PHL220 Theory of Knowledge
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: Piez Hall 225
Office Hours: MWF 10:10 - 11:00; W 3:00 - 4:00 in Lake Effect; and by appointment.

Current Assignments
8 December: Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition sections 13-14.

15 December: final exam due in my office (Piez 225) before 4:00 p.m. This exam requires you to write 3 answers to questions; one short answer and two longer answers.

Short answer. Write (1-2 or more pages typed double spaced with 1-inch margins using courier or times font) a short essay answering the following question.
  • What is the deductive nomological method with falsificationism? Describe it carefully, being clear about what an unfalsifiable proposition is and why it is problematic. Use an example hypothesis to illustrate the method. What complication does the Quine-Duhem thesis add to the method?
Longer answer. Answer two and only two of the following questions. For each answer, write 2-3 or more pages typed double spaced with 1-inch margines using courier or times font.
  • Could Uri Geller really bend those spoons with his mind? Treat this as a problem in scientific reasoning (that is, you are to apply both the deductive nomological method with falsificationism, and also to compare theories using the theoretical virtues). Among the steps to take in answering this question, these should include: First, what is the relevant hypothesis? Second, what is a testable prediction of that hypothesis? Also, how will you compare your a hypothesis describing Geller's claim with an alternative? (E.g., how would you compare a hypothesis like, "Geller bends the spoons before he handles them on camera, so that they are easy to bend with a little pressure" to "Geller uses his psychic powers to bend normal spoons"?) Note: if you choose this question, you may refer to your short answer above as having described the deductive nomological method with falsificationism, and then you may focus on applying that method clearly to your example(s), and also on the criteria for comparing theories.
  • What is the new problem of induction? (This is the problem of "grue" emeralds.) Explain in brief the old problem of induction (as found in Hume), so that you are able to contrast this problem with it. What kind of challenge is the new problem of induction meant to be for induction and scientific reasoning? To do this, you will find it helpful to compare "all emeralds are green" with "all emeralds are grue," in light of the evidence that we have.
  • What does Lyotard mean when he says there is no longer a "master narrative"? Why should that matter? How has or will knowledge change as a result? How should we live our lives, or at least how should we pursue knowledge, after these changes that characterize postermodernism?
Tentative assignments (subject to revision)