Philosophy Exam review
Philosophy of religion
- the being than which nothing greater can be conceived
- Anselm's assumes that if I understand claims about God, then we may say that God
exists in my understanding or in my mind
- the existence of god on the basis of reason alone
- The idea of god proves that god must exist
- If something exists in the understanding alone, but can be conceived to exist in reality,
then that thing can be conceived to be greater than it actually is .
- Anselms first premise is that god exists in our understanding as a uniquely special
concept because it is something which a greater cannot be thought of. Even if someone
denies the existence of god, the idea of god is already in his mind and what he
understands exists not only in his mind but in reality as well. Because god is a being that
is greater than everything he exists in the mind and in reality
- His second premise is that god also exists in reality.
- God exists in reality, because if god didn't exist in reality he wouldn't be the entity that
nothing greater can be conceived and this is a contradictory so therefore he does exist
in understanding and in reality.
- Argument from Motion
- It is certain to our senses that things in the world are in motion
- Nothing can be moved by itself
- Motion or change of things is caused, by changes of other things
- And if this other thing undergoes change it must be made to change by something else,
and so on.
- However this cannot go on for infinity
- We must, therefore, position a first cause of change and this first mover is GOD.
- Argument from Governance
- there are many things which are designed in nature to fulfill some purpose
- Things do not come to fulfill a purpose on their own, they must be directed to do so by
an intelligent being. - Therefore, there exists an intelligent designer who created all natural things, and we call
- He argued that this is the best of all possible worlds that God could have created.
- God could have created a world without evil
- he believes evil is needed in the world and that god put it here for a reason.
- Leibniz concludes that the world is better with evil.
- “the best” is not always something that tries to avoid evil, because the result of evil may
actually bring a long a greater good
- that god allowed humans to have free will and gave them the opportunity to exercise
their liberties, even though it may have resulted in evil but he could set this evil right.
- Leibniz believed that a world with evil might be better than one without it, and also that
our world/universe is better than any other one because of evil
- Mackie sees the argument from evil as logically valid
- Mackie defends the argument of evil as a valid way to refute a cetain conception of God
- God is omnipotent
o God is wholly good
o Evil exists in the world
- Mackie believes the above three cannot be all true with the argument of evil
- An adequate solution of the argument is one that gives up (at least) one belief
- A fallacious solution tries to keep all 3
5. William James
- He is the founder of pragmatism
- We decide what is true by looking out in the world.
o Truth comes in degrees.
- Cant separate belief and action
- James considers the question of belief with respect to things we are not certain about
o What is our passional nature?
o When are things by their nature not to be decided on intellectual grounds?
- James responded to Clifford, that some beliefs do not need rational inquiry
- Evidence for whether or not certain beliefs are true depends crucially upon first
adopting those beliefs without evidence. As an example, James argues that it
can be rational to have unsupported faith in one's own ability to accomplish tasks
that require confidence - Pascals Wager: It posits that humans all bet with their lives either that God
exists or does not exist. if one believes in God and in the afterlife and if there is really a
God, the person will gain everything. If one doesn't believe in God and in the end there
is God, the person will eventually lose everything, and if one believes in God and in the
end there is no God, the person will not lose anything because one cannot lose
something which he or she did not gain.
- James says that it is “silly” to think that we can believe something because we WILL
ourselves (force ourselves intellectually) to believe it in the way that Pascal suggests.
Particularly we only do believe something that we already have some inclination to
believe. Something that is “live” for us.
- A hypothesis is live if we have some inclination, some reason in our lives to believe it.
But if it is ruled out completely in some way it is “dead.”
- An option is forced when you have to make a decision right away
- An option is momentuous when it is a matter of some import, life and death, or an
important once in a life time situation
- James doesn't separate science and religion
Theory of Knowledge
- Can we know anything, and what is it we can know? How are our beliefs justified?
- Empirical Knowledge: This is knowledge about how things are in the world. All the
sciences are examples of empirical knowledge, as is most of our common beliefs about
who, what, where, when
o Relies on perceptual information
- Conceptual: This is knowledge that helps us get communication going. It is knowledge
of what words mean, and how the relations between statements and words work. All
math is conceptual knowledge, as logic is.
- The stimuli is something outside the body that can cause the body to react in some way
- Sensation is something that we usually think of as caused by some stimulation of the
- The perception is the awareness that the conscious person has of the sensation
Descartes’ main task in the Meditations was to devise a system that would bring him to the
truth. He wanted to build a foundational philosophy; a basic structure from which all further
intellectual inquiry could be built. It was essential that his foundational beliefs were sound.
A firm foundation for the sciences requires a truth that is absolutely certain; for this purpose, I will reject all my beliefs for which there is even a possibility of doubt, and
whatever truths are left will be absolutely certain. To this end it is not necessary to go
through all my beliefs individually, since they are all based on a more fundamental belief. If
there is any reason to doubt this foundation belief, then all the beliefs based on it are
equally doubtful. All my beliefs about the world are based on the fundamental belief that
the senses tell me the truth. But this belief is not absolutely certain. It is at least possible
that everything my senses tell me is an illusion created by a powerful being. Therefore,
there is some reason to doubt my foundation belief, and thus all my beliefs about the world
are doubtful; none of them can serve as the foundation for science. For Descartes,
knowledge depends on absolute certainty. Since perception is unreliable, indubitable
knowledge cannot come from the outside world via the senses. there is certain knowledge
and that human reason (innate ideas and deductions thence) is the sole source of such
Method of doubt
- He wants to avoid errors in his belief. He holds that it is possible that he is massively
mistaken about the beliefs he holds. So he decides to discover if there is anything that is
certain in order to build his knowledge on firm foundations.
o allows him to systematically doubt structures of knowledge.
o Descartes doubts the structures that give us knowledge.
Evil Demon hypothesis
- The "evil demon" hypothesis states that all one knows for sure is that they exist (I think therefore I
am). All else can conceivably be the result of input from an evil demon who just wants to mess
with us. We may not really have a body or senses (think the Matrix). However, the one thing that
can not be an illusion or false input is the fact that one has thought... existence of some sort.
If all my beliefs about the world are doubtful, is there any truth which can be absolutely
certain? Yes. Even if all of my experience is an illusion, it cannot be doubted that the experience
is taking place. And this means that I, the experiencer, must exist. Since the only evidence I
have that I exist is that I am thinking (experiencing), then it is also absolutely certain that I am a
thing that thinks (experiences), that is, a mind. Since I am not certain (yet) that the physical
world (including my body) exists, but I am certain that I exist, it follows that I am not my body.
Therefore, I know with certainty that I am only a mind. I am much more certain of my mind's
existence than my body's. It might seem that in fact we know physical things through the
senses with greater certainty than we know something intangible like the mind. But the wax
experiment demonstrates that the senses themselves know nothing, and that only the intellect
truly knows physical things. It follows that the mind itself is known with greater certainty than anything that we know through the senses. He believes there is a link between the soul (mind)
and body through which sensations (in particular, pain) are transferred and that this link allows
one to identify a body as one's own
Every idea must be caused, and the cause must be as real as the idea. If I have any idea of which
I cannot be the cause, then something besides me must exist. All ideas of material reality could
have their origin within me. But the idea of God, an infinite and perfect being, could not have
originated from within me, since I am finite and imperfect. I have an idea of God, and it can only
have been caused by God. Therefore God exists.
- Ideas cannot be true or false. Volitions and emotions are feelings, not t or f. Judgments
These are true or false.
o Judgments are the sorts of things that can be true or false
- Some ideas come to a person against their will. Descartes adduces that there are things
outside of me which produce these sensations. But …Descartes says that this conclusion
is something "taught by nature" which means it "arises spontaneously."
- Primary qualities of a body since he can clearly and distinctly perceive them. They are
all geometric qualities and relate to the extension of a body in space, which connects
with its essence. On the other hand, the Meditator can often be misled regarding
secondary qualities because they are non-geometric and can only be perceived
obscurely and confusedly.
o secondary qualities exist exclusively in the mind and not in any way in bodies
All that is left is to determine whether material objects exist with certainty. I know that the
abstract shapes representing them are real, since I perceive them clearly and distinctly in
geometry. Furthermore, I have a faculty of imagination, by which I can conceive of material
objects, and which is different from my intellect. That it is different is proven by my ability to do
geometry with unimaginable figures. Only intellect is necessary for my existence. The most
likely explanation for the existence of my faculty of imagination is that my mind is joined with a
body that has sense organs. This is even more likely in the case of the faculty of sensation. It
formerly seemed that all my knowledge of objects came through the senses, that their ideas
originated from and corresponded to objects outside me. It also seemed that my body
belonged especially to me, although I did not understand the apparent connection between
mind and body. Then I found it possible to doubt everything. Now I am in the process of
systematically removing doubts where certainty exists. Now that I know God can create
anything just as I apprehend it, the distinctness of two things in my mind is sufficient to
conclude that they really are distinct. Thus I know I exist, I am a thinking thing, and although I
may possess a body, "it is certain that this I is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it." My faculty of sensing is passive and thus presupposes a faculty of causing
sensation, which cannot be within me, since some ideas come to me without my cooperation
and even against my will; it therefore belongs to something else. This is either a body or God.
But since God is not a deceiver, he doesn't plant these ideas directly in me (doesn't make me
believe in a nonexistent world). Therefore corporeal things exist. My senses might mislead me
about the details, but I know at least that the ideas that I clearly and distinctly understand--
geometrical properties--belong to these bodies. Nature is God's order; thus it has truth to teach
me. For example, that I am present to my body in a more intimate way than a pilot in a ship.
And that there are other bodies around me that affect me in various ways, that should be
pursued or avoided; the senses thus act to preserve and maintain the body. But I also make
some judgments on my own that are not justified by nature's teachings, particularly in
assuming objects and their qualities to be exactly as my senses report them, that sense
qualities reside in them, etc. It is the fault of my judgment that I use sense perception as a
direct apprehension of the essences of external bodies; there is nothing inherently deceptive
about sensation. Another problem is the misleading signals I sometimes get from my own body,
which induce me to commit errors. A body with edema, for example, will have an inclination to
drink, when in fact this is something it ought to avoid. How can God permit this? The body is
divisible, the mind is not. Further, the mind gets impressions from the parts of the body not
immediately, but via the brain. Therefore the nerves running from the parts to the brain might
be stimulated (pulled) somewhere in between, registering motion in the brain just as if the
body part were affected. When everything functions normally, the sensations in the mind are
the best and most appropriate for the purpose of maintaining health. So the exceptions prove
the goodness of God in making us this way. By using more than one sense, and memory, I can
avoid errors of the senses of this kind. So I should get rid of the excessive doubts I started with,
especially those premised on dreaming, since I can easily distinguish dreaming from waking by
the continuity of the latter. I can trust the truth of my ideas as long as my senses, memory, and
understanding are all consistent with one another.
- Makes the distinction between ideas which are in the MIND, and qualities which are
properties of external objects, and in particular of the small particles that make up those
- Locke thinks the soul and body are separate, but related
- Locke thinks that the self is both the mind and its body, not the ``thinking or rational
- In contrast to Descates, Locke does not believe that there is any certain knowledge
(Locke, 263). Instead, he believes in knowledge which is probable to a very high degree - Knowledge can and does rely on the senses and observations. In fact, Locke says that all
ideas come from sensation and reflection; all knowledge is founded on experience
- Primary Qualities are those qualities that a body (a substance) has that are inseparable
from it. He names them as “solidity, extension (taking up space), figure (shape), and
- Secondary Qualities are powers to produce a various sensations in us. They are not
inseparable from the substance that causes them for they are also dependent on us
- We have no knowledge of substance –as it is in itself. It is only that which has certain
- He denies Descartes notion that reason can give us knowledge alone
- The conclusion we are driving towards is not CERTAINTY for external objects, but it is
the conclusion that we KNOW that external objects exist
o We only know that things exist through our senses and our faculties, and it is not
possible for us to doubt completely the evidence of our senses
Gettier and Knowledge
- Gettier cases are meant to challenge our understanding of propositional knowledge
- Gettier challenges ;] Justified true belief (JBT)
o if something is true, and we believe it to be true, and we are justified in believing it to
be true, then we know it
- Perceptual Knowledge: from the five senses, immediate.
- Know-how: knowing how to do something. Shown not described.
- Propositional knowledge: factual knowledge, knowing that something is the case.
- Knowledge is justified true belief.
- We want knowledge because it helps us reach our goals. And/or, because we just want
- We need reasons for our beliefs so that we can see how it is that our beliefs are right or
wrong. Knowing how our beliefs are right or wrong helps us to reach our goals
- Traditional conception is the correspondence theory of truth. A belief is true if it
corresponds to the world.
- Justification: our reasons, evidence, arguments that show why we believe something to
o Justification can support false beliefs
- A defeater is a proposition that is true which, if one became aware of it, would lead to
the abandonment of a belief Philosophy on Mind review
Descartes and Dualism
- Cartesian Dualism
- Is Anti-deductionit
o Descartes tells us what exists. He says that there are two kinds of substance:
o Mental: It is the stuff of the the self in Descartes.
o Physical: It is matter.
- A person to Descartes is a combination of mind and body
o The link with the body has been present all through our lives. Crucial our ability to learn,
explore and act.
- To deny dualism means to say that either:
o There is no mental stuff, (materialism) or
o There is no physical stuff, (idealism) or
o Or the whole picture is wrong in some other way
- Descartes believed there was a pineal gland which connected the brain to the mind. The brain
an d the mind interacted through this and It allowed mental events to cause physical events
- He knows he has a body because he has body parts so there is physical. He also believes he is a
thinking thing so he also believes he has mental stuff
- You observe your own mental self no one else does
- Closed within your subjectivity
- Main problem: Idea of how we get causual connection between mental and physical
- Criticised and denied dualism
o there is no mental stuff (materialism)
o there is no physical stuff (idealism)
o or the whole picture is wrong in some other way
- Furthermore, Descartes didnt know how physical causes mental experiences he just believed it
o Only mental stuff
o Close to solipism
o Post Descartes view
o Physical things reconstruction of mental phenomena
o Only mental stuff
o Branches off materialism
o Maintains that there are no mental states
o There is just behaviour which is interpreted by observers to be feelings o Defines the way we act, mind is behavior
o Theres only one kind of substance
o No imaginary things going on in your head
o Says there is nothing behind behavior, just facial expressions and how people act
Smiling when your happy
o By watching behavior and looking at others behavior, is how we get the mental
o All there is, is brain states
o Further, feelings emotions are not a precise way to talk about brain states
o support: Brain states cause mental states
We still however can't find correlation between brain and mental states
- Embodied Cognition
o Incorporates things that anti-reductionist usually don't think about
Talked about conscious in a broad way
o Mental states (feelings) are product of entire body as a system
Entire body leads to us being full people with mental states
- Dualism is a category mistake
o Mental and physical are talked about differently- referred to in different ways. So they
cannot be connected or contrasted
- Is an eliminative materialist
o Only believes in physical stuff
o Brain processes and sensations are identical
Sensations are not seprate
Sensations are identical to brain processes and something cannot be collerated
o A correlation is when two things are found to happen at the same time
Weaker than causation
o Causes give correlations, but not always the other way around
Smart says brain event and sensations are the same thing
Ideas are brain processes
o Scientific laws try to establish patterns of causation.
- “Nomological dangler” means something which cannot be explained by a scientific law or
- Rrefers to the occurrence of something (in this case a sensation), which does not fit into
the system of established laws
o Smart believes that consciousness is not psychical b/c if it were it would be a “dangler
- Brain Identity theory
o Only one kind of substance; physical Thats what mental states/events are
Mental activity is brain processes
o Smart- Brain is the theory, mind is what is explained
o believed behaviorism doesnt explain what conscious states are
just provide casual explanation
o Associate mental states with brain states
o Explanation of consciousness is physical
o Numerical identity = Smart calls “strict identity.”
o Qualitative identity, identity in a given respect.
o Token token: Specific mental states, only happen once. Is identical to whatever mental
state that was happening at that time
o Type Type: Lumps a whole kind of mental states together
So specific types of brain states for everyone
All our types of pain are collected into a particular kind
- Putnam argues for a type of theory of mind called functionalism
- A view of the mind that says: the way a system functions is what makes it what it is. Not the
particular matter that makes it up
- Alternative to both the identity theory of mind andbehaviourism
- This theory holds that we should think of sensation-type states (like pain) as a functional state of
the whole organism
- Like Smart, Putnam thinks that mental states is a scientific question
o Unlike Smart he thinks that it is not reasonable to conclude that pain is a brain state. In
fact it isn’t “matter” or a property of matter at all
o Pain is functional states of whole organism, not property of matter
o Pain is not a brain state
More plausible empirically
Something an organism as a whole feels
- Concerned with the function of something rather than substance
o Organisms can be understood as “ways of functioning,” an automaton is a way of doing
Substance is not the issue
Mind is a function of a system
Looks at the purpose and tasks of things
Input and output systems in organism
Dont identify mind with stuff, looks at the function the mind fulfills
Which gives rise to mental states
o pain, may be a mental state of the system
Dont understand mind as a single thing Problem with this is consciousness is able to be in different substances.
Consciousness might not be tied to the buman brain
Mental states consciousness of diff organisms
o computers, aliens
A description of a way of functioning (doing things)
An Automaton is a way of doing something
A way of understand people is by looking at how they function
To be a automaton you must have; set of states it can be in, inputs(info) to the
system and ways it reacts(output) and ways that it transitions from one state to
another may be probabilities not laws.
Searle and the Room
- Doesn't have a theory of his own
- Was an anti-functionalist - attacked Putnams functionalism
o “Strong AI”: computer programs can have “cognitive states..”
Searle believes that computer programs cannot
Have intentional states,
o To have beliefs, ideas about things in the external world
Searle says “whatever purely formal principles you put into the computer, they
will not be sufficient for understanding
- Searle's Chinese room argument which holds that a program cannot give a computer a "mind",
"understanding" or "consciousness", regardless of how intelligently it may make it behave
o The point of the chinese room is that there is an analogy between the way translation
works and the way a computer works. No computer program can capture the
understanding of a language speaker. The experience of knowing that meaning is about
things in the world is not present in any part of a computer program.
- Nagel is anti-reductionis
- One, Physical, but Consciousness is not found yet
Anti-Functionism and Anti-Brain Identity and Anti-Behaviourism
o It is not plausible to think we have reduced the mental to the physical w/o some
account of how the subjective character of experience works
o What it is to be a bat
He is presenting a challenge to reductionist account of mind like Searle
Talk about 3rd person nature of consciousness
o Consciousness Ist person- Own subjective experience, only accessible to ourselves
3rd- Things that we can all sort of see, brain states we sll see
Believes it is wrong to talk only in 3rd person regarding consciousness
o Particular about people that we need 1st person
o With mental states there is something there that cant be reduced to physical states
What it is likedness
o Bats percieve the world differently than humans
We understand echos, but cant perceive it
o Something extra about mental states, we cant understand this by looking at physical
o Isnt substance dualist
o It is not possible for scientists and philosophers to account for subjective experience on
the basis of understanding systems of sensation and memory.
- An ethical theory attempts to explain what human conduct is good or right.
o Actions are what is right
o A way of life, a way of living is what is right
- Ethics is that study of how individual human beings should live or to act
- Three branches of ethics
o Normative Ethics : tells us how a person should act in a situation; and the
recommendations are supposed to be objective
o Applied Ethics
The belief that there is no objective truth of the matter about
what is right or wrong. Feelings about what is right are wrong are
either completely individual (subjectivism) or based in a particular
culture (cultural relativism
Believes normative ethics are useless
- Every human activity aims at some end that we consider good
o Those highest ends, which we pursue for their ow