How to be more rational: An introduction to logic and systematic reasoning

 

What does it mean to be more rational? What tools and techniques can be employed to become more rational? This course will address these and related questions by teaching students how to think logically and to reason clearly and methodically about any subject matter. Students will be introduced to foundational concepts and techniques in logic and reasoning, including: the structure of arguments, deduction, induction, rational persuasiveness, logical fallacies, and cognitive biases.

The course is open access and also available to those in a degree program and study abroad students.

From early August to early April, you can book a place on the course via the University website here.

The rest of the year, you can express interest in the course here, and you will be emailed when the course is open for bookings.

 

 

Souls, minds, and matter: An introduction to the philosophy of human nature

 

Do you have a soul, or are you simply your brain, or some kind of complicated natural program that "runs" on your brain? How you can ever make free choices if you live in a world governed by natural laws which determine everything that happens? How might belief in the existence of God affect the answers to the previous questions? Is there a god? This course will address these and related questions by examining the main answers that have been offered by leading philosophers and scientists.

The course is open access and also available to those in a degree program and study abroad students.

From early August to mid September, you can book a place on the course via the University website here.

The rest of the year, you can express interest in the course here, and you will be emailed when the course is open for bookings.

 

 

What is consciousness? An introduction to the philosophy of mind and cognitive science

 

What is consciousness? Is it merely a state of the brain, or something over and above that? Can things without brains, like machines, or even non-material things, be conscious? What does it even mean to say that something is “conscious”? This course addresses these and a variety of related questions including the relationship between mind and brain, and the nature of mental phenomena such as perception and sensation.

The course is open access and also available to those in a degree program and study abroad students.

From early August to mid September, you can book a place on the course via the University website here.

The rest of the year, you can express interest in the course here, and you will be emailed when the course is open for bookings.

 

 

Are we alone in the universe? The scientific evidence and its philosophical implications

 

The Chair of Harvard University's Astronomy Department, Avi Loeb, recently published an article in a leading astrophysics journal contending that Oumuamua, the first interstellar object ever detected passing through the Solar System, may best be explained as a probe from an alien civilization. Should we accept or reject Loeb's argument? How can we assess, if at all, the likelihood that we are alone in the universe, the galaxy, or our galactic neighbourhood? And what would be the philosophical implications of all this? Should we expect extra-terrestrial life to have any significant similarities with terrestrial life, and if so which? And what might contact with an extra-terrestrial civilization result in? This course will address these and related questions relevant to the species-defining issue of whether we are alone in the universe.

The course is open access and also available to those in a degree program and study abroad students.

From September to early January, you can book a place on the course via the University website here.

The rest of the year, you can express interest in the course here, and you will be emailed when the course is open for bookings.

 

 

Morality, nature, and beauty: An introduction to the philosophy of value

 

Can moral claims like “it’s wrong to steal” be true in one culture but false in another? What makes something right or wrong anyway? How do we resolve moral controversies over such things as euthanasia, abortion, and the treatment of non-human animals? And what’s the relationship between moral values like right and wrong and aesthetic values like beauty? Is anything ever objectively good, or beautiful, or is it all in the eye of the beholder? This course addresses these and related questions by examining the answers that have been offered by major philosophical figures, both historical and contemporary.

The course is open access and also available to those in a degree program and study abroad students.

From early August to early January, you can book a place on the course via the University website here.

The rest of the year, you can express interest in the course here, and you will be emailed when the course is open for bookings.

 

 

Moralty, nature, and beauty: An introduction to the philosophy of value. Short Courses, University of Glasgow

Elementary formal logic: An introduction

 

The rules of logic have been developed over more than two millennia by contributions from numerous philosophers, mathematicians, and empirical scientists, including famous names such as Socrates, Plato, Leibniz, Boole, Frege, and Russell. But what are those rules, exactly? And how can they be applied to produce logical proofs? This course will address these and related questions by introducing students to some of the basic elements of formal logic.

The course is open access and also available to those in a degree program and study abroad students.

From early August to early January, you can book a place on the course via the University website here.

The rest of the year, you can express interest in the course here, and you will be emailed when the course is open for bookings.

 

 

Elementary formal logic: An introduction, Short Courses, University of Glasgow

Twentieth century philosophy: The dawn of analysis

 

The twentieth century witnessed some of Western philosophy's greatest figures: Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolf Carnap, Elizabeth Anscombe, Willard Van Orman Quine, Phillipa Foot, and David Lewis. This course explores the ideas of these and many other mighty thinkers by charting the progress of philosophy during the better part of the last 100 years. This course provides a grounding in the recent history of the issues that form the cutting edge of philosophy today.

The course is open access and also available to those in a degree program and study abroad students.

From early August to early April, you can book a place on the course via the University website here.

The rest of the year, you can express interest in the course here, and you will be emailed when the course is open for bookings.

 

 

Twentieth century philosophy: The dawn of analysis, Short Courses, University of Glasgow

Scottish philosophy: An introduction

 

Scottish philosophy covers a very wide range of thought, and Scottish philosophers such as David Hume, Adam Smith, and Thomas Reid have contributed much to the wider western tradition of philosophy and to intellectual activities the world over. This course examines key aspects of the work and legacy of these Scottish philosophers, most of whom worked at the University of Glasgow.

The course is open access and also available to those in a degree program and study abroad students.

From early August to early April, you can book a place on the course via the University website here.

The rest of the year, you can express interest in the course here, and you will be emailed when the course is open for bookings.

 

 

Scottish philosophy: An introduction, Short Courses, University of Glasgow

Access philosophy: Logic and reason, mind and matter, right and wrong

This course introduces students to philosophy and prepares them for full-time study of philosophy at undergraduate level. The course has three modules. (1) Logic and Reason teaches students how to reason clearly and methodically about any subject matter using the tools and techniques of classical logic. (2) Mind and Matter applies the methods taught in Logic and Reason to foundational questions in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science concerning whether human minds are souls, brains, or computational programs. (3) Right and Wrong applies the methods taught in Logic and Reason to foundational questions in moral philosophy concerning whether anything can be objectively right or wrong, and if so what might make something right or wrong.

You can find further information about the access to higher education program on the University of Glasgow website.

 

 

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Popular culture and philosophy

 

I have also taught a variety of popular culture and philosophy non-credit bearing short courses, some of which have been covered in the media (see my In the Media page for details):

 

Westworld and Philosophy: Artificial Intelligence, Consciousness, and Human Nature - covered the Turing Test, the Chinese Room, and the extent to which human beings are "natural born cyborgs".

 

Star Wars and Philosophy: Destiny, Justice, and the Metaphysics of The Force – covered the connection between free will and moral responsibility, and how moral praise or blame can be justified in a universe in which fates are predetermined.

Game of Thrones and Philosophy: Politics, Power, and War - covered elementary game theory, political obligation, and just war theory.

Dr Who and Philosophy: Time, Time Travel, and the Nature of Reality – examined the metaphysics of time and classic problems and solutions to time travel.

​The Wire and Philosophy: Drugs, Diogenes, and the Death of the American Dream – examined the relationship between sociology and psychology, and how that relationship helps to inform The Wire’s message that many of the causes of social ills are institutional. Also examined moral luck.

 

Stand-up Comedy and Philosophy: It’s Only Funny if Somebody Laughs – examined the issues of free speech and censorship and the metaphysics of comedy.

D’oh! The Simpsons Introduce Philosophy - covered normative ethics, moral epistemology, and the meaning of life.

 

Previous taught courses

The Philosophy of Emotion – covered the core topics in this area, including the metaphysics and rationality of emotion (credit bearing).

Philosophy – in Technicolour! – Introduced key issues in the philosophy of art (both high and low), including the origin of art, interpretation, subjectivism versus objectivism, and defining art (credit bearing).

 

Is Science Compatible with Religion? – addressed the question and attendant issues in the philosophy of science, and religion, including the demarcation problem, the nature of the scientific method, and the epistemic status of natural beliefs (non-credit bearing).

 

Science Fiction and Philosophy – introduced the philosophy of time, and explored the issues of time travel, personal identity, and radical scepticism (non-credit bearing).

God, Faith, Science, and Reason: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion – covered core topics in the philosophy of religion, including arguments for and against the existence of the Abrahamic, monotheistic God, the nature of religion, and religious pluralism (non-credit bearing).

 

It’s Alive! An Introduction to the Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence – explored the mind-body problem, functionalist analyses of mental states, the distinction between modular and non-modular processes, the framing problem, and the singularity (non-credit bearing).

 

© 2019 by John Donaldson