Philosophy 20229: Paradoxes
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Date Topic Main
Wednesday, January 18 Introduction to the course none
January 23-5 [class canceled]  
Monday, January 30 What is a paradox? none    
Paradoxes of space and time
Wednesday, February 1 Zeno's paradoxes Sainsbury, Paradoxes, ch. 1    
Monday, February 6 McTaggart's proof of the unreality of time McTaggart, "Time" Prior, "Some free thinking about time"  
Wednesday, February 8 Kant's antinomies Kant, "The antinomy of pure reason" (excerpt)
Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (excerpt)
van Cleve, "The ideality of matter"  
Monday, February 13 Paradoxes of special relativity & quantum mechanics Einstein, Relativity (excerpt)

Arntzenius & Maudlin, "Time travel and modern physics"
Albert, "Superposition"
Schrodinger, "The present situation in quantum mechanics"

Metaphysical paradoxes
Wednesday, February 15 Puzzles about material objects Sider, "Constitution"  
Monday, February 20 Paradoxes of personal identity: teletransportation, split brains, & immaterial souls Parfit, "Divided minds and the nature of persons"

Nagel, "Brain bisection and the unity of consciousness"
Weldon, "To be" (a cartoon about teletransportation)
Dennett, "Where am I?"
Zuboff, "The story of a brain"



Wednesday, February 22 Fate and the master argument Aristotle, De Interpretatione (selection)
Epictetus, Discourses (selection)
Taylor, "Fate"
Chiang, "What's expected of us"
Monday, February 27 The impossibility of free will van Inwagen, "The powers of rational beings: freedom of the will"  
Theological paradoxes
Wednesday, February 29 Midterm exam (covers paradoxes of space & time + metaphysical paradoxes)
Monday, March 5 The problem of evil Mackie, "Evil and omnipotence" Plantinga, "The free will defense"
van Inwagen, "The problem of evil"
Wednesday, March 7 Free will and divine foreknowledge Edwards, Freedom of the Will (selection) Zagzebski, "Foreknowledge and free will" First 5-page paper due
Spring break
Monday, March 19 Omnipotence and prayer Murray, "Does prayer change things?" Some extra reading on the paradoxes of omniscience and omnipotence:
Aquinas, "Whether God is omnipotent?"

Plantinga & Grim, "Truth, omniscience, and Cantorian arguments"
Wednesday, March 21 The paradox of heaven & hell and the problem of the Trinity Sider, "Hell and vagueness" Rea, "The Trinity"
Paradoxes of belief & action
Monday, March 26 Newcomb's problem Sainsbury, pp. 69-81
Wednesday, March 28 The prisoner's dilemma Sainsbury, pp. 82-87
Monday, April 2 The St. Petersburg & two-envelope paradoxes Clark, "The St. Petersburg Paradox" Arntzenius & McCarthy, "The two envelope paradox and infinite expectations"
Hajek, "The cable guy paradox"
Wednesday, April 4 Paradoxes of confirmation Sainsbury, pp. 90-106
Easter break
Wednesday, April 11 The surprise exam Sainsbury, pp. 107-114 Hall, "How to set a surprise exam"
Monday, April 16 The doomsday argument (and: Are we living in a computer simulation?) Leslie, The End of the World (excerpt) Greenberg, "Apocalypse not just now"
Bostrom, "Are you living in a computer simulation?"
Wednesday, April 18 Sleeping beauty & the eternal coin Elga, "Self-locating belief and the sleeping beauty problem"

Lewis, "Reply to Elga"
Dorr, "Sleeping beauty: in defense of Elga"
White, "The generalized sleeping beauty problem"
Dorr, "The eternal coin"

Monday, April 23 The lottery paradox Hawthorne, Knowledge and Lotteries (excerpt)  
Wednesday, April 25 The knower, the believer, and the paradox of knowability Sainsbury, pp. 115-120
Logical paradoxes
Monday, April 30 The liar Sainsbury, ch. 6 Russell, Principles of Mathematics (excerpt from Appendix B)
Tarski, "The semantic conception of truth"
Second 5-page paper due
Wednesday, May 2 The sorites Sainsbury, ch. 3    
Wednesday, May 9, 4:15-6:15 Final exam (covers theological paradoxes, paradoxes of belief & action, and logical paradoxes)