and the Structure of Knowledge

In this course, we will examine the various ways in which the concepts and techniques of modern mathematical logic can be utilized to investigate the structure of knowledge. Many of the most well-known results of mathematical logic, such as the incompleteness theorems of Gödel and the Löwenheim-Skolem theorem, illustrate the fundamental limitations of formal systems of logic to fully capture the structure of the semantic models in which truth and validity are assessed. Some philosophers have argued that these results have profound epistemological implications, for instance, that they can be used to ground skeptical claims to the effect that there must be truths that logic and mathematics are powerless to prove. One of the aims of this course is to assess the legitimacy of these epistemological claims. In addition, we will explore the extent to which the central results of mathematical logic can be extended so as to apply to systems of inductive logic, and examine what forms of inductive skepticism may emerge as a result. We will, for example, discuss the epistemological implications of Putnam's diagonalization argument, which shows that, for any Bayesian theory of confirmation based on a definable prior, there must exist hypotheses which, if true, can never be confirmed. (B) (II)

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Logic

PHIL 49701 Topical Workshop

This is a workshop for 3rd year philosophy graduate students, in which students prepare and workshop materials for their Topical Exam.

 A two-quarter (Autumn, Winter) workshop for all and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years.

2019-2020 Winter

PHIL 49701 Topical Workshop

This is a workshop for 3rd year philosophy graduate students, in which students prepare and workshop materials for their Topical Exam.

A two-quarter (Autumn, Winter) workshop for all and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years.

 

2019-2020 Autumn

PHIL 49700 Preliminary Essay Workshop

The workshop involves discussion of general issues in writing the essay and student presentations of their work. Although students do not register for the Summer quarter, they are expected to make significant progress on their preliminary essay over the summer.

All and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years. A two-quarter (Spring, Autumn) workshop on the preliminary essay required for all doctoral students in the Spring of their second year and the Autumn of their third year.

2018-2019 Spring

PHIL 50616 Merleau-Ponty and the Scientific Image

This course will be a reading of Merleau-Ponty's 'Structure of Behavior'. In this book, Merleau-Ponty critiques many of the scientific paradigms of the time concerning the nature of perception and behavior, proposing his own anti-Cartesian paradigm. Where appropriate, we will read some of the scientific texts to which Merleau-Ponty was responding, such as the work of the Gestalt Psychologists, Goldstein, Pavlov, and Peiron, as well as older texts such as Descartes' Optics. At stake in Merleau-Ponty's book is the question of the extent to which our conception of ourselves as mere biological creatures responding to environmental stimuli in accordance with the laws of physiology, and our conception of ourselves as thinking, feeling creatures experiencing the world are at odds with one another, and this question will loom large in our reading. The course will touch on important issues in general philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and phenomenology. (II)

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 31414 MAPH Core Course: Contemporary Analytic Philosophy

(MAPH 31414)

The goal of this course is to have MAPH students explore the historical origins of analytic philosophy. Beginning with Frege, we will look at the development of analytic philosophy through the work of figures such as Russell, Wittgenstein, looking also at the rise and fall of positivism and the philosophical traditions that emerged afterwards with figures such as Quine, Kripke, Putnam and beyond. At the end of the course, MAPH students should have a more solid understanding of the central issues that have shaped modern American-European analytic philosophy, and some of the important ways in which this tradition diverges from contemporary continental philosophy.

This course is open only to MAPH students. MAPH students who wish to apply to Ph.D. programs in philosophy are strongly urged to take this course.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
History of Analytic Philosophy

PHIL 49700 Preliminary Essay Workshop

The workshop involves discussion of general issues in writing the essay and student presentations of their work. Although students do not register for the Summer quarter, they are expected to make significant progress on their preliminary essay over the summer.

All and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years. A two-quarter (Spring, Autumn) workshop on the preliminary essay required for all doctoral students in the Spring of their second year and the Autumn of their third year.

2018-2019 Autumn

For full list of Kevin Davey's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.