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© Cambridge University Press 2011 Chapter 5 Ways of knowing – Reason
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Reason Reason is one of the four ways of knowing: –Perception –Language –Emotion –Reason Evidence is perceived, then we: –add premises (assumptions) –use reasoning –reach new knowledge.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Rationalism Reason is the most important source of new knowledge. We can discover new truths by using reason alone. Our senses can mislead us.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Types of reasoning deductive inductive informal
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Deductive reasoning A syllogism – a general claim about all leads to a specific claim about an individual, e.g.: –All dogs bark (premise) + Fido is a dog (premise) → Fido barks (conclusion) –All As are Bs + Some As are Cs → Some Bs are Cs
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Deductive reasoning: problems The reasoning may be valid but the conclusion may not always be true/valid if: –one or both premises are flawed –the reasoning used to reach the conclusion is flawed, e.g., Penguins are black and white. Old TV shows are black and white, therefore penguins are old TV shows.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Venn diagrams Can be used to visually represent valid reasoning.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Inductive reasoning Reasoning that goes in the opposite direction to deductive reasoning. Constantly used in everyday life. Assumes past regularities will apply in the future because they did in the past, e.g. all observed humans have died, therefore all humans die. Helps survival, but we cannot always rely on it as we tend to jump to conclusions on the basis of insufficient evidence. Has led to racism/sexism/bias, e.g. ‘That French waiter was rude to me, therefore French people are rude!’
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Inductive reasoning: links to areas of knowledge Language: puts labels on things → inductive expectations about behaviour. Science: limited number of observations → general laws.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Inductive reasoning: problems Avoidance of hasty generalisation depends on: –number and variety of observations –active searching for exceptions –coherence: more evidence is needed for surprising conclusions –subject area: generalisations are more reliable in natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) than social sciences (psychology, economics, business).
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Informal reasoning: the ten deadly fallacies (1) Hasty generalisation –(See Inductive reasoning: problems.)
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Informal reasoning: the ten deadly fallacies (2) Post hoc ergo propter hoc (‘after this, therefore on account of this’) –The assumption that changing one thing is the cause of a closely timed event. –For example, assuming that abolishing capital punishment caused a rise in the number of murders.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Informal reasoning: the ten deadly fallacies (3) Ad hominem (‘against the man’) –Attacking or supporting a person rather than attacking or supporting an argument/principle. –For example, ‘You are too young to know what you are talking about.’
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Informal reasoning: the ten deadly fallacies (4) Circular reasoning (vicious circle/begging the question) –Assuming the truth of something you are supposed to be proving. –For example, ‘I know Mary is a fairy because she said she was and fairies would not lie.’ This assumes that Mary is a fairy in order to argue that she is a fairy.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Informal reasoning: the ten deadly fallacies (5) Special pleading –There is a tendency for people to apply laws of expected behaviour to other people that they do not stick to themselves. –For example, energy conservation, need to limit world population.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Informal reasoning: the ten deadly fallacies (6) Equivocation –The same word may be used in different ways. –This leads to arguments about meaning. –For example, ‘A hamburger is better than nothing. Nothing is better than good health. Therefore, a hamburger is better than good health.’
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Informal reasoning: the ten deadly fallacies (7) Argument ad ignorantiam –Claims something is true because you have no evidence to disprove it. –For example, ‘There is no evidence to disprove she is a witch, so she is a witch.’
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Informal reasoning: the ten deadly fallacies (8) False analogy –Assumes that because two things are similar in some ways, they are similar in another way. –For example, ‘Problems are like mountains. Because mountains are worn down by rain, our problems can be solved by persistence.’
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Informal reasoning: the ten deadly fallacies (9) False dilemma (binary thinking) –Assumes only two alternatives exist. (Note: humans may have a tendency towards this.) –For example, ‘Increasing military expenditure means spending less on schools’ – this suggests that we have only two choices. –This way of thinking may have developed because evolution may have depended on fast friend/foe, fight/flight decisions.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Informal reasoning: the ten deadly fallacies (10) Loaded questions –Questions that imply built-in assumptions. –For example, ‘Do you always cheat in exams?’ ‘Yes’ suggests you always cheat in exams; ‘no’ suggests you sometimes cheat in exams.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Causes of bad reasoning ignorance laziness pride prejudice We are often tempted to resort to any argument to justify our reasoning → rationalisation.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Reason and certainty Reminder of the three types of reasoning: –deductive –inductive –informal All proof must end somewhere – it cannot be infinitely regressive (requiring the evidence of more and more things, successively and indefinitely). For example, A depends on B, which depends on C, which depends on D… and so on, to infinity.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Three laws of thought These are the basis of logical deductive reasoning: –law of identity –law of non-contradiction –law of the excluded middle.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Law of identity If A is a banana, then it is a banana.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Law of non-contradiction If A is a banana, then it cannot be not-a-banana. Common objection: –Some things are a mix of two other things, e.g. a love–hate relationship (love some things at some times, hate them at other times).
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Law of the excluded middle Everything is either a banana or not a banana.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Can deductive reasoning be doubted? (1) It is unsure whether the laws exist or whether we just think they exist. Logic depends on language, which is imprecise. Everything is constantly changing so there is nothing for logic to be true of.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Can inductive reasoning be doubted? (2) Yes: –Just because something always seems to happen it does not mean it always will (e.g. laws of physics, behaviour of people). No: –It seems advantageous to use past experience to predict the future. Using inductive reasoning can be just part of what it means to be rational.
© Cambridge University Press 2011 Lateral thinking Also known as ‘thinking outside the box’. We can become trapped in a ‘prison of consistency’. Learning new things requires questioning old ideas. However, it takes a lot of courage to question things you accepted as true. Edward de Bono (1933–): ‘Vertical thinking is digging the same hole deeper. Lateral thinking is trying elsewhere.’
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