● (1) Explain what it means for an argument to be valid. Explain what it means for an argument to be sound.
○ An argument is valid if and only if the truth of its premises guarantee the truth of the conclusion (it can have a false conclusion). An argument is sound if it is both valid and has true premises (it cannot have false conclusions)
● (2) I distinguished philosophy from other disciplines in part based on its methodology. How does philosophy differ from, say, empirical psychology in how it investigates similar questions? ○ Instead of formulating hypotheses and running experiments to test them, philosophers typically conduct their investigations using reason and arguments. ● (3) What are the three main areas of philosophy? What are some examples of questions that may be asked by someone interested in each of these areas?
○ Metaphysics: the study of the most fundamental features of existence What is the nature of space and time? Why is there something rather than nothing? What does it take for something to persist over time? What is it for one thing to cause another? Does God exist? What are minds and how do they relate to bodies?
○ Epistemology: the study of knowledge; how we come to know things and how we have justified beliefs What is knowledge? What does it take to possess knowledge? Do we or can we know anything? If so, what? What are good sources of knowledge and what makes them so?
○ Ethics: the study of morality; what we ought and ought not do (morally
speaking) and why we ought or ought not do it What makes an action right or wrong? Are there moral facts at all, or is it the case that nothing is morally permissible or impermissible? Are we morally obligated to give to charity?
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● (4) Define and distinguish a priori vs. a posteriori knowledge.
○ A priori: knowledge that does not require the senses or empirical evidence for its justification
○ A posteriori: knowledge that does require sensory or empirical evidence for justification
● (5) Define argument, premise, and conclusion.
○ Argument: an attempt to present rational support for a conclusion; this consists of presenting a series of premises that collectively support the desired conclusion ○ Premise: a proposition which purports to support a conclusion
○ Conclusion: the proposition an argument attempts to rationally support or prove
● (6) Can a valid argument have a false conclusion? How about a sound argument? ○ A valid argument can have a false conclusion, but a sound argument cannot have a false conclusion. If you want to learn more check out Skeleton can be divided into how many regions?
● (7) Be able to recognize valid vs. invalid arguments especially those of modus ponens/tollens form.
○ Modus ponens:
■ 1. If p, then q.
■ 2. q.
■ 3. Therefore, p.
○ Modus tollens: We also discuss several other topics like In geography, what is a transmission?
■ 1. If p, then q.
■ 2. ~ q. (~ = not)
■ 3. Therefore, ~ p.
● (8) According to the way we have defined the concept in this class, what are God’s core features?
○ Omniscient (allknowing)
○ Omnibenevolent (morally perfect)
○ Omnipotent (allpowerful)
○ Creator of all life
● (9) What does Pascal think about the possibility of finding evidence for God’s existence? ○ He believes that no argument can prove that God exists, and reason will not allow you to defend either the claim that God exists, or that he does not. If he is correct, the correct position to take is to suspend belief.
● (10) What are the three different doxastic attitudes one can take towards a proposition? Explain using an example. What are the names for these three attitudes as applied to the question of God’s existence?
○ Whether or not you should or not depends on your evidence.
○ 3 attitudes: If you want to learn more check out What is globalization in ancient times?
■ Believe [that p]: You adopt an attitude such that you take p to be
■ Disbelieve [p]: You adopt an attitude such that p is false.
■ Suspend judgement: You refrain from forming either a belief that
p or a belief that p is false.
● (11) What are the four possibilities that Pascal discusses regarding the question of God’s existence and your belief or disbelief in him? How does he think things turn out for you in each of these cases? What general conclusion does he draw about what you should do based on this? ○ Four possibilities
■ 1. God exists and you believe that God exists → eternal
■ 2. God exists and you do not believe that God exists →
infinite loss (hell)
■ 3. God does not exist and you believe that God exists →
nothing; your existence just ends If you want to learn more check out Why are mutations random?
■ 4. God does not exist and you do not believe that God
exists → nothing; your existence just ends
○ Conclusion: If God does not exist, your belief about his existence is mostly irrelevant to you wellbeing. He suggests that you’d still be a bit better off believing. ● (12) One objection to Pascal’s argument is that one cannot just decide to believe something. Why is this claim plausible (give an example)? How does Pascal respond to this objection? ○ You can’t just choose to believe something; we need evidence to convince us in order to form the belief. But, you can take indirect steps to bring it about that you believe that God exists (ex: attend mass, talk to priests, talk to other religious converts, study the Bible). ● (13) What is the atheist’s wager? Why does it present a problem for Pascal’s argument? ○ The atheist's wager argues that belief in God is entirely irrelevant; all that matters is the kind of life you live
○ The argument of God’s goodness presents a problem; a perfectly good deity would not punish a person who lived a good like just because they did not possess a belief in the deity. This argument reaches the exact opposite conclusion from Pascal’s argument’s conclusion.
● (14)State the false dichotomy problem. How does this show that Pascal’s argument fails? ○ Both Pascal’s and the Atheist's wagers present false dichotomies: they both assume that there are only two possible states: God exists or he does not. This shows that Pascal’s argument fails because there are infinite possible deities. We also discuss several other topics like What are the elements of social structure?
● (15) State the ontological argument and explain and defend each of the premises. ○ Anselm’s ontological argument considers only what our conception of God entails.
■ 1. God is a being than which none greater can be conceived.
■ 2. We can conceive of God.
■ 3. Something that exists is greater than something that does not
■ 4. Therefore, if we could conceive of God as not existing, we
could conceive of something greater than God.
■ 5. We cannot conceive of anything greater than God.
■ 6. We must conceive of God as existing.
■ 7. Therefore, God must exist.
● (16) I mentioned that there might be a problem in Anselm’s slide from the claim that we must conceive of God as existing to the claim that God exists. What is the problem? What might Anselm say in response?
○ The problem is the claim that we must conceive of God as existing to the claim that God exists. Anselm never argued that anything that is conceivable exists. He argued that the conceivability of a particular thing: a being than which none greater can be conceived entails that that thing exists.
● (17) One might think that Anselm is claiming that conceiving of something entails that it must exist. If he was, why would this be a problem for his argument? How can it be shown that Anselm is not guilty of this mistake?
○ Irreconcilable contradiction: you must build in God’s existence as a
characteristic, or else he’s not actually the greatest conceivable being; Anselm “For it is possible to conceive of a being which cannot be conceived not to exist…”
● (18) What is Guanilo’s “Lost Island” objection? How does it purport to show that the ontological argument fails? What are the responses to this objection that we discussed in class? ○ The Lost Island
■ 1. The Lost Island is an island than which none greater can be
■ 2. We can conceive of the Lost Island.
■ 3. Something that exists is greater than something that does not
■ 4. Therefore, if we conceive of the Lost Island as not existing, we
could conceive of an island greater than the Lost Island.
■ 5. We cannot conceive of any island greater than the Lost Island.
■ 6. Therefore, we must conceive of the Lost Island as existing.
■ 7. Therefore, the Lost Island must exist.
○ It is a parody of Anselm’s argument; it is a lot easier to show that something must have gone wrong with this argument than to say precisely what is wrong with it. ○ Response 1: The argument works for God but not the island. Some argue that you cannot conceive of the island because the qualities of an island have no upper bounds of greatness.
○ Response 2: God is supposed to be a necessary being (if he exists, then he could not have failed to exist); seems ad hoc (nothing in the premises or principles imply any such restriction)
● (19) Briefly explain what it means to say that the universe is finetuned for life. Why does this fact seem to call out for explanation?
○ If certain fundamental features of the universe (e.g. the force of gravity, the amount of energy in the universe at its creation) were only very slightly different, then life would have never developed. …………….????
● (20) What is a teleological argument?
○ A teleological argument for the existence of God purports to show that God must exist because the universe (or some feature of it) could only have been brought about by the hand of a conscious thing
● (21) What is an inference to the best explanation? What sorts of things plausibly make an explanation better than others?
○ 1. X is an observed phenomena.
○ 2. If Y were the case, then it would best explain why X is the case.
○ 3. Y is the case.
○ Things like power, elegance, simplicity, consistency, etc make explanations better.
● (23) What is “god of the gaps” reasoning? What are the problems in reasoning this way? What is the fallacy behind arguments from ignorance?
○ God of the Gaps reasoning:
■ 1. There is some gap in our naturalistic/scientific understanding of
■ 2. Therefore, the correct explanation of this phenomena must be
supernatural (e.g. God)
■ Science has been good at filling the gaps.
■ The current lack of a scientific explanation of some physical
phenomena does not suggest that one will not be given at a later date.
■ Even if current naturalistic theories cannot explain a feature of the
universe, the default view should not be the design hypothesis.
■ Current gaps in understanding should encourage us to find
answers to our questions.
○ Design arguments are fallacious arguments from ignorance.
■ 1. I don’t know how X came about.
■ 2. Therefore X must have been designed (by a perfect creator).
● (24) What is White’s FineTuning Argument? How does he argue for each of his core claims?
○ FineTuning Argument
■ 1. If a fact E that we observe stands in need of explanation, and
hypothesis H provides a satisfactory explanation of E that is better than any alternative explanation available, then E provides significant evidential support for H.
■ 2. That our universe is hospitable to life stands in need of
■ 3. That God adjusted the constants in order to allow for life to
develop provides a satisfactory explanation for why our universe is lifepermitting. ■ 4. There is no comparably satisfying explanation of this fact
■ 5. Therefore, that our universe is life permitting provides
significant evidential support for theism.