University of Washington’s Center for Philosophy for Children
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Title and Author: Magic by Philip Cam

Field of Philosophy: Epistemology; Metaphysics

Plot Summary: A family goes to the local fair, where they see a parade, visit a fortune-teller, and watch a magic show. The children wonder whether it is possible to tell the future, and how the magic works.

Some discussion questions:

What does a fortune teller claim to know? How could she know that?
Do you think we could know what the future holds? If so, how? If not, why not?
Would it be easier to predict the immediate future, or the distant future? Why?
Is human behavior more difficult to predict than other behavior (maybe dogs?) or easier?
Are people free? What does that mean?
If people are free, would it be possible to predict their behavior?
If people aren’t free, could we still feel free, because we don’t know exactly what the future holds for us?
When we call something magic, what do we mean?
Could the magician really do impossible things?
Are there different ways for something to be impossible? What might they be?