GE372 Week Two:Developing Thinking Skills “Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” --Arthur Schopenhauer
Quiz On Assigned Reading In general terms, why were some of Bill Dembski’s peers upset with him? What was the intended purpose of the Michael Polanyi Center. Be general and brief. Who said the following, Bill Dembski or Pat Shipman: “Do not mistake my objection. If my neighbors and their children wish to believe in Intelligent Design as a matter of faith, that is fine with me. What I object to most strenuously is the presentation of a religious belief as a scientific theory in a science class.”
Like, what’s happening today, man? Lecture Video—Plato’s allegory of the cave More lecture Group activity
Stuff to think about during the lecture: What is Truth? How would you define “Truth”? What is “Knowledge”? How do you know what you know?
Epistemology: Epistemology: the process of gaining knowledge. The ideas you have about free will, truth, knowledge, opinion, and the debating of moral issues will make a difference in your development as a thinker. Some ideas will enhance your thinking; others will hinder it. Still others may paralyze it altogether.
Epistemology:Plato’s allegory of the cave Plato’s cave: Can someone provide a brief summary of Plato’s allegory of the cave? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69F7GhASOdM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ei7LqbYb8M
Epistemology and the search for truth Truth is what is so about something, the reality of the matter, as distinguished from what people wish were so, believe to be so, or assert to be so. I.e., “Truth is the view that is fated to be ultimately agreed to all by all who investigate,” Israel Scheffler Look at some examples of bad epistemology pp23-24 Why, that’s just bad epistemology…
The quest for Truth Do people create truth? No. As truth seekers, we reach out to apprehend it and construct expressions that hope to represent it faithfully—sometimes they succeed, and sometimes they fail. Does truth ever change? No. It might seem to, but it doesn’t. Nice try. Close only counts in horseshoes and grenades. Eg. P24.
Ways of knowing We can obtain authentic knowledge in any one of the three ways: Personal Observation Report from others The first is most reliable, but as we will see, even that one is far from perfect.
Personal What are some advantages of experiential knowledge? Disadvantages? Because our perceptions are not passively received but are influenced by our emotional states and mental processes, they seldom mirror reality precisely. At times, in fact, they seriously distort reality.
Observation What are some advantages of observational knowledge? Disadvantages? It is certainly possible to observe accurately, but we often fail short of doing so. We usually see the world through glasses colored by our experiences and beliefs. We are told about the world before we see it. We imagine most things before we experience them. These preconceptions, unless educated correctly, govern deeply the whole process of perception. Do you realize that most, if not all, of our prejudices are irrational? Anyone want to share? I do—I’ll never buy another Seagate drive again.
Report from others This source of knowledge covers most of what we are taught by our parents and teachers, what we hear reported in the news, and what we read in books and magazines. What are some advantages of second-hand knowledge? Disadvantages?
The problem of remembering All three ways of knowing are subject to another problem—inaccurate remembering. Memory is malleable. Even eyewitness testimony is subject to distortion. One report states “that witnesses have a tendency both to perceive and to remember things, first, according to their expectations, second, according to their emotional bias, and third, according to their private notions as to what would be natural or reasonable way for things to happen. Sometimes we remember stuff wrong. Was that a memory, or did I see that on TV?
Opinions Opinions are based on personal taste. Some people carry opinions beyond the boundaries of good sense. They take the valid idea “Everyone has a right to his or her opinion” to the ridiculous extreme of “Everyone’s opinion is right.” These people are called politicians. This is a joke. Do not write this down.
Opinions—Expressions of taste and judgment Expressions of taste describe internal states and preferences. E.g., I like this…I like that… We may share a preference with others or find their preferences vulgar. Expressions of judgment are assertions about the truth of things or about the wisdom of a course of action. The fact that human judgment can be not only wrong but also ludicrous is the best reason to base your judgments on sufficient evidence, carefully interpreted, rather than on prejudice, whim, or blind faith. You also need to be quick to reconsider your judgments when new evidence challenges them.
Debating Moral Judgment Nowhere is modern thinking more muddled than over the question of whether moral issues are debatable. What are some current moral issues that divide our country? World? They are constantly changing. The ID vs. Evolution debate already feels a little stale. It was so 2003. How have moral issues changed throughout history? Would slavery even be thinkable today? Moral judgment represents a position on an issue that us measured against standards other than those of personal taste—standards that are rooted in values and beliefs of a culture.
The basis of Moral Judgment On what basis should moral judgment be made? Certainly not the majority view—that is too unreliable. Think about it: Nazis, slavery, genocide, etc… The most reliable basis for moral judgment, the basis that underlines most ethical systems, is the principle that people have rights existing independently of any government or culture.
The basis of Moral Judgment The most fundamental is the right to be treated with respect and left undisturbed as long as one does not infringe on other’s rights. Think “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Think of some recent compromises on moral issues our country has recently reached. Do you feel that these are satisfactory? Probably the most current issue is gays serving openly in the military. Dare we open this can of worms?
Homework for next time: After carefully reading two documents in the ITT Tech Virtual Library: • Shipman, Pat. “Being Stalked by Intelligent Design.” American Scientist 93, Issue 6 (2005): 500-502. • Hereen, Fred. “The Lynching of Bill Dembski.” American Spectator 33, Issue 9 (2000): 44-50. Write a two to three page paper. The paper should be double-spaced in Times New Roman or Arial 12-point font, with 1-inch margins that addresses these questions: Can you identify which theory of life’s origin is “true”? By what basis do you make your decision? Should one theory or the other, or both, be taught in school? If so, should they both be examined in science class? If both, should one be taught as "true" and the other as a "theory"? Each of these articles has a detectible bias. Does that mean they are not written objectively? Are there facts that are left out? If so, what are they? Read for next time: Chapter 3, “Broaden Your Perspective,” pages 40-54 in The Art of Thinking.