A centipede was happy quite,
You might feel like the centipede after taking this course.
In our course, if you are asked to discuss a position or claim, this means (a) to explain it, to say what it means and what it doesn't mean, (b) to introduce famous philosophers and their positions on the issue, both pro and con, and perhaps (c) to say what position you hold on the issue and why.
1. Discuss A. J. Ayer's views on metaphysics.
2. Discuss both why there is something rather than nothing, and why, given that space exists, it is not empty. Do not discuss the question of why something exists now but not earlier.
3. Describe and discuss the relative strength of (a) several empirical arguments for and against the existence of God.
4. Describe and discuss the relative strength of (b) several a priori arguments for and against the existence of God.
5. Discuss this remark: “The destiny of the world has been etched into the fabric of nature since the dawn of existence.”
6. According to the philosopher Daniel Dennett, the wasp Sphex ichneumoneus is sphexish. If Baruch Spinoza were alive today, he would agree and would say this illustrates his point (made in 1677 in his Ethics, Part II, Prop. XXXV, Note) about the human condition. Explain this. Also, why do you or don’t you agree with Spinoza? Why don’t all the other philosophers agree with you? What does all this have to do with the Consequence Argument mentioned by Sean Carroll and with Fried's research or Libet's research at UCSF?
7. Compare the positions of Alvin Plantinga (U. of Notre Dame) and Harry Frankfurt (Princeton U.) on what free will is. If you agree or disagree with either position, say why. Include a discussion of Jones and her sinister demon Black.
8. Very briefly describe these philosophies of mind: idealism, dualism, physicalism, functionalism, and eliminative materialism.
9. Describe and discuss the hard problem of consciousness.
10. Describe and discuss functionalism in the philosophy of mind. Also, comment on Clark Glymour’s claim: “The human brain is a biological computer, and the cognitive activities of humans are produced by computational procedures within this biological computer.”
11. Discuss some of the major arguments that were mentioned during class for and against physicalism in the philosophy of mind, giving special attention to Paul Churchland’s response to Frank Jackson’s thought experiment involving Mary in the black and white room.
12. Discuss the following metaphysical problem. If a changing thing really changes, there can't literally be one and the same thing before and after the change. However, if a changing thing literally remains one and the same thing (that is, retains its identity) throughout the change, then it cannot really have changed.
18. Discuss the various reasons to believe that there is no time travel to the past.