A Philosopher's Blog

Introduction to Philosophy

Posted in Aesthetics, Epistemology, Ethics, Metaphysics, Philosophy, Reasoning/Logic, Universities & Colleges by Michael LaBossiere on July 17, 2015

The following provides a (mostly) complete Introduction to Philosophy course.

Readings & Notes (PDF)

Class Videos (YouTube)

Part I Introduction

Class #1

Class #2: This is the unedited video for the 5/12/2015 Introduction to Philosophy class. It covers the last branches of philosophy, two common misconceptions about philosophy, and argument basics.

Class #3: This is the unedited video for class three (5/13/2015) of Introduction to Philosophy. It covers analogical argument, argument by example, argument from authority and some historical background for Western philosophy.

Class #4: This is the unedited video for the 5/14/2015 Introduction to Philosophy class. It concludes the background for Socrates, covers the start of the Apology and includes most of the information about the paper.

Class#5: This is the unedited video of the 5/18/2015 Introduction to Philosophy class. It concludes the details of the paper, covers the end of the Apology and begins part II (Philosophy & Religion).

Part II Philosophy & Religion

Class #6: This is the unedited video for the 5/19/2015 Introduction to Philosophy class. It concludes the introduction to Part II (Philosophy & Religion), covers St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument and some of the background for St. Thomas Aquinas.

Class #7: This is the unedited video from the 5/20/2015 Introduction to Philosophy class. It covers Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways.

Class #8: This is the unedited video for the eighth Introduction to Philosophy class (5/21/2015). It covers the end of Aquinas, Leibniz’ proofs for God’s existence and his replies to the problem of evil, and the introduction to David Hume.

Class #9: This is the unedited video from the ninth Introduction to Philosophy class on 5/26/2015. This class continues the discussion of David Hume’s philosophy of religion, including his work on the problem of evil. The class also covers the first 2/3 of his discussion of the immortality of the soul.

Class #10: This is the unedited video for the 5/27/2015 Introduction to Philosophy class. It concludes Hume’s discussion of immortality, covers Kant’s critiques of the three arguments for God’s existence, explores Pascal’s Wager and starts Part III (Epistemology & Metaphysics). Best of all, I am wearing a purple shirt.

Part III Epistemology & Metaphysics

Class #11: This is the 11th Introduction to Philosophy class (5/28/2015). The course covers Plato’s theory of knowledge, his metaphysics, the Line and the Allegory of the Cave.

Class #12: This is the unedited video for the 12th Introduction to Philosophy class (6/1/2015). This class covers skepticism and the introduction to Descartes.

Class #13: This is the unedited video for the 13th Introduction to Philosophy class (6/2/2015). The class covers Descartes 1st Meditation, Foundationalism and Coherentism as well as the start to the Metaphysics section.

Class #14: This is the unedited video for the fourteenth Introduction to Philosophy class (6/3/2015). It covers the methodology of metaphysics and roughly the first half of Locke’s theory of personal identity.

Class #15: This is the unedited video of the fifteen Introduction to Philosophy class (6/4/2015). The class covers the 2nd half of Locke’s theory of personal identity, Hume’s theory of personal identity, Buddha’s no self doctrine and “Ghosts & Minds.”

Class #16: This is the unedited video for the 16th Introduction to Philosophy class. It covers the problem of universals,  the metaphysics of time travel in “Meeting Yourself” and the start of the metaphysics of Taoism.

Part IV Value

Class #17: This is the unedited video for the seventeenth Introduction to Philosophy class (6/9/2015). It begins part IV and covers the introduction to ethics and the start of utilitarianism.

Class #18: This is the unedited video for the eighteenth Introduction to Philosophy class (6/10/2015). It covers utilitarianism and some standard problems with the theory.

Class #19: This is the unedited video for the 19th Introduction to Philosophy class (6/11/2015). It covers Kant’s categorical imperative.

Class #20: This is the unedited video for the twentieth Introduction to Philosophy class (6/15/2015). This class covers the introduction to aesthetics and Wilde’s “The New Aesthetics.” The class also includes the start of political and social philosophy, with the introduction to liberty and fascism.

Class #21: No video.

Class #22: This is the unedited video for the 22nd Introduction to Philosophy class (6/17/2015). It covers Emma Goldman’s anarchism.

 

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A Philosopher’s Blog: 2014 Free on Amazon

Posted in Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on December 30, 2014

A-Philosopher's-Blog-2014A Philosopher’s Blog: 2014 Philosophical Essays on Many Subjects will be available as a free Kindle book on Amazon from 12/31/2014-1/4/2015. This book contains all the essays from the 2014 postings of A Philosopher’s Blog. The topics covered range from the moral implications of sexbots to the metaphysics of determinism.

A Philosopher’s Blog: 2014 on Amazon US

A Philosophers Blog: 2014 on Amazon UK

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Why I’ll (Probably) Never Work With a Publisher Again

Posted in Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on March 25, 2013

76_Fallacies_Cover_for_KindleWhen I first became a professional writer (that is, I sold my writing) the options for self-publishing were rather limited. They mainly involved vanity presses, running off lots of copies at a copy shop, or paying for the printing oneself. So, back then, I worked with various publishers. As might be imagined, the results were mixed. Some publishers were quite good-they paid reliably (and on completion) and the work always made it to print in a timely manner. Others were not so good. I was involved in a major project in the early 1990s that ended up tanking. While that is part of the game, the publisher did not do much in regards to informing me about this.

Back in the 1990s, game companies seemed to be folding left and right, including GDW. I had written a lot for GDW and when they went under they owed me a nice chunk of change. Unfortunately, they could not pay actually money so they shipped me dozens of boxes of games. I gave away some and sold the rest for a fraction of what I was owed.

As might be suspected, the 1990s soured me a bit on writing for other people. I started giving away my work for free via the web, mainly on the idea that if I was not going to get paid at least I could share my work with others.

In 2008 I got back into the game, getting a contract for my What Don’t You Know? book. Despite my fears, the company was quite good to work: I got an advance and the book came out on time. Over the next few years I was contacted by various publishers interested in my work. Although they contacted me, they ended up just not replying to my last emails. Lest you think I said some crazy stuff, rest assured that I did not. I’ve been in the game long enough to know that projects can be golden one day and dumpster filler the next-but a short email saying “hey, sorry to tell you but the idea got nixed” would be nice to get.

So, in 2010 I published my first Kindle book, 42 Fallacies. I had not intended to make any money from it-in fact, I tried to set the price to free, but the minimum was 99 cents. I was asked to make it available on the Nook as well, so I did. I more or less forgot about the books…at least until the royalty checks started showing up. I started writing more books and rather liked the way Kindle and Nook publishing worked. To be specific, I can count on the Kindle and Nook system to work-I upload my stuff and it is almost automatically published. When I sell books, I get paid. On time. As such, the burden of success and failure is on me-I do not have to count on a publisher having their stuff together enough to get the project completed. I do not have to worry about someone in management having a bad burrito and taking it out on my proposed book. I do the work, upload the book and then it sells or it does not. While I give up a cut of the book, this is a fair deal for the cost of distribution. My royalties are vastly better with Amazon and Nook than with traditional publishers.A_Six-Gun_for_Socrat_Cover_for_Kindle

After my fallacy books started doing very well, I was contacted by a publisher about having them published. I exchanged emails, spoke to the person who was pitching the idea to management and so on. I never heard back from them. But, that was just fine-sales of the books are good and I’m confident that any deal I got with the publisher would have resulted in less income for me.

I recently decided to go retro and get my Kindle/Nook books into print format. Learning to do page layouts and design print covers was a bit of a challenge (and I freely admit that I am a best a semi-skilled amateur). That has been working out well in that my books are selling.

Going it on my own is not without its downside. After all, I have to do everything myself-write, edit, layout, cover design and so on. The promotion of the book is also up to me-I do not have the media machinery of a big publisher to get the word out. However, I have made far more on my own than I ever did working with a publisher.

To be honest, this is good for me because I am a small fish. If I were a big fish author, then going with a publisher would be a good idea-they could get me onto the talk shows, into the news media and so on. But, as a small fish I am doing well in my area of the ocean. I also like the idea of being a free fish-I can swim as I will and I do not have to appease any corporate masters or media muffins.

While I often get cast as a lefty, I would seem to be a small business owner and a job creator. After all, I buy software, hardware and such to operate my business. The books I sell contribute to the employment of the folks at Amazon, B&N, Create Space and elsewhere. I also rather like this model-I succeed or fail based on my own efforts. If I write books people want to buy, I make money. If not, I do not. Speaking of buying books: My Amazon Author Page.

 

 

A Six-Gun for Socrates in Print

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on March 25, 2013

A_Six-Gun_for_Socrat_Cover_for_Kindle

 

This short book presents a series of philosophical essays written in response to gun violence in the United States. While the matters of guns, violence and rights are often met with emotional responses, my approach has been to consider these matters from a philosophical standpoint. This does not involve looking at them without emotion. Rather, it involves considering them in a rational way and this requires considering how our emotions affect our views of these vital matters.

Available via Amazon.

30 More Fallacies in Print

Posted in Philosophy, Reasoning/Logic by Michael LaBossiere on March 15, 2013

30_More_Fallacies_Cover_for_Kindle

Now available in print on Amazon and other book sellers.

30 Fallacies is a companion book for 42 Fallacies. 42 Fallacies is not, however, required to use this book. It provides concise descriptions and examples of thirty common informal fallacies.

Accent, Fallacy of
Accident, Fallacy of
Amphiboly, Fallacy of
Appeal to Envy
Appeal to Group Identity
Appeal to Guilt
Appeal to Silence
Appeal to Vanity/Elitism
Argumentum ad Hitlerum
Complex Question
Confusing Explanations and Excuses
Cum Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
Equivocation, Fallacy of
Fallacious Example
Fallacy Fallacy
Historian’s Fallacy
Illicit Conversion
Incomplete Evidence
Moving the Goal Posts
Oversimplified Cause
Overconfident Inference from Unknown Statistics
Pathetic Fallacy
Positive Ad Hominem
Proving X, Concluding Y
Psychologist’s fallacy
Rationalization
Reification, Fallacy of
Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
Victim Fallacy
Weak Analogy

My 99 Books 99 Cents Kickstarter

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99 Books 99 Cents Promo Video

Posted in Pathfinder, Philosophy by Michael LaBossiere on March 2, 2013
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The Tomb of Kerakos

Posted in Pathfinder by Michael LaBossiere on June 23, 2012

A Pathfinder compatible adventure for 3rd-6th level characters.

Description

The great city of Thetos arose in one of the early human kingdoms but, for a variety of reasons, its power did not expand beyond its general geographical region. One reason was that the culture became increasingly focused on the preparations for death and the afterlife. As such, vast resources were expended in the construction of monuments and tombs. The great priests and mages of the area vastly increased their research into the afterlife as well as maintaining a physical existence after death. These studies resulted in great discoveries in the field of necromancy and the fame of Thetos among those who studied such arts grew tremendously. Because of this scholars and practitioners journeyed from afar to attempt to study with these masters of the necromantic arts.

One of those who came to study was the necromancer Kerakos. While many were turned away and other seekers were tricked and used in dark experiments, Kerakos was able to persuade one of the greatest and most enigmatic of the masters, Rils, to teach him in many of the secrets he had discovered. Kerakos proved to be an able student and completed the final test of Rils-surviving a tomb constructed by the master. Kerakos rather liked the idea of using such tests and duplicated his teacher’s approach by establishing suitable challenges for his students. After Rils departed from the city, Kerakos decided to honor his master by maintaining Rils’ challenge tomb and putting promising necromancers to the test. The tomb, located thirty miles away from the city of Thetos, remains to this day and awaits those who would seek the treasure and secrets contained within.

Available on Amazon.

Downloads

Tomb of Kerakos Monsters & Maps PDF

See paizo.com/pathfinderRPG for more information on the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

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Moral Methods

Posted in Ethics, Philosophy, Reasoning/Logic by Michael LaBossiere on March 30, 2012

Thanks to the budget cuts in education, I won’t be teaching this summer. On the plus side, this has encouraged me to write yet another short philosophy book, Moral Methods. As per tradition, I am making it available as a free PDF on this site. It is also available in the Kindle format in the US and the UK for the usual 99 cents (or the UK equivalent in fish and chips).

This concise reference work is intended to provide the reader with the basics of moral argumentation and specific tools that should prove useful in this process. There is no assumption that any specific moral view is correct (or incorrect) and no specific moral agenda is pushed in this work.  Rather, the intention behind this work is to assist people in making better moral arguments.  If a reader disagrees with a specific example, then an interesting exercise would be to consider a counter-argument against the conclusion presented in the example.

The book divides into three parts. The first provides a basic discussion of arguing about ethics in the context of moral issues. The second, which is the majority of the book, presents a variety of methods that should prove useful in moral argumentation.  The third part consists of short moral essays that provide additional examples of moral reasoning.

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Fallacy Video 3

Posted in Philosophy, Reasoning/Logic by Michael LaBossiere on September 14, 2010

Fallacy Video 2

Posted in Philosophy, Reasoning/Logic by Michael LaBossiere on September 13, 2010