Daniel Moerner

Daniel Moerner
Assistant Professor
Stuart Hall, Room 222
Office Hours: Autumn Quarter, Tuesdays: 9:30 - 11:30 am on Zoom

Daniel Moerner joined the faculty in Autumn 2019 as an Assistant Professor. He received his BA in Philosophy and Classics from Pomona College in 2013 and an M. Phil. in Classics (Ancient Philosophy) from the University of Cambridge in 2014. He received his PhD in Philosophy from Yale University in 2019.

Daniel's interests extend broadly across the history of philosophy. He specializes in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century European philosophy, particularly the philosophy of Benedict Spinoza. Daniel's research on Spinoza is driven by an attempt to understand how much of Spinoza's Ethics is an expression of adequate knowledge by Spinoza's own lights. In a number of papers and a larger, developing book-length project, he argues that surprisingly little of the Ethics expresses adequate knowledge. Daniel also has research interests in ancient Greek philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, and early analytic philosophy.

Works in Progress (drafts available on request):

  • Every Idea Is Nothing but a Multitude of Affirmations: Reconceiving the Identity of Intellect and Will in Spinoza
  • Does God Know Whether Spinoza Was a Necessitarian?
  • A Revival of Frege, the Specter of the Tractatus
  • Nonsense and the General Propositional Form

Recent Courses

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 the period from the fall of Rome to the Scottish Enlightenment. The course will begin with an examination of the medieval hylomorphism of Aquinas and Ockham and then consider its rejection and transformation in the early modern period. Three distinct early modern approaches to philosophy will be discussed in relation to their medieval antecedents: the method of doubt, the principle of sufficient reason, and empiricism. Figures covered may include Ockham, Aquinas, Descartes, Avicenna, Princess Elizabeth, Émilie du Châtelet, Spinoza, Leibniz, Abelard, Berkeley, Hume, and al-Ghazali.

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

2020-2021 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 56704 Descartes’s Meditations in its Medieval Context

Descartes’s Meditations is often regarded as a masterpiece which begins the era of distinctively modern philosophy. However, it is also deeply indebted to the medieval tradition. Early criticisms of the Meditations swing between criticizing its radical novelty and criticizing Descartes for simply repackaging existing debates. In this course, we will try to get a grip on the Meditations by reading it in relation to a variety of medieval thinkers. Primary sources covered will include Avicenna, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Teresa of Avila, Francisco Sanches, Francisco Suarez, and Descartes and his objectors. Secondary sources will include, among others, works by Christia Mercer, Tad Schmaltz, John Carriero, Helen Hattab, Paul Hoffman, and Anat Schechtman. (V)

Undergraduate with permission of instructor.

2020-2021 Winter

PHIL 29904 Ethics in the Digital Age

(SIGN 26071 )

An investigation of the applied ethics of technology in the 21st century. Fundamental debates in applied ethics are paired with recent technological case studies. Topics covered include moral dilemmas, privacy, consent, human enhancement, distributed responsibility, and technological risks. Case studies include self-driving cars, geo-engineering, Internet privacy, genetic enhancement, Twitter, autonomous warfare, nuclear war, and the Matrix. (A)

 

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Ethics

PHIL 26004/36004 Early Modern Philosophy Beyond the Canon

The period from 1600 to 1800 saw an explosion of new philosophical positions in Europe. This period has a tendency to be studied not on its own terms, but rather through later historical reconstructions. It is particularly common to focus only on “rationalists” and “empiricists” while neglecting anyone who doesn’t fit neatly into these constructed categories. This course aims to come to a deeper understanding of early modern philosophy through a study of non-canonical thinkers and neglected texts by canonical thinkers. Our particular focus will be different conceptions of the proper method of philosophy. There will also be a focus on the thought of early modern women. Thinkers covered may include Petrus Ramus, Francis Bacon, Francisco Suarez, Thomas Hobbes, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Mary Astell, John Norris, George Berkeley, Anton Amo, and Mary Shepherd. (B) (V)

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Early Modern

PHIL 57200 Spinoza’s Ethics

An in-depth study of Benedict Spinoza’s major work, the Ethics, supplemented by an investigation of some of his early writings and letters. Focus on Spinoza’s geometric method, the meaning of and arguments for his substance monism, his doctrine of parallelism, and his account of the good life. (V)

200: History of PHIL II, or equivalent.

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Ethics

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 the period from the fall of Rome to the Scottish Enlightenment. The course will begin with an examination of the medieval hylomorphism of Aquinas and Ockham and then consider its rejection and transformation in the early modern period. Three distinct early modern approaches to philosophy will be discussed in relation to their medieval antecedents: the method of doubt, the principle of sufficient reason, and empiricism. Figures covered may include Ockham, Aquinas, Descartes, Avicenna, Princess Elizabeth, Émilie du Châtelet, Spinoza, Leibniz, Abelard, Berkeley, Hume, and al-Ghazali.

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

2019-2020 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
Medieval Philosophy