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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. Bertrand Russell advised that one should “stock the mind with as many puzzles as possible, since these serve much the same purpose [in philosophy] as is served by experiments in physical science”. 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: Fridays 1:10-3:00pm, Teviot Old Medical School, Doorway 6, Basement Lecture Theatre. (map)


Course schedule:

WeekDateTopicReadGroup
123-09What is a paradox?
Sainsbury: 1-3; Sorensen: 1-18

Brian
230-09The liar paradox
Sainsbury: 127-138; Sorensen: 93-96; Clark: 118-125

Luke, Ed, Calum
307-10Russell's paradox
Sainsbury: 123-127; Sorensen: 316-332; Clark: 211-216

Sumner, Christian, Claire
414-10Paradox of the questionMarkosian (1997) The Paradox of the Question; Sider (1997) On the Paradox of the Question; Clark: 194-196

Elenor, Caterina, Keith
5

21-10The sorites paradoxSainsbury: 40-68; Sorensen: 96-99; Clark: 86-93
SEP: Sorites paradox

Abbie, Alice, Bobbie, Jess
628-10Cartwright's paradox
Cartwright, Puzzle 4.  
Kaplan, "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice". 

Tom, Cameron, Freek
704-11Surprise examSainsbury: 107-120 Clark: 256-258 
SEP: Epistemic paradoxes

Stephen, Andrew, Sophie, Clara
811-11Preface paradoxSorensen: 100-110 Clark: 182-184
SEP: Preface paradox

Charlie, Lisa, Claudia
918-11Newcomb's paradoxSainsbury: 69-82  Clark: 150-154
SEP: Newcomb's paradox

Noah, Cass, Sushmita
1025-11St. Petersburg paradoxSorensen: 232-234  Clark: 217-220
SEP: St. Petersburg paradox 
James, Naomi, Jessamy
1102-12The truth machines puzzleNo reading

Brian































Assessment:

- Presentation

- Final essay
  • 80% of final grade
  • 2500 words