PHL 460 DISCUSSION 3
1. "The behavior of atoms is governed entirely by physical laws." "Humans have free will." Are
these statements incompatible? Material things, including one's own body, are completely subject to
physical laws." "The immaterial mind can move one's body." Are these two claims incompatible?
2. "If X might exist but we have no reason to suppose that it actually does exist, then as
metaphysicians we should not concern ourselves with X." Evaluate this principle.
3. You are part of reality. So, if the quantum theory is about reality, then it is also about you. How
do the ideas affect your conception of who and what you are? Some feel that one consequence of
quantum theory is a holistic view of reality in which it is not possible to separate the observer from
the observed. What do you think about this?
4. Russell began as a British Hegelian but found Hegelianism to be incompatible with mathematics
and resting on questionable assumptions of logic. For this reason, he applied techniques of analysis
to propositions about numbers, and then to other philosophical problems. Is this effort successful?
5. According to Wittgenstein, the goal of analysis is to reduce complex descriptive propositions to
their ultimately simple constituent propositions, which consist of names in combination, and mirror
the most fundamental facts. Do you think this goal is reasonable?
6. According to the logical positivists: 1) philosophy is not a theory but an activity whose objective
is the logical clarification of thought; 2) a verifiability criterion of meaning should be proposed: 3)
genuine propositions are either tautologies or empirically variable; 4) the pronouncements of
physics and theology are meaningless and value judgements are expressions of emotion; 5)
philosophy's only useful function is the analysis of everyday and scientific language. Do you think
these points are correct? Explain.
7. Many of today's so-called analytic philosophers do not regard analysis as the proper method of
philosophy or think of analysis as one of their principal tasks. It is also now widely held that many
philosophical interesting claims and expressions cannot intelligibly be regarded as complexes
subject to linguistic reduction. Is it a good tendency? Explain.