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Philosophy Final Exam Notes.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Ashwani Peetush

1 Philosophy Final Exam Notes Validity: preserves the truth - The most basic aspect to care for in an argument is validity - If the premises are true, the conclusion must be true o All Canadians are women o Wilfrid Laurier was Canadian o Therefore Laurier was a woman  Valid argument with false premises - You can have a valid argument with one or more false premises, but an argument with a false conclusion is invalid o Some Americans work in the movie industry o Angelina Jolie is an American o Therefore Angelina Jolie works in the movie industry  All true, however an invalid argument  You cannot deduce that Angelina Jolie works in the movie industry from this argument - Validity is a structural property of arguments - At a minimum we always want our arguments to be valid o It guarantees that if we start with true premises we will end with a true conclusion - Validity is the minimum, however ideally we want our arguments to be sound Sound Argument - Two conditions of a sound argument: 1) Validity (minimal condition) 2) The premises are true  All human beings are mammals  I‟m a human being  Therefore, I‟m a mammal  Valid and sound argument  Correct reasoning Just Add Vodka (advertisement) - If you add vodka to your life, your nights will be filled with excitement - Nights filled with excitement are desirable (implicit premise/assumption) - Conclusion: you should add vodka to your life o Not a sound argument o Premises aren‟t true; there are other things that add excitement to life o This argument does not meet the minimal conditions of validity  Even if we assume the premises to be true, it does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion - A  B; B is desirable; therefore A - This fallacy is called Affirming The Consequent o If it rains, the ground is wet o The ground is wet o Therefore it‟s raining 2 o If I have the flu, then I have a sore throat o I have a sore throat o Therefore I have the flu Affirming the Consequent: this type of argument will always be invalid - The ground may be wet due to reasons other than rain - There are other reasons for having a sore throat - Form of this argument: o A  B B --------- A Denying the Antecedent - If it rains the ground is wet - It is not raining - Therefore the ground is not wet o The ground could still be wet even if it is not raining o In order to figure out whether there is a fallacy you assume the premises are true and ask yourself will the conclusion be true o A  B Not A Therefore not B - If Queen Elizabeth is an American citizen, then she is human - Queen Elizabeth is not an American citizen - Therefore, she is not human This is similar to Modus Ponens A  B A --------- B - If it is raining, the ground is wet - It is raining - Therefore the ground is wet o If it is Tuesday, John will go to work o It is Tuesday o Therefore, John will go to work Informal Fallacies of Argument - Ad Hominine (Latin for “against the person”) o Attacking the person as opposed to the argument they are presenting  “Jack argues that we should not kill animals for our own purpose”  “But jack is just a nerdy philosophy student so he can‟t be right”  This is not a good argument, the character of Jack has nothing to do with the validity of his argument o Ad Hominine attacks are irrelevant 3 o One exception: when there is a direct link between the character/personality and what is presented in the argument  “Jose saw the guy who grabbed her bad and ran away with it”  “But, Jose is nearly blind and he has always hated that guy” - Strawman o Strawmanning someone‟s position is giving them a weaker argument than they deserve to have o In doing this, you have not engaged in the argument o You have provided a distorted version of your opponents argument and that is what you have proven wrong  Anil: “We should use more of our annual resources on social welfare”  Brad: “You are a bleeding hear liberal. Hand-outs don‟t work, these people are poor because they are lazy” o To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position  Jill: “We should clean out the closets. They are getting a bit messy.”  Bill: “Why, we just went through those closets last year. Do we have to clean them out everyday?” - Appeal to the Crowd o Rob: “Cheating and plagiarism are not bad. Everybody does it!” o This is invalid. Every body doing it does not make it right o Appealing to the crowd does not guarantee truth - False Dilemma o Involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option  Either 1+1=4 or 1+1=12  1+1 does not = 4  Therefore 1+1=12 - Begging the Question o Begging the question is assuming what you are trying to prove o Circular argument o Assuming what needs to be proven  Abortion is the unjustified killing of a human being and as such is murder. Murder is illegal. So abortion should be illegal  Jane: “I don‟t know why we pay such importance to these actors. Look at all the media coverage Lindsay Lohan gets; who cares?  John: “Because she is important. Look at all the media coverage she gets!” 4 - Complex Question o A question that has a presupposition that is complex. The presupposition is a proposition that is presumed to be acceptable to the responded when the question is asked. o The respondent becomes committed to this proposition when giving any direct answer  “Do you still beat your dog?”  Wrong answer: “NO!”  Right answer: “I have never beat my dog.”  By responding directly to this question you have committed to the proposition that you once beat your dog Meta Ethics: the study of the status of ethical claims Cultural Relativism - Logical implication of the idea that morals are simply subjective o “Who are you to judge?” - We used to assume that ethical values were universal. Evidence has shown that this is a problematic/untrue assumption - The Argument: Different cultures have widely different moral codes; therefore, no ethical truths exist, they are all arbitrary and subjective - All morals are relative to time, place, history and culture. There are no universal moral truths. o Subjective: based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. Dependant on the subject. o Arbitrary: based on random choice or a person whim rather than a system of reason. - Objections to Relativism o Invalid Argument o Reduction Ad Absurdum o Overestimate Differences o Underestimate Similarities Invalid Argument - Weakest argument against cultural relativism - Even if the premise is true, the conclusion is not necessarily true - You can not deduce that something is true from a person believing it to be true o People believe x  therefore x - Cultural relativist can respond that value statements differ from mere beliefs Reduction Ad Absurdum (indirect proof) 5 - Reduction looks at an extreme case of an argument which is usually absurd, it then says that you have to reject the entire theory because it doesn‟t apply to all cases o Reducing an argument to absurdity A X ~ X Therefore A (~ = not x, contradiction) - You want to avoid contradictions at all costs when making an argument - Reduction strategy (also called indirect proof) o If you assume cultural relativism is true, it implies that you cannot say our society has morally progressed.  Ex. You cannot say our society is better than when we owned slaves o Progress entails that there is an independent standard by which to judge it  This is exactly the kind of thing that cultural relativism denies - Any view which implies humanity has not morally progressed is itself absurd because it is true that we have progressed; therefore, cultural relativism is false or problematic o If you assume cultural relativism is true, you cannot judge any cultural practice. Then to say murder is wrong in your culture, you are assuming an independent standard which contradicts cultural relativism - Reduction Ad Absurdum is not a particularly strong argument against cultural relativism Overestimate Differences - Challenges the evidence of cultural relativism that morals differ between cultures - The evidence is exaggerated o Overlooks the motivations of the actions performed in different cultures, therefore coming to distorted conclusions o Unless you understand the context of an action and its cultural meaning, you cannot understand that culture and conclude they are so different - You are not really judging the same kind of action because it doesn‟t look at the context - Therefore relativist‟s are exaggerating/distorting the differences (the evidence) o The Inuit killing their babies is very different from a robber shooting someone o Inuit leaving their elderly in the snow is not the same as homicide. The elderly weren‟t being forced into it, they were left on their own choice Underestimating Similarities - Cultural relativists also distort data by overlooking similarities between different cultures - Just because certain values differ between cultures doesn’t mean that all values differ o Hope, courage, self-discipline, murder, lying, etc. o These occur in forms over and over across cultures o The are ubiquitous  Ubiquitous: widely occurring 6 - This is not to say that there is a full agreement on basic universal values o Communities articulate basic values differently (although defined differently, still shared) Why Cross Cultural Values Exist 1. Sociological/Structural Reasons a. Rachel‟s says that there are some values which must exist in a culture for it to function (ex. rules around murder and truth telling) 2. Shared Human Conditions a. Human beings share basic needs b. Basic ethical rules function to meet such common needs c. Therefore, human being share common basic rules i. Welfare of the body, food, love, shelter, etc. ii. When humans are denied these basic needs it can cause intense human suffering iii. If the point of ethical norms is to reduce suffering, then certain basic needs must be met and certain forms of behaviour prohibited “Morality is relative, but to humankind” – H.L.A Hart Contract Theory – Thomas Hobbes - The view that persons‟ moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live - Men originally formed governments because of their need for protection o In exchange for their safety, people gave up their rights to the rulers including the right to revolt - The Social Contract theory is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments - Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent o Agreeing to abide by common rules and accept corresponding duties to protect themselves and one another from violence and other kinds of harm o Political authority must be derived form the consent of the governed - “The State of Nature” – in this condition, individuals‟ actions are bound only by their personal power an conscience o Individuals in the state of nature were apolitical and asocial; life was anarchic. This state is followed by the social contract - Hobbes lived during the English Civil War - On the one hand, Hobbes rejects the theory of the Divine Right of Kings; on the other hand, he rejects that power ought to be shared between Parliament and King - Hobbes argues that political authority and obligation are based on the individual self-interests of members of society who are understood to be equal to one another o No single individual invested with any essential authority to rule over the rest o At the same time the monarch (Soverign) must be ceded absolute authority of society is to survive 7 - The social contract was an occurrence during which individuals came together and ceded some of their individual rights so that others would cede theirs o Person A gives up his of her right to kill person B if person B does the same - This resulted in the establishment of the state, a sovereign entity, which would create laws to regulate social interactions o Human life was no longer „a war against all‟ - But the state system, which grew out of the social contract, was anarchic (without leadership) - Just as the individuals in the state of nature had been sovereigns and thus guided by self-interest, so states now acted in their self-interest in competition with each other o States were thus bound to be in conflict because their was no sovereign over and above the state capable of imposing social-contract laws Prisoners Dilemma - Story of two criminals who have been arrested and are being interrogated separately o If neither talks, the case is weak and each will get only 1 year in prison o If both confess, each will get 20 years in prison o If one confesses and testifies against the other, the one who did not cooperate with the police will get a life sentence and the one who did will get parole - There is a strong tendency for each to confess given the payoffs o If prisoner A remains silent, prisoner B is better off confessing o However B is also better off confessing if A confesses (because 20 years in better than life) o Hence, B will tend to confess regardless of what A will do; and by identical argument, A will also tend to confess - A case in which actions determined by self-interest are not in the group‟s interest - Thomas Hobbes: o 1) The individual is the starting point of social analysis o 2) People are motivated by self interest o He believed the unrestrained pursuit of self-interest would result in chaos and that government, with its power to coerce people, was necessary to bring order out of chaos Psychological Egoism - Empirical/Descriptive theory about human nature - People only ever act for the sake of their own interests; they are selfish beings - Even when men are acting in ways apparently calculated to benefit others, they are actually motivated by the belief that acting in this way is to their own advantage Objections to Psychological Egoism 8 Seems to Fly in the Face of Facts: There are perfectly clear cases of unselfish behaviour, and if the psychological egoist thinks that such cases do not occur, he is just mistaken A) It is false that all actions are selfish B) It is false that all actions are done out of self-interest Rebuttal (for PE): - 1) Assuming that the action is done voluntarily, the agent is merely doing what he most wants to do o Counter rebuttal:  We may not want to do the action, but want to achieve the ends  We may feel under an obligation  This does not mean we are acting selfishly - 2) Since so-called unselfish actions always produce a sense of self-satisfaction in the agent, and since this sense of satisfaction is a pleasant state of consciousness, it follows that this is the point of the action rather than to bring about good for others o Counter rebuttal:  We must want to attain a goal before we can find any satisfaction in it  We do not desire something and figure out how to achieve it, rather we desire all sorts of things and because we desire them we derive satisfaction from attaining them - Psychological egoism confuses the difference between selfishness and self- interest o If one sees a doctor because they sick they are acting out of self-interest but not selfishness Ethical Egoism - Normative Theory (what we ought to do) - No obligation to do anything other than what is in your self-interest o What is right is whatever you want to do o The only thing we are obligated to do is act on our own self-interest - Objections o Form of Reduction Ad Absurdum o Position is inconsistent o The good of others is an intrinsic value Reduction Ad Absurdum - What if you wanted to burn down a building with people in it? o Defense of Ethical Egoism:  1) Jail (you don‟t want to go to jail)  Rebuttal: you only go to jail if you get caught  2) Self-interest is to live in a stable society  Rebuttal: no reason to think that society will fall apart  Fallacy of the Slippery Slope: this argument says that if A is true, it will slide into B 9 o There is no good reason to believe that because one person burns down a building, society will dissolve  If you give A, B must follow o Ex. if you allow euthanasia, doctors will kill who ever they want - This form of argument is reduction because you are extending the theory to its logical and extreme implications Position is Inconsistent - Ethical egoism creates arbitrary divisions o Morally arbitrary: not relevant from the moral perspective - It is a type of prejudice o General moral and ethical law against this type of treatment o Like cases should be treated alike - Ethical egoism divides the world into two: them and I o It says your interests count, and everybody else‟s don‟t - There is no moral relevant difference between you and another person o Ethical egoism is in this was inconsistent and a form of bias  Defense of Ethical Egoism:  Don‟t need to care about being consistent and about other people to be a part of society - Morality: a matter of consistency o (Reasoning for the golden rule; holding beliefs that do not contradict each other) 3 Objection: the good of others is an intrinsic value Contracartianism - Either morality is objective or it is subjective - Since it is not objective, it must be subjective (A or B; what about C?) o Response: False Dilemma (either you‟re with us or them) o False dilemma restricts the choice of options only to two but there may be more - Objective Truth: a truth that is entirely independent of particular minds o “Tomatoes are red” - Subjective Truth: a truth that is entirely dependent on a particular mind (deeply connected to the subject) o “He loves tomatoes” - Inter-Subjective Truth: a truth which is not dependant on any particular mind o Murder is bad o Moral judgments/values express truths of the third kind Meta Ethics: Status of ethical claims 10 Normative ethics: What makes a particular action right or wrong; what are the properties/kinds of things that we take into consideration when say “X” is wrong or “Y” is right - Compare virtue ethics with rule-based ethics. They don‟t contradict each other; they compliment each other Consequentiality Theories The consequences of a particular act determines its value - Any such views which rely on this type of reason are called consequentiality theories o A form of consequentialism: Ethical Egoism (the right thing to do is that which has the best consequence for the individual) o Another form is Utilitarianism Utilitarianism - What makes X good? - X is good if and only if X produces the greatest good for the greatest number o Very demanding theory o Why?  It asks one to maximize the good for everybody (everybody counts as one)  This means ones own desires matter the same as the consequences for anybody else  You are one among many, no privileged position when considering a particular action o Equality is basic, everybody‟s interests count for one  Moral Maximum What is good? Jeremy Bentham: Pleasure - The good consequence is the one that produces the greatest pleasure - Pleasure and pain are the twin principals around which human action is motivated o Since they are so important they must be the standard by which we judge the good - The good is that which produces the most pleasurable consequence, the bad is that which produces the most amount of pain o This is called Hedonistic Utilitarianism (hedone) Is pleasure the only good in judging a particular action? Objection by Nozik: The Experience Machine - Premise 1: If pain and pleasure were the only things we desired in life then we would all want to be plugged into the experience machine o If A  B - Premise 2: But, not everyone would want to be plugged into the experience machine 11 o Not B - Conclusion: So, therefore, pain and pleasure aren‟t the only desires in life o Therefore, not A This form of argument is called Modus Tollens (A  B, ~ B, therefore ~ A) (See difference from modus ponens) Argument Nozik gives us is a form of Modus Tollens - This is an objection against hedonistic utilitarianism o That form of utilitarianism is based on the idea that the only way we measure the good is based on how much pleasure we can bring to the greatest number of people  Not an objection against utilitarianism in general, just hedonistic utilitarianism (measure of good by avoidance of pain and pursuit of pleasure) Eudemonistic Utilitarianism (Mill) - It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a food satisfied o Ignorance is not bliss; knowledge is important  Human beings have more happiness because they can experience a wider range of things; pig knows less - We need to maximize the good, and Mill measures the good by quality of happiness o This is known as eudemonistic utilitarianism - Mill: Happiness Objections: 1. Assumes that the only good in life is happiness, and that everything is instrumental to this good a. Happiness cannot be seen as the sole good in life b. Human beings see many things as good, because they value them in and of themselves already, they accompany them with happiness 2. Good consequences do not always determine the right thing to do. Justice/rights conflict with utility a. Ex. Horrible Aunt Bea 3. Measurement a. Hard to measure all the consequences b. Hard to define happiness/pleasure  Defense: Preference Satisfaction (are their needs satisfied?)  Rebuttal: Unacceptable; peoples preferences may be immoral o Scope of people considered (future generations) o Scope of what counts as something worthy of moral consideration Utilitarianism is based on calculations 4. Too Demanding 12 a. Differential moral obligations towards self, family (defense: bite the bullet?) b. Impossible to live such a theory (defense: rules make it possible, ex. rest) Act utilitarianism vs. Rule utilitarianism Principal of Utility: your action should be guided by house useful it is in achieving the greatest good for the greatest number - The principal of utility is not to be applied to particular acts - It is to be applied to rules o Must consider consequences over time, not just in the instance Rule Utilitarianism: principal of utility should only be applied to acts thought of as done over time or generalized - Principal of utility should be applied to rules and not particular acts (as with act utilitarianism) Defense: A) Act vs. Rule utilitarianism: utility is a guide to choosing rules, not actions B) Bite the bullet: accept the controversial actions Kant – Deontology “Nothing in the world – indeed nothing even beyond the world – can possibly be conceived which could be called good without qualification except a good will.” Kant -- Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals. How do you know what makes an action good or bad?  The standard for Kant is that it is done out of the Good Will, or with the proper motivation, or right intention. o The standard is right intentions o The standard by which an action is right or wrong comes down to rationality and reason o Difference between good and bad is one of motivation/intention  The right intention is one that is done for the sake of duty. o The right motive is one you do for the sake of duty against your
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