Class: PHL100 Problems of Philosophy
Classroom: Mahar 122
Class time: MWF 9:10 am - 10:05 am
Class final: TBA
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: CC212A
Office Hours: MF 1:45 -- 3:00 p.m. and by appointment
Email: craig.delancey@oswego.edu



Current Assignments

Question 6: Does the universe, or do at least you, have a purpose?


9 May
Review! Which world do we live in?
14 May
Our final exam is in class, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Any questions from our first quiz or our midterm are possible. Additional study questions include:
  • What is a valid argument? What is a sound argument?
  • What are the four branches of philosophy?
  • Describe one of Descartes's arguments that mind is not the same kind of thing as body.
  • What is interactive substance dualism?
  • What is a person, according to Locke?
  • What makes a person one person over time, according to Locke?
  • Do split-brain patients have two persons in their one brain? Or one? Or some other number? Explain what a split-brain patient is, and why we might have this philosophical worry.
  • What are fatalism, causal determinism, libertarianism (in metaphysics), and their denials?
  • Evaluate the argument against free will based on an existing god's omniscience. Is it valid? Is it sound?
  • Evaluate the argument against free will based on causal determinism. Is it valid? Is it sound?
  • What is divine command theory? What is the classical challenge to this view?
  • How does Nietzsche suggest we may be able to overcome nihilism? Do you agree with his prescription? (You must explain the idea of the Ubermensch, and of the eternal return.)
  • What are anguish, abandonment, and despair, according to Sartre? Give examples that are not Sartre's own (that is, apply the concepts).
  • What does Sartre mean when he says "We are condemned to be free"? Why "condemned"?
  • Why don't Inez, Joseph, and Estelle leave the room, in "No Exit"? Use Sartre's existentialist philosophy to explain their actions.
  • What does Sisyphus symbolize for Camus?
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern do not struggle to evade their death sentence at the end of the play. How would Sartre explain their behavior?
16 May
Your final papers are due in my office before 2:00. The paper should be 3-4 pages long.

Your paper can be on one of the following topics, or one of your chosing. If it is of your chosing it should address one of the topics we've been discussing since the midterm, and you should clear the topic with me beforehand. Follow the analytic philosophy paper format. Here's the useful guide on APA style. Have fun, these are interesting questions!
  • One popular materialist theory of mind is that the mind is like software, running on the hardware of the brain. If you think this is right, explain how you will answer two of Descartes's arguments against materialism and for dualism. If you are a dualist, how will you answer the Princess's concerns about an immaterial substance causing material effects?
  • Are you free? Explain the various possible answers, and defend one. If you answer yes, then how do you respond to the determinist arguments? If you answer no, are you a compatibilist? Explain.
  • Do you have a purpose? Why? Explain and evaluate at least two possible answers (divine command theory, architect theory, Nietzsche's answer, existentialism, Camus's theory, naturalism) and defend why you think yours is best. Does your answer change how you think about your life and your own plans? (If you are looking for an example of a philosopher stating Divine Command Theory, remember this selection from the correspondence between Descartes and the Princess of Bohemia. For Aristotle's naturalism, you can look to the first sections of the Nicomachean Ethics to see how he reasons about how we can find the chief ends. To discover what he thinks human ends are you'll have to read farther -- but the important thing is that he thinks we have natural, inherit purposes, such as: to reason, to interact with other human beings, etc.)
  • Consider the plight of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. What advice would Nietzsche give them? What advice would Sartre give them? What advice would Camus give them?



Tentative Assignments