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Terms in this set (24)
metaphysics and epistemology
-metaphysics: the study of the basic nature of reality. issues studied in metaphysics include whether there is a mind-independent reality (as opposed to reality itself being a matter of ideas) and what it is really like
-epistemology: roughly, the study of the nature and limits of knowledge. issues studied include how we come to have basic ideas, what the best source of knowledge is, and how our ideas latch onto a mind-independent reality
rationalist vs empiricist: pure reason vs sense experience is the most important in the pursuit of knowledge
rationalist: maintains that pure reason is a key source of knowledge. think that math provides an ideal model for how we obtain knowledge as math seems extremely clear and its principles beyond doubt. rationalists are skeptical of beliefs obtained via sense experience as they think that our senses are unreliable
-empiricist: place emphasis on knowledge obtained via sense experience and are suspicious about th power of pure reason in obtaining knowledge. think hat the natural sciences provide an ideal model for how to obtain knowledge
rationalist vs empiricist: whether there are innate features of the mind
rationalist: believes there are innate features of the mind. they think that certain ideas and principles cannot be learned and must instead be something implanted in our minds prior to experience.
empiricist: do not think that there are innate features of the mind. they think that at birth the human mind is like a blank slate and that it is through sense experiences that we acquire ideas
explain what characterized as Descartes' epistemological project in the Meditations
-wants to establish a firm and abiding superstructure int he sciences and thinks that the ideal model for knowledge comes from mathematics as everything in mathematics is built from a firm and undoubtable set of assumptions. makes 2 observations about his current state of knowledge: first, his beliefs depend on each other, with some beliefs providing a justification for other beliefs. second, at least some of his beliefs are mistaken. so it is possible that this whole belief system is infected with false beliefs, and so unjustified
descartes' mediation 1
solution: engage in the method of doubt
-if there is any reason to doubt any of his beliefs, he will act as thought he belief is false and will not use it
-goes through a series of skeptical scenarios that will allow him to systematically doubt as many beliefs as possible. he ends with he grand deceiver hypothesis and claim that he cannot rule out the possibility that he is being systematically tried into having false beliefs by an evil demon
descartes meditation 2
wants to establish a foundation for all other beliefs that survives even the Grand Deceiver hypothesis. by the end of meditation 2 descartes discovers that he cannot doubt the cogito- "I exist" uttered in the first person. he has discovered that he cannot doubt his own existence, and that he cannot doubt that he is a thinking thing
descartes meditation 3
attempts to rebuild his system of beliefs and regain as many of his former beliefs as possible. he thinks that since god is good and not a deceiver, then as long as he is careful in his reasoning and works to avoid error, God will not allow him to have false beliefs
skeptical scenarios from meditation 1: The sense deception hypothesis
-begins by noticing that our senses sometimes deceive us, for instance poor lighting may lead us to believe that a fire hydrant is a small child. so, he suggests that it is possible that our senses are systematically deceiving us. this allows us to doubt many of our beliefs obtained the senses (though not all). however, descartes does not think this scenario is strong enough as we are able to correct for sense-deception by being extra careful, paying more attention to our surroundings, etc
skeptical scenario 2: the dream hypothesis
observes that some dreams are very realistic, and says it is possible that all we are aware of is really just a dream and we cannot rule this scenario out. this scenario allows us to doubt our senses, it also allows us to doubt things like our location, our actions, the existence of those around us, our memories. however, it does not allow doubt for things such as mathematics
skeptical scenario 3: grand deceiver hypothesis
descartes suggests the possibility of an evil demon that is tricking him into having false beliefs. in this scenario, one cannot trust their senses, location, existence of anyone else, and the demon is powerful enough to to cause doubt even mathematics. the only belief that survives is the cogito
-the thought that "i exist" uttered in the first person. thinks this is the one belief that survives in the grand deceiver hypothesis. the I is a thinking thing- Descartes may doubt that he has a body. however, he cannot doubt that he has thoughts
qwants to provide an argument for the existence of God he has established that he cannot doubt his own existence and that he is a thinking thing (The cogito). descartes is attempting to build a belief system certain to be free from error and to do this descartes maintains that he will not make use of any belief that he has not shown to be beyond doubt, which at this point is any belief that is not the cogito.
ball of wax argument as an argument for innate ideas
-an innate idea is an idea that we have independent of sense experience. it is an idea hat we are born with and we do not have to learn from anything. descartes uses the example of a changing ball of wax to argue for innate ideas. he asks us to consider a ball of wax prior to be heated. we can list all of its sensory properties; it is dark red, it is solid, it smells like cinnamon, it makes a clicking sound when we tap it with out finger nails, it is hard and cool to the touch. then descartes asks us to consider the features of the wax after it has been heated; it is a different color, it is liquid, it has a different smell, etc. he points out that all of th perceptible qualities of the wax have changed, yet we are still able to recognize it as the same wax it was before being heated. if our idea of the ball of wax came merely from our sense experiences, then because after the wax has melted we have entirely different sense experiences of it, we must also have an entirely different idea. but we do not have a different idea, we recognize that the idea of the wax is the same both before and after heating. so, the idea of the ball of wax must not have been cause by our sense experiences of the wax and instead must be innate
Locke's first argument against the claim of innate ideas: Innateness and universality
lcoke argues that if there were innate ideas then they would have to be universal (everyone must have them). but as a matter of factat least some people, like small children, do not have these abilities/ideas. so, locke concludes, there are no innate ideas.
repsonse to locke's first argument
wrong is long to assumee that failure to express an innate trait entails that one does not have that trait. for instance, people think that young children have an innate ability to learn language, but that trait is not always expressed. there have been cases of children growing up in isolation that do not learn language, but this does not mean they did not have the innate ability to do so
second argument: childhood development
Locke argues that if abilities/ideas were innate, then we should expect children to pick them up immediately. however, children learn abilities/ideas gradually. so ideas are not innate.
response to the second argument
first, childhood development is not gradual but instead occurs in stages in a particular order, at particular times, and with restricted windows. for instance, children learn language in stages. second, children acquire language very quickly. children are able to apply new words/concepts after just being given a single example. this happens so quickly that it suggests that these concepts are triggered (and so were there all along) rather than learned gradually. finally children are able to acquire grammar in spite of very poor information. children are often brought up in an environment hat is not conducive to the learning of correct grammar. they are baby talked to and parents are not careful to correct their child's grammar
third argument: the burden of proof
locke argues that his empiricist story is preferable to that of the rationalist picture of innate ideas. locke thinks that a view that posits innate ideas makes substantial assumptions, and if that is so a view that does not make these assumptions ought to be preferred. Locke argues that because his theory does not posit innate ideas and is still able to capture all of the relevant data his theory is to be preferred. so, locke maintains that the burden of proof is on the opponent to show what is wrong with his empiricist account
Locke's basic account of the source of our idea
locke thinks that we obtain our ideas through 2 kinds of experience: sensation and reflection
-sensation is the kind of experience that we have via our external senses. reflction is the kind of experience e have when we reflect on the contents of our mind. it is also the experience of altering pre-existing ideas: enlarging them, shrinking them, combining them and manipulating them in various ways.
-2 ideas that come from the senses are the idea of a horse and the idea of a horn. we have seen horses and we have seen horns. an idea that comes from reflection is the idea of the unicorn. we can come up with the idea of a unicorn by combining our ideas of horses and horns into the idea of a horse with a horn.
explain the difference between Locke's causal theory of representation and what was described in class as the Naive resemblance theory
-theory of representation is meant to explain the relationship between our ideas nd what they are ideas of. our ideas represent the external world, and it is the job of a theory of representation to explain in virtue what our ideas represent.
-the naive resemblance theory says that our ideas are mental images that represent things by resembling them in certain respects. ie. an idea of a dog is an idea that represents something that is a dog
-locke's causal theory says that our ideas are caused by things in the external world. ideas represent their causes in virtue of being caused by them. for instance, an idea of a dog represents a dog because it was caused by a dog.
locke's idea of primary qualities
properties of objects that cause us to have ideas that also resemble their causes. examples of these include shape, number and motion. Locke thinks these primary qualities are out there in the external world
Locke's idea of secondary qualities
secondary are mind dependent qualities. secondary qualities are powers that primary qualities have to cause certain ideas in us. secondary qualities DO NOT resemble their causes
distinction between primary and secondary qualities
the distinction between primary and secondary is important for locke because it helps him avoid skeptical worries. one might think that since there are some ideas that don't resemble their causes nd correspond to reality, we begin o have reason to doubt that any of our ideas correspond to reality. this distinction gives Locke a principled reason to resist the move to skepticism
Locke's variance test
tests for whether an idea is of secondary or primary quality. locke says that if there are cases when the same property causes 2 different ideas, then those caused ideas must be ideas of secondary qualities
ex: consider a bucket of room temperature water. coming in from outside int he winter and placing ones hand in the bucket, one would find the water very warm. but, putting one's hand in the same bucket coming from a hot day, it would feel cool. but the water is the same, nothing has changed. so, ideas of warm and cool must be secondary qualities.
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