What: Doing Philosophy Better (see below)
When: 1st Saturday or 2nd Saturday of each month, from 2pm – 5pm
(3 hours, including a break)
Where: Justin & Tammy's house in Richardson [*BYOD&S]
How: Readings discussed in-depth amongst the group. No tests, no lecture… we help teach each other in a spirit of learning.
Readings will sometimes be available online, but at other times will require the members of the group to purchase papers or books.
Meeting Topic & Reading List
December will cover the topic of the structure of scientific explanation. What does it mean for science to "explain" something? Aristotle argued science deals with the "essence" of the phenomenon "explained". But more modern philosophers of science wanted to talk about "laws" of nature. In the 20th century, other opinions have come to the floor as well.
Our readings will come from the textbook: Introduction to the Philosophy of Science by Robert Klee found here:
To go more in depth, we will also be reading from the anthology Scientific Inquiry found here:
Readings: Textbook Chapter 6
Anthology pages 163-189.
- 10 minute introduction to the material
- Split into small (4-8 person) groups
- Moderated group discussion of readings
- Central ideas and questions raised for discussion
- Highlights noted for large group sharing
- Reconvene into large group
- Share highlights of small group discussions [20 minutes]
- Readings are required. Please read all of the assigned material for the meeting prior to coming. At times this will involve buying books or papers (or borrowing someone else's).
- We are teaching each other in a "spirit of learning": we should be humble (we do not know everything), eager to learn, and willing to challenge each other while being kind and considerate.
- There will be people of various backgrounds in philosophy — you do not need to be an expert in philosophy to be in the group (e.g. I'm not; Justin is). We want everyone to be active participants — no freeloaders, and no discussion hogs. If a topic is new to you, you can do more than the required reading to get some additional background knowledge of the topic. Here are some good resources:
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- The Oxford Companion to Philosophy
Although there are no tests or grades, we want to push ourselves to study the material and help each other to get the most out of it we can. And we want everyone to have a good time!
[*BYOD&S] "Bring Your Own Drink & Snack". You might get thirsty or hungry — feel free to bring whatever (non-alcoholic) drinks and snacks you'd like (preferably something shareable with the group).
— A note to those with cat-related allergies: Justin and Tammy have cats — one of whom will be rather happy to mingle with all the nice people who came to see him....
>^. . ^<
In a post on Common Sense Atheism, "How to Do Philosophy Better", Luke Muehlhauser summarizes an essay by Paul Graham. In that essay, Graham proposes the following:
Here's an intriguing possibility. Perhaps we should do what Aristotle meant to do, instead of what he did. The goal he announces in the Metaphysics seems one worth pursuing: to discover the most general truths. That sounds good. But instead of trying to discover them because they're useless, let's try to discover them because they're useful.
— Paul Graham, "How to Do Philosophy"
Given a lot of our common values, I think we can study philosophy in a way that helps us, that is useful to us, rather than as something that is considerably esoteric or futile.