Critical Thinking Fundamentals: Validity
October 30, 2014
In this video, Paul Henne (Duke University) discusses the philosophical concept of validity. After reviewing the structure of an argument, he defines validity: an argument is valid if and only if its premises guarantee the conclusion. He reviews a few examples of validity and invalidity, and he leaves you with one example to figure out on your own.
Scott Edgar returns to Kant's argument from Geometry, this time examining two famous objections to it: the famous "neglected alternative" objection and a powerful objection from 20th century physics. After considering possible responses on Kant's behalf, Scott ends with a bang, introducing Kant's famous claim that we know things only as they appear to us, not as they are in themselves.
What is space? Kant's answer is a head-scratcher: space is merely a form of intuition. Scott Edgar explains this rather perplexing answer in accessible, every-day language. He also lays out Kant's most famous argument for this view of space (the "Argument from Geometry"). Never before has it been so easy to get a handle on Kant's views on space!
Scott Edgar (Saint Mary's University) discusses Kant's views on knowledge of metaphysics. Scott introduces us to distinctions between "a priori" and "empirical" knowledge and also the distinction between "analytic" and "synthetic" claims.
Julia Markovits (Cornell University) gives an introduction to the moral theory of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the view that the right moral action is the one that maximizes happiness for all.
Julia Markovits (Cornell University) gives an introduction to the moral theory of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is the view that the right moral action is the one that maximizes happiness for all.
Alex Byrne: Mind-Body Dualism
September 19, 2014
Are we just physical things? Or perhaps just mental things? Maybe both? In this video, Alex Byrne (MIT) explains a modern argument due to Saul Kripke for mind-body dualism.
Paul Henne: Ad hominem
September 12, 2014
In this video, Paul Henne (Duke University) describes the ad hominem fallacy, which is an informal fallacy that arises when someone attacks the person making the argument rather than their argument. He also describes the four subtypes of this fallacy.
What makes our life go best? Is being happy all that matters? Is a life of blissful ignorance a good life? Or is there more to a good life than this? Richard Rowland (University of Oxford) discusses whether we should take the blue pill in 'hedonism and the experience machine’.
Part 3 of 3. What makes you the same person as the little kid growing up a number of years ago? Is the identity of a person tied to the persistence of a body or a soul or something else entirely? Can we even given any explanation at all of the persistence of a person? Michael Della Rocca (Yale University) explores some of the puzzles and problems of personal identity that arise from the revolutionary work of the philosopher John Locke.
Part 2 of 3. What makes you the same person as the little kid growing up a number of years ago? Is the identity of a person tied to the persistence of a body or a soul or something else entirely? Can we even given any explanation at all of the persistence of a person? Michael Della Rocca (Yale University) explores some of the puzzles and problems of personal identity that arise from the revolutionary work of the philosopher John Locke.
Part 1 of 3. What makes you the same person as the little kid growing up a number of years ago? Is the identity of a person tied to the persistence of a body or a soul or something else entirely? Can we even given any explanation at all of the persistence of a person? Michael Della Rocca (Yale University) explores some of the puzzles and problems of personal identity that arise from the revolutionary work of the philosopher John Locke.
In this video, Monte discusses the “tetrapharmakos” or “four-part remedy” developed by the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC) and his followers to treat unhappiness and anxiety. The tetrapharmakos consists of four maxims which encapsulate the Epicurean outlook on god, life, death, pleasure, and pain. The maxims can be meditated upon in order to alleviate worries and concerns that continue to plague us as much as they did the ancients.
Karen explores the relationship between language and communication, looking at the question of how it is that people regularly use words to communicate more than their literal meanings. This video introduces us to the most philosophically influential theory on this matter, H.P. Grice’s theory of pragmatics.
In this video, Monte explores an approach to the question “What is the purpose of life?” developed by the Greek Philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC). Aristotle reasoned that just as artificial things (such as tools and workers) have characteristic capabilities with respect to which they are judged to be good or do well, so each kind of natural thing (including plants and humans) has characteristic capabilities with respect to which can be judged, objectively, to be good or do well. For plants and animals these mostly have to do with nutrition and reproduction, and in the case of animals, pleasure and pain. For humans, these vegetative and animal capabilities are necessary but not sufficient for our flourishing. Since reason and the use of language are the unique and highest capabilities of humans, the cultivation and exercise of intellectual friendships and partnerships, moral and political virtue, scientific knowledge and (above all) theoretical philosophy, was argued by Aristotle to be the ultimate purpose of human life.
Justin invites us to think about conditional sentences ("if P then Q"). Perhaps surprisingly, the question of what these sentences mean has vexed philosophers for thousands of years. In part one, Justin motivates the question and introduces one of the oldest answers to it, the material conditional theory.
In this video Matthew C. Harris of Duke University explains the informal logical fallacy called begging the question and the associated concept of circular reasoning.
In this video, Tyler asks why it is morally permissible to kill animals for food. He offers a few explanations that seem unsatisfactory. So, he asks you for help answering this question about animals ethics.
It is common to think that Faith and Reason must be in conflict. Often this view emerges because how we use the term "believe" is ambiguous. In this video we clarify how this term is used and how Faith and Reason can be properly related.
In this video, Matthew C. Harris explains the fallacy of denying the antecedent, the formal fallacy that arises from inferring the inverse of a conditional statement. He also explains why graduate students might also be humans.

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A Toolkit for Building a Better Mind.