EXERCISES, QUESTIONS, AND ACTIVITIES My Answers

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1 EXERCISES, QUESTIONS, AND ACTIVITIES My Answers Diagram and evaluate each of the following arguments. Arguments with Definitional Premises Altruism. Altruism is the practice of doing something solely because it benefits someone else and so if people do things only for personal gain then altruism would be impossible. As a matter of fact, however, people must have thoughts of personal gain when they do things, since even if I m doing something to make you happy, I expect to be pleased at your happiness. That s why altruism is impossible.. Altruism is impossible. 2. Altruism is the practice of doing something solely because it benefits someone else. 3. If people do things only for personal gain then altruism would be impossible. 4. People must have thoughts of personal gain when they do things. 5. Even if I m doing something to make you happy, I expect to be pleased at your happiness Premise 2 might be too narrow. Perhaps altruism is doing something with the primary objective of benefitting someone else, even if that s not the only motivation.

2 2 Wilderness. We should keep funding the forest service only if there are wilderness areas for it to protect, but in fact, as surprising as it might sound, there aren t any wilderness areas. A wilderness is an area which hasn t been affected by human beings, but when one considers such phenomena as acid rain, every place has been affected by people. That s why we shouldn t fund the forest service anymore. Instinct. We shouldn t fund the forest service anymore. 2. We should keep funding the forest service only if there are wilderness areas for it to protect. 3. There aren t any wilderness areas. 4. A wilderness is an area which hasn t been affected by human beings. 5. When one considers such phenomena as acid rain, every place has been affected by people Premise 4 is too narrow. Many areas which have been affected by humans are still wildernesses. Can you think of any?. The human mind is not at all like the mind of any other animal, since animals have instincts whereas human beings don t.. The human mind is not at all like the mind of any other animal. 2. Animals have instincts. 3. Human beings don t have instincts It isn t clear that 3 is true. What are instincts, exactly?

3 3 2. An instinct is a behavior which ) is characteristic of the entire species, 2) is repeated in exactly the same way each time, 3) is performed perfectly and completely the very first time it appears, and 4) occurs in animals raised in isolation from other members of their species. (Niko Tinbergen, The Study of Instinct. New York: Oxford U. Press, 95). It follows from this definition that instincts are rigid behavior patterns. Since most human behaviors are flexible (in virtue of our huge brains), human beings have few if any instincts. Also, it follows from the definition that instinctual behaviors are not modifiable by experience. Since most, if not all, human behaviors are modified on the basis of experience, humans have few, if any, instincts.. Humans have few, if any, instincts. 2. An instinct is a behavior which ) is characteristic of the entire species, 2) is repeated in exactly the same way each time, 3) is performed perfectly and completely the very first time it appears, and 4) occurs in animals raised in isolation from other members of their species. 3. Instincts are rigid behavior patterns. 4. Most human behaviors are flexible (in virtue of our huge brains). 5. Human beings have few if any instincts. 6. Instinctual behaviors are not modifiable by experience. 7. Most, if not all, human behaviors are modified on the basis of experience This argument gives us a stipulative definition of instincts, which is fine as long as we remember that it is a stipulative definition.

4 4 Education. Values are assessments of actions and behaviors. But many factors go into making such assessments, such as the amount of happiness which will be generated by an action and the extent to which the action corresponds to various duties. This means that the process of making value assessments embodies a complex skill, and since skills can and should be taught, the process of making value assessments should be taught in school.. The process of making value assessments should be taught in school. 2. Values are assessments of actions and behaviors. 3. Many factors go into making such assessments, such as the amount of happiness which will be generated by an action and the extent to which the action corresponds to various duties. 4. The process of making value assessments embodies a complex skill. 5. Skills can and should be taught Student loans shouldn t cover technical schools. Such loans are supposed to allow people to get educations, but an education, as everyone knows, is the process that grants students familiarity with the liberal arts. At technical schools, students only acquire skills, so they don t really get an education.. Student loans shouldn t cover technical schools. 2. Student loans are supposed to allow people to get educations. 3. An education is the process that grants students familiarity with the liberal arts. 4. At technical schools, students only acquire skills. 5. At technical schools, students don t really get an education

5 5 3. The justifiability of public education depends upon the assumption that education is a good thing for everybody. After all, universal taxation to fund any venture is ethically acceptable only if the venture will serve to help, rather than harm, the pubic that pays for it. In fact, however, the assumption that education is beneficial is obviously incorrect. The harmful nature of education can be best appreciated by noting that it s just a type of mind-control. Mind-control is the attempt to modify the way in which the subject thinks and acts. Everyone accepts that education is a process which attempts to mold the mind and character of the students, usually through formal schooling procedures, and as such it, too, clearly qualifies as mind-control. Indeed, it takes an unusually independently-minded young person to escape twelve years of public education with their natural opinions intact. Only a Moony or a Communist could possibly think that mind-control is a good thing, though. Afar all, isn t mind-control practiced by all of the world s most evil religions and political regimes? Public education has got to go.. Public education has got to go. 2. The justifiability of public education depends upon the assumption that education is a good thing for everybody. 3. Universal taxation to fund any venture is ethically acceptable only if the venture will serve to help, rather than harm, the pubic that pays for it. 4. The assumption that education is beneficial is obviously incorrect. 5. Education is just a type of mind-control. 6. Mind-control is the attempt to modify the way in which the subject thinks and acts. 7. Education is a process which attempts to mold the mind and character of the students, usually through formal schooling procedures. 9. Mind control is bad. 0. Mind-control is practiced by all of the world s most evil religions and political regimes

6 6 Religion. What is a religion if not a system of beliefs and practices which grants meaning to life? But now consider higher education. It has a system of beliefs, including the beliefs that the unexamined life is not worth living and the belief that educated individuals can go farther in life than uneducated ones. Higher education also has a system of practices, like holding classes and giving exams. Higher education, then, is a religion. But if something is a religion then it shouldn t have to pay taxes. That s why universities should be tax-exempt.. That s why universities should be tax-exempt. 2. A religion is a system of beliefs and practices which grants meaning to life. 3. Higher education has a system of beliefs, including the beliefs that the unexamined life is not worth living and the belief that educated individuals can go farther in life than uneducated ones. 4. Higher education also has a system of practices, like holding classes and giving exams. 5. Higher education, then, is a religion. 6. If something is a religion then it shouldn t have to pay taxes

7 7 2. God can t be omnipotent. Omnipotence is the ability to do absolutely everything. But either God can create a stone too heavy for him to lift or he can t, right? If God can create a stone too heavy for him to lift then he can t lift that stone and so if God can create a stone too heavy for him to lift then there s something he can t do. On the other hand, if God can t create a stone too heavy for him to lift then he can t create the stone and so if God can t create a stone too heavy for him to lift then there s something he can t do. Thus, either way, there s something he can t do.. God can t be omnipotent. 2. Omnipotence is the ability to do absolutely everything. 3. Either God can create a stone too heavy for him to lift or he can t. 4. If God can create a stone too heavy for him to lift then he can t lift that stone. 5. If God can create a stone too heavy for him to lift then there s something he can t do. 6. If God can t create a stone too heavy for him to lift then he can t create the stone. 7. If God can t create a stone too heavy for him to lift then there s something he can t do. 8. There s something God can t do

8 8 3. Since omnipotence is the ability to do everything that s logically possible, God can t do what s a contradiction in terms. But certain virtues are defined in terms of evil and suffering and so allowing for those virtues without suffering is a contradiction in terms. You can t forgive unless someone has harmed you. You can t be sympathetic unless someone is in pain. Thus, God had a choice: He could either create a world with evil and suffering and those virtues or he could have create a world without evil and suffering and without those virtues. But those virtues are very good and worth their price in evil and suffering. Therefore, God allows evil and suffering in the world.. God allows evil and suffering in the world. 2. Omnipotence is the ability to do everything that s logically possible. 3. God can t do what s a contradiction in terms. 4. Certain virtues are defined in terms of evil and suffering. 5. Allowing for those virtues without suffering is a contradiction in terms 6. You can t forgive unless someone has harmed you. 7. You can t be sympathetic unless someone is in pain. 8. God had a choice: He could either create a world with evil and suffering and those virtues or he could have create a world without evil and suffering and without those virtues. 9. But those virtues are very good and worth their price in evil and suffering

9 9 4. Many people try to prove the God exists by looking at the world and what it s like. These philosophers tend to be empiricists, or thinkers who believe that the only way to get knowledge is to through experience; obviously, then, they believe that the only way to know whether or not God exists is to experience the world. Empirical philosophers tend to think like scientists. Other philosophers, called rationalists, tend to distrust experience and believe that the best way to get knowledge is through reason alone. Rationalist philosophers tend to think like mathematicians. Of course, you might wonder how a rationalist philosopher could ever come up with a conclusion about anything other than shapes and numbers, but many rationalists have claimed to reach important metaphysical truths through reflection alone. For instance, consider the question of God s existence and think about the idea of God alone. Don t look around at the world; just think about the idea. Almost everybody defines God to be a perfect being. But now isn t it clear that something is perfect only if it possesses all good properties? How could something that fails to possess a good property possibly be perfect? Thus, God has to possess all good properties. Since being all-good is a good property, God is all-good. Since being all-powerful is a good property, God is allpowerful. Since being all-knowing is a good property, God is all knowing. But what about existence? Isn t existence a good property, too? Hence God has to have the property of existence. We ve just proven that an all-good, all-powerful and all knowing God exists! [For your information, this is the ontological argument for God s existence.]. An all-good, all-powerful and all knowing God exists. 2. God is a perfect being. 3. If a being is perfect being then it possesses all good properties. 4. God possesses all good properties. 5. Being all-good is a good property. 6. God is all-good. 7. Being all-powerful is a good property. 8. God is all-powerful. 9. Being all-knowing is a good property. 0. God is all knowing.. Existence is a good property. 2. God has the property of existence

10 0 Ethics. People have been wondering what makes an action good or bad for as long as they ve had time to reflect upon anything other than the necessities of physical survival and certainly ever since the advent of recorded thought. Unfortunately, we seem no closer to an answer now than before. If anything, we seem further away, as great ethical theories of the past have been studied and discarded one by one. Let s take a look at one such theory of morality. Act utilitarianism is the ethical theory which maintains that good actions are simply those actions that promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. It isn t an acceptable ethical theory for two reasons. First, any acceptable ethical theory must give proper weight to an agent s motives. Act utilitarianism, however, doesn t give proper weight to an agent s motives. This is because since act utilitarianism maintains that good actions are simply those actions that promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, act utilitarianism doesn t care why the agent does what she does. Thus, act utilitarianism can t be right. Second, if act utilitarianism doesn t give proper weight to the means by which an agent promotes overall happiness then it can t be an acceptable ethical theory. But since act utilitarianism maintains that good actions are simply those actions that promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people, it doesn t care how the agent promotes overall happiness, so long as the happiness is, in fact, produced. Thus, act utilitarianism doesn t give proper weight to the means by which an agent promotes overall happiness and so it can t be an acceptable ethical theory.. Act utilitarianism isn t an acceptable ethical theory. 2. Act utilitarianism is the ethical theory which maintains that good actions are simply those actions that promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. 3. Any acceptable ethical theory must give proper weight to an agent s motives. 4. Act utilitarianism doesn t give proper weight to an agent s motives. 5. Act utilitarianism doesn t care why the agent does what she does. 6. If act utilitarianism doesn t give proper weight to the means by which an agent promotes overall happiness then it can t be an acceptable ethical theory. 7. Act utilitarianism doesn t care how the agent promotes overall happiness, so long as the happiness is, in fact, produced. 8. Act utilitarianism doesn t give proper weight to the means by which an agent promotes overall happiness. 2 2 A D 5 7 B E C F

11 Arguments with Missing Premises Diagram each of the following arguments. Supply missing premises where you think they might be helpful. Artificial Intellgence. As computers get more and more sophisticated, we can expect speculation about artificial intelligence to increase. Already, some programs are so responsive that it s hard to believe they don t understand what you re doing, but still some troglodytes believe that computers will never be able to think. This is just silly. If the human brain can produce a mind then why couldn t an electronic brain be able to produce a mind as well. Faith. Computers will be able to think. 2. If the human brain can produce a mind then an electronic brain will be able to produce a mind. a. The human brain can produce a mind 2 + a. Some people think that we shouldn t form beliefs on the basis of good arguments but that we should rely on faith instead. I know that these people are wrong, though because there are good arguments to show that we should form beliefs on the basis of good arguments instead of on the basis of something like faith.. We should form beliefs on the basis of good arguments rather than faith. 2. There are good arguments to show that we should form beliefs on the basis of good arguments instead of on the basis of something like faith. a. We should accept what these arguments show. 2 + a

12 2 Punishment. What should we do with people, like Jeffrey Dahmer, who commit unimaginably awful crimes? Should we send them to prison? In this scientifically and culturally enlightened era, surely we can no longer excuse warehousing them in correctional institutions. Such individuals belong in a setting where they can receive treatment, not punishment. They are, after all, mentally ill. Mental illness is any psychological condition which manifests itself as aberrant or societally unacceptable behavior, and surely all individuals who commit heinous crimes do that. God. People who commit awful crimes belong in a setting where they can receive treatment, not punishment. 2. People who commit awful crimes are mentally ill. 3. Mental illness is any psychological condition which manifests itself as aberrant or societally unacceptable behavior. 4. All individuals who commit heinous crimes manifest aberrant or societally unacceptable behavior. a. People who are mentally ill should be in a setting where they can receive treatment, not punishment a. It s obvious that we don t have any good reason to believe that God exists. After all, everything can be explained by science, and science doesn t invoke the notion of a god, so everything can be explained without appealing to any sort of divine agency.. We don t have any good reason to believe that God exists. 2. Everything can be explained by science. 3. Science doesn t invoke the notion of a god. 4. Everything can be explained without appealing to any sort of divine agency. a. We only have good reason to believe in God if we need him to explain things a

13 3 Censorship. Who says censorship is such an evil? We don t allow people to do whatever they want to do, after all. We forbid stealing, for instance. We forbid murder. In light of such prohibitions, we can consistently condemn censorship only if there s a clear line to be drawn between speech and action. That s why we can t consistently condemn censorship.. We can t consistently condemn censorship. 2. We don t allow people to do whatever they want to do, after all. 3. We forbid stealing. 4. We forbid murder. 5. We can consistently condemn censorship only if there s a clear line to be drawn between speech and action. a. There isn t a clear line to be drawn between speech and action. Philosophy a. Certain individuals are threatened by philosophy. This is probably because philosophy asks the big questions, like Is there a God? and subjects them to rational examination. However squeamish some people might be about philosophy, though, it s clear that philosophy courses should be required of all entering freshmen. After all, only philosophy courses really teach critical thinking skills and so philosophy classes are essential for success in any other college-level class.. Philosophy courses should be required of all entering freshmen. 2. Only philosophy courses really teach critical thinking skills. 3. Philosophy classes are essential for success in any other college-level class. a. You need critical thinking skills to succeed in college-level classes b. Anything that s essential for success in college-level classes should be required of entering freshmen. 2 + a 3 + b

14 4 Art. All art must induce a strong emotional reaction in the audience. That s why we shouldn t punish people who run around randomly shooting off guns in public; we should recognize them for the artists they are!. We shouldn t punish people who run around randomly shooting off guns in public. 2. All art must induce a strong emotional reaction in the audience. 3. People who run around randomly shooting off guns in public are artists. a. Shooting off guns in public produces a strong reaction. b. We shouldn t punish artists. 2 + a 3 + b Argument with Missing Definitional Premises Diagram each of the following arguments. Supply missing definitional premises where you think they might be helpful. Philosophy Classes. Philosophy classes shouldn t be permitted in a free society, however much philosophy professors like to tout their discipline as essential for all free-thinking individuals. After all, philosophy classes are type of mind-control since they re trying to teach people something.. Philosophy classes shouldn t be permitted in a free-society. 2. Philosophy classes are type of mind-control. 3. Philosophy classes are trying to teach people something. a. Teaching is a form of mind control. b. Mind control shouldn t be permitted in free society. 3 + a 2 + b

15 5 Evolution. Have you heard what happened in Kansas? The state school board has prohibited testing students on the theory of evolution, at least in state exams, on the grounds that the theory of evolution isn t scientific. Have you ever heard of such idiocy?! Of course evolution is a scientific theory. The theory of evolution is advanced by scientists!. Evolution is a scientific theory. 2. The theory of evolution is advanced by scientists. a. A scientific theory is a theory advanced by scientists. 2 + a 2. Have you heard what happened in Kansas? The state school board has prohibited testing students on the theory of evolution, at least in state exams. I, for one, am relieved that at least one state has had the courage to disclose evolution for what it is: nothing more than a guess about how we got here, a guess which is no better than any other guess and which certainly shouldn t be taught to innocent schoolchildren as fact! I think a high school biology textbook made the point best when it said Since no one was around when the universe was created, nobody can really know how the universe began.. The theory of evolution shouldn t be taught to innocent schoolchildren as fact. 2. Evolution is nothing more than a guess about how we got here. 3. No one was around when the universe was created. 4. Nobody can really know how the universe began. a. Knowledge is acquired through direct experience. 3 + a 4 2

16 6 Superstition. Ever since the Enlightenment, rational men and women have been waging a war against superstition. Who s winning? Everywhere we look, we see people who have adopted their beliefs from authority figures. They believe that crystals can cure disease because some celebrity said so on a talk show. They believe in God because their parents told them to. They believe that smoking is dangerous because the surgeon general told them it is. They believe that evolution is the correct account of the origin of life on earth because scientists assure them that this is the theory best supported by the evidence. Clearly, superstition is still rampant in the modern age.. Superstition is still rampant. 2. Everywhere we look, we see people who have adopted their beliefs from authority figures. 3. People believe that crystals can cure disease because some celebrity said so on a talk show. 4. People believe in God because their parents told them to. 5. People believe that smoking is dangerous because the surgeon general told them it is. 6. People believe that evolution is the correct account of the origin of life on earth because scientists assure them that this is the theory best supported by the evidence. a. A superstition is a belief adopted from authority figures a Artificial Intelligence. Could machines be people too? This is the question at heart of current programs in cognitive science, that branch of psychology, philosophy, and computer science which investigates the possibility of artificial intelligence, or the creation of genuine thinking machines. If computers do ever attain the ability to reason, coupled with cognitive abilities sufficient to grant them a sense of self, it would seem that we would be left with no other option than to extend to them the status of persons, with all of the attendant rights and obligations. This is a potentially disturbing consequence to those among us who wish to restrict those rights and obligations to human beings, but less of a concern to those among us who believe that our psychological capacities are more important, in the long run, than our membership in a given biological species. Construct a definition of person that would be in conformity with the passage and then evaluate that definition. According to this passage, a person is something that has the ability to reason,

17 7 coupled with cognitive abilities sufficient to grant them a sense of self. Personally, I think this definition is fine. Constructing Definitions Construct a definition for the following terms by. Identifying a genus for the term. 2. Thinking of some other things that fall under the genus and constructing a differentia to exclude those things while including everything that falls under the term being defined. 3. Making sure that the definition isn t broad, narrow or circular. health illness virtue vice friendship love art justice knowledge wisdom helping enabling It s very difficult to construct adequate definitions for these terms! Answers will vary.

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