Life, the Universe, and Everything

A Course Blog for GET1029/GEK1067

Page 3 of 13

W10 Q/A

Update: A few items from the archive added to the end.

Here goes…

Is there a clearer and stricter definition of ‘mental’ and ‘physical’ and what it means for something to be a mental state or a physical state?

Unfortunately, no. And there’s a reason too–it’s actually an extremely complicated topic, how the “physical” in “physicalism” should be defined (for those sleepless nights). Nonetheless, there is a sort of method to the madness here–at the end of the day, the theories are meant to illuminate basic and intuitive notions we already have. Those notions might need to be revised given a more rigorous analysis and empirical investigation, but they are the starting points. If we don’t already notice that some things have mind, or mental attributes, and others don’t, we won’t even be in this conversation at all. For our purposes, that more basic and intuitive understanding is thus all that we need to get the topic off the ground. It won’t stop there of course, if you are pursuing this more deeply.

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Listverse: 10 Fascinating Ways Our Brains Can Be Manipulated

10 Fascinating Ways Our Brains Can Be Manipulated


Supervenience and Reduction

Just some additional notes from the archive. As I said in Slide #15, by Physicalism or Materialism, or more accurately, Reductive Physicalism, I mean the combination of three distinct ideas.

We are Physical Things—We are basically a physical thing with both mental and physical characteristics rather than a composite of a purely mental thing and a purely physical thing.

Mind-Body Dependence—What mental characteristics we have depends on what physical characteristics we have.

Mind-Body Reductionism—Mental characteristics are just (configurations of) physical characteristics , with other names.

And Mind-Body Dependence (Slide #17) itself is a composite of the following three ideas:

(1) Physical characteristics are more fundamental than and explain mental characteristics.

(2) Mental characteristics supervenes on physical characteristics–Two things have different mental characteristics only if they have different physical characteristics.

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Crash Course Mind-Body Problem, etc.

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Podcast Episode #07

Compatibilism and Semi-Compatibilism. (This was actually recorded much earlier–together with Episode #05. Now finally released.)

Quiz 08 Hints

  • Question 2

Abe’s statement has been edited.

  • Question 3

Small edits made to the question. Ok, some of you seem to be getting lost in the story. I’ll put the below down to help you.

  • Scenario in Abe’s Statements
    • Lena is religious, privy to religious experiences, her experiences count as evidence for the existence of God, believes that God exists;
    • Will and Gene are not religious, not privy to religious experiences; Will believes that God doesn’t exist (while Gene believes that God exist);
    • Evaluate: Given the above, and the concepts taught, is it correct that–Epistemic Uniqueness is true in the disagreement between Lena vs Will over whether God exists, because the scenario shows that both Lena and Will can never have the same evidence, and if they can never have the same evidence, their opposite but equally justified beliefs can never be rationally based on the same evidence?
  • Scenario in Dave’s Statements:
    • The Scenario in Abe’s Statements, plus:
    • Lena’s testimony also count as good evidence for God’s existence; she told both Will and Gene about her experiences;
    • Will and Gene are equally smart and have thought equally hard about God’s existence;
    • Evaluate: Given the above, and the concepts taught, is it correct that–the Epistemic Permissivist who says that Will and Gene are equally justified in their own beliefs (on the same evidence) would be begging the question against both of them.
  • Scenario in Tess’ Statements:
    • Same set up as in Dave’s Statements.
    • Evaluate: Given the above, and the concepts taught, is it correct that–If someone agrees that the disagreement between Gene and Will (based on the same evidence) can never be resolved in such a way that both Gene and Will are equally justified, then this person cannot also consistently subscribe to Epistemic Permissivism?

Podcast Episode #06

About skepticism (Zhuangzi and otherwise). The article by Julienne Chung that Gabriele can be found here. And the article that Yong Teck passed to Rui Zhe here.

Quiz 07 Debrief

The best so far. Median of 7 and average of 6.37. Good job! Click through to see… (Update: Some additional material added for Question 7 at the end. Other added material are also marked.)

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W09 Q/A

Update: A couple more came in later and I’ve included them. Look for those with the “[Added]” marker.

Here goes!

Is epistemology descriptive with a prescriptive edge?

A big part of it is prescriptive. Like morality, rationality involves an evaluative dimension–just as there are such things as good or bad, right or wrong with it comes to action, there are also rational or irrational, justified or unjustified, true or false, etc., when it comes to beliefs.

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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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