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INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY

Harvard Summer School 2018


Professor Andreas Teuber

I. Introduction
The primary concern of philosophy is the study of ideas central to the ways we think and live. The value,
however, of many of our key concepts is often hidden from us. We take the ways we make sense of
ourselves and the world for granted. We forget why truth matters or acting decently is a minimal
requirement for treating others justly.

Philosophy makes the invisible visible.

It cultivates techniques that help us become clearer about what matters to us most. It develops skills
that are essential in the pursuit of every discipline. As Robert Rubin, Treasury Secretary under Clinton,
said many times: “I took one course in philosophy in college and it made me a better economist.”

The course will ask and aim to answer central questions in philosophy: “Can Machines Think?” • What is
Consciousness?” • “Do Persons have Free Will?” • “How do you Know you are not a Brain-in-a-Vat
or Living in a Matrix?” • “What is Justice?” • “What’s so Bad about Inequality?” • “If you had the
Option, would you Choose to be Immortal?” • “Does Life have Meaning?”

The course is more about thinking than it is about coverage or the memorization of a bunch of facts. The
main focus is on the questions.

In its aim and format the course is more an invitation to do philosophy than an introduction.
Introductions seek to map out a territory or lay the groundwork for more detailed study. There will be
some of that in the Summer of 2018, but insofar as invitations beckon and introductions point, the
course beckons students to the study of philosophy rather than points the way. Topics include
arguments for and against the existence of God, the problem of evil, minds, brains and programs,
personal identity ("who am I?"), freedom and determinism, moral objectivity v. moral relativism, justice and
mercy, and what makes life worth living . . . to name a few. The course is not intended to be
comprehensive or exhaustive. The classic philosophical materials are selected to provide a basis for
understanding central debates within the field.

The course is divided into four sections and each section focuses on a key area within Western
philosophy, in the areas of (somewhat fancily put) epistemology, general metaphysics and ontology
as well as philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, political philosophy and ethics:

DRAFT MARCH 1, 2018


Preamble: What is Philosophy?

• PART I: REASON & FAITH


• PART II: MIND & BODY
• PART III: KNOWLEDGE & REALITY
• PART IV: ETHICS, JUSTICE & THE GOOD LIFE
(See the Week by Week breakdown of the readings and the assignments below)

The Syllabus for The Introduction to Philosophy Course has been listed among
The Top Ten Most Popular Philosophy Syllabi in the World for several years now.

“The Ten Most Popular Philosophy Syllabi in the World”


http://www.dancohen.org/blog/posts/10_most_popular_philosophy_syllabi

II. Class Times


The course will meet on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 12:00 to 3:00 PM.

III. Course Requirements and Reading


Course Requirements will remain more or less the same as in prior years. Prof. Teuber has taught the course at
Harvard now for more than ten years. This summer it will follow a similar trajectory as it did last year and the
year before and draw on many of the same readings.

IV. Writing
Three short papers are required on topics growing out of the readings and class discussions. The short papers should
be about 5 pages in length. Paper topics will be available at least seven days before a paper is due. The topics will
also be posted on the web to allow you to show the question, if you wish, to family and friends and argue with
them about it. The first of the three exercises will not be graded. It will give everyone the opportunity to try
their hand at “doing some philosophy,” will give everyone the opportunity to defend a position, to argue for it,
think of a strong objection and respond to it. More will be said on the first day of class. There will also be a
FINAL, a take-home writing exercise of (roughly, roughly) 6-7 pages and three Reader Response Exercises
which will require no more than a paragraph each.

V. Rewriting
You will have the opportunity to rewrite one, perhaps two, of the three graded papers. Rewrites must be
accompanied by a copy of the original with the comments, plus a cover sheet, stating how you have improved
the paper and a brief description of what you did to make your paper, now rewritten, better. The grade you
receive on your paper will be the grade you receive for the rewrite. It will not be an average of the two grades.
Again: more will be said about rewriting on the first day of class and at the time the rewrite option kicks in
VI. Examinations
Other than a short quiz there will be no examinations of any kind. The quiz will be in class (online for
those taking the course online) and will be given near the end of the summer session. It should take about
twenty minutes. There will be no midterm and no final exam.

VII. Participation
You may meet the participation requirement by participating in class discussions, attending
discussion sessions, talking and corresponding with family and friends as well as classmates, by
keeping a diary or journal, and by communicating on Facebook. At the end of the semester everyone
will be given the opportunity to send an email describing what they did in and outside the class to
meet the requirement.

VIII. Attendance
If you take the course on campus, you are expected to attend class. Attendance is required.
IX. Grading
The course calls for four short papers, the first of which will be a credit/no credit paper, three short
reader response exercises, a quiz and participation. Assuming that everyone receives “credit” on the first
paper, the three remaining graded papers will be weighted as follows: 35% for your best effort, 25% for
your next best effort and 20% for the one which is least successful of the three. The three reading
exercises will count 10% and the quiz and participation each count 5% of your final grade.

X. Course Web Site


The Course has its own Canvas Web Site.

XI. Teaching Assistants


Several Teaching Assistants have been assigned to the Course. The Teaching Assistants will be
primarily responsible for reading your papers and making comments on them as well as
participating in and helping to lead discussion sessions. The Teaching Assistants will also be
available to discuss your ideas for how you wish to address this or that paper topic. I shall look at
all the papers before grades are handed out and decide on what grades each paper should receive. If
you are convinced an error has been made, first talk with your teaching assistant with whom you have
been working. If you are still not satisfied, you may bring your paper to me.

XII. Office Hours


I will hold office hours on Thursdays from 3:15 until 4:15 and by appointment. If you wish to leave messages
for me, send me an email either at teuber@g.harvard.edu or teuber@fas.harvard.edu. The Teaching
Assistants will also hold office hours and be reachable by email. Their hours will be announced in the first
week of the Summer semester.
XIII. Academic Integrity
Harvard Summer School expects you to understand and maintain high standards of academic
integrity. Breaches of academic integrity are subject to review and disciplinary action by the
Administrative Board. Examples include plagiarism, inappropriate collaboration, cheating, duplication
of assignments and falsification and misrepresentation of research results. See the Harvard page at

Harvard Resources to Support Academic Honesty


https://www.summer.harvard.edu/resources-policies/resources-support-academic-integrity

XIV. Resources to Support Academic Integrity


The University offers essential information about the use of sources in academic writing.

The Harvard Guide to Using Resources


http://usingsources.fas.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do

To receive the most benefit, read all six sections of the guide. You will gain a deep
appreciation for why and how sources are used in academic writing and the ethical implication
of improper citation.

XV. Accessibility and Accommodation Services


The Accessibility Services Office at Accessibility@dcemail.harvard.edu or 617_998_9640 offers a
variety of accommodations and services to students with documented disabilities, permanent and
temporary injuries, and chronic conditions. If you are a student with a disability, the Summer School
will engage you in an interactive process to provide you with an equal opportunity to participate in,
contribute to, and benefit from the academic activities and materials in the INTRODUCTION TO
PHILOSOPHY Course. The manager of accessibility services will work with you on an individualized,
case by case basis, to provide appropriate services to ensure you have a rich and rewarding academic
experience.

XVI. Online Option


The Introduction to Philosophy course this summer may be taken ON CAMPUS or ONLINE.

Classes meet on campus and you can take the course on campus as you would take a regular course at
the university. The course also has an online option. You may take it online. Class sessions will be video-
taped and posted within 24 hours of the time the class meets. So you may take the course on campus
and watch the videos to refresh your memory or for review.
PART I
Week 1 Introduction and Organization
Tuesday Course Requirements

What is Philosophy?
The Trolley Problem
Twenty-One Moral & Legal Puzzlers
Trash on the Beach
Queen v. Dudley (1884): Was It Murder?

“Why Philosophy?” • “Why Won’t It Go Away?”


Background: Thales, Socrates, Plato
The Transition from Family to State

“Why Did the Athenians Put Their Most Famous Citizen to Death?”
The Greeks: “What Were They Thinking?”

Thursday Reason v. Faith

Reason and Reasoning


Plato (428- 348), "Apology: Socrates’ Defense”
http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970),
"The Value of Philosophy"
http://www.ditext.com/russell/rus15.html

Faith and Belief


What Sign Would Convince You That God Exists?
“The Invisible Gardner”
Traditional Arguments for God’s Existence
The Problem of Evil

The Ontological, Cosmological and Design Arguments


Anselm (1033-1109), "The Ontological Argument”
Aquinas (1225-74), "FIVE WAYS"
William Paley (1734-1805), "The Design Argument"
Stephen Jay Gould, "The Panda’s Thumb”

Introduction to Philosophy (PHIL S-4)


Part One continued

WEEK 2 Belief Against the Evidence


Tuesday W. K Clifford, “The Ethics of Belief”
William James, “The Will To Believe”
Pascal, “The Wager”
Alan Hajek, “Waging War Against Pascal’s Wager”

The First Writing Exercise will be handed out in class on Tuesday, July 3rd.

It is due at the start of class on Tuesday, July 10th.

The exercise will not be graded.

The exercise will not receive a letter grade, but it will give everyone the
opportunity to try their hand at defending a position, thinking of a strong
objection that someone on the other side might make, and responding to it.

“I think you should be a little more explicit here in step two.”


PART II
WEEK 2 The Mind-Body Problem
Thursday René Descartes, Meditation II and Meditation VI
July 5 Bertrand Russell, "The Argument from Analogy for Other Minds"
Gilbert Ryle, "Descartes's Myth"
David M. Armstrong, "The Nature of Mind"
Paul M. Churchland, "Eliminative Materialism"

What Is Consciousness?
Thomas Nagel, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?"
David Chalmers, “Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness”
David Chalmers, ”The Puzzle of Conscious Experience”

Color
Frank Jackson, "What Mary Didn't Know"
David Lewis, "Knowing What It's Like"
C. L. Hardin, “Are Scientific Objects Colored?”

Minds, Brains and Machines: “Can Machines Think?”


Hilary Putnam, "The Nature of Mental States"
A.M. Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence"
John Searle, “Can Computers Think?
John Searle, "Minds, Brains, and Programs"

WEEK 3 Free Will, Determinism and Responsibility


July 10 Roderick Chisholm, "Human Freedom and the Self”
Richard Taylor, “Fatalism”
Peter Van Inwagen, “The Powers of Rational Beings”
David Hume, “Of Liberty and Necessity”
Harry Frankfurt, “Alternate Possibilities & Responsibility”
Harry Frankfurt, “Free Will & the Concept of a Person”
P. F. Strawson, ”Freedom and Resentment”
Introduction to Philosophy (PHIL S-4)
Part Two continued

July 12 Personal Identity


John Locke, from Essay Concerning Human Understanding:
“Of Identity and Diversity”
John Perry, "A Dialogue on Identity and Immortality"
Derek Parfit, “Personal Identity”
Bernard Williams, “The Self and the Future”
Derek Parfit, “The Unimportance of Identity”
David Velleman, “So It Goes”
Daniel Dennett, “Where Am I?”

The Second Writing Exercise will be handed out in class on Thursday, July 12th.

It is due at the start of class on Thursday, July 19th.

The exercise will not be graded.


PART III
Week 4 Classics of Epistemology
Tuesday Plato, Theaetetus (excerpt)
July. 17
Cartesian Skepticism
Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy I and II

Knowledge as Justified True Belief


Edmund Gettier, “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” Robert Nozick, Excerpt
from Philosophical Explanations

Thursday The Matrix


July 19 Christopher Grau, " Dream Skepticism”
Christopher Grau, "Brain-in-a-Vat Skepticism” Christopher Grau, "The
MATRIX and the Experience Machine”
David Chalmers, “The Matrix as Metaphysics”

Humean Skepticism of the Senses and of Causation


David Hume, "Of Skepticism with Regard to the Senses"
David Hume, from An Enquiry Into Human Understanding
W.C. Salmon, "An Encounter with David Hume"
G.E. Moore, "Proof of the External World”
Alex Byrne, "Skepticism About the Internal World"
Jonathan Vogel, "Cartesian Skepticism and Inference to the Best Explanation"
Keith DeRose, "Contextualism: An Explanation and a Defense"
Ned Hall, “Causation and Correlation”
Rae Langton, "Elusive Knowledge and Knowledge of Things-in-Themselves"

The Third Writing Exercise will be handed out in class on Thursday, July 19th.

It is due on at the start of class on Thursday, July 26th.


PART IV
WEEK 5 Utilitarianism
Tuesday Jeremy Bentham, "The Principle of Utility"
July 24 John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism
E. F. Carritt, "Criticisms of Utilitarianism"
J. J. C. Smart, "Extreme and Restricted Utilitarianism"

Bernard Williams, "Utilitarianism and Integrity"

Kantian Ethics
Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals
David Velleman, "A Brief Introduction to Kantian Ethics"

Virtue Ethics
Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics (Selections)
Thomas Nagel, "Aristotle on Eudaimonia"

Thursday Liberty and Equality


July 26 Robert Nozick, "Distributive Justice" Anarchy, State & Utopia

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (excerpt)

Subjectivism, Relativism, and Self-- - - - Interest


Alex Byrne, "Knowing Right from Wrong"
J. L. Mackie, "The Subjectivity of Values,” "The Law of the Jungle"
David Gauthier, "Morality and Advantage"

The Third Writing Exercise is due (start of class) on Thursday, July 26.

Week Six Euthanasia, Drone Strikes and The Sale of Organs


Tuesday James Rachels, “Active and Passive Euthanasia”
July 31 Thomas Nagel, “War and Massacre”
Janet Radcliffe Richards, “The Buying and Selling of Kidneys”

There will be a quiz in class on July 31st.

Thursday Shallow Ponds, Envelopes, Poverty and Hunger


August 2 Peter Singer, “Famine, Affluence and Morality”
Onora O’Neill, “Kantian Approaches to Some Famine Problems”

Quizzes (graded) will be handed back on Thursday, August the 2nd.

The FINAL - a take home final paper - will be discussed a bit and handed
out at the end of class. The Take-Home Final is due seven days from the
2nd, at NOON on Thursday the 9th of August.

Week Seven Brain-Storming session on ways to tackle


Tuesday the Final Take-Home Exercise
August 7

Thursday The Take-Home Final is due at NOON: Thursday, August the 9th.
August 9

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DRAFT MARCH 1, 2018