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Basics of Philosophy

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Josh Mousie

on 17 March 2017

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Transcript of Basics of Philosophy

Basics of Philosophy
Key Principles Day 3
Deductive and Inductive

Validity and Invalidity

"Sound" arguments
Dealing with deductive arguments.

An argument can be "valid" but fail to be a persuasive argument.

The concern is
logical form

Ask yourself:

Would one logically reach this conclusion
the premises were true?


Assuming the premises are true, is it possible for the conclusion to be false?
Valid or Invalid?
All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
Day 1
The basics of philosophical arguments:

Aristotle's Four Causes
Material - "out of which"
Formal - "essence"
Efficient - "source of change or rest"
Final - "for the sake of which"
(underlying reason/purpose)
Key Principles Day 4
Aristotle's Four Causes

Causality understood via sufficient and necessary conditions
Necessary and Sufficient Conditions
Sufficient: X condition is "enough" for Y to be the case.
Key Principles, Day Five: Informal Fallacies (Part I)
ad Hominem: abusive, circumstantial, and tu quoque

Red Herring

Appeal to Ignorance

Hasty Generalization

The Branches of Philosophy
Value Theory
The study of existence/reality.

Questions the "nature of things":
Is there a God? Are Humans free?
The study of knowledge.

How do we know what we know? What is the distinction between truth and falsity? Is there objective truth?
The study of Goodness.

Three subdivisions:
Ethics (moral goodness)
Political Philosophy (justice as a value)
Aesthetics (beauty as a value)
The study of correct argumentation.

What are the rules for rational argumentation?

Premises and Conclusions

Identifying Arguments


The Principle of Charity

Straw Man Fallacy
a.k.a., claims, statements, declarations
They have a
"truth value"
: the possibility of either being true or false.
Oxford College is in Alabama.

We are all currently in Georgia.
Questions, proposals, suggestions, commands, and exclamations
are not
They can be explicit or implicit
In an argument, they attempt to provide reasons and evidence (i.e., justifications) for a conclusion.
Also a statement.

Yet, it is one that evidence and reasons (premises) attempt to support or imply.

It is what follows from the premises.
Socrates is a man.
All men are mortal.
Socrates is mortal.
A combined group of statements that express an inference (i.e., reasoning process).
What isn't an argument?:

A single statement

A set of loosely connected

There is some effort made to demonstrate that a statement is true.

a.k.a., thesis
Whether good, bad, explicit, or subtle, all philosophical writing and thinking
focuses on arguments.
The principle of charity
Always give another person's argument the benefit of the doubt - the most rational account possible.
Epistemic Humility or being a "sympathetic" reader/thinker
"...if you can defeat the strong versions of their arguments, then you can certainly defeat weaker versions."
Straw Man Fallacy
"When an arguer distorts an opponent's argument for the purpose of more easily attacking it, demolishes the distorted argument, and then concludes that the opponent's real argument has been demolished."
- Patrick Hurley
Creates a "cartoon" version of a person's view
Premise + Premise = Conclusion
"Creating a new culture does not only mean one's own individual 'original' discoveries. It also, and most particularly, means the diffusion in a critical form of truths already discovered, their 'socialization' as it were, and even making them the basis of vital action, an element of co-ordination and intellectual and moral order. For a mass of people to be led to think coherently and in the same coherent fashion about the real present world, is a 'philosophical' event far more important and 'original' than the discovery by some philosophical 'genius' of a truth which remains the property of small groups of intellectuals."
All robots are actors
Tom Cruise is an actor
Therefore, Tom Cruise is a robot.
Vegetarians do not eat pork sausages.
Gandhi did not eat pork sausages.
Therefore, Gandhi was a vegetarian.
Consider these examples with your group. Are they valid or invalid?
Evaluating the logical form of deductive arguments AND the truth value of their conclusions.
A "true conclusion" does not make an argument "sound" (remember Gandhi example).

Soundness, like validity, is the property of the argument AS A WHOLE. It is not the property of an individual claim.
A "sound" deductive argument:

Valid form + true premises

[which necessitates a true conclusion]

Reconsider our previous examples
Deductive and Inductive Arguments
: The argument claims that the conclusion
follow (it's logically necessary) from the premises. That is, it is claimed that it is
for the conclusion to be false.

The distinction rests on whether the argument is about
necessity or
: The argument claims that the conclusion is
. That is, assuming the premises are true, it is improbable (i.e., not likely) that the conclusion is false.
The point?: Premises and conclusion can all be true, but it can still be a bad/invalid argument due to logical form.
All strawberries are fruit.
All strawberries are plants.
It follows that all fruit are plants.
All purple elephants are more beautiful than Beyoncé.
My dog, Otis, is a purple elephant.
Therefore, Otis is more beautiful than Beyoncé.
Since Moby Dick was written by Shakespeare,
And Moby Dick is a science fiction novel.
It follows that Shakespeare wrote a science fiction novel.

If your argument or a philosopher's argument is claiming that X is necessarily true, "soundness" guarantees that it is a persuasive argument.
If your argument for X doesn't meet this standard, think about how you might rethink your view in order to make a sound deductive argument or a "cogent" inductive argument.
Argument Paper Workshop
Important to consider:

any deductive argument, begin by considering the logical form. Then, consider content. In other words, don't assume that true claims = sound argument.
Jupiter is a planet in our solar system.
Every planet in our solar system is smaller than the Sun.
Therefore, Jupiter is smaller than the sun.
Some parts of the United States had severe winters for the last 10 years.
The Farmer's Almanac predicts another cold winter next year.
Thus, one can reasonable conclude that some parts of the United States will have a severe winter next year.
Deductive or Inductive?
Deductive Analysis
Valid or Invalid (only consider logical structure)
Sound or unsound (logical structure and truth value)
Valid and Sound
is to deductive arguments as
Strong and Cogent
is to inductive arguments
The statue of David
Necessary: X condition is "required" for Y to be the case.
Not mutually exclusive
How is this useful/interesting?

We say "X causes Y" all the time

Democracy is how a nation becomes (i.e., causes) free.

Working out causes you to have a healthy body.

Ship of Theseus
How is this theoretical tool useful?

Enables us to assess claims about identity, human identity or the identity of objects and phenomena (democracy, health, etc.).
Any time we say, "X is why Z happened" or "X is what makes Y true," we need to think very carefully about what we are saying.
ad Hominem
(literally: "against the man")
An attack against a person, rather than addressing one's argument (premises and conclusion).

Three forms:
1. Attacks person based on an alleged character flaw (abusive)

2. Attacks person's circumstances, not character (circumstantial). [Ex: political, economic, or educational background]

3. Attacks personal behaviors that make the arguer seem hypocritical (tu quoque: literally, "you too"). "Look who's talking"
If personal is relevant to premises/conclusion, then it isn't a fallacy.

The credibility and character of an arguer is not always irrelevant.
Red Herring
When someone completely ignores the opponent's position. One changes the subject and attempts to "throw one off the scent."

Rather than presenting evidence that contradicts a claim, one ignores the claim and diverts attention elsewhere.

Don't confuse with Straw Man.
Appeal to Ignorance
Happens in two ways:

1. A claim is made that an argument must be true because it has not been proven to be false.


2. A claim is made that an argument must be false because it has not been proven to be true.

Both are unjustified.
Hasty Generalization
When a conclusion is drawn as a general rule, even though it is unlikely that the small sample represents the population in question.
common examples: racial and religious prejudice
To argue from specific to general.
Key Principles, Day 6:
Informal Fallacies, Part II
Slippery Slope

Weak Analogy

Begging the Question

False Dichotomy
Slippery Slope

When it is argued that one step in a specific direction will force one to "slide all the way down" to a necessary (and usually dire) result, via a chain of cause and effect reactions.

However, the necessity of these cause and effect reactions are never properly reasoned for or justified.
Weak Analogy
When two things or situations share some similarities, but a conclusion is drawn that doesn't have a strong connection with the actual similarities between the two things/situations.
Entity A has attributes a,b,c, and z.
Entity B has attributes a, b, and c.
Therefore, entity B probably has attribute z also.
Salmon and steak are both delicious when perfectly grilled.
Salmon is perfectly grilled and delicious at six minutes.
Therefore, steak will also be perfectly grilled and delicious at six minutes.
Begging the Question
[petitio principii]
"request for the source"
In all cases, inadequate premises are thought to provide adequate support for a conclusion.

One assumes what one intends to prove.

1. When a key premise is left out of an argument, yet the illusion is created that nothing is left out.
2. When a premise merely restates the conclusion, but in slightly different terms.
3.Circular reasoning

False Dichotomy
An argument that provides only two alternatives and claims they are "jointly exhaustive" (i.e., the only possible options).
Fallacy of presumption:
Its possible soundness rests on the idea that the two options presented are the only two that exist.
The murder of a human being is always wrong.
Therefore, capital punishment is always wrong.
The electoral college doesn't have to result in a win based on popular vote.
Therefore, the electoral college isn't democratic.
Students either do really well in that class or they fail.
You aren't doing really well, so you are going to fail.
"Consistency is the cornerstone of rationality"
You must be extremely careful when claiming that a philosopher's view is "inconsistent":

Apparent vs. Real
Can anyone think of an apparent inconsistency in Gramsci's essay?
1. When my body is no longer living, I will no longer exist.

2. Ghosts exist.
There is more to truth than consistency
Pit bulls are the best.
My dog is a pit bull.
Therefore, my dog is the best.
What's a straw man interpretation of this passage?
As a group, analyze each of your peers' three-sentence syllogisms.
Determine whether or not each person's syllogism is valid/sound or strong/cogent.
Also, how can the syllogism be improved prior to writing their first paper?
Musicians in rock bands play their instruments loudly.
Sara plays her instrument loudly.
Therefore, Sara is in a rock band.
Consider the classic paradox of the ship of Theseus:

Which ship is the true ship of Theseus?

To answer, use Aristotle's four causes, and figure out which ones are necessary, sufficient, or both.

Claims about causality are very tricky, whether we are considering natural/social scientific explanations or features of our everyday life and world.
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