Summer Reading

Newly accepted graduate students often ask what they can do over the summer to prepare themselves for the program. Some have suggested that they would like a list of books to read over the summer. The faculty provides the following incomplete list of suggestions. We’d like to emphasize that reading all these books in one summer is neither reasonable nor desirable. Students are urged to pick what they find interesting and to consider reading something that is not in the area they currently envision doing research.

General Recommendations:

The Oxford Handbook of Continental Philosophy
The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory
The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics
The Oxford Handbook of Epistemology

Recommendations From Individual Faculty:

Jessica Berry:
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (
Comment: “The subscription is completely free. A review will appear in your e- mail every few days; read only those that interest you. This is a great way to keep up with the best new literature in every branch of philosophy, and I think it provides some excellent models for substantive but concise critical essays.”

Andrew I. Cohen:
A. John Simmons, Political Philosophy, Oxford 2007.
Comment: “This is an excellent, clear, thorough overview of several leading issues in contemporary political philosophy, and it does a great job at debunking certain facile assumptions about justice and political legitimacy.”

Andrew J. Cohen:
Chandran Kukathas, The Liberal Archipelago: A Theory of Diversity and Freedom, Oxford 2007.

Ed Cox:
Jaegwon Kim, Philosophy of Mind, Westview, 2005 (2nd ed.)
Comment: “The best introduction to the subject I know.”

Bill Edmundson:
Galen Strawson, Selves: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics, Oxford 2009.
Comment: “Metaphysics having huge implications for ethics ‑‑ without the usual metaethics.”

George Graham:
William Bechtel, Adele Abrahamsen, & George Graham, “The life of cognitive science,” pp. 1-104 in Bechtel & Graham, eds., A Companion to Cognitive Science, Blackwell 1999.
Comment: “This is a history of cognitive science that forms the first chapter in the Companion, and was co-authored by Wm. Bechtel, A. Abrahamsen, and myself (G. Graham). It has been translated into Italian and published as a stand-alone monograph. So ‘chapter’ is a bit of a misnomer. It is robustly interdisciplinary and may be of interest to students who wish to supplement interest in philosophy of mind and/or philosophy of science with a survey of cognitive science. Among the other disciplines discussed are artificial intelligence/computer science, cognitive psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience.”

Eddy Nahmias:
Robert Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, Oxford 2005.
Thomas Nagel, The View from Nowhere, Oxford 1989.
Comment: “Kane’s book offers a very accessible introduction to debates about free will, including recent work. Nagel’s book is literary philosophy, philosophical literature, analytic philosophy with a continental edge (and vice versa).”

Tim O’Keefe:
James Warren, Facing Death: Epicurus and His Critics, Oxford UP, 2004.
Comment: “Does an excellent job of combining a sophisticated exploration of the modern discussions of whether death is harmful with a scrupulous examination of the Epicurean texts that have inspired those discussions. Clear and engaging.”

George Rainbolt:
David Brink, Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics, Oxford 1989.
Comment: “This is a bit dated. But it is perhaps the only book I have ever read that completely changed my mind about a foundational philosophical issue.”

Sebastian Rand:
Michael Thompson, Life and Action: Elementary Structures of Practice and Practical Thought, Harvard 2008.

Andrea Scarantino:
Peter Goldie, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Emotion, Oxford 2010.

Dan Weiskopf:
Fred Dretske, Explaining Behavior, MIT, 1988.
Comment: “A brief and lucid–but also wide-ranging and insightful–discussion of the role of mental representations in psychological explanation.”