PHL220 Theory of Knowledge
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: Piez Hall 225
Office Hours: MWF 10:10 - 11:00; W 3:00 - 4:00 in Lake Effect; and by
8 December: Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition
Tentative assignments (subject to revision)
15 December: final exam due in my office (Piez 225)
before 4:00 p.m. This exam requires you to write 3 answers to
questions; one short answer and two longer answers.
Short answer. Write (1-2 or more pages typed double spaced
with 1-inch margins using courier or times font) a short essay
answering the following question.
Longer answer. Answer two and only two of the following
questions. For each answer, write 2-3 or more pages typed
double spaced with 1-inch margines using courier or times
- What is the deductive nomological method with
falsificationism? Describe it carefully, being clear
about what an unfalsifiable proposition is and why it
is problematic. Use an example hypothesis to
illustrate the method. What complication does the
Quine-Duhem thesis add to the method?
- Could Uri Geller really bend those spoons with
his mind? Treat this as a problem in scientific
reasoning (that is, you are to apply both the
deductive nomological method with falsificationism,
and also to compare theories using the theoretical
virtues). Among the steps to take in answering this
question, these should include: First, what is the
relevant hypothesis? Second, what is a testable
prediction of that hypothesis? Also, how will you
compare your a hypothesis describing Geller's claim
with an alternative? (E.g., how would you compare a
hypothesis like, "Geller bends the spoons before he
handles them on camera, so that they are easy to bend
with a little pressure" to "Geller uses his psychic
powers to bend normal spoons"?) Note: if you choose
this question, you may refer to your short answer
above as having described the deductive nomological
method with falsificationism, and then you may focus
on applying that method clearly to your example(s),
and also on the criteria for comparing theories.
- What is the new problem of induction? (This is
the problem of "grue" emeralds.) Explain in brief the
old problem of induction (as found in Hume), so that
you are able to contrast this problem with it. What
kind of challenge is the new problem of induction
meant to be for induction and scientific reasoning?
To do this, you will find it helpful to compare "all
emeralds are green" with "all emeralds are grue," in
light of the evidence that we have.
- What does Lyotard mean when he says there is no
longer a "master narrative"? Why should that matter?
How has or will knowledge change as a result? How
should we live our lives, or at least how should we
pursue knowledge, after these changes that characterize