Identifying and Evaluating Arguments

Week 3, Lecture 2 Learning Objectives Identify the structure of and categories of arguments Explain how to evaluate arguments What is the structure of an argument? Reason (also called a premise, or evidence) + reason (also called a premise, or evidence) —> conclusion What are the categories of arguments? Deductive: Conclusion follows necessarily from premises [...]

What Is Philosophy’s Main Method?

Week 3, lecture 1 We've just outlined what I will argue are the most important branches of Philosophy for our class. To this point we've been discussing How Philosophy Differs from Science and also How Philosophy Differs from Religion. In each of these lectures I've tried to demonstrate that these three pursuits are complimentary to [...]

How Is Philosophy Different from Religion?

Week 2, lecture 2 Learning Objectives Explain how religion differs from philosophy and Discuss the methodological differences between these two disciplines. In our previous lecture we discussed how Philosophy differs from Science. Now let's discuss how Philosophy differs from Religion. How does philosophy differ from religion? The religious and philosophical perspectives were often one and [...]

How Is Philosophy Different from Science?

Week 2, Lecture 1 Learning Objectives Define scientia. Explain how the scientific method differs from Philosophy The word “science” comes to the English language from the Latin term scientia, meaning “knowledge through skillful means.” It is important to recognize that science, in this class, is not a belief system but rather a systematic organization of knowledge [...]

How To Do Philosophy

Week 1, Lecture 1 Previously we discussed how to define the term "philosophy" and there we were introduced to Pythagoras, who coined the term. We also discussed why one ought to study Philosophy, here. But what does it mean to do the work of Philosophy? What is it that philosophers do? I like how John [...]

What Does Philosophy Mean?

"Ways of Knowing" Week 1, Lecture 1 Learning Objective 2: Define "philosophy." What does the word “philosophy” mean? The word “philosophy” comes to us from the ancient Greek term φιλοσοφια (philosophia, “love of wisdom), coined by Pythagoras (570–490 BCE). The term came to him while observing the Olympic games. As the games unfolded it occurred [...]

Why Study Philosophy?

"Ways of Knowing" Week 1, Lecture 1 Learning Objectives Explain why Philosophy should be studied. Define "philosophy." Two asides. First, some business about exams and learning Before we proceed any further, please take a moment and review these learning objectives above. If you are wondering—as any reasonable student would wonder—"what is going to be on [...]

Human Head Transplants in China

Karen Rommelfanger and I wrote an editorial for Newsweek discussing some of the ethical issues we think need to be discussed. It's a short piece for a general readership. We also wrote a more scholarly editorial introducing (here) the new special issue of AJOB Neuroscience, the official journal of the International Neuroethics Society, dedicated to Canavero [...]

Teaching and Gongfu

I'm teaching five sections of a General Education Introduction to Philosophy course this semester and I'm grateful for this 功夫 (gongfu/kung fu) practice. I am revisiting Peimin Ni's writings about Confucius and to him I am grateful and will make liberal references. Before I decided to go to college I was fortunate to study Shaolin [...]