David Kyle Johnson

David Kyle Johnson >

37
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How Do We Do Philosophy?
Episode 1 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
The first four lectures of the course pose the big question: What is philosophy? Start by exploring the kinds of problems that philosophy addresses, the way philosophy works, and the distinction between philosophy and opinion. Discover that philosophy is arguably…
Why Should We Trust Reason?
Episode 2 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Hone your philosophical thinking by identifying the categories of fallacious reasoning that ensnare us all. Investigate examples of gut-thinking, confirmation bias, appealing to ignorance, the correlation fallacy, begging the question, and equivocation. Learn how to check your reasoning for flaws.
What Is Truth?
Episode 5 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Now begin a section of the course devoted to the big question: What is knowledge? Start with the problem of defining truth. Investigate three philosophical theories that attempt to pin down this elusive concept: pragmatism, coherentism, and the correspondence theory.
How Do We Reason Carefully?
Episode 3 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Avoiding fallacious reasoning is just the beginning of philosophical thinking. Go deeper by studying the rules of deduction and induction. In the process, learn Aristotle's three axioms of logic, the difference between truth and validity, common mistakes in logical arguments,…
How Do We Find the Best Explanation?
Episode 4 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Explore the power of abduction, a form of induction also known as inference to the best explanation, that is used not only by philosophers, but also by doctors to make medical diagnoses and scientists to construct theories. Even Sherlock Holmes--the…
What Is the Best Way to Gain Knowledge?
Episode 7 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Put empiricism to the test as the best way to acquire knowledge. Study the ideas of John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume, together with the response of Immanuel Kant, before settling on the most effective route to understanding the…
Is Knowledge Possible?
Episode 6 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Having covered ways of gaining evidence and justifying belief in pursuit of knowledge, now ask: Is knowledge really possible? See what Plato had to say. Then delve into Rene Descartes' celebrated struggle with this problem, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses…
Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
Episode 12 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Begin a series of lectures addressing the next big question: Does God exist? The most popular proofs appeal to God's existence as the best explanation for the universe's existence and nature. In this lecture, test the cosmological and teleological arguments,…
What Is God Like?
Episode 13 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Traditionally, if God exists, God is perfect--God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. See how these three attributes are likely inconsistent with each another. Focus in particular on the difficulties with St. Anselm's argument for a perfect God, and look at…
What Is the Meaning of Life?
Episode 36 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Professor Johnson poses the last big question of the course: Can we answer the ultimate question? Draw on the many insights you've gained from these lectures, together with your experience thinking philosophically, to probe the meaning of life from several…
How Could God Allow Moral Evil?
Episode 14 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Now consider arguments against God's existence, the most common being the problem of evil. Explore various theological solutions that account for why God allows certain evils, like the holocaust. Does God have reasons we cannot understand? Examine the flaws in…
Why Would God Cause Natural Evil?
Episode 15 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
It is one thing for God to grant humans the freedom to do evil, but it's harder to understand the existence of natural evils such as earthquakes and plagues. Evaluate different approaches to this problem, including the suggestion that God…
Do Our Souls Make Us Free?
Episode 17 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Look at the problem of free will from the point of view of the soul, the conjectured seat of mentality that exists apart from the body. Discover that neuroscience suggests that the soul does not exist and also casts doubt…
Why Bother Being Good?
Episode 30 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Wickedness has its rewards, which raises the question: Why bother being good? Explore this issue with Plato, whose dialogue The Republic is a detailed description of a highly regulated, virtuous society. Plato contends that the individual achieves virtue in an…
Does Happiness Define the Good?
Episode 27 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Could the happiness or absence of pain that results from an action define whether it is good? The Greek philosopher Epicurus held this view, which was fine-tuned by utilitarian philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Study objections to this…
Could Machines Think?
Episode 25 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Push your exploration of the mind even further by looking at functionalism, which suggests that anything that functions like our brain has mentality. The implication is that, in principle, machines can think. Study some responses to this theory, including John…
How Big Should Government Be?
Episode 33 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Explore three theories on the proper size of government, focusing on economic regulation and delivery of services. Adam Smith saw a minimal role, Karl Marx envisioned total control, and John Maynard Keynes believed that major government intervention was necessary under…
Do We Know What Knowledge Is?
Episode 8 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Address a famous problem concerning the nature of knowledge, posed by contemporary philosopher Edmund Gettier. Use different thought experiments to test the traditional definition of knowledge. Discover firsthand the bafflement and enlightenment that comes from doing philosophy.
Does Reason Define the Good?
Episode 28 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Kant suggested that reason determines what is moral or immoral. Analyze his famous categorical imperative, which is a set of obligatory moral rules guided by reason. See how Kant's rules go far beyond the Golden Rule. Then uncover the shortcomings…
What Justifies a Government?
Episode 32 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Does government arise naturally from a state of anarchy? Does this fact morally justify it? Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau thought so. However, each of these philosophers saw different factors driving individuals to enter into the social…