Paradoxes & Skepticism:
Syllabus: Paradoxes & Skepticism
PHIL 371 - SPRING 2018 - DR. KEITH KORCZ
How To Contact Professor Korcz:
My office is in H. L. Griffin Hall,
rm. 563. My office hours are MW 12:00 – 1:00 and 2:15 - 4:15, Th 12:00
– 3:00, and F 12:00 – 1:00. We can also meet at other times by
arrangement - just ask. The best way to contact me (or ask questions)
is by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. My office phone number is 482-6806.
1. R. M. Sainsbury, Paradoxes, Third Ed., (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
2. Sextus Empiricus, Selections From The Major Writings on Scepticism, Man and God, ed. by Philip P. Hallie, (Hackett, 1985).
3. Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, Third Edition, tr. by Donald A. Cress, (Hackett, 1993).
4. Course Pack
The course pack is available via Moodle.
There will be two exams, each worth 20% of your course grade, and a
cumulative final exam worth 25% of your course grade. The in-class
exams will consist primarily of short answer and multiple-choice
questions. However, all make-up exams will be primarily short-answer.
The exams will cover both lectures and assigned readings (material in
lectures and assigned readings will not always overlap). All exams are
closed book/closed note.
The paper will be 10-12 pages long and completed in two drafts, the
first draft being worth 10% of your course grade and the final draft
being worth 25% of your course grade. Each draft will consist of two
parts. The first part will consist of a critique of an
instructor-approved, published article on your topic. For the second
part, you will present and defend an original argument on your topic.
Complete information about the paper assignment, suggested topics,
etc., will be provided later on a separate handout.
The course grades will initially be determined according to the
standard scale, i.e., 90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D,
59% and below = F, and then may be modified as follows: Course
grades might be curved, but, if so, the curve would not be such that
any student's grade is lowered. Such factors as improvement over the
length of the course, class participation, etc., may be taken into
consideration, especially where doing so may improve a borderline
grade. You must complete all course assignments (including all exams
and both drafts of the paper) to receive a passing grade (i.e., a grade
other than F, NC or U).
If you miss class, for whatever reason, it is your responsibility to
get class notes from another student. Missed assignments can be made
up, and absences excused, only if an appropriate excuse, e.g., illness
requiring medical attention, participation in certain
university-sponsored events, dangerous weather, etc., is provided. If
you miss an assignment due date, you must notify me within one week of
either the due date or the cessation of a medically documented
persistent vegetative state in order to make up the assignment. An
unexcused late assignment will be dropped 2/3 of a letter grade per day
it is late. For every five unexcused absences or partial absences, your
course grade will be dropped by a letter grade. Finally, be sure you
are familiar with all university policies described in the UL Lafayette
Undergraduate Bulletin and Code of Student Conduct. All assignments for
this class must be completed individually, and any instance of academic
dishonesty on any assignment will be sufficient to fail the course.
Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first be
registered with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to verify the
disability and to establish eligibility for accommodations. Students
may call 337-482-5252 or visit the ODS office in the Conference
Center/Agnes Edwards Hall, room 126. Once registered, students should
then schedule an appointment with the professor to make appropriate
The course home page
(http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~kak7409/371Home.html) contains links to
useful sites regarding the subject matter of the course, study aids,
the on-line syllabus, and other resources. A Moodle page will also be
activated for this course.
You are also encouraged to visit my home page, which contains a link to
the home page for this class as well as hundreds of organized links to
research and philosophy oriented web sites and a section on how to
survive your first philosophy course, among other things, that you may
find interesting and useful. The address for my home page is
Emergency Evacuation Procedures:
A map of this floor is posted near the elevator marking the evacuation
route and the Designated Rescue Area. This is an area where emergency
service personnel will go first to look for individuals who need
assistance in exiting the building. Students who may need assistance
should identify themselves to the teaching faculty.
COURSE CALENDAR & PLANNED READING ASSIGNMENTS
Assignment due dates, topics, readings and procedures are tentative and
may change at the discretion of the instructor. You should complete
each of the readings before they are discussed in class. Some of the
readings are difficult, and you may find that you need to re-read them
after they have been discussed in class in order to fully understand
P = Paradoxes CP = Course Packet (available via Moodle)
DES = Descartes’ Meditations on
SE = Selections from the Major Writings on Scepticism, Man and God
Topic 1. The Ancient Paradoxes (5th - 4th Century BCE)
a. Paradoxes: An Overview
Monday, Jan. 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - No Classes.
b. Zeno's Paradoxes (P: Chapter 1).
c. Epicurus & The Paradox of Death (CP: “Letter to Menoeceus” by Epicurus, “Death is Not to be Feared” by Lucretius).
d. The Sorites (P: chapter 3)
e. The Ship of Theseus (CP: “Identity Through Time” by Roderick Chisholm).
Topic 2. Early Skepticism (4th Century BCE - 2nd Century CE)
a. Overview (SE: Introduction).
b. Pyrrho & Timon (CP: "Selections from Lives of Eminent Philosophers" by Diogenes Laertius).
c. The Academics (CP: "Selections from Academica" by Cicero).
d. Sextus Empiricus (SE: p. 29-128).
Monday, Feb. 12 - Wednesday, Feb. 14 – Mardi Gras - No Classes.
EXAM #1 – WEDNESDAY, FEB. 21.
Topic 3. Skepticism and the Modern Era (16th Century CE - 18th Century CE)
a. The Enlightenment Revival (CP: "Man Can Have No Knowledge" by Michel De Montaigne).
b. A Rationalist Response (CP: "Skepticism, Morality and The Matrix" by
Gerald Erion and Barry Smith; DES: "Meditations I - III" by Rene
Monday, March 12– Advising for FA18 begins.
FIRST DRAFT OF PAPER DUE – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14.
c. An Empiricist Response (CP: "Of the Idea of Necessary Connexion" and
“Of the Academical or Sceptical Philosophy” by David Hume).
Topic 4. Recent Reactions to Skeptical Arguments
a. The Commonsense Thread (CP: "Hume's Theory Examined" by G. E. Moore).
b. Various Internalist Responses (CP: “Skepticism and Justification” by Richard Fumerton).
c. Contextualism (CP: “Ascriber Contextualism” by Stewart Cohen).
EXAM #2 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28.
Friday, March 30 Sunday, April 8 – Spring Break - No Classes.
Topic 5. Some Paradoxes of Contemporary Interest
a. A Paradox About Inference (CP: “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles” by Lewis Carroll).
b. The Problem of Induction (CP: “The New Riddle of Induction” by Nelson Goodman).
c. Russell’s Paradox (P: Chapter 6, Section 6.1).
d. The Liar Paradox (P: Chapter 6, Sections 6.2 – 6.8).
e. The Problem of the Criterion (CP: "The Problem of the Criterion" by Roderick Chisholm).
f. Personal Identity (CP: “Of Identity and Diversity” by John Locke,
“Of Identity” and “Of Mr. Locke’s Account of Our Personal Identity” by
Thomas Reid, “Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons” by Derek Parfit,
“Brain-bisection and the Unity of Consciousness” by Thomas Nagel).
FINAL DRAFT OF PAPER DUE – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25.
LAST DAY OF CLASSES: FRIDAY, APRIL 27.
FINAL EXAM: THURSDAY, MAY 3, 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM, IN REGULAR CLASSROOM.
Some Helpful Tips:
1. On class evaluations, students often state that they would tell
friends planning to take this class that good class attendance and good
class notes are essential to doing well on the exams.
2. Keep up with the readings - they further explain and help you to remember test material.
3. If you're having trouble understanding course material, do not hesitate to discuss it with the instructor!
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