SVGS Philosophy Workshop

All assignments, readings, and links will be available
at http://www.mathmage.org

Instructor: Mr. Irons
email: svgsPhilosophy@gmail.com

In this workshop, we will explore philosophy not just as
subject matter, but also as a method of inquiry. We'll
learn to identify deductive arguments, and how to avoid
logical fallacies in reasoning. We will do this while
exploring various perspectives on two related philosophical topics:
personal identity and the nature of mind

So our workshop will have three strands:

  1. the philosophical method
    What is a deductive argument?
    What are the common errors in reasoning?
    Are thought experiments legitimate philosophical tools?
  2. personal identity
    What makes a person the same person
    throughout a lifetime?
    Can one person have two brains? Half a brain?
    Would you survive teleportation? Branching?
  3. and

  4. the nature of mind
    What is consciousness?
    Can a machine be conscious?
    Could there be creatures who act just
    like humans, but have no consciousness?
  5. Requirements:

    Daily homework and/or quizzes on assigned video clips and readings (20%)
    In-class group work and presentations (60%)
    Two essays written in class on your choice of topics from a pre-assigned list (20%)

    ************************************************************************************

    Day 1: August 15

    Topics

    1. Philosophical Method
      i. Lecture: Argument, premises, conclusion, proposition, normal form
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Writing Arguments In Normal Form
    2. Personal Identity
      i. Lecture: Numerical identity vs qualitative sameness
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Theseus' Ship
    3. The Nature of Mind
      i. Lecture: Mind and consciousness
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Your Theory Of Mind

    Assignment for next meeting (there will be a quiz!):

    Discussion questions for this assignment.
    1. Read: Wikipedia article on deductive reasoning, sections 1. through 3., at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deductive_reasoning
    2. Read: the “first night” and the beginning of the “second night” (to page 14, up to but not including COHEN's first remark)
      of the Perry dialogue.
    3. Read: Excerpts from Meditation VI in Rene Descartes' Meditations.
      Read: Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, Rene Descartes, "Correspondence between Descartes and Princess Elisabeth",
      p. 1 - 7, just to the end of Descartes' letter which begins on p. 5.
    Day 2: August 22

    Rene Descartes

    Quiz over assignment

    Topics

    1. Philosophical Method
      i. Lecture: Deductive and non-deductive arguments
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Deductive vs Nondeductive
    2. Personal Identity
      i. Lecture: Criteria for Survival
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: What Survives
    3. The nature of mind
      i. Lecture: Dualism, interactionism, epiphenomenalism, and parallelism
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Descartes in Normal Form

    Assignment for next meeting (there will be a quiz!):

    Discussion questions for this assignment.

    1. Find three ordinary language arguments from different sources
      (editorials, blogs, etc.). Write the arguments
      in normal form. Identify the source of each argument. Click here for an example.
    2. Read: The rest of the “second night” of the Perry dialogue.
      (The “third night” will be skipped.)
      Read: An excerpt from John Locke’s An Essay ConcerningHuman Understanding,
      about the prince and the cobbler.
    3. Read: Section 1. "What is Behaviorism?" and Section 2. "Three Types of Behaviorism"
      in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on behaviorism, at
      https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/behaviorism/


    Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia

    Day 3: August 29

    John Locke

    Quiz over assignment

    Topics

    1. Philosophical Method
      i. Lecture: Informal fallacies Part I: Affirming the consequent, Denying the antecedent
      Begging the question (circular arguments), Straw man

      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Fallacies 1
    2. Personal Identity
      i. Video clip “To Be”:https://www.nfb.ca/film/to_be/
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Three Cases of Teleportation
    3. The nature of mind
      i. Lecture: Behaviorism, logical behaviorism, and qualia
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Dispositions

    Assignment for next meeting (there will be a quiz!):

    Discussion questions for this assignment.
    1. Watch these Khan academy videos on informal fallacies:
      1. Affirming the consequent
      2. Denying the antecedent
      3. Begging the question
      4. Straw man
    2. Read: "What we believe ourselves to be",
      up to but not including section 79. Other Views, from Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons
    3. Read: J. J. C. Smart's "Sensations and Brain Processes", p. 141 - 145,
      up to but not including Remarks on identity.
    4. Read: Brie Gertler "In Defense of Mind-Body Dualism".

    Brie Gertler
    Day 4: September 5

    Derek Parfit

    Quiz over assignment

    Topics

    1. Philosophical Method
      i. Lecture: Informal fallacies Part II: Ad hominem, Hasty generalization,
      Slippery slope, Fallacy of composition

      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: More Fallacies
    2. Personal Identity
      i. Parfit interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_SOXpzgs_I&feature=related (1:38 - 7:10)
      Hemispherectomy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaDlLD97CLM
      Divided brain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfGwsAdS9Dc
      Another Divided brain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHgClWAPbBY
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Fission Skit
    3. The nature of mind
      i. Lecture: Identity theory and nomological danglers
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Objections to Identity

    J. J. C. Smart

    Assignment for next meeting (there will be a quiz!):

    Discussion questions for this assignment.
    1. Watch these Khan academy videos on informal fallacies:
      1. Ad hominem
      2. Slippery slope
      3. Fallacy of composition
    2. Read: sections 87 "Divided Minds", and 89 "What happens when I divide?",
      p. 253 - 267 from Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons
    3. Read: Sections 3.1 - 3.3, "Varieties of Functionalism", in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
      article on functionalism, at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/functionalism/
    Day 5: September 12

    David Hume

    Quiz over assignment

    Topics

    1. Philosophical Method
      i. Lecture: Non-deductive arguments
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Inductive Arguments
    2. Personal Identity
      i. Lecture: Properties of Identity
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Practice with Transitivity, Symmetry, and Reflexivity
    3. The nature of mind
      i. Lecture: Functionalism
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: What Mary didn't know

    Assignment for next meeting (there will be a quiz!):

    Discussion questions for this assignment.
    1. Read: section "1. Hume's Problem" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article
      "The Problem of Induction", at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/induction-problem/#HumeProb
      Read: "The Grue Paradox" in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on "Evidence"
      at https://www.iep.utm.edu/evidence/#SH3b
    2. Read: Eric Olson, "An Argument for Animalism"
    3. Read: Thomas Nagel, "What is it like to be a bat?", p. 441 - 445 at
      https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/iatl/activities/modules/ugmodules/humananimalstudies/lectures/32/nagel_bat.pdf
    Day 6: September 19

    Thomas Nagel

    Quiz over assignment

    Topics

    1. Philosophical Method
      i. Lecture: Paradoxes of induction: Support for the contrapositive, the grue paradox
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Contrapositive and Grue
    2. Personal Identity
      i. Lecture: Divided Brains
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Cerebral Fission
    3. The nature of mind
      i. Lecture: Can a machine think?
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Create a philosophy chatbot

    4. Try out Mr. Irons Chatbot as an example.


    Nelson Goodman

    Assignment for next meeting (there will be a quiz!):

    Discussion questions for this assignment.
    1. Read: Tamar Gendler "Exceptional Persons: on the limits of imaginary cases",
      section 3.3 The Self and the Future, p. 65-68.
    2. Read: Lynne Rudder Baker "What Am I?", p. 154 - 159.
    3. Read: John Searle's "Is the Brain's Mind a Computer Program".
      Read: Daniel C. Dennet's "Where Am I?" at
      https://www.lehigh.edu/~mhb0/Dennett-WhereAmI.pdf

    Tamar Gendler
    Day 7: September 26

    Daniel Dennett

    Quiz over assignment

    Topics

    1. Philosophical Method
      i. Lecture: The thought experiment: Are there limits?
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Some famous thought experiments
    2. Personal identity and the nature of mind
      i. Group activity and presentations:
      Handout: Romanian Room
      ii. Group activity and presentations
      Handout: Where is Dennett?
      iii. Individual work (Review)
      Handout: Bifurcating Keys for Personal Identity and the Nature of Mind


    John Searle

    Assignment for next meeting

    Select two topics from the list of essay topics. Practice writing your two essays.
    On October 3, come to class ready to write your essays from scratch,
    with no notes. You may bring your own copies of any of the readings you plan to quote.
    Handout: SVGS Philosophy Workshop Essay Topics
    Handout:Essay Grading Rubric

    Example essay on topic 9
    Example essay on topic 10


    Lynne Rudder Baker

    Day 8: October 3

    Review
    Write first essay
    Break
    Write second essay
    Farewell


    Eric Olson