Intro Lecture

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14 Mar 2011
Whether or not we ought to have police but the kind of powers the police should have is a social
There is no consensus (substantial disagreement)
People use arguments
They give reasons not just a statement of "I don't like that"
People develop more on more their reasons
Remain intractable -there are people on both sides with very articulate reasons
People on both (or more) sides that have arguments
Must be affected somehow by human action
Is something where the debate is about the ACTIONS we ought to take
Just because something is contentious, if you can't do anything about it, it's not a social issue (e.g.
Did Shakespeare write his plays or not?)
Can be influenced by public policy
What is a social Issue?
Different compared to other issues such as scientific ones, etc.
Issues on which many people have opinions
Entitlement of the experts are diminished or completely gone
Some people have more information than others, yet more people believe they are entitled to an opinion
Information doesn't seem to change qualification
Even those with informed opinions disagree
People have arguments to back up their positions
Specializes in understanding and analyzing arguments
Look at arguments that are made and determine if they are strong arguments
The premises are sometimes not all true-their beliefs then are inconsistent
Most problems in arguments are often between arguments not just in the argument itself
More than heuristic devices that other people use
Not only addresses particular issues but can provide general theories that shift the debate
Consequentialism for example, can be useful in addressing issues
Or one may have a political theory like Rawls' theory of justice
We have several important tools:
Can Philosophy help?
Debates are often among people who hold the same theory.
Intra-theory Debates
Non-specialists DON'T defer to specialists on social issues. That includes us.
Previous opinion of an issue -This can create what is called a bias
Confirmation bias and Dismissal bias
Confirmation bias: tendency to only pay attention to beliefs, arguments and even data that confirms
what we already believe
Dismissal bias: ignore opinions, arguments, or data that doesn't confirm what we already believe
They are in 2 broad categories
Problem of Bias
We have 2 ways of thinking: heuristically and analytically
Why Bias is Rational
Lecture 1 -Social Issue
10 January 2011
Lectures Page 1
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