puzzles-paradoxes

puzzles and paradoxes


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

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.

Time/Location:




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


Sainsbury: 1-3; Sorensen: 1-18



2


The liar paradox

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

Clark: 118-125;

SEP: Liar paradox

Rob

3


Russell's paradox

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

SEP: Russell's paradox

Bill & Rafe

4


Paradox of the question

Archie & Ben

5


The sorites paradox

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

Clark: 86-93;

SEP: Sorites paradox

Alex & Meg






6


Cartwright's paradox

Nick & Henry

7


Surprise exam

Sainsbury: 107-120 Clark: 256-258;

SEP: Epistemic paradoxes

Louise

8


Muddy children

Clark: 144-147;

xkcd: blue eyes

 

Walter & Jemima

9


Newcomb's paradox

Sainsbury: 69-82;

Clark: 150-154;

SEP: Newcomb's paradox

Abby & Vanessa

10


St. Petersburg paradox

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

SEP: St. Petersburg paradox

Gabriel & Kara

11


The truth machines


Assessment:


Presentations: 20% of final grade

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

Guidelines


Final essay: 80% of final grade

2500 words

due: Thursday 25th April 2019 by 12pm



MSc students: final essay only, 2500 words

due: Tuesday 23rd April 2019 by 12pm