Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

The class will be devoted to the work of David Lewis, one of the most exciting and influential philosophers of the late twentieth century. We will have seminar-style discussions about his work on counterfactuals, time, causation, probability and decision-theory.

You probably shouldn't take this class unless you've had some prior exposure to analytic philosophy. Some of the papers we will be discussing are difficult, and will require hard work.


Most of the readings will come from the following book:

Buy at Amazon Lewis, David K. Philosophical Papers. Vol. II. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1987. ISBN: 9780195036466.

Course Requirements

Classroom Participation

This is a seminar-style class, so classroom participation is crucial. In order to get full credit for this component of the final grade you must regularly participate in classroom discussions and in the process of doing so demonstrate that you have read (and worked through) the required readings.

Homework Assignments

You must submit a 200-300 word précis of each of the required readings. The précis are due by 11:05 AM on the day of the first session in which the relevant reading is discussed. Précis will be given a grade of acceptable or unacceptable, and your final grade for this component of the class will correspond to the percentage of acceptable marks you receive. Assignments may be handed in before class or submitted via email. It is okay to discuss readings with other students taking the class, and to consult published materials. But each student must write the précis on his or her own.

In-class Presentation

Each student must deliver a 15-20 minute presentation on one of the required readings. The presentation can either summarize the reading for the rest of the class, or discuss an issue raised by the text. This component of your final grade will be determined on the basis of whether your presentation reveals that you have seriously engaged with the relevant reading.

Final Essay

Due in Ses #25

A 15-20 page essay developing an idea related to the material discussed in class. For guidelines on writing a philosophy paper (and information about how you'll be graded), please see Jim Pryor, "Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper."

All work on the final essay must be the student's own. Any suspicion of plagiarism or academic dishonesty will be aggressively pursued.


The course grade will be calculated as follows:

Classroom participation 20%
In-class presentation 15%
Homework assignments 20%
Final essay 45%