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PHI 2630, Week 1 Notes

by: Carolina Notetaker

PHI 2630, Week 1 Notes PHI 2630

Marketplace > Florida State University > Culture > PHI 2630 > PHI 2630 Week 1 Notes
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These notes cover the lectures from week one ( 1/6 & 1/8)
Ethical Issues/Life Choices
Michael Robinson
Class Notes
Ethical Issues & Life Choices, FSU, PHI 2630




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carolina Notetaker on Sunday January 10, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHI 2630 at Florida State University taught by Michael Robinson in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 20 views. For similar materials see Ethical Issues/Life Choices in Culture at Florida State University.


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Date Created: 01/10/16
Ethical Issues and Life Choices Notes (Week 1)  Two key differences between philosophy and science:  1. Focus on asking different types of questions 2. They answer those questions in different ways Different Types of Questions (1):  Science is based on questions that can be answered empirically/ through  observations that use our senses.  AKA Scientific Method: Observation, Theory,  Hypothesis, Experiment, Revision (O.T.H.E.R) Example: Observation: Friend eats green berries while you eat red ones.  Friend dies, you live. Hypothesis: If you eat green berries, you die.  Theory: All green things are bad for you/ will kill you. Experiment: Get  more friends to eat green berries and see what happens to each of them.  Once you conduct this experiment, you observe that most friends died, but one didn’t. Now, your theory is wrong, so you must Revise: Maybe not all  red things are bad for you, just the ones with specific seeds, chemicals,  etc.  Philosophical questions can’t be answered solely based on empirical  investigation. There are two general kinds of philosophical questions:  a. Conceptual Questions:  i. “How often do people lie?”, “ What happens in the brain when one lies?” ,  “What happens to one’s heart beat when one lies?”, “Why do people lie?” Before we can answer any of these questions, we need to know  what a   lie is.  ii. “What is a lie?” You can’t answer this just by investigating. Need  conceptual analysis:   Working theory: To lie is to say something false ­> Hypothesis: if that’s  what it is to lie, then every time someone says something false they  are lying. ­> Revise/ Modify: What if they don’t know that what they are  saying is false? Maybe they are just mistaken. Revise / Modify again: A lie is to say something false while knowing it’s false. But what if you are in a play and say you are Hamlet, even though you know that is false?  Revise again ­>  A lie is to say something false, while knowing it’s false, with the intent to deceive.  iii. Philosophers do this using a process called “thought experiments” instead  of just using observations (which scientists use).  b. Normative Questions:  i. Questions about the way things should / ought to be. (good/bad,   right/wrong). ii. Normative vs. Descriptive:  Example: I push an old lady down the stairs.  Normative (the way things should be): Was it wrong? Was it  permissible? Was someone threatening/ forcing me to do it?  Was it a bet? Descriptive (the way things are): How many bones did she  break? What time did I push her? Is her hip fractured?  iii. All Ethical / Moral questions are a type of normative question, but not all normative questions are ethical/ moral.   The words ethical and moral can be used interchangeably for  the purpose of this class.  Three Main Projects:  1. Understanding moral concepts: Good/bad, right/wrong , etc. (Meta­  Ethics)  2. Determining the moral value of certain kinds of behaviors: Euthanasia,  abortion, etc. (Applied Ethics) 3. Developing general theories or principles: If something is right or wrong,  why is it wrong? Example: Pushing an old lady down stairs is wrong  because it harms her. If that’s the case, then maybe any action that harms others is also wrong? (Ethical Theory) The Way We Answer These Questions (2)  Philosophers answer questions through reasoning / arguments. Argument: A set of statements where some of those statements (“premises”)  are offered in support of one of the others (“conclusion”).   Has to be more than one statement. ex: “We should demolish the building  because experts say it’s unsafe”. ­> Here, there are two statements, so it  constitutes an argument: 1st statement: We should demolish the building  (“conclusion”)  2nd: Experts say it is unsafe. (“premise”)  Notice that two statements doesn’t necessarily mean two sentences. Statement: Assertion/ claim/ declarative sentence that has a truth value to it (can be either true or false)   Which is a statement? a. What time is it? b. Leave and never return. c. Ow! d. It’s 4:30 PM.   Notice that all of the above are sentences, but only one of them is a  statement. “It’s 4:30 PM “ can be proven true or false, therefore it has a  truth value and constitutes a statement.   In saying that all statements have a truth value, it doesn’t necessarily  mean that we know (or can know) what that truth value is. Examples: o “The number of stars in the galaxy is odd” o “Aliens exist” o “God exists” None of the above can be determined (we don’t know whether they are  true or false) but they are still considered statements.  There are two things that are often confused with an argument: Assertions &  Explanations:  Assertions: a claim/ statement. (not an argument). Examples:  ­ It will snow here tomorrow  ­ Milk causes cancer  ­ Punching babies is bad   None of these have support or support each other. Therefore, they  are not arguments, just claims/ assertions.    “It will snow here tomorrow because my magic 8 ball said so” ­> THIS  is an argument. It has a conclusion (It will snow here tomorrow) and a  premise that supports it (my magic 8 ball said so).  Explanations:  o Arguments and explanations have different goals.  o The goal of an argument is to show THAT something is true. The  goal of an explanation is to show WHY something is true.  o Examples:   ARGUMENT: “Susan will succeed in business because she  is smart”. (Has a conclusion and a premise to support it.  Susan being smart is supporting the statement that she will  succeed in business)  EXPLANATION: “Susan is screaming because her cat just  committed suicide”. Here, there is just an attempt to show  WHY she is screaming, not THAT she is screaming.  (Her  cat committing suicide isn’t support / proof of the statement  that she is screaming)  Actual Support vs. Attempted Support: In order for there to be an argument all  you need is attempted support.   Whether the premise actually supports an argument just determines  whether it is a good argument or a bad one.   Example: “ It will snow here tomorrow because my magic 8 ball said so” :  Even though the statement “because my magic 8 ball said so “ doesn’t  actually support the conclusion that it will snow here tomorrow, it is still  considered an argument because it is attempted support.  Types of statements: Conditional statement: “if A, then B”  Example: “If my grandma is dead, then I’m rich!” : Not an argument. Just  stating that IF “A” is true, then “B” is true. Not trying to say/ support THAT  “A” is true or that “B” is true.  Disjunctive statement: “Either A, or B”. 


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