Philosophy Study Questions

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PHI 101C
HW6 10/18/2012
Qiansongzi Chen
1. How might the constructive nature of your perceptions play a role in what you experience while you’re walking at night through a graveyard said to be visited by spirits of the dead?

Constructive perception is in part something that our minds manufacture. Thus what we perceive is determined, not only by what our eyes and ears and other senses detect, but also by what we know, what we expect, what we believe, and what our physiological state is. Just because something seems or feels real doesn’t mean that it is real.

2. What are some of the factors that could influence the accuracy of your memory of an event that happened three years ago?

Our memories are also constructive and easily influenced by all sorts of factors: stress, expectation, belief, and the introduction of new information. Added to all this is the selectivity of memory. We selectively remember certain things and ignore others, setting up a recall bias. No wonder the recall of eyewitness is often unreliable.

3. Let’s say that an incredible coincidence occurs in your life, and your friend argues that the odds against the occurrences are so astronomical that the only explanation must be a paranormal one. What is wrong with this argument?

Just because something seems not so realistic, doesn’t mean it can only be explained by paranormal reasons. It’s an example of the appeal to ignorance. Just because you can’t show that the supernatural or paranormal explanation is false doesn’t mean that it is true. Unfortunately, although this reasoning is logically fallacious, it is psychologically compelling.

4. How is it possible for the prophecies of Nostradamus to appear to be highly accurate and yet not be?

Prophecies of Nostradamus can be highly accurate when they predict very general and broad things, when they predict a specific thing, it usually fails to be accurate. Also, people tent to only notice the things prophecies predict...
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