PHIL 2000 Philosophical Tools 2015

Philosophical Tools
PHIL 2000
University of Hong Kong
2nd Term 2015

Course Instructor: Dr. Michael Johnson
Office: 10.14
Office Phone: 3917 7267
Office Hours: Thursdays 2pm-4pm

Course Website: you’re here!
Meeting Times: Mondays, 12:30PM-2:30PM
Location: CPD 2.19

Course Description

This course will cover several methods in formal philosophy (philosophy that’s often done with logic and symbols) that are in wide circulation. It is a literacy course, in the sense that the goal is for you to learn how to approach and understand texts that use these tools.

This course is not a lecture course. You are expected to learn the material by reading the required textbook for the course, David Papineau’s Philosophical Devices. In-class time will be devoted to exercises and discussion.

Course Textbook

Required: Papineau, D. 2012. Philosophical Devices. Oxford: Oxford University Press

This book is in the university store and is available as an e-book in HKU’s e-Library. Go here, type in “philosophical devices” and press “submit”. Click on the title when it appears and then click “Click to view the book via Ebook library”.


• 6 In-Class Exercises: 30%
• 2 Take-Home Assignments 20%
• 1 Short Essay: 20%
• 1 Cumulative Assessment: 30%

Academic Dishonesty

I have a zero tolerance policy on academic dishonesty. This means that if you cheat, plagiarize, or illicitly collaborate, I will pursue the harshest possible punishment consistent with the university rules, including giving you a zero for the assignment, with no chance of make-up, and reporting you to the relevant university authorities (and perhaps more). Make yourself aware of the university policies on academic dishonesty and make sure you do not violate them in this class. Ask me if you are uncertain about anything!

Course Schedule

19 Jan: Introduction & Background Examination

Part I: Set Theory

26 Jan: Naïve Set Theory: The Basics
Today’s powerpoint is here
Distributed: In-Class Exercise #1
Read: Chapter 1 “Naïve Sets and Russell’s Paradox” of Philosophical Devices

2 Feb: Infinite Sets
Today’s powerpoint is here
Distributed: In-Class Exercise #2
Distributed: Take-Home Assignment #1
Read: Chapter 2 “Infinite Sets” of Philosophical Devices

9 Feb: Orders of Infinity (slides here)
Due: Take-Home Assignment #1
Review: Take-Home Assignment #1
Read: Chapter 3 “Orders of Infinity” of Philosophical Devices

Part II: Analyticity, A Priority, and Necessity

16 Feb: Bonus Lecture: How to Write a Philosophy Paper (Powerpoint)
Read: Chapter 4 “Kinds of Truths” of Philosophical Devices

23 Feb: NO CLASS: Suspension for Lunar New Year

2 Mar: Possible Worlds (slides here
Distributed: In-Class Exercise #3
Distributed: Short Essay
Read: Chapter 5 “Possible Worlds” of Philosophical Devices

9 Mar: NO CLASS: Reading Week

16 Mar: NO CLASS: University Holiday

23 Mar: Naming and Necessity
Today’s slides here
Due: Short Essay
Read: Chapter 6 “Naming and Necessity” of Philosophical Devices

Part III: Probability

30 Mar: Kinds of Probability
Distributed: In-Class Exercise #4
Read: Chapter 7 “Kinds of Probability” of Philosophical Devices

6 Apr: NO CLASS: General Holiday

13 Apr: Constraints on Credence
Distributed: In-Class Exercise #5
Read: Chapter 8 “Constraints on Credence” of Philosophical Devices

20 Apr: Correlation and Causation– slides here
Distributed: In-Class Exercise #6
Distributed: Take-Home Assignment #2
Read: Chapter 9 “Correlations and Causes” of Philosophical Devices

27 Apr: Last Day of Class
Distributed: Cumulative Assessment
Due: Take-Home Assignment #2