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Reconstructing Complex Arguments, Oct 5th.docx

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Brock University
Brian Lightbody

th PHIL 1F91 October 5 2012 Lecture Five: How to Evaluate and Reconstruct Complex Arguments Strategies for Evaluating Arguments in Standard Form 1. Determine whether the argument is deductive or inductive 2. If the argument is deductive, we must determine whether it is valid. (Validity: the conclusion must always be assumed true) (Invalidity: conclusion may be false, even if we assume the entire premise to be true/ thought experiment.) 3. Clarification (important): if the argument is valid we proceed to the clarification step- are the main terms defined? Are two terms being used in two different ways (Fallacy of equivocation). The second and related to the first step (they really go hand and hand) we next try and determine which premise we may reject. We reject premise by thinking of a possible thought experiment 4. Example: a) If all events are caused, then we are not free b) All events are caused c) Therefore: we are not free d) The argument is deductive. It is making an absolute truth claim based on a conceptual analysis of the most important terms: “event”, “causation”, “freedom” and “we”. The argument is valid because it is a type of Modus Ponens e) We therefore come to clarification: what do we mean by events? What do we mean by “cause” or “causation” and what do we mean by “free”? What do we mean by “we?” Can we justify the conclusion? Rejecting one or Both Premises - We might start by challenging the first premise: just because all events are caused does not mean that we are not free - Though experiment: I raise my arm. My action is caused yet I decided to do it. It is a free action on my part. So we can claim that the action is an event. It is caused (by me) and yet I still remain free. Traditional Compatibilism - Affirms that some causal events are perfectly compatible with free will. An action is considered free provided that: 1. It is caused by the will of the agent 2. The action is not forced Response: - Even my decision to raise my arm is still an event. Thus, our ability (our free will) to raise our arms has a cause. Thus even “free will” is an event and therefore we are not truly free. - For example: there were a number of causal events that intersected to make me, me. Thus my actions are caused by past events. Even the raising of my arm is determined by past casual events while these events are caused and so on… Hard Determinism th PHIL 1F91 October 5 2012 - A hard determinism believes that the past completely determines the future. Since all future events are caused by past events, the future is causally determined. It is not within our power to shape the future. Free will is an illusion - If all events are causally determined by past events then they cannot be changed—just like a series of dominoes - A revised hard determinism argument: 1. All events have causes 2. Our actions are events 3. Therefore: our actions are caused events (1,2) 4. All caused events are caused by past casual events (1,3) 5. Past causal events cannot be changed: they have already been determined 6. Therefore: all caused events are determined 7. Therefore all our actions are determined (3) 8. If all our actions are determined then we have no power to act other than how we do indeed act 9. Therefore: we have no power to act other than how we do indeed act (7,8) 10. If we have no power to act other than how we do indeed act then we have no free will 11. Therefore we have no free will (9.10) Example of an Inductive Argument: 1. All cultures have some moral codes which differ from those of others 2. It makes no sense to compare cultures moral codes, because such moral codes are RELATIVE to the historical, social and environmental and even some racial development, of a specific culture at a specific time. - Therefore: there are no universal moral codes to all cultures at the same Time. Evaluating the Argument - First, ask if the argument Enumerative, Analogical or Abductive.  This argument is enumerative. Making a claim about human beings based on our empirical knowledge about different cultures  The more culture we study and their we discover that moral codes are relative to a particular culture, the more probable the conclusion seems to become.  One of the sticking points with this argument is the term culture. - it seems to be inadequately defined  If culture is defined as a community with its own specific moral codes of conduct than the argument is circular - we are already proving our conclusion because of the way it is defined  This is called the fallacy "of the begging of the questions or "arguing In a. Circle" - Finally (common problem with inductive arguments, the conclusion has two possible interpre
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