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Author: Jeff Speaks
Session Topic Readings
 1 Introduction to the course
 2 What is a paradox?
 
Paradoxes of space and time
3
Zeno's paradoxes
Sainsbury, Paradoxes, ch. 1 (preview)
4
McTaggart's proof of the unreality of time
McTaggart, "Time" (read online)
5
Kant's antinomies
  • Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (excerpt) (read online)
Optional:
  • Kant, "The antinomy of pure reason" (read online)
  • van Cleve,"The ideality of matter"(preview)
6
Paradoxes of special relativity & quantum mechanics
Optional:
7
The doomsday argument & living in a computer simulation
  • Leslie, The End of the World (excerpt) (preview)
Optional:
  • Greenberg, "Apocalypse not just now" (read online)
  • Bostrom, "Are you living in a computer simulation?" (read online)
Metaphysical paradoxes
8
Material objects
 Sider, "Constitution"  PDF icon( 74.5kB)
9
Personal identity
  • Parfit, "Divided minds and the nature of persons" (preview)
Optional:
  • Nagel, "Brain bisection and the unity of consciousness" (preview)
  • Zuboff, "The story of a brain"
  • Weldon, "To be" (a cartoon about teletransportation)
10
Free will, determinism, and indeterminism
van Inwagen, "The powers of rational beings: freedom of the will"
11
Is meaning possible?
 Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language (preview)
Theological paradoxes
12
The problem of evil
Optional:
  • Plantinga, "The free will defense" (preview)
  • van Inwagen, "The problem of evil" (preview)

Midterm exam
13
Free will, fatalism, and divine foreknowledge
  • Edwards, Freedom of the Will (excerpt) (preview)
Optional:
  • Zagzebski, "Foreknowledge and free will" (preview)
  • Chiang, "What's expected of us" (preview)
  • Taylor, "Fate"
14
Free will & foreknowledge, continued
First 5-7 page paper due, in class

Spring break
15
Paradoxes of omnipotence & omniscience
  • Aquinas, "The power of God" (Summa Ia q25) (read online)
Optional:
  • Frankfurt, "The logic of omnipotence" (preview)
  • Plantinga & Grim, "Truth, omniscience, and Cantorian arguments" (read online)
16
The paradox of heaven and hell and the problem of the trinity
  • Sider, "Hell and vagueness"
Optional:
  • Rea, "The trinity"
  • Murray, "Does prayer change things?"
Paradoxes of rational belief and action
17
Newcomb's problem
Sainsbury, pp. 69-81
18
The prisoner's dilemma 
Sainsbury, pp. 82-87
19
The St. Petersburg paradox & the 2 envelope paradox
Optional:
  • Arntzenius & McCarthy, "The two envelope paradox and infinite expectations" PDF icon(116kB)
  • Hajek, "The cable guy paradox" PDF icon(63kB)
20
Paradoxes of confirmation: grue and the ravens
Sainsbury, pp. 90-106
21
The surprise exam
Sainsbury, pp. 107-114
22
The knower, the believer, & the paradox of knowability
Sainsbury, pp. 115-120
23
Sleeping beauty
  • Elga, "Self-locating belief and the sleeping beauty problem" PDF icon(43kB)
Optional:
  • Lewis, "Reply to Elga" PDF icon(45kB)
  • Dorr, "Sleeping beauty: in defense of Elga"
  • White, "The generalized sleeping beauty problem" PDF icon(66kB)
24
The lottery paradox
Hawthorne, Knowledge and Lotteries (excerpt)
Mathematical and logical paradoxes
25
The sorites
Sainsbury, ch. 3
26
The liar paradox 
Second 5-7 page paper due, in class
  • Sainsbury, ch. 6
Optional:
  • Russell, Principles of Mathematics (excerpt from Appendix B) (read online)
  • Tarski, "The semantic conception of truth" (preview)
  Final exam
Reuse Course
Download IMS package