Introduction to Philosophy (100)
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Tom Ryckman
Philosophy Department
Lawrence University

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Philosophy100: Introduction to Philosophy

A philosophical examination of both some of the questions, problems, puzzles, and paradoxes that have helped to generate philosophical theories and some of arguments employed in appraising those theories. The selected topics are interesting and important in their own right (I think) and hang together thematically. The course is designed both to inform students of certain of the problems of philosophy and to enable students to consider, develop, and refine certain of the analytical skills that philosophers have developed and refined in their efforts to solve those problems.

Texts: This term there will be no textbooks. I think that textbook prices are unreasonable. Course reading will be put on Moodle.

Requirements: Mid-term exam (40pts), final exam (40pts), and 4 of 5 quizzes (20pts).

Course outline:

I. Introduction: What kinds of things are there? “On the Study of Philosophy”

A. Philosophical systems or Ontologies.
B. Argument

II. Are there good philosophical reasons for admitting God into our ontology?

A. The definition of "God" .
B. Theistic Arguments.

1. Cosmological (Aquinas).
2. Teleological (Hume).
3. Ontological (Anselm

C. Atheistic Arguments.

1. The Paradox of the Stone.
2. The Problem of Evil (Leibniz)

D. A Pragmatic Approach: Pascal's Wager (Pascal).

III. What is a person? What are thoughts, beliefs and desires?

A. Materialism

1. A Statement of Materialism
2. Arguments Against (Descartes)

B. Cartesian Dualism (Descartes)

1. A Statement of Cartesian Dualism (Ryle).
2. Alleged Advantages of Cartesian Dualism.
3. Problems for Cartesian Dualism.

a. Interactionism (Ryle).
b. Other Minds (Russell)

C. Mental States (Lewis, Dennett, Churchland).

IV. Ontology and Epistemology: What is the nature and extent of human knowledge?.

A. Analyses of Knowledge.
B. Skeptical Arguments.
C. Rationalism and Empiricism.
D. The Circle of Our Own Ideas.

1. Descartes.
2. Locke.
3. Berkeley

 V. Descartes’s Meditations.

A. Meditation I.

1. Method of Doubt.
2. Dream Hypothesis.
3. Evil Demon Hypothesis.

B. Meditation II.

1. The Cogito Passage.
2. Descartes’s First Certainty

C. Descartes’s Ontological Argument.
D. The Cartesian Circle.