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Brain Builders: Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Decision Making

Fun Philosophy Summer Boot Camp 10 Weeks: Critical Thinking, Metaphysics, Morals

Dr Pete PhD Earth Science Philosophy Geology
Star Educator
Average rating:5.0Number of reviews:(260)
In this summer boot camp series we cover a wide range of core Philosophical Topics. Each chosen to be easily accessible for kids and which include lots of fun thought experiments. A great intro to rational critical thinking & logic.

Class experience

US Grade 5 - 8
10 lessons//10 Weeks
 Week 1
Lesson 1
Morals 1 - Utilitarianism: Should we always act for the greater good?
This class will look at Utilitarianism, which is the Moral Philosophy that suggests a moral action is one where we act to promote the greater good. We look at some apparent counterexamples that might cause problems for this approach and some alternative approaches in Moral Philosophy that contrast to this version of Consequentialism. This is a great introduction to thinking about Moral Philosophy and how we could guide our actions and decisions as a society.
 Week 2
Lesson 2
Epistemology- "I think therefore I am" - Did Descartes prove we exist? Maybe not
In this class we will analyse the arguments surrounding one of the most famous Philosophy quotes of all time: Descartes' "I think therefore I am". He said this in order to prove his own existence because what if he was being deceived by an Evil Demon about everything. Well, it turns out it's quite hard to prove we are not and Descartes wasn't that good at it either. Which makes it a perfect topic for young minds to figure out where he went wrong!
 Week 3
Lesson 3
Philosophy of Perception - Do we (accurately) hallucinate all the time? Even now
In this class we will explore whether we see external objects directly or indirectly by discussing an extended Time-lag Argument and some theories of Time that relate to it. This is a really important subject in Philosophy of Mind & Perception because it explores how close our contact with external reality is and how reliable it is as a basis for empirical knowledge (Epistemology). We look at brains-in-vats and the film "The Matrix" and whether evolution cares which is true!
 Week 4
Lesson 4
Philosophy of Mind- What is consciousness? Could we be a (philosophical) zombie?
How do brains support our lived experience of colours, sounds and emotions? in the Philosophical literature this is referred to as Phenomenal (P) Consciousness and the Hard Problem of Consciousness. We look at some theories that discuss the possibility of (philosophical) zombies, that behave like us but have no P-Consciousness and whether maybe consciousness is just too hard a problem to ever solve!
 Week 5
Lesson 5
Morals 2 - Duty Theories: What duties can we act on without exception?
We start by analysing Kant’s and the Categorical Imperative, which explains how we can work out what a moral action is and why we are duty bound to act in that way. But finding good examples of which duties we can follow without exception is quite hard. Then we finish by examining an argument from Peter Singer that is morally wrong not to give to carefully selected charities that save lives if you can afford it!
 Week 6
Lesson 6
Personhood - What and who counts as a "person"?
First, we look at what a good definition of a Person is and why this may matter in terms of the allocation of inalienable human rights. We focus on alien, great ape and robot rights and do not discuss the very sensitive issue of abortion at all. We look at some of the possible consequences of denying criminals their right to freedom by putting them in jail and whether great apes should have partial human rights.
 Week 7
Lesson 7
Artificial Intelligence & The Ethics of AI
This very topical subject has been discussed for many years. First, we look at how hard it is to define and test for general intelligence. And then we look at classic arguments for determining AI such as the Turing Test and the Chinese Room example. Finally, we look at some of the ethical issues that are starting to emerge as AI becomes more widely used in our society.
 Week 8
Lesson 8
Personal Identity - What makes you the same person over time?
In this class we'll examine what connects us throughout the different stages of our lives. Do you identify with your body or are you more of a mind person? What if we transferred your brain into another body, is that still you? These are the sort of questions that we will discuss to help us with a fun wide-ranging adventure, thinking about the Philosophy of Personal Identity
 Week 9
Lesson 9
The Fermi Paradox- Millions of exo-planets, so where are all the aliens then?
The Fermi Paradox is based on the idea that because we are discovering the Universe is full of exoplanets, doesn’t this mean that the Universe should be full of habitable planets and therefore should be full of Aliens. If so, then where are they? We look at different possible solutions to this apparent paradox!
 Week 10
Lesson 10
Meanings of Life - 42 different approaches to finding meaning in life!
We finish the course with a meta-analysis of some of the solutions people have come up with to explain the meaning of life. We go from single issue solutions to more complex theories and end up discussing those that think it’s just a silly question and there is no meaning! We don’t attempt to answer this ourselves but instead enjoy analysing other people’s attempts and end by discussing the merits of positive nihilism!
To think and learn without realising it, because you are having fun! By the end of the series the learner will have a really good grasp of all the main categories in Philosophy. They will have a great grounding in the how to make and analyse rational arguments and will have learnt an up to date version of most of the key issues that Philosophers debate in Modern Western Philosophy.
I have a PhD in Philosophy and have taught these classes may times - they are my favourites to teach and the students all love exploring these fun topics with me.
Homework Offered
Optional. Students can get 6 multi-choice questions to answer after each class. Longer format questions also available.
0 - 1 hours per week outside of class
Assessments Offered
If the student submits answers the questions then they will be assessed based that.
Grades Offered
If the student submits answers to the questions then a grade and certificate will be awarded at the end of the class.
Structured lecture classes, so participation optional, relieves anxiety
Mixed media slides for different learning styles
Engaging topics keeps attention
Slides can be seen before class
Different optional assessment formats available
This course discusses whether we are in a simulation or otherwise being foolded about our existence. We also use the Trolley Problem as a cartoon illustration as a thought experiemnt for moral choices where the person has to choose whether to direct a tram to run over 1 person or 5 people. It is done in a light hearted very abstract manner but some more sensative students might find it distressing.
This course uses the following sources - which all have further references if needed:



METAPHYSICS of Perception, Mind & Time: 



Richards J.R. (2000) "Human Nature After Darwin: a Philosophical Introduction" Routledge (Chapters: 5-7)
Star Educator
Average rating:5.0Number of reviews:(260)
I teach Earth Science and Philosophy on Outschool and am very passionate about the topics I teach. You can join any of my classes anytime. They do follow on from each other, but can also be taken as stand alone classes. 

I use the lecture-style... 
Group Class


weekly or $195 for 10 classes
1x per week, 10 weeks
50 min

Completed by 22 learners
Live video meetings
Ages: 11-16
3-18 learners per class

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