Human Nature and the Limits of Human Knowledge

Course description

 

This course provides an introduction to a philosophical discussion of questions about human nature, rationality, limits of human knowledge, and a purpose of philosophy.

Assessment 

 

Each student will write one midterm (40% weight) and one final (60% weight) essay in English.  The word limit for the midterm essay is 1 500 words and for the final essay 2 000 words. Each essay has to be related to the content of the course. Send your essays to my university email: pavel.janda@fhs.cuni.cz.

Reading

Week 1: Socrates and Plato: Reason Is Da Best Part

Compulsory reading: (read at least one - the first paper is more thesis-driven and the second one is more expository):

Taylor, C. C. W. (2008), Plato on Rationality and Happiness, Pleasure, Mind, and Soul: Selected Papers in Ancient Philosophy, OUP, Oxford, p. 223 - 239, ISBN-10: 0199226393.

or 

Devereux, D. (2011), Socratic Ethics and Moral Psychology, In Gail Fine (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Plato, OUP, Oxford, p. 139 - 164, ISBN-10: 0199769192.

Recommended reading:

Lorenz, H. (2009): Ancient Theories of Soul: the part on Plato's Theories of Soul, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Principal Editor: Edward N. Zalta.

Week 2: Aristotle Reacts to Plato: Bodily Plasures Are Also Cool, Bro!

Compulsory reading (read at least one - the first paper is more thesis-driven and the second one is more expository):

Taylor, C. C. W. (2008), Pleasure: Aristotle's Response to PlatoPleasure, Mind, and Soul: Selected Papers in Ancient Philosophy, OUP, Oxford, p. 240 - 264, ISBN-10: 0199226393.

or 

Irwin, T. H. (2015), Conceptions of Happiness in the Nicomachean Ethics, In Christopher Shields (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle, OUP, Oxford, p. 495 - 528, ISBN-10: 0190244844.

Recommended reading:

Kraut, R. (2014): Aristotle's Ethics: the parts on The Doctrine of the Mean and Pleasure, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Principal Editor: Edward N. Zalta.

Barnes, J. (2001), Practical Philosophy, Aristotle: A Very Short Introduction, OUP, Oxford, p. 123 - 130, ISBN-10: 0192854089

Week 3: No Class (I am conferencing, sorry!)

Week 4: We Desire and Believe in Hum(e)an Rationality

Compulsory reading (read at least one - the first paper is more thesis-driven and the second one is more expository):

Sinhababu N. (2017), Humean Nature: How desire explains action, thought, and feeling, OUP, Oxford, p. 1 - 19, ISBN-13: 9780198783893.

or 

Railton, P. (2005), Humean Theory of Practical Rationality, In David Copp (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory, OUP, Oxford, p. 265 - 281, ISBN-13: 9780195147797.

Recommended reading:

Broom, J. (1993): Can Humean Be Moderate?, In R. G. Frey and Christopher Morris (eds), Value, Welfare and Morality, Cambridge University Press, pp. 279–86.

Week 5: Let Us Hedonize! (We don't need no education...or do we?)

Compulsory reading (please try to read all for this week- it is not that long as it might seem at first sight):

West, H. R. (2015), J. S. Mill, In Roger Crisp (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics, OUP, Oxford, p. 530 - 542 (from the section "25.2 Qualitative Hedonism" to the end), ISBN-13: 978-0198744405.

and

Shaver, R. (2015), Utilitarianism: Bentham and Rashdall, In Roger Crisp (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics, OUP, Oxford, p. 292 - 302 (from the beginning to the end of section 14.3), ISBN-13: 978-0198744405.

and

Mitsis, P. (2015), Epicurus: Freedom, Death, and Hedonism, In Roger Crisp (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics, OUP, Oxford, p. 87 - 92 ( section called "4.3 Pleasure"), ISBN-13: 978-0198744405.

Recommended reading:

Long, D. G. (1990), Utility' and the 'Utility Principle': Hume, Smith, Bentham, Utilitas, 2 (1), CUP, Cambridge, p. 12 - 39.

Driver, J. (2014): The History of Utilitarianism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (Eds.).

Week 6: I Prefer, Therefore I am...Representable

Compulsory reading (Please read Sen's paper and the chapter about utility. I would read the text about utility first. I would also recommend you to have a look at the chapter about preferences. The 'utility' and 'preferences' chapters are from a textbook, so they are no that difficult to read. If you need to learn abit more about different scales, you can find one page introduction in recommended readings.):

Sen, A. (1973), Behaviour and the Concept of Preference, Economica, New Series, 40 (159), p. 541 - 259.

and

Peterson, M. (2009), Utility, In  An Introduction to Decision Theory (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy), CUP, Cambridge, p. 91 - 113, ISBN-13: 978-0521716543.

Recommended reading:

Peterson, M. (2009), Introduction, In  An Introduction to Decision Theory (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy), CUP, Cambridge, p. 1 - 14, ISBN-13: 978-0521716543.

and

Peterson, M. (2009), The decision matrix, In  An Introduction to Decision Theory (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy), CUP, Cambridge, p. 28, ISBN-13: 978-0521716543.

Week 7: Midterm: Study or not to Study? (essay deadline: Friday 6th of April 23:59pm)

Compulsory reading (Please concentrate on writing your essay. If you have time, read the following couple of pages):

Peterson, M. (2009), The decision matrix, In  An Introduction to Decision Theory (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy), CUP, Cambridge, p. 17 - 30, ISBN-13: 978-0521716543.

Recommended reading:

TBA

Week 8: Beliefs, Degrees of Beliefs, and Puzzles in Epistemology?

Compulsory reading (There is one paper from the last week and one new short introduction + some short videos to watch):

Peterson, M. (2009), The decision matrix, In  An Introduction to Decision Theory (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy), CUP, Cambridge, p. 17 - 30, ISBN-13: 978-0521716543.

Titelbaum, M. (2009), manuscript, chapter 1, Beliefs and Degrees of Belief.

Watch the following videos:

Allais paradox

St. Petersburg Paradox

Monty Hall Problem

Week 8: How Should We Believe

Compulsory reading (Try to read the following text. If you find it difficult, please, prepare questions.):

Titelbaum, M. (2009), manuscript, chapter 1, Beliefs and Degrees of Belief.

Week 9: Introduction to Knowledge

Compulsory reading/video (It should be an easy reading plus watch the video):

Lemos, N. (2007), Intrduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge Intriductions To Philosophy), CUP, Cambridge, p. 1 - 21, ISBN13 978-0-521-60309-6.

Gettier Problem

Week 11: Introduction to Knowledge 2

Compulsory reading/video (It should be an easy reading plus watch the video):

Lemos, N. (2007), Intrduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge Intriductions To Philosophy), CUP, Cambridge, p. 1 - 21, ISBN13 978-0-521-60309-6.

Lemos, N. (2007), Intrduction to the Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge Intriductions To Philosophy), CUP, Cambridge, p. 22 - 43, ISBN13 978-0-521-60309-6.

Gettier Problem

© 2023 by Scientist Personal. Proudly created with Wix.com