Life, the Universe, and Everything

A Course Blog for GET1029/GEK1067

Category: General Philosophy (page 1 of 2)

Some Group Discussion Summaries

I asked the tutors to send me some of their favorite “Group Discussion Summaries” (GDS). You will see them below. Keep in mind that some (but not all) of these go above and beyond what we were looking for. But before that, let me say something about the genesis and rationale for the component.

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Article: The intelligent monster that you should let eat you

Hat tip to a student of mine who sent me this:

Imagine a monster with a set of words so powerful you have to let it eat you. It might sound fanciful, but we could be on a trajectory to inventing one right now, writes Richard Fisher.

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201111-philosophy-of-utility-monsters-and-artificial-intelligence

More about the Principle of Indifference

As stated in W11 Slide #36, the Principle of Indifference says:

  • When faced with n > 1 possibilities that are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive, and you have no evidence about their relative likelihoods, a probability equal to 1/n for each possibility.

I also gave two examples in the lecture:

  • Example 1:
  • Paul graduated from either JPJC, ACJC, or SAJC (and exactly one of them), but you don’t know which and you don’t know the likelihood of him going to any one of them.
    Assign a probability equal to 1/3 to the possibility that he went to SAJC. 
  • Example 2:
  • You have one lucky draw coupon, and you know that one coupon from a pile (numbered 000,000,000 to 999,999,999) will be picked. Each coupon give you one chance of willing. Assign a probability equal to 1/1,000,000,000 to the outcome where your coupon is the winning coupon.

Now, the “probability” we are talking about is not something about the world–about where Paul actually went to school, or which coupon is the actual winning coupon. Rather, we are talking about the level of confidence you should have, if you are being rational, in one of the options being true, given that you don’t know yet.

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The Regress Argument Against Knowledge (from the GET1029 Archives)

I wrote the below back when the knowledge topic dealt with the regress argument for justification (the very first semester I took on teaching GET1029, by the way). It also touches on issues relating to how we respond to skepticism. Since a couple of you asked, I’ll make it available here for those interested.

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Videos on Necessary and Sufficient Condition

So we have the “Short Lesson on Arguments and Logic” and the “Arguments Lesson Bot” (@ArgumentsLessonBot on telegram). For those who prefer something more visual, these are good too. Having a lecture about these ideas aren’t especially helpful–you will feel as if you understand, but what we need you to be able to do is to actually apply them, ideally almost instinctively.

Omnipotence and Explosion

Click on image to see Kitty’s reaction upon discovering the Principle of Explosion…

I said a bit about how the idea that God–an omnipotent being–can do the logically impossible is probably not a good idea to accept, whether you are an Atheist attempting to push the Logical Problem of Evil (“Why, your God can’t do that? Not all powerful izzit?”), or a Theist trying to defuse the Logical Problem of Evil. This post expands on that idea and introduces you to a point about logic called the Principle of Explosion.

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Contradiction and Inconsistency (or, the problem with the Logical Problem of Evil)

This is an expansion on the last segment of W08 and the stuff from earlier in the lecture that leads up to it. Since it concerns what many philosophers of religion now perceive to be the critical weakness of the LPOE–prompting them to move to an inductive/evidential rather than a strictly logical formulation of the Problem–it bears a bit of re-emphasizing. (Warning: this is a longish post. I originally wrote it to help students from a previous year who said that they found the material hard to follow. This might not apply to you in this semester. But since I wrote it, might as well.)

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A Couple of Points about Logic

Making explicit things that are already implied by “A Short Lesson on Arguments and Logic”; totally optional. Click through to see…

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Susan Hurley vs. Galen Strawson on Moral Responsibility (Long Post)

This post comes in two parts, plus an appendix. Part 1 is mainly a revision of what’s already in the lecture, talking through Strawson’s Basic Argument and the “Hurley Response” to make sure that you are up to speed. Part 2 goes beyond and is meant for those with deeper interest. The Appendix explains why I structured the Hurley response the way I did. Ok, here goes.

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A Sensible Take on “Neo-Liberalism”

Since someone asked in the last Q/A, here goes.

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