Presentation on theme: "Phil 148 Chapter 3. What makes an argument good? It is often taken to be the case that an argument is good if it is persuasive, that is, if people are."— Presentation transcript:
Phil 148 Chapter 3
What makes an argument good? It is often taken to be the case that an argument is good if it is persuasive, that is, if people are inclined to accept it. People accept all kinds of foolish things, so persuasiveness is not the standard of quality for which we are looking. In fact, Western philosophy was born when some people drew a distinction between philosophy and sophistry.
What makes a good argument: Validity Means that IF the premises are true, then the conclusion has to be In other words, an argument is valid if it is truth-preserving, meaning that it never takes us from truths to a falsehood. Soundness Means the argument is valid AND Means that the premises ARE true
Example: Bill and Hillary Clinton have the same last name People with the same last name are siblings :. Bill and Hillary Clinton are siblings
Example: Bill and Hillary Clinton have the same last name People with the same last name are siblings :. Bill and Hillary Clinton are siblings (VALID) If both premises were true, then the conclusion would have to be true as well.
Example: Bill and Hillary Clinton have the same last name People with the same last name are siblings :. Bill and Hillary Clinton are siblings (UNSOUND) The second premise is false.
Example: Whoever wrote the Bible is a great author Charles Dickens wrote the Bible :. Charles Dickens is a great author
Example: Whoever wrote the Bible is a great author Charles Dickens wrote the Bible :. Charles Dickens is a great author (VALID) If the premises were true, then the conclusion would have to be.
Example: Whoever wrote the Bible is a great author Charles Dickens wrote the Bible :. Charles Dickens is a great author (UNSOUND) At least premise 2 is false.
Example: Smoking is unhealthful That which is unhealthful should be illegal Smoking should be illegal Here is a valid argument but the premises could stand some justification. Here you would expect separate arguments to be set forth.
That which is unhealthful should be illegal For this premise, we would expect an argument in political philosophy like: Governments should protect citizens Laws against that which is unhealthful protect citizens Governments should outlaw that which is unhealthful. But of course this arguments premises as well should be justified. At some point one might reach statements that are widely acceptable on their own.
Smoking is unhealthful This statement is justified by a whole different set of arguments. Does everyone who smokes get lung cancer? Heart disease? Emphysema? No, so the broad claim of smokings unhealthfulness requires some statistical generalization. Can (or should) a strictly controlled experiment be run here? Again, no, so the research itself has had to be more imprecise in order to make the claims that we generally take to be true of smoking.
Beyond Soundness Where do we stop giving reasons? The answer to this question has had profound impact on the history of philosophy. Our textbook authors express a characteristically 20 th century analytic (anti-foundationalist) view.
Shortening Argument There are three practical strategies for shortening our argument chains. Each of these strategies has legitimate uses and illegitimate uses. 3 strategies for shortening argument: 1. Assuring 2. Guarding 3. Discounting
Assuring (1) Assuring is a strategy for asking someone to accept a premise on evidence that is not explicitly stated. Sometimes this is done by citing authorities Sometimes this is done by making our own confidence in the claim explicit.
Assuring (2) Abusive assurances dont do either of the previous two things, but instead just abuse the potential opponent of a claim. We can give assurances that something is true or that something is false. Assurances can be legitimately used for brevity, or to avoid going on tangents. However, assuring terms often indicate weakness in an argument.
Guarding (1) A guarding term is sometimes known as a weaseler. It makes a claim weaker, but more likely to be true. Used legitimately, a guarding term keeps us from asserting or proving more than we have to. Used illegitimately, guarding terms make our statements insignificant or even vacuous (empty of meaning).
Guarding (2) 1. Weakening the extent of what is said 2. Using probability terms 3. Diminishing our level of commitment Be sure that guarding terms dont creep in over the course of an argument. Be sure that guarding terms dont disappear in the course of an argument.
Discounting (1) Discounting is a way of anticipating some objection by stressing that one fact is more important than the other. Discounting can also be used to block a conversational implication.
Discounting (2) That ring is beautiful, but expensive Asserts two facts: That ring is beautiful That ring is expensive Implies that the second fact is more important than the first. (Is a reason not to buy the ring) That ring is expensive, but beautiful Asserts two facts: That ring is expensive That ring is beautiful Implies that the second fact is more important than the first. (Is a reason to buy the ring)
Evaluative Language Evaluative statements serve a variety of crucially important purposes, and are versatile in their application. The same evaluative term (e.g. good) can be applied to all kinds of things, but it will operate differently depending on the standards that we apply.
Standards When people have a conflict of opinion on whether something is good, it is usually because they imply different standards (in other places called criteria) Becoming clear on what standards underlie each use of an evaluative term is the single most important and most overlooked part of value debate. Consider: what makes a good… Baseball player? Automobile? Person? Cat?
Positive and Negative Evaluation Sometimes whether evaluation is positive or negative is contained in the meaning of the term (e.g. wasteful, deceitful, beautiful, honest). Sometimes extra words make an ordinarily neutral evaluative term into a positive or negative one (too_____, not _____ enough). Sometimes whether evaluation is positive or negative is buried in context: A: Do you think Calvin would be good at basketball? B: Hes tall
Eupehemism/Dysphemism (1) A Euphemism is a word or phrase intended to make something bad sound neutral or good. A Dysphemism is a word or phrase intended to make something good or neutral sound bad.
Euphemism/Dysphemism (2) The name of every piece of legislation passed at any level of government is a euphemism. Euphemisms often replace euphemisms (e.g. toilet, shell-shock) Sometimes euphemisms are used out of politeness or sensitivity (e.g. euphemisms for death, PC language) Euphemisms sometimes lose their euphemism- hood (e.g. lesbian)
Lesbian… The Island The Poet
Spin Doctoring When Euphemism/Dysphemism is used as a form of attempted mind-control (effective so often its shameful to our species) we call it spin doctoring As an exercise, try to spot euphemistic language in political debate, and change all the euphemisms to the most neutral language you can. This is a decent way to evaluate some political debate and disagreement.
When euphemisms go bad… Slogans: often used to mislead and avoid real issues; remember, a slogan is NOT a position or an argument, though it may hint at a loose grouping of positions and arguments. Most slogan pairs are not even meaningful, much less mutually exclusive. Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life Progressive Education vs. Back to Fundamentals Liberal vs. Conservative Alternative Lifestyle vs. Family Values