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Lecture 7

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York University
Modes Of Reasoning
MODR 1760
Hilary Davis

Lecture 7 – Introduction to Conceptual Analysis 03/11/2011 19:44:00 Concept • A word, idea or general notion such as ‘love’ or ‘freedom’ which has both depth and vagueness to them • Questions of concept require that you become self-conscious about words which you usually use unthinkingly • Concepts change meaning in different contexts. It depends who is asking the question o When we use words that can mean so many different things.  Example: Is a whale a fish?  Questions to ask: What is a fish? What is a whale? • Answers depend on person you are asking o Asking a zoologist: it is not a fish, it is mammal o Ask a fisherman: yes a whale is a fish  Example: do women naturally belong in the home?  What is natural? What is meant by home? • Questions of fact cane be solved through research • Questions of value can be answered by appealing to our ethical norms (what is right, best, or the good) • Questions of concept have no right answer. There are multiple right answers because we all can answer the question differently o Questions of fact, value, and concept can be integrated within one question  Example: Are women inferior to men? (value, concept)  Example: Are woman today freer than in the 17 th century? (concept, fact) o When answering questions of concept we are not interested in definitions, but actual an possible uses of a word  DO NOT USE A DICTIONARY OR RESEARCH FOR THIS ASSIGNMENT o Always reserve judgement on the questions when doing your conceptual analysis  Explore the concept from all angles – even one which you might personally disagree with o When writing up an essay, reasons, not answers, will be important  there is no right or wrong answer to any conceptual questions only strong or weak arguments • • EXAMPLE: • DOES TECHNOLOGY ENSURE PROGRESS? • 1. Model Case • A. Concrete example of ‘technology that ensures progress’ • Telephone, computers, printing press, fax machines (Choose only one for homework and Part B) • • B. Explain why choice in Part A is a good example that ensures progress • Telephones make communication easier and bring people closer together. • • C. Create a two-column chart stating 5 or 6 general characteristics for each • Technology • Progress • Is man made • Involves making things easier • Advances over-time • May be goal-oriented • Decreases human effort • Can be measured or evaluated • Usually innovative • Involves a series of steps • Increases in complexity over time • Is usually positive improvement • Increases productivity • Finds solutions to problems 2. Contrary Case A. Concrete examples of why technology does not ensure progress Nuclear bomb, genetic modification, chemical weapons, video games B. Explain why this is a good contrary case The aim of nuclear bombs is to kill people and destroy life. C. Create a two-column chart stating 5 or 6 general characteristics for each Technology Progress • May be destructive • May not lead to a desired goal • Can have defects • Can be stopped by external forces • May have unforeseen • Can be subjective consequences • Can have setbacks • Can be based on research and • May not have good intentions empirical observations • Can take away privacy • May have political and environmental ramifications • Can have limited functions 3. Borderline Case A. Concrete examples of why technology may or may not ensure progress Cellphones, text messaging, microwaves, guns, cars B. Explain why it is a good borderline case (must show both sides) Cars make travel easier, but are bad for the environment. • C. Create a two-column chart stating 5 or 6 general characteristics for each Technology Progress • Can become obsolete • Different types of progress may • Makes life easier conflict • May harm the environment • Can come with a price to pay • Makes people lazy • Can prompt more progress • Can be distracting • May make things more efficient • Must be used with responsibility • Requires planning or research • Has no end point – it’s infinite Homework: Do Model, Contrary, and Borderline Case for the question: • Is mothering an occupation? • • Continuing Conceptual Analysis Technique (November 10, 2011) • • 4. Model Respondent • A. Think of who would answer “yes” to the question. • Teenagers • • B. Explain why they would say yes to the question. • Teenagers think everything new is better. • • C. Create a two-column chart stating 5 or 6 general characteristics for each • Technology • Progress • Can be fun to use • Is the result of great effort • Can be a distraction • Is something we’ve become • Ur demand is inelastic dependent on • Can be a trend • Responds to societal demand • Is constantly being updated • Occurs over time • Something we’ve become • May make things more expensive dependent on • Is something we desire • Is socially influenced • • 5. Interior Dialogue • A. Comparative Chart – take all the characteristics Technology Both Progress • May be destructive • Is manmade • Can be measured/ • Can make people • Advances over time evaluated lazy • Decreases human • Involves a series of • Can take away effort steps privacy • Is usually innovative • Different types of • Can be distracting • Increases in progress can conflict • Can be obsolete complexity over time • Has no endpoint – • Must be used with • Increases it’s infinite responsibility productivity • Can be fun to use • Involves making • Can be a trend things easier • Leads to competition • Goal-oriented • Can become too • Is usually positive complex improvement • Finds solutions to problems • Can have defects • Can have unforeseen consequen
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