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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Undergraduate Course: Puzzles and Paradoxes (PHIL10156)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course provides an overview of a number of famous philosophical puzzles and paradoxes, and important attempts to solve them.
Course description Paradoxes have formed a central topic of philosophical investigation, stretching back from Zeno of Elea up to David Lewis. Paradoxes figure both in influential arguments for philosophical theses and in famous (alleged) refutations of philosophical theses. Bertrand Russell advised that one should "stock the mind with as many puzzles as possible, since these serve much the same purpose [in philosophy] as is served by experiments in physical science". This course provides an overview of a number of famous philosophical puzzles and paradoxes and important attempts to solve them. In so doing students will be introduced to some important issues in philosophy of language, philosophical logic, decision theory, and formal epistemology. The course will put emphasis on both methodology and philosophical content: (i) method: emphasis will be put on the deployment of logical and formal methods in the service of philosophical problems, (ii) content: the main philosophical themes will center around the nature of reference, truth, rational belief, and knowledge. The puzzles and paradoxes to be discussed include Russell's paradox, the liar paradox, the sorites paradox, Cartwright's paradox, Bhartrhari's paradox, Frege's puzzle, the puzzle of empty names, the surprise exam paradox, the paradox of knowability, the preface paradox, the St. Petersburg paradox, among others. With critical engagement as a primary goal the course sessions will be discussion oriented and include various peer-teaching activities.

In addition to online papers reading will include the following books:

- Sorensen (2005) A Brief History of the Paradox: Philosophy and the Labyrinths of the Mind, Oxford University Press.

- Sainsbury (2009) Paradoxes, Cambridge University Press.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014) AND Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students studying on MA Cognitive Science (Humanities) are permitted to take this course without having met the pre-requisites of Mind, Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality. However, it is advisable that students discuss the suitability of the course with their PT and the course organiser before enrolling.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Presentation: 20%
Final Essay: 80%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. An understanding of some core philosophical puzzles and paradoxes, and the important attempts to solve them.
  2. An ability to deploy logical and formal methods in the service of philosophical problems.
  3. Development of general analytical skills, such as the ability to analyse and evaluate a jointly inconsistent set of individually plausible platitudes.
  4. Acquaintance with a wide-range of philosophical problems, and an appreciation of an overarching pattern in terms of both the structure of the problems and the methodology used to confront them.
  5. An ability to independently research and then concisely present a philosophical puzzle.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Brian Rabern
Course secretary
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