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PHILOSOPHY 101 MAYMESTER 2007 Dr. Robert Barnard.

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Presentation on theme: "PHILOSOPHY 101 MAYMESTER 2007 Dr. Robert Barnard."— Presentation transcript:

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2 PHILOSOPHY 101 MAYMESTER 2007 Dr. Robert Barnard

3 PHILOSOPHY 101 DAY 1 Course Introduction Information Cards Book & Web Texts This course has one required text: > Nils CH. Rauhut, Ultimate Questions: Thinking about Philosophy, Penguin Academics/Pearson-Longman, ISBN Additionally students are required to obtain and print copies of the following web texts (more later): (a) Plato Meno (b) Descartes, Selections from "Principles" and "Discourse on Method" (c) Mill, Utilitarianism (d) Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals

4 Syllabus Summary Get a copy at The course will examine five topic areas: the nature of philosophy, moral philosophy, theory of knowledge, the existence of God, and the nature of mind. Attendance and Related Policies: All students are expected to attend all class meetings. After the second day of class, students will be permitted 1 class period absence without penalty. Arriving more that 20 minutes late for a class period will be counted as 1/2 absence. Please turn off all phones during class and refrain from other disruptive or distracting activities. Each day will be run as if it were two class periods, 8-9:35 and 9:55-11:30, with a 20 minute break in between. Academic Integrity (see syllabus)

5 Syllabus Continued Requirements: Active Class Participation (15%) 5 Quiz Papers (50%) On assigned topics. You may submit fewer if you are willing to accept a lower grade. You may submit 6 and drop lowest. Final Exam (35%)

6 Topics We will Cover The Nature of Philosophy Knowledge (Epistemology) Proofs for God (Epistemology/Metaphysics) Ethics (Aesthetics) The Nature of Mind (Metaphysics)

7 The Nature of Philosophy Most of you lack a basic familiarity with the discipline (but thats not your fault). Philosophy about Philosophy: a) The story we tell about what philosophy is must help explain the fact that people have considered it worth studying for over 3000 years (thats as old as mathematics and literatureto be a human being in a civilization is to be prone to philosophy). b) The story must also explain why some parts of human culture and knowledge are philosophy and some arent.

8 Possible Definitions Kierkegaardian Definition (Kierkegaard): Search for Self- Understanding Socratic Definition (Socrates): Love and pursuit of wisdom-- Socrates: The Unexamined Life is not worth living Orwellian Definition (Orwell): Investigation of the meanings of our most basic concepts Cartesian Definition (Descartes): Search for fundamental beliefs that are rationally justified. My Father-in-laws Definition: Its a bunch of crap.

9 More Possible Definitions Russellian Definition (Russell): Asking of important questions as a way to develop our thinking skills and better understand the world. Wittgensteinian Definition: Philosophy is the therapeutic elimination of philosophical problems by showing that they are just confusions of language. Quinean Definition (Quine): Philosophy is continuous with science, common sense gone self-critical. Historical Definition: A specific segment of intellectual history comprised of proposed answers to a set of recurring question. Rahuts Definition: Philosophy can be understood as the attempt to develop a big picture view of the universe with the help of reason. (UQ 4)

10 Philosophy vs. Non-Philosophy Philosophy: Makes sense of the world by appeal to REASON Mythology: Makes sense fo the world with the help of STORIES Religion: Makes sense of the world by appeal to REVELATION What about SCIENCE?

11 Philosophy vs. Science Both philosophy and science employ reason, both look for evidence in experience. The difference is in the type of questions they ask! Scientific Questions: Are well formed and (in principle) can be given definite answers by applying the scientific method (experimentation) Philosophical Question: Are Open Questions, specifying the question requires the use of conceptual analysis and experimental investigations may not determine the answer.

12 Main Areas in Philosophy(1) Logic Ethics Metaphysics Epistemology

13 Main Areas in Philosophy(2) Logic - The study of arguments and reasoning in general and as applied to specific cases. Ethics Metaphysics Epistemology

14 Main Areas in Philosophy(3) Logic Ethics – The study of morality and value. How shall we live? What sort of Person ought I be? What ought I to value? How shall I act? (Aesthetics- What is beauty? ) Metaphysics Epistemology

15 Main Areas in Philosophy(4) Logic Ethics Metaphysics - The study of the nature of reality. What is there? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is the world we experience the real world? Epistemology

16 Main Areas in Philosophy (5) Logic Ethics Metaphysics Epistemology – What is knowledge? Is knowledge possible? Where does knowledge come from?

17 Philosophy 101 Philosophers Toolbox Philosophy looks at what is possible, in order to better understand what is actual. We use specific tools to test for rational belief. Topics to consider: i)Logical Consistency ii)Kinds of possibility iii)Conceptual analysis iv)Some Logic

18 Logical Consistency Logical consistency is a relationship that holds between two claims or among the claims in a theory or system of belief Two claims, A and B, are logically consistent if they can both be true at the same time. Two claims, A and B, are logically inconsistent if they cannot both be true at the same time.

19 Logical Consistency Consistent Claims: a) Tom is a father, Tom is a grandfather b) Ted is taller than Sally, Sally is taller than Al c) Memphis is in Tennessee, Oxford is in Mississippi

20 Logical Consistency Inconsistent Claims: a) Pat is a father, Pat is a grandmother. b) Arnold is President of the US, Arnold is not a native born citizen. c) Al is taller than Sally, Sally is taller than Al.

21 Logical Consistency Inconsistent Sets: a)(Preferences) I prefer Coke to Pepsi, I prefer Pepsi to water, I prefer water to Coke. (any 2 are consistent) b)(Beliefs) We are all responsible for our choices and actions, All physical events are pre- determined by the laws of physics, We are not responsible for what we cannot control, Human behavior is a series of physical events. (some subsets are consistent, others not)

22 Consistency and Contradiction If two claims are inconsistent (cannot both be true), they might still both be false. Ed is in Oxford, Ed is in Tupelo Some inconsistent claims are also contradictory. These cannot both be true and they cannot both be false. Tom is dead, Tom is alive.

23 Possibility We will distinguish 3 main types of possibility: Physical Possibility Logical possibility Mere Conceivability

24 Physical Possibility Something is physically possible if it could occur in a world like ours with the same natural laws, etc. (would fit into a world like science describes) Rain in a desert is uncommon, but possible. Paper not burning in the presence of flame and oxygen is impossible.

25 Logical Possibility Something is logically possible just in case it does not involve a logical contradiction. A universe containing nothing but a a tennis ball is logically possible. A universe in which = 5 is logically impossible. A universe in which one object is in two or places at once is logically impossible.

26 Conceivability Something is conceivable is we can imagine it or give it a description. A square circle is conceivable but it is not logically possible A human being capable of independent flight is conceivable but it is not physically possible.

27 How these types are related… If X is physically possible, then it is logically possible and conceivable. If X is logically possible then it must be conceivable, but it need not be physically possible (a hydrogen atom with no mass) If X is conceivable, it need not be possible in either sense.

28 CONCEIVABLES The Man whose pants are on fire. Coach O The King of Brazil Harry Potter The golden Mountain Santa Claus The Square Circle LOGICALLY POSSIBLE The Man whose pants are on fire. Coach O The King of Brazil Harry Potter The golden Mountain Santa Claus The Square Circle The Man whose pants are on fire. Coach O The King of Brazil Harry Potter The golden Mountain Santa Claus PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE

29 Why worry about Possibility? Philosophers try to explain things in ways that make sense (conceivable), obey reason (logical), and relate to our world (physical possibility). When we are asked to give an account of something, we try to satisfy all three.

30 A Case: UFOs Many people claim to have seen UFOs or ETs, many more claim to believe in their existence. How might a philosopher explain this fact?

31 Survey the Possibilities! Possibility 1 – ETs and UFOs are real Possibility 2 – ETs and UFOs are part of some government conspiracy (several versions?) Possibility 3 – ETs and UFOs are imaginary Possibility 4 – ETs and UFOs are really angelic beings Possibility 5 – ETs and UFOs are really time travelers Etc. With so many possibilities how do we decide what to think?

32 Are any theories inconceivable ? Possibility 2 – ETs and UFOs are part of some government conspiracy (several versions?) WHO KNOWS? WHO IS PART OF THE CONSPIRIACY? Possibility 3 – ETs and UFOs are imaginary WHAT IS IT TO BE IMAGINARY? WHY DO PEOPLE IMAGINE THESE THINGS? Possibility 4 – ETs and UFOs are really angelic beings WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ANGELIC BEINGS? All of these would need to be made much more specific in order to determine if they are conceivable! (need conceptual analysis!)

33 Are any Physically impossible? Possibility 4 – ETs and UFOs are really angelic beings Given an ordinary account of angels, they are not part of the physical world. Possibility 1 – ETs and UFOs are real Possibility 5 – ETs and UFOs are really time travelers Both 1 & 5 might require that ETs violate the laws of physics as we understand them.

34 What theory should we adopt? 1, 4, and 5 violate our present understanding of the laws of nature. (they are not physically possible). 2 requires that there be a large number of people cooperating in order to lie to us, and that no one has been able to prove this. (is this likely?) 3 requires that human beings have the ability to fool themselves on a large scale. (is this likely?) Ockhams Razor (part 1) – SIMPLE THEORIES are better!

35 Conceptual Analysis 1 Testing Theories often requires that we be able to say what we mean VERY CLEARLY We need to be able to specify what our words mean and clarify what others mean by their words. The main goal of CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS (CA) is to give the NECESSARY and SUFFICIENT CONDITIONS for a concept

36 Conceptual Analysis 2 Necessary Condition(s): X is a necessary condition for Y if all Ys must be X or have X -Laying Eggs is a necessary condition for being a bird. -Holding 5 cards of a single suit is a necessary condition for having a flush in poker -Being a male is a necessary condition for being a father.

37 Conceptual Analysis 3 Sufficient Condition(s): X is a sufficient condition for Y when having X or being X determines that something is Y. -Rolling 3,4 on a pair of dice is sufficient for rolling 7 -Being a father is sufficient for being male -Having 3 quarters is sufficient for having 75 cents.

38 Conceptual Analysis 4 What is a CITIZEN? What are the necessary conditions? What are the sufficient conditions? What is a PERSON? What are the necessary conditions? What are the sufficient conditions?

39 What if….? What if you cannot make a theory clear? – if you cannot make your theory clear it is not a real option. [Reject it!] What if you know that your theory is physically impossible, but you want to keep it anyway? -- If you feel compelled to accept what is physically impossible, then you have some extra work to do! You need a secondary theory to explain which non-physical entities are Really REAL and which are not OCKHAMs Razor (Part 2) - …without necessity Metaphysical Possibility ???? What if your theory commits you to a contradiction? – If your theory commits you to a contradiction, then either you MUST reject it, or you must reject reason (e.g. Tertullian Credo Quia Absurdum)

40 A Case: Are we a Nation based on Ideas? We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (Declaration of Independence, para. 2)

41 Ask yourself… What is a self-evident truth? What is a right? Why value life, liberty, orhappiness? How can valuing these things justify revolution? What is a just power of government (as opposed to a power)? Etc.

42 The End For next time read through page 65 in Rahut. Also download and read Descartes Meditations 1-2.


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