Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Thought question for Thursday:

Can a belief discordant alief ever be the target of rationalization? If so, provide an example showing how. If not, explain why.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thought question for Tuesday:

1. Do you think rationalization, as Ellis and Schwitzgebel define it, is irrational?
2. Do you think it is ever to our benefit to rationalize in this sense? 
3. Are your answers to the above questions compatible with your answer to the question from last week?  It was:
Do you think it can ever be to one's benefit to behave in a way that is unequivocally irrational? Why or why not? Be clear about the sense of irrationality you are employing.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The target article for your final paper is "The Pragmatic Metaphysics of Belief," by Eric Schwitzgebel. This article is in draft form and has not yet been published. You will find the topic familiar.

We will not meet on Tuesday so that people can attend the Ethics Symposium. The thought question below must be turned in to me at the Symposium during the session that corresponds to our classes. I'll hang around outside of the room until it starts. Note that you can get extra credit for this class for attending and writing on the content of any particular session in the designated place in your journal. Study the syllabus carefully for the correct way to do this and for the due dates. If you do it incorrectly or submit it after the due date you won't get credit.

There are two weeks left in the semester after Thanksgiving. We will only cover two more of the essays on our list. The first one will be "Rationalization in moral and philosophical thought," by E. Schwitzgebel and J. Ellis. The second one will be  "Bundles of contradiction," by T. Lombrozo & A. Shtulman.

In the syllabus I guaranteed 15 tests but we are only doing 13 articles. My view  is that what is essential is the number of points available, rather than the number of tests, so the final two tests will be worth 20 points rather than 10. If anyone finds this to be an unreasonable solution, please let me know right away and we can discuss it.

I will have the study questions, test and the discussion questions link available by this Sunday, but nothing will be due until the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Thought question
Do you think it can ever be to one's benefit to behave in a way that is unequivocally irrational? Why or why not? Be clear about the sense of irrationality you are employing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We'll do Nagel's reply to Gendler on Thursday.  Thought question:

Nagel defends the Platonic view that knowledge is a commanding force against Gendler's argument that the reality of implicit bias, aversive racism etc. implies that it is not. 
Question: Is this really an argument about the power of knowledge or something else (belief, rationality, etc.)? In other words, is there some sense in which the truth of the things we believe (rationally or not) figures essentially into either Nagel's or Gendler's perspective?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Here is the thought question for Tuesday. You may recognize it as a variation on a previous thought question but it may provoke a different response:

Consider the following statement:  
Everyone does what they believe to be right. Hitler and Stalin may have been profoundly evil men, but they believed in the rectitude of what they were doing. When people do what is wrong, it is because they lack moral knowledge. That's just what it is to be evil. 
By the same token, anyone who really knows what is right, will do what is right.  Jeremy didn't stop and help that old lady by the side of the road. Today he is feeling all guilty and says he knew he should have. But that's not correct. If he knew he should have, then he would have. That's just what it is to have moral knowledge.

Do you agree with this? Why or why not? Do you think this is more intuitively compelling than the same sort of argument made with respect to non moral contexts? For example, if someone were to say: If you really knew your glasses were on your head, you wouldn't have been looking for them just now in the drawer. Why or why not?
Tuesday we'll be on Nagel's "Intuition, Reflection and Command of Knowledge." I'll post the usuals by today or tomorrow and quiz will be due Monday night. This paper is actually a response to Tamar Gendler's essay "The Third Horse." Gendler's paper is also available on BB, but here are my notes on it as well (in the form of answered study questions.) It is worth reviewing these at least.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We're on Gendler's "Alief and Belief" on Thursday.  Thought question:

Identify one of your belief discordant aliefs and explain how you deal with it. Do you think the alief has any value to you despite the fact that you don't believe it? Why or why not?

Monday, November 7, 2016

There are two talks tomorrow. One right after class, the other at 1:30. Good chance to do one or two extra credit colloquium analyses. See CPPE or FB for details.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

On Tuesday we will finish the Cassam article. I will post the study questions, and quiz over Tamar Gendler's paper "Alief and Belief" by tomorrow, but they will not be due until Wednesday.

Final draft of Analysis 2 due Sunday night!

Thought question for Tuesday
What do you think of the following claim? Although there are clearly times when people simply do not exercise rational control over irrational impulses, reason does have the power to take charge of impulsive behavior and redirect it according to its own light; it is just a matter of our choosing to do so. 
After you have written your answer to the above comment on the significance of your answer for this video.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Thought question for Thursday

Mika is a Christian. Her friend Aaron is an agnostic. Mika often tells Aaron that one of the wonderful things about being a Christian is the knowledge that when she and her loved ones die they will be going to a far better place. Hence there is no reason to fear death or to grieve for them when people you love die. God is infinitely wise and loving. He has a plan for all those who accept Jesus into their lives. One day Mika's mother, a school teacher and also a devout Christian, is killed in a school yard shooting along with many elementary school children. Months later Mika grieves her mother's death intensely and she tells Aaron that she is having a crisis of faith.
Did Mika believe the things she told Aaron prior to her mother's death? Explain.