● 1. One could argue that God is not a good explanation of natural phenomena because God can always be appealed in order to explain anything. Explain. ○ Explaining natural phenomena with God is not always plausible because his existence is assumed.
● 2. Explain how anthropic reasoning works in the case of lifesupporting planets. How might one try to apply this reasoning to the finetuning of the universe for life? Why doesn’t this work?
○ Claim our existence on this planet is evidence of intelligent
There is an insanely huge number of planets in the universe
Only a vanishingly small percentage of them are suitable for human life. Our finding ourselves on such a planet amounts to winning a massive cosmic lottery and this cries out for explanation.
A perfect deity would make sure that we were placed on a planet suitable for life. ○ A planet like this is the only one on which life like ours could be expected to develop; thus, it is no surprise that we find ourselves on a planet suitable for life like ours, because only planets like that would be candidates for life in the first place
● 3. What is the multiverse, and how might one use the hypothesis to explain the finetuning of the constants?
○ More than one (indeed an infinite number) of universes, all of
which vary in their fundamental laws; of course we wouldn’t find ourselves in one of the nonlifesupporting universes at least some universes will contain conditions suitable for life, and so it is no matter of sheer luck that we find ourselves in one of those
● 4. What is the logical problem of evil? How are its premises justified? ○ 1. Evil exists (causes of suffering natural and manmade) We also discuss several other topics like Explain the meaning and purpose of using black codes.
2. If God existed, then no evil would exist (Since God is perfectly good, he would eliminate all the evil he knows about and has the power to eliminate) 3. Therefore, God does not exist
● 5. Why does the logical problem of evil fail? Which premise is false and why? ○ The logical problem of evil tries to show that these two claims are inconsistent:
1. God (an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being) exists.
2. Evil exists.
○ The Logical Problem of Evil
1. Evil exists.
2. If God existed, then no evil would exist.
3. Therefore, God does not exist.
○ The logical problem of evil fails because it simply isn’t true that God’s existence is incompatible with the existence of any evil whatsoever
● 6. What is the evidential problem of evil? How does it avoid the objection to the logical problem of evil?
○ Rowe’s question: Is it rational to believe in God given the evil that we actually find in the world?
○ 1. Unjustified evil exists.
2. God, being wholly good, omnipotent, and omniscient, would prevent any unjustified evils from existing.
3. Therefore, God does not exist. If you want to learn more check out What are the general features of chromosomes?
● 7. Define unjustified evil.
○ An evil that does not prevent some greater evil or allow some
● 8. What is the fawn in the woods case? What is it meant to show? ○ “Suppose in some distant forest lightning strikes a dead tree If you want to learn more check out What is typology?
resulting in a forest fire. In the fire a fawn is trapped, horribly burned, and lies in terrible agony for several days before death relieves its suffering.”
○ The fawn’s suffering does not seem to prevent some greater evil or secure some greater good. An omnipotent being could have easily prevented the fawn from suffering either by whisking it out of the fire or at least allowing it to die earlier.
● 9. What is the problem of little evils? Don't forget about the age old question of What is ethnoarchaeology?
○ The theist is committed to claiming that no suffering is unjustified. ○ Ex: Suppose I stubbed my toe as I wandered sleepily to my
bathroom this morning. That pain accomplished nothing, but to make me angry. God could have just moved that shoe out of the way or guided my foot around it.
● 10. How might someone try to argue that free will is relevant to the problem of evil? Why can’t an appeal to free will deal with all instances of unjustified evils? ○ A world in which I have free will is vastly better for me than any world in which I don’t have free will. Having free will entails having the ability to choose to do evil. Therefore, God allows the existence of evil because the positives (free will) outweigh the negatives (suffering).
○ It is only capable of explaining evil of human origin
● 11. How might someone try to argue that the need for natural laws is relevant to the problem of evil? Why can’t an appeal to natural laws deal with all instances of unjustified evils?
○ Events in the world must take place in a regular and predictable way in order for effective actions to be possible. Events will exhibit regular patterns only if they are constrained by natural laws. If events are governed by natural laws, then necessarily those laws will give rise to disasters that will harm individuals Therefore, a benevolent God could allow suffering insofar as it resulted from the necessary natural laws.
○ It does not account for the suffering that is caused by humans
● 12. Define skepticism. Distinguish between global and domain specific versions of skepticism. What are some versions of the latter? If you want to learn more check out What is the theory of island biography?
○ A skeptic is someone who denies that we know (or are justified in believing) something
○ Global Skepticism is the claim that we don’t (and/or can’t) know anything
○ Domain Specific Skepticism is the claim that we don’t (and/or
can’t) know anything in a particular domain
■ Skepticism about knowledge of the future,
skepticism about other minds, skepticism about moral knowledge, skepticism about scientific knowledge, skepticism about religious
knowledge, skepticism about the external world
● 13. Why might global skepticism be selfdefeating?
○ If no one can know anything then the skeptic cannot know that global skepticism is true
● 14. Explain what counts as the external world. We also discuss several other topics like What is the social exchange model?
○ The world outside of our minds; plants, animals, other people,
● 15. What does Descartes think is required in order for a belief to be an adequate foundation for his knowledge?
○ “Reason now leads me to think that I should hold back my assent from opinions which are not completely certain and indubitable just as carefully as I do from those which are patently false.”
● 16. How does Descartes go about testing his beliefs? Explain the method of doubt.
○ Instead of testing all of his beliefs individually, he instead
proposes to examine the sources of his beliefs.
○ Method of doubt
● 17. Why does Descartes target sources of knowledge rather than individual beliefs?
○ We get all of our knowledge of the world by use of our senses. If our senses can be shown to be trustworthy, then he will have secured most of our knowledge of the world. If they fail, he will call into doubt all our knowledge of the world.
○ There are too many individual beliefs. If you question the source, you can undermine all the foundations of that source(?)
● 18. What are the three levels of doubt we discussed in class? What kinds of cases are associated with each? To what degree does each level of doubt call into question one’s beliefs about the external world and why?
○ First Level of Doubt: The senses sometimes deceive us. They are subject to illusions and misperceptions.
■ Optical illusions, stick looks bent in water, etc.
○ Second Level of Doubt: But what about dreams? In realistic
dreams we believe lots of things about our immediate environment in what seem to be optimal viewing conditions. How can you know that you are or aren’t dreaming right now or even always? Descartes argues that dream tests (totems in Inception) are useless because anything you could do in the real world, you could in principle do in a very realistic dream.
■ Modern: brain in a vat
○ Third Level of Doubt: Imagine there’s an evil demon deceiving you “all external things are merely the delusions of dreams which he has devised to ensnare my judgment” (Descartes)
● 19. Why is it plausible that you can’t know that you aren’t dreaming? ○ Anything you could do in the real world, you could in principle do in a very realistic dream
● 20. In class I discussed two key reasons why there can’t be a test to show that you aren’t dreaming. What are they?
○ Can’t anything you do irl happen in a dream?
○ Can you know that you’ve ever been awake?
● 21. Why is it plausible that you can’t know that you aren’t a BIV? ○ What if you’ve always been dreaming?
● 22. Why is it plausible that you can’t know that you aren’t being deceived by a demon?
○ What if you’ve been deceived for your whole life?
● 23. What is the cogito? What does it show is beyond doubt? How does it show this?
○ Cogito ergo sum. I think, therefore I am.
○ If I convinced myself of something then I certainly existed. If the evil demon scenario exists, he will never bring it about that I am nothing so long as I think that I am something.
● 24. State the certainty and possibility of error arguments for skepticism and say why each of the premises is supposed to be true. What was the main problem for both of these arguments discussed in class?
○ The Certainty Argument
1. No one is ever absolutely certain of anything about the external world. 2. If S knows that p then S is absolutely certain that p.
3. Therefore, no one knows anything about the external world.
○ Possibility of Error Argument
1. For any belief, p, S has about the external world S could be mistaken. 2. If a belief could be mistaken, then it is not a case of knowledge
3. Therefore, S does not know anything about the external world.
○ Main problem: It is true that there is some slight possibility we are wrong. But we have no reason to think that we are. If knowledge does not require absolute certainty or something like it, it seems we have plenty of knowledge!
● 25. What is the closure principle? Why does it seem intuitively true? ○ Closure: If I know p is true, and I also know that p entails q, then I can know that q is true.
● 26. State the closure argument for skepticism and say why each premise is true. Be able to explain how the first premise relates to the closure principle. How can an argument like this show that we know nothing about the external world (when its initial conclusion is about tables and/or hands)?
○ The Closure Argument (Table)
1. If I can know that there is a table here, then I can know that I am not a BIV. 2. I can’t know that I am not a BIV.
3. Therefore I can’t know that there is a table here.
○ The argument is valid; none of the premises are obviously false
● 27. What is Moore’s proof of an external world? What are his conditions on a rigorous proof and how does his proof meet them?
○ The proof:
1. Here is a hand.
2. Here is another hand.
3. Hands are external objects.
4. Therefore, external objects exist
○ Moore claims that the proof is “perfectly rigorous” and that “it is perhaps impossible to give a better more rigorous proof of anything whatever.” ○ Three conditions for a rigorous proof:
1. The premises are different from the conclusion (no questionbegging or circular reasoning)
2. One must know that the premises are true.
3. The conclusion is validly deducible from the premises.
● 28. One might complain that Moore is begging the question against the skeptic. What does this mean? How does Moore respond to this charge? Why does he think that the charge applies equally well to the skeptic?
○ Begging the question means that one assumes the falsehood of an argument’s conclusion in one’s premises
○ The skeptic gives an argument for the conclusion that Moore
doesn’t know that he has hands. Moore simply assumes that this is false without any argument
○ Moorean Argument:
I know that I have hands.
If I know that I have hands, then I can know that I am not a BIV.
Therefore, I can know that I am not a BIV.
● 29. How does Moore think one can distinguish between his argument and the skeptic’s? Why does he think we should believe his argument? In class I suggested that this isn’t a very convincing position. Why?
● 30. Distinguish between the ambitious and modest antiskeptical projects. ○ Ambitious AntiSkeptical Project: Refute a skeptic on his own
terms. Show to the satisfaction of the skeptic that one knows about the external world.
○ Modest AntiSkeptical Project: Establish to our own satisfaction that we know things about the external world, without contradicting obvious facts about perception and evidence.
● 31. What two conclusions does Bouwsma draw about illusions from the paper world case?
○ An illusion is something that looks like or sounds like, so much like, something else that you either mistake it for something else, or you can easily understand how someone might come to do this
○ An illusion requires that the deceived can “tell the difference”
between the illusion and reality
● 32. Tom contends that despite the demon’s efforts there still are things like flowers, tables and Milly in the world. Why does he think this?
○ In Bouwsma’s story the Demon attempts to explain to Tom the nature of his deception. In response Tom claims that by “flower” he just means “thing that smells, feels, looks, etc. this way.” According to this line of thinking, the demon has not created a world in which there are no flowers and Tom is not deceived!
● 33. Distinguish between thick and thin illusions.
○ Thin Illusion: e.g. flowers in a mirror and paper flowers; they only look like flowers. They do not have all of the qualities a flower has. ○ Thick Illusion: A demon flower. Mirrors all the properties of a
flower. It looks, feels, smells, tastes, etc. like a flower.
● 34. What is the linguistic interpretation of Bouwsma’s argument? What sorts of considerations regarding the word “flower” indicate that Bouwsma’s claims about language are false? What about “Milly”?
○ Linguistic Interpretation: Our word “flower” means something
different than the demon thinks. The word “flower” just means something that looks, smells, tastes and feels a certain way. So if the demon means to use our word “flower” when he says “There are no flowers” what he says is false. So Tom is not deceived.
○ What we mean by “flower” is clearly not just some set of
observable characteristics: Flowers have a wide range of these (colors shapes, tastes, etc.) and we call them all “flowers.” We can imagine discovering a new plant that did not have these observable characteristics that we would call a “flower.”
● 35. What is the metaphysical interpretation of Bouwsma’s argument? What sorts of considerations seem to show that these claims about the nature of flowers are incorrect? About Milly?
○ Metaphysical Interpetation: Flowers just are things that looks,
smell, taste and feel a certain way. What it is to be a flower is exhausted by its observable characteristics. So the demon has not created a world in which there are no flowers, because there are things with those observable characteristics. So Tom is not deceived because all his ordinary beliefs are true.
○ Flowers have a wide range of these (colors shapes, tastes, etc.) but they are all flowers.
○ According to the story, the demon destroys Milly, but Tom still
experiences something that looks, feels, smells and acts like Milly. Would he be inclined to say that the duplicate was the same person?
● 36. What is the experience machine? What does it show? How does this relate to Bouwsma’s argument?
○ Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desire. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you plug into this machine for life, preprogramming your life’s experiences?”
● 37. Why does Putnam think that the ant’s path in the sand is not a picture of Winston Churchill?
○ The ant has never seen Winston Churchill, the ant has no beliefs about Winston Churchill, the ant cannot even think about Winston
Churchill(because it is an ant), the ant does not intend to produce a picture of Churchill; If Winston Churchill had never been born, the ant still would have walked exactly in the path that it did. The image would have turned out looking exactly the same.
○ To represent Winston Churchill, you need at least three things that the ant lacks:
1. The ability to think about Churchill
2. The intention to represent Churchill.
3. Some sort or causal/historical connection to Churchill
● 38. Describe Putnam’s special version of the BIV case. Why does Putnam think that a BIV (of the kind he describes) can’t truly think that it is “a brain in a vat?” Why can’t the BIV think about trees, dogs, and brains?
○ The brain has always been in the vat. It was not (for instance)
taken out of a body yesterday and put in the vat. So, the BIV has never experienced anything in the “real” world.
○ The BIV has never seen any actual trees or met anyone who has seen any actual trees. Thus, he cannot intend to refer to trees. BIV’s like this would still use the word “tree” just like they do whether or not there were any trees or any trees had ever existed! Ditto for everything else.
● 39. Why can’t Putnam’s argument be used against the skeptic? What sorts of cases show this?
○ The BIV case only works in certain scenarios. Putnam’s BIV case was one in which the computer magically comes into existence and the brains were never embodied. But what about cases in which the computer is programmed by normal humans? Or what if you had lived part of your life out of
the vat and part of it in the vat?