Monday, 9 December 2013

Seminar 9 - 11th Dec - Hume On Miracles

Reading: Hume - An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section 10


1. Do you belive in miracles? Why/why not?

2. Hume says in paragraph 4 "a wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence". What does he mean by this?

3. Can we know things via testimony? Why/why not?

4. Whose testimony do you trust the most? Why?

5. At paragraphy 12 how does Hume define a miracle? Is it a good defintion? Why/why not?

6. What is Hume's argument right at the end of Part 1 (paragraph 13)?

7. Is there anyone whose testimony would be sufficent to establish a miracle to you?

8. In Part 2 Paragraoh 15 Hume says "there is not to be found, in all history, any miracle attested by a sifficent number of men, or such unquestioned good sense, education and learning as to secure us against all delusion in themselves". Do you agree?

9. In Part 2 paragraph 24 Hume says "in matters of religion, whatever is different is contrarym abd ,,, it is impossible the religions of ancient Rome, of Turkey, of Siam and of Chia, should , all of them, be established on any solid foundation". What does he mean by this? Is there any statement on which all religions agree? If so, what does this mean?

Monday, 25 November 2013

Seminar 7 - 27th Nov - Induction

Ladyman, Understanding Philosophy Of Science, Chapter 2.

1. What is deduction?
What do you know via deduction?
If a deductive arugment is valid and its premises are true, what is the truth vaule of the conclusion?

2. What is induction?
What do you know via induction?
If a deductive arugment's premises are true, what does this mean for the truth vaule of the conclusion?

3. How much of our knowledge comes from induction?

4. What is the problem of induction? How big a problem is it?

5. Induction has mostly worked in the past. So we can rely on it to work in the future. Is this a good argument? Why/why not?

6. Is it rational to use induction? Why/why not?

7. Is induction justified by the uniformity of nature?

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Seminar 6 - 20th Nov - The Priori

Reading: Morton, A Guide Through the Theory Of Knowledge, Chapter 3 (Aprori Beliefs)

1. What is an example of one of your;
a)A priori beliefs
b)A posteriori beliefs

2. What is an example of
a)An analytic truth
b)A logical truth
c)Necsscary truth

3. Do we know logical truths from evidence?

4. If your answer to question 2c you gave a necsscary truth. How did you come to know that truth?

5. What is an example of a necsscary truth learnt aposteriori?

6. What is an example of a truth learnt a priori which is not nescsscary?

7. Are all apriori beliefs analytic? What does Kant think? What do you think?

8. What are the three examples in section 3 which philosophers might use to argue against Kant? Do you find them convincing?

9. Morton gives an example of how 'all bachelors are unmarried men' could be flase. Are you convinced?

10. Is there really an analytic/synethtic distinction?

11. What does Quine mean by 'web of beliefs'? What is at the center of your web of beliefs?

12. Suppose that we use the following definition of number 'one is a number, and two is a number, and anything that you get from adding one number to another is a number'. Is the belief that there are infinetly many numbers analytic if that definition is right?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Seminar 5 - 13th Nov - Mind/Body Problem

Reading: The Mind Body Problem, Tim Crane


1. What is substance dualism?

2. Does a physical effect need a physical cause?

3. Are our mental states physical states according to A)Descartes? B)Physicalism? C)You?

4. Do our metal states have effects? If so, are any of them physical?

5. What is Type Identity Theory?

6. Can you imagine an alien made entirely of steel who non the less feels pain? What does this tell you about type identity?

7. What is token identity theory?

8. Why might the mind body problem still be a problem for token identity theories?

9. If you knew every physical fact about what happened in my brain when I was in pain, but had never felt pain, would there be something you didnt know about pain?

Monday, 28 October 2013

Seminar 4 - 30th Oct - Foundationalism and Coherentism

Reading: Sosa - The Raft and The Pyramid

1. What does Sosa think are the two key questions in the theory of knowledge? Which do you think we should try to answer first? Why?

2. According to Sosa, is foundationalism like a raft or a pyramid? What does he mean by this?

3. Descartes is a foundationalist. What belief do you think is at the top 'node' for Descartes? Is it 'perfectly obvious'?

4. What beliefs are 'pefectly obvious' to you?

5. What does Sosa think is the 'fatal weakness' of radical foundationalism? Do you agree?

6. What metaphor does Sosa use to explain coherentism?

7. What is the anti-foundationanlist argument on pg 383? Do you agree with it?

8. What is the regress argument on pg 385?

9. If A justifies B, and B justifies C, can C justify A?

10. Are you a foundationalist or a coherentist, or neither? Why?

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Seminar 3 - 23rd Nov - Knowledge


Goldman, A Causal Theory Of Knowing
(on blackboard and in the coursepack)


1. What are the three conditions given by the traditional account of knowledge? Do you agree that they are all necesscary?

2. Does Giettier think the traditional account is a complete account?

3. Why/why not? (Harder optional question: try to think of your own Giettier style example)

4. Does Goldman agree that something is missing from the traditional anyalsis?

5. If yes, what does he think that thing is? If no, why not?

6. What is the lava example on pg 361? Is it a case of knowldege? Is there a causal connection between p and the belief that p in this case?

7. Is inference a causal connection?

8. Is there a causal connection between 2+2=4 and my belief that it is so?

9. Is there a causal connection between 'all men are mortal' and my belief that it is so? (NB I havent percieved *all* men, nor has anyone else)

Monday, 14 October 2013

Seminar 2 - 16th Oct - Descartes Second Meditation


Descartes Second Meditation

1. Does Descartes think 'I am, I exisit' is beyond doubt or not?
2. What thoughts come "spontaeously and naturally" to you when you consider what you are?
3. What about Descartes? (Depending on your translation, look around paragraph 6 of the second meditation). Is your answer different to Descartes? And can either be defended against the sceptic?
4. What does Descartes attribute to the body?
5. And what does he attribute to the soul?
6. Which of the attributes Descartes talks about could be tricks played by the evil deamon? What does Descartes think and what do you think?
7.Can you imagine yourself without a body?
8.Do you know the nature of your mind better than you know the nature of your body?