the study of the fundamental nature of reality
the study of our knowledge about the world, and the justification of our beliefs
the study of values: good/bad
the study of good and bad reasoning
the mathematics of language
A set of sentences, one of which is the conclusion, and the others (the premises) guarantees the truth of the conclusion.
The truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion.
Good deductive reasoning is truth-preserving.
The truth of the premises makes the conclusion probable.
An argument is valid iff the following relationship holds between its premises and its conclusion: it is impossible for the conclusion to be false if the premises are true.
An argument is sound iff
it is valid, AND
all of the premises are true.
Central question: "what is piety?"
Socrates famous question: "is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is being loved by the gods?"
(P1:) If being pious and being loved by the gods were the same thing, then if the pious is loved because it is pious, the god-loved would be loved because it is god-loved.
(P2:) The gods love the pious because it is pious.
(P3:) The gods do not love things because those things are god-loved.
(C:) Being pious is not the same thing as being loved by the gods.
The Euthyphro Dilemma
Reply #1: God commands things because they are right.
Reply #2: Things are right because God commands them (Divine Command Theory)
the study of belief (our representation of the world), knowledge and justification
All of our knowledge comes from experience.
Some propositions can be known independently of experience, merely by rational reflection.
If A is a necessary condition for B, them B cannot be true unless A is true.
If A is a sufficient condition for B, then give that A is true, B must be true as well.
TAK (The Traditional Analysis of Knowledge)
S knows that p iff...
S believes that P
P is true
S is justified in believing that P
We have no genuine knowledge.
The Argument from Illusion
(P1:) The senses sometimes deceive us.
(P2:) It is prudent never to completely trust those who have deceived us even once.
(C:) Therefore, we ought not to completely trust the senses.
Reply: The range of cases in which the senses deceive us is somewhat limited.
The Argument from Dreams
(P1:) I can know things based on the senses only if I can be sure I'm not dreaming.
(P2:) I can't be sure I'm not dreaming.
(C:) Therefore, I can't know things based on the senses.
Reply: Whether I'm awake, or asleep, 2+2=4.
Use skepticism as a tool to be certain of his knowledge.
Method of doubt: suspension of the uncertain.
"I am, I exist."
The mental images we directly experience when we perceive things.
The Argument from Sense Data
(P1:) In order to have knowledge of the physical world, we must be able to know that our senses are causes by physical objects.
(P2:) In order to know that A causes B, one must have experience of A and B.
(P3:) We have no experience of physical objects.
(C1:) Therefore, we do not know that physical objects cause our sense data. (from 2, 3)
(C2:) Therefore, we have no knowledge of the physical world. (from 1,4)
The Infinite Regress Argument
(P1:) In order to know something, I must have good reason for believing it.
(P2:) Any chain of reasons must have one of the following structures:
(a) it is an infinite series.
(b) it is circular.
(c) it begins with a belief for which there are no further reasons
(P3:) I cannot have an infinitely long chain of reasoning for my beliefs.
(P4:) Circular reasoning cannot produce knowledge.
(P5:) If my chain of reasoning ends with a belief for which there is no further reason, this cannot produce knowledge.
(C:) Therefore, I cannot know anything.
We don't know anything.
Some beliefs are properly basic, justified without further proof. All other beliefs are justified on the basis of these beliefs.
Our beliefs are justified when, together, they form a coherent set that provides a satisfactory explanation of the world and our experiences.
The Problem of the Criterion
In order to identify which beliefs are true and which beliefs are false, we must first have a method for doing so.
In order to know that some method is the right one, we must first be able to identify which beliefs are true and which are false.
We should use our knowledge of the correct method to sort out true beliefs from false ones.
We should use our knowledge of particular facts to figure out which method is correct.
(Reductio ad absurdum: if your theory if true, this consequence falls from that, so it's absurd.)
Begging the Question
Assuming that which you are aiming to demonstrate.
"What few philosophers have had the courage to recognize is this: we can deal with the problem (of the criterion) only by begging the question."
G.E. Moore's "Proof of an External World"
(P1:) Here is one hand.
(P2:) Here is another.
(C:) Two human hands exist in this moment.
Valid Argument for Skepticism
(P1:) I know that I have hands only if I know that I'm not dreaming.
(P2:) I don't know that I'm not dreaming.
(C:) Therefore, I don't know that I have hands
The "G.E. Moore Shift"
(P1:) I know that I have hands only if I know that I'm not dreaming.
(P2:) I know that I have hands.
(C:) Therefore, I know that I'm not dreaming.
The Philosophy of Religion
The attempt, using the tolls of philosophy, to discover which religious beliefs are true and/or justifiable.
The Tradition Monotheistic View of God
God is an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good, personally creator of the universe.
It is rational to believe a proposition iff there is sufficient evidence for its truth.
"It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything based upon insufficient evidence."
It can be rational to believe in God without basing this belief on any evidence, but on the basis of faith.
An option that is living, forced and momentous.
Both hypotheses are considered to be real possibilities.
Both hypotheses exhaust the possible alternatives, so that one can't suspend judgment.
The opportunity is unique, the stake is significant, and the decision is irreversible.
Two Principles of Belief
We should believe true claims.
We should avoid believing false claims.
When such a question "cannot by its nature be decided on intellectual grounds," we must decide based on "our passional nature."
The First Cause Argument
(P1) In the world, we find an order of causes.
(P2) No one thing is the cause of itself
(P3) Either there was a first cause, or the order of cases goes back infinitely.
(P4) The order of causes can't go back infinitely.
(C) Therefore, there was a first cause, "to which everyone gives the name 'God'"
Argument for Premise 2 (of the First Cause Argument)
(P1) If a thing were the cause of itself, it would exist before the time at which it came into existence.
(P2) It's not the case that a thing can exist before the time at which hit comes into existence.
(C) Therefore, nothing is the cause of itself.
Argument for Premise 4 (of the First Cause Argument)
(P1) If the series of causes went back infinitely, then there would be no first cause.
(P2) If there were no causes, then there would be no causes now.
(P3) There are causes now.
(C) Therefore, the series of causes cannot go back infinitely.
Fallacy of Equivocation
Using a term in an argument in more than one usage/definition.
A being whose existence is explained by the causal activity or other things.
A being whose existence is explained by its own nature.
The Cosmological Argument
(P1) Every being (that exists or ever did exist) is either a dependent being or a self-existent being.
(P2) Not every being can be a dependent being.
(C) There exists a self-existent being.
PSR (The Principle of Sufficient Reason)
There must be an explanation...
(a) of the existence of any being, and
(b) of any positive fact whatsoever.
Argument for the Premise 2 (of the Cosmological Argument)
(P1) If every being were a dependent being, there would be no explanation for why only dependent beings exist in the first place.
(P2) There must be an explanation for why dependent beings exist in the first place.
(C) Therefore, not every being is a dependent being.
The premises (if true) make the conclusion reasonable to believe or probable.
going from a conclusion about a part to a conclusion about the whole.
Arguments from Analogy
If two things are similar, the properties of one are the properties about the whole.
(Their strength depends on the level of similarity between the things being compared.)
Analogical Argument from Design
(P1) Watches are goal-directed systems: their parts are organized so as to perform some function.
(P2) Watches are the products of intelligent design.
(P3) The human eye, animals, and plants are also the products of intelligent design.
(C) Therefore, probably, the human eye, animals, and plants are also the products of intelligent design.
Inferences to the best explanation.
The conclusion is a hypothesis that would explain the data presented in the premises.
The Argument from Evil
(P1) If one is wholly good, then one will eliminate evil to the extent that one is able.
(P2) If one is omnipotent, then one is able to eliminate all evil.
(P3) Therefore, if God is omnipotent and wholly good, the God will eliminate all evil (from 1, 2)
(P4) There is evil in the world.
(C) Therefore, there does not exist an omnipotent and wholly good God. (from 3, 4)
An explanation of why a perfectly good, omnipotent being (i.e. God) would allow evil to exist.
(NOT an argument for God's existence.)
(A successful one of these will show that if God exists, we should expect there to be certain kinds of evil in the world.)
The Free Will Theodicy
(P1) A perfectly good God would give us the capacity for free and responsible choice.
(P2) If we are able to have free and responsible choice, the God must allow some evils to exist.
(C) A perfectly good God would allow some evils to exist.
Choice and Evil
(P1) If we are to have the capacity to make free and responsible choices, we must have the ability to make significant choices that have serious consequences.
(P2) I order for us to make significant choices with serious consequences, we must:
(a) have the capacity to bring about evil, and
(b) God must not prevent us from bringing about evil.
(C) Therefore, if we are to have the capacity to make free and responsible choices, God must not prevent any evils brought about by those choices.
What about Natural Evil?
Its role is to "make available to humans specially worthwhile kinds of choice."
Two (alleged) Benefits of Natural Evil
(1) They're caused by natural laws.
(2) They make new kinds of choices possible.
The Soul-Building Theodicy
(P1) A good God would allow us to develop certain valuable character traits, such as heroism.
(P2) We can develop such character traits only if faced with a sufficient amount of adversity.
(P3) Many people would not face a sufficient amount of genuine adversity if it were not for the existence of natural evil.
(C) Therefore, a good God would allow natural evil.
Minds and bodies are real and fundamentally different.
Physicalism about the Mind
Minds and bodies are real, but one in the same. All mental states are, ultimately, physical states.
Minds exist, bodies don't.
The mind and the body are distinct substances.
The mind's essential property: it thinks (it's capable of conscious experiments.)
The body's essential property: it has extension (it takes up space.)
Minds and bodies are two distinct types of things.
All things are physical things and all properties are physical properties.
Type Identity Thesis
Every type of mental state is identical to some type of physical state. (Pain=C-fibers firing)
Involves imagining a given scenario, and then reflecting on the outcome of this exercise.
(P1) Using concepts that are sufficiently comprehensive, I can conceive of experiencing this very pain while disembodied.
(P2) If, using, concepts that are sufficiently comprehensive, I can conceive of a scenario occurring, then it is possible.
(P3) Therefore, it is possible that this very pain could occur in a disembodied being. (from 1, 2)
(P4) If this very pain were identical to some physical state, then it could not possibly occur in a disembodied being.
(C) Therefore, this very pain is not identical to some physical state. (from 3, 4)
The qualitative feel of mental experiences
They're epiphenomenal: they are caused by physical events in the brain, but cannot, themselves, cause anything.
Causal Closure of the Physical
The causes of physical events are themselves entirely physical.
The Knowledge Argument
(P1) Complete knowledge of physical states would not imply knowledge of what experiences feel like.
(P2) If experiences were physical states, then complete knowledge of the physical would imply complete knowledge of experiences.
(C) So, experiences are not physical states.
The Argument from Qualia
(P1) All experiences have distinctive felt qualities.
(P2) Brain states do not have distinctive felt qualities.
(C) So (By Leibniz's Law) are not in fact identical with brain states.
If two things are identical, then they have all of the same properties.
Does not apply to intentional contexts, which involve mental representations of things.
Functionalism (Token Identity Theory)
The defining feature of any type of mental state is the set of causal relations it bears to:
(1) environment effects on the body,
(2) other types of mental states, and
(3) bodily behavior.
Mental states are multiply realizable.
Everything that exists is physical, there are no mental states. (no beliefs, desires, pain, etc.)
"Our commonsense psychological framework is a false and radically misleading conception of the causes of human behavior and the nature of cognitive activity" and therefore ought to be eliminated.
Arguments for Eliminative Materialism
The "widespread failure" of folk psychology
The "pessimistic induction"
The difficulties of reduction
The "Pessimistic Induction"
Considering all the things about which we were wrong, psychology is probably wrong, as well.
The Difficulties of Reduction
There are way more ways the brain could be without beliefs than ways in which it could be with them.
Personal Identity and the Afterlife
It is possible to survive the death of your body only if it is possible for there to be a person after your death who is identical to you.
The Soul Theory
Person A is identical to person B iff they have the same soul.
Arguments against the Soul Theory
(P1) If personal identity were a matter of having the same soul, then we'd never know whether person A was identical to person B.
(P2) We do sometimes know that person A is identical to person B.
(C) Therefore, personal identity is not a matter of having the same soul.
The Psychological Continuity Theory
Person A is identical to person B iff person A is psychologically continuous with person B.
The attempt to resolve ethical disputes using philosophical methods.
What makes actions right or wrong, in general?
What does it mean to say that an action is "morally wrong?"
Are there any objective moral standards?
Some moral claims are objectively true.
No moral claims are objectively true.
(1) Moral claims are (sometimes) subjectively true.
(2) Moral claims are not true or false at all.
(3) All moral judgments are false. (Error Theory)
An act is morally right iff the person judging it approves of it.
Grounds for Normative Subjectivism
(1) "Everyone has a right to their opinion."
(2) Moral Disagreement
Potential Problems for Normative Subjectivism
(1) Moral equivalence and infallibility.
(2) Does the theory generate contradictions?
(3) Can it explain moral disagreement?
An act is morally right iff it is required by the cultural norms of the society in which it occurs.
Metaethical Subjectivism (Expressivism)
Moral claims do not state facts, but rather simply express feelings or attitudes.
Moral claims are simply not the kind of thing that can be true or false.
The Argument from Motivation
(P1) Every moral judgment motivates all by itself
(P2) Factual judgments cannot motivate all by themselves.
(C) Therefore, moral judgments are not factual judgments.
"Do not simply multiply claims without necessity."
Potential Problems for Metaethical Subjectivism
(1) Moral equivalence and arbitrariness.
(2) Why do people talk like objectivists?
(3) Moore's anti-skeptical argument.
"If God does exist, then objective moral values do not exist."
"Atheists can coherently believe in objective morality."
They can accept any account of morality proposed by the theist except the Divine Command Theory.
"Why should we obey God's commands?"
-Because he'll punish us?
-Because he created us?
-Because he has good reasons for them?
Divine Command Theory
Actions are right or wrong only because God commands or forbids them.
The only thing that anyone is capable of desiring or pursuing as an end in itself is his/her own self-interest.
Psychological Egoism vs. Ethical Egoism
Psychological egoism is a descriptive theory about the way we are.
Ethical egoism is a normative theory about the way we ought to be.
Statements that are true (or false) solely in virtue of the meanings of the words they contain.
Statements which are not analytic; they are true (or false) in virtue of the way the world is.
A Dilemma for Psychological Egoism
(P1) The doctrine of psychological egoism is either analytic or synthetic.
(P2) If the doctrine is analytic, then it is trivial.
(P3) If the doctrine is synthetic, then it is false.
(C) Therefore, the doctrine is either trivial, or it is false.
The Immoralist's Challenge
Why care about what's morally right?
If morality is an agreement for mutual advantage, why follow it if doing so is not in my advantage?
"The life of an unjust person is, they say, much better than that of a just one." (Glaucon)
The Social Contract Theory
Morality is a tacit agreement.
The right action is the one that brings about the greatest net happiness.
Three Commitments of Utilitarianism
Equal considerations of Interests
Whether an action is right or wrong depends solely on its consequences. The right actions is the one that brings about the greatest amount of good.
The only thing that is good in itself is happiness-pleasure and the absence of pain.
Equal Considerations of Interests
Morally speaking, everyone's interests are equally important.
Top-Down Model (akin to Methodism)
Start with a moral theory, and apply it to cases.
The Method of "Reflective Equilibrium"
We justify our judgments about particular cases by appealing to principles.
We justify our judgments about principles by appealing to judgements about cases.
-except when one has the right to demand it...it's not morally required to make large sacrifices...in order to keep another person alive.
Implications for Abortion:
-unless the mother has given the fetus the right to the use of her body, abortion is morally permissible if continuing the pregnancy would require large sacrifices.
Marquis's Argument against Abortion
(P1) It is seriously prima facie wrong to deprive an individual of a valuable future-like-ours.
(P2) Abortion deprives the fetus of a valuable future-like-ours.
(C) Therefore, abortion is seriously prima facie wrong.
The Contraception Objection
(P1) According to Marquis's theory, it is wrong to deprive an individual of a valuable future-like-ours.
(P2) Contraception deprives any potential fetuses of a valuable future-like-ours.
(P3) But contraception is not morally wrong.
(C) Therefore, Marquis's theory is mistaken.
Prior to conception, there is no individual that has a valuable future-like-ours.
The Disvalue of Suffering
Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad.
The Prevention Principle
If it's in our power to prevent something very bad from happening without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally to do it.
(Irrelevant Factors: proximity, number of others in position to help.)
(P1) The Disvalue of Suffering
(P2) The Prevention Principle
(P3) It is in our power to prevent suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care by giving much more money to famine relief organizations.
(P4) For most residents of developed countries, giving much more money to famine relief would not require sacrificing anything morally significant.
(C) Therefore, most residents of developed countries morally ought to give much more to famine relief.
Morally Obligatory Actions
It would be wrong to fail to perform these actions.
It would be morally good to perform these actions, but it is not obligatory.
Assessing Premise 3 (of Singer's Argument)
A challenge: "Lifeboat Ethics"
(3) "The Tragedy of the Commons"
Assessing Premise 2 (of Singer's Argument)
A challenge: individual rights (we're entitled to our own morals)
Desert Component (of Individual Rights Objection)
Upon engaging in certain activities, we are entitled to our benefits, despite whatever large disparities may arise.
Incentives Component (of Individual Rights Objection)
Individual rights will provide incentives for everyone to actually work and provide for themselves.
Conclusions on Singer
(1) If Hardin is right, and there is no possible way to reduce suffering due to famine and preventable illness, then Singer's argument is unsound.
(2) If individual's have the moral right to decide how to dispose of their property, then Singer's moral principle is false.
The Principle of Excluded Middle
For any proposition P, either P is true, or not-P is true.
Basic Determinist Picture
Initial conditions + Laws of Nature = Future Events
The view that all events (inc. human actions) are wholly determined.
The Dilemma for Believers in Free Will
(P1) Either determinism is true, or indeterminism is true.
(P2) If determinism is true, then we have no free will.
(P3) If indeterminism is true, then we have no free will.
(C) Therefore, we have no free will.
A relation between events or states of affairs.
Our actions are caused by our beliefs and desires. In any situation, we inevitably act on our strongest desire.
Our actions are not determined by our beliefs and desires. We may sometimes "rise above" our desires and choose to act against them. (incline without necessitate)
Chisholm's View (Agent Causation)
(1) In cases of free action, "some event," and presumably one of those that took place within the brain, was caused by the agent and not by any other events.
(2) Each of us, when we act, is a prime mover unmoved. In doing what we do, we cause certain events to happen, and notion-or no one-causes us to cause those events to happen.
A Problem for Agent Causation
What is the nature of this agent that is doing the causing?
(1) A physical organism?
-But it's hard to see how an organism can cause physical events directly (i.e. not through any intermediate physical events)
(2) An immaterial soul?
-But then agent causation violates the causal closure of the physical
Free will is inconsistent with determinism, and determinism is true, so we have no free will.
Free will is inconsistent with determinism, and also with indeterminism, so we have no free will.
All actions are caused by events, but we sometimes act freely when indeterminacy is involved.
Agents have the ability to cause an action without being causally determined to do so. When we do this, we act freely.
Pereboom's Four Cases Against Compatibilism
Professor Plum decides to kill Ms. White
Case #1: Remote control by neuroscientists
Case #2: Pre-programmed by neuroscientists
Case #3: "Pre-programmed" by upbringing
Case #4: Ordinary determinist universe
The Luck Objection (to Event-Causal Libertarianism)
If holding all of the conditions that precede an action, the action could either occur or not, then whether it does occur is a matter of chance or luck, and the agent cannot be morally responsible for it.
Our Best Physical Theories (objection to Agent-Causal Libertarianism)
The physical world is governed by physical laws.
(1) Determinist Laws (Classical Mechanics)
(2) Probabilistic Laws (Quantum Mechanics)
Pereboom: It would be a massive coincidence if the free choices of agents always coincided with physical laws.
Pereboom's Stance (against Compatibilism)
If an action results from any determinist causal process that traces back to factors beyond the agent's control, then he will lack the control required to be morally responsible for it.
Living without Free Will
(2) Meaning in Life
(3) Reactive Attitudes
(4) Benefits of giving up on free will
Morality without Free Will
If there is no free will, no one one is morally responsible for their actions.
-Should we open the doors to all the prisons?
Pereboom: Actions can still right or wrong. (ex. computer giving wrong answer)
The Quarantine Model of Punishment
The Quarantine Model of Punishment
It's not your fault of you get a disease, but you're still dangerous to others.
Anything above posing a threat to society is unjustified.
Meaning in Life without Free Will
If there is no free will, we are not responsible for any of our achievements.
-Should we just be resigned to whatever happens?
-we already value things for which we are not responsible. (intelligence, beauty)
-we don't know what the future will bring, so it's reasonable to hope for the best.
Reactive Attitudes and Free Will
Do the following attitudes make sense without free will: resentment, gratitude, forgiveness, anger, and love?
Pereboom: These attitudes have close analogues that can still make sense even if we don't have free will. (ex. staying away from someone who makes you suffer will cause them to ponder their actions.)
The Benefits of Incompatibilism
Moral Anger: A combo of resentment and indignation directed towards those who believe to have behaved immorally.
-If Hard Incompatibilism is true, no one ever deserves moral anger.
Pereboom: Giving up on moral anger would greatly improve interpersonal relations
An action is done of one's own free will if:
-one had chosen to act otherwise, one would have acted otherwise.
-one's choice was voluntary, not compulsive.
-no one compelled one to choose as one did.
Meeting these conditions is consistent with determinism. (one might have chosen to act otherwise, given different circumstances)
The Standard Argument for Incompatibilism
(P1) An action is done of one's own free will only if one could have done otherwise than what we do.
(P2) If determinism is true, it is never the case that we could have done otherwise than what we do.
(C) Therefore, if determinism is true, we never act on our own free will.
Ayer's Reply: The argument turns on an equivocation. (in this case, "could have done otherwise" does not mean the same thing in premise 1 as in premise 2.
The Principle of Alternate Possibilities
A person is morally responsible for what he/she has done only if he/she could have done otherwise.
Moral Responsibility and Coercion
The three cases of Jones:
(1) Jones1 the Stubborn (coercion is irrelevant to him)
(2) Jones2 the Terrified (subservient to coercion)
(3) Jones3 the Impressed (overdetermined reason to rob store)
Frankfurt: In some sense, Jones3 could not have done otherwise, but he is still morally responsible.
The Argument from Frankfurt Cases
(P1) Jones could not have done otherwise.
(P2) Jones is morally responsible for his action.
(C) Therefore, the Principle of Alternate Possibilities is False.
Frankfurt Cases and Compatibilism
-Whether you are morally responsible for an action depends on what actually caused you to perform the action, not on whether you could have done otherwise.
A compatibilist view:
-We act freely, and are morally responsible for our actions, when our actions are caused by our desires in the right way, even if our desired are causally determined.
The Worldview of Classical Monotheism
(1) Non-skeptical epistemology
-Revelation and faith can be sources of knowledge
(3) Mind/Body Dualism
(4) Free Will: Libertarian or Compatibilist
(5) Ethical Objectivism
-Divine Command Theory?
(6) Ultimate meaning can only be understood in reference to God.
The Naturalistic Worldview
(1) Non-skeptical epistemology
-Science and math are our best (or only?) models of successful inquiry.
(3) Physicalism about the mind
(4) No Libertarian Free Will
Tolstoy on the Naturalistic Worldview
"You are an accidental cohering globule of something. The globule is fermenting. This fermentation the globule calls life. The globule falls to pieces and all fermentation and all questions will come to an end."
Faith: an "irrational knowledge, which makes it possible to live."
The main argument:
(P1) If our lives are ultimately finite, then they have no meaning.
(P2) The only way to avoid the conclusion that our lives are ultimately finite is through religious faith.
(C) Therefore, if our lives are to have meaning, we must have religious faith.
Variations on the Myth of Sisyphus
(1) A significant culmination
(2) An irrational desire for stone-rolling
A life has objective meaning if it has some significant culmination that can be seen as the purpose of life.
A life has subjective meaning if one passionately desires to be doing what one is doing.
Our lives have no objective meaning.
For many people life has subjective meaning.
Subjective meaning is what really matters.
Philosophy provides an escape from cosmic loneliness