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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Emely Abellard on Saturday January 30, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL111 at Bridgewater State University taught by Randall Rose in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 41 views. For similar materials see Philosophy in Liberal Arts at Bridgewater State University.
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Date Created: 01/30/16
Week #2 Notes Philosophy A statement combined with the reasons for it is called an argument. So an argument consists of two parts. One part of the argument gives reasons for believing the other part. These two parts are called the “premises” and the “conclusion”. The conclusion of the argument is the part which is meant to be supported by the rest of the argument, And the premises of the argument are the reasons given for believing the conclusion. The conclusion of an argument doesn’t have to come at the end. It can come at the beginning of the argument, at the end, or in the middle. So don’t be fooled by the word “conclusion” – any statement that other statements are trying to support counts as a conclusion of an argument, even if it’s not at the end. Examples of arguments Some examples of arguments: 1. “The moon is made of green cheese, so it must be moldy by now.” Premise (reason): The moon is made of green cheese. Conclusion: It must be moldy by now. This argument tries to use the idea that (Premise) the moon is made of green cheese to get you to believe that (Conclusion) it must be moldy by now. 2. “Anne is a computer programmer, so she’s good at making websites.” Premise (reason): Anne is a computer programmer. Conclusion: She’s good at making websites. This argument tries to use the idea that (Premise) Anne is a computer programmer to get you to believe that (Conclusion) she’s good at making websites. 3. “I can’t take the test, because I don’t have my laptop.” Premise (reason): I don’t have my laptop. Conclusion: I can’t take the test. This argument tries to use the idea that (Premise) I don’t have my laptop to get you to believe that (Conclusion) I can’t take the test. 4. “Dave must be a spy. He wears a long trenchcoat.” Premise (reason): He wears a long trenchcoat. Conclusion: Dave must be a spy. This argument tries to use the idea that (Premise) he wears a long trenchcoat to get you to believe that (Conclusion) Dave must be a spy. (v1) Premise indicators These phrases often (not always) indicate where there’s a premise, so they’re called premise indicators: Because ____ Since ____ As shown by ___ As indicated by ____ For the reason that ___ The reason is that ___ Given that ___ Being that ____ Seeing that ____ Due to ____ In view of ____ We conclude from ___ We infer from ___ Inasmuch as ___ As ___ For ___ ___ is the reason ___ shows that ___ indicates that ___ implies that ___ means that ___ proves that The part that goes in the ____ is often (not always) a premise. You should study this list of premise indicators. (v1) Conclusion indicators These phrases often (not always) indicate where there’s a conclusion, so they’re called conclusion indicators: So ____ Therefore ____ Then _____ Consequently ____ Accordingly ____ As a result ___ Thus ____ Hence ____ shows that ___ indicates that ____ implies that ___ means that ___ proves that ___ It follows that ___ is the reason that __ For these reasons, ___ In conclusion, ___ We conclude that ___ We infer that ___ The part that goes in the ____ is often (not always) a conclusion. You should study this list of conclusion indicators. Reasons come in different levels of strength. Bad reasons. Sometimes people will make an argument where the premise is a bad reason for the conclusion. Example: “You should believe me because I’m your boss.” Premise (reason): “I’m your boss.” Conclusion: “You should believe me.” The only reason this argument gives for believing the boss is “I’m your boss”, which is a bad reason (unless the boss is talking about something that he/she knows only because he’s your boss). Fairly good reasons. Sometimes people will make an argument where the premise gives a reason that really does help to support the conclusion, even though it’s not enough to prove for sure that the conclusion is right. Example: “He answered my questions about video production without hesitation and his answers seemed reasonable. So you can rely on him to produce videos.” Premise #1: “He answered my questions about video production without hesitation.” Premise #2: “His answers seemed reasonable.” Conclusion: “You can rely on him to produce videos.” When this person gave reasonablesounding answers about video production and answered without hesitation, it makes it more likely that he’s reliable at producing videos. So the premises make the conclusion more likely to be true, but they don’t prove that the conclusion is true – the guy who gave the quick answers about video production might just be faking it. So even though this argument gives some reason for thinking that the person’s reliable in producing videos, it doesn’t prove it. The argument only gives fairly good reasons. Conclusive reasons. Sometimes an argument is so good that you can guarantee the conclusion is true, as long as the premises are true. Example: “This person is eight years old, so he’s not an adult.” Premise (reason): “This person is eight years old.” Conclusion: “He’s not an adult.” As long as the premise is true, it’s enough to prove that the conclusion is true. Arguments that have only fairly good reasons, or even totally bad reasons, are still arguments. All you need for an argument is a conclusion, and one or more other statements that someone is offering as reasons for the conclusion. They don’t have to be good reasons. As long as someone is treating them as if they’ll help give evidence that the conclusion is true, they count as reasons, though they may be bad reasons. Arguments are made out of statements (preferably true ones) The point of an argument is to help show that people should believe something – the argument is trying to get people to believe the argument’s conclusion. So an argument tries to show that its conclusion is true. This means that when you write out an argument in full, the conclusion has to be an actual statement, because only a statement can be true or false. A single word can’t be true or false by itself, just like a question or a command can’t be true or false. Only statements can be true or false, so the conclusion of an argument has to be a statement when you express an argument in full. For example, in the argument “He’s eight years old, so he’s not an adult”, the conclusion is the full statement “He’s not an adult”. The argument is trying to get you to accept that this is true. Sometimes you see an argument where the conclusion is expressed only as a single word, not a full statement. For example: Erica: What do you think is the best season of the year? Nate: Fall, because it’s great to see all the different leaf colors shading into each other all around you. Nate’s making an argument, and it might look like the conclusion is just one word, “Fall”. But the full conclusion of Nate’s argument is really a whole statement like “Fall is the best season of the year” or “I think fall is the best season of the year.” Nate’s argument is trying to show that this statement is true. It’s not trying to show that the one word “Fall” is true, so the conclusion is actually more than just the word “Fall”. Even though Nate just says that one word aloud, he’s trying to get you to accept that a bigger statement is true, so the bigger statement is his conclusion. So when you write out an argument in full, the conclusion can be expressed as a whole statement that the argument is trying to show is true. Arguments aren’t always written out in full, though, so sometimes you won’t see that statement expressed fully in the original version of the argument. Each argument tries to show that its conclusion is true by using premises which the argument hopes you’ll accept as true. For example, in the argument “He’s eight years old, so he’s not an adult”, the only way that the argument can convince you that the conclusion “He’s not an adult” is true is if you accept that the premise “He’s eight years old” is true. So the premises of each argument are statements which can be true or false (hopefully they’re true). Every argument is made entirely of statements which are true or false: the premises and the conclusion of the argument are all statements. A premise can be true or false Part of critical thinking is deciding whether the premises of an argument are true or false. If a premise turns out to be false, it doesn’t give any real support to the conclusion. For example: “The moon is made of green cheese, so it must be moldy by now.” In this argument, the premise is “The moon is made of green cheese”, which is false, so the argument doesn’t justify believing that the moon is moldy. It’s important to identify the premises when you see an argument. That way, you can check each of the premises to see if it’s true or false. Diagramming arguments In a diagram for an argument, we draw arrows from the premises to the conclusion they support. Usually the premises go at the top and the conclusion goes at the bottom. “He answered my questions about video production without hesitation and his answers seemed reasonable. So you can rely on him to produce videos.” Premises: He answered my questions about His answers seemed video production without hesitation reasonable Conclusion: You can rely on him to produce videos. These diagrams help to make clear how an argument works, so we’ll be practicing diagrams in the homework. Concessions What are the premises and conclusion in this argument? “The speed limit saves lives, but it slows people down too much, so the speed limit should be abolished.” Answer: Premise: The speed limit slows people down too much. Conclusion: The speed limit should be abolished. “The speed limit saves lives, but it slows people down too much, so the speed limit should be abolished.” The part about “The speed limit slows people down too much” is there to help you believe that “The speed limit should be abolished.” The part about “The speed limit saves lives” is not the conclusion of the argument, and it’s not a premise supporting the conclusion. So why is it mentioned? The part about “The speed limit saves lives” is what’s called a concession. It’s not part of the actual argument. In fact, it suggests something that goes against the argument. The fact that “The speed limit saves lives” suggests that there’s something good about the speed limit, even though the main point of the argument is that the speed limit is bad. This point is included to show that the speaker partly agrees with people who like the speed limit. Any point that a person makes while making an argument, even though the point isn’t part of the argument and tends to support the opposite side, is called a concession. It’s strange, but people actually make concessions like this very often, showing that they partly agree with the other side of the issue. Why do you think that people include concessions along with their arguments? A concession helps to show that you’re listening to the other side of the issue, and it suggests that you’ve understood enough to see the other side too. It also can prevent other people from bringing up something as an objection to your view, because now you’ve already mentioned it. When you’re talking to people who may disagree with you, a concession can help show them that you’re not completely crazy. Then they may take you more seriously, and they may feel more friendly. Sometimes, making a concession will establish common ground with the people who don’t accept your conclusion – you and they can focus on where you agree, you show that you accept a reason supporting their side, and then you can move on to showing why the reasons for your side may be stronger. Also, admitting that there are some facts on the other side of the issue is often the fair thing to do. In the example we just saw, there’s a word that helps to show that there’s a concession here. “The speed limit saves lives, but it slows people down too much, so the speed limit should be abolished.” Here “but” is a concession indicator. There are other concession indicator words, too.
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