Project Summary & General Discussion: Introduction to Philosophy

  • Excellent! I’d be willing to write something about a topic or two. Something in philosophy of mind, AI for example, or ethics, perhaps a chapter on Kantian ethics if it were needed. I’m not sure how fine grained a treatment of each broad subject area you are planning at this point. Is that all evident in the comments above? (I’ve been poking around in them but haven’t read everything comprehensively yet.)

    As for an editorial role. I might be willing to do that as well, although I really don’t have any experience in that role. Again, the topics I’d feel most comfortable taking on in that regard would be ethics (especially normative ethics) and/or philosophy of mind.

    As for your last question. I teach at Plymouth State and am participating in a University System of New Hampshire project called the Academic Technology Institute, and the theme of this year’s institute is Open education, including Open Ed Resources, Open Pedagogy and Publishing. My project has been developing and using a blog that is part open textbook (essentially an anthology of web-based resources) and part student blog for a gen ed scientific literacy course called “Science or Superstition”. You can have a look here if you’d like.

  • Thoughts about logic:

    @rzach said in [PHIL] Introduction to Philosophy [lead: Christina Hendricks, UBC]:

    Logic is hard to incorporate into an intro course I think. A module on logic can’t really cover any technical material. Perhaps the way to go is to include logic in either metaphysics, in epistemology, or expand that part to logic & philosophy of science.

    I agree with Richard re: technical bits of formal logic. But George’s post makes the excellent point that less-formal logic material is often included in introductory courses:

    @geoslack said in [PHIL] Introduction to Philosophy [lead: Christina Hendricks, UBC]:

    Just the other day I was wondering about what it might take to do an open text for an intro to philosophy course, since there just doesn’t seem to be enough good and appropriate online material to cobble one together in a way that compares well with the texts I use in online intro classes. These mix historical and topic approaches along with some basic concepts in logic and critical thinking.

    It so happens that I’ve just finished drafting a textbook for a broad-based introductory logic course–one that covers both the formal and informal stuff. Here’s a link:

    I haven’t settled on a specific license yet, but I’m leaning toward the simple, Rebus-preferred attribution-only. We are free, therefore, to use as much or as little of it as we like for this project, and to fiddle around with it as necessary.

  • @knachel For what it’s worth to the discussion about logic: To clarify a bit of my approach, I like to start out introductory courses, and intro to ethics courses as well, with a brief account of the basics of logic and argumentation: validity and soundness, inductive versus deductive arguments, counterexamples and the idea of proof, a few basic argument forms and some discussion of fallacies. That way I can draw on those ideas throughout the course. And it helps to orient students to what is distinctive about philosophy. But that is just my approach to teaching in environments where students are not likely to have had a philosophy course already, although some students report back at having covered similar material in basic math courses.

  • @geoslack Welcome George! How are you? So good to have you join! Were you able to attend the Open Ed event in Concord last week? Feel free to contact me directly at!

  • Hi Scott! Yes I was there at that event – that’s probably what prompted Robin to send me this link. Glad to see you involved!

  • @knachel Wow, it’s excellent that you have already drafted some material we could use. And I agree with @geoslack on including some basics on informal logic in intro courses. I do that too. So I’d be happy to have that included.

  • @geoslack I’m not sure there will be entire chapters on different ethical theories, but really, that’s a decision to be made in connection with whomever is editing the ethics section (and with the consideration of mirroring the level of detail within the other sections).

    We don’t have a section planned on the philosophy of mind, but could do so, if you’d be willing to write something for that or possibly serve as general editor for it. There are already a number of people listed in a post above who said they could work on ethics.

    Being a section editor doesn’t really require any experience, I think; heck, I don’t have any experience being a general editor either. It just means that one is responsible and on top of things, and makes sure those who said they were going to write something actually write something. It also means connecting with the general editor (me) to ensure some kind of consistency among the different sections in terms of length, overall approach, etc.

    I guessed you might know @robinderosa1 and @scottarobison!

  • To anyone who couldn’t find them in the list of messages above, or to new people: here are two google docs that might be of use.

    1. A general development document with a list of things to do:

    2. A plan of action, including Table of Contents, on which we could take notes about specific sections:

    3. A spreadsheet with a Table of Contents and a list of people interested in the project:

    Please put these in a folder on Google Drive so you can easily find them again!

  • @clhendricksbc Yes that sounds great! I’d be happy to contribute something on philosophy of mind. This could be an account of some basic positions on the mind/body problem and a discussion of the possibility of thinking machines. I’m not sure where it would end up going in the overall structure of the text – it could go under metaphysics, or perhaps be a stand alone section. I guess we’ll see how that shakes out and what exactly will end up in the metaphysics section. Is there any sense of that yet?

  • @geoslack Glad you could make it to the event. Sounds like Mary Lou was good as usual. And glad Robin passed on the info for this!

  • Sorry for taking a while to respond. I agree with @drrobertfarrow that illustrations might be helpful in conveying some concepts, but I think they should be accompanied with a fair bit of exposition. If we are going to use illustrations, I think that, like the text, they should be similar (if not unified) in style. For what it’s worth, here’s an example of what can be produced fairly quickly:
    I think it’s obvious that, while the pictorial representation can aid the student in forming a conception of the subject, a more thorough treatment would be necessary to both underscore the differences between property dualism and monism, as well as to illuminate various flavors of the latter.

    I also think it would be worthwhile to preface every chapter (and also the entire book) with a general discussion of what’s to come. As for the articles themselves, I think one viable approach is to do continuous reviewing - meaning that someone would pre-write a basic structure of a chapter, then it would be open to amendments and discussion, upon which the author would make more changes for the next review, and so on. This would avoid a situation in which someone commits to a very specific structure of a chapter only then to be faced with requests for additions and rearrangements that ultimately render the original version unrecognizable. But I am fine with working either way.

    PS Are we going to do philosophy of science?
    PPS @clhendricksbc, my master’s dissertation fits into philosophy of mind, so you can add me to the philosophy of mind contributor group.

  • administrators

    @unfalsify said in [PHIL] Introduction to Philosophy [lead: Christina Hendricks, UBC]:

    PS Are we going to do philosophy of science?

    As a general principle (though I will let @clhendricksbc answer definitively), this Intro to Phil should be able, over time to:
    a) grow to accommodate new sections
    b) allow a prof to select a subset of sections to create a tailored “Intro” for their needs.

    So, (again, deferring to @clhendricksbc) I would say that that there would be a place for Phil of Science, though where it sits in the priority list is another question!

  • Hi everyone!
    I hope it’s not too late to jump in on the band-wagon, but I stumbled into the proposal for this project a few days ago and would really like to participate.
    I have a BSc. in Combined Honours Physics and Astronomy from UBC, but I’ve entertained a healthy passion for philosophy my whole life. I am mostly interested in the philosophy of science and what I deem to be the metaphysical connection between mathematical abstractions and concrete physical phenomena.

    I am glad to contribute as necessary, but I would very much like the section on ‘metaphysics’ to be well-informed in what contemporary physics thinks on the matter – i.e. causality, interpretations of quantum mechanics and so on.

    Cheers to everyone and looking forward to hear from you all!

  • Hi @sebastian.higherlearning, and welcome! Nice to see a fellow UBC person here! It’s definitely not too late and there are multiple ways to contribute to the project. I will put you on our list of interested people as someone who is interested in philosophy of science and metaphysics.

  • administrators

    Hello all, I’ve just gotten off a great call with @clhendricksbc, where we’ve developed together an approach for moving this project forward. This is based in part on work we are doing with a project not dissimilar to this one, The History of Technology., where we have broken the project into small chunks/sections, and focused on completing these small chunks “one at a time.” (The approach is laid out in some more detail in this blog post, “If We All Chip In, the Effort Will Be Minimal and the Benefits Great”).

    Proposed approach to the Open Intro to Philosophy

    Here is a a breakdown of a proposed approach for Intro to Philosophy:

    • Identify volunteer section editors for (only) 2 sections (to start)
    • Ask those 2 section editors to break their section into 5(+ or -) subsections, ie make a mini table of contents for that section
    • Agree on a rough desired length of each subsection (in the History project outlined above, each section should be ~1000 words … I am not sure if that is an appropriate length for )
    • Once the above is done, we ask our current contributors (you!) to take on a subsection, and/or make more pointed requests for collaboration from the broader Philosophy community.
    • We (ie Rebus) can help each section editor find more contributors if necessary
    • And the section editor will (ideally) be responsible for making sure their contributors contribute (with support of course from Rebus) …
    • And once these 2 sections are off to the races, we can start focusing on the next 2 or 3 sections we wish to complete.
    • When completed, these sections can be “published”, which we believe will help people see what we are doing, and, we hope, will encourage others to join us

    NOTE: we can be pursing more than 2 sections at once, but this approach allows us to focus our efforts on completing a manageable chunk of work.

    How does all that sound?

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