Test 1 Review Philosophy



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Test 1 Review

Philosophy

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  • Love of Wisdom

  • Studies conceptual questions that cannot be answered solely by an appeal to sense experience (or mathematical calculation).

  • Relies on logic to evaluate the strength of arguments.

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Reasoning

  • An Argument

  • Premises supporting a conclusion

  • What is argued for (the conclusion) is distinct from what is argued from (the premises or assumptions).

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Deductive Arguments

  • Validity is a formal property of arguments

  • An argument is valid when, if the premises are all true, the conclusion must be true.

  • Reductio ad absurdum

  • Assume the opposite of what you want to prove, and derive a contradiction (an absurdity) from this.

  • Disjunctive Syllogism

  • If a conclusion follows from both disjuncts (“or” clauses) of an exhaustive disjunction, then it follows from the disjunction itself.

  • A or ~A. If A entails C and so does ~A, then C follows from A or ~A.

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Remember …

  • As philosophers use this term, only arguments can be valid or invalid.

  • Statements (propositions, beliefs) can be true or false,

  • but not valid or invalid.

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Arguments for God’s Existence

  • Ontological:

  • Argues that the concept of God entails God’s existence

  • Anselm

  • Cosmological:

  • Argues for a cause of the universe

  • Aquinas, Clarke

  • Teleological:

  • Argues from complexity in nature to a designer of that complexity

  • Paley

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Knowledge

  • A Priori

  • Claims that can be justified without appeal to sense experience.

  • The Ontological Argument is the only a priori argument for the existence of God

  • A Posteriori

  • Claims that can be justified only with (by means of) an appeal to sense experience.

  • The Cosmological and Teleological Arguments

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A priori vs. A posteriori

  • The distinction is not between

  • what caused you to have the idea,

  • but about how

  • how you justify your belief that you know this idea to be true.

  • If an appeal to sense experience (or your memory of one) is necessary to prove that you know something, this is a posteriori knowledge.

  • For example, “The sky is blue.

  • If you know something by “pure thinking,” such that no sense experience could possibly undermine this knowledge, this is a priori knowledge.

  • For example, “2 + 2 = 4”

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Anselm

  • Reasons that the existence of God follows from the concept of a being than which none greater can be conceived.

  • Uses a reductio ad absurdum argument

  • Assumes that a being, than which none greater can be conceived, exists only in the understanding.

  • But, since any being which exists only in the understanding would be greater if it existed in reality as well, this being is such that a greater can be conceived.

  • This is a contradiction, and so the assumption must be rejected.

  • Therefore, a being than which none greater can be conceived cannot fail to exist in reality as well in the understanding.

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Gaunillo

  • Argues that Anselm’s argument applies equally to an island such that none greater can be conceived as to a being than which none greater can be conceived.

  • This means that if Anselm’s argument works to prove the existence of God, it must also prove the exist of such an island.

  • But such an island does not exist.

  • So, Anselm’s argument must not work for God either.

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Cosmological Argument

  • Begins with a premise, based upon sense experience, that there are cause/effect relationships in the world.

  • Reasons that there must be a first cause.

  • Aquinas argued that there must be a first cause, or else the universe would have had an infinitely long past history, and that it couldn’t have had an infinitely long past history, because then it wouldn’t have had a first cause.

  • Aquinas doesn’t take an infinite past seriously, and so his argument for a first cause begs the question.

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Cosmological Arguments

  • Clarke argues that even if the universe has an infinitely long past history (which he doesn’t in fact believe), we still need to posit God in order to explain the existence of this infinite series of events.

  • But if we must explain the cause of the infinite series, mustn’t we also explain the cause of God?

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Teleological Arguments

  • Paley reasons by analogy with artifacts (i.e., manufactured things).

  • Things like watches have a complex structure such that small variations in that structure make them useless for their purpose.

  • Natural entities like eyes or living organisms also have a complex structure such that small variations in that structure make them useless for their purpose.

  • So, like artifacts, such natural entities must have been designed to accomplish these purposes (or telos.)

  • The theory of evolution does not disprove this, but simply offers a different explanation.

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Pascal’s Wager

  • Uses probability calculus to argue that betting against the existence of God is an irrational bet

  • but doesn’t try to argue that God exists.

  • Relies on the fact that all finite numbers are no different from zero when added or subtracted from an infinite number.

  • This means that since the “payoff” for believing is eternal life, it is always rational to bet on the existence of God, no matter what the probabilities or the “cost” of betting.

  • Expected Utility = Payoff (x Prob.(W.)) – Cost (x Prob.(L.))

  • If Payoff = ��, then Expected Utility = ��, no matter what the probabilities or costs

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The Problem of Evil

  • If God is all good and all powerful, how come there is evil in the world?

  • Theodicy: an attempted explanation for why an all good and all powerful being allows evil to exist.

  • Johnson argues that if God allows evil because it brings some good results, then we ought to do evil things. But this is absurd.

  • He also argues that any reasons we might come up to make evil consistent with an all powerful and all good God could also be used to make goodness consistent with an all powerful and all evil God.

  • This means that this kind of reasoning supports neither conclusion.

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Swineburne’s Theodicy:
Distinguishes moral evil from natural evil.

  • Moral evil is caused by human beings, and is the inevitable result of the fact that human beings have a free will. (The “Free Will Defense.”)

  • Natural evil is not caused by human beings, but is necessary so that human beings can use their free will to overcome such evil, and so become better people.

  • He thinks this also applies to animal suffering.



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