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General Philosophy

A series of lectures delivered by Peter Millican to first-year philosophy students at the University of Oxford. The lectures comprise of the 8-week General Philosophy course, delivered to first year undergraduates. These lectures aim to provide a thorough introduction to many philosophical topics and to get students and others interested in thinking about key areas of philosophy. Taking a chronological view of the history of philosophy, each lecture is split into 3 or 4 sections which outline a particular philosophical problem and how different philosophers have attempted to resolve the issue. Individuals interested in the 'big' questions about life such as how we perceive the world, who we are in the world and whether we are free to act will find this series informative, comprehensive and accessible.

# Episode Title Description People Date
1 Creative Commons 1.1 An Introduction to General Philosophy Part 1.1. Outlines the General Philosophy course, the various topics that will be discussed, and also, more importantly, the philosophical method that this course introduces to students. Peter Millican 19 Feb 2010
2 Creative Commons 1.2 The Background of Early Modern Philosophy Part 1.2. Gives a very brief history of philosophy from the 'birth of philosophy' in Ancient Greece through the rise of Christianity in Europe in the Middle Ages through to the Renaissance, the Reformation and the birth of the Modern Period. Peter Millican 19 Feb 2010
3 Creative Commons 1.3 Science from Aristotle to Galileo Part 1.3. Describes briefly the Aristotelian view of the universe; the basis for natural science in Europe until the 15th century and its conflict Galileo's theories. Peter Millican 19 Feb 2010
4 Creative Commons 1.4 From Galileo to Descartes Part 1.4. Outlines Galileo's revolutionary theories of astronomy and mechanical science and introduces Descartes' (the father of modern philosophy) ideas of philosophical scepticism. Peter Millican 19 Feb 2010
5 Creative Commons General Philosophy Lecture 1 PDF slides from Peter Millican's General Philosophy lecture 1. Peter Millican 19 Feb 2010
6 Creative Commons 2.1 Recap of General Philosophy Lecture 1 Part 2.1. A brief recap on the first lecture describing how Aristotle's view of the universe, dominant throughout the middle ages in Europe, came to be gradually phased out by a modern, mechanistic view of the universe. Peter Millican 16 Mar 2010
7 Creative Commons 2.2 Thomas Hobbes: The Monster of Malmesbury Part 2.2. A brief introduction to Thomas Hobbes, 'The Monster of Malmsbury', his views on a mechanistic universe, his strong ideas on determinism and his pessimistic view of human nature: 'The life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short'. Peter Millican 16 Mar 2010
8 Creative Commons 2.3 Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton Part 2.3. An introduction to Robert Boyle's theory of corpuscularianism and Isaac Newton's ideas on mathematics and the universe. Peter Millican 16 Mar 2010
9 Creative Commons 2.4 John Locke Part 2.4. Introduction to the philosophy of John Locke, 'England's first Empiricist', he also gives a very simplistic definition of Empiricism; we obtain knowledge through experience of the world, through sensory data (what we see, hear, etc). Peter Millican 16 Mar 2010
10 Creative Commons 2.5 Nicolas Malebranche and George Berkeley Part 2.5. Focuses on Malebranche, a lesser-known French Philosopher, and his ideas on idealism and the influence they had on English philosopher George Berkeley. Peter Millican 16 Mar 2010
11 Creative Commons 2.6 David Hume Part 2.6. Introduces 18th Century Scottish philosopher David Hume, 'The Great Infidel', including his life, works and a brief look at his philosophical thoughts. Peter Millican 16 Mar 2010
12 Creative Commons 2.7 Overview: Kant and Modern Science Part 2.7. Concludes a historical survey of philosophy with Immanuel Kant, who thought Hume was wrong in his idea of human nature and how we gain knowledge of the world. Peter Millican 08 Apr 2010
13 Creative Commons General Philosophy Lecture 2 PDF slides from Peter Millican's General Philosophy lecture 2. Peter Millican 08 Apr 2010
14 Creative Commons 3.1 Hume's Argument Concerning Induction Part 3.1. Briefly introduces the problem of induction: that is, the problem that it is difficult to justify claims to knowledge of the world through pure reason, i.e. without experience. Peter Millican 08 Apr 2010
15 Creative Commons 3.2 Responses to Hume's Famous Argument Part 3.2. Responses to and justifications of Hume's argument concerning the problem of induction. Peter Millican 08 Apr 2010
16 Creative Commons General Philosophy Lecture 3 PDF slides from Peter Millican's General Philosophy lecture 3. Peter Millican 08 Apr 2010
17 Creative Commons 4.1 Scepticism about the External World Part 4.1. Introduces the problem of how do we have knowledge of the world, how do we know what we perceive is in fact what is there? Peter Millican 08 Apr 2010
18 Creative Commons 4.2 Possible Answers to External World Scepticism Part 4.2. Investigates some of the possible solutions to Descartes' sceptical problem of the external world, looking at G.E Moore's response, among others, to the problem. Peter Millican 08 Apr 2010
19 Creative Commons 4.3 Cartesian Dualism Part 4.3. Introduces Descartes' idea of dualism, that there is a separation between the mind and the body, as well as some of the philosophical issues surrounding this idea. Peter Millican 08 Apr 2010
20 Creative Commons 4.4 The Mind-Body Problem Part 4.4. Looks at some of the modern responses to Cartesian Dualism including Gilbert Ryle's and G. Strawson's responses to the idea. Peter Millican 08 Apr 2010
21 Creative Commons General Philosophy Lecture 4 PDF slides from Peter Millican's General Philosophy lecture 4. Peter Millican 08 Apr 2010
22 Creative Commons 5.1 Introduction to Knowledge Part 5.1. Looks at the problem of knowledge; how can we know what we know, three types of knowledge and A J Ayer's two conditions for knowledge. Peter Millican 29 Nov 2010
23 Creative Commons 5.2 The Traditional Analysis of Knowledge Part 5.2. Explores the idea of conscious and unconscious knowledge (should a person know that they know something or does it not matter?) and the theory of justification of propositions and beliefs. Peter Millican 29 Nov 2010
24 Creative Commons 5.3 Gettier and Other Complications Part 5.3. The difference between internalist and externalist accounts of knowledge; whether we need external factors to justify knowledge or whether internal accounts are sufficient, and the Gettier cases. Peter Millican 29 Nov 2010
25 Creative Commons 5.4 Scepticism, Externalism and the Ethics of Belief Part 5.4. Looks at the role the concept of knowledge plays in life, the different levels of knowledge we require in certain contexts and the return of scepticism over knowledge. Peter Millican 29 Nov 2010
26 Creative Commons General Philosophy Lecture 5 PDF slides from Peter Millican's General Philosophy lecture 5. Peter Millican 29 Nov 2010
27 Creative Commons 6.1 Introduction to Primary and Secondary Qualities Part 6.1. Introduces the problem of perception (and the distinction between the world and what we perceive), along with the concepts of primary and secondary qualities. Peter Millican 30 Nov 2010
28 Creative Commons 6.2 Problems with Resemblance Part 6.2. Explores Berkeley's and Locke's arguments concerning the resemblance of qualities and objects; that the perceived qualities of objects exist only in the mind or whether secondary qualities are intrinsically part of the object. Peter Millican 30 Nov 2010
29 Creative Commons 6.3 Abstraction and Idealism Part 6.3. Criticisms of the resemblance theory of perception and an introduction to idealism - that perceptions of the external world are all within the mind as ideas. Peter Millican 30 Nov 2010
30 Creative Commons 6.4 Making Sense of Perception Part 6.4. A brief overview of contemporary accounts of perception; including phenomenalism (that objects are logical constructions from sense data) and direct realism (that we perceive objects and the external world directly). Peter Millican 30 Nov 2010
31 Creative Commons General Philosophy Lecture 6 PDF slides from Peter Millican's General Philosophy lecture 6. Peter Millican 30 Nov 2010
32 Creative Commons 7.1 Free Will, Determinism and Choice Part 7.1. Explores the problem of free will and the ideas of moral responsibility, determinism and choice; the need for a concept of freedom to allow free choice, the problems associated with this and asking whether we really have freedom of choice. Peter Millican 01 Dec 2010
33 Creative Commons 7.2 Different Concepts of Freedom Part 7.2. Looks at Hobbes' and Hume's views of free will and the three concepts of freedom, and considers the idea of moral responsibility as dependent on free will. Peter Millican 01 Dec 2010
34 Creative Commons 7.3 Hume on Liberty and Necessity Part 7.3. Looks at Hume's views on liberty and its relationship to causal necessity; that we have free will but it is causally determined. Peter Millican 01 Dec 2010
35 Creative Commons 7.4 Making Sense of Free Will and Moral Responsibility Part 7.4. A brief explanation of Hume's argument for sentimentalism and Robert Kane's views on free will and determinism. Peter Millican 01 Dec 2010
36 Creative Commons General Philosophy Lecture 7 PDF slides from Peter Millican's General Philosophy lecture 7. Peter Millican 01 Dec 2010
37 Creative Commons 8.1 Introduction to Personal Identity Part 8.1. Introduces the concept of personal identity, what is it to be a person, whether someone is the same person over time and Leibniz's law of sameness. Peter Millican 01 Dec 2010
38 Creative Commons 8.2 John Locke on Personal Identity Part 8.2. Looks at John Locke's view of personal identity; how consciousness and 'personal history' distinguish personal identity and the idea of memory as crucial for personal identity. Peter Millican 01 Dec 2010
39 Creative Commons 8.3 Problems for Locke's View of Personal Identity Part 8.3. Criticisms of Locke's view of personal identity; if personal identity is dependent on memory then how does forgetting personal history and the concept of false memory change Locke's view of personal identity. Peter Millican 01 Dec 2010
40 Creative Commons 8.4 Persons, Humans and Brains Part 8.4. The final part of this series. Explores the distinction between mind and body and whether this makes a difference to the idea of personal identity. Peter Millican 01 Dec 2010
41 Creative Commons General Philosophy Lecture 8 PDF slides from Peter Millican's General Philosophy lecture 8. Peter Millican 01 Dec 2010