Glossary of Terms

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University of Toronto Scarborough
William Seager

PHLA10 Glossary Abduction - A form of nondeductive inference, also known as inference to the best explanation. The Surprise Principle and the Only Game in Town Fallacy are relevant to deciding how strong an abductive inference is. Analogy argument a nondeductive inference in which one infers that a target object T has some characteristic on the ground that T is similar to some other object A the analog), and A is known to possess that characteristic. (e.g. Other galaxies probably contain life, since they are quite similar to our own galaxy and our own galaxy contains life.) The strength of analogy arguments is an issue relevant to the Argument of Design and to the problem of other minds. Analytic An analytic sentence is one whose truth or falsehood is deductively entailed by definitions. Many philosophers have held that mathematical statements are analytic. If a sentence isnt analytic it is synthetic. A posteriori a proposition that can be known or justified only be sense experience. An a posteriori argument is an argument in which at least one premises is an a posteriori proposition. A priori a proposition that can be known or justified independent of sense experience. An a priori proposition can be known or justified by reason alone (once you grasp the constituent concepts). Truths of mathematics and definitions are often thought to be a priori. An a priori argument is an argument in which all the premises are a priori propositions. The Ontological Argument for the existence of God was supposed to be an a priori argument. Argument from Design an a posteriori argument that God exists, advanced by Aquinas and Palely, criticized by Hume. The argument claims that some feature of the world (like the simplicity of its laws or the fact that organisms are intricate and well-adapted) should be explained by postulating the existence of an intelligent designer, namely God. Argument from Evil an argument that claims that the existence of evil shows either that there is no God, or that God cant be all-powerful, all knowing, and all good. Axiom in mathematics, a starting assumption from which conclusions (theorems) are deduced. Begging the questionCircularity an argument begs the question when you wouldnt accept the premises unless you already believed the conclusion. Birthday Fallacy the error in reasoning that one would make in thinking that everyone has a birthday deductively implies that there is a single day on which everyone was born. Causal argument for the existence of God an argument that Descartes gives in the Meditations for the claim that God exists and s no deceiver: Since (1) I have an idea of a perfect being, and (2) there is at least as much perfection in the cause as there is in the effect, it is said to follow that the cause of that idea must be a perfect being, namely God. ClarityDistinctness Criterion Descartes maintained that if a belief is clear and distinct, then it cant fail to be true. The reason clear and distinct ideas must be true is that God exists and is no deceiver. Compatibilism the thesis that free will and determinism are compatible. Soft determinism is a version of compatibilism. Hard determinism and libertarianism are incompatibilist theories. Compatibility two propositions are compatible if the truth of one wouldnt rule out the truth of the other. (e.g. (1) this shirt is blue; (2) this shirt is torn. (1) and (2) are compatible. This doesnt mean that either is true. Conditional an ifthen statement. The if-clause is called the antecedent; the then clause us caked the consequent. Conservation law a law in physics that says that some quantity (like matter or massenergy) can neither increase or decrease in a closed system. Contingent a being is contingent if it exists in some but not all possible worlds; a proposition is contingent if it is true in some but not all possible worlds. You are an example of a contingent thing; though you exist in the actual world, you could have failed to exist. Counterexample a counterexample to a generalization is an object that refutes the generalization. A rotten apple in the barrel is a counterexample to the claim all apples in this barrel are unspoiled. Deductive validity an argument is deductively valid because of the logical form it has. A deductively valid argument is one in which the conclusion must be true if the premises are true. Determinism the thesis that a complete description of the causal facts at one time uniquely determines what must happen next. There is only one possible future, given a complete description of the present. Newtonian physics says that the behavior of physical objects is deterministic.
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