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