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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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How Do We Decide Who Should Decide?

Medical Ethics and the State   The role of the state (government) in Medical Ethics can be quite complex.  In these two articles, two perspectives are explored.  The famous Baby Theresa case involves a situation where the state prevents parents

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Should Driverless Cars Kill Their Passengers?

The new technology of driverless cards has opened up a real-world corollary to the 65 year old tradition of Trolley Problems.  The basic question here involved how the cars should be programmed: to protect their passengers or others out on

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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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The Demarcation Problem and Falsifiability

Popper on Falsifiability One of the practical consequences of the Scientific Revolution was a suggestion that one should only believe things that are both true and justified. Eventually, there was even the proposal by mathematician William Clifford that it is

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Scientific Realism and the Weird World

Overview 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 of scientific claims. For instance, when your Chemistry teacher talks about atoms, are

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