Lara Buchak

Lara Buchak

Associate Professor of Philosophy; Senior Fellow, Berkeley Institute


This seminar will focus on questions surrounding the phenomenon of conversion, which is a radical shift in viewpoint.  How can we ever come to occupy a perspective radically different from the one we currently hold?  Does this happen as the result of a rational process, like considering arguments or collecting evidence, or as the result of a different kind of process, like being deeply moved by something or reading a novel?  Can we understand a different perspective without believing it, or does conversion to a different viewpoint require committing to it ahead of time?  If we know that there are different viewpoints–radically at odds with each other–that we can adopt, is there a good way to make a choice about which one to occupy?

Dates: 11.1, 11.7, 11.15, 11.22
Time: 5:15-6:45 pm

Reading schedule:

11/1: How does our perspective shape our beliefs? Paul Feyerabend, Against Method (selection).
11/7: Can two perspectives be compared? Alastair MacIntyre, “The Rationality of Traditions”.**This seminar has been moved to Monday evening.
11/15: Does which perspective you adopt depend on reasoning or on what grips you emotionally? William Wainwright, “John Henry Newman and the ‘Grammar of Assent’”.
11/22: Does your perspective depend on a choice you make or are you compelled to adopt it? Soren Kierkegaard, “The Follower at Second Hand”.

To receive copies of the readings, please contact