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Chapter 17-26

PHLA10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 17-26: Political Philosophy, Realizability, Indeterminism

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William Seager

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CHAPTER 17 Beyond Foundationalism
Hume’s Problem & Descartes’ Problem:
Hume said that induction cannot be rationally justified. Skepticism is correct, IF the task of rational
justification is understood in the way Hume understood it.
Foundationalism holds that justification flows from bottom to top, not in the direction. Beliefs are
justified because if their relationship to other beliefs that are more certain.
Level 1 beliefs are enough to justify the beliefs I have about the physical environment I inhabit (level 2). I
need an additional assumption concerning the relationship between level 1 and 2.
If my beliefs about my present and past environment (items at level 2) are to justify the predictions and
generalizations I believe (items at level 3) then I have to assume something about the relationship
between levels 2 and level 3. The principle of the uniformity of nature. (the future will resemble the
past) is an example of this type of bridge principle.
Whether X is evidence of Y depends on the background assumptions Z
When you test a hypothesis H and obtain some observations O, it will usually be true that O is evidence
for or against H only because the background assumptions A you made.
Another Relativity Thesis:
The reliability theory of knowledge leads to the conclusion that whether S knows some proposition p
depends in how one chooses of describe the environment that S inhabits.
Relative to one set of assumptions, the answer is no, but relative to another the answer is yes. We
shouldn’t ask whether one statement is evidence of another, but whether one statement is evidence for
another relative to a set of background assumptions.
Foundationalism Leads to Skepticism:
My claim is that if we adopt a foundationalism understanding of what rational justification involves,
then Descartes we wrong and Hume was. In both Descartes problem and Hume’s problem,
foundationalism leads to skepticism.
Standards of Justification Often Depend on the Audience:
Your goal is to rationally persuade the other individual that you are right. In doing this, you will feel free
to use as a premise in your argument any belief that the two of you share. If you agree about a lot of
things, there will be many propositions that you can use as premises. If however disagreements is more
persuasive, you will be much more limited in the premises you can use, and if you somehow disagreed
about everything, it would impossible to construct a rational argument that shows this person that
proposition in question is correct.
Functionalists say that when you try to provide a rational justification of some proposition P, you must
construct an argument that would be compelling to a skeptic who doubts all the propositions that are at
the same level as p.
CHAPTER 18 Locker on the Existence of External Objects
Philosophers call the book in front of you an “external” object, meaning that it is not in your mind.

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The confidence that your faculties do not herein deceive us in the greatest assurance we are capable of
concerning the existence of material beings.
Locke’s First Argument “Those That Want the Organs of Any Sense:
Those that want the organs of any sense never can have the ideas belonging to the sense produced in
their minds. This is too evident to the doubted: and therefore we cannot but be assured that they come
in by the organs of that sense, and no other way.
Locke’s Second Argument Ideas Which Force Themselves Upon Me:
I can at pleasure recall to my mind the ideas of light, or the sun, which former sensations had logged in
my memory; so I can at pleasure lay by that idea, and take into my view that of the smell of a rose, or
taste of sugar.
Locke’s Third Argument Pleasure or Pain:
Pleasure or pain, which accompanies actual sensation, accompanies not the returning of those ideas
without the external objects. Ass to this, that many of those ideas are produced in us with pain, which
afterwards we remember without the least offence.
Locke’s Fourth Argument- Our Senses Assist One Other’s Testimony:
Our senses assist one another’s testimony of the existence of outward things, and enable us to predict.
CHAPTER 19 Dualism and the Mind/Body Problem
The problem of free will concerns the relation of stage 1 to stage 2. If our beliefs and desires are caused
by the genes we possess and the environments we have inhabited, how can we possess free will? The
problem of psychological egoism concerns the relationship of stage 2 and 3. If the actions we perform
are caused by the desires we have, won’t it be true that all action is fundamentally selfish – aimed at
satisfying the actor’s own desires, not at satisfying the needs of others?
Descartes’ Dualism:
Dualism is the idea that there are two kinds of things in the world. There are physical objects on the one
hand, and on the other, there are mental objects (like minds, pains, beliefs, etc.). According to dualism,
brains and the bodies in which they are found are physical things; the mind, which is a nonphysical
object, is distinct from both the whole body and is also distinct from all of the body’s physical parts.
Leibniz’s Law:
The idea is that if m and b are identical, then they must have all the same properties.
Indiscernibility of identical states that if you can find even one property that m had and b lacks, then you
will have shown that m and b are distinct entities.
Descartes First Argument for Dualism the Indubitable Existence Argument:

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Descartes claims you can’t doubt that you have a mind. If you try to doubt that you have a mind, you will
find yourself entertaining a thought, and so you must grant that you have a mind after all.
He thought that it is possible for you to doubt that you have a body. After all, you can entertain the
thought that you are a disembodied spirit.
Descartes claims that his mind had the property of indubitable existence, and that his body lacks that
Propositional Attitudes and Aboutness:
Doubting and desiring and attitudes we have to propositions; doubting, desiring, and believing are
examples of propositional attitudes.
Descartes Second Argument for Dualism- the Divisibility Argument:
Descartes means to say that the body, but not the mind, takes up physical space; it has spatial location.
This also leads to dualism but Leibniz’s Law.
The explanation is that the ideas are unfamiliar. The assertions sound jarring because they radically
depart from what we happen to believe.
Descartes second argument for dualism is inconclusive. If the mind and the brain really were identical,
then many surprising facts may follow.
The first argument (involving the idea of indubitable existence) is invalid. The second argument
(involving the ideas of divisibility and extension) is valid, but it begs the question. There seems to be no
reason to accept the premises (that the mind is divisible and lacks extension) unless you already believe
that the conclusion (dualism) is true. These negative verdicts don’t show that dualism is wrong.
Causality Between the Physical and the Nonphysical:
If we were unable to detect a physical passing from the switch to the light, we would be puzzled about
how the first event was able to cause the second.
If the mind and the brain are identical, it isn’t terribly puzzling how your beliefs and desires can cause
you to behave in various ways.
CHAPTER 20 Logical Behaviourism
The Attack On “The Ghost in the Machine”:
According to Pyle, common sense is committed to the idea that mental states are inner causes of
This common sense explanation says that mental states are inner states that Joe occupies, ones which
cause his outward behaviour: According to common sense, we see that behaviour (the drinking), but we
don’t see the beliefs and desires that cause it. The beliefs and desires are “inside”; they can’t be directly
observed, though their effects behaviour- can be.
Mentalism is the common sense idea that mental states are inner causes of behaviour.
Ryle thought that the view of minds as inner causes leads to what I’ll call third person skepticism.
Logical behaviourism says mentalism is false because it leads to skepticism.
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