Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

John Deigh


ProfessorPhD, University of California at Los Angeles

Contact

Interests


Ethics, political philosophy

Biography


John Deigh joined the law school faculty in 2003 after twenty years of teaching at Northwestern University. He is also a profesor in the philosophy department. His primary areas of research are moral and political philosophy. He is widely known for his work in moral psychology. He is the author of Emotions, Values, and the Law (Oxford University Press, 2008) and The Sources of Moral Agency (Cambridge University Press, 1996). His recent articles include "Promises Under Fire" (Ethics, 2002), "Emotion and the Authority of Law: Variations on Themes in Bentham and Austin" (in S. Bandes [ed.], The Passions of Law [New York University Press, 1999]), "All Kinds of Guilt" (Law and Philosophy, 1999) and "Physician Assisted Suicide and Voluntary Euthanasia: Some Relevant Differences," Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1998). Other articles include "Cognitivism in the Theory of Emotions" (Ethics, 1994), "On Rights and Responsibilities" (Law and Philosophy, 1988) and "Rights and the Authority of Law" (University of Chicago Law Review, 1984).

Deigh serves on the editorial board of Law and Philosophy and is an associate editor of the International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Wiley/Blackwell, forthcoming). From 1997-2008, he was the editor of Ethics. Deigh has held visiting appointments at the Australian National University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Courses


PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42290-42300 • Fall 2016
Meets MW 1:00PM-2:30PM WEL 2.308

Course description:  

The course will cover major questions of ethics, politics, and human psychology in ancient and medieval philosophy: what is a good life?  must one live justly and honestly to achieve happiness in life?  what is the place of love and friendship in a good life and what are the best kinds of friendship or relations of love?  what is death and can the soul survive it?  what is freedom?  how is it realized?  is democracy the best form of government? does a citizen of a democracy owe allegiance to its laws?  We will study these and other questions through examination of great works of Plato, Aristotle, Paul, and Augustine. 

 

Readings:

Plato, Apology, Crito, Euthyphro, Phaedo, Republic, Symposium

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

Paul, selections from letters to Romans, Corinthians, Galatians. 

Augustine, On Free Choice of the Will

 

Grading:

Midterm exam, final exam, short papers, participation in discussion sections.  In determining the course grade, the grade on the final exam will be given roughly twice the weight of the grades on the midterm exam and short papers.

 

PHL 387 • History Of Analytic Ethics

42580 • Fall 2016
Meets W 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course description

The seminar will focus on the emergence and treatment of the question of motivational internalism in 20th Century meta-ethics.  That question is whether moral judgments are inherently motivational, that is , whether, by their very nature, they include an impulse to action?  The study of 20th century meta-begins with G. E. Moore's Principia Ethica and the ethical works of H. A. Prichard and W. D. Ross.  Their realist views oppose motivational internalism. Emotivism, as a theory of moral judgment, was developed, principally by A. J. Ayer and Charles Stevenson, in opposition to the views of Moore, Prichard, and Ross.  Emotivism affirms motivational internalism.  The question emerged as a distinct one in meta-ethics in articles at midcentury by W. D. Falk and William Frankena.  The dispute over this question was joined subsequently by Thomas Nagel, Philippa Foot, Bernard Williams, Christine Korsgaard, and Michael Smith.   The seminar will cover this history from Moore to Smith. 

Grading policy

Seminar paper and participation in seminar discussion with greater weight given to the seminar paper.

Texts 

G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica

W. D. Ross, The Right and the Good

Thomas Nagel, The Possibility of Altruism

Michael Smith, The Moral Problem

 

This seminar satisfies the Ethics requirement.

PHL 387 • Moral Responsibility

41755 • Fall 2015
Meets TH 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Prerequisites

Graduate standing and consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

 

Course Description

The seminar will be primarily on recent theories of moral responsibility.  These include the theories of T. M. Scanlon's, George Sher, Pamela Hieronymi, R. J. Wallace among others.  To get up to speed we will first study some earlier works such as P. F. Strawson's "Freedom  and Resentment", Bernard Williams's, "Moral Luck", and Harry Frankfurt's "Free Will and the Concept of a Person" that significantly influenced work on this topic of the last quarter century.  

 

Grading

Seminar paper and participation in seminar discussions.

Texts

T. M. Scanlon, Moral Dimensions and Blame

George Sher, In Praise of Blame

R. J. Wallace, The View from Here

 

This seminar satisfies the Ethics requirement.

PHL 387 • History Of Analytic Ethics

43165 • Fall 2014
Meets W 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Graduate Standing and consent of graduate advisor or instructor required.

Course Description:

The seminar will cover the history of analytic ethics from the rise of emotivism in the 1930s and 1940s to the reconstruction of the program in the work of Gibbard and Blackburn.  During this period the questions of moral realism and motivational internalism emerged as central questions of metaethics, and the seminar's aim is to understand how and why these questions became central.

Grading Policy:

Seminar paper, participation.  The paper will be the main determinant of the grade.

Texts:

Allen Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt FeelingsJ. L. Mackie, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong Readings from Ayer, Carnap, Stevenson, Frankena, Harman, Blackburn, and McDowell among others.

 

This course satisfies the Ethics requirement.

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

43220-43230 • Spring 2014
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM UTC 1.146

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 387 • Philosophy Of Emotions

43215 • Fall 2013
Meets W 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 312

PHILOSOPHY OF EMOTIONS

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

The seminar will be a study in the history of modern philosophical treatments of emotions. The focus will be on how the study of emotions developed from a study within moral philosophy to a scientific study.

Grading

The course grade will be based on a seminar paper and participation in seminar discussion. The paper will be the chief factor in determining the grade.

Texts

Descartes: The Passions of the Soul

Hume: A Treatise of Human Nature, book II

William James, The Principles of Psychology, chapter 25

Paul Griffiths, What Emotions Really Are

Martha Nussbaum, Upheavals of Thought, chapter 1

This course satisfies the Ethics requirement

PHL 610QA • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42455-42465 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WAG 302

PHL 387 • Moral Agency

42740 • Fall 2012
Meets W 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 316

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

 Course Description

This seminar will examine recent work on moral agency that takes as the basic notion of moral agency that a moral agent is a rational agent who is capable of acting for moral reasons.

Among the works we will examine are:

Nomy Arpaly:  Unprincipled Virtue: An Inquiry into Moral Agency

R. Jay Wallace:  Normativity and the Will  (selected essays)

Gary Watson: Agency and Answerability  (selected essays)

Grading

Seminar paper and participation in seminar.  The paper will be the major factor in determining the grade.

 

This course satisfies the Ethics requirement.

PHL 387 • Meta-Ethics In 20th-C Anly Phl

42635 • Fall 2011
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

Course Description

The seminar will examine the origins and development of meta-ethics in twentieth century analytic philosophy. The aim will be to study how the different movements in meta-ethics, Moore’s non-naturalism, intuitionism of Prichard and Ross, emotivism, prescriptivism, analytic naturalism, etc. were tied to the rise of different methods and programs in analytic philosophy generally. 

Grading

The grade will be based on a seminar paper due at the end of the term and participation in seminar discussions.  The seminar paper will be the most important factor.

Texts

Readings include: G. E. Moore, Principia Ethica W. D. Ross, The Right and the Good R. M. Hare, The Language of Morals Allan Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings

 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42935-42945 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 214

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 387 • Ethics & Experimntl Psychology

42580 • Fall 2010
Meets W 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Prerequisites

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor required.

This course satisfies the Ethics requirement

Course Description:

This seminar will cover recent work in ethics that uses research in experimental psychology and neuroscience in the study of ethical questions.

Grading Policy:

Final grade will be based on a seminar paper due at the end of the seminar and participation in seminar discussion.  The paper will be the more important factor in determining the grade.   

Texts:
Readings include:
John Doris, Lack of Character
Sean Nichols, Sentimental Rules
Jesse Prinz, The Emotional Construction of Morals

 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

43030-43040 • Spring 2010
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 214

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 387 • Twentieth-Century Metaethics

43515 • Fall 2009
Meets W 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

42260-42270 • Spring 2009
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 214

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 381 • Wittgenstein

43540 • Fall 2008
Meets W 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Past topics include major figures and movements in ancient, medieval, early modern, and nineteenth- and twentieth - century philosophy. 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

43125-43135 • Spring 2008
Meets TTH 12:30PM-2:00PM WAG 420

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 387 • Metaethics

44440 • Fall 2007
Meets TH 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 

PHL 387 • Moral Authority

43120 • Spring 2007
Meets W 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 

PHL 610QB • Probs Of Knowledge & Valuation

41890-41905 • Spring 2006
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM WAG 214

The aim of this semester is to introduce topics in epistemology and metaphysics, initially through the works of two major philosophers, Ren Descartes (f. 1640) and David Hume (f. 1745). They will serve to introduce two main themes: the nature of knowledge and skepticism; and the nature of the human mind and action.

Descartes is known for two highly influential ideas. His skepticism arises from his reflection that we might be deceived by an “evil demon” who makes it seem as if our ordinary world exists whereas in reality there is nothing. Although Descartes hoped to defuse skepticism, it has lived on, inspiring not only generations of philosophers, but also leaving its mark in such movies as Matrix and Solaris.

Descartes’ dualism is his view that mind and body are entirely distinct. This view has been supported by religious thinkers, by many philosophers impressed by the distinctive character of consciousness, and by some defenders of free will.
Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is famous for supposedly arguing for a form of skepticism that Descartes did not explicitly consider: skepticism about whether the future will resemble the past. His discussion of this issue is closely intertwined with a remarkable theory of causation, a theory which led him to hold that an action can be free, and so can merit praise or blame, even though it is causally determined. We will also discuss some aspects of Hume’s philosophy of religion, notably his section on miracles, and his presentation of the problem of evil. 

PHL 384F • First-Year Seminar

42355 • Fall 2005
Meets W 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Prerequisites

 

This course is restricted to first year graduate students in philosophy

 

 

PHL 387 • Philosophy Of Emotions

40860 • Spring 2005
Meets W 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 316

Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 

PHL 387 • Moral Psychology

39420 • Spring 2004
Meets T 3:30PM-6:30PM WAG 210

Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 

PHL 387 • Moral Psychology

39600 • Spring 2003
Meets TH 12:30PM-3:30PM WAG 210

Past topics include contemporary ethical theory; theories of justice; philosophy of law; social contract theories; political philosophy. 

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