Dear students of philosophy,
I continue with the next step to understanding philosophy (contd. from the previous step based on the plan ). For those who are new to this business (the business of philosophizing) let me tell you that the word I used many times up till now - intuiting or intuition - is not some hocus-pocus. Its just an happy-ish way of saying that you need to think about doing philosophy. Only since most of us are not so trained, we are unawares of the method we may adopt while thinking about something. I refer to this "unaware use of methods" which already are a part of our thinking process as "Intuition". So let us do some more of this and then eventually grab-the-method, so to say.
I had asked you to read some stuff from the internet such as Jim Pryor's notes and Wikipedia on syllogisms and fallacies. So by now you must know that when we present our philosophical ideas, we do so in form of arguments. (Not that we bash each other up ...) These arguments are similar to the proofs that we study in math or the derivations we do in physics or the case that a lawyer presents in court on behalf of his client. The argument is a neatly structured set of statements, which imply (as rigorously as possible) the truth of a certain statement. They begin with presenting facts (axioms / premises / observations) and continue to present connections (conditionals / middle-terms / reasons). These connections then employ the reader's "logical" thinking to arrive at the conclusion. The emphasis of logic is because, it has many forms. The word could refer to the strict mathematical / deductive logic, where A connects to B and B connects to C leads to saying that A connects to C. The word may also mean syllogistic logic where the connections between the subject, middle-term and predicate exist as strictly as in math, but the meanings of the words denoting the subject, etc. may not be straight-forward and would depend upon correct interpretations, hence leading to some of the fallacies. (Some of the other fallacies are simply devious arguments made so to help the arguer win)
Then again, the word "logic" taken in the lay sense could also mean - reasoning which itself has many forms - deductive as in the syllogistic logic or inductive (as in: I saw the Sun rise in the east for the past 4 days and so I conclude that it will always rise in the east.) or more vague forms. Read this quick summary.
Thus you see that arguments need not be automatically foolproof. Hence the need to consider whether they are valid (conclusion follows from the premises, even if the premises or the conclusion may be incorrect) or sound (valid with true premises; conclusion may still be false).
The assignment (What is wrong with the argument? Why?)
Now see if you can find out whats wrong with each of the following arguments. It could be a problem of validity or soundness or simply a fallacy. Try to answer critically by pointing out the exact sentence / sentences where the problem lies and also name the fallacy (if any) and explain in the context of the argument, why is it a problem, i.e. what was probably being implied here and what it ended up with OR what are the implications of the (wrong) argument and why are these implications wrong, etc. It would be helpful if you could start by distinguishing between the premises and the conclusion. Hint: Ask yourself - Are you convinced by the conclusion?
- God is Divine
- Love is like a rainbow. It looks good from far away, but the moment you get closer to it, it disappears. Hence love is but an illusion.
- Most educated Indians wish that Modi becomes the prime minister. Thus Modi is the ideal choice.
- The following is an argument between a Democratic Statist (D) and an Anarchist (A):
- Read the pro-communism argument at http://leninism.org/some/index.htm#pseudopod_vs_hand focusing chiefly on the 4th big statement. Look here for a more elaborate argument.
- .... ...... . .... now I am sure you are completely whacked out, so just send me the answers.
D: Humans can't be trusted to self-govern!A: If you can't trust the people with freedom, how can you trust the people in power?D: Because they were elected!A: But they are also one of the people (who can't be trusted), are elected by the people (who can't be trusted) and represent the people (who can't be trusted). Why should I trust the system? Is the system run by people made of a finer clay than the rest of humankind?D: The system is based on a "social contract" and represents the "will of the people"...A: show me the contract and my signatures on it!D: "We the people of India....."A: Hey! Those aren't my signatures!D: Are you not part of the people of India? Do you wish to be exiled from the nation?A: I'm part of the people of India, and no, I do not wish to be exiled, but those aren't my signatures. I could create a similar contract and write "We the people of Earth..." on it. Does that mean everyone on Earth, including the future generations to be born on Earth have consented to it?D: Did you vote?A: No.D: Then you cannot complain.A: show me the contract and my signatures on it!D: "We the people of India....."Anarchist: Hey! Those aren't my signatures!D: Are you not part of the people of India? Do you wish to be exiled from the nation?A: I'm part of the people of India, and no, I do not wish to be exiled, but those aren't my signatures. I could create a similar contract and write "We the people of Earth..." on it. Does that mean everyone on Earth, including the future generations to be born on Earth have consented to it?D: Did you vote?A: No.D: Then you cannot complain.
We talk about analyzing concepts, thought experiments and outlining arguments in the next session.