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Philosophy is also often seen as a search for truth.
Truth, however, can exist on a continuum.
Opinion: No factual support (My mom is the best cook ever) Reason Physical reason Logical reasoning Absolute Truth: Very hard to prove
How do philosophers look for truth?
People look for truth and create philosophical ideas in several ways:
By observing the world around them.
Through the use of fictional examples: Movies like The Matrix and Inception look at the nature of reality.
By writing articles that clarify their points.
By arguing with other philosophers.
Why do philosophers argue?
Philosophy deals with questions where the answers cannot be determined by gathering observational data.
The process of an argument with others can help us come to true beliefs about matters of complexity.
It works like an intellectual game of chess.
What is a philosophical argument?
An argument is not a fight.
Arguments try and get closer to the truth.
Fighting is about winning.
An argument is not just a contradiction.
Arguments present a series of premises to try and reach a conclusion.
Premise: Idea you have about something (All tigers eat meat)
Conclusion: Idea that would be true if all premises are true AND have no mistakes (All tigers eat meat, and Mr. Garnica eats meat, so Mr. Garnica is a tiger. This is a bad conclusion, because the premises are too general.)
It does not appeal to an authority, like a well known thinker or a religious text.
How do you have a philosophical argument?
One way to lay out an argument is called Reflexive Equilibrium.
You first start out with a topic, like justice.
Next, you think about particular cases. (Was the ruling in a specific court case just?)
Then, you examine the cases and see if they all will fit within a particular framework or set of rules.
You can also use thought experiments. (Suppose you see a runaway train car that will hit five people. If you hit a switch, it will go down a different track and only hit one person. Is it better to actively kill one person or passively cause five people to die?)
By including people with many different points of views, we tend to come to a better conclusion, because everyone’s biases cancel each other out.
What is Philosophy?
Now that you know how to argue, how about some questions?
Philosophy looks for answers to big questions like:
What is the difference between right and wrong?
What is beauty?
How do I know what is real?
How should I live my life?
What is Philosophy?
Philosophy is broken up into different areas:
Logic: Logic deals with correct ways of reasoning and forming arguments.
Epistemology: looks at questions of knowledge: What do we know, How do we know it?
Metaphysics is the study of reality, including the relationship between mind and body.
Ethics (aka Moral Philosophy) is concerned with finding the best way to live.
Aesthetics deals with beauty and enjoyment, as well as matters of perception and sentiment.
Political Philosophy is the study of government and the relationship between individuals and communities.
What are some ways philosophy is used in every day life?
Logic is used to solve math problems and help program computers.
Epistemology is used to help decide how to teach.
Ethics is used to help make rules and laws.
Political philosophy is used to set up systems of government.
Anthony Quinton in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy
Philosophy is rationally critical thinking, of a more or less systematic kind about the general nature of the world, the justification of belief and the conduct of life. Each of the three elements in this list has a non-philosophical counterpart, from which it is distinguished by its explicitly rational and critical way of proceeding and by its systematic nature. Everyone has some general conception of the nature of the world in which they live and of their place in it. Metaphysics replaces the unargued assumptions embodied in such a conception with a rational and organized body of beliefs about the world as a whole. Everyone has occasion to doubt and question beliefs, their own or those of others, with more or less success and without any theory of what they are doing. Epistemology seeks by argument to make explicit the rules of correct belief formation. Everyone governs their conduct by directing it to desired or valued ends. Ethics or moral philosophy, in its most inclusive sense, seeks to articulate, in rationally systematic form, the rules or principles involved."
Where can I find philosophers to research?
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy http://www.iep.utm.edu/
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html