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…
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…
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,…
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.
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…
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…
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…
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 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.
Are Persons Just Bodies?
Episode 21 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Could it be that you are the same person over time because you have the same body over time? Explore the implications of this view, which traces to the Judeo-Christian concept of the resurrection of the body in the afterlife.…
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 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,…
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…
Are You Really You?
Episode 22 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Close your inquiry into the afterlife by looking at new ways of defining personhood. According to perdurantism, a person is the sum total of an individual's life experiences and cannot be isolated to a particular time and place. Then question…
Does God Define the Good?
Episode 26 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Turn to the next big question: What is morally right and wrong? Your first step is to inquire what establishes the truth of ethical statements. Look briefly at emotivism, which holds that our emotions tell us what is right. Then…
How Does the Brain Produce the Mind?
Episode 23 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
The next three lectures address the big question: What is the nature of the mind? Start with the celebrated "hard problem" of consciousness: How does the brain produce the mind? Investigate two possible answers and explore why many philosophers consider…
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…
Are Persons Mere Minds?
Episode 20 of The Big Questions of Philosophy
Explore the possibility that personal identity is preserved by memory, as Locke contended, or by psychological continuity. Test these ideas in thought experiments involving the transporter from Star Trek and other intriguing scenarios.