Malte Willer

Malte Willer
Associate Professor, Director of Placement (2018-19)
Stuart Hall, Room 231-D
773.702.8598
University of Texas at Austin PhD (2010); Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München M.Phil. (2005)
Teaching at UChicago since 2010
Research Interests: Philosophy of Language, Philosophical Logic

Malte Willer is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the College. He received his graduate training at the University of Texas at Austin, where he wrote his dissertation Modality in Flux under the direction of Nicholas Asher and Josh Dever. Before that, he studied philosophy, logic and theory of science at LMU Munich and at Oxford University.

His main area of interest is philosophy of language and philosophical logic, and specifically the dynamic perspective on discourse and reasoning. He has published on epistemic and deontic modals as well on conditionals and on the language of morals, and is currently thinking about agentive modals and problems surrounding subjective language and thought. In 2016 he was among the recipients of the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

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Selected Publications

"Lessons from Sobel Sequences," forthcoming in Semantics and Pragmatics

"Simplifying with Free Choice,” Topoi 37(3): 379–392, 2018

"Advice for Noncognitivists," Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98(S1): 174–207, 2017

"Subjective Attitudes and Counterstance Contingency" (with Chris Kennedy), Proceedings of SALT XXVI

"Dynamic Foundations for Deontic Logic," in: Deontic Logic, edited by Nate Charlow and Matthew Chrisman, 324-354. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

“Dynamic Thoughts on Ifs and Oughts,” Philosophers’ Imprint 14(28): 1–30, 2014

"Dynamics of Epistemic Modality," Philosophical Review 122(1): 45-92, 2013

"A Remark on Iffy Oughts," Journal of Philosophy 109(7): 449-461, 2012

"Realizing What Might Be," Philosophical Studies 153(3): 365-375, 2011

"New Surprises for the Ramsey Test," Synthese 176(2): 291-309, 2010

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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 2019. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2018-2019 Spring

PHIL 20100/30000 Elementary Logic

(CHSS 33500, HIPS 20700)

An introduction to the concepts and principles of symbolic logic. We learn the syntax and semantics of truth-functional and first-order quantificational logic, and apply the resultant conceptual framework to the analysis of valid and invalid arguments, the structure of formal languages, and logical relations among sentences of ordinary discourse. Occasionally we will venture into topics in philosophy of language and philosophical logic, but our primary focus is on acquiring a facility with symbolic logic as such.

2018-2019 Autumn
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 2018. Approval of dissertation committee is required.

2018-2019 Autumn

PHIL 24010/34010 Meaning and Reference

In this course we address one of the central and most fascinating philosophical questions about linguistic meaning: what is the relationship between meaning and reference? We will study a range of classical and contemporary theories about the semantics of referring expressions such as proper names, definite descriptions, and indexicals. Readings will include Frege, Russell, Strawson, Kripke, Donnellan, and Kaplan, among others. Throughout, we will try to reach of a better understanding of how questions about meaning and reference connect with a range of topics that are central to philosophical theorizing, including the connection between propositional attitudes and the explanation of action, the role of the principle of compositionality in formal semantics, the question of whether there is a level of mental experience that is epistemically transparent, the relation between thought and language, the nature of fictional and non-existent objects, and the interaction between semantics and pragmatics. (B)

Prior courses in philosophy are beneficial. Elementary Logic or equivalent recommended, but not required.

2017-2018 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Language

PHIL 29425/39425 Logic for Philosophy

Key contemporary debates in the philosophical literature often rely on formal tools and techniques that go beyond the material taught in an introductory logic class. A robust understanding of these debates---and, accordingly, the ability to meaningfully engage with a good deal of contemporary philosophy---requires a basic grasp of extensions of standard logic such as modal logic, multi-valued logic, and supervaluations, as well as an appreciation of the key philosophical virtues and vices of these extensions. The goal of this course is to provide students with the required logic literacy. While some basic metalogical results will come into view as the quarter proceeds, the course will primarily focus on the scope (and, perhaps, the limits) of logic as an important tool for philosophical theorizing. (B)

Elementary Logic or equivalent.

2016-2017 Spring
Category
Logic

PHIL 20724 Counterfactuals

An introduction to philosophy language via a discussion of the meaning of counterfactuals.

2016-2017 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Language

PHIL 53307 Language and Games

(LING 53307)

Game theory is a rich area of formal tools developed over the last 70 years or so for the modeling of certain kinds of rational interaction. The concept of a game plays a prominent role in the writings of several distinguished philosophers of language such Ludwig Wittgenstein and David K. Lewis. It is thus natural to ask to what extent game theory can play an important role in explaining distinct linguistic phenomena. The goal of this class is to explore this question from a philosophical and linguistic perspective, focusing on issues in natural language semantics and pragmatics. (II)

2016-2017 Autumn
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For full list of Malte Willer's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.