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MODR 1770 (89)

The power of Critical thinking ch 1&2

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York University
Modes Of Reasoning
MODR 1770
Glen Hoffmann

Twinkle Kavi Reasons for Belief and Doubt – Chapter 4 When Claims Conflict  When two claims conflict, they simply cannot be true; at least one of them has to be false. Principle; If a claim conflicts with other claims we have good reason to accept, we have good reasons for doubting it.  When conflicting claims, you are not justified in believing either one of them until you resolve the conflict Important Principles • In what follows, “conflicts” means “contradicts or is contrary to”, in the technical sense just given. • When a claim p (a statement, an assertion) conflicts with another claim q that we have good reason to accept, we have good grounds for doubting p. • When a claim p conflicts with another claim q, and we have no reason for believing one over the other, we should suspend judgment concerning p and q. • When a claim p conflicts with our background information, we have good reason for doubting p. • Background information – sometimes this means common knowledge shared by your peers, sometimes it means your own personal background information. Neither category is exactly fixed or determinate. Principle; If a claim conflicts with our background information, we have good reason to doubt it  Sometimes, if the claim is dubious enough, we may be justified in dismissing a claim out of hand.  What should we believe about a claim that is not quite dubious enough to discard immediately and yet not worthy of complete acceptance? We should proportion our belief to the evidence  The more evidence a claim has in its favor, the stronger our belief in it should be Twinkle Kavi Experts and Evidence  An expert is someone who is more knowledgeable in a particular subject area or field than most other people are. They are more likely to be right because; (1) They have access to more information on the subject than we do (2) They are better at judging that information than we are  Someone who knows the lore of a field but can’t evaluate the reliability of a claim is no expert This suggests some more principles: If a claim conflicts with expert opinion, we have good reason to doubt it. When the experts disagree about a claim, we have good reason to suspend judgment concerning it. Two Cautions Concerning Experts • Experts may be biased, dishonest, or otherwise dysfunctional, or just plain wrong. So we shouldn’t always believe experts. • Experts need not settle every question. Fallacious appeal to authority • As we’ve seen, it can be perfectly legitimate to trust experts. But, the fallacy of appeal to authority occurs in these cases: (1) Taking an expert as authoritative outside his/her field. (2) Taking a non-expert to be an expert. Personal Experience  Personal experience broadly defined, arises from our senses, our memory, and our judgment involved in those faculties  We accept a great many claims because they are based on personal experience - our own or someone else’s.  But can you trust personal experience to reveal the truth? It is reasonable to accept the evidence provided by personal experience only if there’s no good reason to doubt it.  If we have no good reason to doubt what our personal experience reveals to us, then we’re justified in believing it Twinkle Kavi For example:  If we seem to see a cat on the mat under good viewing conditions, then we’re justified in believing that there’s a cat on the mat. Impairment • If our perceptual powers are someho
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