puzzles-paradoxes

puzzles and paradoxes

 

Course description. Paradoxes have formed a central topic of philosophical investigation, stretching back from Zeno of Elea up to David Lewis. Paradoxes figure both in influential arguments for philosophical theses and in famous (alleged) refutations of philosophical theses. This course provides an overview of a number of famous philosophical puzzles and paradoxes and important attempts to solve them. In so doing students will be introduced to some important issues in philosophy of language, philosophical logic, decision theory, and formal epistemology. The course will put emphasis on both methodology and philosophical content.

Lecturer: Brian Rabern

Office: 4.04c, Dugald Stewart Building, University of Edinburgh

Office hours: Tues 11-12 and by appointment

 

Email: brian.rabern[at]ed.ac.uk

Time/Location:

 

Fridays 1:10-3:00pm, Teviot Old Medical School, Doorway 6, Basement Lecture Theatre. (map)

 

Course Texts:

 

  • Sorensen (2005) A Brief History of the Paradox: Philosophy and the Labyrinths of the Mind, Oxford University Press.

 

  • Sainsbury (2009) Paradoxes, Cambridge University Press.

 

  • Clark (2012) Paradoxes from A to Z, Routledge.

 

week

date

topic

read

group

1

23-09

Sainsbury: 1-3; Sorensen: 1-18

 

2

30-09

The liar paradox

Sainsbury: 127-138; Sorensen: 93-96;

Clark: 118-125;

SEP: Liar paradox

Luke, Ed, Calum

3

07-10

Russell's paradox

Sainsbury: 123-127; Sorensen: 316-332; Clark: 211-216;

SEP: Russell's paradox

Sumner, Christian, Claire

4

14-10

Paradox of the question

Markosian (1997);

Sider (1997);

Clark: 194-196

Elenor, Catriona, Keith

5

25-10

The sorites paradox

Sainsbury: 40-68; Sorensen: 96-99;

Clark: 86-93;

SEP: Sorites paradox

Abbie, Alice, Bobbie, Jess

6

28-10

Cartwright's paradox

Cartwright, Puzzle 4;

Kaplan, "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice"

Tom, Cameron, Freek

7

04-11

Surprise exam

Sainsbury: 107-120 Clark: 256-258;

SEP: Epistemic paradoxes

Stephen, Andrew, Sophie, Clara

8

11-11

Preface paradox

Sorensen: 100-110 Clark: 182-184

SEP: Preface paradox

Charlie, Lisa, Claudia, Robert

9

18-11

Newcomb's paradox

Sainsbury: 69-82 Clark: 150-154

SEP: Newcomb's paradox

Noah, Cass, Sushmita

10

25-11

St. Petersburg paradox

Sorensen: 232-234; Clark: 217-220;

SEP: St. Petersburg paradox

James, Naomi, Jessamy

11

02-12

The truth machines

Smullyan: 3-35

 

Assessment:

 

Presentations: 20% of final grade

[participation (10%) + presentation (10%)]

Guidelines

 

Final essay: 80% of final grade

2500 words

due: 15th December by noon

 

 

MSc students: final essay only, 2500 words

due: 19 December by noon