Major divisions of philosophy



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Major divisions of philosophy
Logic

-critically evaluates arguments

-basic issues include:

- validity and soundness of deductive arguments;

- strength of inductive arguments and inferences to the best explanation
Philosophy of religion

-critically evaluates claims made in the context of religion

-basic issues include:

- God's existence and attributes;

- immortality of the soul
Metaphysics

-examines the ultimate nature of things

-basic issues include:

- is everything ultimately physical?;

- the existence and nature of free will;

- the nature of the self;

- the nature of causation

Ethics

- evaluates human action as morally right or wrong, and human character as morally good or bad

-basic issues include:

- the determination of which actions are morally right and which are morally wrong;

- the source of the authority of moral rules;

- the nature of motivation to do what is morally right

Epistemology

-theory of knowledge

-basic issues include:

- what knowledge is;

- the sources of knowledge;

- what kinds of knowledge there are;

- the possibility of knowledge

Philosophy of mind

-examines nature of the mental

-basic issues include:

- relation between mind and body;

- the nature of thought and consciousness
Background on ethics:
Ethics has to do with evaluating human action as morally right or wrong, and human character as morally good or bad. Ethical theories do some or all of the following:
(a) propose a way to determine which actions are morally right and which actions are morally wrong, or which people are morally good and which evil; and
(b) make a claim about the source of the authority of moral rules;
(c) explain the nature of motivation to do what is morally right.


Definition of cultural relativism:

cultural relativism claims that moral rules are customs specific to particular cultures, and that consequently no moral rules are universal.
Definition of universal moral rules:

a moral rule is universal if it applies to everyone independently of culture.
Definition of universalism:

universalism claims that there are at least some universal moral rules.

Definition of absolute moral rules:

a moral rule is absolute if: (a) it applies to everyone independently of culture AND (b) it applies in all circumstances.

Definition of cultural relativism:

cultural relativism claims that moral rules are customs specific to particular cultures, and that consequently no moral rules are universal.

Cultural differences argument (Rachels, p. 618):
(P1) Different cultures have different moral codes.
(C) Therefore, there is no objective "truth" in morality. Right and wrong are only matters of [cultural] opinion, and [cultural] opinions vary from culture to culture.


Rachels's argument against cultural relativism (p. 622):
(P1) If lying were morally allowable in normal circumstances, then communication would cease.
(P2) If communication were to cease, then societies would cease to exist.
(SC) If lying were morally allowable in normal circumstances, then societies would cease to exist.
(C) Societies must have in common the rule that lying is not morally allowable in normal circumstances.

CULTURAL RELATIVIST'S account of moral rules:
cultural customs universal rules

_________________________________________________________

funerary practices

no polygamy

no lying

no stealing

no killing

UNIVERSALIST'S account of moral rules:
cultural customs universal rules

_________________________________________________________

funerary no polygamy no lying

practices no stealing

no killing


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