Liars, heaps and surprise tests: an introduction to paradox
Time: 19:00 - 20:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HP150
Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
What is the course about?
A paradox is an apparently absurd conclusion derived from seemingly uncontroversial premises through supposedly valid reasoning. Since antiquity, philosophers have long been fascinated with paradoxes. Although they may at times appear to involve little more than childish wordplay, paradoxes such as the Liar Paradox have in fact precipitated crises in the foundations of mathematics and forced us to accept that our ordinary notion of truth is inconsistent. So, although often entertaining, they’re also worth taking seriously. This course will introduce you to six major philosophical paradoxes and some of the attempts to solve them.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
We will explore the following six paradoxes:
- The Ship of Theseus
- The Paradox of the Heap
- Newcomb’s Problem
- The Surprise Test Paradox
- Parfit’s Paradox
- The Liar Paradox.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Understand and explain six major philosophical paradoxes
- Evaluate proposed solutions to the paradoxes
- Think logically and critically about complex philosophical problems.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is suitable for all levels, including those who have never studied Philosophy before. Students should be willing to think a little mathematically, but no academic background in mathematics is needed.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Reading will be set for each class. The reading is not compulsory, but students are likely to get more out of the course if they complete the reading each week. Classes will take the form of facilitated discussions. The first hour will typically involve an interactive lecture covering the main themes and ideas from the reading and then the second hour will open up the topic to a class discussion.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
A notepad and pen for jotting down ideas and taking notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might be interested in HP151 - How should we reason? An introduction to logic, starting in January 2023.
Oliver holds a postgraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Oxford. Since graduating, he has taught a wide variety of courses to a broad range of students, from adults and children exploring the subject for the first time through to advanced undergraduates. His main areas of interest are the Philosophy of Mathematics, Metaphysics, the Philosophy of Language, and Logic. Recently, his research has focussed on developing medieval approaches to semantic paradoxes using modern mathematical methods. When Oliver’s not teaching or writing up papers, he’s either lost in a good book or somewhere deep in the English countryside.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.