Fall 2017

Seminar: Reasons for Belief and Action.

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-469


Nishiten Shah (Section 01)
Ekaterina Vavova (Section 01)


Your friend wrote a tacky song. Should you believe it's a masterpiece? (She is your friend, after all). You’re about to jump across an icy stream. You’re more likely to make it if you believe you can. Should you believe that? Your resolutions to exercise regularly usually fail. Should you believe you will succeed this time? If we say "yes," what is the relevant sense of "should"? Are these beliefs rational, or merely beneficial? These cases suggest that there can be different sorts of considerations in favor of belief and action. This course is about how to understand these different sorts of reasons and how these might conflict or interact.

This course will be co-taught with Professor Katia Vavova from Mount Holyoke. Half the spaces will be reserved for Amherst College students, and half the spaces will be reserved for Mount Holyoke students.  The overall enrollment cap will be 24 students. The enrollment cap for Amherst College students will be 12.  

Requisites: two courses in philosophy or permission of instructor.  Fall semester.  Professors Shah and Vavova (Mount Holyoke College).

If Overenrolled: Priority will be given to majors, seniors, then juniors, etc.


Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017