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From the PLATO Philosopher's Toolkit


Animal Minds: puzzling over Puppies and Parrots

For much of modern science, since the Enlightenment, animals were generally thought to be automatons:  materialist robots programmed to behave in certain ways.  Rene Descartes drew a sharp distinction between thinking beings, humans, and everything else, matter.  20th Century behaviorism

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Personal Identity in Memento

  Personal Identity I ask students to bring their baby or early childhood pictures to class. After they try matching names with images of their classmates, I ask a question about their own picture: Are you the same person today

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What is the world really made of?

In Leibniz’s 1714 Monadology we have an example of the many different ways that philosophers have theorized about the constitution of our world before they had the technology to know many details that we know now. Although some of Leibniz’s

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The Ethics of the Creation of Dual-Species Chimeras

On November 6, 2015, NPR aired a story about the very controversial topic of stem cell research. This story can be used as the basis for a philosophical discussion of a variety of topics including what it is to be

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Scientific Realism and the Weird World

Brief Reading: On Scientific Realism by Pierre Cruse On Scientific Realism by Pierre Cruse One of the most fundamental questions involved in the Philosophy of Science involves the problem of Scientific Realism. It asks us to think about the status

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What is a Human Being?

The first half of Brave New World  by Aldous Huxley depicts a socially programmed society in which advances in science and technology have created a world full of people who are biologically human but may not be fully human in other

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James Joyce’s “Araby”: Coming out of the Cave

“Araby” is one of the most widely taught short stories from James Joyce’s Dubliners. Told in the first person from the perspective of a boy in his early teens who has an infatuation with a neighborhood girl (Mangan’s sister), “Araby”

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