Monday, February 27, 2017

Topics for exam #2 (MINITERM)

Chapter 7: Epistemology
belief: a mental state of acceptance
justification: reason for holding your belief
suspension: neither belief nor disbelief

truth by correspondence: truth is a fact
pragmatic theory of truth: truth is whatever does the best job at hand
coherence theory of truth: truth is whatever best coheres with the rest of our knowledge
standard theory of knowledge: knowledge is true belief

you should be familiar with the definitional boxes on chapter 7, pages 537 & 539.

Idealism (Plato): 

Reality is always changing, senses are limited. Knowledge is acquired through an exercise of Reason. These are the Forms. Reason is used to discover unchanging forms through the dialectical method, a process of question and answer designed to elicit a "real definition". These are the necessary and sufficient conditions for the concept to apply. Example: a chair is a form, "this blue chair in my office" is an example of the form. the actual chair is but a manifestation of the "real" chair in the forms.

Skepticism: An attitude of suspension to the possibility of knowledge or absolute knowledge. The skeptics use suspension as a method. The he goal of ancient skepticism is to produce a state of "ataraxia" or "freedom of mind" in the souls of its practitioners. It is not about eliminating doubt, but eliminating the cause of the mental distress people experience when doubts assail their minds.

Faith and reason:  A fundamental discussion throughout the Middle Ages is the dichotomy between faith and reason. Faith takes St. Paul's definition: "... faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see." There are three moments: 1- Emphasis on faith over reason in the early patristic theology  2- both faith and reason become complementary in St. Thomas Aquinas, 3- with William of Ockham faith and reason are not related.

Rationalism:  (Spinoza, Leibniz, Descartes) In epistemology, rationalism is the view that regards reason, la Raison in Descartes, as the chief source and test of knowledge. How does reason operates. Take the idea of a priori or knowledge independent of experience. You don't need to know that it's actually raining to know that the proposition "it's either raining or not raining" is true. The proposition is true a priori. 1=1 is a priori, "all triangles have three sides" is a priori, etc. 

The arguments used in Rationalism are generally deductive arguments.

That's why Descartes believed that scientific knowledge can be derived a priori from "innate ideas" through deductive reasoning.

Empiricism:  Empiricism is the idea that the origin of all knowledge is sense experience. It emphasizes the role of experience and evidence, especially sensory perception, in the formation of ideas. Instead of Cartesian "innate ideas," humans have a posteriori knowledge (i.e. based on experience).

Empiricists believe in inductive reasoning (making generalizations based on individual instances) in order to build a more complex body of knowledge from these direct observations. This is the basis of modern science, and the scientific method.

Kantianism: Kant provide a synthesis between Empiricism and Rationalism.

Kant acknowledges both reason and sense experience. This is how he does it:

We have a sort of "hardware" of a priori knowledge. He calls them "pure intuitions" which make experience possible. These pure intuitions are space, time and causality. 

Chapter 3


Causal Determinism (C-->E + LN) and Hard determinism (the doctrine that there are no free actions). 

Hard determinism assumes that: if CD is true ---> -Fw  

As our bodies made up of matter, we must be subjects to the same laws of causation which apply to all matter.

In addition, if HD is true ---> -HR (there's no human responsibility) if we are not free, we cannot be responsible for our actions (since one is responsible if and only if one can make choices). 

Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are not mutually exclusive.
Soft determinism: Determined actions can nevertheless be free. 

1- Traditional Compatibilism (Free actions are 1- caused by one's will and 2- not externally constrained). The reasoning is this:

Principle of alternative possibilities: one can be held responsible for doing something only if one could have done otherwise. "could have done otherwise." 

I suggested this formula. 

f(b) iff -f(a)  (you are free at b if you could have taken a but didn't)

which means "if you had chosen otherwise, then you would have done otherwise." 

Think of our "fork-example" of a student being late for class. He chooses ( A) "having coffee with lots of traffic," instead of (B) "not having coffee and no traffic." For Traditional Compatibilism the student is responsible for being late since "if he had choosen (B) instead of (A), he would have been on time for class. 

C/E "Taylor's Ingenious Physiologist. Here the phisiologies plants desires in the subject and he acts on these desires. But the desires are not his. 

2- "Hierarchical Compatibilism

Harry Frankfurt postulates first and second order desires; then there are second order volitions. 

Remember: A first order desire is directed to an object or state of affairs; a second order desire is a desire about a desire; a second order volition is a second order desire on which wants to act. 

Then Harry Frankfurt's three drug addicts: Let's call a first order desire: FOD, a second order desire: SOD, a second order volition: SOV. So we get the following:  

Wanton addict: FOD, not SOD, not SOV, not free. 
Happy Addict: FOD, SOD, SOV, free.
Unwilling Addict: FOD, SOD (only this desire is against his taking the drug), SOV, but now he cannot act on these SOV, so he's not free). Remember, to be free one has to either formulate a SOV or be able to act on it. 

Punishment: How do compatibilists see punishment? look at p. 203. Punishment cannot be  retributive (eye-for-an-eye). The only legitimate way of punishment is rehabilitation and deterrence. Criminal actions are dictated by genes and habits (nature and nurture). Retributive punishment makes sense if it's deserved. But nothing people do is up to them.

3.3 Libertarianism
You should know the difference between "event causation" and "agent causation." 

synaptic activity is event causation. mental states causing synaptic activity is agent causation. 

Libertarianism holds that agents can cause events. How? Well, this is how the mind causes actions. There are two arguments here:

Argument from Experience. Argument from deliberation. In class I called it argument from experience, because you experience it from the inside. You feel you wanted to come to class, you got ready, drove through rush hour and got to the class on time. You feel you chose that. You are responsible for that action. 

Read pages 216 and 217! For the libertarian if the wants you act on are not yours, you are not free and therefore not responsible. If you declared nursing as a major because it's the dream of your parents that doesn't automatically make you free.That may not be your desire. In fact you may not even know what you really want!

Libet's Neurophysiological challenge: it seems to show that consciousness of a decision arises only after the decision has already been made (the 300 millisecond gap between the decision to press the button and the brain signal). Rebuttal by libertarians: There's a difference between making a "conscious decision" and a "meta-conscious decision" (meta-conscious awareness is second order). For the libertarian, the subject in Libet's report is not having a "conscious" but a "meta-conscious" decision. So it's no surprise that it happens "after" the conscious decision was made.