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Discussion text

1.A. Philosophical Questions and Wonder

Summary: The place of wondering in philosophy, and the naturalness of it, are aptly illustrated by the conversations with children conducted by philosopher Gareth Matthews. One of the conversations centered around the "feelings" of plants or flowers. In the course of discussion the children raise interesting and thoughtful points about conceptual and epistemological issues.

Goals:

  • Recognize that philosophical questions are not confined to specialized and obscure doctrines, but arise in daily life and can be appreciated even by very young people.
  • Begin to appreciate the "can of worms" phenomenon in philosophy, by seeing you Matthews' young colleagues move naturally from logical and semantical questions to epistemological and metaphysical issues.

 

1.B. Features of this Book

1.C. A Little Logic

Summary: Philosophers come to their views through intuitions, scientific findings, personal self examination, and many other sources. But one thing that stands out in the majority of philosophical writings is argument. In philosophy an argument is simply a set of statements, where some are offered as support for others. "Arguments" in this sense are things that we are constantly thinking up in our "discussions with ourselves," or when we want to explore any issue, as well as when we have a disagreement with someone else. Arguments can be divided into deductive and inductive, and distinguished in terms of their strength, the amount of support the premises give for the conclusions. The criticism of arguments is also central to philosophy. Various modes of criticism are discussed and illustrated.

Goals:

  • Understand the distinction between deductive arguments and inductive arguments
  • Understand refutation by counterexample
  • Understand the distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions
  • Understand reduction to absurdity arguments
  • Understand other kinds of critiques


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