Wednesday, June 25, 2014

phi 2010 syllabus (in progress)

alfredo triff, ph.d.

room 3604-28 (Building #3, 6th floor)
tel. 305.237.7554
office hours: posted
text: Doing Philosophy: An Introduction through Thought Experiments, by Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn (Fifth Edition).

* become familiar with contemporary trends in philosophy.
* stimulate the philosophical spirit: * i.e.,  curiosity, approachability, magnanimity, hypothetical creativity & philosophy for life. people generally refer to this as critical thinking skills.


1. grades "A," "B" and "C" stand for outstanding, good and average respectively. "D" is below average. "F" means not enough work to justify credit for the course.

2. we have 4 exams and a paper. all exams are worth the same. the final paper is about 15 pts of the final grade, punctuality and participation the remaining points.

the breakdown is a qualitative approximation (my grades are generally curved).

3. attendance is mandatory. 3 non-excused absences are permitted. each absence thereafter will lower the participation grade by a 1/3 of a grade. missing exams must be justified by a doctor’s note or the equivalent. under no circumstances a student will take two exams in my office!

4. homeworks are important but they are your duty. the routine is that we start each class with a HW-review. 

schedule of classes

Chapter 1: Philosophical Problems
1.1: Explaining The Possibility Of The Impossible: Philosophical Problems. Stakes In Philosophical Enquiry: An Account Of Problems, Such As Mind-Body, Free Will, Personal Identity, Moral Relativism, And The Concept Of Evil. 1.2: Evidence And Inference.
1.3: Thought Experiments

Chapter 7: Epistemology
7.1 Skepticism As A Key To Certainty: Descartes
7.2 Perception Of The External World.
7.3 How Much Do We Know? What Knowledge Is: Defeasibility Theory; Causal Theory; Reliability Theory; Explanationist Theory

Quiz #1

Chapter 2: The Mind/Body Problem
2.1 The Ghost In The Machine: Mind As Soul: Descartes’ Doubt; Je Pense Donc Je Suis; Conceivability Argument; Divisibility Argument; Causal Impotence Of The Mental; Causal Closure Of The Physical; Other Minds
2.2 You Are What You Eat: Mind As Body: Empiricism; Positivism; Logical Behaviorism; Identity Theory
2.3 I, Robot: Mind As Software: AI; Functionalism And Feeling; The Turing Test; Intentionality
2.4 There Are No Ghosts: Mind And Myth: Psychology; Subjective Knowledge
2.5 Mind As Quality: Primitive Intentionality; Mental Dependence; Downward Causation

Chapter 3: Free Will Or Determinism?
3.1 Freedom As Chance: Hard Determinism; Indeterminism
3.2 Freedom As Necessity: Traditional Compatibilism; Hierarchical Compatibilism;
3.3 Freedom As Self-Determination: Agent Causation

Midterm Exam (cumulative)

Chapter 4: Personal Identity And Selfhood
4.1 Self And Substance: Animalism; The Soul Theory
4.2 Golden Memories: Self As Psyche: Memory Theory; Inconsistency Objection; Circularity Objection; Reduplication Problem
4.3 Self As Process: The Brain Theory; Split Brains; Identity And Survival; Identity And Responsibility; Explaining Selfhood

Quiz #2

Chapter 5: Ethics and Political Philosophy
5.1 Might Makes Right: Subjective Absolutism And Relativism; Cultural Relativism; Divine Command Theory; Are There Universal Moral Principles?
5.2 Good Makes Right: Ethical Egoism; Act Utilitarianism: Problems With Rights, Duties And Justice; Rule Utilitarianism
5.3 Duty Makes Right: Kant’s Categorical Imperative: First And Second Formulations; Ross’ Prima Facie Duties;
5.4 Virtue Makes Right: The Virtuous Utilitarian, Kantian; Purpose Of Morality; Aristotle On Virtue, Mcintyre On Virtue; Virtue Ethics


i reserve the right to make changes in the order or chapters, provided i let you know in advance.
missing tests: if a student has valid reasons for missing an exam, i will grant a makeup (with proper justification). once justification is provided, the student may take the exam in my office. however, there is only one such opportunity. a student will not be allowed to take two exams in my office (or else they forfeit the result of the second test taken for a "C"). 

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