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PHIL 20229 - Paradoxes, Spring 2010

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Author: Jeff Speaks
Le Penseur

Paradoxes

Professor Jeff Speaks, Ph.D.

Department of Philosophy
University of Notre Dame

Course Structure: 75 minute classes - twice a week

Le Penseur, by Auguste Rodin. Photo by Christian Ame, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.

Course Description

Bertrand Russell suggested that philosophical theories can be tested by their ability to deal with logical puzzles. This is the approach to philosophy that we will take in this course. The puzzles with which we will be concerned are paradoxes: sets of propositions each member of which is intuitively true but which nonetheless seem jointly inconsistent. Paradoxes of various sorts have been a focus of study in almost every area of philosophy; accordingly, this course will use paradoxes as a tool to raise questions about the following topics, among others: the nature of space and time; the nature of physical objects and change; the possibility of an omniscient and/or omnipotent God; the rules which govern what we rationally ought to believe, and what we rationally ought to do. We will also discuss more purely logical paradoxes such as the sorites, the liar, and Russell's paradox. A subsidiary aim of the course will be to help students to appreciate the importance of consistent beliefs and to improve their ability to think clearly about the logical relations between claims.

The original lectures can be found on the course web page at http://www.nd.edu/~jspeaks/courses/2009-10/20229/index.htm.

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