Week 2 Reading/Lecture Notes (Philosophy 341)
Week 2 Reading/Lecture Notes (Philosophy 341) Philosophy 341
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Hannah James on Friday September 11, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to Philosophy 341 at University of Wisconsin - Madison taught by Dan Hausman in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 77 views. For similar materials see Contemporary Moral Issues in PHIL-Philosophy at University of Wisconsin - Madison.
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Date Created: 09/11/15
Philosoth 341 Readings The Nature of Morality and Logic Week Two McPherson What are Moral Questions 0 Many people say that morality is based on emotion and cannot be true or false however 0 It might seem that moral questions are a matter of individual feeling and that they cannot be solved because it is hard to understand how moral claims can be tested 0 It might seem that moral claims cannot be true or false because moral claims often concern how things ought to be and not how they are 0 It is easy to believe that morality is relative because members of different societies disagree about morality 0 Example of a moral question 0 A women in college becomes pregnant and wonders if it is moral or not to get an abortion 39 She knows it s legal but that doesn t mean it s moral I This is a real question in her mind meaning that despite the fact that it is a moral question which can be subjective she will agonize over it and will think about reasons why her getting an abortion is moral or immoral 0 Moral questions can never be answered by legality because they concern what the law should be not what it is 0 Moral questions cannot be answered by polls because tpolls only say what majority of people believe not whether or not they are right ex opinion polls on segregation before the 1960 s 0 Moral questions can only be addressed by making moral arguments 0 Once one recognizes that moral questions have better and worse answers meaning that some actions are seemingly more moral than others one can see that the idea that moral questions are relative and cannot be true or false is exaggerated 0 How to answer moral questions 0 Make arguments I Look for premises that others can agree on and then use logic to reach agreement on the issues being disputed 0 In one sense morality is relative what s right depends on what the facts are 0 Ex it is morally wrong to knock over an old man for entertainment but not immoral to knock him over in order to save him from a bus 0 So one does not have a welldefined moral question until the facts of the question are clearly stated 0 It is hard not to think that there is no fact concerning morality and if there were that people could not know it 0 Morality seems like a human construction and it is easy to think that it depends entirely on social convention or individual feeling 0 But if you believe in right and wrong and you take any moral claims seriously or wonder if they are correct or incorrect then you cannot believe that all moral views are correct and that there is never any reason to reject some of them I Some people feel it is intolerant or dogmatic to believe their moral convictions are correct and in some cases they are right because certain moral systems are intolerant 0 However tolerance is simply an appreciation of the richness of different cultures and a respect for others 0 Also a belief that there are better and worse answers to moral questions does not automatically mean intolerance so long as a person is willing to listen to the arguments of others Pinker The Moral Instinct Hausman Skill Sheet Good and Bad Arguments 1 An argument is a set of statements including one premise and at least one conclusion 0 As sets of statements it impossible for arguments to be true or false 0 One discusses the logic of the statements within arguments and the truth and falsity of those statements not the truth or falsity of arguments 2 A valid argument is an argument where the conclusion follows logically the premises 0 The conclusion of an argument follows from its premises when it is impossible for its premises to be true and for the conclusion to be false 0 If all the premises in a valid argument are true then its conclusion must be true too I If the conclusion of a valid argument is false then at least one of its premises must be false 0 If one believes all the premises of a valid argument and denies its conclusion one is contradicting oneself 0 If a person can validly believe all premises of an argument and to deny its conclusion then the argument is not valid I An argument that goes wrong because its conclusion does not follow from its premises is called invalid 3 A sound argument is an argument in which it is both the case that all the premises are true and that the conclusion follows from the premises 0 Since all the premises are true and the argument is valid the conclusion must be true as well 0 Arguments can go wrong fail to be sound in two ways I They may include false premises I Their conclusions can fail to follow from their premises 0 An argument that goes wrong in either of these two ways is called quotunsoundquot I Every sound argument is valid but some valid arguments are unsound I Every invalid argument is unsound but some unsound arguments are valid 4 An argument A made by a person P to another person Q is only persuasive if A the argument is valid and both P and Q the people believe that its premises are true O A persuasive argument is thus sound according person making the argument and the person to whom the argument is made 0 A persuasive argument does not need to be sound and a sound argument is not always persuasive O Rational persuasion unlike validity and soundness is not based on logic I It only concerns what the people in the argument believe though it also requires genuine validity 5 A technique when considering arguments is to reform the so that they are literally valid or are in the valid format 0 Example quotDan Hausman could not be a philosopher because he doesn39t have a beardquot I Reformulated 1 All philosophers have beards 2 Dan Hausman does not have a beard 0 therefore 3 Dan Hausman is not a philosopher 0 In this form one can then focus on the truth or falsity of premises and one is forced to notice that the argument relies on the unstated premise 1 which is in this case false so the argument is not sound because it has a false premise Just a side note this argument is valid because the conclusion follows from the premises it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion to be false see number 2 It is however not sound because not all of the premises are true