Philosophy Quiz 1 (chp 1-4?) Flashcards

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chp 1



defining philosophy

difficult to define

  • giving a definition itself belongs to metaphilosophy

best way is to provide examples

  • Does God exist?
  • What is knowledge? Do we ever really know anything?
  • How do we justify our beliefs?
  • What is the relationship btw the mind and the brain? Are they identical? How do we explain or understand consciousness?
  • Do we have free will?
  • Is there really a difference btw right and wrong? Are there objective ethical facts?


3 theories about what philosophy is

  1. philosophical problems involve fundamental questions of justification
    • are the assumptions we make about ourselves and the external world rationally defensible? Do we have justification for what we believe?
  2. philosophical questions are more general than those in other areas of uniquiry
    • science assumes that there are things outside the mind; scientists then focus on more specific questions about what those things are like
    • in philosophy we ask if there is any reason to believe that there is anything at all outside your own mind
  3. philosophy is the enterprise of clarifying concepts



subjective realm

beliefs, opinions, preferences (mind-dependent)



objective realm

facts, truth (mind-independent)

true outside of anyone's opinion


difference btw the subjective and objective realms

in philosophy, assume that there is a fundamental distinction btw the way things seem to us and the way they are

ex: are the rocky mountains in north america?

  • is either true or false
  • location does not depend on anyone's subjective beliefs
  • if no one believed it, it would not change the fact that it is
  • meaningful propositions acquire their truth statuses OBJECTIVELY


truth and falsity

  • are properties of proposals
  • proposition
    • statement expressed by a declarative sentence which is either true or false
    • truth - for proposition means the world IS the way the sentence says it is
    • false - for proposition means that the world is NOT the way it says it is



  • proposition
    • statement expressed by a declarative sentence which is either true or false


beliefs and objectivity

many ppl believe God exists (belief in subjective realm)

does God actually exist? Are we justified in believing that?

It is deemed an objective question (the reality of it does not depend on the way anyone's mind is)

  • existence is either true or false

question of whether God exists is metaphysical



constitutes universe and its properties

metaphysical questions

  • concern the nature of reality itself and concerns ontology
    • ontology - specification of what exists (creating an ontology involves specifying the constituents of the universe and its properties)
  • God's existence question is categorized as metaphysical bc the answer to the question of yes or no will become part of our ontology



specification of what exists

creating an ontology involves specifying the constituents of the universe and its properties


beliefs and metaphysics

why is it important to have the right ontology?

  • the goal of belief is to form true beliefs about the nature of reality (so must have correct conception of our ontology)
  • acting in accordance with false beliefs can get us into trouble



card image

the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion

what is the nature of knowledge?


belief and justification

what role should justification play in the belief formation process?

we have many beliefs about the nature of reality, but is there a proper way of acquiring beliefs?

what kinds of things count as justification for beliefs?



is all about attempting to provide a definition of knowledge (necessary and sufficient conditions)

knowledge and belief are different

  • beliefs can be false
  • knowledge cannot be false

knowing requires truth

  • a necessary condition of knowledge is truth

true-belief and knowledge are different

  • having a belief which happens to be true does NOT mean you have knowledge


do we ever know anything?

NO - philosophical skepticism

YES - non-skepticism


skepticism about knowledge

philosophical skeptic - you think that although we may have true beliefs about the external world and the nature of reality, we never really know any of these facts. We believe them, perhaps we even have justification for believing them, but we do not know them


skepticism about justified-belief

we do not have justification for beliefs formed on the basis of induction

thus, we are not justified in believing statements are true


philosophy of mind

the mind/body problem

problem of consciousness

problem of free will


mind/body problem

what is the relationship between the mind and the brain?

  • physicalism - the mind and brain are identical
  • dualism - the mind and brain are not identical

brain - physical object

  • is the mind identical to parts/functions of the brain?
  • what is the relationship/connection btw them?


problem of consciousness

  • why is this a world that contains conscious beings?
  • how does the brain give rise to conscious experience?
  • how is a physical object like the brain responsible for generating rich subjective experiences?


problem of free will

do we have free will?

  • are we free agents who can choose btw performing diff actions?
  • since our personalities result from us acquiring genetic makeup and from being raised in certain environments (both of which we do not choose), can we really be said to perform acts freely?
  • if all events are causally determined, how can we say that we ever perform acts freely?


  • is the outcome of any causal chain ever greater than 1? is the course of reality determined or undetermined?



  • in what does the difference btw right/wrong consist?
  • we thin/believe that certain acts are ethically permissible + that certain acts are ethically impermissible
  • most think there is a disctinction btw right and wrong
  • ethicists ask: in addition to these ethical opinion we happen to have, are there any objective ethical facts out there?


2 categories of ethics

  • metaethics
    • philosophers ask: is there really an objective distinction btw right/wrong?
    • are there objective ethical facts out there, which are true or false independently of what anyone happens to believe?
    • if there are, how do they acquire their truth statuses?
  • normative ethics
    • it is already assumed that there is a difference btw right and wrong
    • how do we categorize actions as either right or wrong?
    • in what does the difference consist?


metaethical views

1. Ethical Subjectivism

2. Conventionalism

3. Ethical Realism


Ethical Subjectivism

Ethical Subjectivists maintain that there are only ethical opinions. There are no ethical facts.

  • On this view, there are no facts about the ethics of murder (for example).
  • Propositions expressing beliefs about ethics, like “murdering helpless babies is wrong,” are neither true nor false.


Conve ntionalism

Ethical statements are true or false, but they are made true or false because someone, or a group of people, believe that they are true or false.

  • An ethical proposition acquires its truth status subjectively (because its truth status depends on a subjective component—someone’s belief).

Ethical propositions are true relative to beliefs


Ethical Realism

Realists argue that ethical propositions are objectively true or false.

  • There are objective ethical facts out there.
  • Ethical propositions are true or false independently of what anyone happens to believe.


philosophical method

role of reason, logic, arguments



In Philosophy, we use reason as guide for questioning and forming beliefs.

  • A philosopher will try to show by reasoning that some of our observations regarding the nature of reality can lead to rather surprising conclusions.
  • Although observation plays a role in philosophical discourse, reason does much more work.
  • How do philosophers use reasoning? àIn the construction of ARGUMENTS.



Philosophical Arguments are tools: they are tools for

persuading other people to believe that a certain proposition is true.

  • The goal of any argument is to demonstrate that the argument’s conclusion is true.
  • Logic is the underpinning of any philosophical argument. We will become acquainted with 3 modes of logical inference: deductive, inductive, and abductive.


chp 2

logic and argument forms


components of an argument

  1. premises
    • declarative statement
    • either true or false
    • assumptions - provide reason for thinking conclusion is true
  2. conclusion
    • declarative statement
    • either true or false
    • statement to be established


good arguments

rationally persuasive

  • good rason to believe conclusion is true
  • true premises
  • premises related to conclusion in right way
  • truth of premises leads to truth of the conclusion


bad arguments

do not provide with good reason to think conclusion is true


deductive argument

conclusion is meant to follow the truth of the premises

(conclusion = deductive consequence of the premises)

conclusion logically entailed by truth of premises


deductive validity

IF the premises WERE true, they would guarantee the truth of the conclusion

- argument valid as long as this is true

- premises do not need to be true (ex: talking plants) to have valid argument


  • all plants have minds
  • all ladders are plants
  • = all ladders have minds
  • = valid
    • false premises
    • false conclusion
    • but VALID argument bc of structure (if IF the premises were true, then all ladders would have minds)


validity example


  • all plants have minds
  • all ladders are plants
  • = all ladders have minds
  • = valid
    • false premises
    • false conclusion
    • but VALID argument bc of structure (if IF the premises were true, then all ladders would have minds)


logical form

all deductively valud arguments share the same structure (logical form)

All B are C

All A are B

therefore all A are C



it there is ANY possibility that the conclusion could be false when the premises are true, then the argument is deductively invalid

premises must provide ABSOLUTE guaruantee that the conclusion is true

can be invalid even if all statements it contains are true



all emeralds are green

therefore all lemons are yellow


  • premises true
  • conclusion is true
  • BUT the premises do NOT ensure that the conclusion is true



if jones stands in heavy rain without an umbrella, he will get wet

jones is wet

therefore jones was standing under the heavy rain without an umbrella

    • just because he is wet does NOT mean it is necessarily because of the heavy rain
    • premises do not promise that this conclusion is true no matter what


invalid argument form

if P, then Q


therefore P

my own:

if something farts, it will smell

it smells

therefore something farted

  • just because something smells does not mean it smells due to a fart


testing for invalidity

  • ignore content + isolate logical form (ignore subject matter)
  • see if can invent an argument with the same form where premises are true + conclusion false


relationship btw truth status of premises and conclusion

card image


are true premises and validity enough for a good argument?


must provide reason to think the conclusion is true


  • horses are animals
  • therefore horses are animals


circular arguments/begging the question

deductively valid, but not good arguments

do not provide reason for thinking the conclusion is true if you do not already believe the conclusion is true


"true for me"

never say this

means it is a belief

real TRUTH is objective for everyone


chapter 3

induction and abduction


deductive validity is a limitation

  • virtue - deductive arguments provide an absolute guarantee that their conclusion is true if the argument is valid
  • limitation - the conclusion cant say anything that was not already stated in the premises


nondeductive inferences different because

they are strong/weak, is not black and white


inductive reasoning

central to scientific discovery


universal laws

newton could not have deduced the law of gravitation

when scientists conclude that a universal law is true or probably true, based on premises that describe the observations they made, they are not making deductively valid arguments


detective work

sherlock holmes did NOT use deduction

used inductive inference to argue that certain facts (clues) probably indicate that ___ is the likely culprit


use induction when cant use deduction



2 factors influence inductive strength

  1. sample size
    • larger = better
  2. randomization
    • more random = better



  • abductive inferences also = inference to the best explanation
  • involves inferring what is not observed
  • ex: Mendel's discovery of genes


difference btw induction and abduction

inductive inference - results of experiment can be replicated

  • makes arguments for generalizations, predictions

abductive inference - involves formulating an explanation of why such and such occurs

  • has explanatory power


theories and predictions

scientists often test theories by seeing whether predictions made by theories come true


  • recognize that truth does not follow deductively the truth of a prediction
  • truth of a prediction never confirms truth of scientific theory
  • can disconfirm if make false predictions
  • can never confirm them on basis of true predictions they made (invalid)
  • can say LIKELY that a theory is true if it ONLY makes true predictions, but cannot say it is true


how true and false predictions are interpreted


  • if T then P
  • P
  • then T


  • if T then P
  • Not P
  • then not T


chapter 4

philosophy of religion


concept of God for arguments in philosophy


  • powerful (omnipotent)
  • knowing (omniscient)
  • good (omnibenevolent)


St. Thomas argument: motion

  • in the natural world, there are objects that are in motion
  • in the natural world, objects that are in motion are always caused to move by objects other than themselves
  • in the natural world, causes must precede their effects
  • in the natural world, there are no infinite cause/effect chains
  • hence, there is an entity outside the natural world (a supernatural being), which causes the motion of the first moving object that exists in the natural world
  • hence, God exists


argument causality

  • the natural world includes all events that occur
  • in the natural world, every event has a cause, and no event causes itself
  • in the natural world, causes must precede their effects
  • in the natural world, there are no infinite cause/effect chains
  • hence, there is an entity outside nature (a supernatural being) which causes the first event that occurs in the natural world
  • hence, God exists


objections to these arguments

  • newtons physics: an object remains in constant uniform motion unless acted upon by a force
    • force will change its acceleration
    • if no force, object can remain in the same motion forever
    • if replace "motion" with acceleration, then this objection does not matter bc entity is required to cause the first accelerating object in nature
  • the birthday fallacy
    • the arguments do not show that there is one first cause, instead it says that there is at least one
    • see diff:
      • every event in the natural world traces back to an event that occurs outside nature
      • there is a single event outside of the natural world to which each event in nature traces back
        • this is the one aquinas wants to
    • ex:
      • everyone has a birthday (true)
      • see diff:
        • everyone has a birthday - a day on which he/she was born
        • there is a single day that is everyone's birthday
  • why cant nature be infinitely old?
    • if nature is infinitely old, cause and effect chains wouldnt have a first or last member
    • aquinas thinks he has an argument to show why all causal chains have to have a first member
    • wrong bc of premise 3 - he cannot show that there is ONE first cause
  • God is a person, not just a cause outside nature
    • even if Aquinas could establish that there is an entity outside of nature that causes the first moving object to move, or causes first event, that does not guarantee the existence of God, where God is understood to be all PKG person
      • does not make connection that the entity in the argument IS God
      • no reference to the all PKG qualities in any premises
      • thus, the conclusion doesnt follow in either argument
    • the conclusion (6) does not follow from proposition (5) in either argument


argument contingency

  • contingent things exist
  • each contingent thing has a time at which it fails to exist
  • if everything were contingent, there would be an empty time in past, and therefore the world would be forever empty
  • things do exist now, so everything cant be contingent
  • so there exists an entity that is not contingent
  • that entity is God


objections to this argument

  • contingent things can be eternal
    • in premise 2 ("each contingent thing has a time at which it fails to exist")
      • there is no logical contradiction btw being contingent and being eternal
      • so contingent things can possibly be eternal
      • did not give reason as to why contingent things cannot be eternal
  • argument involves birthday fallacy: even if grant that every contingent object has a time at which it fails to exist, we cant conclude that there is an empty time
  • an additional unjustified step: even if there is an empty time, why would it be in the past?


contingent existance

depend on something else for its existence (could have failed to exist)

object that does not exist in all possible worlds (ways our world COULD have been)


necessary existence

does not depend on anything else for it to exist (could NOT have failed to exist)

exists in all possible worlds (ways our world COULD have been)


necessary beings other than God

even if aquinas could show a necessary being exists, the existance of a necessary being does not guarantee the existance of God


contingent proposition

not true in all worlds


necessary propositions

true in all possible worlds


examples of necessary:

  • (arithmetic) mathematical truths
    • 2+2=4
      • ex: (a, w) + (x, z) = (a, w, x, z)
    • the number 11
      • arithmetic asserts there is a prime number immediately after 10


necessary and contingency are objective properties of propositions



necessary beings

exist in all possible worlds

could NOT have failed to exist - there is no counterfactual situation describable in which they do not exist


contingent beings

exist in some worlds and not in others

COULD have failed to exist - there are counterfactual situations describable in which they do not exist


argument degrees

  • objects have properties to greater and lesser extents
  • if an object has a property to a lesser extent, there exists an object that has the property the maximum possible degrees
  • so there exists an object that has all properties to the maximum possible degrees
  • hence, God exists`


objections of the argument

  • premise 2 implausible
    • "if an object has a property to a lesser extent there exists an object that has the property to the maximum possible degrees"
    • the fact that we are intelligent, though not perfectly so, doesnt mean that there exists a perfectly intelligent being
  • birthday fallacy
    • even if there is a maximum exemplar of moral goodness, it doesnt follow that there is a single entity who is all PKG
  • the problem of contradiction
    • if intelligence has its maximum exemplar, then stupidity would have to have its maximum exemplar as well - by aquinas' own argument we are led to the conclusion that there exists a single being who is both maximally intelligent and maximally stupid at the same time(a contradiction)


after criticizing Aquinas' arguments and that they do not work, can we show that the conclusions are false?



logical fallacies