2010 Fall Philosophy Proseminar

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Report your examples here under a heading identifying the method. For example:

Logical Argumentation

Spinoza's "Ethics" is basically one gigantic deductive argument sprawling from a few foundational premises outlined as definitions and axioms. If one accepts his premises, he provides an astonishingly airtight logical framework for his ontological view of God and Monism. This is logical argumentation because Spinoza sticks to this rigid form of deductive rationale throughout the whole book. ----this may belong in the "arguments section" below... wasn't sure how we were organizing. Kobywarren 20:15, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Descarte's "cogito" forms a premise for many of his conclussions of God and duel reality. This rationale is a deductive argument. Kobywarren 20:15, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Socrates uses logical argumentation when he refutes Meletus' claim in the Apology of Socrates that Socrates does not believe in God. Meletus has accused Socrates of believing in daimons and of not believing in Gods, Socrates answers that to believe in daimons and not believe in Gods is to believe in mules but not horses and donkeys. --Lars

Case Method

Hart's article uses case method because it distinguishes generalized scenarios (two involving fires and one involving assault/murder) which, he thinks, helps us clarify the problem of "tracing consequences".

Crawford's 'The Case For Working With Your Hands' utilizes case methods describing his motorcycle repair business and his experience with repairing the motorcycle after he graduated to generalize to all work with your hands.

The wiki mentioned the Turing Test & the Chinese Room argument against it so I looked them up on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy http://plato.stanford.edu/

The Turing Test - a test designed to determine whether or not machines could think, the method of the experiment is that an interrogator, separated from a person and a computer, tries to determine which one is the human through a series of questions.

The Chinese Room Argument was aimed at discrediting the idea that computers could have similar mental capabilities as the humans they mimic. He says that if a man sits in a room and follows instructions, in English, on how to manipulate Chinese symbols, he will be able to produce Chinese writing but never understand, similar to the computer that follows instructions, in code, on how to manipulate data, but will never understand the data it produces. --Lars

Thought Experiment

(also falls under "Case Method" ) Nagel's case method asking "what is it like to be a bat" falls under this category. By pointing out that people cannot possibly imagine the experience accurately due to different sensory experience, etc., Nagel manages to draw general conclusions on the subjective nature of human experience. Kobywarren 20:15, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Dennet's quotes by Hume include Hume's character Philo engaging in thought experiments about different kinds of Gods, specifically the possibility of a Spider god to a world entirely inhabited by Spiders.

In Dennet's 'Explaining Consciousness', he uses the example of the technical aspects of what would have to happen if a winery replaced its human tasters with machines, with the differences in how people see colors according to research on color vision, and examining if it would work better or not.

The state of nature, as described by Hobbes, a place where life is 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short' seems to me to be a great example of a thought experiment because to imagine what was occurring before the existence of some form of government is purely hypothetical. --Lars

Also, Plato's allegory of the cave, in which characters try to force prisoners to progress through various stages of thinking and understanding, seems to be an example of a thought experiment, the reading that it is taken from are Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of the Republic... free online text can be found here http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html --Lars

I'm not sure if this is where this example goes but here it goes anyways. I think that Descartes' "Meditations on First Philosophy" was entirely a thought experiment. He was attempting to clear his mind of everything that he every knew in order to be able to experiment with his new type of thinking. --Jjohnson9 17:14, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

I'm not entirely sure this is correct for this method but it's an idea: in Glover's What Kind of People Should There Be, he briefly examines a mistake that could be made in using HGE more casually. He writes that in a world where people can genetically engineer a fetus, there is the chance that the child would turn out much worse than what they were expected to be. We would figure out too late that an extremely violent or deranged person had been created, and the general population would have to live with these "mistakes". He uses this to show one reason why people are violently opposed to HGE and to explain to the reader some of the very real risks associated with this science.

In The Gay Science, Nietzche provides a thought experiment in which people are forced to consider whether they could stand living their life over and over in the Eternal Recurrence of the Same.

Careful Definitions

Not sure if this is the kind of example that your looking for, but i believe Spinoza does this in "Ethics" on multiple occasions. The one example that sticks out to me the most is his definition of the term: Attributes. By carefully defining attributes as, "what the intellect perceives of substance as constituting its essence," Spinoza attempts to bridge Descartes mind/body issue. (I think that this would also fall under traditional logical argumentation given the way he organizes his writing. the theory of attributes that he asserts also serves as a premise supporting his theory of ontology.) Kobywarren 20:15, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

This seems like what is going on for the ending part of Euthyphro, where Socrates says to Euthyphro that he must know what Piety is before he can determine what is Pious, prompting the definition that Piety is what the Gods love and argument about if what the Gods love is Pious because the Gods love it or if the Gods love it because it is Pious.

In Crito, Socrates has a discussion with Crito about whether or not he should escape. Socrates brings up the question of what is just (the just course of action) and what is unjust (the unjust course of action). He convinces Crito that in order to determine his actions in this situation, they will need to define what Justice is, and if Socrates escaping would conform to what is just.

I believe that Plato is using the definitions method when he reports Socrates describing the Allegory of the Cave. Here a definition is forming about what reality is.--Jjohnson9 17:15, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

On subject of Plato's dialogues, the entire first book of The Republic is dedicated to working towards an adequate definition of Justice. Polemarchus and Thrasymachus each present Socrates their own definition of Justice, and, naturally, Socrates shoots them down.

Dr. Tkacz also wrote a book for his Christian Metaphysics class and in the first chapter, he is making a definition of Christian Metaphysics and also explaining the point of view he is taking with the rest of the class.--Jjohnson9 17:15, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Another chapter out of Dr. Tkacz's Christian Metaphysics book (Chapter 2) defined what an intellectual animal is and how they differ from other animals in the world.--Jjohnson9 17:15, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Antonio Gramsci distinguishes between "civil society" and "political society" in his argument that the superstructures of "civil society" (i.e. church, education, media, etc) allow the individual to be coerced into obeying society while the "political society" uses police, military and politics to use brute force to make one obey.

Phenomenological Reduction

Heidegger uses phenomenological reduction to outline his theory on how Dasein percieves and assigns meaning. An example would be how he reduces perception and meaning to ready-to-hand objects and present-at-hand objects. Kobywarren 20:15, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Louis Althusser discusses the ways in which people are initiated into an ideology in such a way that he or she believes that he or she has freely chosen that ideology. Althusser writes, "the individual is [called into the ideology] as a (free) subject in order that he shall (freely) accept his subjection."

Arguments -- All types

Socrates makes the argument in the Apology after he is accused of being an atheist that because you cannot believe in the study of something but not something itself (his examples are you cannot believe in horsemanship and not in horses), and because his accusers have accused him of teaching and studying 'divinities', he cannot study divinities and not believe in gods. This argument boils down to

You cannot believe in the study of something and not the thing itself. (if A[belief in the study of something] then B [belief in the object studied])
Socrates believes in the study of Divinities/Gods (A: Belief in the study of Gods)
Socrates beleives in the Divine, or Gods (B: Belief in Gods)

This is a Modus Ponens argument.

Haidt "The Divided Self" is an example of using the results of the natural sciences

In Xenophon's Socrates' Defense to the Jury, Socrates makes the inductive argument to Xenophon that one of the reasons it is better for him to die now is because he will probably be mourned more (if he dies earlier on in life) than if he dies later on in life as a decrepid old man. His argument, a generalization to specific case, is as follows:

A: If a person dies while he or she still is healthy and has many friends, as opposed to dying and leaving behind bad memories, there is a very good chance they will be mourned.

B: Socrates will be killed while he is still in good health and has friends.

Conclusion: Socrates will most likely be mourned.

Dr. Tkacz wrote an article, "Faith, Science and the Error of Fideism" and in this article is is arguing the point that Fideism is not the point of view to take while studying Christian Metaphysics. --Jjohnson9 17:16, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

In Plato's Apology, Socrates argues against the charge that he corrupts the young, and one of his arguments is wondering why he corrupt people if they would turn on him.

P: A person who is a bad citizen will hurt those around him or her
P: People in general do not want to be hurt
C: Socrates would not want to corrupt the youths because if he does so they would hurt him and he, being a person, does not wish to be harmed.

Also in Plato's Apology is Socrates argument against being fearful of death (this one was based on the daimon, he also used other arguments).

P: If something bad will happen to Socrates, Socrates' daimon will warn him about it
P: Socrates' daimon does not warn him about the death penalty
C: The death penalty is not bad

P: The death penalty causes death
P: The death penalty is not bad
C: Death is not bad

P: If something is not bad, it is not reasonable to fear it
P: Death is not bad
C: It is not reasonable to fear death

Questioning Presuppostions

Albert Camus's opening statement in The Myth of Sisyphus states that suicide is the first philisophical question. If life is not worth living, all other philisophical questions are moot. This opening forces readers to acknowledge that their continued existence and questioning is presupposing that life is worth living.

In the Crito, Socrates challenges Crito's presupposition by asking "why should we care so much about what the majority think?" Socrates explains that one should not care about the majority opinion, because the majority can neither take the very best course of action, nor the very worst. Rather, the effects they produce are the result of chance.

In Richard Dawkin's book, The God Delusion, Dawkins' critique of Thomas Aquinas' Five Proofs for the Existence of God involves Dawkins' examining a presupposition made by Aquinas. Dawkins explains that the first three Proofs all "rely upon the idea of regress and invoke God to terminate it." e.g. - in the first proof, The Unmoved Mover, Aquinas argues that "Nothing moves without a prior mover. This leads us to a regress, from which the only excape is God. Something had to make the first move, and that something we call God." Dawkins claims that Aquinas "makes the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress." (how effective Dawkins argument is here is questionable though...)

Fundamental Focus on Argument

Along with Aquinas' Five Proofs, Dawkins also focuses on the problems with two other famous arguments for the existence of God: St. Anselm's Ontological Argument, and Pascal's Wager (I'm going to assume/hope that discussing each of these arguments fulfills two example requirements, but, feel free to question my presupposition of that, haha).

Anselm's Ontological Argument states (more or less) that, if we can conceive of the greatest possible being (aka God), then it must exist. Dawkins quotes Bertrand Russell's critique of the argument: "if there is anything we can think of which, by the mere fact that we can think of it, is shown to exist outside our thought?" or, in other words, just because we can think something up, does that make the thing real?

In his critique of Pascal's Wager argument, Dawkins evaluates Pascal's rationale that one ought to believe in God because one has more to gain from believing in God than not believing in God. Dawkins is quick to point out (and probably not the first to do so) that Pascal doesn't take into account the difference between the genuine belief that God and the Church traditionally demand, and merely feigning belief because it seems to be the most beneficial option.