Instructions: This assignment consists of nine questions. Answer all nine questions. Your completed Assignment 1 must be typed and submitted (hard copy) at the start of class on Monday February 4 th . This assignment is worth 20% of your final course grade. It will be graded out of 40. 1. An ‘intellectual virtue’ can be defined as a habit of cognitive activity that is conducive to the acquisition of true belief. Read the excerpt in the text box below and identify one intellectual virtue from the selection, relating your answer to the text selection and explaining why it fits the definition of an intellectual virtue. (Worth 3 marks) When we consider either the history of opinion, or the ordinary conduct of human life, to what is it to be ascribed that the one and the other are no worse than they are? Not certainly to the inherent force of the human understanding; for, on any matter not self-evident, there are ninetynine persons totally incapable of judging of it for one who is capable; and the capacity of the hundredth person is only comparative; for the majority of the eminent men of every past generation held many opinions now known to be erroneous, and did or approved numerous things which no one will now justify. Why is it, then, that there is on the whole a preponderance among mankind of rational opinions and rational conduct? If there really is this preponderance— which there must be unless human affairs are, and have always been, in an almost desperate state—it is owing to a quality of the human mind, the source of everything respectable in man either as an intellectual or as a moral being, namely, that his errors are corrigible. He is capable of rectifying his mistakes, by discussion and experience. Not by experience alone. There must be discussion, to show how experience is to be interpreted. Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument; but facts and arguments, to produce any effect on the mind, must be brought before it. Very few facts are able to tell their own story, without comments to bring out their meaning. The whole strength and value, then, of human judgment, depending on the one property, that it can be set right when it is wrong, reliance can be placed on it only when the means of setting it right are kept constantly at hand. In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all that could be said against him; to profit by as much of it as was just, and expound to himself, and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was fallacious. Because he has felt, that the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner. The steady habit of correcting and completing his own opinion by collating it with those of others, so far from causing doubt and hesitation in carrying it into practice, is the only stable foundation for a just reliance on it: for, being cognisant of all that can, at least obviously, be said against him, and having taken up his position against all gainsayers—knowing that he has sought for objections and difficulties, instead of avoiding them, and has shut out no light which can be thrown upon the subject from any quarter—he has a right to think his judgment better than that of any person, or any multitude, who have not gone through a similar process. J.S. Mill, On Liberty (1859), excerpt from Chapter 2, notes excluded. 2. Read the excerpt from a student essay in the text box below. State the main point of the paragraph. Is the paragraph providing an argument or an explanation or neither? Provide reasons for your answer. (Worth 3 marks) Common law jurisdictions, including Canada, the United States, and England, use adversarial legal systems (hereinafter: AD). In this system, the investigation of some case and presentation of evidence at trial is in the hands of the parties (i.e., lawyers for the prosecution, and representatives of the person accused of some crime). Further, AD lawyers actively engage in the questioning and subsequent cross-examination of witnesses. The testimonial accounts of witnesses are shaped by the questions of the parties in examination-in-chief and crossexamination intended to produce evidence in support of the questioning party’s case strategy (Drier, 2012). Both prosecutors and defence lawyers have a professional responsibility to act as zealous advocates for their respective parties. According to the Rules of Professional Conduct from the Law Society of Ontario (RPCLS), as zealous advocates lawyers are to “raise fearlessly every issue, advance every argument, and ask every question, however distasteful, that the lawyer thinks will help [their party’s] case and to endeavour to obtain…the benefit of every remedy and defence authorized by law” (5.1). From Boucher v. The Queen, , the role of the prosecution “is not to obtain a conviction; it is to lay before a jury what the Crown considers to be credible evidence relevant to what is alleged to be a crime” (p.23). Entrusted with the great power of deciding whether or not to pursue an indictment, the prosecutorial role “…excludes any notion of winning or losing…[and] is to be efficiently performed with an ingrained sense of the dignity, the seriousness and the justness of judicial proceedings.” (Ibid., p.24) Pertaining to defence lawyers, there is a duty “…to protect [their] client as far as possible from being convicted, except…upon legal evidence sufficient to support a conviction for the offence with which the client is charged.” (Ibid., 5.1). All evidence is in the control of the parties. 3. a. Read the excerpt in the text box below. Is the text providing an argument or an explanation or neither? Provide reasons for your answer. (Worth 2 marks) [Office worker to a co-worker:] The company lost a lot of money last year; that is why we are not getting a wage increase this year. b. Read the excerpt in the text box below. Is the text providing an argument or an explanation or neither? Provide reasons for your answer. (Worth 2 marks) Religion is nothing but superstition. Historians agree that it had its beginnings in magic and witchcraft. Today’s religious belief is just an extension of this. 4. For each of the following passages (a through g), state whether it does or does not contain an argument. If the passage does contain an argument, indicate the conclusion of the argument. (Worth 8 marks) a. People normally believe what others tell them unless there is a reason to be suspicious. This reliance on other people is called depending on testimony. b. Other men die. I am not another man. Therefore, I shall not die. c. The sun was setting on the hillside when he left. The air had a peculiar smoky aroma, the leaves were beginning to fall, and he sensed all around him the faintly melancholy atmosphere that comes when summer and summer romances are about to end. d. To know any claim with certainty, you have to know you are awake. To know you are awake, you have to prove you are awake. Nobody can prove that he is awake. Therefore, no one can know any claim with certainty. e. If a diet does not work, then that is a problem. But if a diet does work, there is still a problem, because the diet will have altered the dieter’s metabolism. An altered metabolism as a result of dieting means a person will need less food. Needing less food, the person will gain weight more easily. Therefore, dieting to lose weight is futile. f. Jane was a better tennis player than Peter. g. It is not essential to be tall to be good at basketball. This point is quite easy to prove. Just consider that basketball teams often have players of average height who make contributions to the game through fast running and expert passing. h. If a person knows in advance that his actions risk death, then when he voluntarily takes those actions, he accepts a risk of death. These conditions apply to mountain climbers. Therefore, people who climb mountains have accepted a risk of death. 5. Read the text box below and standardize the argument. Remember that this requires that you provide a diagram indicating the structure of the elements of the argument (see Chapter 2 of the Govier text). (Worth 4.5 marks) Why not be a ‘cheap hawk,’ letting others take care of the world’s business? The answer is easy. The Japanese won’t take care of free trade…. The Russians, if left alone, will happily sell nuclear-weapons technology to Iran, and the French would be similarly obliging about lifting the embargo on Iraq. And who will contain China, the next superpower? 6. Read the text box below and standardize the argument. Remember that this requires that you provide a diagram indicating the structure of the elements of the argument (see Chapter 2 of the Govier text). (Worth 4 marks) Our experience constantly confirms the principle of cause and effect. Thus, whatever begins to exist has a cause. And since according to the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, “Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang,” it follows that the universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe was caused by God. 7. Read the text box below and standardize the argument. Remember that this requires that you provide a diagram indicating the structure of the elements of the argument (see Chapter 2 of the Govier text). (Worth 5.5 marks) Determinism seems to conflict with the thesis that we have moral responsibilities, for responsibility implies that we could have done otherwise than we did. We do not hold a dog morally responsible for chewing up our philosophy book or hold a one-month-old baby responsible for crying, because they could not help it, but we do hold a twenty-year-old student responsible for his cheating because (we believe) he could have done otherwise. That determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility and must be rejected can be defended in the following argument. Since in order to have a moral duty to do Act A we must be able to do A and able to refrain from doing A, it follows that being morally responsible for doing A entails that I could have done otherwise if I had chosen to do so. Determinism holds that our actions are merely the product of the laws of nature and antecedent states of affairs. So, determinism entails that we do not make choices. Thus, if determinism is true we are not morally responsible for what we do. But our moral responsibility for our actions is self-evidently true. Therefore, determinism with respect to human action must be rejected. 8. Read the following student essay. For each of the eight paragraphs identify the function of the paragraph in the essay. Note that explaining the function of a section or paragraph is not the same as summarizing what the author says! You need only state sufficient content to demonstrate that you are not guessing. For example, if a paragraph was providing a thesis statement, one might answer, ‘the function of this paragraph is to state the author’s thesis that X,’ where X is what the author intends to demonstrate. For the convenience of the student the paragraphs have been numbered. (Worth 8 marks) (¶1) This paper will address the basis of the global sceptical argument in which all of what we believe is little more than a vivid dream. In addition, I hope to provide evidence in support of a sufficient non-sceptic counter-argument to this global sceptical hypothesis. (¶2) The basis of the global sceptical hypothesis is that our senses are systematically being deceived. That is, all of our beliefs and the perceptual evidence supporting these beliefs are systematically false. Nothing actually exists as we perceive it, and may not exist at all. Knowledge in itself can be defined as a justified true belief. Thus the global sceptical hypothesis is essentially saying that all of our beliefs about the world beyond our own consciousness are false. So in a simplified sense, all of what we believe is little more than a vivid dream. In this sense, our minds involuntarily produce successions of artificial stimuli of various types. These tend to be based off the memories and experiences of the one experiencing said dream, but are often exaggerated. Because our brains have the capability of doing this while we sleep, it is suggested that this may also occur while we are awake. This possibility of involuntary generation of stimulus during a waking state is the basis of the dream hypothesis. Any state dependent on these senses should undergo rigorous testing and examination to determine if it is in fact reality. (¶3) There are a few ways we could attempt to defeat the global sceptical argument. We will start with a pragmatic approach. Considering the condition of this dream world distortion in that nothing is consistent with the real world, we can in turn say with some certainty that we have no knowledge of the true nature of the external world. All of our knowledge is based on this dream world. If this concept holds, then it is likely that we will never experience the true external world. Again, the conditions remind us that we, and all life, are immersed in this perpetual dream. It is thus arguable that if we cannot perceive the real world, and we cannot comprehend the impacts we have on the real world, then the real world is no longer our world. We do not actually exist in the real world; only in this dream world. So since we cannot comprehend the real world to begin with, and there is no way we ever will comprehend it, there is little sense in concerning ourselves with such a world. It is also arguable that, if the way we perceive the world is indeed distorted in some way, these distortions must be consistent. Doing what we perceive to be the same things tends to yield what we perceive to be the same result. The pragmatic argument is that everything as we perceive it applies to the world as we perceive it. To us it seems valid, and functional in practice, so it should suffice. This approach to the global sceptical argument may be practical, but is not epistemically justified. (¶4) Let us try to cut down the global sceptical hypothesis with our old friend, Occam’s razor. The rule of Occam’s razor is to not needlessly multiply explanatory entities. That is, if two explanations equally justify the same end result, the explanation with fewer explanatory entities is more likely to be true. So to apply Occam’s razor, let us consider both explanations. The non-sceptic’s explanation consists of our bodies receiving sensory input, and our minds processing them into some perception of the external world. The global sceptical argument insists that, in some way, we are being deceived. The dream hypothesis suggests that reality as we perceive it is little more than a vivid dream. That the mind of the person posing this question is systematically weaving some involuntarily generated stimulus into our conscious sensory data, or overriding it completely. On top of this, our minds somehow reinterpret this data in such a way that it somehow still makes sense to us. With that said, the stimuli must be presented in such a way that does not cause us to think it is completely absurd. It is arguable that these artificially generated stimuli, and its capacity to significantly influence, disrupt or completely override our conscious sensory input, from the non-sceptic’s viewpoint, are the extraneous explanatory entities. (¶5) Distortion caused by these extra explanatory entities is based on experience. Experience of the dream world, by our definition contains extraneous explanatory entities. Thus it falls prey to Occam’s razor. The alternative is that causal input for the dream rests on experience with the real, non-dream world. This alone would undermine the dream world argument, in that we can perceive the real world for what it is. In order for a satisfactory illusion to be present based on real world data, this sensory data must be presented asynchronously but sensibly applicable to the agent’s immediate state in the real world. If the dreaming agent’s real world state is in synch with the illusions, they might as well be seeing the world for what it really is anyway. Disrupted or not, we still perceive the same world. Occam’s razor would eliminate the element of disruption. (¶6) The sceptic may point out that Occam’s razor may also be an illusion. The usage of Occam’s razor relies on probability. Probability is part of mathematical knowledge, which is not part of the external world. It is a method we use to interpret and manipulate various concepts of the external world, but mathematics in itself is a product of our mind. Mathematics applies through knowledge of logic and language, making it a priori knowledge. Because Occam’s razor does not ultimately rely on the external world, it cannot be subject to distortion. Thus, Occam’s razor must exist, and can be applied. (¶7) The sceptic may continue to argue that the notion of a priori knowledge cannot be justified. It is impossible to deny all knowledge. Such an argument of total scepticism asserts that we can know nothing at all. If this were the case, the sceptic could not possibly make this assertion. In order to do so, the sceptic would require the knowledge that we know nothing. This, in itself being knowledge, should not be known to begin with. The argument of total scepticism clearly undermines itself, and thus cannot be true. Therefore, we must know something. To find what we actually know, we must take a step back and look again at the bigger picture. We have been given the sceptical hypothesis under the premise that everything we perceive and experience is only vivid dream. If what an agent posing the question is experiencing is indeed a vivid dream, the mind of said agent must exist in order to perceive this dream in the first place. (¶8) At the very least we are now able to assert that we have some form of a mind. I have shown that Occam’s razor can be used against this dream hypothesis. This tool is comprised of products of one’s mind, and is thus not directly subject to the dream hypothesis, as they are not part of the external world.
- Embracing divergence of opinion is an intellectual virtue. This is because it helps one to listen to positions of others on a subject, and all “modes” through which others have arrived at their opinions is crucial for attainment of true belief.
- The paragraph principally explains how adversarial legal systems work. The paragraph is thus an explanation as it lacks critical parts of argument such as claim, counterclaims, reasons, and evidence. Further, the explanation only serves to provide answers to “how” and “why” AD legal systems function as they do. The explanation seeks to answer the question: why that is so?
- (a) This is an argument. There is a reason in support of a claim
Claim: we are not getting a pay rise this year
Evidence: the company lost a lot of money last year
(b) This is an explanation. It has a claim and a cause.
Claim: Religion is nothing but superstition
Cause: Because historians agree that it had its origins in magic and witchcraft.
- (a) Does not contain an argument
(b) Contains an argument: other men die. Conclusion: I am not other men so I shall not die
(c) Does not contain an argument
(d) Contains an argument: To know any claim with certainty, you have to know you are awake.
Conclusion: Nobody can prove that he is awake, therefore no one can know any claim with certainty.
(e) Contains an argument. There is an attempt to provide a basis for believing the conclusion that problems will be experienced whether dieting works or does not work.
Conclusion: Dieting to lose weight is futile.
(f) Contains no argument
(g) Contains an argument.
Conclusion: it is not essential to be tall to be good at basketball
(h) Does not contain an argument
- Why not be a “cheap hawk,” letting others take care of the world’s business? (1) The Japanese won’t take care of free trade… (2), The Russians, if left alone, will happily sell nuclear-weapons technology to Iran (3), and the French would be similarly obliging about lifting the embargo on Iraq (4). And who will contain China, the next superpower? (5)
- Our experience constantly confirms the principle of cause and effect (1). Thus, whatever begins to exist has a cause (2). And since according to the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, “Almost everyone now believes that the Universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang,” it follows that the universe began to exist (3). Therefore, the universe was caused by God (4).
- Determinism seems to conflict with the thesis that we have moral responsibilities, for responsibility implies that we could have done otherwise than we did (1). We do not hold a dog morally responsible for chewing up our philosophy book or hold a one-month-old baby responsible for crying, because they could not help it, but we hold a twenty-year-old student responsible for his cheating because (we believe) he could have done otherwise (2). That determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility and must be rejected can be defended in the following argument. Since in order to have a moral duty to do Act A we must be able to do A and able to refrain from doing A, it follows that being morally responsible for doing A entails that I could have done otherwise if I had chosen to do so (3). Determinism holds that our actions are merely the product of the laws of nature and antecedent states of affairs. So determinism entails that we do not make choices (4). Thus, if determinism is true we are not morally responsible for what we do (5). But our moral responsibility for our actions is self-evidently true (6). Therefore, determinism with respect to human action must be rejected (7).
- Function of paragraph 1 is to direct the reader to the intention of the writer, which is to refute, by way of counter-argument, the global skeptical argument.
Paragraph 2 the core tenet of the global skeptical argument: that what human beings believe to be true emanates from sequences of “artificial stimuli” in the human mind, and are false. Reality is thus far removed from humanity.
In paragraph 3, the author presents the first argument against the global skeptical argument: that the skeptics’ understanding of the “real world” is entirely based on the “dream world”.
Paragraph 4 the author dismisses the global skeptical argument for its failure to satisfy the Occam razor criteria. Occam razor only admits explanations with the least “extraneous explanatory entities” to be true. The “dream world” hypothesis as presented by the skeptics can only be explained via circumlocutions which are inconsistent with truth according to Occam razor condition.
In paragraph 5, the author advances the position that in addition to failing the Occam razor test, the dream world argument fails to recognize that reasonably acceptable “illusion” can only be obtained through interaction with data stimuli from the real world.
Paragraph 6 anticipates possible dismissal of Occam razor as an illusion. The author, however, responds by stating that Occam razor as a product of probability, and propagated through “knowledge of logic and language” is ultimately a product of the mind, and is far removed from distortion of the dream world. So Occam razor has to exist.
Paragraph 7 also predicts possible dismissal of “priori” knowledge by skeptics. However, that would call for total dismissal of all knowledge, which by implication would render human beings incapable of knowing anything at all. Further, knowledge of our own existence would still be a vivid dream.
Paragraph 8 closes with the affirmation that Occam razor, as a product of the human mind, and not being affected by the dream world, is a potent tool for knocking off dream world hypothesis.