January 7, 2014
Why reasonable belief matters Arguments as reasons for belief
Reasonable beliefs are more likely than unreasonable beliefs to be
▯Robert Nozick’s experience machine tells us that truth matters to
us, not just experiences/feelings/pleasures
Reasonable beliefs promote our survival better than unreasonable
Reasonable beliefs are psychologically healthier than unreasonable
beliefs, (generally speaking).
▯Stoics: disabusing yourselves of unreasonable beliefs contributes
to happy, healthy mental states.
Reasonable beliefs are (generally) more psychologically stable
than unreasonable beliefs.
▯Reasonable beliefs are less likely to be undermined by
countervailing evidence, conflicting opinions.
Responsibility Reasonable beliefs are more characteristic of morally responsible
individuals than unreasonable beliefs.
▯The more you gravitate towards unreasonable beliefs, the more
you gravitate towards immoral behavior.
Truth and goodness come together when thinking of responsibility.
Ex. The belief that other races/sexes/social groups are inferior to
others (i.e. racism, sexism, elitism) are immoral beliefs.
In critical thinking (and logic), we spend a lot of time thinking
about arguments. How do arguments relate to reasonable belief?
A good way to begin to see this is first to get clear that when we
talk about "arguments" in these contexts, we don't mean one of the
things we often ordinarily mean when we talk about "arguments,"
Rather, we mean:Argument: a set of statements, one of which (at
least) is intended to be supported by the others.
2 Statement: a sentence used to express a thought that can be true
or false. (i.e. a truth valuable sentence)
Supported by: made reasonable to be believed by
An argument, in this sense, is the expression in language of an
inference, where an inference involves thinking certain thoughts
on the basis of (or because of) other thoughts. (Compare merely
thinking a series of random, disconnected thoughts.)
Thus, arguments are the central means whereby we express our
reasons for belief.
In an argument, the statements that _____________ are called the premises of the argument; the statement that ____ is called the
Premise: a statement in an argument intended to support one of the
other statements in the argument. .
Conclusion: a statement in an argument intended to be supported
by other statements in the argument.
Exercise 1.1: Identify the premises and conclusions in the
All humans are mortal. And, of course, Xanthippe is human. So
Xanthippe is mortal.
As much as I love him, my dog Oakley is not a person. To be a
person, after all, is to possess the capacity for selfconsciousness.
And although Oak is a conscious being, he doesn’t possess the
capacity for selfconsciousness.
The vast majority of social conservatives subscribe to some
organized religion. Since the author is a clearly a social
conservative, he subscribes to an organized religion.
If Nigella Lawson is a great food writer, so is Elizabeth David.
Nigella Lawson obviously is a great food writer. Hence, Elizabeth
David is too.
Since lowcarbohydrate diets are notoriously difficult to maintain,
and since Health Canada recommends eating an ample amount of
daily grains, it’s wise not to jump on the lowcarbohydrate diet
Fernando correctly identified the card I drew from the deck. The
best available explanation of this is that he engaged in some
sleightofhand that I didn’t notice. So Fernando must have
engaged in some sleightofhand that I didn’t notice. Arguments in our sense are different from mere reports. A report
simply presents a set of statements that purport to a; it doesn’t
Thus, consider the following examples of reports:
Yesterday I attended a friend’s thesis defense. It was very
interesting, though a bit nervewracking at the same time. All in
all, I was glad I sat in. I learned a lot.
"A flurry of polls has shown the race in British Columbia to have
suddenly become much more competitive, as the B.C. Liberals
close the gap between themselves and the B.C. New Democrats to
single digits. But does Christy Clark have enough time to narrow
the gap even further and put herself in a position where she could
"The latest forecast for ThreeHundredEight.com [...] and The
Globe and Mail projects the New Democrats to have the support of
44 per cent of British Columbians, a drop of three points from the
47 per cent the NDP had in polls just prior to last week’s