PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
Learning outcomes of the course unit
1. Knowledge and comprehension of in¬de-pendent technical development in the Philo¬sophy of Science and the Mind
2. Understanding the interaction between philo¬sophical and scientific approaches both in traditional and contemporary re-search.
3. 4. 5. Improve abstract and conceptual clarity by encouraging class discussion.
Course contents summary
Are we and the universe we live in a virtual creation of a megaprogram running on a megacomputer? To answer this question, we riexamine some traditional philosophical problems: Monism vs Dualism, Scepticism vs Realism, Determinism vs Indeterminism, representations and minds. We'll start by looking at older versions of the same question (Descartes, Putnam) and proceed to see how mental and physical properties could be seen as computational in nature (Hofstadter, Sloman, Casti). The course ends with a straightforward discussion of the original question as it was developed by the Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom
Discussion of Bostrom's simulation argument: how plausibile is it in the light of our present analysis of computational processes. First part: Skepticism. Second part: how to face problems like free will, conceptualization and emotions.
Students who cannot attend classes will negotiate a program with the teacher before the summer exam session.
The following texts will be sent to the other students:
Descartes, First and second meditation.
Puntam, Brains in the vat.
Kurzweil, intelligent machines.
Dennett, The evolution of free will.
Hofstadter, Fluid concepts.
Minsky, tehe emotion machine.
Bostrom, the simulation argument.
Assessment methods and criteria
Oral final exam. The student will be judged on the basis of his capacity to present good arguments concerning the topics discussed in class.