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Star Wars action figure example

Different questions surrounding life’s meaning

A. Life’s Chronic Ailments

Gilgamesh and Death

Gilgamesh story

Two morals of the story

Heidegger’s view of death

Criticisms of Heidegger

Sisyphus and Futility

Sisyphus story

Examples of futility in life

Camus’s view of Sisyphus

Criticism of Camus

Boethius and Cosmic Insignificance

Example in the film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

Problem: sense of cosmic insignificance in the face of the universe’s vastness

Boethius’s story

Lady Philosophy’s account of cosmic insignificance

Ricoeur’s solution

Criticism of Ricoeur

Job and Suffering

Job story

Unprovoked and unresolved suffering

Solution in the book of Job

Criticism of that solution

B. Ancient Greek Solutions

Epicureanism and Pleasure

Example of Jack the Epicurean English professor

Epicurus’s view of pleasure

Mental vs. physical pleasures


Short term vs. long term pleasures

Criticism of Epicureanism

Epicurus’s final view of happiness

Stoicism and Accepting Fate

Example of prisoner of war

Epictetus’s “banquet” analogy

Criticism of Stoic solution

Skepticism and Doubt

Example of Skeptics Society and Roswell aliens

Pyrrho’s view of skeptical tranquility

Two criticisms of skeptic solution

Cynicism and Defying Convention

Example of Lollapalooza

Diogenes view of Cynicism

Three criticisms of Cynic solution

C. Western Religious Solutions

Having Children

Example of Abraham

Natural rewards of having children

Two criticisms of the having children solution

Life after Death

Two conceptions of life after death

Solution to death, futility, and suffering

Two criticisms of life after death solution

Furthering God’s Kingdom

Augustine’s two cities

Mormon example

Three features of furthering God’s Kingdom solution

Criticism of furthering God’s Kingdom solution

D. Eastern Religious Solutions

Daoism and the Way of Nature

Tale of the cook

Daoist approach to life

Daoist solution to life’s problems

Criticism of Daoist solution

Buddhism and Extinguishing Desire

Four Noble Truths


Dalai Lama’s view of nirvana

Criticism of Buddhist solution

Hinduism and the Four Goals of Life

Four goals of life

Problem with most discussions of life’s meaning

Benefits of multi-solution approach to life’s meaning

F. Conclusion

Meaning of life involves various philosophical questions

Philosophy involves criticisms

Different ways of addressing philosophical issues




Elvis Underground

A. The Nature of God

Personalness and Goodness

Example of Elvis creed

The Theistic God

Attribute of personalness

Problem of anthropomorphism

Attribute of perfect goodness (omnibenevolence)



God’s gender

Power and Separateness

Attribute of all-powerfulness (omnipotence)

First view of all-powerfulness

Dilemma of the rock

Second view of all-powerfulness

Attribute of separateness



B. Arguments for God’s Existence

The Cosmological Argument

Leibniz’s cosmological argument

Hume’s criticism

The Design Argument from Analogy

Argument from analogy

Problem with premise 1

Problem with premise 2

Final problem (Hume)

The Design Argument from Probability

Argument from probability


Emotional appeal of the probability argument

The Ontological Argument

Anselm’s argument

Gaunilo’s criticism

C. Criticisms of Religious Belief

Belief in Miracles

Kenyan minister example

Hume’s three assumptions about miracles

Hume’s argument against miracles

First criticism regarding scientific discoveries

Second criticism regarding “reasonable belief”

Psychological Theories of Religion





Point in common

Believer’s response

D. The Problem of Evil


Two kinds of evil

The Argument

“Clear paths” to resolving the tension

Possible Solutions.

Good comes out of evil


Re-examine divine goodness


Suffering part of development (Hick)


The Free Will Defense

First limitation

Second limitation

Third limitation

E. Faith and Reason


“Faith alone” position

Blaise Pascal: Wagering on Belief in God

Next steps in the belief process

James’s criticism

William James: The Right to Believe in God

Three features of a “genuine option”

When religious belief is justified

Criticism by scientifically-minded person

Alvin Plantinga: Rationally-Foundational Belief in God

Believing God exists vs. knowing God exists


“God exists” is a rationally-foundational belief


F. Religious Pluralism


Doctrinal claims vs. effective paths to salvation

Four Options





The Problem of Conflicting Doctrines

The problem

First response

Second response (Hick’s)

The Problem of God’s Inaccessibility

The problem

Pluralist response to dilemma

Religion’s two main ingredients (James)




Fallacies of the Sophists

A. What is an Argument?


Premise: a statement which is used as evidence for a conclusion

Conclusion: a statement which is supported by at least one premise

Argument: at least one premise accompanied with a conclusion.

Propositions and Non-Propositional Utterances

Proposition: an either true or false statement about the world

Non-propositional Utterance: a verbal expression that conveys meaning, but is not a true or false statement about the world. (includes questions, expressions of feelings, and propositions)

Premise and Conclusion Indicators

Premise Indicators: since, for, because, given that, for the reason that, in view of the fact that

Conclusion Indicators: therefore, thus, hence, so, accordingly, for this reason, consequently, it follows that

Argument Diagrams

Joint inference: 1+2 |→ 3

Independent inference: 1 |→ 3 and 2 |→ 3

B. Informal fallacies

Fallacies of Relevance

Argument against the Person (argumentum ad hominem): attacking a person’s character instead of the content of that person’s argument.

Argument from Ignorance (argumentum ad ignorantiam): concluding that something is true since you can’t prove it is false.

Appeal to Pity (argumentum ad misericordiam): appealing to a person’s unfortunate circumstance as a way of getting someone to accept a conclusion.

Appeal to the Masses (argumentum ad populum): going along with the crowd in support of a conclusion.

Appeal to Authority (argumentum ad verecundiam): appealing to a popular figure who is not an authority in that area

Irrelevant Conclusion (non sequitur): drawing a conclusion which does not follow from the evidence.

Other Common Fallacies

False Cause (post hoc ergo procter hoc): inferring a causal connection based on mere correlation.

Circular Reasoning: implicitly using your conclusion as a premise.

Equivocation: an argument which is based on two definitions of one word.

Composition: assuming that the whole must have the properties of its parts.

Division: assuming that the parts of a whole must have the properties of the whole.

Red Herring: introducing an irrelevant or secondary subject and thereby diverting attention from the main subject.

Straw Man: distorting an opposing view so that it is easy to refute.

C. Propositional Statements

Complex Propositions and Logical Connectives

Logical Connectives

Conjunction: P and Q

Disjunction: P or Q

Conditional: if P then Q

Negation: not P

Conjunction Clue Words (“And”)

Conditional Clue Words (“If-Then”)

Nested Logical Connectives

D. Propositional Logic

Valid Argument Forms

Valid Argument: an argument which fits a valid argument form (such as modus ponens)

Modus Ponens

premise (1) If P then Q

premise (2) P

concl.    (3) Therefore, Q

  Modus Tollens

 premise (1) If P then Q

premise (2) Not Q

concl.    (3) Therefore, not P

 Disjunctive Syllogism (two versions)

 premise (1) P or Q

premise (2) not P

concl.    (3) therefore, Q

 Hypothetical Syllogism

 premise (1) if P then Q

premise (2) if Q then R

concl.    (3) Therefore, if P then R

Fallacious Argument Forms

Fallacious Modus Ponens: fallacy of affirming the consequent

premise (1) if P then Q

premise (2) Q

concl.    (3) therefore, P

Fallacious Modus Tollens: fallacy of denying the antecedent

premise (1) if P then Q

premise (2) not P

concl.    (3) therefore, not Q

Fallacious Disjunctive Syllogism: fallacy of asserting an alternative

premise (1) P or Q

premise (2) P

concl.    (3) therefore, not Q

Sound and Unsound Arguments

Sound Argument: an argument which (a) follows a valid argument form, and (b) has only true premises.

E. Inductive Logic

Inductive vs. Deductive Arguments

Deductive argument: an argument whose conclusion follows necessarily from its basic premises.

Inductive argument: an argument in which the premises provide reasons supporting the probable truth of the conclusion.

 Inductive Probability

Inductively very strong: probability is close to certain.

Inductively strong: probability is high.

Inductively weak: probability is low.

Inductively very weak: probability is close to non-existent.

Inductive Argument Forms

Statistical syllogism: drawing a conclusion about an individual based on the population as a whole.

premise (1) n percentage of a population has attribute A.

premise (2) x is a member of that population.

concl.    (3) Therefore, there is an n percent probability that x has A.

Fallacy of small proportion: a conclusion is too strong to be supported by the small population proportion with the attribute.

Statistical induction: drawing a conclusion about a population based on a sample.

premise (1) n percent of a sample has attribute A.

concl.    (2) Therefore, n percent of a population probably has attribute A.

Fallacy of small sample: a conclusion is too strong to be supported by a small sample number.

Fallacy of biased sample: a conclusion is too strong to be supported by a nonrandom sampling technique.

Argument from Analogy: drawing a conclusion about one individual based on its similarities with another individual.

premise (1) Objects x and y each have attributes A, B and C.

premise (2) Object x has an additional attribute D.

concl.    (3) Therefore, object y probably also has attribute D.

Fallacy of false analogy: comparing two items that have trivial points in common, but differ from each other in more significant ways.




Cryonics example

A. What is a Mind?

Knowledge about the Mind



Popular psychological theories




Three Features of Mental Experiences




Problem of Other Minds

The problem

Solution from analogy

Limitations of the solution from analogy

B. Personal identity


Sirhan Sirhan example

The Body Criterion



Counterexample 1

Counterexample 2

The Mind Criterion



Obstacle 1

Obstacle 2

Different criteria for different needs

Life after Death



Ethereal body


Disembodied spirit

C. Varieties of Mind-Body Dualism


Definition of mind-body problem

Definition of mind-body dualism

Definition of mind-body materialism

Dualism's Assets and Liabilities

Example of near death experience

Argument from non-localizability

Main problem with dualism

Sensory perception and bodily movement

Interactive dualism

Pineal gland theory (Descartes)

Description of theory

Problem 1

Problem 2

God shuttles information back and forth (Malebranche)

Description of theory

Problem 1

Gradualism (Conway)

Description of theory

Problem 1


Parallelism defined

Leibniz's theory

Problem 1

Problem 2

D. Varieties of Mind-Body Materialism


ATM machine example

Definition of behaviorism

Ryle's "ghost in the machine" criticism of Descartes

Criticism 1

Identity Theory

Definition of identity theory

Two parts of identity theory

Problem 1

Problem 2

Eliminative Materialism

Definition of eliminative materialism

Pre-scientific theories

Two parts of eliminative materialism


Star Trek example

Definition of functionalism

Hierarchical model of mental functions

Criticism 1

E. Artificial Intelligence


Elektro example

The Road to Artificial Intelligence

Two types of artificial



Turing test

Two kinds of computing processes



Searle: The Chinese Room

Description of example

Point of example

Criticism 1

Artificial Intelligence and Morality

Star Trek example

Question of moral personhood

Different criteria of moral personhood

Question of preventing malevolent robots

Two issues




Acxiom example

A. Main Concepts

Definition of free will

Definition of determinism

Issue of political freedom

Issue of fatalism

Types of "choices"

B. The Case for Determinism

Basic point underlying determinism

Argument for determinism from materialism

Dualist’s criticism

Argument for determinism from predictability

C. The Case for Free Will

Feeling of freedom

Hypnotism counterexample

Recent psychological experiment counterexample

Moral responsibility

Argument from moral responsibility

Determinist's response

Human dignity

Determinist's response

Subatomic indeterminacy argument

Problem 1

Problem 2

D. The Freedom of Action Alternative

Definition of free action

First explanation of free and unfree actions

Frankfurt's explanation of free and unfree actions

First and second order desires

Human vs. animal choices

E. Free Will and God

Determinism and Divine Goodness

Argument for God’s responsibility for human evil

Free will solution

Free Will and Divine Foreknowledge

The argument against free will from divine foreknowledge

Solution: two notions of timelessness





Heaven's Gate example


Procedural knowledge and propositional knowledge

A. Skepticism


Philosophical skepticism

Radical Skepticism

Local skepticism vs. radical skepticism

Pyrrhonian skepticism

Human Skepticism

Cartesian Skepticism

Criticisms of Radical Skepticism

I know one truth: I exist

Skeptic's response:

Can't live as skeptics in our normal lives

Skeptic's response:

Radical skepticism is self-refuting

Skeptic's response:

Radical skepticism has an unrealistically high standard of knowledge

Skeptic's response:

B. Sources of Knowledge


Definitions of experiential and non-experiential knowledge

Experiential Knowledge


Direct realism

Indirect realism










Religious experience


Non-Experiential Knowledge

Math and logic examples



Rationalism and Empiricism


Innate ideas

Deductive reasoning


No innate ideas

Inductive reasoning


Kant's solution

Rationalist and empiricist components

C. The Definition of Knowledge


JTB definition of knowledge

Justified True Belief


Possible counter-instance and criticism of this


Possible counter-instance and criticism of this


Possible counter-instance and criticism of this

The Gettier Problem

Point of Gettier's argument

Red ball example

Indefeasibility solution

D. Truth, Justification and Relativism

Theories of Truth

Correspondence theory


Coherence theory


Deflationary theory

Theories of Justification






Clock metaphor

What’s so Bad about Relativism?

Acceptable types of relativism

Etiquette relativism

Aesthetic relativism

Perceptual relativism

Controversial types of relativism

Truth relativism

Justification relativism

Criticism of truth and justification relativism

Nietzsche’s response (Nietzsche)

E. Scientific Knowledge

Confirming Theories

Scientific hypothesis, theory and law

Scientific hypothesis

Scientific theory

Scientific law

Types of confirmation



Successful prediction


Scientific Revolutions

Scientific revolution

Paradigm shifts (Kuhn)

Criticism of Kuhn




California bank robbers

A. Moral Relativism

Plato: Objective Moral Forms

Three features of moral objectivism

Three features of moral relativism

Plato’s theory of the forms

Moral Relativism

Sextus Empiricus, examples of moral diversity

Argument from cultural variation

Objectivist response to premise 1

Objectivist response to premise 2

The Moderate Compromise

Compromise 1

Compromise 2

B. Selfishness


Example of postman

Definition of psychological egoism

Definition of psychological altruism

Ought implies can

Hobbes: The Case for Egoism



Argument from simplicity

Butler: The Case for Altruism

Different self-oriented motives

Instinctive benevolence

Egoism and the Struggle for Survival

Evolution and selfishness

Kin selection

Reciprocal altruism (Wilson)

C. Reason and Emotion



Moral Reasoning: Detecting Truth and Motivating Behavior

Two principles of moral reasoning

Hume: We Can’t Derive Ought from Is

Criticism of principle 1

Criticism of principle 2

Cannot derive ought from is

Ayer: Moral Utterances Express Feelings

Factual reports

Nonfactual expressions


D. Virtues


Definition of virtue and vice

Aristotle: The Virtuous Mean

Animalistic and rational elements of people

Mean between extremes


Virtues and Gender

Psychological distinction between men and women

Virtue theory and feminist ethics (three points)

Gilligan’s view of care

Virtues and Rules

Argument from misused virtues

Argument from hidden mental habits

Two conclusions about virtue and rules

E. Duties

Pufendorf: Duties to God, Oneself and Others

Instinctive duties

Duties to God, oneself and others

Kant: The Categorical Imperative

Hypothetical imperatives vs. categorical imperatives

The categorical imperative principle

Intrinsic vs. instrumental value

Duties to Animals and the Environment

Direct vs. indirect duties

Kant and indirect duties to animals

Self-awareness criterion of moral

Indirect duties to the environment

Direct duties to the environment


F. Utilitarianism


Problem with duty theory

Utilitarianism defined

Bentham: The Utilitarian Calculus

Seven factors

Mill: Higher Pleasures and Rules

Criticism of Bentham’s view of quantified pleasures

Criticism of Bentham’s act utilitarianism

Mill’s rule utilitarianism

Solving moral dilemmas

Reactions from Duty Theorists

Criticism 1 of utilitarianism

Criticism 2 of utilitarianism




Interim Government of the Republic of Texas

A. The Social Contract

Hobbes’s Theory

Two factors of the state of nature

First law of nature

Second law of nature

Third law of nature

Need for government

The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Example of me and Joe

Application to social contract theory

Social Contracts and Bigotry

Animals and minorities

Potential domination of bigots

B. Rights


Freedom from harm

Freedom to act

Legal rights vs. natural rights

Three features of natural rights

Natural Rights and Revolution

Locke’s state of nature

Locke’s list of rights

Justification for revolution

Are Natural Rights Grounded in Fact?

Bentham’s criticism of natural rights

Universal declaration of human rights

Do We Need Rights?

Correlativity of rights and duties

Sufficiency of duties

The added element of rights

C. Political Liberalism and Property


Political liberalism defined

Distributive justice defined

Nozick and Libertarianism

Libertarianism defined

Argument for minimalist state

Two principles of entitlement theory

Libertarian solution to poverty (three prongs)

Practical problem with libertarianism

Rawls and Welfare Liberalism

Natural lottery

Original position

Veil of ignorance

Two principles of justice

Criticism: rational gamblers

D. Individual and Community


Antz movie example

Individualistic vs. community-oriented theories

Plato’s Republic

Community as a giant human being

Three groups of people

Noble lie

Orwell’s 1984

Marx and Communism

Historical materialism

Class struggle

Alienated labor

Communist revolution

Criticism of communism


E. Governmental Coercion


Three examples

Four Justifications

Harm principle

Offense principle

Legal paternalism

Legal moralism

Mill’s Principle of Liberty and Harm

Mill’s principle of liberty

Rejection of principles of offense, paternalism and moralism

Happy society argument for liberty

Social contract argument for liberty

Defense of legal paternalism

F. War


War of Texan freedom example

Just War Theory

Initially waging war (jus ad bellum)

Just cause

Right intention

Proper authority

Reasonable success

Conducting war (jus in bello)




Types of pacifism

Absolute pacifism

Conditional pacifism

Religious justifications for pacifism

Secular justifications

Cost/benefit analysis

Killing innocent people

Free rider criticism

Pacifist response