PHIL 110a, section 1, Winter, 2016
Philosophy: Knowledge & Reality
Description: This introduction to philosophy will discuss fundamental questions about (1) what people know and how they know it, and (2) what exists, including the nature of mind and free will.
Instructor: Paul Thagard. Email: Phone: extension 33594.
Office hours (HH368): MW 11:30-12:30, and by appointment.
Web page: To improve learning, please turn off all electronic devices such as phones, computers, and transcranial magnetic stimulators. See blog for reasons.

Time: MW 10-11:20 RCH 112

Textbook: Elliott Sober, Core Questions in Philosophy, 6th edition. Required readings are from this text. Recommended readings are available via the Web links below. Be sure to get the 6th edition.

Assignments: Marks will be based on:

 Week  Date Topic Required Reading

Recommended Reading


Jan. 4-6

Introduction to philosophy, arguments
Chs. 1-3 Russell, ch. xv

Jan. 11-13

Knowledge and foundations

Chs. 12-13



Jan. 18-20

Reliability and justified belief

Chs. 14-15



Jan. 25-27

Skepticism and nonfoundationalism; Exam 1 Jan. 27

Chs. 16-17



Feb. 1-3

The existence of God

Chs. 4-5



Feb. 8-10

Religion and science

Chs. 6-7



Feb. 22-24

Reasons for belief and disbelief

Chs. 10-11


8 Feb.29-Mar. 2 Time and time travel; Exam 2 March 2   Time (Stanford)


Mar. 7-9

Dualism and behaviorism

Chs. 19-21


Mar. 14-16

Mind-brain identity and functionalism; Essay March 16

Chs. 22-23



Mar. 21-23

Causality and free will .

Chs. 24-25


12 Mar. 28-30 Free will; Exam 3 March 30. No other exams. Ch. 26 Thagard


Review questions for Exams (updated for exam 3, March 21, 2016)

Essay topics for 2016

Lecture notes

Week 1. Introduction.

Week2. Knowledge and foundations

Week 3. Reliability and justified belief

Week 4: Justifying knowledge

Week 5: Reality and God

Week 6: Religion and science

Week 7: Truth and Pascal's wager Updated 2014.

Week 8: Time Updated 2014.

Week 9: Dualism and behaviorism Updated 2014.

Week 10: Mind-brain identity and functionalism Updated 2014.

Weeks 11-12: Free will Updated 2014.

Information on Philosophy and the Cognitive Science Minor

From the Faculty of Arts:

All students registered in the courses of the Faculty of Arts are expected to know what constitutes academic integrity, to avoid committing academic offences, and to take responsibility for their actions. When the commission of an offence is established, disciplinary penalties will be imposed in accord with Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline). For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students are directed to consult the summary of Policy #71 which is supplied in the Undergraduate Calendar (section 1; on the Web at If you need help in learning what constitutes an academic offence; how to avoid offences such as plagiarism, cheating, and double submission; how to follow appropriate rules with respect to “group work” and collaboration; or if you need clarification of aspects of the discipline policy, ask your TA and/or your course instructor for guidance. Other resources regarding the discipline policy are your academic advisor and the Undergraduate Associate Dean. Students who believe that they have been wrongfully or unjustly penalized have the right to grieve; refer to Policy #70, Student Grievance,”

Faculty of Arts information on plagiarism and other offences.

Paul Thagard

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

This page updated March 21, 2016