PHIL 210- Midterm Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 75 pages long!)

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PHIL 210
MIDTERM EXAM
STUDY GUIDE
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Chapter 1 – Deductive Argument
Having reason
An action or belief has a justification or warrant: it can be rationally defended on the
basis of evidence
For the purpose of settling disputes, comparing explanations, and teaching new
information, it becomes essential that we are able to make our reasoning public
Assertions and arguments
The most basic kind of communication for each of these purposes is the practice of
presenting statements as true
To present some claim as if it were true is to assert it
A great deal of our communicative exchanges consist of assertions, as we go about
telling one another the facts as we see them
To assert is to undertake a kind of obligation: the obligation to defend or retract the
assertion in the face of questioning or when confronted with evidence to the contrary
For this reason the fundamental units of rational exchange are not assertions, but
arguments
Argument = the presentation of reasons
An argument is a set of statements that are presented as true and that have a very
important internal relation:
oSome statements are premises – intended to provide rational support for a
further statement, the conclusion. An argument is premises given in
support of a conclusion
Property of argument that succeeds in supporting its conclusion is
soundness
This property can be broken down into two sub-properties:
that is it valid, and that is has all true premises
What makes an argument (good)?
Definition 1: argumentation is a rational practice
This approach stresses the fact that arguing is a process, one that occurs in a
communicative context
Argumentation is a practice by which we aim to show the reasonableness of an
assertion, up to whatever standard of reasonableness is called for in that context
Presenting an argument is a way of making good on the obligation to support an
assertion
Argument can be a means of education or of explanation
A good argument is the presentation of a collection of premises that jointly are rationally
persuasive of a conclusion. Taken together, the premises make it reasonable to believe
the conclusion
Definition 2: arguments are linguistic or logical objects
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Argument = a set of sentences or propositions, factoring out considerations about the
speaker, the audience, the context, and the broader goal of giving the argument
A good argument in this sense can be defined in terms of the truth of the premises and
their logical relation to the conclusion, without any allusion to speakers or hearers or
context
It is in this context that a good argument is defined as sound:
oIt is valid: its premises are relevant to its conclusion in such a fashion that if the
premises are true, then the conclusion must be true
oA sound argument has all true premises all its essential premises must be true
Definition 1 reflects the idea that a good argument is supposed to be an effective one
Definition 2 makes no mention of effectiveness. An arguments being sound does not
mean that anyone believes, or ought to believe, that it is sound
In context of communicating an argument, the issue of acceptable premises frequently
leads to at least some degree of regress of justification the need to give some new
argument to support one of your original premises, when it turns out not to be acceptable
to your audience
Some basic vocabulary of communication and argumentation
Assertion – the act of stating something as if it were true
Proposition, statement, sentence, claim – what you say in order to make an assertion
Premise – a statement to provide rational support for some other statement, often in
conjunction with other premises
Conclusion – a statement intended to be rationally supported by a set of premises
Argument – a collection of premises that justify, or are supposed to justify, a conclusion
Validity – a structural property of arguments. An argument is valid just in case there is no
way for the conclusion to be false if all the premises are true
Soundness – a two-fold property of arguments; an argument is sound if it (1) is valid and
(2) has all true premises. By definition, a sound argument proves its conclusion
Inference – the act of reaching a conclusion on the basis of some premises
oPremises [entail; logically imply; establish] conclusions
oConclusions [are a logical consequence of; follow from] premises
oPeople [draw; infer] conclusions
Is good argumentation a matter of being logical?
Logical is univocal – the term had only a single meaning
True logic flowed from three basic axioms – know as “laws of thought”
oThe law of identity (for any proposition P: P if and only if P)
oThe law of non-contradiction (not both P and not-P)
oThe law of excluded middle (P or not-P)
This collection of axioms gives us what’s called classical logic
Intuitionistic logic – is a well developed formal system that does not include the law of
excluded middle as an axiom
oThis approach may tolerate vagueness and fuzzy boundaries better than
classical logic
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