Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Phil’s Epistemological Day Off – Sydney

My goal was to demonstrate the difference between my sister and I’s experiences even though we were put in the same situation, which would provide an example that shows how knowledge is individual. My Phil’s Day Off experience cemented my idea that knowledge is individualized because it showed me that knowledge really is different from person to person and is based on perception. Because I can’t film exactly what my sister experiences, only she can really do that, it’s sort of like a metaphor for how I could never get in another person’s head and know their experience and therefore never know their knowledge in the way they do.

However, I still do have some questions regarding my topic. Why is it that we can’t exactly know another person’s knowledge? Why is individual perception a thing? Why is there such a thing as experiencing different things? Why can’t we know the exact same thing as another person? I don’t mean these questions as in the answer being “oh, because no one can experience the same thing as another.” I mean it in the way, why is this a thing? Why can’t we experience the exact same thing as another person? Another question I have is, is it possible for collective knowledge to exist without individual knowledge (as in an individual initiating that knowledge)?

This Phil’s Day Off was quite different from my last. On this Phil’s Day Off, I went out with more intention and purpose. I was actively aware of everything that I was doing that day that affected my experience, in comparison to last time where I went about my day blindly and then reflected on which parts could be applicable to philosophy. As well, this time I also have more physical evidence of what I did (an actual video) instead of just word of mouth.



Induction and Deduction Video (Crash Course)

This video really does a good job of explaining induction and deduction, along with a bunch of other philosophical terms. It really helped me to understand the definitions. If you want to learn more about induction or deduction or you just don’t understand it that well, I highly recommend you watch this video. 



What are Songs? (Video)

Hey y’all,

One of the main things that I’ve learned about philosophy so far is how a lot of it is basically asking, “What is ______?” I combined this knowledge with my obsession with music and the creation of it and found a video that asks the question, “What sort of things are songs?” Olly, the person who created this video, asks some questions using “Suffragette City” by David Bowie as an example:

[“Suffragette City”] is not like the Mona Lisa, where there’s only one of it and if I asked you “Where is it?” you could point to it and say, “There it is.” “Suffragette City” is more like Hamlet, or Kill Bill Vol. 2 in that it exists in multiple copies in different times and different locations, and different formats. Sometimes they’re played live, sometimes it’s recorded, sometimes somebody might do a cover version of it, and someone other than David Bowie plays it. Do all of those count as “Suffragette City?” Or do only some? And why?

The two theories of musical ontology that Olly mentions are songs as types (songs exist as abstract objects that are spaceless and timeless, and any performance of it is a token of that type) and songs as sets (songs are every instance of it being played at once). Another person in the video says that songs could be whatever the artist decides it is, which I think is also interesting, being an amateur songwriter myself. Does this mean that I get to decide how my song exists and under what terms it exists as?

All of these theories are pretty interesting, but of course I don’t strongly believe in one over the other. I’m curious as to what y’all think about this subject, so if you have any ideas or opinions, please feel free to share!



Crash Course Philosophy Video

I really enjoyed watching this video. I know that it doesn’t really go in-depth into anything really specific but I just wanted to introduce you guys to this YouTube series. I will definitely be watching the next episodes and I really encourage that you would follow along this series because I think it will touch upon a lot of topics and philosophical ideas that we will talk about and analyze in class.



Quantum Mechanics 101

From time to time in Philosophy this semester we’ve stumbled into metaphysical issues brought about by Vincent quantum mechanics. To help scaffold these conversations through the balance of the semester, or merely for your own curiosity, here are a few short videos on the key concepts in the field.

Demystifying Tough Physics in Four Lessons

Ready to level up your working knowledge of quantum mechanics? Check out these four TED-Ed Lessons written by Chad Orzel, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College and author of How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog.

You’ll find the four short lessons linked below:

  1. Particles and Waves: The Central Mystery of Quantum Mechanics
  2. Schrodinger’s Cat: A Thought Experiment in Quantum Mechanics
  3. Einstein’s Brilliant Mistake: Entangled States
  4. What is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? 


Comment from the Internetz

A comment left on the archive of our Epistemology discussion of Reality, Perception & What can be Known:

I think it looks like the quiet students are the ones deep in thought. I was a quiet one back in school and still am. Very well spoken students! Thoughts were so well said and expressed by. I would have been one of the ones in school who sat and listened for fear of speaking out, sadly. In my mind I thought all sorts of things but how would anyone know if it is not expressed to everyone? I guess I did not have a bold personality.  Little did I realize how trivial my fears were and still are.

This environment and community of open discussion is so very valuable and provoking. Especially that these are young people who are just starting to delve deeper, yet are already so knowledgeable. And discussions like this in a large group do not happen very often with young people.  I love how they bounce ideas off each other so well and how you guide them through the discussion.

It is inspiring to see your enthusiasm and commitment to the students and also your own zeal and enthusiasm throughout. As well as being able to maintain and let the students speak with out interrupting or become too immersed. very cool. This school keeps getting better. The students energy is amazing.

It is amazing you are able to capture this. Really makes one think about … well everything!



Ethics Discussion: Privacy, Piracy, State Power, Citizenship & the Ethics of Voting 12.09.13

A grab-bag of discussion topics centering around the ethics of democracy. Background on each of the topics covered provided in original posts collected here:



Ethics Discussion: Eating Pork & Animal Testing 12.05.13

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Board notes from the discussion.

Here is our first ethical discussion, led by Katherine, Jessica, Heather and Kristina on the ethics of eating pork and animal testing. You can find their original posts here on the blog:



Rawls’ Theory of Justice, Economics 12 and Enlightenment

In discussing RawlsTheory of Justice this week, you might find the above lectures and discussions on “What makes a fair start?” inspired by the former Harvard philosophy prof:

Rawls argues that even meritocracy—a distributive system that rewards effort—doesn’t go far enough in leveling the playing field because those who are naturally gifted will always get ahead. Furthermore, says Rawls, the naturally gifted can’t claim much credit because their success often depends on factors as arbitrary as birth order. Sandel makes Rawls’s point when he asks the students who were first born in their family to raise their hands.

Sandel discusses the fairness of pay differentials in modern society. He compares the salary of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor ($200,000) with the salary of television’s Judge Judy ($25 million). Sandel asks, is this fair? According to John Rawls, it is not.

Touching on topics such as affirmative action policies, taxation, and just what should be done about inequality, Rawls provides an excellent point of crossing-over between our Economics and Philosophy classes this week.

If you are interested in pursuing the ethical, social and political import of inequality, Mr. Lloyd’s class has been reading and discussing the Globe and Mail‘s recent series, The Wealth Paradoxwhich tells the story of:

Canada […] at a crossroads. A gap has grown between the middle class and the wealthy. Now, that divide is threatening to erode a cherished Canadian value: equality of opportunity for all.

For those of us immersed in Rawls this weekend, what would he say about Canada’s “Wealth Paradox”? What about the Utilitarians? Immanuel Kant?

And for the economists in our midst, what is the epistemological basis for our understanding of inequality:

    • What do we know?
    • How do we know it?

If we look to gain such knowledge as a means to making our world more ethical, and more oriented toward justice, what is there to be known on the matter of inequality?

What questions must be asked?

And do these questions have answers sufficient that we can then act, and create systems of government and society that reflect our individual and collective notions of “justice”?

I look forward to engaging in this topic this week with the Philosophy 12 bunch, as well as our friends in AP Economics, and anyone else who finds themselves here, reading this post.

In the interest of enabling and creating a public sphere that might be equal to the tasks and questions raised by the ongoing Project of Enlightenment, where Kant (along with we here at Philosophy 12) invites you:

“Have the courage to use your own reason – That is the motto of enlightenment.”



Epistemology Discussion: Maximum Knowledge 11.05.13

With visual notes provided by Julie and the Livescribe Pen.