Course Description

This course is an introduction to the methods of contemporary philosophy, concentrating on the following questions:
  1. The Problem of Other Minds: How can we tell whether animals and future computers have minds, or whether they're instead just mindless automata? How can we tell that other people have minds?  
  2. The Mind/Body Problem: What is the relation between your mind and your body? Are they made up of different stuffs? If a computer duplicates the neural structure of your brain, will it have the same thoughts and self-awareness that you have?  
  3. Life and Death: What does it mean to die? Why is death bad? Do you have an immortal soul which is able to survive the death of your body?
  4. Personal Identity: What makes you the person you are? Why would a clone of you have to be a different person than you are yourself? If we perfectly recorded all the neural patterns in your brain right now, could we use that recording to "bring you back" after a fatal accident?  

Info about the Course and Section Meetings

Our Contact Info

See the Course Requirements


Announcements

12/10
Here is an email exchange about Monday's lecture.
12/9
Here is a review sheet for the final exam. We also distributed a sample final in class, so that you can see what the format and kinds of questions will be.
There will be a review session for the final on Wednesday. As mentioned in class, this session will be most useful to you if you make the effort to study and review as much as you can on your own before the session.
12/4
The final exam will be on Monday 12/16 from 8-10 AM in our normal classroom. Note that the exam starts at 8:00, not at 9:30.
On Monday we'll wrap up discussion of Feldman's Ch 8 and then discuss Ch 9.
Here are some segments from Kagan's presentations on death and value theory, which we'll be discussing in our remaining classes.
12/3
Here's some optional historical information about Epicurus.
12/2
For Wednesday 12/4, read Feldman Ch 8 and 9. I won't be posting lecture notes for these last two weeks' lectures on Feldman.
Remember, 2nd papers are due Wednesday 12/4.
Here's the Calvin & Hobbes series I mentioned.
11/27
Here are some links about the movie Memento:

Remember, 2nd papers are due Wednesday 12/4.
11/25
Lecture notes on Parfit.
For Monday 12/2, read Feldman Ch 4 and 6. (We assigned Chapter 4 last week; be sure you've read it, and also read Chapter 6.)
The material we're covering in this course overlaps with a course offered by Shelly Kagan at Yale. And also with many other introduction to philosophy courses---but Kagan has released videos and transcripts of his course, which you may enjoy and find helpful. I'll excerpt some parts of the transcripts of his lectures that cover material we're discussing in our course. I recommend you to read these alongside the Feldman---or watch or listen to Kagan lecture. We'll begin with some segments on metaphysical and conceptual questions about death:

11/24
Here's an interesting random link about brain-scans.
11/20
Links re The Prestige:
Lecture notes on Perry's Third Night. Partly these online notes speak about Bernard Williams' article, "The Self and the Future", which I'll just leave as optional reading. I see in the lecture notes I numbered the proposals a bit differently than I did in class. Sorry! Let's go with the numbering that's in the lecture notes.
For Monday 11/25, remember you should have finished reading the Perry dialogue by now; and also read Parfit, "The Unimportance of Identity"
Your second graded papers will be due on Wednesday 12/4.
Most of you saw quite substantial improvements in the second draft of your first paper. Here's a hint for your second paper: write multiple drafts. We're not going to collect them and give you feedback on them, but you can realize many of the benefits by simply making a serious attempt at a draft, and then stepping away from it a day or two, then coming back and rewriting it from scratch. Or ask other students in the class to give you feedback on it---we highly recommend this. Or come talk to the TAs or me about your argument---we can do this with you, though we won't read drafts. Or talk to other students about your argument. All of these steps help you write a better paper.
11/18
Lecture notes on Fission Cases.
For Wednesday 11/20, finish reading the Perry dialogues.
Reminder: movie tonight, in Silver 206. We'll start at 7:30, so get there beforehand.
We'll give a writing assignment after the movie, that you should turn in during sections. If you can't make the movie showing this evening, we'll email you the question (later tonight or tomorrow). It should not take you very long to produce an answer; however, you'll have to be prepared. So you'll need to be ready to talk about the movie, and of course you'll need to be caught up on the reading.
Here is some more info about the Star Trek: TNG episode I mentioned in class (more links)
Random links: A former TA found a terrific YouTube video illustrating some philosophical issues with teletransportation. Also, it looks like teletransportation is getting closer and closer to reality.
11/13
Here are expanded lecture notes on Perry's Second Night.
For Monday 11/18, read Parfit, "What We Believe Ourselves To Be." Also read selections from John Varley, The Ophiuchi Hotline. Also read Feldman Ch 4 (that pdf also includes Chapter 6, which you don't need to read just yet).
Optional readings: Mind's I Ch 6: "The Princess Ineffable." And Philip K. Dick, "Impostor" (there's also a movie version).
11/11
Reminder: movie next Monday evening. (See below.)
Lecture notes on Perry's Second Night (first part).
Finish reading Perry's Second Night for class on Wednesday.
11/6
Lecture notes on Perry's First Night
For Monday 11/11, start reading the "Second Night" of Perry, Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality (not online). Your rewrites will also be due then.
On Monday 11/18 at 7:30 pm, we'll be showing The Prestige in Silver 206. There will be a short written assignment about the movie, due in sections. We'll distribute and explain the assignment after showing the movie. If you won't be able to make the showing, you'll need to watch the movie on your own and make arrangements with your TA to get the assignment. This assignment won't be graded, but everyone must do it: it will be part of your participation grade for the class.
About our in-class quizzes, and the several answers of "I didn't catch up with the reading yet." We expect you to come to class and sections not only having done the reading but prepared to summarize the arguments, as I sometimes do in our discussions. If you're not prepared to compare how you yourself understood the arguments, without our assistance, to the ways I'm recommending you understand them, you're depriving yourself of some of the most valuable opportunities we're giving you to exercise and refine your critical abilities.
11/4
Rewrites are due Monday 11/11.
Lecture notes on What is Personal Identity?
Lecture notes on Some Problem Cases about Personal Identity
For Wednesday 11/6, read the "First Night" of Perry, Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality (not online).
10/30
Lecture notes on Numerical Identity and Identity over Time
We returned the first graded papers today. Rewrites of these papers will be due Monday 11/11. The rewrites are permitted to be a page or two longer; many of you will need that extra space to further develop parts of your paper. When you turn in the rewrites, please also turn in the original paper together with your TA's comments.
10/28
We've been asking questions like: would a computer running the same software as your brain have the same thoughts and experiences you do? Now the class is going to turn to a different question: would it be you? Would "uploading" your mind to a computer be a way to survive the death of your body---either by running that mind in the computer, or by restoring it back into another organic body?
For Wednesday 10/30, read Ch. 3 of Cory Doctorow's Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom. The fictional notion of "Whuffie" plays a role in this story, as in the story Truncat we read a few days ago. Basically it's something like a scoring system of how much other people appreciate and admire you and the things you've done; the economies of Doctorow's future societies have given up money and work on Whuffie instead. You can have a look at Wikipedia for more details. What's important for our purposes aren't the social changes he imagines, but rather the stuff about backing up and restoring your memories, in case your body dies. To get some context for Ch. 3 of this book, you could: (i) scroll up a bit and read the last six paragraphs of Ch. 2; or (ii) read all of the Preface, Ch. 1 and Ch. 2; or (iii) read the Wikipedia entry on the book, which includes a plot summary.
Also read Mind's I Ch 13: Dennett, Where Am I?.
Random links: Wikipedia on Mind uploading in fiction. Another similar list on Ask Metafilter.
Our next readings will be from John Perry's A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality (no online version). But we won't be getting to that until 11/6. For a few classes I'll instead be just talking through some preparatory issues.
10/26
I came across this interesting biographical article in The Atlantic, about Douglas Hofstadter, one of the editors of our anthology The Mind's I (and also the author of the dialogues in that volume. There's more at Wikipedia. Of course this is all just trivia, which you'd only bother with after having thoroughly understood and thought through functionalism and the Chinese Room argument, right?
10/23
Lecture notes on Searle's Chinese Room
For Monday 10/28, read Mind's I Ch 26: "A Conversation with Einstein's Brain"
Questions about "A Conversation with Einstein's Brain".
Random links:
Optional readings:
If you want to read ahead, then for Wednesday 10/30, read Ch. 3 of Cory Doctorow's Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom. Also for Wednesday 10/30, read Mind's I Ch 13: Dennett, Where Am I?.
Soon we will be reading John Perry's A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality. You will need to purchase that book if you haven't already done so.
10/22
Here's another very helpful optional reading, by my colleague Ned Block: The Mind as the Software of the Brain.
Here are two recent email exchanges with students from the class: Can pigs fly? and Behaviorism vs functionalism.
10/21
Remember, first graded papers are due Wednesday 10/23, at the start of class. Papers turned in after Prof Pryor begins lecturing are considered late. Here is our policy for late papers.
For Wednesday 10/23, read Mind's I Ch 22: Searle, "Minds, Brains, and Programs"
Some recent interesting links:
10/16
When discussing the "overdetermination argument" against some forms of dualism, one principle that is sometimes invoked is Occam's Razor. That link is to a Wikipedia article which is just for optional historical details.
Lecture notes on Behaviorism vs. the Causal Theories of Mind. We haven't yet discussed all of this material; in particular, we will discuss dispositions and arguments for functionalism on Monday.
For Monday 10/21, read Cory Doctorow's Truncat. What would the mind have to be like, so that feeding it a computer program recorded from another person's brain, and stored on a network, could give you some of the experiences and memories of the original subject?
Random links:
About sorting algorithms:
If you want to read ahead, in upcoming classes we'll be discussing Mind's I Ch 22: Searle, "Minds, Brains, and Programs", then Mind's I Ch 26: "A Conversation with Einstein's Brain".
10/10
Martín will have extra office hours next Friday, from 12:45 to 4:45.
10/9
No class on Monday 10/14 (University closed).
Lecture notes on Arguments for Materialism.
Your first graded papers are due Wednesday 10/23. We will grade these and give you comments, and then you will need to rewrite the paper. The rewrite will also then be graded. You want to do the best job possible on the first draft, so that we can give you comments that will help you improve in the most productive and rewarding way. Decide on a paper topic now and start going over in your mind what your argument is. Roughly plan out the argument you want to make. Come to one of our office hours, or talk to someone else in the class, and give your central argument orally. (Best if you do both!) Get people's feedback on that, then once you're finally happy with your argument, you can sit down to write it up. If you wait until a few days before the paper is due to begin this process, the result will be poor and you'll have cheated yourself of one of the major learning exercises in this course.
Prof Pryor will have extra office hours next Wednesday, from 11-3, to discuss your plans for the papers. He'll bring a signup sheet to class next Wednesday. Camil will also have extra office hours (also Wednesday 11-3), and you can signup for a meeting with him by going here and signing in with your NYU ID.
For Wednesday 10/16, read Armstrong, The Nature of Mind and Lycan, Machine Consciousness. (Optional reading: Block, What is Functionalism?.)
If you want to read ahead, then for Monday 10/21, read Cory Doctorow's Truncat; and for Wednesday 10/23, read Mind's I Ch 22: Searle, "Minds, Brains, and Programs".
10/7
A group of NYU students interested in philosophy will be meeting this week to get to know each other and plan events. Their first meeting is on Tuesday 10/8 at 7:30 PM in the 2nd floor seminar room at the Philosophy Department (5 Washington Place). Here are some links to their Facebook page, Google Calendar, and iCalendar.
Here is a question about supervenience that a student from a previous year emailed, with my reply.
Some comments about the quiz at the start of today's class. Many of you were able to properly state Leibniz's Law, but others confused it with a different, more controversial thesis. (And others were even more "creative.") All of the following quotes state something I do recognize as Leibniz's Law: "If A=B then A and B have all the same properties," "If A is F and B is not F, then A is not B," "If there is at least one property that A and B do not both share in common then the two things aren't the same." (The last quote can be interpreted in several ways, but I take it the author meant that one of A and B has the property, and the other lacks it.) I count all these as expressing the same idea, because in general if you say "If A=B then Y", that's equivalent to saying "If not-Y then it must be that not(A=B)."

Note however that it's not equivalent to saying "If Y then A=B." A susbtantial number of you offered the following thesis as being Leibniz's Law: that if A and B have all the same properties, then A=B. This is not the view we're calling Leibniz's Law; it's another, more controversial thesis. (This more controversial thesis has a name: it's called the Identity of Indiscernibles. Confusingly, this more controversial thesis was one that Leibniz also held, and is famous for defending. But when contemporary philosophers say "Leibniz's Law", they mean the thesis described in the previous paragraph, not the Identity of Indiscernibles.) This more controversial thesis may commit you to denying that it's even in principle possible for there to be two snowflakes that are exactly alike and have all the same properties. A defender of the controversial thesis will say, even if two snowflakes are perfect copies they'd at least have different locations so there'd have to be some difference in their properties, so that's okay. An opponent of the controversial thesis may complain that there are other kinds of perfect duplicates that they think are possible, but that this principle says are impossible. (Perhaps a statue and the clay it is made of are two objects, but have all the same properties?) This is all controversial. The important point is that there is controversy and argument over this principle, whereas there is no similar controvery over the principle voiced in the previous paragraph, called "Leibniz's Law." Confusing these two is like, if I told you that all humans are mammals and someone asked you, What did Pryor say? and you answered, "He says that all mammals are humans."

On Wednesday, we'll discuss some arguments for materialism, and some of what we say will overlap with the van Inwagen chapters you looked at before. There is no additional reading assigned for that meeting. On Wednesday, we will also post the topics for the first graded paper. The following Monday, 10/14, the University is closed so we have no class. We'll meet again on Wednesday 10/16, and the readings for that meeting are Armstrong, The Nature of Mind and Lycan, Machine Consciousness. (Optional reading: Block, What is Functionalism?.)
10/2

Some summaries/reviews of Bicentennial Man: one two three.

Lecture notes on Necessity and Conceivability (again).
Lecture notes on Descartes' Argument that He is Distinct from His Body.
There are no additional readings for Monday. But we strongly encourage you to be going over the recent lecture notes and especially the van Inwagen article again to solidify your understanding of them, and to make it clearer to yourselves what you're unclear on, and would like us to help you sort out. It should be understood that you should always be going over the readings and notes multiple times like this; but in this case we doubly recommend it.
As I announced a few class sessions ago, and is explicitly stated on these web pages, participation counts for 30% of your grades for this course. Though the first two assignments haven't been graded, not turning them in is a serious failure to participate. Also not regularly attending and contributing to sections is a serious failure to participate. Also missing the unannounced quizes we give during the lectures about that day's readings is a serious failure to participate. Doing half of what we expect doesn't give you half the credit for participation, it gives you zero. If you've been neglecting these things and intend to continue on that course, you should presume you will get an F for the course, so may want to consider withdrawing instead. This is the last we'll say about this, and of course we won't argue or negotatiate with you about grades.
9/30

Remember we're showing the movie Bicentennial Man tonight starting at 7:30 pm in Silver 206. Come before 7:30 so you don't miss the beginning.

Admittedly, it is a heavy-handed Hollywood tearjerker. You may want to argue about why various characters made the choices they do in the movie. But I think it's useful for us because nothing it presents seems to be impossible. People could act and talk like the characters in the movie do. It's then useful for you to think about what your attitude to the characters would be (say if you were their neighbor), and why.

An artistically stronger exploration of some of these themes is the novella "The Lifecycle of software objects", by Ted Chiang, which I linked to earlier in the term.

Lecture notes for Leibniz's Law and Arguments for Dualism, Privileged Access and Inverted Spectrums, and Illegitimate Uses of Leibniz's Law
Optional: videos of the Home Headache Test and Mouse from the Matrix discussing an inverted taste spectrum.
Optional: here are some papers by philosophers who argue that we don't have privileged access to our own minds: Armstrong, "Is Introspective Knowledge Incorrigible?" and Heil, "Privileged Access".
For 10/2, read selections from Meditation 6 and the Objections and Replies to it.

If you want to read ahead, for Wednesday 10/16 we'll be discussing Armstrong, The Nature of Mind and Lycan, Machine Consciousness. (Optional reading: Block, What is Functionalism?.)

At the end of class today I began talking about Necessity and Conceivability. Normally I'll post the lecture summaries after the lectures, but in this case, because the material is important and complex, I'll post it all now. I will summarize again in class, and I hope we'll have more time this way to talk through your questions.
9/25
Here is a question about hikes that a student of this class emailed, with my reply.
Lecture notes for Meditation 1 and Meditation 2. The notes for Meditation 2 go on to discuss the stuff we didn't get to in lecture today. Do continue to read through that part of the summary. I'll review it at the start of our next meeting, and ask for your questions. It is difficult and subtle material. I expect it will take some care and concentration to keep track of everything that's going on.
Some more optional reading about The Cogito Argument.
Remember, second writing assignments are due on Monday.
Prof Pryor and your TAs all have office hours, which you are welcome to make use of.
We also strongly encourage you to make use of each other, outside of class and sections, to help refine your understanding of the issues we're exploring.
9/23

We've secured a room to show the movie Bicentennial Man next Monday, Sept 30: it will be shown starting at 7:30 pm in Silver 206. If you can't attend the showing then, you will be responsible for arranging on your own to see the movie and getting prepared to discuss it.

Test your understanding: How many arguments does van Inwagen offer for dualism? Can you say in a sentence or two what is the main strategy of each of the arguments? Where does his discussion of the "second" argument for dualism begin, and where does it end? Which side (the dualist, or the physicalist) is "ahead" at the start of each paragraph in that discussion? What does van Inwagen mean by "interactionism" and "epiphenomenalism"? What question are these views competing answers to? Then: how many arguments does van Inwagen offer for physicalism? (these come after the blank page in the pdf).

It's to be expected that you'll have trouble answering some of these questions: after all, you've just started studying philosophy. We will be discussing most of them in more detail in the coming weeks. But to the extent that you can't answer the questions, it means you haven't fully understood that part of van Inwagen's discussion. When you find yourself in that position, you should work hard to improve your position. Reread the article several times, trying to keep track of the details. We can't gift you with understanding. We're more like personal trainers who can guide you ways that may help you learn more efficiently---but only if you're already seriously engaged in the attempt in the first place.

One thing you may notice, if you're alert, is that van Inwagen will define some terms a bit differently than I do, and also states some debates a bit differently than I will. As I've said in lecture, this is inevitable in philosophy. You need to learn how to work around it. The first step is noticing when different philosophers are using the same words in slightly different ways. I'm aware of at least one word I introduced during previous lectures that van Inwagen defines a bit differently: can you identify it?

For 9/25, read selections from Descartes' First Meditation and Second Meditation. Please bring a printout of these texts to class on Wednesday.
When Descartes wrote the Meditations, he sent them out to various other intellectuals in Europe, some of whom were sympathetic to his arguments and others of whom thought those arguments weren't very good. Some of these other intellectuals composed seven booklets of "Objections" to Descartes, and Descartes in turn wrote "Replies" to the Objections. Some excerpts from the Objections and Replies are included in our reading selection. However, Descartes also considers argumentative objections and replies to them even in his initial presentation. Sometimes he shifts between stating an objection and giving the reply even within a single paragraph. So important argumentative moves can happen within a sentence or two. Other times, several paragraphs in the text all constitute a single unit pushing in a single direction. Try to map out the dialectical structure of the Descartes reading, in the same way you did for van Inwagen. This will probably be a more challenging exercise. Even if you get confused, at least form a hypothesis about what direction each sentence is pushing in, what it's supposed to accomplish.
Here are lecture notes on Dualism vs. Materialism.
A second writing exercise is due Monday Sept 30.
If you want to read ahead, we will be discussing selections from Meditation 6 and the Objections and Replies to it on 10/2.
9/18
Here are lecture notes on What is Life?.
Random link: Here's a video by chemist Martin Hanczyc about his research on "protocells," simple chemical models of living cells. He discusses how this research may help us understand the difference between living and nonliving systems, and recognize life on other planets that might be fundamentally different from the forms of life we find on earth.
Random link: here is another video about a possible new form of life(?)
For 9/23, read selections from Peter van Inwagen's book Metaphysics. This introduces a number of arguments that we'll be discussing over the next few weeks. Warning: this reading will be challanging. Also note that the selection goes to p. 168 and then continues: it picks up again on middle of p. 178 and ends at p. 183. Some people don't notice the latter segment.
An important task when approaching philosophical writing is to identify the "dialectical structure" of the text. For example, here there's an argument for thesis X (I usually draw a box around the text containing the argument); here an objection to that argument is being described; here a response is being given to that objection; here is an objection to that response; here is a second objection to the original argument; here an argument is being given for a weaker thesis Y; and so on. Some of our texts are in the form of dialogues, and there each of these shifts usually corresponds to a new speaker. But in other texts, we have to do more work to see these shifts. Try to figure out and pencil in the back-and-forth structure of the argument in the van Inwagen reading. This will help position you better to understand what the arguments are actually saying.
9/16
We will come back to questions about what it takes to have a mind, and how we can know who else has minds. But we're going to turn now to a neighboring topic: what it takes to be alive. Plants and bacteria are alive but presumably don't have minds. Maybe we can bioengineer more living things, that also lack minds. So "living" doesn't imply "has a mind." What about the other direction? Arguably, there may someday be computer programs that think and have intentions, but aren't alive. Now, maybe, we shouldn't take it for granted that computer programs necessarily fail to be alive. There is a research field devoted to trying to create "artificial life." But even if we decide it is possible for some computer programs to be alive, it's not obvious that only the programs that are alive will be capable of thinking. So perhaps "has a mind" doesn't imply "living", either.
Random links: A-Life, Synthetic biology (more, more)
Start reading for Wednesday 9/18: Feldman Ch 1-3
Here are some sample writing exercises from previous years, with comments. A previous teaching assistant David Barnett provided another helpful example of how to do the first assignment poorly, and then improve it. I strongly recommend you study these examples, and also the comments your TAs will give you next week. When reading the examples, be sure to click the links at the very top of the page. They will display the papers at various stages of revision.
9/11
For Monday read: Greg Egan, Learning to Be Me. This is one of my favorite sci-fi explorations of the philosophical ideas we'll be discussing this term.
Optional reading: here is a novel about building a computer to pass the Turing test. (Here is a summary.)
Here's a note on a detail in Turing's article.
Remember, first writing assignments are due on Monday.

Please make sure your name is on your paper, you've used wide margins and double-spacing to facilitate us giving you comments, you've stapled the pages if you're submitting a printed copy, and so on. These should be your normal expectations when submitting any written work. Your TAs will let you know if they prefer to be given printed or electronic submissions.

Lecture notes on AI and the Turing Test. I guess I wrote the first draft of those notes a long time ago, since I talk about Palm Pilots. This is some ancient, steampunk-era technology you kids won't have heard of. Maybe next year it will be retro-fashionable.
Random links:
9/9
Here is a question about definitions that a past student of this class emailed, with my reply.
Readings for Wednesday 9/11 were already posted (scroll down).
A short writing assignment is due Monday 9/16. Here are some Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper.
Some random links about animal intelligence. When I say "random links" that means I'm not asking or expecting the class to read these. I'm just making these available for those who are interested or bored and want to read further. You should not think that reading these is any part of our first writing assignment. But of course, it's possible that you may get ideas for arguments that you weren't already considering, when browsing these links or re-reading Allen's "Star Witness" article.
9/4
Read for Monday 9/9: (i) Mind's I Ch 8: "Mark III Beast", (ii) Colin Allen, "Star Witness"
The assignment at the end of Allen's article is part of Allen's paper; it's not specifically an assignment for this course. However, you will be writing an assignment for this course shortly which is in the same spirit as that one.
Read for the class after that (Wednesday 9/11): (i) Brian Aldiss' story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long"; (ii) Mind's I Ch 4-5. Don't rush! The last articles need to be read several times. Try to get a solid understanding of what the arguments are in each of them. You might look again at How to Read a Philosophy Paper.
The following story is longer than the Super-Toys one listed above, and addresses some similar themes. It isn't required reading. I'm just linking to it for those who might be interested: "The Lifecycle of software objects", by Ted Chiang.
8/17
The Philosophy Department offers a number of courses each semester open to (and aimed at) students with no or relatively little background in philosophy. (If you've taken a course in philosophy in high school, or in departments other than philosophy, then you should presume that counts as "relatively little" background---perhaps that preparation will be useful to you, but you most likely won't yet have acquired the main skills our introductory courses aim to build.)

In addition to our course---that is, Phil UA 1 section 1 (the lecture) and sections 2-5 (the recitations)---this semester the department also offers:

For more details about any of these other courses, see the department course listings.

The primary aim of all of these courses is a common one: to teach you how to reason, argue, and write like a philosopher. Additionally, there is moderate overlap between the issues discussed in our course and each of these other courses. So it's not easy to choose between them based on what material the courses propose to cover.

Perhaps the focus of one of these courses will appeal to you more than the others. Or perhaps one will fit your schedule best. Or if you're on the fence, perhaps you can arrange to sit in on a few sessions of two of the classes and see which you're more comfortable in. It's not obvious that will be feasible: some of these courses may hit their enrollment limits. But you might look into it if you genuinely can't decide. Note that it's far better to sit in on a class from the beginning, even if you're not enrolled in it, than to try to drop in in the middle of things in the second week or so.

If you decide that ours is the course that suits you (or your schedule) best, and you get wait-listed for the course, then be patient. We'll try to accommodate you; but we won't be able to settle this until after a lecture or three. Have a back-up plan---for example, you might also attend one of the other introductory philosophy classes if you can---but in the meantime, just attend our course on the assumption it may work out.
Our first course meeting is on Wednesday 9/4 in Silver #101A. Recitations do meet during the first week of class: on Thursday 9/5 and Friday 9/6.
If you have issues about which of the recitation sessions you're signed up for, please be patient about this as well. To take this course, it's mandatory that you have space in your schedule to attend at least one of our scheduled recitations. But if you can't sign up for the one that suits you best, we'll sort this out later too. Make sure you go to one of the sections the first week anyway, even if it's not the section you ultimately hope to be in. Email the TAs rather than Professor Pryor about any section-scheduling matters. All our emails are listed under "Contact Info".
You will have to purchase some texts (listed under "Course Requirements"); others will be available on the course website using a password announced in class. Some (but not all) readings will be available both ways. The texts will be available at the NYU Bookstore. (Let us know if they're available yet.) We've also posted links so that you can purchase them from Amazon or Barnes&Noble.
Some other introductory readings for the course: (i) Philosophical Terms and Methods and (ii) How to Read a Philosophy Paper. For your entertainment: What is an argument?.