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Philosophy 101 Weeks 2-8 Notes

by: Brittay

Philosophy 101 Weeks 2-8 Notes PHIL 101-350

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These Notes cover the Descartes' Meditations, skepticism, and the mind-body problem.
Intro to Philosophy
Class Notes
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This 17 page Class Notes was uploaded by Brittay on Tuesday October 11, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 101-350 at University of Nebraska Lincoln taught by Mckitrick in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views.


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Date Created: 10/11/16
Generic Argument for Skepticism • X = some skeptical hypothesis (my senses deceive me; I'm dreaming…) • If X were true, then all my beliefs about the world would be false • For all I know, X is true • Therefore, for all I know, all my beliefs about the world are false Replies to Skepticism • How do I know I'm not dreaming right now? • Is there some feature that distinguishes dreams from being awake? Descartes' Meditations 1-3 Knowledge • Meditations on First Philosophy is one of the most widely read philosophical texts in history. • The Meditations is written like a journal, with six entries called "meditations" Meditation 1 • I accepted many falsehoods in my youth. • Any beliefs based on those were also false • I should start from scratch • I want to establish firm and lasting knowledge • I want to avoid skepticism and pave way for scientific knowledge • I will consider best case for skepticism ○ Taking it very seriously ○ So that I can set it aside ○ Gaining knowledge • How do I get rid of my false beliefs? • Do have you to prove that each false belief is false? • No. That would be too difficult. • Proving that something is false can be as difficult as proving that something is true. • Method of Doubt ○ If I can reasonably doubt it, then I shouldn't take myself to know it for certain • Do I have to look at my beliefs one by one? • No. • I can look at the sources of belief. • If the sources are not reliable, then I can doubt anything I learn through those sources. • Compare - disreputable gossip, tabloid • I will consider various skeptical hypotheses and see what knowledge I have left • Descartes considers 5 skeptical hypotheses Meditation 1: Skeptical hypothesis 1 • Perhaps the information I get through my senses in not reliable. • I get most of my beliefs from my senses. • My senses sometimes deceive me. • It would be prudent not to trust those who have cheated you even once. Critique • Refuting an argument by Counterexample/Analogy 1. Argument A and argument B are so similar in structure (use the same logic, pattern of inference that they are either both valid or both invalid) 2. Argument B is invalid (It's obvious that the premises might true, but the conclusion false) C. Argument A is invalid Analogies • The senses sometime deceive us. So for all we know, they always deceive us. • Newspapers sometimes make mistakes. So, for all we know, they always make mistakes A better interpretation: 1. The senses sometimes deceive us. 2. We cannot distinguish occasions when they do from ones when they do not. C. So, for all we know, any particular sense experience may be deceiving us. Back to Meditation 1: • My senses deceive me in less than ideal conditions. ○ Far away, dark, my senses are impaired, etc. • But sometimes conditions are ideal, like right now • So, this skeptical hypothesis does not challenge beliefs I have from my senses under good conditions. • Is Descartes right that our senses do not deceive us in ideal conditions? Meditation 1: Skeptical Hypothesis 2 • Perhaps I'm mad… • I would be crazy to say I'm mad. • Is he right to dismiss this hypothesis so quickly? Skeptical Hypothesis 3: • Perhaps I'm dreaming • But everything I sense is distinct. • It wouldn't be so distinct if I were asleep. • My dreams never have feature F. • On second thought, yes they do… • There are no reliable signs that distinguish sleeping from waking Critique What's the argument? • Sometimes, when I think I am awake, I am actually dreaming. So, for all I know, I am always dreaming • Similar to: hasty generalization 1. Sometimes, when I think I am awake I am actually dreaming. 2. I cannot distinguish occasions when I am dreaming from occasions when I am awake. C. So, for all I know, any particular occasion may be a dream. • How does the dream hypothesis support skepticism? An interpretation of Descartes' Dream Argument 1. If I am dreaming, then my beliefs about the things around me are false. 2. If my beliefs about the things around me are false, then I have no knowledge about the external world. 3. Therefore, If I'm dreaming, I have no knowledge about the external world. 4. If there are no reliable signs to distinguish dreaming from being awake, I don't know that I'm not dreaming 5. There are no reliable signs to distinguish dreaming from being awake. 6. Therefore, I don't know that I'm not dreaming. 7. Therefore, I have no knowledge about the external world Should we accept 5? There are no reliable signs that distinguish dreaming from being awake. • Why is Descartes not in a good position to know if he is dreaming? 1. When you're dreaming, you sometimes mistakenly think you are awake. 2. So, when you are dreaming, you're not in a good position to tell whether or not you're dreaming 3. Hence, also when you're awake, you're not in a good position to tell whether or not you're dreaming 1. When you're drunk, you sometimes mistakenly think you are sober. 2. So, when you are drunk, you're not in a good position to tell whether or no you're sober. 3. Hence, also when you're sober, you are not in a good positon to tell whether or not you're drunk This is P -> Q I don't know that not P, Therefore, Q Not valid The controversial KK thesis: • X knows that P iff x knows that x knows that P • Assumed by the previous claims (and 3) • Implication: x knows that x knows that P iff x knows that x knows that x knows that P. • This leads to an infinite regress, making knowledge impossible. Skeptical Hypothesis 3: • Even if I might be dreaming, does this show I don't know there's an external world? • Not quite. • The things in my dreams must have been patterned after real things. • So, even if I might be dreaming now, I know the world has colors, things that take up space, have shape, quantity, and a place in space and time. • And, my mathematical beliefs are still intact. Skeptical hypothesis 4 • Perhaps there is a God that puts beliefs about the EW into my head. • Maybe he puts false mathematical beliefs into my head as well. • But God is supremely good and wouldn't deceive me. Skeptical Hypothesis 5: • Perhaps there is an evil demon that deceives me. • The evil might deceive me about everything. • Maybe I know nothing. • But I'll go back to my normal life, believing things that I used to… Meditation 2, Second day • Where did I leave off yesterday? • Supposing that… ○ An evil demon is deceiving me ○ Everything I perceive is unreal ○ My memories are false ○ There is no external world ○ There are no objects ○ I have no body ○ Does it follow that I do not exist? ○ No. ○ Even if an evil demon is deceiving me about everything, I am still something that is being deceived. ○ The statement "I am, I exist," must be true whenever I state or mentally consider it. "The cogito" • "I think, therefore I am." • Cogito ergo sum. What's the argument? • I am thinking. Therefore, I exist • Descasrtes' argument Begs the Question • He is assuming he is trying to prove The Principle of Charity: • Roughly speaking, assume that people aren't stupid. • Look for the best interpretation of their argument. • If it seems like they are making a stupid mistake, look for another interpretation. A dilemma: 1. Either something is deceiving me, or nothing is. 2. If something is deceiving me, I exist. 3. If nothing is deceiving me, I exist. Therefore, I exist. A reductio ad absurdum: • It is not meaningful to doubt your own existence. • To say "I don't exist" is a contradiction. • While you try to deny that you exists, at the same time you affirm that you exist by referring to yourself To prove: I exist Suppose: I don't exist. I can't suppose that I don't exist unless I exist. If my supposition were correct, then I would both exist and not exist, which is a contradiction. Therefore, I exist. • All I know is that I am a thing that thinks ○ Doubts, affirms, denies, understands, wills, refuses, "senses," imagines • For all I know, I am a disembodied mind in the middle of nowhere. What does Descartes do to get his knowledge back of the external world? Prove that God exist. • I have the idea of a perfect being - God. • This idea must have a cause • A cause must be at least as perfect as its effect. • So, something at least as perfect as my idea caused it. • Therefore, God exists. • God is all powerful and He is no deceiver: ○ He wouldn't deceive me, ○ He wouldn't make me with a mind prone to deception, ○ Nor would he allow an evil demon to deceive me. • So, what I perceive clearly and distinctly must be true. What's the argument? 1. I clearly and distinctly conceive of the following: a. I have an idea of a perfect being. b. This idea must have a cause. c. A cause be at least as perfect as its effect. 2. So, something at least as perfect as my idea of a perfect being caused my idea of a perfect being. 3. Therefore, a perfecting being, God, exists. 4. A perfect being (all powerful and good) would not allow me to be deceived when I conceive of something clearly and distinctly. 5. Therefore, when I conceive of something clearly and distinctly, I know that it is true. The Cartesian Circle • Descartes assumes that his clear and distinct ideas are reliable when he uses them to show his conclusion • He uses that God exists to show God exists 1. I have clear and distinct that ideas show God exists. 2. My clear and distinct ideas are true. 3. God exists 1. *If God exists, then my clear and distinct ideas must be true. 2. *God exists. 3. *My clear and distinct ideas are true. Russell's argument from analogy for other minds 1. From subjective observation, I know that A (some thought or feeling) causes B (some bodily act.) 2. I know that whenever B is an act of my body, A is its cause 3. I observe an act of kind B in another body, and I have no thought or feeling of kind A. 4. Therefore, some A must have caused this B, though I cannot observe this A. 5. Therefore, other people's bodies are associated with minds, which resemble mind insofar as their bodily behavior resembles my own. Mental States • To have a mind = to have mental states • What are mental states? Examples of mental states 1. Sensations: pains, itches 2. Experiences: sensed colors 3. Propositional attitudes: beliefs, hopes, fears, wishes. You believe that ___ is the case: You're afraid that ___ will happen (Fill in a proposition and you can take different attitudes towards them) 4. Emotions 5. Decisions, intentions, choices 6. Character traits, psychological habits, abilities Marks of the Mental • What do these have in common? 1. Privileged access a. You know about your own mental state b. You know it immediately c. You don't have to infer it from evidence d. (We don't have that kind of access to other's minds -> problem of other minds) e. Other people don't have that kind of access to your mind f. Contrast - weight, height, shoe size 2. Representation a. Your mental states are about something b. They represent things as being one way rather than another c. You see that the tree is green, in the middle of the yard d. You believe that Trump is a republican 3. Consciousness a. Mental states feel a particular way b. There's "something it is like" to have an itch, or concentrate on a math problem c. Having brown hair, being 5'6" doesn't feel any particular way. Problems for these Marks of the mental • You have beliefs and desires of which you are unaware ○ (ordinary self-deception, psychotherapy) • When focused on something else you can be unaware of pains or other sensation ○ (concentrating in heat of battle) • You can be unreliable about certain emotions and attitudes ○ (You don't know when you're angry or in love) • Pain and tickles are not really about anything • Languages and signs represent Mind and Body • "mind" - all of a person's mental life • "mental states" - states of mind: thoughts beliefs, emotions, sensations, experiences, etc.. • :Philosophers generally agree that people have minds, but disagree about what it means to have a mind/mental states Dualism: • A person is mad e up two different kinds of "stuff" - physical stuff and non-physical, mental stuff. • Without this mental "stuff," a person would have no mental states, no mind. Materialism (physicalism): • There's only one kind of stuff • The universe is made up entirely of physical entities and forces • Having a mind does not involve anything • It just involves having certain physical qualities, such as ○ Having a functioning brain ○ Having a certain capability Idealism: • There is only one kind of stuff - mental stuff • Matter is an illusion • The universe is make up of nothing but thought ideas, experiences, and other mental states Nagel's Arguments for Dualism: 1. Physical states are publicly accessible. 2. Mental states are only privately accessible. 3. Therefore, mental states are not physical states. 1. A mental state is in your mind. 2. A mental state cannot be found in your brain. 3. Therefore, your brain is not your mind. Another Dualist Argument: 1. If you look at a patch of vivid blue, then look at a white surface, you will see an yellow after- image 2. There's nothing yellow on the white surface. 3. Therefore, the yellow image is a mental state. 4. There's nothing yellow in my brain. 5. Therefore, my mental state is not a brain state. Leibniz's law Many arguments for dualism employ the following principle: The Indiscernibility of Identical If A = B, then any feature of A is a feature of B and vice versa It follows that: If A and B differ, then A is not B X is F Y is not F. Therefore, x is not identical to Y In the Meditations: 1. My mind thinks and has no width or height. 2. Physical objects have width and height, but don't think. 3. Therefore, my mind is not a physical object. 1. The parts of my body are divisible 2. My mind is not divisible. 3. Therefore, my mind is not a part of my body. 1. I know that my mind exists. 2. I don't know that (any part of) my body exists. 3. Therefore, my mind is not the same thing as a part of my body. 1. My mind is something I know to exist. 2. My body is not something I know to exist. 3. Therefore, my mind is not the same thing as (a part of) my body. 4. (Leibniz's Law) Objection: If the above argument works, then the following arguments should work too: (argument by counterexample or analogy) 1. I know that Eminem exists. 2. I don't know that Marshall Mathers exists. 3. Therefore, Eminem is not Marshall Mathers 1. I believe that Mark Twain wrote Huck Finn. 2. I do not believe that Samuel Clemens wrote Huck Finn. 3. Therefore, Mark Twain is not Huck Finn. But these arguments don't work. So, something is wrong with the original argument. Lessons: Leibniz's Law does not apply in epistemic contexts - when we are talking about what we know or believe. • Likely, probably, as far as we know? ○ Epistemically possible • Allowed by the laws of nature ○ Physically possible • Involving no logical contradiction ○ Metaphysically Possible October 6, 2016 Descartes' Argument for Dualism: 1. If I can conceive of something without contradiction, then it is metaphysically possible. 2. I can conceive of my mind existing without my body. 3. Therefore, it is metaphysically possible that my mind can exist without my body 4. If it is metaphysically possible for A to exist without B, then A is not = B. 5. Therefore, my mind is not = to my body Objections: • Premise 2 begs the question ○ To say that you can conceive of your mind without conceiving of your body presupposes that your mind is distinct from your body • Premise 1 is false ○ What's conceivable is not always possible ○ Perhaps I can conceive of Marshal Mathers without Eminem, but that doesn't mean that it is possible for e mental and physical causally inone to exist without the other According to Descartes… Nature is a continuum • All known mental phenomena are dependent on the brain • Brain injuries, psycho-active drugs, neural stimulation, etc. change mental states • Mental states are determined by what happens on the brain • If the mind were distinct from the brain, you would expect some independence of the mind from the physical brain • But there is no independence Causal Problems • Mental states cause behavior • In order for a mental state to cause behavior, it would have to cause changes in your body: muscles to contract, adrenaline to flow, an neurons to fire • But suppose the mental state were a non-physical state of an immaterial mind, with no shape, size, weight, mass, charge, etc. • How could a non-physical state cause neurons to fire? • Furthermore, science can give us a complete physical causal explanation of why neurons fire and muscles contract. • There is no missing link in the causal chain that needs to be filled by a non-physical mental state Dualist view of the mind/body relationship: • Interactionism - ○ the mental and physical causally interact ○ Non- physical states cause physical states, and physical states cause non-physical states • Objection: ○ That doesn't explain the interaction; it just names it Pre-established Harmony - • The mental and the physical don't causally interact • However, they seem to work together because God set both causal chains in motion to do so. • Objections? Epiphenomenalism - • Granted, non-physical minds can't make bodies move • But that doesn't prove they don't exist • Mental states (feeling, thinking, believing desiring) are non-physical states that are caused by physical states but have no physical effects Epistemic Problems • If mental states aren't physical and don't cause physical effects, what evidence do we have that they exist? • If each person's mind is his or her own secret realm, we never have evidence that other bodies have minds. • But we take ourselves to know things about other people's minds all the time • Dualism leads to the problem of other minds Alternatives to Dualism: • Dual Aspect Theory/Property Dualism: ○ There's just one kind of stuff, but it can have two kinds of properties, mental and physical ○ A functioning human brain has both physical and mental properties ○ "pain = a certain mental property" Varieties of Physicalism: Identity Theory • Sensations and experiences are just brain processes ○ Your mind = your brain ○ Mental state = brain state • Other scientific identity statements: ○ Water = H2O ○ Lightning = electrical discharge ○ Heat = MMKE • They may not seem the same, but science has shown they are identical • Pain = stimulation of the anterior cingulate cortex Behaviorism: • Having a mental state is a matter of behaving in a certain way. • Objection: People can be in a certain mental states while refraining from exhibiting the requite behavior • Amendment: having a mental state is a matter of being disposed to behave in a certain way • Pain = the disposition to wince, groan, say 'ouch' etcb. Functionalism: • Having a mental state is a matter of having some physical state that serve a certain function • Mental states consist in their relation to things that cause them and things they cause Pain = a kind of brain state caused by injury, usually causing wincing, groaning, avoidance the source of the injury."


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