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PHLA10H3 Lecture Notes - Neurophilosophy, Clean Hands, Solipsism

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William Seager

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Philosophy: Lecture/Notes 1
September 11, 2012
Philosophy = set of beliefs (personal philosophy)
Metaphysics = what there is
Philosophical Scepticism
Examples of Philosophical ???
Is there a God?
Belief vs. Knowledge
Mind Body problem
Mind only that exists = solipsism
Philosophy is the oldest subject
Every civilization has a philosophy
Questions nobody knows how to answer (e.g. What is water made of? Thales, this once was a philosophical question, now it
is a scientific question; Does God exist?)
Category of truth, knowledge, metaphysics
o Deduction Terrible problem can‘t learn anything new
Metaphysical Questions:
What is God? Does it exist? two very different questions
What is now? is time flowing, from past to present to future? If it is, how fast? How much time does it take for a second to
What is mind vs. brain?
Example: the trashcan ―What is it?‖ If you remove some 3000 molecules out of it, is it the same?
Difference between knowing and believing (i.e. I think my girlfriend has her period, I know she does)
Scepticism: Certain that we know nothing
September 13, 2012
Philosophical Questions
o Fundamental
o General
o Conceptual Analysis (getting clear)
I.E. Can submarines swim? (can‘t set up laboratory project to prove it, instead think about what does it mean
to swim, what does it mean to be a submarine, …not a deep question but still can‘t be answered; similarly can
aeroplanes fly? fish can swim, submarines also have fins so why can‘t they swim these questions don‘t
matter but you can use the same method to answer deeper questions)
Why no Philosophyical Labs?
o Thought experiments (another branch neuro-philosophy)
Most famous: The trolly problem, you‘re the only one in a streetcar, some problem, brakes failed, only choice
send it right or left; on the right hand track you have 5 workers all wearing headphones, on the left hand,
there‘s one worker wearing headphones…lets assume if you don‘t do anything, the trolly will go right…ethical
question, what is the right thing to do?
Could do nothing, clean hands response its an accident if you do nothing (if you weren‘t in the car,
that‘s what was going to happen)
Or you can switch it to left and kill one
Suppose you have three tracks, the middle track kills none, should you switch then? Almost everyone
agrees to this one
It‘s a false distinction, in this case an act of omission IS actually doing something (i.e. act of
euthanasia vs. do nothing in hospitals) *** IMPORTANT CONCEPT***
Second scenario, you‘re not in the car but you‘re on the bridge overhead, there‘s a fat person on the
bridge. Thus if you push the weighty individual you will stop the track from going right (in this case
there is no one on left track, only fatty will get killed). But no one agrees to do this. emotional
segments of brain start kicking in, this is not a philosophical explanation
The ‗Hand Off‘
o As philosophy began, asking all the questions there are…over time science rew and answered these questions.
No mystic gurus!
o Is the believing of things because they are true but you can‘t justify them, ―I just know there are invisible people here‖
o Philosophy doesn‘t care what you believe, but it doesn‘t like it if you force people to believe your beliefs without proof
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